Hearthstone AMA – Scholomance Academy Edition
The Hearthstone Team answered a lot of questions by the community, some questions are very general, some others announce what could come in the future.
This article includes a Summary and all answeres below it so you can see exactly what they answered.
Going through the AMA and updating some of the major talking points. Bear with me as I’m updating this and let me know if I missed anything.
Battle Pass Controversy
- Ben Lee confirmed a major rework of the awards and progression system will hit around the time of the next expansion, and they’re expanding the Tavern Pass to supplement this with new cosmetics. It’s the intention of the team that this is a “repackaging” of existing rewards, and to allow people to earn rewards in modes other than Standard and Wild. They do not intend for it to change the amount of gold/packs you earn during an expansion cycle, and the survey that went out is meant to help refine the design of that system. He mentions these types of surveys have been used for years and often what’s discussed in these surveys does not represent what ends up going into the game. link
- For more info related to it, visit our article about the Battle Pass.
- Team’s focus right now is keeping Arena in a “stable” place while they put forth effort on new game modes. Confirmed that they expect to bring back set rotation next expansion in some form, with Descent of Dragons likely to be rotated out of it. Open to feedback on “small” changes that could help improve the Arena experience. link
Hero balance is coming up “very soon”, with Eudora nerf specifically mentioned. link
A MMR reset and future seasonal resets are likely planned for the next major Battlegrounds update. link
Team doesn’t think minion damage from spawned tokens is an issue with the exception of Nat Pagle and Pirate Ship, which they are looking to address in some fashion. link
They also admit they’re looking at ways to tune down the power of end game Murlocs (though they still want them to be a viable end game build) as well as buff Beasts now that Goldrin is a 6 star minion. link
Currently no immediate balance changes planned, but they will keep a close eye on the data as well as player experience when it comes to cards like Kael’thas and Lightning Bloom. link
Team opened to bringing back dual class cards in future expansions if they’re well received, but admits they are incredibly challenging to design. link
At the beginning of the final design process of Scholomance, Instructor Fireheart’s original card text said something along the lines of “At the end of your turn, deal damage to a random enemy equal to your Overloaded mana crystals.” After further testing, they decided that it was too unimpactful, and changed it to what it is today. link
We should expect a major revamp of the Basic/Classic set at the start of the next Hearthstone year. link
The entire set is being examined, not just one class like Priest was this past year. link
There will not be any replacements this year for the 5 neutrals that were Hall of Famed, but it sounds like it’ll be addressed next year when they revamp the Basic/Classic set. link
Reverting Nerfs/Future Buffs
After the next rotation, team will look at reverting nerfs on certain cards once they rotate to Wild. Additionally, they would like to go back and do a second pass at previously nerfed cards currently in Wild that haven’t had their nerfs reverted. link
Future buffs would be used as more of a correction tool to get underperforming classes in line with others, instead of buffs for the sake of buffs the way Extra Arms and Luna’s Pocket Galaxy were. link
Celestalon admits Paladin secrets are the hardest ones to design around, says the next expansion contains a new Paladin secret that’s one of his favorite upcoming cards. link
Previously released Heroes and cardbacks will eventually come back and be available for players who previously missed them (possibly via new Tavern Pass?) link
The ability to upgrade a normal card to a golden copy is still a feature the team would like to implement, but one that’s currently not on their roadmap. link
Currently no plans to make “cleave” or “elusive” official keywords. link
Currently no plans to do another Doom in the Tomb event, but mention if they brought it back it’d be for a shorter period of time. Mentioned that they were too slow in reacting to the power of Evolve and N’zoth decks in the format. link
No plans to have future expansions crossover into other Blizzard franchises like Starcraft or Overwatch, but there could be crossover limited time events within the game. link
New type of vanity card coming soon that will look different in the hand, board, and in your collection. link
Re-iterated team doesn’t have plans to return to a year long narrative like what happened in the Year of the Dragon, but opened to revisiting it again some day. link
» All Questions / Answers
Sorted by Time posted
Q: What classes, if any, are being looked at for getting a revamp for their basic/classic set reworked, similar to priest was at the start of Outland?
