Standard format

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Standard format Year of the Kraken promotional banner.jpg

Standard format, or Standard, is one of Hearthstone's two game formats, the other being Wild format.

Standard icon large.png

Games played in Standard format are restricted to cards from card sets released in the current or previous calendar year, in addition to the Basic and Classic sets. This makes Standard format a friendlier game format for new players, as older card sets are not included in Standard. The counterpart to Standard format, Wild format, has no such card restrictions.

Cards from sets outside of Standard cannot be included in decks used in Standard format matches. Furthermore, during Standard matches, random effects, such as from Deathrattles or Discover effects, will only select from options available in the current Standard year; cards outside of Standard format will not be able to be generated from such random effects. This extends to effects from cards such as Murloc Knight, Summoning Stone, Shaku, Devolve, Lotus Illusionist, Kabal Trafficker, and I Know a Guy.[1][2] However, non-random effects which are worded to generate specific cards will still continue to function normally even if the generated card's card set is in Wild (e.g. playing Ball of Spiders during the Year of the Kraken).[3]

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 format is intended to feature a fresher and more focused Hearthstone experience, with the limited pool of cards allowing greater design space and a more dynamically shifting meta, as well as more balanced play. 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.

Standard format is updated annually when the first new expansion of the year is released, marking the start of the new "Standard year". The arrival of Standard format in 2016 saw Curse of Naxxramas and Goblins vs Gnomes moved to Wild format, making cards from those sets unavailable in Standard format play.

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 was released alongside Whispers of the Old Gods, on April 26/27th 2016.[4]

Standard card sets[edit | edit source]

See also: Card set list

The following card sets are currently available in Standard format.

Year of the Kraken

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.


Reward card set


Promo card set

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 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.[1] 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]

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.[1] 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).

When the first 2017 expansion, Journey to Un'Goro, goes live, Blackrock Mountain (April 2015), The Grand Tournament (August 2015), and The League of Explorers (November 2015) will cycle 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". The first Standard year is known as the Year of the Kraken.[1]

Each Standard year (or "Hearthstone year") is symbolised by a zodiacal constellation formed from stars in Azeroth's night sky.[1] The lore behind Standard format 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 the other constellations have not been revealed, some other creatures can be seen during the game formats introduction sequence: a unicorn (or zhevra), and a crocolisk. These are likely placeholders, but may feature as future constellations.

According to this depiction, since the crocolisk immediately precedes the kraken, it should have been the constellation for the previous year, while the unicorn is following the kraken, suggesting it would be the constellation for the next Standard year (2017). However, the announcement of the Year of the Mammoth has proven this not to be the case.

Notes[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.
  • Matches played in Standard format will always see both players obeying the format's restrictions. Players queuing for a Standard format match will always be matched against other Standard format players.[1]
  • Cards which generate specific minions from other sets remain usable in Standard format as long as the card itself is from an appropriate set. For example, during the Year of the Kraken, Ball of Spiders are valid, and will generate Webspinners upon use, despite Webspinner itself not being a valid card for Standard play that year.[3]
  • 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."[5]
    • 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.[6]
  • The Standard year starts when the first new expansion is released each year, rather than when each new set is released. This is in order to minimise the disruption of removing sets from Standard format play, which can be especially disorienting to returning players.[7][8]
  • Reasons given the developers for featuring Classic as a constant part of Standard format include making the Classic set a "safe purchase" for new players, providing a foothold into Standard format for returning players and wanting to maintain the presence of the "iconic" cards in the Classic set.[9]

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.[10][11]

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.[12]

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, a Wild-format reprise of the Heroic Tavern Brawl, 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]

When the Year of the Mammoth starts, Conceal, Ice Lance, Power Overwhelming, Azure Drake, Ragnaros the Firelord and Sylvanas Windrunner will be 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 will also be moved from the Reward set to the Hall of Fame set.

When this happens, all players will receive bonus arcane dust in compensation for the full crafting cost of any copies of the above Classic cards they possess. Note that the cards themselves will not be disenchanted, only moved to Wild format.

Once moved to the Hall of Fame set, these cards will be removed from their previous sets, and will no longer feature in Classic card packs,[13] be offered as rewards in the Arena, nor feature in the Highest Rank Bonus chest. Instead, as Wild format cards, they will only be obtainable through crafting.[14]

A minor consequence of the change is that the Mage, Rogue and Warlock classes will have only 5 common Classic cards each instead of 6,[15] 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 will receive arcane dust equal to the full crafting cost of any copies of the formerly Classic cards they possess. Note that Captain's Parrot and Old Murk-Eye will not be eligible for this bonus since the Reward set was already exclusive to Wild format.[16]

  • Dust will only be awarded for copies up to the maximum number of cards you could put in a deck:[17]
  • The refund will prioritise golden cards over non-golden cards.[18] For example:
    • If you have 1 golden Conceal and 2 regular Conceals, you will receive dust equal to the full crafting cost of 1 golden and 1 regular Conceal.
    • If you have 2 golden Conceals and 1 regular Conceal, you will receive dust equal to the full crafting cost of 2 golden Conceals.
    • If you have 1 golden Sylvanas and 1 regular Sylvanas, you will receive dust equal to the full crafting cost of 1 golden Sylvanas.
  • The dust will be awarded automatically the first time the player logs in following the start of the Year of the Mammoth.[17]
  • The Year of the Mammoth update will not be providing full disenchant value for these cards. Disenchanting and crafting will be of normal value for both before and after the update.[19] The procedure of refund for dust rewards is different from that for card nerfs.

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

(1) Players who do not own the maximum usable number of copies of any of the cards listed can effectively craft them for free.

  • At the start of the Year of the Mammoth, the full crafting cost will be refunded, making them effectively free.
    • This includes golden cards (provided the player does not already own regular versions).
  • Alternatively, if the cards are not desired the player can disenchant them following the refund at normal disenchanting value (not the full crafting cost) of the cards.

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

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

(3) Players who already own regular versions but not golden versions of the cards can also use 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 owns 1 regular Sylvanas, they can craft a golden Sylvanas for 3200 dust; they will then get 3200 refunded (instead of only 1600), plus disenchant 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 prevent players from exploiting the move.

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

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • 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.[1][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 1.12 1.13 1.14 A New Way to Play. (2016-02-02). 
  2. PlayHearthstone on Twitter. (2016-02-02). 
  3. 3.0 3.1 PlayHearthstone on Twitter. (2016-02-02). 
  4. PlayHearthstone on Twitter. (2016-02-02). 
  5. Ben Brode on Twitter. (2016-02-05). 
  6. Ben Brode on Twitter. (2016-02-04). 
  7. Ben Brode on Twitter. (2016-02-04). 
  8. Ben Brode on Twitter. (2016-08-10). 
  9. Ben Brode on Twitter. (2016-02-04). 
  10. Old Murk-Eye and Captain's Parrot. (2016-04-25). 
  11. Yong Woo on Twitter. (2016-04-27). 
  12. Ben Brode on Twitter. (2017-02-18). 
  13. Ben Brode on Twitter. (2016-02-16). 
  14. Ben Brode on Twitter. (2017-02-16). 
  15. Ben Brode on Twitter. (2017-02-16). 
  16. Ben Brode on Twitter. (2017-02-24). 
  17. 17.0 17.1 A Year of Mammoth Proportions!. (2016-02-16). 
  18. PlayHearthstone on Twitter. (2017-02-17). 
  19. Ben Brode on Twitter. (2017-02-16). 
  20. PC GAMER: Ben Brode on why Standard Hearthstone has to ditch the old card expansions. (2016-02-02). 

External links[edit | edit source]