Hearthstone Game Director Ben Brode Reddit AMA Highlights

I’ll be rounding up answers from Ben Brode’s Reddit AMA right here! If you want to ask him a question, then submit it on Reddit in this post.

Ben Brode Answer Highlights

TLDR

  • Ben’s working on a “meme review video.”
  • New card reveals for Knights of the Frozen Throne coming on July 24th.
  • Ben Brode confirmed that each class will get one Legendary and one Death Knight Hero Card.
  • No Wild rotations outside of the Hearthstone New year.
  • Ice Block matches all of their “red flags” when rotating cards into Wild.
  • No current considerations for adding Hearthstone to console.
  • They are hoping to announce ladder re-work details by the end of the year.
  • Brode says Stonetusk Boar is the most limiting card to future design space.
  • New classes seem unlikely in the near future.
  • Arena rewards will be getting some kind of update in the next patch.
  • Tournament Mode: “We’ve been thinking about it a lot. It’s a feature we think makes sense for Hearthstone, but we have nothing else to say regarding it right now.”

Ben Brode apparently loves memes and is working on a video discussing them.

On behalf of /r/hearthstonecirclejerk, I have a genuine question for you. What is your favorite Hearthstone meme or copypasta that the community has created?

Who doesn’t love memes? I’m actually working on a “meme review video” of my favorite memes. If I have to choose, I have a special fondness for 4 mana 7/7.

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Looks like no new spoilers until July 24th!

Can you spoil another Knights of the Frozen Throne card? Please?

Sure!

….starting on July 24th!! 🙂

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Here’s a long one! Ben Brode confirms that each class will get one Legendary card and one Death Knight Hero card.

What’s the reason for announcing an expansion and not revealing new cards in the following weeks only to dump ~40 cards a few days before the expansion is released instead of having a steady stream of reveals?

We used to do a steady stream of new reveals of about 1 card a day, and it kinda dragged. The feedback we were getting was that hype was slowing down as we got closer to the expansion, and i think that’s the wrong direction. Un’Goro had a dip in excitement, but ramped way up towards the release and used a similar strategy. Un’Goro felt awesome – let’s see how this one goes!

In the past you mentioned cards that have been previously nerfed might be un-nerfed and moved into the Hall of Fame in the next standard rotation, what is your/Blizzard’s current stance on these cards, specifically Molten Giant? #HoFMolten2018

I’m a little torn. I think there are pros and cons. The potential downside I’m most worried about is our ability to make Handlock really insane in Standard going forward with new cards, without pushing it into insanity in Wild. We’d like to make Handlock a thing again – and we can do that in Wild by moving the card that and buffing it, or by making new cards in Standard that are good in both formats. This doesn’t mean we won’t move/buff it, it’s just something we’re thinking about.

Has the team ever considered creating a set of free cards that rotates weekly? These cards would be usable in casual and maybe have a crafting discount.

Yeah, but I think there’s some complexity there. There are goals you are trying to solve with that suggestion – we are looking at other options that I think hit the similar goals that are maybe a little less complex.

Has the team thought about releasing a few (1-3) cards each month to help keep the game fresh in-between sets? This would provide Blizzard with the opportunity to print hate cards like Golakka Crawler or Eater of Secret earlier or to support decks that did not pan out as you guys had hoped and could serve as “balance patches” in less severe situations.

Yes, we’ve considered that, limited-time cards that come back from Wild into standard for a while, and other crazy ideas to mix up the meta in between sets. I think it’s one of Hearthstone’s biggest opportunities. We took a stab at it recently with increasing the total number of cards each year. There are obviously downsides to that, and I think a lot of the ideas we’ve seen so far to tackle this problem have their own unique downsides. I don’t think there’s a silver bullet here, but we’re trying some crazy things internally, like – what if we change the ladder format for the last month of a set? We tried “block constructed” and it wasn’t as fun as we hoped, but maybe there’s other formats that mix the game up in crazy ways that are really fun?

Can you confirm that each class will have a hero card and a legendary minion in Knights of the Frozen Throne?

Confirmed.

In the previous live stream you mentioned that a new ladder experience was in the works, can you share any progress on that?

We have a design that we are excited to try. I’m not sure it will be perfect out of the gate, but hopefully players will help us iterate into a great place. I wonder if just mixing it up is the right answer – like doing a new ladder format every 5 or so years. Once we know how long the feature will take to implement, we will start building it. There’s a lot of iteration in that process, and once we start honing in on our final implementation, we’ll communicate more about what we’re planning. Our major goals here are: reduce the monthly grind for top-level players; increase progression for bottom 25% of players; get better match-making. We have another goal for improving the new player ranked experience – that’s a separate change that’s coming later.

