Whispers of the Old Gods

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Whispers of the Old Gods banner.png
"Now I've got a tale to tell you... of the ones from long ago. There's an evil that's been dreaming, but now it's softly screaming! From the darkness their power will grow. Their voices are made of poison! When you listen you are sure to be disturbed. You can lock your doors, you can say your prayers, no creature can resist their wicked words! Never mind! No need to worry, that's all just a story... of the whispers of the Old Gods."

Whispers of the Old Gods (WotOG, Old Gods[1]) is the third expansion to Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. Featuring 134 new collectible cards, the expansion was released April 26, 2016 in the Americas region, and April 27 in the Europe and Asia regions.[2]

This sinister expansion revolves around the dark influence of the Old Gods, ancient and unspeakably evil creatures that have long lay hidden, imprisoned in the dark places of the world millennia ago. Despite their imprisonment, these shadowy beings' influence can be felt in every corner of Azeroth, twisting and corrupting any who hear their maddening whispers. With an army of followers performing forbidden empowerment rituals, the tentacles of these massive horrors are growing rapidly toward the light, eager to bring their own kind of excitement to the sunlit kingdoms and merry taverns of Azeroth.

The expansion features legendary minion cards for each of the four Old Gods - C'Thun, Yogg-Saron, N'Zoth and Y'Shaarj - along with a crowd of frenzied cultists working overtime to empower these mighty horrors in preparation for their return. The expansion also sees some familiar faces corrupted into frightening new forms, as well as new scaling effects in the form of Forbidden spells.

The expansion is featured in a minor launch event, lasting from the date of its release until July 6, 2016.[3] The event awards 13 free packs in total, partly through completing special quests.

The data for the expansion was added with Patch 5.0.0.12574, along with all accompanying changes, in the biggest patch Hearthstone has received so far.[4] With the new expansion accompanying the launch of game formats, the release of Whispers of the Old Gods also saw the immediate arrival of Standard format.

How to get[edit | edit source]

Whispers of the Old Gods card pack.png

Whispers of the Old Gods cards are available through the following options:

  • Whispers of the Old Gods card packs can be purchased through the Shop, with the usual prices and purchasing options.
    • Opening their first Whispers of the Old Gods card pack will award each player with a single non-golden copy of C'Thun, and two non-golden copies of Beckoner of Evil. These cards are not otherwise available except through crafting.[5][6]
  • Whispers of the Old Gods cards can be crafted for the usual amounts of Arcane Dust.
  • For as long Whispers of the Old Gods is the latest expansion, the guaranteed card pack from each Arena run will be from the expansion. Once the next expansion comes out, second card packs will have a chance to be Whispers of the Old Gods packs.
  • The Highest Rank Bonus chest has a chance to award golden Whisper of the Old Gods cards.
Launch event

Players logging in on or before July 5, 2016[3] will be able to obtain free card packs. Note that new players will have to complete the starting quests "First Blood" and "The Duelist" before they will be able to access the promotions.[7][3]

  • Logging in for the first time during the Whispers of the Old Gods launch event will reward the player with three Whispers of the Old Gods card packs.
  • Logging in for the first time during the event will also add the special "5 Old Gods Packs!" quest to the player's Quest Log. This quest will award players with 5 Whispers of the Old Gods card packs for completing two matches in Standard format. Once that is completed, a follow up quest "5 More Old Gods Packs!" will award a further 5 card packs for completing another seven matches in Standard format.
    • These quests can completed after the end of the launch event, but the second quest will only be awarded if the first is completed during the event.[3]
    • If you already have three quests, one of your quests will be replaced by the "5 Old Gods Pack!" quest (whichever has the least progress).[8]
Pre-order
  • Prior to the expansion's release, players were able to pre-order 50 Whispers of the Old Gods card packs, although they could not be opened until the expansion was released. The pre-order was available up until the expansion is released.
  • The pre-order came with a unique card back (see below).
  • The price for the 50 pack bundle was $49.99 USD/€44,99 EUR/£39.99 GBP or equivalent.
Arena
  • C'Thun and his related cards will not be included in Arena picks, due to their very limited synergy,[9] although they may still appear in Arena matches through random effects.[10] Besides the Reward Set, this is the first time cards have been specifically excluded from Arena picks.

Cards[edit | edit source]

Whispers of the Old Gods features 134 collectible cards, 27 uncollectible cards, and 1 replacement Hero Power. 53 of the collectible cards are neutral, while the remaining 81 are class-specific, with 9 cards for each class. Unusually, it also added 3 uncollectible cards to other sets, through the unique minions produced by Fandral Staghelm. Whispers of the Old Gods cards can be recognized by the tentacle marking behind the card text, not found on other cards.

The expansion notably features each of the four Old Gods as legendary minions.

Neutral[edit | edit source]

The expansion features 53 neutral collectible cards: 23 commons, 9 rares, 9 epics, and 12 legendaries. It also includes 6 neutral uncollectible cards, one of which is legendary.

