Disclaimer: Consider this just a harmless bit of speculation for fun and in order to keep prepared for what's to come, based on a number of hints publicly available to us. There haven't been any leaks or insider info that we know of, otherwise. So it could all prove to be very right, or it could end up being very wrong. Or anything in between.
We are approaching the final month of Voyage to the Sunken City's lifespan, which means the news about the next upcoming adventure should be right around the corner. This time around, there are also enough early signs to indicate that we might be looking at a slightly accelerated timeline as a whole.
Admittedly, up until this point the Summer Hearthstone expansions have followed one of the most consistent release schedules for many years in a row:
- United in Stormwind - August 3, 2021
- Scholomance Academy - August 6, 2020
- Saviors of Uldum - August 6, 2019
- Boomsday Project - August 7, 2018
- Knights of the Frozen Throne - August 10, 2017
While the same pattern largely held true for the first and last sets of each calendar year (meaning the first half of April and December, respectively), we've seen a couple of exceptions in recent memory: such as Forged in the Barrens arriving on March 30, 2021, and Madness at the Darkmoon Faire coming out as soon as November 17, 2020. Could a late July expansion release be next in line now to break the current mold? There are good reasons to believe so.
And if you like to save up your gold (and/or cash for various expansion pre-orders), it would be best to stay prepared. Chances are you might've already seen the writing on the wall:
Hint #1: The Tavern Pass
The Battle.net shop often shows precise availability dates for the products on offer - and while they aren't always set in stone and could technically be adjusted at any point down the line, this is as clear of an indication as it currently gets:
July 26 is a Tuesday, which also happens to be a traditional expansion day. Things could always change between now and then, but we have already seen cases before where the Battle.net info proved to be correct well in advance.
Hint #2: Tyrael
When Hearthstone Patch 23.4 dropped on the 1st of June, it brought us a special Diablo Immortal cross-promotion in the form of a free Mercenary character, Tyrael (still claimable for free through the in-game Mercenaries shop). But what's more, the patch notes stated the following:
Claim Your Free Tyrael Mercenary!
In the immortal struggle between good and evil, it helps to have a powerful ally on your side. Bring strength and justice to your party with this free Legendary Tyrael Mercenary! Tyrael can be claimed for free in the Shop from now until the launch of Patch 24.0.
Patch 24.0 would then herald an imminent arrival of a new Hearthstone expansion (usually updating the Hearthstone client about a week in advance), which becomes an interesting piece of information when viewed together with the consequent Blizzard blog on Diablo Immortal goodies for their games:
Add a little honor to your cutthroat band of Mercenaries by recruiting justice itself: Archangel Tyrael. From now until July 14 at 10 a.m. PDT, setting foot in the Hearthstone Tavern will add this paragon of virtue to your collection of Mercenaries. Include Tyrael in your Party and test his abilities during your next Bounty!
July 14 is a Thursday, also one of the favorite patch days for Hearthstone.
Once again, these dates could still change for whatever reason, but that's the official word on the subject for the time being. When you put the two together... Since we are not expecting the next set to release as soon as July 19-21 (based on the current Tavern Pass offer at least), this could also indicate a slightly longer window between the arrival of Patch 24.0 and the day when the new expansion goes live.
Hint #3: New Duels Season
Most recently, the current Duels background that welcomes us every time we enter the mode has decided it's time to start the countdown:
For reference, new Duels seasons are usually tied to the pre-expansion patches, allowing us to find the brand new cards through buckets or Discovers/random generation as a sort of a taste of what's to come. And so this particular timing would be very much in line with the expected release date of Patch 24.0, as noted above.
Hint #4: The Accelerated Timeline?
The Throne of the Tides coming out on June 1 (as part of the Patch 23.4) took us by surprise, considering that Voyage to the Sunken City had been only released on April 12. This marked the quickest release of a Mini-Set to date, by far. If this wasn't a peculiar error in the matrix and this pattern is meant to continue, then it stands to reason we might be seeing everything sooner than we would've in the years past: which would include both the upcoming patches 23.6 and 24.0, and the new expansion itself.
