ByDan O'Halloran, writer at Creators.co
Writer. Father. Gamer. Geek. Not necessarily in that order. @danoh
Dan O'Halloran

Originally introduced in 2014, Hearthstone has since been bogged down by numerous expansions making it difficult and costly for new players to get started. But this year Blizzard devs removed many of the barriers that prevented both new and returning players from getting into the game. And it all came together with the the launch of their most ambitious expansion yet, Whispers of the Old Gods.

The Old Gods have returned

Ancient and sinister, the Old Gods have awakened and are spreading their corruption with 134 new cards that will dominate the game. At the heart of it is C’Thun who every player will receive upon opening their first Whispers pack. While a 10 mana card with 6 attack and 6 health doesn’t sound very strong, what makes C’Thun so powerful is the other cards in the expansion that can buff him. Many other cards can add to both his attack and health before you even draw him into your hand or play him on the battlefield. By the time he is in play, he can easily be over 20 attack and health and with his battlecry applying his attack as random damage to the enemy, that can end the game right then and there.

C’Thun isn’t the only Old God terrorizing the game board. Three more ancients are available via card packs or by crafting from the dust of cards you no longer need. Yogg-Saron when played will cast a random spell for every spell you cast up until that point. N'Zoth will resummon all your dead minions that have the Deathrattle effect. And Y'Shaarj will summon a minion from your deck onto the battlefield at the end of every one of your turns.

Once integrated into class decks, these Old Gods are going to be fearsome. A Rogue deck full of Deathrattle minions combined with N'Zoth's ability to resummon them will be quite formidable. A Druid growth deck designed to get to full mana fast will be able to summon C'Thun sooner than their opponent. And you know every Mage and Shaman deck will be packing a Yogg-Saron for his ability to cast random spells.

Don't worry, classes aren't fully depended on the ancients in this expansion. Each class is getting 3 Common, 3 Rare, 2 Epic, and 1 Legendary card each. The Shaman Legendary Hallazeal the Ascended restores health to the player based on how much spell damage they do. The Hunter epic card Giant Sand Worm is an 8/8 that can attack again and again in the same round as long as it kills with each blow. The Warlock epic card Renounce Darkness is the reset button for a losing hand, giving you a new class power and deck!

There are many new combinations and decks to try out with the new expansion. It's going to take while before winning decks shake out. Until then, it's a great time to experiment with interesting combinations that don't rely on a heavy investment in previous expansions. Let the madness reign!

Standard Play has launched

With the launch of Whispers comes the introduction of Standard Play. This is Blizzard’s way of keeping the game fresh by only allowing the Basic and Classic cards plus last two years of expansions and adventures in Ranked play. This is year of the Kraken and that means cards from Goblins vs. Gnomes expansion and Naxxramas adventure will no longer be allowed in Standard decks. And while we mourn the loss of some beloved cards, this makes it easier for the game developers to craft new cards and easier for new players to enter the game.

For those that still love the older expansions, Blizzard hasn’t forgotten them either. There is a toggle button that can switch Standard to Wild mode where anything goes and all cards can be used in a deck. So go crazy with any card in your arsenal, or play by Standard deck rules and even the playing field with everyone else that is playing in the same mode.

Pro Tip: Wild and Standard mode Ranks will be tracked separately and whichever one is higher will be displayed in your friends list.

Deck Recipes help new players craft competitive decks

A big hurdle for new players to the game was building a deck from scratch. It took a lot of research outside the game to figure out how to put together a deck that could survive in even basic competitive play. So Blizzard has introduced a new deck building tool that shows players themed decks for each class.

When you choose to build a new deck, then choose the class, the game will present three themed decks for you to work with or the option to build your own. If you go with one of the themed decks, it will show you which cards you are missing with the option to craft them or replace them. It’s a quick and easy way to jump into matches and be competitive. Especially if you just want to get Rank 20 every thirty days for the card back of the month.

Pro Tip: If you need extra dust to craft missing cards, choose cards from older expansions that are out Standard play, Golden cards, and cards from classes you never play.

How to get free Whispers card packs

As of the writing of this article, you can receive 13 Whispers booster packs for free. Each pack contains five cards with one guaranteed to be Rare or better.

  • 1 - Logging into the game will get you three packs right off the bat.
  • 2 - Winning two games in Standard mode will complete a quest granting you five more packs. This one is a little tougher as your opponents will have built a deck with C'Thun and his corrupted minions, so be sure to use the Deck Recipe builder to put together a new Standard deck.
  • 3 - You'll get another quest to win five standard games and this will grant you five more packs upon completion.

There you go! Thirteen free packs to open and hope for ancient evil to be yours.

The recent changes to Hearthstone has made it easier than ever for new and lapsed players to jump back in. With new cards replacing older ones, early expansions removed from play, and deck recipes streamlining the deck building process, now's the time to jump in for some digital trading card fun.

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