It looks like it's not only the Achievements XP aspect for Fractured in Alterac Valley that's going away with the new Patch 23.0, but also apparently the whole Honor Questline now about to be wrapped up. In the end, it might not be quite the "entire expansion period" we were led to believe we would have - although to be fair, it all did start earlier than intended - but the upcoming replacement solution could mean none of this actually makes as much of a difference.
For the record, this is what we've already known for the past few months:
The period for tallying the winning faction is from December 7 to January 11, but you can collect Honor to complete your personal Legendary Quest Chain at any point throughout the Fractured in Alterac Valley expansion. After the expansion period, the Legendary Quest Chain will be replaced with another means to earn these rewards.
While we still won't have all the details available until everything properly goes live, we have learned a bit more about what to expect thanks to some recent Twitter insights from Nicholas “DeckTech” Weiss and Chadd "Celestalon" Nervig. If you never stood a chance to timely finish the Honor Quest Chain in the first place, there might be hope for you to eventually be able to collect these rewards anyway. And if you are currently 'this close' to achieving that final rank from your respective faction, perhaps rushing to complete several more games is in order.
Honor Rewards = Achievements
Not surprisingly, "other means to earn these rewards" is a solution that lends itself well to the convenient delivery through the Achievements system.
Should be patch day […], not expansion unlock, when it swaps over.
Indeed. Honor questline rewards will be available on achievements (that have already been tracking progress) instead, starting patch day […].
We've actually already seen how that would work with certain Neutral Golden (Uncraftable) cards; formerly collectible through their respective Forged in the Barrens or United in Stormwind Rewards Tracks. Nowadays, anyone can still get their Venomous Scorpid or Encumbered Pack Mule by completing some of the associated Gameplay achievements for these expansions (which used to grant XP at the time).
No reason to hurry then if you aren't (almost) there already?
The achievement doesn’t go away when the expansion unlocks.
Yeah, these will stay available (via the achievements) forever.
What we don't yet know are the exact details of how everything would shift there. If Honor Quest Chain is no more, then technically our in-game Alliance or Horde faction ranks should be retired as well. And it would presumably mean no longer gaining any visible Honor for won and lost games in Ranked modes, Arena, or Duels. But... the only Honor achievement currently available to us tracks just that.
Best Way To Go?
It stands to reason there would have to be a set of different requirements taking its place (if not several different achievements rewarding all the Honor Quest Chain cards), unless the Hearthstone team is ready to surprise us with another inventive direction. And while everything else was shared between the two factions - merely being acquired in a different order - the Golden versions of Vanndar Stormpike and Drek'Thar awaiting at the very end were not. That's the main exclusive prize anybody following this Honor journey to full completion wouldn't want to miss out on. The existence of these two "freebies" has caused quite a fuss back in the day.
Hopefully the developers are well aware of that, and we'll be able to re-examine all these assumptions soon enough after the patch. This isn't really a concern for anyone who has already finished their Honor grind a good while ago, but anybody hoping for that one extra week to get there at one's leisure might be at least slightly concerned by the news.
The best piece of advice here would be to play it safe. If you are very close to your final rank of Grand Marshal or High Warlord, but still far enough not to make it on short notice, remember that you have a choice NOT to patch your game client instantly. All you need to do is to disable auto updating in your Battle.net settings, if you haven't already (the mobile patch usually arrives a few hours later as is, if there are no further delays; but that won't matter if you have downloaded the desktop upgrade - it's one shared account, after all).
Until you get prompted by the game to update to a newer version, you are free to follow things as they used to be (this is one method that works very well for collecting some final Achievements XP too). For anyone who stays logged into an older Hearthstone version and doesn't suffer any unfortunate connection problems, it could actually mean many extra hours. If nothing else, that provides you with ample time to read up on all the patch notes, Honor/Achievement changes, and how this replacement system is going to work exactly. We'll be sure to post an appropriate update down the line as well! Perhaps it's all going to be for the better, with nothing to worry about.
Where do you find yourselves at this point? All Honor ranks completed a good while ago, planned to get it done only during this final week, or you were never going to play enough games for it to even matter?