Players will return through the dark portal, to the shattered world of Outland in Hearthstone’s next expansion, Ashes of Outland. Outland will be familiar to WoW players who will recognise it as the setting for The Burning Crusade expansion. Chadd Nervig (Game Designer) walked us through Ashes of Outland at the 2020 Hearthstone Summit.
We’ll visit familiar places like the harsh wastelands of Hellfire Peninsula, the beautiful swamps of Zangarmarsh, the felfire scorched lands of Shadowmoon Valley and, of course, the Black Temple.
We’ll also run into familiar faces like Illidan’s lieutenants, Lady Vashj and
Kael’thas butthings are as they used to be.
A new threat, the Rusted Legion, has conquered Outland leaving chaos and destruction in its wake.
Nervig described Outland as a broken, desolate place where those who live there have to scavenge to survive in the Ashes of Outland. Nervig also promised to talk more about the Rusted Legion more in the future, when Blizzard is ready to announce the solo adventure for this expansion.
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Given that Illidan rules Outland from his home in the Black Temple, Ashes of Outland has somewhat of a Demon Hunter focus. We’ve already discussed the new class and cards, however, Ashes of Outland is particularly focused on these.
Nervig points to the Skull of Gul’Dan as a particularly powerful Demon Hunter Outcast card.
Also coming to Hearthstone in Ashes of Outland are Prime and Dormant minions. These are two very powerful minion types that really shake up the way games go and change a player’s approach to play.
Prime minions are nine Legendary minions, one for each of the original classes. Unfortunately, Demon Hunter won’t have access to a Prime. Essentially, Prime minions, when played initially have decent stats and will certainly help out in the early stages of a game. However, when these minions die, a Prime version is shuffled into the deck.
A couple of examples seen in the slideshow above include Archspore Msshi’fin and Msshi’fin Prime and Kargath Bladefist and his Prime version. Kargath is a 4-cost 4/4 Rush minion, but his Prime version is an 8-cost 10/10 with Rush and “Whenever this attacks and kills a minion, gain 10 Armour.”
Msshi’fin is a 3-cost 3/4 Taunt minion but Msshi’fin Prime is a 10-cost 9/9 Taunt minion with “Choose One – Summon a 9/9 Fungal Giant with Taunt; or Rush.”
Narratively, the reason for Prime minions is that when these characters die, the Rusted Legion takes their body and upgrades it, rebuilds it and makes them stronger. Kargath, for example, has swords for hands, however, Kargath Prime has chainsaws for hands.
Liv Breeden (Game Designer) told me that the idea for the Prime mechanic actually came after the setting for the expansion and the theme of Outland. “We had the Rusted Legion and we thought ‘what does that mean and what does it mean to rebuild a character?'” She also said that early on, the design team had Primes shuffling into a player’s deck two or three times, but it wasn’t working.
“Turns out that you just never get to see the third version,” she explained. ”
It’s always the last card of your deck because if you keep shuffling it in, chances are it’s just going to be in the bottom. We just went with the two so it shuffles in just the better version, that’s the most fun thing. We’ll keep it simple.”
Breeden relates Prime minions to the new Dormant minions also being introduced in Ashes of Outland. Dormant is a keyword that already exists in Hearthstone but these new minions use it in an interesting way. When played, they’re Dormant for two turns and perform an action when they awaken.
One card I favoured during my hands-on time was a Dormant demon who deals 10 damage randomly to all enemies when awakened. It’s fantastic because both players can see the minion and anticipate what will happen but can’t stop it from happening. Neither player is able to interact with Dormant minions while they’re dormant, so it adds this fascinating new metagame to proceedings.
Additionally, some new cards have the ability to make minions Dormant and this can be used both offensively and defensively. If the opposing player plays a huge minion, you can make it Dormant for two turns to get a breather. Alternatively, you can make your own minion go Dormant again and get access to its awakened effect a second or third time.
Ashes of Outland will launch on April 8, alongside the new Demon Hunter Class. Players can pre-purchase packs for Ashes of Outland from now through April 6 and as a pre-order bonus, players will receive the Serpentine Card Back and a random Golden Legendary from Ashes of Outland.
The Ashes of Outland mega bundle includes the new Lady Vashj Shaman Hero and other bonuses.
90 Ashes of Outland card packs, the Lady Vashj Shaman Hero, the Serpentine card back, and a randomAshes of Outland Golden Legendary card! You’ll also get 4 Arena Tickets and Descent of Dragons Battlegrounds Bonuses right away! The Battlegrounds Bonuses included in the bundle will upgrade to the Tavern Pass at the launch of Ashes of Outland.
Players can also login to Hearthstone from today to earn Kael’thas Sunstrider, a Legendary neutral minion. Simply login before June 29 to claim the card.
Leo Stevenson travelled to Irvine, California as a guest of Blizzard. Travel, accommodation and meals were provided by Blizzard.