A: We’re currently looking at the Basic and Classic set in its entirety. Hearthstone has changed a lot in the last six years and we’re researching what a more modern take on Basic and Classic looks like.
Q: Will you revert certain nerfs to cards when they rotate to wild? I’m mainly thinking about dragonqueen alexstrasza as well as a lot of galakrond support cards.
A: Yes, when some of those cards rotate into wild we’ll evaluate whether or not we want to revert the nerfs. At that time, we’ll also do a pass on some of the cards we didn’t revert previously. We think there are some good opportunities there to allow players to relive some of their favorite decks with their power pieces intact.
Q: What about cards in standard? I think there are a lot of cards, like Ancient of Lore for example, where even their pre-nerf versions have long since been power creeped. I would love to be able to pull out one of my favorite old cards from when I first started the game. And does Starving Buzzard still need to cost 5 mana? Stuff like that is worth looking at, I believe
A: Totally agree, that’s why we’ll be doing some more comprehensive changes to basic/classic in the future. Not ready to talk about it just yet though.
Q: Are there any plans to implement Full Art cards as a reward?
A: We have something a little different in the works that we hope players will enjoy. Our current plan is for a new type of vanity card type that can look different in both the Collection, hand, and on the board. The team is pretty excited about it and we hope players will like it!
Q: Approximately how much of the playerbase is playing Battlegrounds 1 month after an expansion is released?
A: We’re always happy to see players enjoying Hearthstone, whether they’re in Battlegrounds, Standard, Adventures, Arena, Tavern Brawls, and so on. From what we’ve observed, the most popular way to play Hearthstone at any given time is whatever is newest, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.
For example, when we launch a free single-player Adventure, it is easily the most popular way to play until most people have played through it. The same goes for Battlegrounds, for a new expansion like Scholomance Academy, and sometimes even for our more special Tavern Brawls.
At the end of the day, we just want players to have fun. With the introduction of more modes, the many millions of people that play Hearthstone every day have more ways to do so than ever before!
We believe you should play what you enjoy, your time is your time, and we are happy whenever you choose to spend that time with us in the Tavern. 🙂 -Ben
Q: How soon can we expect replacements for the 5 Neutrals that got HoF’d this year?
A: There won’t be. But we have some exciting plans for the Basic and Classic sets that we hope to launch with the year rotation. We aren’t ready to discuss the details just yet though 🙂
Q: As a content creator who commonly used your official assets from press site, I have a question about that. Why have you stopped adding full card artwork from new sets? In the past, virtually every single card art was available. A few sets ago the number got lower, but you could still get a lot cool art from there. And now, starting in Ashes of Outland, there are no card artworks available whatsoever.
So is there a specific reason why you don’t publish them anymore? I know that individual artists are still sharing their art quite commonly (not every one of them, but by the end of expansion you can get art for 80-90 cards from different sources), so I assume it’s not them not wanting you to do it? And is there a chance that you will keep adding them again in the future? Not only they make my (and not only mine) work easier, but they’re frankly just amazing to look at.
Update: A bunch of Scholomance card artworks have been added! Thanks a lot, Ben 🙂
A: Yeah, we love that there’s interest in this. As your update says, we just added a bunch of Scholomance Academy card art up on the press site, and we will try to post card art there whenever possible!
Q: Hearthstone used to be called Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, but since that has changed, have you ever considered new expansions or maybe limited-time events crossing over with other Blizzard IPs like Starcraft and Diablo?
A: We don’t really see our expansions branching out into other Blizzard universes—Azeroth and Warcraft are core to Hearthstone. That said, it is possible that we may celebrate a special occasion with some other Blizzard favorites during limited events. 🙂
Q: RE: Battlegrounds
Has the team discussed making the randomly generated minions from Deathrattles only 1-star when it comes to how much damage they deal at the end of each Combat round?
e.g. When a Tide Razor dies and spawns three random pirates, let’s say it’s three Hoggarrs, instead of them all doing 15 damage to your face they only do 3 (1 each).
