The next Hearthstone expansion is Forged in the Barrens

After a not-so-subtle teaser trailer from Blizzard and a series of leaks, the official word on the new Hearthstone expansion is here, courtesy of BlizzCon. Hearthstone: Forged in the Barrens will take us, naturally, to the Barrens, a Horde-heavy area in WoW and general Warcraft lore. The new expansion is due to launch this year – the Year of the Gryphon, in Hearthstone terms – alongside some major revamps to basic Hearthstone play.

The new keyword this time around is Frenzy, which activates whenever a minion takes damage and survives, to dish out effects like dealing damage to all enemy minions. We’re also getting new types of spell cards that will upgrade over the course of the game, gaining more power as you reach five and ten mana.

This expansion will also introduce a new mode called Hearthstone Mercenaries, an RPG-style affair where you build a team of Warcraft heroes, take them through a randomly-generated series of levels, gaining levels and new equipment as you go.

Ahead of today’s BlizzCon announcements, the Hearthstone devs have already broken down some of the other major changes coming alongside this update. The new Core Set will replace the existing Basic and Classic sets with 235 free cards, giving new players an easier way to get in on whatever the current meta is.

Besides that, we’re also getting Hearthstone Classic which, as the name implies, is pretty much the WoW Classic idea applied to Hearthstone. It’ll be a new mode in-game that will let you play with everything balanced just as it was in 2014. It will sit alongside Standard and Wild formats with its own matchmaking pool.

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