Common (23 cards)
Tentacle of N'Zoth(33130).png
Zealous Initiate(35222).png
Beckoner of Evil(31114).png
Bilefin Tidehunter(35219).png
Duskboar(35251).png
Twilight Geomancer(35202).png
Twisted Worgen(35223).png
Am'gam Rager(35238).png
Spawn of N'Zoth(33137).png
Squirming Tentacle(35243).png
Twilight Elder(31112).png
Aberrant Berserker(35236).png
C'Thun's Chosen(33123).png
Evolved Kobold(35254).png
Infested Tauren(33128).png
Polluted Hoarder(31111).png
Cult Apothecary(33148).png
Psych-o-Tron(35216).png
Nerubian Prophet(35233).png
Bog Creeper(35240).png
Grotesque Dragonhawk(35250).png
Eldritch Horror(35253).png
Faceless Behemoth(35249).png
Rare (9 cards)
Disciple of C'Thun(35196).png
Silithid Swarmer(35200).png
Blackwater Pirate(35203).png
Eater of Secrets(31121).png
Midnight Drake(35247).png
Corrupted Healbot(31109).png
Corrupted Seer(35228).png
Skeram Cultist(33154).png
Doomcaller(35211).png
Epic (9 cards)
Cyclopian Horror(35225).png
Faceless Shambler(33133).png
Twilight Summoner(33175).png
Crazed Worshipper(35212).png
Darkspeaker(35229).png
Validated Doomsayer(31115).png
Ancient Harbinger(33157).png
Scaled Nightmare(33152).png
Blood of The Ancient One(33164).png
Legendary (12 cards)
Shifter Zerus(35190).png
Nat, the Darkfisher(35248).png
Mukla, Tyrant of the Vale(33149).png
Hogger, Doom of Elwynn(31117).png
Twin Emperor Vek'lor(35201).png
The Boogeymonster(33138).png
Soggoth the Slitherer(33173).png
C'Thun(31110).png
Deathwing, Dragonlord(33177).png
N'Zoth, the Corruptor(33134).png
Y'Shaarj, Rage Unbound(33156).png
Yogg-Saron, Hope's End(33168).png

Uncollectible[edit | edit source]

Gnoll(35353).png
Faceless Destroyer(35333).png
Ooze(35308).png
Slime(35327).png
The Ancient One(35310).png
Twin Emperor Vek'nilash(35354).png

Class cards[edit | edit source]

The expansion includes 9 collectible cards for each class: 3 commons, 3 rares, 2 epics and 1 legendary minion. It also includes 21 uncollectible class cards.

Druid[edit | edit source]

Mark of Y'Shaarj(33151).png
Feral Rage(35210).png
Dark Arakkoa(35189).png
Addled Grizzly(35235).png
Klaxxi Amber-Weaver(33121).png
Mire Keeper(33162).png
Forbidden Ancient(35213).png
Wisps of the Old Gods(33172).png
Fandral Staghelm(35208).png
Uncollectible
Slime(35321).png
Wisp(35315).png
Choice cards
Evolve Scales(35281).png
Evolve Spines(35280).png
Y'Shaarj's Strength(35318).png
Yogg-Saron's Magic(35320).png
Big Wisps(35314).png
Many Wisps(35313).png
Fandral Staghelm

When a card with two Choose One options involving transform effects is played while controlling Fandral Staghelm, a unique minion will be produced that combines the effects of both options. While they do not belong to the Whispers of the Old Gods set, these minions were added with the expansion, and so are listed here for completeness.

Druid of the Claw(35256).png
Druid of the Flame(35365).png
Tiger Form(35366).png

Hunter[edit | edit source]

Fiery Bat(35214).png
On the Hunt(35220).png
Carrion Grub(35218).png
Forlorn Stalker(33181).png
Infest(33146).png
Infested Wolf(35215).png
Call of the Wild(33167).png
Giant Sand Worm(31118).png
Princess Huhuran(35188).png
Uncollectible
Mastiff(35286).png
Spider(35322).png

Mage[edit | edit source]

Shatter(35244).png
Twilight Flamecaller(35187).png
Faceless Summoner(33178).png
Cult Sorcerer(35239).png
Demented Frostcaller(35184).png
Servant of Yogg-Saron(33179).png
Forbidden Flame(33124).png
Cabalist's Tome(33155).png
Anomalus(35230).png

Paladin[edit | edit source]

Divine Strength(35252).png
A Light in the Darkness(35237).png
Stand Against Darkness(31116).png
Selfless Hero(35245).png
Rallying Blade(35246).png
Steward of Darkshire(33153).png
Forbidden Healing(33126).png
Vilefin Inquisitor(33158).png
Ragnaros, Lightlord(33147).png
Uncollectible
Silver Hand Murloc(35275).png
The Tidal Hand(35276).png

Priest[edit | edit source]

Hooded Acolyte(35192).png
Darkshire Alchemist(35199).png
Power Word- Tentacles(35193).png
Shadow Word- Horror(33150).png
Shifting Shade(35186).png
Twilight Darkmender(35191).png
Forbidden Shaping(33125).png
Embrace the Shadow(33176).png
Herald Volazj(33127).png

Rogue[edit | edit source]

Bladed Cultist(35198).png
Shadow Strike(35195).png
Southsea Squidface(35241).png
Journey Below(35194).png
Undercity Huckster(33135).png
Thistle Tea(33174).png
Shadowcaster(33180).png
Blade of C'Thun(35197).png
Xaril, Poisoned Mind(33139).png
Uncollectible
Bloodthistle Toxin(35290).png
Briarthorn Toxin(35291).png
Fadeleaf Toxin(35293).png
Firebloom Toxin(35295).png
Kingsblood Toxin(35289).png