What’s your favourite card in the game?

Lord Jaraxxus!

What are the odds of Hearthstone coming to console?

If our players are playing a lot on console, it’s the type of thing we’d consider. Right now it’s pretty easy to whip out your phone or tablet anywhere – so it’s not currently something we’re considering.

Rotate Ice Block when?

We wouldn’t be doing Wild Rotations out side of Hearthstone New Year. It’s definitely a card that matches our red flags for cards that maybe shouldn’t be in Standard forever. That doesn’t mean we don’t want combo decks or freeze mage – it’s just that we want things to change each year!

Edit: When’s the collab with Dre?

PLEASE IF YOU KNOW DRE, TELL HIM TO CALL ME

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They are looking to continue updating the Collection Manager.

Ben, will the collection manager get more attention?

Yeah – We recently added way more powerful search functionality (i personally love searching for ‘extra’), and deck copying/exporting. We’ll continue to add features and refine current ones.

can the card reveal livestreams show the non golden version of the cards?

I will pass your message along to the folks who set those up!

Looking forward to the expansion!

ME TOO!

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More Hero Skins are on the way.

Can you give us an update on Hero skins?

We will eventually make a new Druid and Warlock hero. 🙂 I can’t spoil how we plan on making them available just yet.

Regarding Tyrande – our goal was to find alternate ways for regions that were not eligible for the offer to get access to Tyrande and we’ve been working with our regional offices to make that happen. We’ve already done it in many regions – seems like we haven’t hit yours yet and I’ll follow up on that.

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There will be more minion-placement cards in the future.

Hi Ben! Something I’ve always thought could be utilized more, especially on the pro level, is an increase in cards that focus on board position. Flametongue and Meteor are fantastic cards that can actually be more valuable if you put some thought in during previous turns.

Yep, there will be more minion-placement cards. Glad you like the mechanic!

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Maybe some new stats stuff in the future.

Are you ever planning on making more stats available for players? Stuff like highest ranking ever achieved and in which season, most played class, class winrates, etc.

Yes. I don’t really like “profile” pages, but I want to do this in a different way. Hopefully more details later this year. Although, I’m not sure it will be handled the same in every region.

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Goals for the ladder rework.

What are your goals with the upcoming ladder rework?

1) Reduce grind for top-level players.

2) Increase progression for players stuck at rank 20-ish.

3) Get better matchmaking for bottom 25% players.

4) Make the experience better for new players.

We’re hoping to make 1-3 better first. #4 is a separate feature for us and is coming later.

What are your biggest challenges?

The biggest challenging is making those things better without losing what we like about our current system. Our current system is SUPER clear about what you need to do to rank up, and I think that’s upside. I’m pretty confident we can do both here, though.

Any idea when you’ll have any news to share regarding this?

We have a design we are excited to try out, once we know how it changes through implementation, we are going to announce the details. Hoping for later this year.

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No confirmation on when the double gold event will end.

What is the official end date and time of the double quest gold?

You know, I’m not sure. I kind of feel like Ragnaros has got a big head about the whole thing. Someone needs to take him down a peg. Like, c’mon, chill out, man.

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He hopes that Shadow Priest will come together at some point.

Do us shadow Priests have anything to look forward to in the near future? Will Shadowform ever be viable somehow?

Some day we will make Shadow Priest work, together.

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Lots of room for improvement on Spectator Mode.

Do you have any plans for improving the spectating experience?

Yes. This is definitely a place we have a lot of room for improvement.

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Ben’s favorite decks…

What’s been your favorite deck to play in hearthstone’s history (including open beta)?

I’ve always loved Control Paladin. I also loved Yogg-and-Load.

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Ben’s thoughts on Hearthstone being to expensive for the average player…

What are your thoughts of Hearthstone being too expensive for the average player? Will there be some sort of compromise to keep the game affordable and player numbers healthy?

We are definitely seeing players compete at high levels without spending any money at all. If you want literally every card in the game, that’s tougher to do, but we are listening to community feedback here. We recently made pretty big changes to the way our Legendary drops work in packs, and are giving everyone a free Legendary Death Knight Hero with the new set. There will also be a lot of opportunities to earn packs of the new set, through some upcoming events and through the single player missions that will be free with the new set.