As more tribes/minions get added, the random minions being generated from Deathrattles during Combat has gone up. It feels pretty bad when your opponents Tide Razor randomly spawns a Dread Admiral and two Amalgadons to hit you for a ton of extra damage because there was no way to play around it. I would argue that changing the random minions to 1-star (like Robosaur) would eliminate the bad experiences when on the receiving end and be a net positive change for the game mode.
We’ve discussed this a fair bit internally. I think the problem does exist mostly with The Tide Razor and Nat Pagle right now, and being killed from 30 after your opponents Nat Pagle spawns a Golden Tide Razor can be a really bad experience.
That being said, we’re exploring design options for those two cards in particular that will hopefully eliminate that from happening. Battlegrounds is still in Beta so we’re willing to make larger changes with the game, but tokens as of now feel ok to us aside from those two instances. If that changes in the future, then we’ll address it.
Q: are you planning anything that has to do with the undeads from world of warcraft
A: My son. The day you were born, the very forests of Lordaeron whispered the name, Arthas. My child. I watched you with pride, as you grew into a weapon. Of righteousness. Remember, our line has always ruled with wisdom, and strength. And I know that you will show restraint, when exercising your great power. But the truest victory, my son, is stirring the hearts of your people. I tell you this, for when my days have come to an end, you, shall be king.
Q: Do you consider adding a reverse Hall of fame with cards like Whizbang? Maybe adding old cards that have never been used. Thanks for answering and let the heart of the cards bless you.
A: Thanks for the question. We do have some interesting plans for the Basic and Classic set that we aren’t quite ready to talk about yet.
Which cards, beside Whizbang, would you like to see return to Standard?
Q: I don’t play much arena, but I’d like to hear the HS team’s thoughts on the state arena has been in over the past several months. There have been quite a few valid criticisms of the format, including –
Dropping set rotations, which were previously well received by the community.
Dropping the bucket system for drafting, which was also well received by the community.
Certain cards like Twin Tyrant and Dragonqueen Alexstrasa providing too much of a one turn tempo swing that typically can’t be overcome in the arena format. Is there a reason why these cards have either not had their offering rates decreased or removed from the format entirely?
The lack of communication from the dev team on any sort of arena updates (I think the last time we heard from them was when they mentioned they were tweaking Demon Hunter’s class card offerings at the beginning of Ashes of Outland).
Are you planning any sort of updates around Arena, or should players expect it to be in the same state it’s currently in for the next couple of expansions?
A: We love Arena. It has a passionate and dedicated following, and one of the things that we think is most important to Hearthstone is that there are many different ways to play. Our main focus right now has been on developing new game modes, while keeping Arena in a stable place. I can definitely understand wishing for ‘something new’ (beyond new expansions); are there little changes that you think would help Arena out?
To some of your specific points:
Set rotations had some downsides as well (a more complex format, old sets out of place at times balance-wise, etc.). Since they were removed, we’ve seen a large amount of vocal support for them, and are considering bringing them back in some form for the next expansion.
Buckets were a mixed bag; we could spend all day tweaking buckets, but we didn’t really see positive results from them. Even just a few poorly-bucketed cards would cause significantly negative community reaction/experience, until we could fix them. They made individual draft picks more interesting, but made decks more same-y over the long term. We think it’s OK to have some easy picks in your draft, and feel like the current drafting still offers interesting choices a lot.
Offering rates, particularly on certain extremely powerful cards like Twin Tyrant and Dragonqueen Alexstrasza are mostly tweaked with class balance in mind, so the strongest classes do get less of these powerful cards. In the future, we’re open to removing cards that are too powerful for Arena. We’re considering doing some of this for the next expansion, but Descent of Dragons cards also likely won’t be in the rotation anyway if we do an Arena Set Rotation as mentioned above.
Q: Any plans on bringing back past heroes to buy?
What Id give to be able to buy Elise Starseeker now!
A: Yes, we’ve recently started rotating older card backs into the shop and in the future we’ll be doing the same with some of our previously released Heroes as well, because we know lots of players who missed out the first time around would love the opportunity to welcome some of these characters to their Collection.
Q: Dual class cards are awesome and enable much more deck creation options. Are you considering making them frequent/ evergreen?
