Hearthstone: Fractured in Alterac Valley Reveals New Mechanics and More
Hearthstone: Fractured in Alterac Valley is the next expansion dropping in December 2021. It takes place, of course, in the intense PVP battleground of Alterac Valley. In the early days of World of Warcraft, 40 vs. 40 battles would take place across several days. Now, they last maybe 10-15 minutes, where both sides rush to the other side of the map. This is the home to the battle between the Horde’s Drek’Thar and the Alliance General, Vanndar Stormpike. It’s a huge set and a reimagining of Alterac Valley’s battleground, and that means new mechanics, tons of new cards, and a massive shift to the meta. We will be covering the spoilers in general very soon, but we will highlight a few of them here in this piece.
What can we expect in the Hearthstone: Fractured in the Alterac Valley expansion? We of course have new Keywords to explore, a pair of free legendaries to choose from, tons of new ways to play the game; oh, and Hero Cards are back too. Remember those cool Mercenaries? They’re all grown up now! As the final expansion of the year, it sounds like we’re going to be going out with a bang! As someone who spent a ton of time PVPing exclusively in Alterac Valley, I’m certainly excited to see how this expansion shapes the end of the year’s meta. From what I’ve seen so far, some of these cards are incredibly powerful.
So far, we’ve only seen one new Keyword, but that could change. For now, we’ve got the new Keyword of Honorable Kill. These cards grant you a bonus effect if it deals exact lethal damage to an enemy minion during your turn. An excellent example of this is in the common Hunter weapon, Bloodseeker. Honestly, this is incredible. It’s a 2/2 weapon for 2, and it has Honorable Kill: Gain +1/+1.
Now, it’s going to require some pretty specific kills. Getting a kill with exact damage grants it +1/+1, requiring bigger enemies still to successfully gain the bonus again. However, getting a few +1/+1 buffs is nothing at all to sneeze at. Another solid example is Siphon Mana in Mage. It’s a 2-cost common spell, and it deals 2 damage. However, it has Honorable Kill: Reduce the Cost of spells in your hand by (1). That is an amazing value if you time things perfectly. You have to plan ahead a little more with these cards, but frankly, I think it’s a terrific idea.
You also have Objective spells to look forward to in Hearthstone: Fractured in Alterac Valley. These spells, unlike previous things we’ve seen in the game, stick around for several turns. These Objective spells have a duration, and right now, all I’ve seen is “Lasts 3 turns.” With the Objective spells, you can set up some truly nasty combos to secure games with, or simply to foil your opponent’s plans.
The jury is still out on these, but I like the concept. One of the potential negatives is not being able to utilize them the turn they’re put into play. For example, Dun Baldar Bridge reads, “After you summon a minion, give it +2/+2. Lasts 3 turns.” If you can’t also play a minion that turn, that’s a waste of its ability. Now, you could simply wait for a few turns and use them primarily in the late game. That’s entirely possible. Not all of them are so negative. Snowfall Graveyard is a 3-cost, and it makes your Deathrattles trigger twice. It also lasts for 3 turns. This one’s far better, because you can already have Deathrattles in play to make this happen, or you can play a super cheap one.
So that’s definitely a positive. We’ll just have to see how this all plays out, but so far, I’m digging them as a concept. They shouldn’t take up a board slot, and still grant effects that persist over a few turns. But we also have Hero Cards!
Hero Cards Are Back
Honestly, these Hero cards seem like they’re pretty powerful. The Heroes themselves have powerful Battlecries and boast new Hero Powers to take advantage of. We’ve seen a few of these Heroes so far, and they’re all, of course, Legendary and have 30 Health. Not all of them have the same mana cost though. So let’s go into a few of the ones we’ve seen so far to give you an example of what’s on the way.
Druid Hero: Wildheart Guff – 5 mana. This Hero costs 5 mana to cast and has Battlecry: Set your maximum Mana to 20. Gain a Mana Crystal. Draw a card. Good. God. Can you imagine a turn-5 Druid suddenly having 20 mana?! His Hero Power also costs 2 mana and is called Nurture. It’s built around the classic Choose One design. You either Draw a card or Gain a Mana Crystal. It’s certainly interesting, that’s for sure.
