Hearthstone Year of the Dragon
Image via Hearthstone.

Hearthstone — Year of the Dragon

Jul 8, 2019
Image via Hearthstone.

Year of the Dragon Brought New Updates

Professional players and streamers constantly criticize developers for a lack of updates. However, some casual players who barely have time to accumulate gold for the next expansion may disagree. Both types of players have a point, but Blizzard clearly take their time with the decision-making. And there is only one thing in Hearthstone to save the day — a new year!

It has been three months since the Year of the Dragon has hit the Tavern. As the tradition goes, Team 5 updated and re-evaluated the Basic and Classic sets. Myriads of new cards have radically changed the pace of the game and the meta itself. Let’s take a closer look how the Year of the Dragon has shaped the game.

New Meta, New Decks

Journey to Un’Goro, Knights of the Frozen Throne, Kobolds & Catacombs — all these sets have joined the ranks of the wild format. No more imbalanced Priests and Druids with death knights, broken Quest Rogues, and legendary weapons. Some archetypes like Quest Rogue fell into oblivion, while the others, like Control Warrior or Control Hunter have been transformed.


Forget about the Jade druid decks and heavy cards in synergy with the Maligos. Jungle Giants Quest as well as Cursed Disciple, Malfurion the Pestilent, and the notorious Jade Idol archetypes bid farewell to the ladder. This rotation has dramatically changed the overall power of the class, with only Token Druid left in the ladder.


Hunter era is at the doorstep! The Hunter class has been facing some struggles for the past 3-4 expansions. Having being tier 3 deck for a long time, now it shines in full-spate. The Beast concept of the class has evolved into a Mech Hunter meta. At the same time, the class has no cards to activate the ability. The number of effective spells also decreased, which affected Zul’jin (though he’s still the cornerstone of the class).


Elemental decks have never been that popular, but still they gave color the metagame. Most of the Elementals left the ladder. Secret and Tempo Mages with tempo gameplay are no longer a part of the meta. The same goes for Control Mages. Now that Ice Block, Quest, Exploding runes, Meteor, and Dragon’s Fury are gone, Mages have nothing else to offer when it comes to the late game.


Now that Knights of the Frozen Throne and Kobolds sets are gone, all variations of aggressive and midrange Paladin have disappeared in Standard. Such cards as Call To Arms!, Righteous Protector, Vinecleaver, Sunkeeper Tarim were essential in various Paladin decks.

For now, with mechanisms dominating the ladder, there are only two playable Paladin decks — Mech Paladin and Combo Paladin, both leaving much to be desired.


Knights of the Frozen Throne was the most exciting expansion for all the Priest fanatics. Shadowreaper Anduin, Kazakus, Raza combo was overwhelming. Unfortunately, nothing is set in stone and now Priest archetype stays on the sidelines. Phychic Scream, Diamond Spellstone, Obsidian Statue, Radiant Elemental, Dark Visions and Lyra are no longer in the competitive format.


Quest Rogue and Bain Rogue are holdovers from the past. Key cards rolled to the Hall of Fame. Midrange Rogue has lost the Vilespine Slayer and the Elven Minstrel. But it does not really affect the popularity of the class.


As in the case with Mages, elementals are no longer a part of the current meta . Decks with Snowfury Giant and Overload also disappeared. Volcano, Jades, as well as Evolve and Devolve have put an end to Shaman dominance. Today, this class strictly relies on Hagatha and early pressure with murlocs.


Farewell Control warlocks! Most of the crucial minions and spells moved to the Hall of Fame: from Kobold Librarian and Defile to Rin, the First Disciple.

Unfortunately, they were the cornerstone of a variety of control decks. Now everything has narrowed down to classic Zoo Warlock decks with lackluster win rate.


Without Direhorn Hatchling and Scourgelord, Garrosh will never be the same. However, the value of “Baku the Moon Eater” cannot be underestimated. This card has also moved to the Hall of Fame. But with the addition of Dr. Boom and the Bombs mechanic, this class has become a tier one archetype.

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New Updates Coming to Arena

Another update worth mentioning is Arena. Developers update the mode every two months, using decks from all six expansions. Thus, new players will be able to get acquainted with the “missed” cards, and veteran players will shed a nostalgic tear swinging their long-forgotten minions and spells. In addition, players will be allowed to change legendary tasks once a day.

After the first rotation in the Arena, you will be able to get your hands on the cards of the basic and classic expansions, that would be “Curse of Naxxramas,” “Whispers of the Old Gods,” “Mean Streets of Gadgetzan,” “The Witchwood” and the first addition released in the new year. During the year, additions will be changing.

The frame of six expansions in the Arena weakens the impact of the randomness on the game mode. Players now have to play around certain cards rather that just dropping cards on the board and trying to keep tempo on their side.

Overall Gameplay

In general, The Year of the Dragon has definitely brought promising changes to the game. Developers try to keep their finger on the pulse and focus on every aspect of the game, be it Arena, PvE mode, or ladder meta.

Let’s hope Team 5 will continue their everlasting mission aimed at improving overall balance of the game and keeping our “Tavern Community” as engaged as possible.

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Eugene Torubalko
Eugene has a major in Germanic languages and literature. Being an avid gamer and esports enthusiast, he found himself writing and covering the competitive Dota 2 and Hearthstone scenes. He is always ready to deliver reviews, game predictions, tournament analysis, and anything else related to the world of esports.
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