A: Glad you like them! There are some things for us to consider when looking at creating dual-class cards in the future. First, how much of the set should they take up? For Scholomance, that answer was a lot, 40 cards is a decent chunk of the set. Dual-class cards give us a lot of space to create unique designs but if we did this number for all future sets, there could be some issues with that. A lower number would be more appropriate if dual-class cards became a staple of Hearthstone.
Another thing for us to consider are the pairings themselves. With Scholomance Academy, we wanted to pair classes that had overlapping themes or mechanics. That’s why you see Warlock and Priest together with a focus on changing health or Druid/Hunter with a focus on Beasts. Players come to learn those pairings and what they are about, so we’d most likely have some distance between Scholomance and another big focus on dual-class with different pairings.
Finally, they are fairly challenging to design! A dual-class card that drives archetypes and highlights mechanics or flavor from both of its classes is difficult to get right. Our goal with Scholomance was to have at least two of the cards in the dual-class speak to feeling like a dual-class card (example: Coerce) while the other two cards were more buildaround pieces that the classes would utilize in different ways. We’d want to deliver on those dual-class feelings at a good enough frequency to make them worth doing.
I’m sure we’ll see dual-class cards again in Hearthstone’s future, but those are some of the things we are thinking about when deciding when is the right time to do it again.
Q: During your last AMA on reddit i was glad to hear you taking a stance regarding a question and a hope that had been around for years: the ability to upgrade cards to golden for a smaller investment than it costs if you disenchant a card and recraft it in golden.
Your answer was that you liked the idea and were considering it. Any updates to share regarding that?
Thank you for taking the time to do the AMA, it might not always seem like it because most of the community would like to hear more from you – but the AMAs are appreciated by most i think.
A: We still like the idea and it is something we’d like to get to. It isn’t currently on our schedules though, as we’re focused on a number of big and exciting features and game modes. 🙂
Q: The client for Hearthstone was famously created as a prototype to demo the concept, and then the whole game really blew up, leading the prototype to be pushed into the big time.
Will we ever see a rewrite of the client that addresses any of the baggage that came from that history? For example, poor performance, etc. The graphics in Hearthstone are relatively simple, yet performance of the client on my PC is worse than some 3D FPS games.
A: The performance of the client is something we’re paying close attention to. We recently spun up a new engineering sub-team specifically dedicated to improving Hearthstone’s performance.
Q: Hi, I’m a very big fan of alternative heroes for the 10 classes. Will there be any more new alternative heroes released this year?
A: I’m pleased to share that we have way more Hero skins in the works than ever before (and we believe a lot more than players are expecting)!
Some will be earnable for free, while others are going to be available for purchase. Hopefully there’ll be something for everyone! 🙂
Q: Are there any plans to bring older Hero portaits back and be aviable again for players that missed them?
A: Yes! We like the idea of this for previously released Heroes and recently started this process with card backs.
Q: Hamuul Runetotem for Druid alternate hero when? Hadijah had our backs on this one but now she’s gone. 🙁
A: The Earth Mother watches over you.
Q: Is there plans to buff/nerf heroes in Battlegrounds? The hero power disparity in the early game means if you are given a “suboptimal” hero early you bascially start at half health unless you get ridiculous quality tier two minions. I wanna play characters like Reno and George without losing 8+ health from characters like Nozdormu, Eudora and Maiev.
A: We do have some balance changes heading your way pretty soon! Should have more to say on that in the coming weeks. Eudora in particular is one we want to address.
Q: Hi all, thanks for a great expansion so far. Is there any plans to continue the year long story trend of the previous slate of expansions, or going by Outland and Scholomance, will this and the future of expansions be more self contained and one-off in nature?
A: We’re really glad you’re enjoying Scholomance Academy. As for our previous year-long narratives, we really loved telling the story of the Year of the Dragon, but it isn’t time to return to that longer-form approach just yet, but it is likely something we will pursue again. 🙂
Q: Whats your Stance on reverting Nerfs/buffing cards for Wild that are rotated out to bring back old deck or just to help some classes/archetypes to be more comparable to newer cards.
And aslo ofc whats the stance on doing buffs as part of the more regular balance changes each expansion gets.
Raza Unnerf recently brought back raza priest which is a favorite deck of many, is there any plans for doing more of such unnerf(or buffs) for like Patron warrior as example?
