It’s been six years since Blizzard launched Hearthstone. The free-to-play digital, collectible card-game has become a phenomenon since launch with over 100 million players. It’s a popular esport as well, however, since launch, it hasn’t changed a great deal. Sure, Tavern Brawl, Arena and Battlegrounds have been added as have new cards, keywords, solo adventures and the Hall of Fame.
However, since its launch, in 2014, Hearthstone has only ever offered players nine classes; Warrior, Shaman, Rogue, Paladin, Hunter, Druid, Warlock, Mage and Priest. With Year of the Phoenix’s first expansion — Ashes of Outland — that changes.
Blizzard is introducing a brand-new class to Hearthstone; Demon Hunter. In World of Warcraft, Illidan Stormrage, twin brother of Malfurion, “made great sacrifices to become the first Demon Hunter in order to stop the Burning Legion’s invasion of Azeroth.”
Now, Illidan joins Hearthstone as a brand-new playable Hero and Class.
Hearthstone Demon Hunter
World of Warcraft players will know Illidan from The Burning Crusade and Legion expansions where he was both a villain and eventually, a hero. At the Hearthstone summit in Irvine, California held in February, Blizzard said;
So why now, after six years add a new class? Well, a few reasons. We’ve learned a lot in the past six years about what makes the class fun and what gives us room to build upon for the future.
We’ve made steady improvements to our class identity over the past couple of years. Clarifying the strengths and weaknesses of each and helping us find a clear and distinct place for Demon Hunter.
We’ve explored a lot of designs in the other classes and we still have tonnes more room to keep doing so and keep evolving them. But we also have room for another class to join the mix.
We always knew that a new class was going to be a big moment for Hearthstone, and now is the time for that.
At its core, Demon Hunter is a furious fighting class with Illidan using his Demon Claws Hero Power. Right away, the Demon Hunter Hero Power is an absolute game-changer for Hearthstone. It is the game’s first 1-Cost Hero Power and it grants Illidan +1 attack during the turn it’s used.
It may not sound like much of a big deal but once you use it and see it in action, it’s incredible how much of a difference it makes. When combined with the new Demon Hunter exclusive Keyword, Outcast, and the Demon Hunter cards Blizzard has created, Demon Hunter is already shaping up to be a formidable addition.
Outcast grants a secondary effect to a card with the Keyword when played from the left or rightmost position in your hand. It’s subtle but it forces you to consider the order you play your cards even more carefully and can see you saving a card or playing one immediately, in order to gain the effect.
Demon Hunter will be added free for all Hearthstone players on April 8 but Illidan will be introduced beginning on April 3. A special prologue with four-parts will retell Illidan Stormrage’s origin story from his perspective. The prologue to Demon Hunter will be “story-focused single-player missions” with a Hearthstone twist and will grant players all 10 Demon Hunter Basic cards and a 20-card set of Demon Hunter standard cards.
Valerie Chu (Senior Narrative Designer) explained that the four mission prologue takes you “right into the thick of how Illiand became a Demon Hunter.”
In the first mission of prologue, you’re actually still a Mage and then you’re starting to gain more and more Demon Hunter powers over the course of it.
It gives you some time to really acclimate to things like this Hero Power that’s super unusual, to Outcast cards and learning how to play a Demon Hunter deck in this Solo Adventure experience.
You don’t have to worry about your ranked standing.
Illidan, the Demon Hunter class and the 30 cards will be free for all Hearthstone players. Once the new expansion — Ashes of Outland — launches, players will be able to add 15 more Demon Hunter cards.
A total of 45 Demon Hunter cards will be available throughout the Year of the Phoenix; 15 from Ashes of Outland and a further 15 from each of the expansions this year.
Players will also earn a basic Golden Demon Hunter every two levels from 22-60
According to Blizzard, introducing a new Class is a challenge as there needs to be a wider variety of cards than when building class cards for an expansion. Adding a whole new class means creating something that will be built on for years to come. So, Demon Hunter has to reflect what players can expect from the class going forward.
Whether it’s from their Hero Power or cards that grant their hero, temporary attack like Chaos Strike, or powerful weapons like Umber Wing, Demon Hunters are unafraid and getting right into the thick of combat.
You would expect to see all sorts of synergies related to attacking like Twin Slice; helping you fit an attack into any turn or get just enough damage to kill a key enemy mini.
Satyr Overseer will summon additional allies as you attack. Or furious Felfin, an adorable Murloc who has joined the ranks of the Demon Hunters and can follow up your attack as a powerful Rush minion.
All of this attacking is great for clearing early enemy minions using your own health as a resource and while not typically strong at huge burst of healing, they do have several options for small chip dealing with Life Steal to make up for the health lost to attacking.
Something else that Blizzard says Demon Hunters excel at is using a swarm of small minions to their advantage.
While other classes might buff their minions, Demon Hunters instead get added benefits when their minis die. Wrathscale Naga, for instance, will deal 3 damage to a random enemy whenever a friendly minion dies. Feast of Souls, allows the Demon Hunter to draw cards for every friendly minion that died in a turn.
Demon Hunters also have access to some massive Demon minions and Chaos Nova is a 5-cost spell that deals 4 damage to all minions. Overall, Demon Hunters come to the table fully formed and ready to join the action.
Demon Hunter will be introduced to players on April 3 when the four-part prologue will be added to Hearthstone. On April 8, Demon Hunter will be playable and players will get access to 10 Basic and 20 Standard Demon Hunter Cards.
When Ashes of Outland launches, players will be able to unlock 15 additional Demon Hunter card with an additional 15 becoming available with each subsequent expansion in the Year of the Phoenix.
Demon Hunter is the first new class to come to Hearthstone in six years and it’s definitely going to have an impact. We can’t wait to play with it again.
Leo Stevenson travelled to Irvine, California as a guest of Blizzard. Travel, accommodation and meals were provided by Blizzard.