Hearthstone’s new expansion censors old cards

Blizzard is capitalizing on the popularity of the League Of Explorers with a new Hearthstone expansion set in the deserts of Uldum. Ahead of the August 6 release date of Saviors of Uldum, Blizzard has pushed some initial changes to the game including censoring card art or changing card names and art altogether. The most obvious is the essential Warlock card Succubus being turned into a Felstalker. Both are part of a Warlock’s repertoire in World of Warcraft as enslaved demons. Another card depicting a succubus was renamed in favor of a more generic female demon named Queen of Pain (No relation to the Dota 2 succubus hero, just in case.) You can see the full list of changes below with the new card art on the left and old art on the right.

Aside from obviously using safer depictions of the female characters, explicit violence has been toned down. Blood was simply removed from Eviscerate while Deadly Shot, Bite and Headcrack received new art. Headcrack is perhaps the most jarring as a Night Elf unleashing fire spells upon an Undead turns into a goblin with a slingshot. The immediate assumption by the internet was that cards were being changed to being acceptable in China, instead of running separate card arts to comply with censorship laws inside the country. Hearthstone currently censors certain cards in the Chinese release, such as Skeleton Knight wearing a bulker helmet to avoid depicting a skull:

Blizzard had this to say about the changes after Kotaku asked:

The recent changes were applied to make those cards more visually cohesive and consistent with the art style of Hearthstone today. When Hearthstone first launched, we brought in a lot of artwork from the physical World of Warcraft trading card game. In the years since, Hearthstone has developed a look, feel, and personality of its own that distinguishes it from that of Warcraft—though we still love being a part of that universe. We’ll always be looking for ways to deliver on the game’s unique style, charm, and personality.

Hearthstone has come into its own as a place of adventures and locations that part of Warcraft but not exactly like its MMORPG older brother, most notably in how Streets of Gadgetzan depicted the dusty old town in Tanaris as a bustling city. Most of the card art from the original launch content was pulled from the long running Warcraft Trading Card Game, while original card art is produced for new cards five years in. I don’t see how this change really affects the sensibility of its target audience — bored millenials on a bus commute.

One of the more ironic details pointed out by the Hearthstone subreddit was the succubus drawn in chalk for the weekly Tavern Brawl banner: That’s most certainly not recycled card art.

Saviors of Uldum launches August 6.

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