And are there plans for reverting nerfs to cards when they rotate to wild a standard practice like happend with year of the phoenix and the cards like Dr.boom and raiding party?
A: Hey! Answered the part about reverts in another comment but yes we will be looking at reverting some nerfs when those cards go to wild.
For the question on buffs, we’ll continue to do it when we see a good opportunity but they can be trickier to get right. When we nerf a card, we know the card is going to get worse and therefore the deck gets worse (in the majority of cases). When a round of nerfs go out, we know the meta is going to shift in some way. Buffs, on the other hand, may not shift anything unless they are a bit more drastic (Luna’s Pocket Galaxy or Extra Arms). That doesn’t mean we won’t do them (we will), but most buffs won’t tend to have the same direct effect on the meta that nerfs do. In the future, buffs will be used as more of a correction tool, aiming to get a class more in line with the rest of the classes rather than making drastic changes like Luna’s.
Q: When is there going to be a Battlegrounds ranking reset?
A: We’ve been discussing this at large for sometime and have a plan in place to address this soon! Things we’re planning to cover are seasonal resets and more. We will be sharing the full details as we get closer to our next major Battlegrounds update.
Conor Kou, Game Designer
Q: Hello, can you tell us anything about what upcoming changes are planned for Battlegrounds? I’m sure fellow BG enthusiasts would like to hear what is the plan to diversify the endgame (aka less massive poisonous divine shield murlocs)
A: Murlocs are on our radar, and internally we’re testing a few different ways to tone them down. We like that they have a strong identity, but right now they’re too consistently powerful. Ideally, not every game with Murlocs available would end with Murlocs in 1st place, and right now that does seem to often be the case. We also think there’s room to make the Beast minion type a bit more exciting now that Goldrinn is at tier 6. They have a few gaps in their curve that we’d like to address. Other than that, there should be more information about balance changes heading your way in the coming weeks!
Q: I liked how you added new animations for Ysera, Malygos, and Onyxia a while back. Are you looking to make more for some Legendaries from earlier in the game that have no kind of animations yet? Legendaries like Tirion, Antonidas, Edwin and Grommash could use some cool entrance animations. And even cards from some of the older sets that have no kind of animations like Mal’Ganis and Gahz’rilla would look even cooler if they came into play with some kind of effect!
A: Short answer is yes! When we have some free time, we have the opportunity to work on something we’re really excited about that’s not a part of the standard set rotation cards–at the end of last year, that was the Classic dragon legendary FX for me. It’s absolutely a goal to keep that going as much as we can, thank you for the suggestions! – Dominic, FX Artist
Q: There has already been lots of complaints about Lightning Bloom enabling ridiculous combos with Gibberling/Guardian animals/Kael’thas way too early. Noting innervate nerf in 2017, what’s the balance team’s opinion on Lightning Bloom design-wise?
Are you guys planning on early balance changes like in AoO – and how are you finding the new meta?
A: We’ve been really excited to see the creativity and ingenuity of our players in experimenting with all of the new cards from Scholomance Academy. The meta has been evolving rapidly with new decks coming in and out of the meta every day. With Lightning Bloom in particular, it enables some early combos at the cost of card advantage and Overload for your next turn, so if your opponent can deal with that board reasonably you can fall behind. That said, we’ve been closely monitoring the meta and the variety of decks that are seeing play and are having balance discussions about them. In particular, some of the decks we’re looking at addressing are related to how they feel to play against (like your example of Kael’thas), but we’re still gathering data and feedback before we’ll make a final decision.
Q: Can you fix the bug when you oppenent plays polkelt and the animation happens on your deck And lightning blooms card art sometimes appears upside down
A: Yes, there’s a fix checked in for Polkelt’s animation so it should be out next patch. We’ll take a look at Lightning Bloom as well, thanks for the heads up! – Dominic, FX Artist
Q: Is “upgrade to golden” feature still planned? Golden card collectors part of community is waiting for it for some time already.
A: We really like this idea and it’s something we want to get to in the future. It’s not currently on our schedule, because our current focus is on big new additions and systems for the game.