While the Mini-Set offer dates have been very wrong on the Battle.net shop before, Throne of the Tides is currently said to be available through September 12, 2022.
What could ultimately turn out to be more relevant indications of future things are the little snippets we've been given through various Q&As from Lead Designer Dean 'Iksar' Ayala:
We have been medium on miniset. Total number of cards feels right, been talking about doing 4 expansions per year and no minisets. We’d have to also adjust our reward structure if expansions just lasted a shorter amount of time.
We know that's not going to happen this year, perhaps not even the next. And maybe not at all. But if such plans are in fact in motion, it would make sense to already start pushing expansion release dates ahead ever so slightly, in order to make enough room for 4 full expansions within Hearthstone's yearly schedule.
[…] A bigger than normal expansion slated for late next year. […]
Again, this could be either related or have little to no influence on the current status quo. But since there is meant to be something special and larger about the upcoming November/December 2022 expansion, freeing up more space for it through slightly-earlier-than-normal releases would be a good move.
Hint #5: New Patch Time?
Since the previous update happened earlier than expected at the very start of June, it stands to reason we might be seeing Patch 23.6 anytime now. June 28 release date seems quite likely here, given that the blog post for the upcoming Battlegrounds Lobby Legends has already told us to expect a reveal weekend for the mode:
Jia and EducatedCollins will be dishing out their Battlegrounds expertise on the desk, where the two will present some Battlegrounds reveals from the next major patch throughout the weekend’s broadcast.
Traditionally, most of the recent .6 patches (in the past we've also had some .8 patches serving in this role) have also brought us pre-purchase offers for the next big expansion, along with all of the appropriate reveals and announcements. Who knows, perhaps we might even learn something later today or tomorrow?
While this might be 'reaching' and totally not Hearthstone related, Game Designer Cora Georgiou has recently tweeted the following:
Not gonna lie, I miss Pokemon events so much. I have a pretty good reason for not being able to attend NAIC this year though. […]
How on earth could that ever be relevant, you might ask? Well, normally it would all be pretty unassuming, except for the fact that the next expansion is meant to be Cora's baby:
Perhaps all that final preparation to ensure a shippable product has been keeping her very busy. We will inevitably find out very, very soon.
Upcoming Expansion Themes
Now, that's where our guess is about as good as anybody's. It's been pretty easy to figure things out during the previous year, what with the whole Alliance vs Horde storyline and the usual expansion image teasers having people shout out "Alterac Valley!" outright. But, we weren't nearly as fortunate to receive anything solid to go on for 2022. Which is very much by design:
New Standard year announcement looks cool - but no visual teasers for expansion 2 and 3 of this year?
Sorry! The team decided to go in a different direction this year. That said, I’m super excited for what’s to come, though! Hopefully without the teasers, the mystery can remain in the air a bit longer for sets 2 and 3.
[…] No year long storyline, one or two themes you probably would expect, at least one you probably wouldn't.
Nobody seems to have cracked these ones yet, since it might be very much akin to randomly throwing darts at the board. It's worth noting that the August card backs from the previous two years had aligned very closely with their adjacent expansions: as Scholomance and Varian, respectively.
For that reason, some people are looking at the upcoming August 2022 card back (which can be located through the in-game collection) - Celestial Starlight - as some sort of a teaser. Astral, cosmic vibes for the tavern? Or a total red herring, seeing as most of the Hearthstone card backs are not historically tied to any particular set releases from their respective month in any way whatsoever? We've had themes that are all over the place.
The other clue we might have - if we even decide to call it that - is the return of the League of Explorers to pretty much all Hearthstone game modes (and the Core Set 2022). With one of them even spearheading the recent underwater voyages.
Some astral/natural mystery for Elise, old Titan ruins exploration with Brann, or whatever semi-dragon vibes with Reno? Or just a complete unexpected turn from the Hearthstone team.
Give us your best guesses if you even have any!
What do you think about all or any of these particular hints? Warm or cold, is it all wishful thinking or should we start gearing up for late July as our new Hearthstone summer time for fresh shiny things?