Blizzard has announced massive changes for Hearthstone in 2016. Included among them is a new Standard format which only utilizes cards from the most recently released sets from the last two years. The Hearthstone you've come to know and love is being renamed to Wild, which has no limitations on card pool, and the best news is that you'll be able to ladder using either format! Rank will be tracked separately for each mode, meaning you could feasibly make Legend twice a month. Note, that you'll only earn Ranked Rewards for your highest rank, so there's no pressure to play both if you don't want to.

Table of Contents

New Format: Standard

Standard consists of decks made exclusively from cards released during the past two calendar years along with the core Basic and Classic cards. Yes, this means cards like Dr. Boom, Shielded Minibot, and Sludge Belcher will not be allowed in this format.

  • Standard will help make for a more dynamic and balanced metagame.
  • A select set of cards makes each new card have more impact!
  • The developers will have more freedom to design exciting new cards.
  • It lets newer players jump in faster without having to collect as many cards.
  • Standard is only available as a format in Friendly Challenges, Ranked, and Casual play.
  • It will not affect Arena, Solo play, or Adventures.
hearthstone-standard-format
Standard format will arrive this spring! When the momentous moment arrives, you’ll be able to build Standard decks using the following sets:
  • Basic
  • Classic
  • Blackrock Mountain
  • The Grand Tournament
  • The League of Explorers
  • The Spring 2016 Expansion
Curse of Naxxramas and Goblins vs Gnomes will not be part of Standard. When we release the first new Expansion each year, every set that wasn’t released in the same year or the year prior will cycle out and no longer be part of the Standard format.

Old Format: Wild

Decks can contain cards from any set.
You’ll be able to finish quests, earn gold, rank up on the ladder, get card backs, earn Legend rank, and use all the cards you’ve already collected to build a Wild deck, just like you always have.
hearthstone-wild-game-mode

Ranking Up

As we said, Standard and Wild will track your ladder rank separately. So you could feasibly earn Legend two times per month. Ranked rewards are granted based on your highest achieved level in either ladder.

@TitansCreed You can play Wild and Standard versions of both Ranked and Casual. Does that answer your question?

Upcoming Card Changes

Sounds like Blizzard will be taking the time to adjust some of the Basic and Classic cards to bring them back in line as they'll be used in the new Standard format.
While normally we’re quite conservative about making balance changes to Hearthstone cards (and we’ll continue to be in the future), we’re planning to take the new Hearthstone year as a golden opportunity to re-evaluate a number of cards in the Basic and Classic card sets, including class cards, and make some long-considered adjustments.
In an interview with Polygon, Brode gave some specifics, pointing out the Druid class as one that's particularly problematic.
We have a list of cards that we're looking at," Brode said. "This will be the biggest balance change that we've ever made to Hearthstone. It's not going to be a massive percentage of the set or anything like that. We have to hit a lot of cards, though. It's definitely going to be significantly less than 20 cards. It's not going to be even close to that number. It'll be more than two. We're still trying to get that final list and still tweaking things."

Brode pointed to classes like the druid as a key example of what the team hopes to change.

"Some classes have too many cards that are just too high power level," he said. "It makes it very hard to make new cards for classes like druid, because they have so many really good cards in Basic and Classic. We have to do some nerfs to make sure we can still see a different druid deck as a new set comes out."

More Deck Slots

After unlocking all nine heroes, you'll gain access to nine more deck slots for a total of 18!

.@Lord_Cynical Deck slots are planned to arrive before Standard format does. No specific release date yet, though.


Hearthstone-More-Deckslots

Removing Sets From The Store

Sadly, the arrival of Standard also means the departure of sets that are no longer, well, standard.

Hearthstone-crafting-adventure-cards
Adventures and Expansions that are not part of the Standard format will no longer be available for purchase from the Shop—this year, that includes Naxxramas and Goblins vs Gnomes. If you want any cards you missed out on for Wild play or just to fill out your collection, you’ll be able to craft them using Arcane Dust—even cards from Adventures that were previously un-craftable. Speaking of Adventures, if you’ve purchased at least the first wing of an Adventure before it cycled out, you’ll still be able to finish acquiring and playing the remaining wings.
@sacarella Normal, not full, dust for disenchanting cards from Adventures. Couldn't disenchant them at all, previously.
.@mb0ws3r @bdbrode Poor Maexxna. Yes, when Standard format arrives, your Maexxna can be disenchanted for normal dust value.