Shaman[edit | edit source]

Primal Fusion(35234).png
Stormcrack(35227).png
Flamewreathed Faceless(35226).png
Evolve(35232).png
Master of Evolution(33160).png
Thing from Below(33159).png
Eternal Sentinel(35231).png
Hammer of Twilight(33163).png
Hallazeal the Ascended(33131).png
Uncollectible
Twilight Elemental(35278).png

Warlock[edit | edit source]

Possessed Villager(33171).png
Darkshire Councilman(35224).png
Usher of Souls(35242).png
Forbidden Ritual(35217).png
Darkshire Librarian(35221).png
Spreading Madness(33169).png
Renounce Darkness(33136).png
DOOM!(33129).png
Cho'gall(35303).png
Uncollectible
Icky Tentacle(35300).png
Shadowbeast(35326).png

Warrior[edit | edit source]

N'Zoth's First Mate(33132).png
Ravaging Ghoul(33161).png
Bloodhoof Brave(35205).png
Blood To Ichor(35209).png
Bloodsail Cultist(35204).png
Ancient Shieldbearer(33122).png
Blood Warriors(33166).png
Tentacles for Arms(33140).png
Malkorok(35207).png
Uncollectible
Rusty Hook(35285).png
Slime(35350).png

Accompanying changes[edit | edit source]

The following changes were implemented place with the release of Whispers of the Old Gods, or the accompanying patch.

  • Game formats were added to the game, introducing Standard and Wild format
    • Numerous Basic and Classic cards were nerfed in preparation for the new game formats
      • These cards can be disenchanted for their full Dust value until May 10
    • Numerous interface changes were made to support the new format options
    • New quests were added, awarding players with Whispers of the Old Gods card packs upon completing certain number of matches in Standard Format
  • The 'Sorry' emote was removed, and replaced with the new 'Wow' emote

Battlefield[edit | edit source]

The expansion brought with it a new battlefield, depicting a corrupted version of the Stormwind battlefield.

For more details on the battlefield and its interactable features, see Battlefield#Whispers of the Old Gods.

Battlefield - Whispers of the Old Gods.jpg

Card backs[edit | edit source]

A special card back was available as part of the expansion's pre-order bundle. The card back for Ranked play Season 25 also matches the expansion. More loosely, the "Hogger" card back for Ranked play Season 24 may have been intended as a teaser for the adventure, due to the introduction of the corrupted Hogger, Doom of Elwynn.

Eyes of C'Thun
Card back-Eyes of C'Thun.png
Pre-ordering 50 Whispers of the Old Gods card packs

For an Old God who's stuck in the lightless depths of an ancient temple, C'Thun sure has a lot of eyeballs.

Clutch of Yogg-Saron
Card back-Clutch of Yogg-Saron.png
Achieving Rank 20 in Ranked Season 25 (April 2016)

There are several cults trying to summon the Old God Yogg-Saron, and the competition for cultists is causing salaries to skyrocket.

Hogger
Card back-Hogger.png
Achieving Rank 20 in Ranked Season 24 (March 2016)

The Terror of Elwynn, the King of Gnolls. They say he bathes in the tears of young heroes, hence the wet dog smell.

Themes[edit | edit source]

Whispers of the Old Gods key art.jpg

Old Gods[edit | edit source]

Ancient horrors from Azeroth's past, after eons of slumbering the Old Gods have at last awakened, each bringing its own kind of terror to the field.

Servants of the Old Gods[edit | edit source]

The subjects of worship for numerous cults, the Old Gods have the unflinching obedience of mortals across Azeroth. Many of these pledge their service (and their lives) specifically to C'Thun, empowering the ancient being with dark rituals.

C'Thun

Born of the Old Gods[edit | edit source]

"Where one falls, many shall take its place."

While the Old Gods' command fanatical devotion from their followers among the races of Azeroth, their oldest and most loyal servants are those born of their own blighted forms long before the coming of the Titans. The n'raqi, also known as the faceless ones, and the insectoid aqir, since split into the mantid, the qiraji and the nerubians, formed from the organic matter that seeped from the Old Gods. These unwavering servants built the vast temples of the Black Empire and formed armies that would wage war upon the world. With the reawakening of the Old Gods, the scattered remnants of these monstrous races seem eager to return to their rightful place at the hand of their dark masters.

N'raqi
Mantid
Qiraji
Silithid
Nerubian

Call of the Old Gods[edit | edit source]

The inn's patrons are not the only ones heeding the whispers of the Old Gods...

The growing whispers have also awakened other beings stranger even than these, most spawned or created by the Old Gods, others perhaps simply drawn by their dark call.

Corruption[edit | edit source]

Same old faces, brand new tentacles!
"Steeped in the insidious influence of the Old Gods, unknown terrors will give your decks new and bizarre forms. You may even recognize some old friends that have succumbed to the seductive promise of Ancient Cosmic Power!"[11]

The influence of the Old Gods can be felt across Azeroth, warping and corrupting all manner of creatures to serve dark new masters. From greedy gnomes to legendary beasts, the whispers of the Old Gods have turned many minions into twisted versions of their former selves, complete with fearsome new powers.

