The newest expansion for Hearthstone has been announced, and will release alongside a new single-player dungeon run mode. The expansion, the first since December's "Kobolds and Catacombs", will feature a similar mode of play. It is unclear currently whether the dungeon will cost money to play or not.
Called "The Witchwood", the expansion's setting is that of gothic-era horror. Between the released trailer, title, and the six cards unveiled to preview the expansion, there appears to be an emphasis on witches, ghosts, and werewolves. The gameplay will be adjusted with the addition of "The Witchwood" with two new card mechanics. 'Echo' will allow cards to be played multiple times in the same turn. 'Rush' allows a minion to attack enemy minions on the turn they are played, but not the enemy hero (as is allowed with 'charge'). Of the cards revealed, two legendaries will feature major benefits to a deck built with either only even cost cards or odd cost cards. The dungeon run will allow players to choose one of four unique heroes to combat progressively harder bosses towards a final reward: the Cannoneer, Houndmaster, Time-Tinker, and Tracker (and each corresponds to an existing hero class). Based on previous expansions, the unnanounced date of release is likely to be mid-April.
Kotaku reported on the introduction of "The Witchwood"-- breaking down some of the potential benefits of the revealed cards. Kotaku also mentioned that "The Witchwood" marks a new year, "The Year of the Raven", for Hearthstone gameplay. This means that the cards from the "One Night in Karazhan", "Mean Streets of Gadgetzan", and "Whispers of the Old Gods" will no longer be available in Standard battles, and will be relegated to Wild matches only. The discontinuation of "Mean Streeets of Gadgetzan" will have severe implications to the meta, as a number of popular decks in competitive play revolve around the use of jade cards from the set.
Launched in 2014, Hearthstone, is an immensely popular free to play card battle game from Blizzard. The initial cards were an extension of the Warcraft universe, and the game launched as Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. Subsequent expansions have moved away from that theme and instead circled around a general fantasy theme with interesting quirks. "The Witchwood" marks the twelfth expansion in Hearthstone history. Previous expansions have added the elements of a 1930's-esque gangster underworld, a derivation of the Cthulhu mythos, a primordial dinosaur-filled world, and more. While "The Witchwood" will not be the first horror-centric expansion, it does mark the first time horror will be given a more modern setting.
The addition of a second dungeon run marks an aggressive focus on single-player action. The randomized bosses of the dungeon runs, in a roguelike influenced fashion, add replayability for gamers that don't wish to engage in the competitive season structure or casual competition of other modes. It creates a gameplay wrinkle, given that the opponent is AI, catered to gamers that are unhappy with the strategy of opponents prolonging their turns.