FAQs

Why are you adding formats?
Formats allow us to achieve some important goals for Hearthstone. Standard format will provide a fresher and more dynamic metagame, give developers more freedom and flexibility when designing new cards, and will help newer players wade into Hearthstone more easily. Meanwhile, Wild format will provide a crazy, anything-goes experience that involves all the cards that have ever been released—just like the Hearthstone you’re already familiar with.

How often will Standard format change?
Standard format will be updated with the first new Expansion released each year. When that happens Standard format will be updated to include card sets from the current and previous calendar year. The Basic and Classic card sets are always part of the Standard format.

What happens to my existing decks once Standard is introduced?
Your decks that are entirely composed of cards that are allowed in Standard format will become Standard format decks. Any of your decks containing Wild format cards will automatically be converted to Wild decks. They can be converted to Standard decks by selecting or moving your mouse cursor over a deck’s title bar and then choosing Standard format. Any Wild format cards in the deck will then be marked for replacement.

How will random effects work in Standard?
Random effects (including summoning random minions or cards, the Discover mechanic, transformations, or any other similar effects) will only summon cards that are eligible for the format you are playing. Thus, random effects in Standard will summon only cards that would be usable in the Standard format. All cards are legal in Wild format, so such effects will function as they always have.

Will Tavern Brawls use formats?
Tavern Brawls have different rules each week, so some Brawls will be in Wild format, while others could be in Standard format, but they’ll all be crazy fun!

Can I earn Hearthstone Championship Tour points by competing in Ranked in both formats?
No. Standard will be the only format that offers Hearthstone Championship Tour points for 2016.

Will all official Blizzard esports events be played in Standard format?

Yes. Standard is the official format of the Hearthstone Championship Tour and the Hearthstone World Championship in 2016.

What’s the new 2016 Expansion?
It’s really, really cool. We think you’ll like it. You’ll find out what it is soon™.

Brode Comments

In an interview with PCGamer, Lead Designer Ben Brode elaborated on some of Blizzard's decision making.
  • The team will not be buffing any cards as part of their balance pass.
  • Old adventures could come back, but they're planned to be removed from the shop.
  • Hearthstone will get more expensive for Wild as you'll now need 1600 Dust to get Loatheb, but easier in other ways as you'll now be able to craft Mad Scientist for 40 Dust.
PC Gamer: When we spoke last, you talked with some passion about how Hearthstone might not survive without a major restructure. What made you feel this sort of change was needed?

Ben Brode: Mostly we’ve kind of been trying to look towards the future of Hearthstone and make sure that we’re set up to be fun and exciting for many years. We don’t want Hearthstone to be a game that’s just around for a year, we want it to be around for a lot of years, and when we think about the cadence of releases and how to keep the game fresh and exciting, it’s not too hard to see where Hearthstone is headed if we don’t make any changes. The problems are that the game gets less and less versatile and dynamic with new releases because they have more cards to compete against, and it’s hard for new players to get into. Given those two problems we just felt like we had to do something.

PC Gamer: What were the warning signs you were seeing?

BB: It’s something we’ve been tracking for a while, but even without warning signs you could just look at how the game is trending and with basically every release people were saying: ‘Hey, this game feels like it’s getting a little more daunting for new players to get into’. We didn’t feel like we were at the point of disaster just yet, but that feedback got louder and louder. If we didn’t do something soon it really was going to be affecting things for us.

PC Gamer: What are the practical benefits in terms of freeing up design space? What can you do now that you couldn’t before?

BB: Basically, any point where there’s a card that is very strong in a specific deck or in a specific mana slot… [rotating cards out means] that now we don’t have to make cards that are just better in order for them to see play. Examples are card that everyone’s playing a lot of like Piloted Shredder, Dr. Boom—with [Piloted Shredder] no longer in play in Standard, we can make four-drops that you might actually be interested in playing.

PC Gamer: Will the new set you’re releasing at the same time as Standard have enough exciting, viable cards to compensate for losing Naxx and Goblins vs Gnomes?

BB: Well Standard is going to grow and shrink over time because we’re going to launch that first new set—it’ll be a big set—and then the next couple of sets that release in 2016 will just go into Standard and nothing will be removed. You played back when it was just the basic set and Naxxramas, and there were lots of fun decks to make, so I think it’ll be interesting to see, but I’m not worried about a lack of deck diversity.

PC Gamer: What’s the logic behind not being able to purchase old Adventure modes when they rotate out? They would still be fun for solo players and do a good job of teaching lessons about concepts like value and tempo.