The influence of the Old Gods has even altered some spells, twisting their effects and corrupting the minions they summon.

Of course, not everybody needs the maddening whispers of an Old God to push them into insanity... some were already teetering on the brink.

Amid the rising madness of the Old Gods' awakening, some beings have found a new path leading them away from the darkness, toward the Light.[12][13][14][15]

Note that the relationship between the corrupted and uncorrupted versions of these minions is purely for lore purposes; there is no in-game connection, and the original cards have not been replaced or altered.[16]

The Forbidden[edit | edit source]

Forbidden magic brings with it proportionate rewards
"While power may corrupt . . . you’ll find that the risk of using Forbidden cards also carries substantial rewards. Playing a Forbidden card consumes all your available mana for the turn to fuel that card’s alluring effect—the more mana you spend, the more power the Old Gods will bestow upon you. What’s wrong with a little corruption, anyway?"[17]

Whispers of the Old Gods brings Hearthstone's first spell effects whose cost scales based on the amount of mana available - with their effects scaling to match. Scaling had previously been seen only on in-hand effects and certain minion abilities, with no direct relation to the amount of mana available.

This picture was taken at midday. They don't call it Darkshire for nothing.

Darkshire[edit | edit source]

After years of defending their town against the terrors of Duskwood, the grim defenders of Darkshire are no strangers to horror or madness. However, the coming of the Old Gods appears to have brought even more darkness than usual to their door.

While some stand boldly against this latest threat, others seem to have embraced the power that these ancient evils offer, perhaps with the intent of using this dark new magic to defend their homes and retake Duskwood once and for all... or perhaps succumbing at last to the call of madness.

Lore[edit | edit source]

Whispers of the Old Gods logo.png
Announcement
For countless millennia, the Old Gods have slept. Now, the time of their awakening draws near; their evil influence has crawled even into the tavern! Can you feel your cards trembling in their decks as the corruption spreads? Some of your old friends have already grown icky masses of tentacles and a downright frightening number of eyeballs!
Of course, while some would recoil at these cards, a resourceful player like you might just be able to harness the power of the Old Gods. Yeees, surely nothing could go wrong...
Can you hear them, beckoning to be played? Will you heed their whispers at your ear?[18]
Release blog
When the Old Gods whisper in your ear, you won’t be able to resist the temptation . . . to celebrate! While cultists perform their summoning rituals and herald the arrival of the ancient ones, you’ll be summoning a swarm of new minions and meddling with forbidden magic never before seen in the tavern.
Stormwind has fallen to the influence of the ancient ones, so make sure to avoid poking the eyestalks that have grown on the buildings—they don’t seem to like that very much.[19]
Announcement stream
"The inn has ... been getting a little darker, recently. It's raining outside, stuff's changing... The inn is usually filled with really friendly people, and everyone just laughing and being boisterous, but recently we've had these strange hooded figures coming to our inn, they're murmuring, chanting... And some of our best friends have started behaving really strangely."[20]

Alternate realities[edit | edit source]

While the lore behind Hearthstone is already open to several possible interpretations, including the canon Warcraft lore, Hearthstone's own branching lore, and the intentionally silly mechanics of the in-universe Hearthstone card game itself, Whispers of the Old Gods brings with it a new possibility.

Ancient evil rises, and a window to an alternate reality has been opened. Here, the Old Gods’ grasp has corrupted Azeroth, plunging the tavern into madness...[21]

In this reality, all four Old Gods are awake (and alive), and unleashed upon Azeroth.[22] Stormwind specifically is seen to have fallen to their corrupting influence, as depicted in the expansion's battlefield.[19]

This may mean that many of the cards from this expansion - likely including the corrupted versions of existing minions - are set within (or climbing through from) this alternate reality, rather than representing changes to the known minions within the main reality.

The window between these realities may have been opened by the Old Gods of the other reality, seeking to spread their corruption even beyond their own universe. Alternatively it may have been opened by the desperate denizens of the alternate Azeroth, seeking aid in their losing battle against the rising darkness, or simply hoping to escape it. Based on the innkeeper's remarks, the opening of the portal between these two realities has turned the main Azeroth chill and fearsome, and even within the otherwise cheery hubbub of the tavern patrons can sometimes hear voices whispering at their ear.

"Alternate reality" could refer to an alternate timeline, similar to that explored in World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor.

The Old Gods[edit | edit source]

In Hearthstone[edit | edit source]

Legend has it, the Old Gods’ voices are dread whispers that no mere mortal can hope to resist. It is said that for millennia uncounted the massive Old Gods lay dreaming in ageless sleep deep beneath the surface of Azeroth. Maybe noisy taverns full of laughter, shouts of triumph, and clanking tankards are like a snooze alarm you can’t turn off, and this whole Old-Gods-waking-up thing is entirely our fault!
Whatever the cause, those nameless tentacled terrors are finally rousing from their naps, and with their waking insidious corruption is seeping up from the stygian depths! Still, there’s no need to fear (mostly!). Civilization is safe (for now!). They haven’t come for the utter domination of all life on Azeroth (probably!).
Now that they’re awake (and they’ve had a chance to stretch their various appendages, rub the sleep out of their many, many eyes, and have a healthy breakfast), the Old Gods have decided to put their malignant might into mortal hands. . . in the form of disgustingly potent Hearthstone cards![11]
Announcement
"The Old Gods are these massive creatures, who are chained beneath the earth... These are the creatures who enslaved Ragnaros, and the other Elemental Lords. They created the Nerubians and the Faceless Manipulators... These are the things that turned Deathwing into Deathwing... In the world of Super Villains, these are the Super Villains of Super Villains.
"Their only weakness... is that they are chained beneath the earth, and they can only really work via influence, by whispering to the creatures around them and slowly corrupting them over time."[20]

