Scholomance Academy - Hearthstone's "Warcraft" Master Class
Class is in session!
On August 7th, Hearthstone's newest expansion, "Scholomance Academy"
, hit the servers and reimagines one of Warcraft's most infamous dungeons: Scholomance.
Despite the usual ridiculousness of Hearthstone's initial expansion trailers, Scholomance Academy wants to be more than Blizzard's interpretation of "Highschool Musical". In fact, Hearthstone continues to make a tremendous effort towards developing its very own lore while enriching the history of Warcraft more than ever before. Without further ado, let's take a closer look at the newly written past of Scholomance and SA's newest additions to Blizzard's card game!
I'm Tharid, a writer for Wowhead's sister site Hearthstone Top Decks, and I'll be covering the new content around Hearthstone's upcoming expansion called Scholomance Academy. If you want to check out the most recent news about the expansion, head over to
More Than Just A College
To understand the complete story that wants to be told in Scholomance Academy, one has to consume what can be called the greatest announcement video of a Hearthstone expansion so far. Team 5's Liv Breeden, Alec Dawson, and Liv Breeden serve the viewer with a light-hearted but yet comprehensive summary of what Scholomance looks like in the Hearthstone universe.
But first things first: In Scholomance Academy, everybody's favorite lich Kel'Thuzad leads a college full of magic, mystery - and mischiefs. In the expansion trailer, we have seen everything, from hydromancy over dark rituals to Demon Hunter training. However, the thing that the average World of Warcraft player will notice first is that everyone in Scholomance Academy is still
! Are we just looking at a parallel universe or the actual past of Kel'Thuzad's necromantic beginnings within the estate of Caer Darrow?
Not a lot of canonical lore is known about the history of Scholomance - remember, undead Kel'Thuzad has been part of the Scourge and leader of the Cult of the Damned since Warcraft III. In Classic WoW, the history of Caer Darrow of the House of Barov that turned into Kel Thuzad's Scholomance is mainly told by
, once head maid of the Barov clan. The estate slowly turned into a school of necromancy and its history could be described as one of the darkest chapters in Warcraft story writing, featuring horrible reports involving highly questionable characters such as
Doctor Theolen Krastinov
Now back to Hearthstone: Two weeks ago, we at HSTopdecks went out of our way and completely dissected the 10-minute long trailer,
looking for easter eggs and hints towards current and future Hearthstone content
As already said, Team 5 doesn't try to hide Hearthstone's frivolous take on Scholomance. Looking at Kel'Thuzad's laptop that had been found on Blizzard campus for a solid ten minutes certainly doesn't feel like an epic journey through Warcraft history; however, it is a genius approach to a very grim story, and not last is it the light-hearted and certainly silly first take at Scholomance Academy that makes the knowledge about what happens behind closed doors even grimmer.
Besides information about Scholomance itself, the announcement trailer also reveals clear connections to the Old Gods and a few hints towards the possibility of a future expansion around the
, something that
has been rumored since the release of this Standard year's expansion teaser pictures
Dual Class Cards, Spellburst - and Freedom of Lore
But what's really happening inside Hearthstone's Scholomance Academy?
As we all know, Kel'Thuzad has always been one of the most powerful wielders of magic in Azeroth. During his time with the Kirin Tor and the Council of Six, Kel'Thuzad was a pillar of wisdom within the magocracy of Dalaran - until he started to dive into the dark magic of necromancy. It was Antonidas who found out about his questionable experiments and swiftly expelled Kel'thuzad from the Kirin Tor and Dalaran in the process. Soon after, Kel'Thuzad was summoned by the Lich King himself as one of his first lieutenants, and from then on he built up the Cult of the Damned, an organization of necromancers and like-minded individuals who served the Lich King in return for eternal life.
Scholomance Academy wants to tell the story of a living and - much more importantly - sour Kel'Thuzad that tries to ridicule the magical education that revolves around the Kirin Tor. In his mind, the thirst for knowledge that results in experiments with all kinds of magic is what makes a truly special mage, and Kel'Thuzad turns his questionable stance into a marketing scheme for his own school of magic.
Dual Class cards which try to justify mixing up different kinds of magic are the first "standalone feature" of Scholomance's syllabus:
Besides this very unique direction in terms of class design, the new Spellburst mechanic continues to tell the story of Kel'Thuzad and his teachings around all kinds of magic. A minion with the Spellburst keyword casts its one-time effect as soon as the first spell of your turn has been played.
For Hearthstone players, dual-class card design and Spellburst not only open up many more deck-building opportunities; both additions also help Team 5 to explore new design spaces and ideas around classes and their spells, which results in what can be called the most unique and diverse Hearthstone expansion in terms of design so far - at least the overly positive reactions of all community parts before release point towards that.
Talking about diversity, Team 5's art department decided to support the fantasy of a diverse community living together on campus - and not only that: The art team had the unique chance to create first-time living visualizations of otherwise undead characters like
, and in his case, they chose to show the Warcraft world a powerful black necromancer. With this intention, Team 5 seems to follow
Team 2 and their development with Shadowlands
in which it tries to include more diverse storylines, such as the story about the trans character
In decade-old worlds full of fantasy lore that exclusively revolve around western mythology, a shift towards more realistic views of the people living within those worlds we play in today is long overdue and of utmost importance - now more than ever.
The Truth Behind Scholomance?
Of course, Scholomance Academy hasn't told its whole story yet - that is very obvious, especially compared to almost all the other expansion releases we have witnessed so far. We know what Kel'Thuzad had in mind when he talked the Barovs into providing their precious estate for necromantic purposes, and we witness up to this day how the Cult of the Damned operates all over the world of Azeroth.
For about two years now, we can expect the "second act" and the end of an expansion story to be told with the upcoming single-player campaign. No details are known yet, but we can be sure that Kel'Thuzad and his faculty staff will share their master plan with the Hearthstone world - and it will definitely not only involve everybody's favorite Warcraft kitty and brand-new Battlegrounds hero,
Their plan may even align with Kel'Thuzad reappearance in Shadowlands,
as recent Wowhead datamining showed that he will not only receive an updated model (beware of spoilers!)
but also be featured in two questlines.
What we can say for now is that Team 5 once again showed how Hearthstone expansions see themselves in the Warcraft mirror: What once blindly followed the lore of a game called WoW turned into the most creative and multi-layered dialect within the language of Warcraft lore - a dialect that everybody understands and appreciates in their own way, from Hearthstone's casual player that logs in once a week to World of Warcraft's lore expert that knows every Barov by their first name.
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