BB: I think you’re right that it’s nice to be able to learn about those mechanics. I don’t think that the Adventures do really a great job at that though, or at least not directly. Not everybody learns those lessons. I think we could be doing more things to help new players learn complex strategy, and so we’re going to look into that going forward, but the biggest thing we’re looking at right now is Hearthstone going forward for many, many years—and in a world where we continually leave things in the shop, or in the UI, for new players, we wanted to be careful about where we’re sending you in your first Hearthstone experience.
Naxxramas could come back, we’re still talking about what the future of these Adventures is, and it’s still available for players who have already purchased it, but it’s just the kind of thing where we want to focus players on the new stuff.

PC Gamer: Are there any plans to refresh the daily quests the game offers?
BB: Yeah you’re right, we should... Not necessarily with Standard, but you’re right that we haven’t taken a look at that system recently. We have added some quests like the Spectator quest and the Tavern Brawl quests, but we’ve been talking internally recently about ways we can make that system better and just focus on it a little bit more.
For the entire interview, head on over to PCGamer.
The official release:
Originally posted by Blizzard (View Original)Collapse

A New Way to Play

Exciting changes are coming to the Tavern! We’re proud to announce that we’re introducing game formats to Hearthstone! Whether you’re just getting into Hearthstone or you’re a seasoned veteran, the new Standard format will help keep Hearthstone fresh, exciting, and accessible for years to come, while the Wild format will preserve everything you already know and love about Hearthstone!

The New Standard
Standard is a new format in Play mode that allows players to go head-to-head using only the most recently released Hearthstone cards. You’ll play Standard using a deck built solely from a pool of cards that were released in the current and previous calendar year, along with a core foundation of the Basic and Classic card sets (which will always be valid for Standard). You’ll be matched against other players who are also using Standard decks.

New description, same great taste!

Standard promises a fresher Hearthstone experience!

  • Standard will help make for a more dynamic and balanced metagame.
  • A select set of cards makes each new card have more impact!
  • The developers will have more freedom to design exciting new cards.
  • It lets newer players jump in faster without having to collect as many cards.

Standard is only available as a format in Friendly Challenges, Ranked, and Casual play, so it won’t affect Arena, Solo play, or Adventures.


Wild Will Be Wild
Wild is our new name for the Hearthstone you already know, because it’ll be the format where anything can happen. While Standard puts a bright spotlight on recently released cards and brings a more balanced experience, when you queue up for Wild, you’ll be cozying up with the crazy fun of Hearthstone you’re already familiar with. Of course, as more and more cards are added over time, the wilder and more unpredictable Wild will be!

In terms of gameplay, nothing is changing for Wild: you’ll be able to finish quests, earn gold, rank up on the ladder, get card backs, earn Legend rank, and use all the cards you’ve already collected to build a Wild deck, just like you always have. When you queue up for Ranked or Casual play with a Wild deck, you’ll always be matched with other players who are also using Wild decks.

New Wild Button!

Ranking Up
When Standard is introduced you’ll be able to choose between Standard and Wild for Ranked play, and you'll have a separate rank for each format, so you can earn ranks and hit Legend in both Wild and Standard if you wish! You’ll only collect ranked rewards at the end of the season based on the highest rank you attained in one format or the other, but not both, so feel free to play whichever you like best!

Time for Reflection
The arrival of Standard format will also be an excellent time for us to take stock of Hearthstone. While normally we’re quite conservative about making balance changes to Hearthstone cards (and we’ll continue to be in the future), we’re planning to take the new Hearthstone year as a golden opportunity to re-evaluate a number of cards in the Basic and Classic card sets, including class cards, and make some long-considered adjustments.

More information on which cards are changing and why will be available as we draw nearer to the arrival of Standard format.

More Deck Slots? More Deck Slots!
Yes! More deck slots! Prior to the arrival of Standard we’ve got a buff planned for your Collection Manager! If you’ve unlocked all nine heroes, you’ll also unlock nine more deck slots, raising your total number of deck slots to eighteen.

MOAR DECK SLOTS!

Release the Kraken!
Standard format will arrive this spring! When the momentous moment arrives, you’ll be able to build Standard decks using the following sets:

  • Basic
  • Classic
  • Blackrock Mountain
  • The Grand Tournament
  • The League of Explorers
  • The Spring 2016 Expansion

Curse of Naxxramas and Goblins vs Gnomes will not be part of Standard. When we release the first new Expansion each year, every set that wasn’t released in the same year or the year prior will cycle out and no longer be part of the Standard format.

That’s also when the new Standard year begins. Each new Hearthstone year is symbolized by one of the zodiac constellations twinkling in Azeroth’s night sky. The moment when a new constellation comes into alignment heralds the start of the year and a time of jubilation and raucous revelry wherever Hearthstone is played!