Q: Some of the most underappreciated things you guys did for the game are quality of life changes like rearranging decks, deck codes, showing milled cards etc. Are there any more QoL changes that you plan to implement ? I think a lot of people would really like an autosquelch feature and a colorblind mode.
A: We have a running list of smaller quality of life features that we try to release alongside our larger features. These are features like the rearranging decks functionality, the option to disable screenshake, the rotating random card back during pack opening, the keyword effects on the Battlegrounds stats page, and the new offline icon.
One feature we’re looking at including in an upcoming update is the ability to flip through pages in the Collection Manager using the scroll wheel. Some of the pending features are larger than others, so we like to grab the low-hanging fruit first, but we’re always happy to hear your suggestions!
Q: What’s been the biggest eureka moment for you this year (as an individual or as a team)?
A: This is a very “engineer” answer, but when Battlegrounds first launched we had some issues where combat wouldn’t play out the same way for both opponents. This took a lot of effort to track down and required a lot of more robust logging and reporting implementation. Finally figuring out the root cause and being able to confidently reproduce and fix the issue was a huge relief!
Q: Are you planing on doing another event like Doom in the Tomb, bringing wild cards back to standard for a limited time? I really enjoyed the event and liked the small meta shift for awhile
A: Hey! No current plans, but I could see us doing something similar in the future. If we did another Wild to Standard event though, we’d do some things a little differently. We’d make the event a bit shorter and react quicker to any balance challenges that may arise. There’s a lot of good potential bringing back player favorite cards, but Evolve and N’zoth overstayed their welcome in the previous event. At the same time, those are exactly the types of cards we want to bring back in some way. They can build decks and shift how you think about the cards in the current landscape. It’s more about having the flexibility to send some cards back to wild swiftly if they lead to unhealthy gameplay. So yes, would love to do it in the future, but it would be shorter and we’d be more aggressive about taking some cards out of the event.
Q: Hello Team 5!
My question is simple: Can you please make the Cleave and Elusive keywords official?
I understand that Cleave hasn’t been made official because not that many minions have the effect, but there are many minions in standard that could use the Elusive keyword.
A: Let’s talk about why we do, and don’t turn some effects into keywords! It’s much more than just “do multiple cards use it”. The downsides of keywording are usually small. It’s not that it’s “too confusing”; our players are smart. But it is something that players need to learn. That’s not a big downside, but it’s not zero.
The upsides vary dramatically between potential keywords.
It saves card text space and reading space. Now, importantly, saving text space isn’t much of an upside on its own; to capitalize on that space, we need to have some designs that we want to do that make use of that space.
It also lets us interact with it from other cards. We can make effects that draw cards with that keyword, or buff cards with that keyword, etc.
There’s also a vague sort of “weight” that is implicitly given to a keyword, which can be good, if it’s fitting for the set.
Consider these upsides/downsides for Outcast. We’ll put it on a ton of cards. Lots of cards will have Outcast along with a bunch more text. We want to make cards that interact with it (“Draw an Outcast card.”). It also matches the expansion flavor (or class flavor in this case), and delivers on that in a meaty way. Small downside, huge upsides.
Compare that to something like Cleave. All of the fun designs involving Cleave that we’ve found are already doable in the card text space we have, and none interact with it from other cards. Same thing with Elusive. It’s only a small downside, but the upsides just aren’t there, at least not yet. We certainly might find those designs in the future, or feature them heavily in a fitting new expansion, and then it’ll be Cleave’s time (or Elusive’s). We’ll see!
Q: Judging by Hearthstones history paladin secrets seem to be very challenging to get right. The last time we’ve seen them is over a year ago in spring 2019.
Do you see them as an integral part of paladins class identity? Could you see a future without classic/ basic paladin secrets instead emphasizing a different aspect of the class?
A: Secrets in Paladin are an interesting topic. The concept of Secrets fits so well it something like Hunter (traps!), Mages (magic counters/tricks!), and even Rogue (surprising you is basically their main shtick). But in Paladin, the flavor is harder to find. Paladins are so open and non-secretive and fair and just. And additionally, 1 Mana is a touchy balance point; gotta bridge the gap between feeling like too minor of an effect to even be bothered by, and feeling unfair for only 1 Mana.