In World of Warcraft[edit | edit source]

From Wowpedia:

The Old Gods (also known as the Old-Gods, old lords of the earth, Gods Below, dread elders, or Shath'Yar in their own language) are a group of eldritch horrors — closely connected to the Void — who ruled the planet of Azeroth as lords of the infamous Black Empire in the days before the titans arrived to shape and order it.
The Pantheon shattered the Old Gods' citadels and chained the four. If the Pantheon would have killed the Old Gods, then Azeroth would have been destroyed, possibly in an event that manifested as the Cataclysm. C'Thun feigned death and was sealed in a titan research station near Uldum. Yogg-Saron was imprisoned in Ulduar. At least Y'Shaarj was killed by the Pantheon, although its heart was preserved and later resurrected, but destroyed during the Siege of Orgrimmar. The titans could not defeat N'Zoth, whose exact location is unknown. Though chained or dead, their influence still corrupts mortals, and even immortals, to this day.
Along with the Burning Legion, the Old Gods are one of the most powerful and recurring threats found in the Warcraft series of games and books, especially in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm. While players are constantly fighting off the dealings and machinations of Azeroth's Old Gods, there are in fact more elsewhere in the cosmos, such as one that almost manifested on Outland.

Standing against the darkness[edit | edit source]

As many Azeroth's inhabitants fall victim to the corrupting whispers of the Old Gods, some brave souls choose to stand against the coming madness, with their faith serving as shields to the darkness before them. The paladins are "the one bastion of hope" against the coming darkness.[12] Their beacon of hope extends further than any would have dared hope, with even the mighty Ragnaros turning to fight against the Old Gods.

Channeling the power of the Old Gods[edit | edit source]

While the expansion presents a theme of corruption and unimaginable evil, the inclusion of its cards in players' decks appears to represent not corruption but intentionally "channeling the power of the Old Gods".[23] This could explain why "good" heroes such as Thrall, Malfurion and Uther, who have long fought against the influence of the Old Gods, would now so readily embrace their powers. In contrast to the many corrupted (if empowered) minions, the cards seem to present a way of using this power without suffering corruption, although a few cards like Tentacles for Arms leave room for doubt.

The efforts of the player in channeling this dark power apparently win them "the admiration of the people of Azeroth", later contributing to their invitation to a certain party in Karazhan tower.

Canonicity[edit | edit source]

Whispers of the Old Gods is intended as "a 'What If?' take on Warcraft lore."[24][25] The events of the expansion, including bold changes to existing Warcraft lore from cards from such as Hogger, Doom of Elwynn and Ragnaros, Lightlord, are not intended to be canon within the wider lore.[26][27]

History[edit | edit source]

The arrival of the expansion was heralded by the creation of murals such as this one in Brooklyn, New York

Development[edit | edit source]

The idea of a Hearthstone expansion centred around the Old Gods first came to light when the developers were brainstorming ideas for Goblins vs Gnomes, with suggestions yelled out and written up on a white board. When Old Gods was written up, Ben Brode says,

"It immediately gets us excited because its, Hearthstone takes a different look at Warcraft. It's a very high up look from things. We can explore wider themes I think? Old Gods is such a wide theme and it immediately inspires so many cool takes on that stuff plus it gives us an opportunity to explore new lore in a lot of ways. Some of the old gods have never been seen, we don't even know what some of them look like. Hearthstone is going to be the first time we get to look at some of these, and that's awesome. So there was a lot of passion for a long time where really we were just waiting for the right time to dig into it and it happens to be now."[28]

Once the central theme of the Old Gods had come up, the developers considered various variations on the theme before settling on what would become Whispers of the Old Gods.[29] The final theme was settled upon around a year before the expansion would eventually be released, with initial design beginning around August, 2015.[30]

Due to the difference between the light and playful Hearthstone tone and that of the Old Gods, arguably the darkest content in all Warcraft lore, the developers wanted to find a way to bridge the two worlds. One way this was achieved was through corrupting existing Hearthstone characters, literally bringing the two together. Another way was the cinematic, which intentionally begins with the familiar scene of the tavern (the first post-release cinematic to date to do so), but combines it with the creepy influence of the Old Gods, as well as featuring an overall theme of the known being corrupted and changed. The fortune-telling troll who narrates the cinematic was also chosen to present the expansion's dark theme with "a kind of Hearthstoney, Taverny vibe".[28]

Old Gods[edit | edit source]

