It's almost time for the Lich King's very long March to come to an end at the gates of distinguished Silvermoon City, where High/Blood Elves await. The imminent new expansion release is set to happen on December 6, most likely at or around the standard time of 10:00 PST (13:00 EST, 19:00 CET). 

We've already greeted the final month of this calendar year in the tavern, and now the new week has also arrived for all Hearthstone regions to participate in. Which means a fresh batch of Weeklies, with a couple more Dailies to follow. At this point, you might just wish to hold onto any and all of the available Quests, depending on your in-game status and goals.

Departing Castle Nathria

As long as you've managed to reach level 100 on the (still) current Rewards Track for Murder at Castle Nathria, there isn't much left for it to offer. Beyond 50 gold for every 1500 XP gained, that is - but it's a perk which is pretty much always available; unless you belong to a very small group of players who tend to maximize all 400 levels per expansion. As it happens, this dedicated part of the community wasn't even able to receive new Quests for a very long time due to a certain bug.

There is one instance where this "old" Rewards Track might still be of greater value to you: should you happen to own Castle Nathria's Tavern Pass for 20% bonus XP, and have already decided that you're absolutely not going to get another once the Lich King marches in. Then it's likely better to clean up any of the remaining Quests in your Journal before the expansion launches, accumulating that little bit of extra gold. In a way, this also applies if you are absolutely certain you're going to aim for max level of 400 on the upcoming Rewards Track, but have plenty of gold left to get from the existing one yet.

As usual, at least you won't have to worry about missing out on or forgetting anything of note, as the game should automatically claim any remaining rewards for you. Yet unless you want to end up with a random Hero Skin, it's probably best to remember to check everything first - there was another bug around for a longer while, preventing certain players from choosing their level 100 cosmetic option.

Quote From Blizzard
When the Rewards Track refreshes with the March of the Lich King launch, all players will automatically be granted any unclaimed rewards from both the free Rewards Track and the Tavern Pass track (if purchased), and a completely new March of the Lich King Rewards Track of unlockable treasure will take its place.

Better Keep Marching

And so the upcoming free Rewards Track is pretty much identical with the previous version, despite the introduction of another new class; something it didn't take us long to establish once we've been presented with a detailed sneak peek nearly a week ago. The early levels remain very generous, showering players with numerous valuable rewards. After a while, things slow down and become a lot less exciting/far more grindy. Apparently, we even still get to keep that (somewhat repetitive) old background.

It is worth noting, however, that we might be earning slightly more free stuff on average than before, given the recent revamp of the Event System. As long as the in-game events keep happening at a steady peace and without overly long gaps. 

Initially, even a single daily quest can be worth several levels, full of gold and other goodies. So the more of them you save up in advance, the faster you can find yourself grabbing perks such as Random Epic/Legendary cards (at level 10 and 20, respectively); not to mention a handful of Lich King/Standard packs, and Tavern Tickets which can be turned into an even greater haul via Arena or Duels.

The closer you get to the halfway point, the more it starts slowing down. Especially when it comes to reaching that 2nd Random Legendary card at level 50, or Golden Uncraftable Epic copies of Plaguespreader at levels 65 and 75. Chances are you'll have already opened at least one (disenchantable copy) of them from your packs by then... and this is where the good news begin.

Unlike all previous instances in the past, collecting Uncraftable cards from the Rewards Track only after your focused expansion pack opening is no longer going to be a net negative. Now the game will simply ask if you wish to reroll to another Rare or Epic when attempting to claim that Banshee or Plaguespreader while already owning their two disenchantable versions. In short, there is nothing to worry about. It no longer calls for the awkward strategies where some of us would try to get by using as few new packs as possible, until such a time that a satisfying Rewards Track level had been reached. 

For anyone who decides to purchase the new Tavern Pass, the expected path becomes at least slightly different. Bonus XP aside - the usual 10% Boost to begin with, quickly upgraded to 15% at level 20, then taking a small eternity to turn into 20% all the way up at level 70 - for the second time in a row we can expect another set of two Golden Uncraftable Epic copies in the form of Enchanter (even sooner than before for the first copy: on levels 10 and 25). With any of the saved Quests in advance, it's possible to get there pretty much in an instant. 

Even if you've already been opening March of the Lich King card packs early via private Fireside Gatherings and happened to pull their regular disechantable copies, the new improved duplicate protection will be there to save you by offering rerolls free of charge. 

No More Early Dust Refunds, Plus a Word on Signature Cards

This is where we would usually bring up the final point of the brief dust refund windows at the start of a new expansion, for certain cards arriving as Golden/Diamond Uncraftables. But... it's just not a thing anymore (yes, that's once again due to the improved duplicate protection/rerolling). Lor'themar Theron has been placed on the Rewards Track as both regular (free) and golden (paid) Uncraftable option, so you won't be seeing those in your Lich King packs. For anything else, the usual rules apply. 

Alright, perhaps with the exception of the new Signature cards, for this is where many players are bound to keep scratching their heads in confusion. It's not the most intuitive of systems, but it's here to be always (for the most part?) on your side. There is a lot of fine details that we've already covered elsewhere, yet the short version goes as follows: Signature Legendaries do *NOT* take away from your regular chance at finding cards of said rarity, they are merely an added bonus (replacing a Normal Common slot). So don't feel too bad if you end up with that Signature Lor'themar Theron that cannot be rerolled as its Rewards Track copies are non-disenchantable to begin with - because yes, that could happen.