So yeah, as a designer, they definitely are the hardest Secret for me to design. But, despite all those challenges, we still keep finding cool new Paladin Secrets, and ways that we want to use them. I don’t want to be too much of a tease, but I will say that one of my favorite cards currently planned for the next expansion happens to be a Paladin Secret. 😉
As someone that once considered a quant career or something analytics related, I would be interested if data scientists or anyone on the analytics team could elaborate on what they do. Maybe even go over a past project and then how designers and managers utilized that information and put it into practice.
A: Hey! We’d love to do more of these kind of blogs. I know we’re planning one for later this expansion cycle on how the team adapted to WFH in shipping Scholomance Academy. Beyond analytics, what kind of dev insights would you be interested in?
Q: Hello Hearthstone team! Wanted to say that I’m really enjoying the expansion. I’ve reached legend in Wild with evenlock and there’s been lots of interesting dual class designs over on r/customhearthstone. Just 2 questions:
How were the dual class pairings decided? Back in 2017, I attempted to create my own class “pie”
to represent the 9 classes and their connections with each other. It’s interesting to see the differences today including having rogue be paired with mage.
That’s all. Keep up the great work and I can’t wait to see what else is in store; especially that upcoming new game mode!
A: Hey! For Scholomance’s dual-classes, we started out by brainstorming which combinations we had to do. The first that stood out was Priest/Warlock and then we started building out the full circle which ends at Priest/Paladin. Since we were being more strict about class identity than previously, we wanted to have combinations that had overlapping mechanics or themes. We landed on these fairly early in the initial design process, then just needed to figure out structure and archetype focus.
Thanks so much for the poster! Haven’t been in the office for a bit but I’ll track it down when we go back. Always love seeing the designs from r/customhearthstone, you all keep up the great work too!
Q: So to address the biggest elephant in the room, let’s talk about the recent Blizzard survey that went out in regards to a Battlepass system. While I think most players would be in favor of a Battlepass system being added to the game in addition to the current rewards system, the proposed system has received universally negative feedback primarily due to the removal of daily quests for gold, a weekly cap on EXP, and the extreme time sink it would take to max out the Battlepass.
Can you comment on the proposed system and if the recent community feedback has impacted those plans? […]
A: This year we took big steps towards making it easier and more affordable than ever for players to acquire an awesome card collection, including making the game more friendly to our free-to-play-players.
With the launch of Ashes of Outland we implemented the no duplicates rules, introduced free competitive decks for new and returning players, significantly increased ranked rewards, added 1st time ranked rewards, held multiple events with hefty reward packages, offered rewarding expansion quest chains and we’ve also committed to providing free single-player Adventure content for the foreseeable future.
We chose to do these things, because they are good for our players and we believe they are the right thing to do for the game. They weren’t reactionary measures to competition or a dwindling player-base. We have many millions of players and are going to be here and strive to remain one of the most popular, relevant and fun games around for many years to come.
We are grateful to our players for their continued support and as described above have worked hard to try and value their time and financial investments fairly. We have no intentions of going back on or undermining the progress we have made on this front.
By the above statement I very specifically mean to identify and clarify that we absolutely intend to maintain the value that players can earn within the game and keep the flexibility of purchases that current rewards provide.
We are undertaking a major rework of our rewards and progression systems. A survey did go out about this recently with the aim of gathering information to help us refine the design of the systems. This isn’t something new, Hearthstone has been sending out surveys for years and often what is discussed in these surveys does not represent what ends up going into the game.
One of our goals for this new system is to allow you to play Hearthstone your way, you won’t be tied to playing only Standard or Wild in order to obtain the majority of the games’ economic rewards anymore.
We are also planning on repackaging (not reducing) the current rewards that you can obtain in Hearthstone and put that information in-front of you in an easy to view and understand manner. We want you to know how many rewards you’ve acquired, how many more you can earn and what steps you need to take in order to obtain them. In addition, we’re adding a number of exciting cosmetic rewards that players can receive during every expansion.
Finally, we are investigating broadening the benefits of the existing Tavern Pass system to supplement the rewards of the upcoming progression system with exciting new cosmetics.
