Standard format

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Year of the Mammoth banner2.jpg

Standard format, or Standard, is one of Hearthstone's two game formats, the other being Wild format. Standard format is intended to feature a fresher and more focused Hearthstone experience, with a limited pool of cards allowing greater design space, a more dynamically shifting meta, more balanced play, and easier entry for new players.

Standard icon large.png

Games played in Standard format are restricted to cards from card sets released in the previous two calendar years, in addition to the Basic and Classic sets, which usually makes a total of 6-8 sets. The lack of older expansion sets makes Standard format friendlier for new players. The counterpart to Standard format, Wild format, has no such card restrictions. During Standard matches, random effects that produce cards are also restricted to only choosing from Standard sets, although non-random effects worded to generate specific Wild cards continue to function normally.

Standard is only available as a format in Play mode matches (Ranked and Casual), and Friendly Challenges. In addition, Tavern Brawls may occasionally use Standard format.[1] Standard is the default format for new players, and is used for all official (and most unofficial) tournaments, including the Hearthstone World Championship and Hearthstone Championship Tour. Only Standard format rankings are capable of granting Hearthstone Championship Tour points.

The prefix Standard is used to refer to cards, game modes, and adventures which fall within the Standard format, or which are only available in Standard format. For example, a Standard adventure is one which is currently part of Standard format. Furthermore, cards which are valid for the current Standard year are termed Standard cards.

Standard format is updated annually when the first new expansion of the year is released, marking the start of the new "Standard year". Standard format was released alongside Whispers of the Old Gods, on April 26/27th 2016.[2] At that time Curse of Naxxramas and Goblins vs Gnomes moved to Wild format, making cards from those sets unavailable in Standard format play.

Standard card sets[edit | edit source]

See also: Card set list

The following card sets are currently available in Standard format.

Year of the Mammoth

Upcoming expansion
(Summer 2017)


Upcoming expansion
(Fall 2017)


Basic card set
(always available)


Classic card set
(always available)

Removed card sets[edit | edit source]

The following cards sets are not available in Standard format.

Hall of Fame card set

Playing in Standard[edit | edit source]

For notes on the game format system in general, see Game format

Players are able to select Standard format through the Play mode selection screen, or when challenging a friend to a Friendly Challenge. An icon shows the current Standard year's symbol (e.g. Kraken, Mammoth, etc) if Standard is selected, or a thorny infinity symbol if Wild format is selected. Matches played in Standard format will always see both players obeying the format's restrictions; players queuing for a Standard format match will never be matched against Wild format players.[1]

When playing a Standard game, players may only choose decks which are built entirely from Standard card sets, namely Basic, Classic, and adventure or expansion sets within the rotating two-calendar year window. In the deck creation or selection screens, Standard-legal decks are displayed with plain unadorned buttons, while those containing Wild cards show a thorny vine wrapped around the border. Deck builders can convert a Wild deck to Standard using a button when hovering over the deck name, in which case Wild cards in the deck will be marked to allow for easy replacement. When editing a Standard deck, Wild-only cards from the player's collection are not displayed. The conversion can also be reversed, removing the restrictions on adding Wild cards to the deck.

During Standard games, cards that provide access to other cards randomly will only select from Standard sets, whereas in Wild they would be able to select from all cards. Mechanics restricted this way include summoning or transforming into random minions (Murloc Knight, Summoning Stone, Devolve, Lotus Illusionist), generating cards in the hand (Shaku, the Collector, Kabal Trafficker), casting random spells (Yogg-Saron), and the Discover mechanic (I Know a Guy).[1][3] This focuses the gameplay on the more refined set of cards, and prevents players from using random chance to access mechanics that have been restricted from the format. On the other hand, cards which generate specific cards from other sets remain fully functional in Standard. For example, during the Year of the Kraken, Ball of Spiders is valid since its set, The Grand Tournament is in that year. It will generate Webspinners upon use as the card says, despite Webspinner itself not being a valid card for Standard play that year.[4]

The Standard year[edit | edit source]