Quote From Blizzard

  • With March of the Lich King packs, Standard packs, and Class packs, Signature cards drop at the same rate as Golden Legendary cards, and are purely in addition to all other drops (other than replacing a Normal Common). As a result, the total legendary drop rate in these packs is slightly higher.
  • We knew many players would want to get the Signature quality of a card that they already own, so we handle duplicate protection in reverse. They can drop, but when they do, you’ll get a popup that asks if you’d like to reroll your existing normal/golden copy for free. Say yes, and it rerolls to a different card of the same set, rarity, and quality.

Although you are still allowed to feel a little bad that it's not a copy of a card you don't already own, seeing as Signature cards are meant to be about as rare as Golden Legendaries (~every 181 packs on average). Unfortunately, they remain non-dustable for the time being. Grand Magister Rommath is another curious outlier here, existing in four different rarities. And Lady Deathwhisper could be purchased separately. Besides these three exceptions, the rest of them should be a net gain, always prompting the reroll option if already owning a disenchantable namesake.

Lor'themar Theron Signature Card Image Grand Magister Rommath Signature Card Image Lady Deathwhisper Signature Card Image

It's worth noting that the Private Fireside Gatherings might've suffered from another (despite the delayed start) unfortunate bug, what with the players opening their early packs and finding various Signature cards... only to be denied the expected reroll option. This is something that's known to the developers

Preparing for the New Expansion

Last but certainly not least, this part has always been pretty much self-explanatory. Saving up Weekly Quests is fairly simple, as we also get two chances to reroll them on Monday and Tuesday. If you wish, you could even advance their progress just so you are one Ranked ladder win or a successful Arena/Duels run away from collecting all of the XP for the new Rewards Track. Just don't accidentally slip and unintentionally complete them! 

Daily Quests aren't much different, although they are often easier to complete 'accidentally'. Ideally you would've already been carrying over one quest from Sunday or before, with another two filling up your Journal by Monday and Tuesday. Once the expansion goes online on December 6 - usually between 10-11 AM Pacific (however that translates to your respective timezones), you can get to completing all quests for that handy XP boost and a head start on the freshly swapped in Rewards Track. If you are based in Europe and don't expect to be able to play during the initial hours of March of the Lich King, it's generally safer to keep one daily slot open with that midnight reset in mind. 

A pretty good selection for the expansion launch.

We've actually even heard of players saving up their latest Nozdormu Day quest at 2/3 progress, just for that guaranteed extra 500 XP. Talk about dedication and planning ahead! Speaking of any XP considerations: if you currently find yourself sitting at 50-75% progress towards the next Rewards Track level, you should push that little bit further to break even. It could mean having that extra 50 gold or something more. It's generally easy to afk some Mercenaries Bounties without advancing any of the previously saved Quests. 

This time around there were no new Daily/Weekly quests appearing ahead of the expansion launch, but we are definitely expecting the current Infuse and Location tasks to be replaced with something more fitting for March of the Lich King. You probably shouldn't keep those in your Journals if you wish to remain very careful, in case something (like the quests mysteriously vanishing) goes wrong once the Hearthstone devs attempt to pull the trigger. 

There are also these new XP achievements one could already try to complete and hold for the expansion launch. It's not much, but it's something if you enjoy going that extra mile.

Having said all that, there might also be very good reasons for not bothering with any of this. Perhaps you simply wish to play Hearthstone as you please before the expansion arrives, which likely means completing a number of Quests in the process. Or maybe you still have your Arena and Duels to wrap up and leave at 2 losses, for the rewards and a free Tavern Ticket - which can actually be worth more than a saved quest or two. The choice is there.

The Journey Thus Far

Continuing from where we left off some four months ago, here is hoping your Rewards Track journeys have been fruitful during the eventful stay at Castle Nathria. Some of our community members have actually kept diligent notes detailing their ongoing progress, and it always makes for a very interesting read. There is still time to share your story with us, either here in the comments or over on the Out of Cards forums! 

For me personally, Murder at Castle Nathria continued the trend of lower engagement (the arrival of Marvel Snap did not help any), with probably a tad too many unintentionally skipped Dailies or Weeklies. As it stands, I expect to finish at level 179 on my main server. The interest to play more might've been there, but the spare time certainly wasn't. Once again, I haven't felt particularly compelled to semi-afk Mercenaries bounties either for the extra 'free XP'. That's all without the Tavern Pass as well, a purchase I didn't make since United in Stormwind. Somehow the following Diamond cards and most of the cosmetics (for a non-Battlegrounds main) seemed pretty underwhelming. I'm not yet convinced March of the Lich King's Rewards Track might be able to entice me enough to look deeper into my wallet. Perhaps if all of the Signature cards were rerollable with zero exceptions to worry about...

Of course, there's never nearly enough gold that could be saved for the upcoming expansion. Or in this case, also the Path of Arthas for an injection of new Death Knight cards. Hopefullly your own coffers are in a far better state! 

What's your current plan for March of the Lich King's opening day? Saving up all Quests you possibly can or not bothering with any of that? Does the Tavern Pass look tempting this time around? We are curious about your thoughts on both the old and new Rewards Track aspects!