This inaugural Standard year will be known as the Year of the Kraken, so get ready to make some waves!

Gone Wild
Adventures and Expansions that are not part of the Standard format will no longer be available for purchase from the Shop—this year, that includes Naxxramas and Goblins vs Gnomes. If you want any cards you missed out on for Wild play or just to fill out your collection, you’ll be able to craft them using Arcane Dust—even cards from Adventures that were previously un-craftable. Speaking of Adventures, if you’ve purchased at least the first wing of an Adventure before it cycled out, you’ll still be able to finish acquiring and playing the remaining wings.

Wild Crafting!

We’re Pumped!
We’ve worked hard to pave the way for Standard, and we’re really excited about all the great things this new format will bring to Hearthstone: fresher gameplay, more impactful expansions, and—since Standard will become the official format of the Hearthstone Championship Tour—an even more exciting competitive scene. All in all, we believe that Standard will end up being the most fun way to enjoy Hearthstone.

We hope you’re excited too, and we can’t wait to hear what you think.

We’re sure you have questions, so read the FAQ, and if you’ve still got questions, we’ll be happy to help!

Table of Contents
General Questions
Deck Management
Crafting, Disenchanting, and Collecting Cards
Gameplay
Ranked Play and Esports
Misc.

General Questions

I didn’t read the blog. What are you doing?
We’re adding formats to Ranked and Casual in Hearthstone’s Play mode. Standard format (Standard for short) will only allow decks that include cards released in the current and previous calendar year, along with a foundation of the Basic and Classic card sets. Wild format is the same Hearthstone you already know, which allows players to make decks from any card in their collection (including all of the cards allowed in Standard).

What’s a format?
In a card game, format refers to the rules and restrictions that govern what kind of cards can be included in a deck.

Why are you adding formats?
Formats allow us to achieve some important goals for Hearthstone. Standard format will provide a fresher and more dynamic metagame, give developers more freedom and flexibility when designing new cards, and will help newer players wade into Hearthstone more easily. Meanwhile, Wild format will provide a crazy, anything-goes experience that involves all the cards that have ever been released—just like the Hearthstone you’re already familiar with.

How often will Standard format change?
Standard format will be updated with the first new Expansion released each year. When that happens Standard format will be updated to include card sets from the current and previous calendar year.  The Basic and Classic card sets are always part of the Standard format.

Why are Basic and Classic always part of Standard?
These cards serve as a foundation for Hearthstone. They help give Hearthstone its flavor, they have mechanics that are great for introducing new players to the game, and players who have taken a break can return to Hearthstone confident that they’ll be familiar with these cards.

What is the Year of the Kraken?
The Year of the Kraken is a thematic way to refer to the first year of Standard format play. Next year, when the first new Expansion of the year is released, a new Hearthstone year will begin, Standard format will be updated, and a different mythical beast will symbolize the year!

Deck Management

What happens to my existing decks once Standard is introduced?
Your decks that are entirely composed of cards that are allowed in Standard format will become Standard format decks. Any of your decks containing Wild format cards will automatically be converted to Wild decks. They can be converted to Standard decks by selecting or moving your mouse cursor over a deck’s title bar and then choosing Standard format. Any Wild format cards in the deck will then be marked for replacement.

Are Standard cards labeled in the Collection Manager?
Individual cards are not labeled by format, though there will be visual cues in the Collection Manager to let you know whether you are building a Standard or Wild deck. There will also be a filter in the Collection Manager to display only Standard format cards.

Are the new deck slots only available for use with Standard decks?
You can use the new deck slots for either Standard or Wild decks. These extra deck slots become available after unlocking all nine Hearthstone heroes.

Crafting, Disenchanting, and Collecting Cards

How will collecting cards work?
Adventures and Expansions that are part of Standard format will be available for purchase with gold or real money. Card sets that aren’t part of Standard format won’t be available for purchase from the in-game Shop, but you will be able to craft any of those cards using Arcane Dust, including cards from Adventures that previously could not be disenchanted or crafted.

How will purchasing Adventures work?
You will be able to purchase Adventures that are part of the current Standard format normally. Adventures that are not part of Standard will no longer be available for purchase. If you already own at least one wing of such an Adventure, you’ll have the option to unlock the remaining wings using in-game gold.

Can I still craft or disenchant cards that aren’t part of Standard format?
Yes, you can craft or disenchant all of these cards—including cards from Adventures which previously could not be disenchanted or crafted—for their normal Arcane Dust value. This excludes Basic cards, which can never be crafted or disenchanted.