The constellation of the Kraken

The current selection of Standard card sets is updated when the first new expansion each year is released. At this point, Standard format will be updated to include only card sets added to the game in the current or previous calendar year, as well as the Basic and Classic sets. Cards from older card sets will no longer be available in Standard format.[1] The selection is not updated at the start of the calendar year, or upon release of expansions past the first in any given year. This is in order to minimise the disruption of removing sets from Standard format play, which can be especially disorienting to returning players.[5][6]

At the start of each Standard year, adventures that are no longer part of Standard format will cease to be available in the shop, although players who have already unlocked at least one wing will be able to unlock others with gold. Instead, players will be able to craft and disenchant cards from these adventures for regular Arcane Dust amounts.[1]

There are currently no plans for older card sets to be reintroduced to the Standard format later on.[1]

Card set rotation schedule[edit | edit source]

Following the release of Whispers of the Old Gods in April 2016, all cards from sets released in 2014 have been removed from Standard format, namely Curse of Naxxramas (July 2014) and Goblins vs Gnomes (December 2014).

Following the release of Journey to Un'Goro in April 2017, Blackrock Mountain (April 2015), The Grand Tournament (August 2015), and The League of Explorers (November 2015) have cycled out of Standard.

Likewise, when the first 2018 expansion goes live, Whispers of the Old Gods (April 2016), One Night in Karazhan (August 2016) and Mean Streets of Gadgetzan (December 2016) will all rotate out of Standard.

The Hearthstone Zodiac[edit | edit source]

Hearthstone Zodiac - crocolisk.jpg
Hearthstone Zodiac - unicorn.jpg

The release of the first expansion each year marks the start of the new "Standard year".

Each Standard year (or "Hearthstone year") is symbolised by a zodiacal constellation formed from stars in Azeroth's night sky.[1] The lore behind this is that the new year is heralded by a new constellation coming into alignment above Azeroth, marking "a time of jubilation and raucous revelry wherever Hearthstone is played".[1] Each year will be marked by a different beast.[1]

The current year's constellation acts as a symbol for Standard format, as seen on the Standard format selection button on the Play mode screen.

While most of the constellations have not yet been revealed, some can be seen during the introduction sequence for each new Standard year. In theory, this would indicate the constellations for future Standard years, but so far this has proven not to be the case: according to the original depiction, the Year of the Kraken should have been followed by the Year of the Zhevra/Unicorn (since that constellation followed the kraken), but the subsequent year's animation instead replaced the zhevra with a mammoth. It is possible that some of the revealed beasts may feature in future years, but it is more likely the developers will choose a new beast each year to fit the current theme or desired tone.

The below table charts the known constellations, according to the latest depiction.

Beast Year Notes
Crocolisk Arguably represents 2015, or the pre-Standard era
Kraken 2016
Mammoth 2017 Previously a unicorn or zhevra
Dragon
Raptor

History[edit | edit source]

For a history of the introduction of game formats, see Game format#History.

Year of the Kraken[edit | edit source]

Year of the Kraken icon banner.jpg

The first Standard year, this year saw the removal of cards from the Curse of Naxxramas and Goblins vs Gnomes sets, and began with the introduction of Whispers of the Old Gods. The Promo and Reward sets were also removed from Standard, although the removal of the latter set was quickly reverted and granted an extension until May 4, in order to give players more time to complete the related quests.[7][8]

Heralding the introduction of game formats, the Year of the Kraken began immediately following a flurry of card changes designed to establish a fresher and more diverse meta, specifically Standard format. For a list of the changes, see Card changes.

The simultaneous arrival of Whispers of the Old Gods, removal of Curse of Naxxramas and Goblins vs Gnomes, and changes to many key cards resulted in a number of new decks rising to dominance, most notably including cards from the new expansion: C'Thun decks, N'Zoth Deathrattle decks, Evolve Shaman, and various decks featuring Yogg-Saron. Many previously popular decks like Secret Paladin became far less common.

The second set of the year came in August with One Night in Karazhan, which among other things saw the first truly competitive iteration of Discardlock, as well as improvements to Tempo Mage, Midrange Hunter and Shaman decks.