There’s been some discussion that a huge time investment would be required to complete the levels in the system. We don’t intend this to be the case.
I’ll use myself as the example here. I reach Legend every month, during an expansion cycle I typically earn more than 5,000 Gold (I would not expect to earn less under the new system). Outside of Hearthstone I am a busy father of two children, I have a demanding full-time job, an active life and I play a huge amount of other games outside of Hearthstone in my spare time. We want people like me who love Hearthstone but also have other responsibilities and interests to be able to complete the rewards track levels.
We want our players to feel good about participating in this new take on rewards and progression, without feeling that they might miss out if they don’t have time or that they’d have to make sacrifices in their lives in order to do so.
We look forward to showing you this and a host of other things we’ve been working on to bring more exciting content to Hearthstone during our Year of the Phoenix Mid-year check in at the start of our next expansion’s reveal phase.
Game Director – Hearthstone
Q: I would like to repost a question from redditor /u/Jetz72 that went unanswered in the April AMA:
A year or so ago, one of the gameplay engineers mentioned that there a rework in progress for how auras and enchantments for attack and health values get ordered when more than one are in play. Also that once it was finished, a proper write up of the rules could be posted.
There seem to be a large number of rules regarding these that one has to be aware of: The self-directed cost rule that means “Outcast: this costs 1” always beats discounts, Goru the Mightree can’t be suppressed by Equality, Captured Flag in Adventure mode can be suppressed by Equality. Overconfident Orc’s buff can be overwritten by Dark Conviction causing it to remain a 3/3, but on a minion buffed by a Raid Leader it’ll become a 4/3. Persistent attack and health auras usually go last but for similar effects that instead alter costs, they can be often overwritten by enchantments applied after they went into effect.
Is the rework for all this, or at least the explanation, still forthcoming? And if so can we get some insight into the process behind it?
A: This is a complex system. There are two different types of effects: things that happen as a result of something else ([[Knife Juggler]]) and things that apply a constant modification ([[Stormwind Champion]]). The execution order is based on the type of effect as well as several other factors including the card’s zone, the time the effect became active, and a priority set by the card’s designer. When it comes to individual cards, we try to be consistent in the common cases. When you read a card and have an idea about how it will work, we’d like for that card’s effect to match your expectations. When you bring in adventure cards to the mix there are bound to be things that don’t end up behaving the exact same way. In practice, any card can be set to have any priority and it really depends on what the designer intends to have happen.
Short answer: there is a base set of rules that the server uses to determine order of execution, but on top of this is a layer that allows cards to execute at earlier or later priorities relative to other cards of the same type. Most cards will not utilize the priority layer and will execute in the order they were played. One nice thing about Hearthstone’s digital format is that the server will let you know exactly how cards work and interact with each other.
Q: Is there a unique human-language document that acts as the source-of-truth for the comprehensive rules to Hearthstone, or does that responsibility fall on the code itself? Asking out of curiosity, as a software dev with no professional game dev experience. Regardless, I won’t hold it against the team if they’re unable to answer the question.
I have two hunches – one, that the answer is no, and two, that most experts would agree that’s the smart approach. Magic does it out of necessity as a paper game, but it took them an insane amount of work to get there, and adds unavoidable friction to every new release.
A: There are several human-language documents. They range from step-by-step walkthroughs of interactions to collections of “tribal knowledge” to pass down to future generations. None of this is really fit for public consumption. I think the most important part of our documentation is our collection of unit tests. These tests validate that specific card interactions work and that those interactions don’t change as we make other changes to provide new functionality or improve processes.
When we’re presented with new card ideas from the design team, a common question that comes up is “How would this effect work in this situation?” One thing I love about our design team is that the response to that question is usually “How would you expect it to work?” This helps us derive the right wording for a card or even to determine if an effect is too complex early on.
When we’re thinking about the right way to implement a card we rely heavily on what we’ve done in the past. Sometimes we get brand new things and we try to find the closest parallel. It helps to have encyclopedic knowledge of every card in the game and if we ever have a question about a card it’s easy for us to boot up a game and test the interaction out ourselves.