While the four Old Gods were always going to feature in the expansion in some way, the exact details of their involvement were initially quite different, and far more impactful. The original plan was for each of the Old Gods to affect a core element of the game, and to take effect as soon as the game started, if the player had that Old God in their deck. C'Thun replaced the player's entire deck (perhaps with associated cultists), Yogg-Saron gave the player extra Mana Crystals, N'Zoth affected all of the player's minions in some way,[30] and Y'Shaarj destroyed and replaced the hero itself, with 15 Health and a "crazy new Hero Power".[31] Various designs were iterated: other behaviours for Yogg-Saron ranged from granting the player 3 Mana Crystals at the start of the match - but preventing them from gaining any more - to causing all their spells to cost 1 mana, but reducing their turn time to 15 seconds.[32] The designers' goal early on was "what’s the craziest thing we can think of? Write that down."[30]

However, the sheer scale of the Old Gods' impact on the game, while having great potential for novel gameplay, was equally limiting to design space. While C'Thun's cultist theme survived (albeit in a reduced form), the developers began moving away from the symmetry of each Old God having such a direct impact on gameplay, although they mostly retained the theme of being "build-arounds", each tied to a specific type of effect or play - spells, Deathrattles, cultists and resurrection.[32]

C'Thun saw the least changes of all the Old Gods; its basic card text was decided early on, although the many related cards saw "a ton of iteration". One idea was to have "lieutenants", special minions which would gain bonuses equal to one of C'Thun's current stats when played. These were eventually turned into the "If your C'Thun has 10 or more Attack" cards, such as Klaxxi Amber-Weaver and Ancient Shieldbearer. The last idea to be discarded was to have other cards which directly benefited not C'Thun itself, but the many ritualist minions. Examples include "Battlecry – give your ritualist +2/+2" and "Battlecry: evolve all your ritualists", the latter functioning identically to Evolve. This more complex synergy was partly discarded due to the increasing number of cards devoted to C'Thun and related cards, and not wanting the set to feel like "Whispers of C'Thun", or to have C'Thun decks overly dominate the meta due to their many possible versions. The designers also wanted to avoid making it feel too similar to the synergies for Mechs.[30]

Peter Whalen explains that the developers considered having a different number of Old Gods. While Azeroth in total has known four Old Gods, N'Zoth had never been revealed until Whispers of the Old Gods, making it any easy option leave out; alternatively, there are "a couple of other entities that are very close to Old God status, or referred to as Old Gods," which would have allowed the developers to have as many as six Old Gods if they had desired. However, four turned out to be "a pretty good number".[30]

After deciding on the four Old Gods themselves, the designers considered what sort of creatures the supporting cast would comprise. The faceless and Klaxxi were a natural fit; "ritual cultist guys" were an easy decision in order to include some things a little more human and relatable in the set. The idea of corrupting characters similarly came in part because of a desire make something players could connect with in the new set, especially given the unfamiliar and hard to pronounce names of many of new minions such as Volazj, Y'Shaarj and C'Thun.[30]

Teasers[edit | edit source]

The first official hint as to the nature of the expansion came on March 4, 2016, in a blog announcing that the upcoming expansion would be revealed in a live stream on March 11. The blog began with the text "Something inside the Tavern stirs . . . what could it be? Don’t worry – you won’t be alone!", inviting readers to "Tune in March 11 at 10:00 a.m. PST to see what has been lurking unfold live on Twitch!"[33] Invitations sent to select gaming press over the next few days would confirm the creepy tone, with the invites beginning "There are whispers around the Tavern…"[34]

This sinister theme was brought into much sharper focus on March 5 when the card carousel on the official site was updated to feature a new selection of cards: Faceless Manipulator, Mind Blast, Cult Master, Void Terror and Dark Wispers.[35] This was widely interpreted as confirmation of an Old God theme for the coming expansion.

In the days immediately before the announcement, pictures surfaced of half-painted murals and posters boldly proclaiming the new expansion, along with its title, and depicting what were clearly faceless ones and other Old God-related creatures.[36][37] These would be later confirmed following the announcement, with the official Twitter account sharing pictures and videos of these artworks being created in locations ranging from San Francisco, Berlin and London, to Melbourne, Shanghai and Tokyo.[38][39] For images, see the gallery. Official time-lapse videos of the artworks being produced were shared for New York, Tokyo, Seoul, Berlin, London, Paris, Taipei, Moscow and Sydney. Most can also be found in the official The Old Gods World Tour playlist.

Announcement[edit | edit source]

"Darth Brode" and Yong Woo getting in the mood (and into costume) in preparation for the announcement

The expansion was officially announced on March 11 at the start of the Americas Winter Championship stream, by Ben Brode and Yong Woo. After a short and dramatic introduction the trailer was shared, followed by the revealing of the first new cards: Polluted Hoarder, Corrupted Healbot, Validated Doomsayer, Beckoner of Evil, Twilight Elder and C'Thun.

The announced release date of late April, early May surprised some players due to previous statements from developers such as Ben Brode that it was generally preferred not to announce new content until only a short while before it was ready to be released. Brode admits this was "not ideal", but explains that it was necessary due to "[needing] a little extra time to get all the stuff relating to new formats just right", with the new expansion also heralding the arrival of Standard format.[40] The reaction was partly due to the unprecedented brevity of the release day for The League of Explorers, which was announced only six days before it went live. Yong Woo would later comment, "One of the things that we really value on our team is that we constantly mix up the way we do things, we never want to be predictable. We don't want to get to a point where it's like OK, they're announcing this day so it's gonna patch on that day and then it's gonna launch specifically on that day and you can just map it all out. So there are pro's and cons of doing it different ways."[41]

Voting for the next card to be revealed

Card reveals[edit | edit source]

Following the initial announcement cards began to be revealed one at a time through selected fansites and media, with a few further cards also being revealed during the Americas and Europe Winter Championship streams.

