Ever since the release of "Goblins vs. Gnomes," new expansions have been an exciting event in the world of Hearthstone. These new sets introduce unseen mechanics, create and destroy entire archetypes, and incentivize waves of new players to pick up the game through bundle discounts and free legendaries and card packs. However, "The Witchwood" is special in that not only is it introducing over 130 new cards into the game, but also marks the beginning of the year of the raven. This means that all of the cards released in 2016 are no longer allowed for standard play, and have been moved to wild to make room for 2018's sets.

This provides not only a huge opportunity for new decks to emerge from the new cards released, but for decks that may have been oppressed by the old kingpins of the format (can someone say Barnes?) to shine.

So what's new?

Like every Expansion, "The Witchwood" introduces two new card mechanics, Rush and Echo. Rush is similar to the Charge mechanic that we all know and love but is weaker in that the minion can only attack other minions on it's first turn.

While this may seem like a weaker version of Charge, it still has an upside, and many of the minions with this new ability have statlines that could push the into viability. Echo, on the other hand, is entirely unique. When you play a card with Echo, you can cast it for its original cost as many times as you like/have mana for that turn.

This gives cards with Echo high flexibility in that you can spend basically any amount of mana on them and get your money's worth, even if you just cast them and decide not to take advantage of Echo. While the effectiveness of these new mechanics is yet to be seen in the standard metagame, they will almost certainly be valuable in Arena given that mana efficiency and strong statlines are generally more important in this format due to the usual lack of synergy that is common in Arena decks.

Additionally, Blizzard has said that they will be coming out with a "Monster Hunt" mode, which, like the Dungeon Run mode in "Kobolds and Catacombs," will have the player battle, CPU-controlled bosses, while building a stronger and stronger deck.

The rotation

To make way for the new cards in "The Witchwood" and the year's upcoming sets, three collections of cards have been moved entirely to wild. These sets include "Whispers of the Old Gods," "One Night in Karazhan," and "Mean Streets of Gadgetzan." Additionally, three classic cards (Coldlight Oracle, Molten Giant, and the beloved Ice Block) have been moved to the Hall of Fame and as such, are no longer legal for standard play.

The free bonuses awarded with playing plus the massive metagame shifts caused by the rotation means that now is a better time than ever to start playing Hearthstone. Check it out!