The final set of the year arrived in December with Mean Streets of Gadgetzan, introducing the game's first tri-class cards, as well as decks matching each of the expansion's three crime families: Grimy Goons with their hand-buffing decks, the Kabal with their no duplicate cards decks, and the Jade Lotus with their late game-dominating Jade Golem decks. Patches the Pirate was exceptionally popular, fuelling a strong surge in Pirate Warrior, but also being included in many other decks as a "free" card.

Commentary

Year of the Mammoth[edit | edit source]

The second Standard year, this year will start with the release of the first expansion of 2017. The start of the year will see the Blackrock Mountain, The Grand Tournament and The League of Explorers sets moved to Wild format. Additionally, for the first time, six cards from the Classic set will be rotated to a new Wild-only card set called the Hall of Fame. This move takes the place of the nerfs seen at the start of the previous standard year, with no other card changes planned.[9]

The run-up to the start of the new year will also feature some special events, such as the release of the Maiev Shadowsong hero, several special Tavern Brawls (including a Wild-format reprise of the Heroic Tavern Brawl and some "party" variants on previous Brawls), and daily login bonuses, awarding players for logging in with dust, gold and card packs.

The video below gives a visual depiction of the set rotations for the new year. An extensive live Q&A session was also held giving answers on a range of related topics.

Hall of Fame[edit | edit source]

With the start of Year of the Mammoth, Conceal, Ice Lance, Power Overwhelming, Azure Drake, Ragnaros the Firelord and Sylvanas Windrunner were removed from the Classic set and added to the new Hall of Fame set, thus moving them from Standard to Wild format. Captain's Parrot and Old Murk-Eye were also moved to the Hall of Fame set from the Reward set. Although not previously officially announced, Gelbin Mekkatorque and Elite Tauren Chieftain were also moved to the Hall of Fame set from the Promo set.

All players received bonus arcane dust in compensation for the full crafting cost of copies of the above Classic cards they possessed. Note that the cards themselves were not disenchanted, only moved to Wild format.

Once moved to the Hall of Fame set, these cards were removed from their previous sets, and no longer feature in Classic card packs,[10] be offered as rewards in the Arena, nor featured in the Highest Rank Bonus chest. Instead, as Wild format cards, they are now only obtainable through crafting.[11]

A minor consequence of the change is that the Mage, Rogue, and Warlock classes now have only 5 common Classic cards each instead of 6,[12] making these classes slightly less likely to gain class cards from Classic packs.

The new set is intended to help keep the Standard format meta fresh and ever-changing. For more on the motivations behind the move, as well as comments on each card involved, see the official blog.

Dust refunds

At the start of the year players received arcane dust equal to the full crafting cost of any copies of the formerly Classic cards they possessed. Captain's Parrot, Old Murk-Eye, Gelbin Mekkatorque, and Elite Tauren Chieftain were not eligible for this bonus since the Reward and Promo sets were already exclusive to Wild format.[13]

  • Dust was only awarded for copies up to the maximum number of cards you could put in a deck:[14]
  • The refund prioritized golden cards over non-golden cards.[15] For example:
    • If you had 1 golden Conceal and 2 regular Conceals, you received dust equal to the full crafting cost of 1 golden and 1 regular Conceal.
    • If you had 2 golden Conceals and 1 regular Conceal, you received dust equal to the full crafting cost of 2 golden Conceals.
    • If you had 1 golden Sylvanas and 1 regular Sylvanas, you received dust equal to the full crafting cost of 1 golden Sylvanas.
  • The dust was awarded automatically the first time the player logged in following the start of the Year of the Mammoth.[14]
  • The Year of the Mammoth update does not provide full disenchant value for these cards. Disenchanting and crafting will be of normal value for both before and after the update.[16] The procedure of refund for dust rewards is different from that for card nerfs.

As a result of the above rules, players could have capitalized on the move to (1) gain free cards, (2) gain free dust, or (3) upgrade to golden cards for reduced cost:

(1) Players who did not own the maximum usable number of copies of any of the cards listed could have effectively crafted them for free.

  • At the start of the Year of the Mammoth, the full crafting cost was refunded, making them effectively free.
    • This included golden cards (provided the player did not already own regular versions).
  • Alternatively, if the cards were not desired, the player could have disenchanted them following the refund at normal disenchanting value (not the full crafting cost) of the cards.