On March 21 voting opened on the official site to reveal the first of 20 new cards. In contrast to previous voting systems which had seen only one of the eligible cards revealed, this expansion saw voting determining simply which card would be revealed first, with the remaining card with the most votes being revealed next.

Another difference was that instead of being revealed on the official site, each card was connected to a well-known streamer, with that streamer revealing the card when it was time. The streamers participating are listed below, along with the descriptions provided on the official site.

Amaz Anderonie Dog
Owner of Team Archon, Arena master, and close personal friend of Ragnaros, the Firelord. One of China's most popular streamers, backed by his legion of 100,000 advisors. Team Liquid's Dog is often referred to as man's best friend.
Firebat Forsen Kibler
The 2014 Hearthstone World Champion is not actually a bat made of fire! It is rumored that Forsen owns and operates a very popular daycare center. Often referred to as "Dragonmaster," Kibler is rarely far from his Animal Companion, Shiro.
Kno Kranich Kripp
Hailing from Japan and Top 4 at BlizzCon 2015, no one knows Hearthstone like Kno! Kno joke! Kranich made it to the Hearthstone World Championship finals two years in a row—a truly impressive feat! "Hey guys, how’s it going? Kripparrian here." Arena player extraordinaire!
Lifecoach Reynad Richard Knight
A cool and calculated Hearthstone pro player from Germany. You simply must vote for him! Owner of the competitive Esports team Tempo Storm. Sadly, using the code TEMPO will not work here. A fantastic Arena player in China, Richard has taught many players the way of obtaining a 12 win Arena key!
Roger Savjz Sjow
Taiwan's Roger belongs to the pro-team "ahq e-Sports Club". We don't know the club's secret handshake. Pro-player and caster for Team Liquid, Savjz is proof that "Any Finn Can Happen" in Hearthstone. Sjow's stream is often full of valuable Hearthstone strategies and plenty of inside yokes
Thijs Tiddler Celestial Tom60229
The only thing seen more often in Legend than 2015 European Champion Thijs is the orange mana crystal. BlizzCon 2014's second place winner, Tiddler manages the out of this world Team Celestial! Member of Taiwan's pro-gaming team "Flash Wolves", which sounds like a pretty terrifying Shaman card to us.
Trump ZangDing
While he might not be a presidential candidate, he is the Mayor of Value Town. China's ZangDing is a favorite stream amongst the late-night Hearthstone crowd. Elune guides him!

Reveal stream[edit | edit source]

The mighty "Brodan" takes to Twitch once again

On April 21 a special stream featuring Ben Brode and Frodan revealed the remaining cards through a series of showmatches against designer Dean Ayala. Frodan won the series 3:1, with both players using decks designed by Ayala.[42]

During the stream, Brode announced the replacement of the 'Sorry' emote with the new 'Wow' emote, and the existence of special quests to reward players for playing Standard format matches. The new battlefield was included in the rotation, but was not selected by the game during the showmatches, and therefore was not revealed.[43] An image of the battlefield was instead revealed by the official Twitter account the next day.[44]

Release[edit | edit source]

The remaining new cards were revealed through showmatches

The expansion's official release date of April 26 was revealed on April 19. This date had been predicted nearly three weeks earlier, when users noticed that purchasing the Curse of Naxxramas bundle from the official Battle.net shop producing a warning that "Starting April 26, 2016 cards from this set will only be playable in Wild play format".[45] The date was confirmed two days later by an article on Game Informer, which was taken down shortly after release.[46]

The expansion was released in the Americas region at 10:30am PST on the 26th,[47] and 7 hours later was live in all other regions.[48]

Following the preview Arena period for Goblins vs Gnomes, and the Grand Tournament Match, Whispers of the Old Gods is the first expansion not to feature a special launch event. This is partly because of the simultaneous release of game formats, and the associated interface changes and numerous card changes, with the developers concerned that adding a special event to this already busy time could add too much complexity, especially for new or returning players.[49]

Whispers of the Old Gods marked the first time a set had added new cards to another set, with Fandral Staghelm adding three unique minions to the Classic, Blackrock Mountain and The Grand Tournament sets.

Commentary[edit | edit source]

The following links record community reactions to the expansion and the associated changes prior to its release:

Trailer[edit | edit source]

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Murals
Launch
The Whispers of the Old Gods launch sign
Promotion
Whispers of the Old Gods promotion Beckoner of Evil.jpg
Whispers of the Old Gods promotion C'Thun.jpg
Launch event
Whispers of the Old Gods launch event 3 packs.jpg
Whispers of the Old Gods launch event quest1.jpg
Whispers of the Old Gods launch event quest2.jpg
Official site
The cards in the carousel on the official site were changed a week before the expansion's announcement
Whispers of the Old Gods carousel 2.png
Whispers of the Old Gods voting screenshot 2.jpg
Whispers of the Old Gods official site headline.jpg
Promotional
Save the date
New card packs coming up... get em while they're slimy!
Concept art
Concept art of Mukla, Tyrant of the Vale, by Tyson Murphy. Although Murphy did not produce the final art for Mukla, this piece helped "figure out some style stuff" for the expansion,[51] characterising Hearthstone's unique take on the corrupting influence of the Old Gods

