Hearthstone fans think they may have figured out the theme of the next expansion

The theory is based on an image in the Year of the Phoenix video from March.

Image via Blizzard Entertainment

Ask anyone who’s spent significant time on Reddit and they’ll confirm that the website is a hotbed for conspiracy theories.

When you have a plethora of people who are interested in a subject exchanging ideas via the power of the internet, theories about that subject are bound to surface. One such theory has taken root on the Hearthstone subreddit that could actually hold some weight. Some fans think they might know what the theme of the game’s next expansion could be.

Image via Blizzard Entertainment

The crux of the theory is based on the appearance of the three expansion bubbles from the Year of the Phoenix video, which was released in March. In this video, Blizzard outlined its plan for the upcoming year in Hearthstone. The first expansion that was released this year was Ashes of Outland. Upon seeing the green orb, lore-savvy players were convinced the first expansion would be related to the Burning Legion. It turned out those predictions were correct.

Now, with a new expansion expected to be announced this month, players have been hard at work trying to crack the code using the second orb from that video. And one fan believes they’ve figured it out. Based on the design presented by Blizzard for expansion two in that video, the fan believes the next expansion will be based on Shadowmoon Valley. Although this fan isn’t the only person to talk about this theory in recent days, they’ve provided the most evidence.

There’s evidence in Hearthstone and World of Warcraft that supports the Shadowmoon Valley theory, according to multiple players on the Hearthstone subreddit. If you look closely at the color scheme and art style used for the orb in the expansion two images, it’s nearly identical to the art style used for the Council of Exarchs Tabard in World of Warcraft.

There’s also a card back in Hearthstone that references Vindicator Maraad, a Paladin who’s closely associated with the Exarchs. Vindicator Maraad’s own cloak and gear closely match the art style presented by the second orb in the Year of the Phoenix video. In World of Warcraft, you can even find a sigil in Shadowmoon Valley that looks exactly like the purple orb shown in Blizzard’s video.

While this could seem like a case of overanalyzing an idea based on art style, there are lore reasons to support the claim as well. In World of Warcraft, the Exarchs are associated with the Draenei race. This race joined World of Warcraft in the Burning Crusade expansion, an expansion who’s main villain was the most recent Hearthstone hero, Illidan Stormrage. If the Hearthstone team is still pulling from this point in WoW’s history for expansion ideas, Shadowmoon Valley would hold a ton of potential thanks to its otherworldly vibe and lore.

None of this information has been confirmed by Blizzard, however. Hearthstone fans will likely need to wait patiently for Blizzard to officially reveal the game’s next expansion later this summer.