Every year, Hearthstone rotates some old cards from previous expansions to the Wild format, limiting the available card pool for the Standard format. This rotation usually takes place in April and is done to keep the game fresh and entertaining for all players.
The current year until April 2021 is the Year of the Phoenix, which includes cards from four expansions that will rotate: Rise of Shadows, Saviors of Uldum, Descent of Dragons, and Galakrond’s Awakening. Cards from three expansions will stay: Ashes of Outland, Scholomance Academy, and one future expansion.
As with every year, this rotation will have a significant impact on the meta. Hundreds of cards will be rotated out and replaced with cards from the new meta. Deck archetypes will disappear and new ones will flourish.
Here are the sets that rotated out in April 2020 and the future expansions that will rotate out in April 2021.
Rotated sets (2020)
- The Witchwood expansion introduced three new keywords: Start of Game, Echo, which allows a card to be played multiple times on the same turn, and Rush, which acts like Charge but doesn’t allow the minion to attack the enemy hero the turn it’s played.
- The Boomsday Project expansion introduced the Magnetic keyword, allowing a Mech minion to merge with another Mech, “Project” spells that benefit both players, “Omega” cards that gain additional bonuses if played while the player has 10 mana crystals, and Legendary spells for each of the nine classes.
- Rastakhan’s Rumble was mainly centered around trolls, one of the most ancient races in all of Azeroth. The set introduced a new keyword, Overkill, which dealt damage in excess of the health of the dead minion.
Future rotation (2021)
- The Rise of Shadows expansion introduced one new keyword, Twinspell, which creates a copy of a card in the player’s hand. On top of that, powerful 1/1 minions called Lackeys with Battlecry effects were added.
- The Saviors of Uldum expansion introduced the keyword Reborn, which resurrects minions with one health once they’ve died, devastating “Plague” spells that affect the entire board, and the re-introduction of the Quest mechanic, originally seen in Journey to Un’Goro.
- The Descent of Dragons expansion introduced the new keyword Invoke, which buffs up a powerful Galakrond, hero cards, and the Sidequest mechanic.
While these sets are guaranteed to be rotated out, some cards can be rotated out individually as well over the course of the Year of the Phoenix. There have been historic cases of cards rotated out to Wild to make room for new archetypes.