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • Whispers of the Old Gods was announced on March 11, 2016, the second anniversary of the full release of Hearthstone.
  • Around 99% of Whispers of the Old Gods cards feature original card art.[52]
  • According to Ben Brode, most of the flavor text in the set was written by Executive Producer Hamilton Chu.[53]
  • Whispers of the Old Gods does not feature any Demons - this was an intentional design decision for the set's lore, likely because there is no direct relation between demons and the Old Gods.[54]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Ben Brode on Twitter. (2016-03-11). 
  2. Whispers of the Old Gods Creeps into Action on April 26!. (2016-04-19). 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Whispers of the Old Gods Promotion Ending Soon. (2016-06-15). 
  4. Ben Brode on Twitter. (2016-04-22). 
  5. Ben Brode on Twitter. (2016-04-03). 
  6. Yong Woo on Twitter. (2016-04-22). 
  7. PlayHearthstone on Twitter. (2016-05-20). 
  8. PlayHearthstone on Twitter. (2016-04-26). 
  9. Hearthhead.com - Hearthstone's Whispers of the Old Gods - Everything We Know. (2016-03-11). 
  10. Ben Brode on Twitter. (2016-03-15). 
  11. 11.0 11.1 Heed the Whispers of the Old Gods. (2016-03-11). 
  12. 12.0 12.1 IGN.com - IGN REVEALS A NEW LEGENDARY HEARTHSTONE CARD. (2016-03-27). 
  13. Ben Brode on Twitter. (2016-03-27). 
  14. Ben Brode on Twitter. (2016-03-27). 
  15. Ben Brode on Twitter. (2016-03-29). 
  16. PlayHearthstone on Twitter. (2016-03-11). 
  17. Whispers of the Old Gods - Forbidden but not Forgotten. (2016-03-17). 
  18. Official site - Whispers of the Old Gods. Retrieved on 2016-03-19.
  19. 19.0 19.1 Whispers of the Old Gods – Now Available in the Americas!. (2016-04-26). 
  20. 20.0 20.1 Hearthstone: Whispers of the Old Gods new expansion full announce. (2016-03-11). 
  21. Press pack: Whispers of the Old Gods Fact Sheet.doc
  22. Ben Brode on Twitter. (2016-03-27). 
  23. File:Teaser_invite_July_19_2016.jpg
  24. Ben Brode on Twitter. (2016-03-27). 
  25. Ben Brode on Twitter. (2016-03-27). 
  26. Ben Brode on Twitter. (2016-03-27). 
  27. Ben Brode on Twitter. (2016-03-27). 
  28. 28.0 28.1 Whispers of the Old Gods Developer Q&A Transcript, This Week in Card Reveals. (2016-04-11). 
  29. Ben Brode on Twitch (4:20). (2016-04-17). 
  30. 30.0 30.1 30.2 30.3 30.4 30.5 IGN - BLIZZARD ON DESIGNING HEARTHSTONE’S OLD GODS. (2016-06-20). 
  31. The Angry Chicken: "The One with Iksar". (2016-05-18). 
  32. 32.0 32.1 Shack News - Making a Hearthstone Card: The Madness of Yogg-Saron. (2016-04-29). 
  33. Special Hearthstone Announcement at the Winter Championship!. (2016-03-04). 
  34. Blizzheart - The presentation of the next expansion confirmed. (2016-03-07). 
  35. Hearthpwn.com - Cultists, and Tentacles, and Wispers! Oh my!. (2016-03-05). 
  36. Hearthpwn.com - Whispers of the Old Gods. (2016-03-09). 
  37. Hearthhead.com - The Real World Murals of Hearthstone's Old Gods. (2016-03-18). 
  38. PlayHearthstone on Twitter. (2016-03-18). 
  39. PlayHearthstone on Twitter. (2016-03-15). 
  40. Ben Brode on Twitter. (2016-03-11). 
  41. Hearthpwn - Whispers of the Old Gods Developer Q&A Transcript, This Week in Card Reveals. (2016-04-11). 
  42. Stated during the livestream.
  43. Ben Brode on Twitter. (2016-04-21). 
  44. PlayHearthstone on Twitter. (2016-04-22). 
  45. Hearthpwn - Whispers of the Old Gods Releases April 26th, Last Week's Card Reveals. (2016-04-03). 
  46. New Card Reveal - Blood of the Ancient One & The Ancient One - 30 Attack Minion!. (2016-04-05). 
  47. PlayHearthstone on Twitter. (2016-04-26). 
  48. PlayHearthstone on Twitter. (2016-04-26). 
  49. Whispers of the Old Gods Developer Q&A Transcript, This Week in Card Reveals. (2016-04-11). 
  50. PlayHearthstone on Twitter. (2016-03-25). 
  51. Tyson Murphy on Twitter. (2016-11-29). 
  52. Ben Brode on Twitter. (2016-04-21). 
  53. Stated during the reveal stream, 2016-04-21
  54. Ben Brode on reddit. (2016-06-28). 

External links[edit | edit source]