Note that you can also craft and disenchant cards from Standard format Adventures, as long as you’ve already earned them by completing the necessary challenges.

Gameplay

How will random effects work in Standard?
Random effects (including summoning random minions or cards, the Discover mechanic, transformations, or any other similar effects) will only summon cards that are eligible for the format you are playing. Thus, random effects in Standard will summon only cards that would be usable in the Standard format. All cards are legal in Wild format, so such effects will function as they always have.

Can I earn rewards in both formats?
You can earn gold, complete quests, level your heroes, and earn wins toward Golden heroes in both formats in exactly the same way. Your end of season Ranked Play bonus and card back will be awarded based on the highest rank you obtained in either Wild or Standard, but not both. End of season bonuses and Arena rewards will only include cards that are usable in Standard format.

Will Arenas use Standard format?
Arena, along with other Hearthstone play modes, such as Solo play, Adventures, etc. are all Wild by default. With the exception of the occasional Tavern Brawl, Standard format only applies to Ranked and Casual play in Play Mode.

Will Tavern Brawls use formats?
Tavern Brawls have different rules each week, so some Brawls will be in Wild format, while others could be in Standard format, but they’ll all be crazy fun!

Will my Adventure decks be affected by the new formats?
Adventures will be in Wild format, thus allowing you to use your entire collection to build Adventure decks.

How will matchmaking work?
When you queue up in Standard, you will be matched with players using decks that were created using Standard format rules. The Wild queue will include players who queued into it using both Wild format and Standard format decks, since the Wild format encompasses Standard format decks as well.

Can I play a Standard deck in Wild?
Yes! The Wild format includes your entire collection regardless of release date, including all of your cards that are usable in Standard format, so you can queue up for Wild using a Standard format deck directly.

Can I play Friendly Challenges in Standard format?
Yes! You will have the option to issue a Friendly Challenge using Standard or Wild format, and your opponent will only have the option to use decks of the appropriate format.

Ranked Play and Esports

How will Ranks work in Standard and Wild?
When Standard format arrives, your current rank will be “split” and applied to both Standard and Wild in Ranked play. For example, if you are Rank 5 when formats arrive, you will be Rank 5 in Standard and Rank 5 in Wild.

Afterwards, you'll have a separate rank and match making rating for each format, so you can earn ranks and hit Legend in both Wild and Standard individually. You’ll only collect ranked rewards at the end of the season based on the highest rank you attained in one format or the other, but not both. Regardless of which format you earned your rewards in, end of season bonuses will be comprised of cards that are usable in Standard format.

Note that you’ll have one match making rating that is shared between both Standard and Wild formats when playing in Casual.

Which of my Ranks will be shown to my Battle.net friends?
Only Standard format ranks will be visible to Battle.net friends.

Will you feature the top 100 Ranked players for both the Standard and Wild formats?
Currently, we plan to feature only the top 100 players in Standard format.

Can I earn Hearthstone Championship Tour points by competing in Ranked in both formats?
No. Standard will be the only format that offers Hearthstone Championship Tour points for 2016.

Will all official Blizzard esports events be played in Standard format?
Yes. Standard is the official format of the Hearthstone Championship Tour and the Hearthstone World Championship in 2016.

Misc.

Will card backs and custom heroes be useable in any format?
Yes, all the card backs and heroes you’ve collected can be used in all formats.

Will the Basic and Classic cards you update for the Year of the Kraken be disenchanted for full value?
While Basic cards can never be crafted or disenchanted, Classic cards that have been changed during the review can be disenchanted at their full dust value for a limited time.

With Play Mode split between Standard and Wild, will it take longer to find matches?
We don’t expect the introduction of formats to have a significant effect on the time it takes to find a match.

Can I still Play Adventures that aren’t available in the Shop?
You’ll only be able to play Adventures that you already own. If you already own at least one wing of an Adventure before it becomes Wild format only, you’ll be able to unlock and play the remaining wings using in-game gold, but not real money.

As a new player, I don’t see an option for Wild format in Play Mode. How do I play in Wild Ranked or Casual?
To unlock the option to create Wild decks and play Wild format, you can craft any card that is not part of  the current Standard format. If you already have such cards in your collection, then Wild format will already be unlocked by default.

Will any sets that leave Standard format become part of Standard again in the future?
There are currently no plans to add Wild format only sets back into the Standard format.

What’s the new 2016 Expansion?
It’s really, really cool. We think you’ll like it. You’ll find out what it is soon™.