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Madness beckons: Whispers of the Old Gods expands Hearthstone this April/May

Kicking off Hearthstone‘s Americas Winter Championship weekend on the game’s second anniversary, Blizzard has announced its next expansion, Whispers of the Old Gods. Like Goblins vs. Gnomes and The Grand Tournament before it, Whispers‘ 134 new cards will be available in packs for purchase or as rewards when it launches in late April or early May. “I think it’s one of the best things we’ve ever done as a team,” explained lead designer Ben Brode during the livestream.

Embracing a more sinister tone than the often-lighthearted style of Hearthstone, Whispers draws heavily from the writings and extended mythos of American horror writer H. P. Lovecraft. Lore-wise, the eponymous Old Gods are four extremely powerful and ancient beings chained deep beneath the surface of Azeroth by the Titans, and they are responsible for all sorts of sinister goings-on in the world of Warcraft, such as enslaving Ragnaros and the elemental lords, creating the Nerubians, and corrupting Deathwing.

Related: The essential beginner’s strategy guide to Hearthstone (and The Grand Tournament)

Because their acolytes have worked in secret to unleash them back into the world, each of the four Old Gods (C’Thun, Yogg-Saron, N’Zoth, and Y’Shaarj) will be entering the game as a legendary minion. The first of these, C’Thun, was revealed during the announcement.

10 mana to summon a 6/6 might seem underwhelming at first, even with a battlecry that deals its attack value, randomly distributed among all enemies. Any Old God worth its salt, however, will have a legion of cultists to prepare for its arrival, and so it’s through synergy with other additions from the set that C’Thun really shines. Cards like Beckoner of Evil and Twilight Cultist will buff up the stats for C’Thun, “wherever it is,” opening up a sinister portal that both players can see while C’Thun’s power ominously grows. There are 16 cards in the set that will directly interact with C’Thun, allowing for some thematically fun deck-building possibilities.

The remaining three Old Gods have not yet been revealed, but will each feature different mechanical themes interacting with the rest of your deck, like C’Thun. Unlike the previous expansion, however, Whispers of the Old Gods will not introduce any new bolded keywords (like Inspire or Battlecry) to the game. Other cards revealed so far from the set were re-imagined versions of extant cards that have been corrupted by the Old Gods’ sinister influence. The Polluted Hoarder, for instance, is a beefier version of the Loot Hoarder, with double the stats for double the cost. The Corrupted Healbot, on the other hand, offers double the stats for the same price as its Antique predecessor, but instead of healing your hero on a battlecry, it heals your opponent as a deathrattle. That trade-off could be turned into a powerful advantage, however, in a priest deck that utilizes Auchenai Soulpriest.

In order to get players excited to try out the new cards, everyone that logs in during the expansion’s promotional launch period will be awarded three free packs of randomized cards. Moreover, everyone’s first pack of Whispers of the Old Gods cards will include, as a sixth bonus card, a copy of C’Thun itself, which circumvents the awkward situation of players collecting cards that synergize directly with C’Thun, but not being able to use them until they randomly earn the legendary minion or can splurge on the dust to craft it.

As an additional promotion, starting on Monday, March 14, players will be able to pre-order 50 packs of Whispers of the Old Gods for $50, which will also include a complementary C’Thun card back, featuring a creepy, animated eyeball. Monday will also bring a new patch to the game, which includes new filters for searching your collection, a preview of the UI for the upcoming format additions, and nine new deck slots for all players.