Paladin Hero: Lightforged Cariel – 7 mana. Paladin Handbuff Hero is here! She deals 2 damage to all enemies as a Battlecry and equips a ⅖ Immovable Object equipment piece. The Immovable Object doesn’t lose Durability, period. Your hero takes half damage, rounded up, and is a ⅖ baseline. Like Wildheart, she also comes with 5 Armor. So far, this sounds really good, but what about her Hero Power? She has Blessing of Queens, which grants a random ally in your hand +4/+4. My lord, that’s amazing. Especially if you only have one or two allies in hand. You can really direct where to put that power. At two mana, that’s fantastic. Handbuff Pally may see a serious surge into the meta.
As you can see, they are quite powerful. The downside is that they’re Legendary, so you can only put one in your deck, and you have to get to it first. Card draw is going to be your friend, that’s for sure. These feel much better than the previous Dark Knight Hero replacements we’ve had in the past. We’ll be covering them all here in the next blog post, so don’t you worry.
Like with all sets, we have at least one freebie. This time, there are two!
Freebies in Alterac Valley, Bundles
Having the two freebies in Hearthstone: Fractured in Alterac Valley makes perfect sense. After all, it’s a battle with two generals: Horde and Alliance. When you log in, starting now, you pick Horde or Alliance. That rewards you with either Drek’thar (Horde) or Vanndar Stormpike (Alliance). You might wonder how you get the other one for free, though. Once the expansion launches in December, you’ll get a Legendary Quest Chain, and it rewards you with the other card. A Diamond card will also be given out to all players, based on the winning faction’s general.
Wait, winning? What’s this winning talk? So, from December 7-January 11, all players earn Honor for their faction by playing the game. This includes Traditional, Arena, and Duels Modes. Honor gained progresses you through the Legendary Quest Chain, where extra rewards are also earned. You gain 10 Honor for every game played, 10 more for every game won (20 total), and 20 more Honor for every game won versus an opponent from the opposing faction (40 total).
So there’s a real Alterac Valley battle going on! It’s a difficult choice though. Here’s what both cards do:
Drek’Thar (4-Cost Legendary Follower): A 4/4 with a pretty useful Battlecry, to be honest. If this costs more than every minion in your deck, summon 2 of them. So this pays homage to the Frostwolves that accompany Drek’Thar. It requires you to have a pretty low-cost series of minions in your deck, but it’s got real potential. However, I’m leaning more towards Vanndar Stormpike.
Vanndar Stormpike (4-Cost Legendary Follower): In the classic days of WoW, I always played Horde. I have so many matches won in Alterac Valley. However, this 4/4 Dwarf holds my attention a bit more than Drek’Thar does. Why? His Battlecry reads “If this costs less than every minion in your deck, reduce their Cost by (3).” For decks that rely on heavier, bigger creatures, suddenly they’re not so far out of reach. I respect and appreciate that.
I really want to see the spread on these – how lopsided is the battle going to be? In World of Warcraft, the sides of a server are virtually always unbalanced. So this has me very curious. What do people value more? Lore or whatever fits their decks more?
As with all expansions, there’s also a Pre-Order Bundle or two. Here’s what you can expect:
- 60 Alterac Valley Card Packs
- 2 Random Alterac Valley Legendary Cards
- Vanndar Sotmrpike Card Back
- 80 Alterac Valley Card Packs
- 5 Golden Alterac Valley Card Packs
- 2 Random Golden Alterac Valley Legendary Cards
- Vanndar Stormpike ALternate Hero Skin
- Vanndar Stormpike Card Back
- 5 Mercenaries Packs
- Random Legendary Mercenary (or 100 Coins, if you own them all)
- Battlegrounds Perks
It’s certainly a lot of bang for your buck, but why not let you choose between the two Generals, instead of just Vanndar? We see what faction the devs are aligned with, at least. For fans of the Alterac Valley area, you’re going to see all kinds of familiar faces here. Wing Commander Ichman as a Hunter Legendary, for example. He can create a serious loop of Beast summoning. He summons a Beast from your deck and gives it Rush. If it kills a minion this turn, repeat this. Lokholar, the Ice Lord is here, as is Ivus, the Forest Lord, which is incredible. We will, of course, keep you up to date with the spoilers as they drop, heading up to the launch in December.