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By Nikola Petrov Hearthstone 13 Mar 2018 424 views

The first expansion for the Year of the Raven is finally revealed. The Witchwood deals with spooky trees, gothic horror tropes and the worgen.

Looks like Team 5 had tons of fun designing this set and promoting it. First, in a series of vague tweets, lead game designers were talking about getting lost in the woods. Then, they cancelled a stream that was supposed to announce the new set. Now they uploaded a video showing their ventures through the spooky forests around Blizzard HQ and their dreaded findings. 

Developer shenanigans aside, the set looks very promising. The new 135 cards are designed to shake up the meta and introduce new archetypes to competitive play. We already have a glance at the two new mechanics – Rush and Echo.

Rush functions much like Charge, but the minion cannot attack Heroes on its first turn. Kind of like Icehowl, but only for a turn. This is done for a reason – Charge is a fun mechanic, but too much power can easily ruin games. The slightly nerfed version in the shape of Rush aims to remedy that and open design space for cool aggressive interactions, without resulting in one-turn kills.

Echo means that the card can be played any number of times in the same turn. So, an Echo card that costs 3 mana could be played twice for 6 and thrice for 9 mana. It’s an interesting thing, especially in Arena, where the number of bodies is often better than abilities.

Thematically, the set is clearly inspired by gothic horror, but it is depicted in the trademark tongue-in-cheek Hearthstone fashion. In the cinematic trailer, we see Hansel and Gretel-inspired characters being attacked by creatures of the night, only to turn into worgen in a twist ending. The set is obviously taking place in The Blackwald, a forest in southern Gilneas, commonly known as the Witchwood. Aesthetically, Blizzard knocked it out of the park – the few spoiled cards are eye-catching and thematic, but also very cartoony and pleasant.

The set hits the tavern in just a few weeks and we can’t wait to crack open some fresh packs.