(2) Players who did not already own two golden copies of the common cards listed could have gained a small amount of free dust by crafting golden copies, then disenchanting them following the refund.

  • This amounted to 10 arcane dust for each golden common crafted (provided it was not already owned).
  • This did not work for cards of other rarities, since their golden disenchanting values match their regular crafting values.

(3) Players who already owned regular versions but not golden versions of the cards could have also used the refund to get a discount on the crafting cost of their golden versions.

  • The effective 'upgrade costs' for the golden cards involved are 35 for commons (down from 400); 80 for rares (down from 800); and 1200 for legendaries (down from 3200).
  • For example, if the player already owned 1 regular Sylvanas, they could have crafted a golden Sylvanas for 3200 dust; they will then get 3200 refunded (instead of only 1600), plus disenchanted the regular Sylvanas for another 400 dust. As a result, the crafting cost of the golden Sylvanas is effectively reduced from 3200 to 1200.

Aside from the above three options, the dust values involved prevented players from exploiting the move.

For more details and calculations, see Maths on Year of the Mammoth Dust Investments.

Daily rewards[edit | edit source]

Each day from March 29 to April 5, players were rewarded for logging on with special bonuses.

A visual chart of the rewards
Date Reward
March 29 50 gold
March 30 Mean Streets of Gadgetzan card pack
March 31 100 Arcane Dust
April 1 Whispers of the Old Gods card pack
April 2 Journey to Un'Goro card pack
April 3 50 gold
April 4 Journey to Un'Goro card pack
April 5 1 x Golden Volcanosaur
Commentary

Design[edit | edit source]

Standard format aims to create a fresher Hearthstone experience. With older cards steadily eliminated from the format, the meta will shift more regularly and more significantly, since new cards will have a larger impact. Design space will also be increased, since older cards will no longer restrict the possibilities for creating new cards. The combination of a smaller card pool and less limited design space is also expected to help the developers to balance the game.[1] For newer players, Standard format will mean a smaller pool of relevant cards, making it easier for players to acquire the cards they need to be competitive.

The perennial inclusion of the Basic and Classic sets in Standard format is partly intended to help returning players to retain some familiarity with the game.[1] The cards also serve as a foundation for the game, establish class identity, and are useful for introducing new players to Standard format with a "safe purchase".[1][17] Additionally, the "iconic" cards in the Classic set help sustain the identity and familiarity of the game for all players.[18]

Ben Brode states that changes are possible for the future definition of Standard format, saying "I think there are lots of things possible once we've had some time to play with the two formats and see what's good and bad."[19] One possibility would be "reprints", making cards from Wild formats available once again in Standard format and for purchase, likely as part of a new set. Brode has said that this "certainly could happen", although as of February 2016 there are no current plans for it.[20]

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Standard format promo art

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 A New Way to Play. (2016-02-02). 
  2. PlayHearthstone on Twitter. (2016-02-02). 
  3. PlayHearthstone on Twitter. (2016-02-02). 
  4. PlayHearthstone on Twitter. (2016-02-02). 
  5. Ben Brode on Twitter. (2016-02-04). 
  6. Ben Brode on Twitter. (2016-08-10). 
  7. Old Murk-Eye and Captain's Parrot. (2016-04-25). 
  8. Yong Woo on Twitter. (2016-04-27). 
  9. Ben Brode on Twitter. (2017-02-18). 
  10. Ben Brode on Twitter. (2016-02-16). 
  11. Ben Brode on Twitter. (2017-02-16). 
  12. Ben Brode on Twitter. (2017-02-16). 
  13. Ben Brode on Twitter. (2017-02-24). 
  14. 14.0 14.1 A Year of Mammoth Proportions!. (2016-02-16). 
  15. PlayHearthstone on Twitter. (2017-02-17). 
  16. Ben Brode on Twitter. (2017-02-16). 
  17. Tim Clark (2016-02-02). PC GAMER: Ben Brode on why Standard Hearthstone has to ditch the old card expansions
  18. Ben Brode on Twitter. (2016-02-04). 
  19. Ben Brode on Twitter. (2016-02-05). 
  20. Ben Brode on Twitter. (2016-02-04). 

External links[edit | edit source]