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Ben’s played a lot of card games in his life, he doesn’t mention any of the new ones though!

Do you play any other card games outside of hearthstone (gwent shadowverse eternal mtg etc…)?

I have played so many card games in my life – Magic, Overpower, Wyvern, Netrunner, Pokemon, Battlespirits, WoW:TCG, the Mortal Kombat TCG, Rage…. I freaking love this genre.

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Ben’s thoughts on being a Game Director…

as a director of Hearthstone, what has been the most difficult job you had to do while being in charge?

Trying to figure out how to be a Game Director. It’s kind of terrifying.

The advice Dodds gave me: “Don’t fuck it up”

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Ben’s thoughts on reducing dust cost for Wild cards.

Do you have plans for reducing costs of dust for wild cards,? it’s painful to craft any wild card just because you can only use in one mode.

There is already a perception that your cards reduce in value over time because you can’t use them in Standard. I think that’s not a healthy perception for the game – and this kind of change would exasperate the problem. We are going to bring back Wild cards for sale, which should make Wild more accessible.

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Have they considered changing any core features?

Have you considered (or tested) changing core values in the game, like player health, starting hand size, deck size etc, since the game released ?

Deck size is the one we’ve discussed. But we aren’t currently considering any changes. Game length has remained remarkably consistent over every meta, and it feels pretty good (about 7.5 minutes on average).

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Any plans for another woman avatar or a chance to obtain Tyrande?

Do you have any plans for adding another woman avatars for classes?

Yes!

Also would it be another opportunity to obtain Tyrande Whisperwind for a new player?

Eventually we’d like to find ways to get things like old Hero Skins and card backs back into the hands of newer players, but this isn’t something that I think we need to do right away and we have a couple other big fish to fry.

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Discussion of Charge…

As someone who played lots of quest rogue (a more casual version without including Stonetusk Boar and Southsea Deckhand) I was a little bummed to hear that the quest was going to be be nerfed. I felt that this was a great opportunity to instead address Charge and its place in the game. It feels like another cool deck took a hit because Charge hasn’t aged well in Hearthstone. How do you feel about charge as a mechanic/keyword?

Charge sometimes is great. I love the Hogriders, and I love the Charged Devilsaur. Charge makes you feel powerful, and that’s important.

But you’re right, it’s been our biggest balance challenge. I’m not sure what the future of Charge will be. We might just keep nerfing Charge cards over time.

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… Design Space …

In your opinion, which card is most guilty at limiting future card mechanics?

Stonetusk Boar

Donais just walked by and I asked him this question – He said “Boar, but also Prep, Innervate, and Malygos.”

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Any new classes in our future?

1) What is the teams current stance on additional, full classes?

A class needs unique “space” – i.e. things they can do that nobody else can do. Only Paladins get Divine Shield, or “setting Attack/Health”, or 1-mana Secrets. Mages are the best at AoE and Blasty single-target spells.

I think we are already having trouble carving out awesome space for 9 classes. I want us to find more unique things for Warlock to do, for example. I think adding a 10th class makes this problem much more difficult, as we could be using that space to make our core 9 classes more fun.

Also, you would be less likely to open cards of your favorite class in card packs, the more that we have in the game.

Something I often think about – what is the ‘perfect’ number of classes? What would be too many? Is 15 too many? How about 50? I kind of think the number even be less than 9, except that we have some important fantasy considerations.

2) is the dream really dead now? Are Death Knights, Monks and Demon Hunters ever going to be able to represent themselves in Hearthstone?

I’m actually super excited about the way Death Knights are coming to Hearthstone! Making a Death Knight starting hero means making an ultra simple Hero Power…. but now we’ve been able to create much crazier hero powers…. and we’ve made NINE different Death Knights. I’m super pumped.

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How does Brode feel about Un’Goro?

Brode, what’s the takeaway of the team regarding Un’Goro? Why do you guys think it was so successful and what did the team learn from it to make the next expansions even better?

One of the biggest things that helped was the rotation. I think adding the Hall of Fame and hitting those 6 cards allowed us to see the “freshest” meta yet. This is a bit more of a challenge for the last set of the year. I think if anything, we could have gone lighter mechanically, and saved some of our new mechanics for set 3 of the Year of the Mammoth.

But I think the team did an awesome job on the set, yeah. Dinosaurs!

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Arena rewards will be changing in an upcoming patch.

A while ago, arena rewards were discussed, and how getting common cards is such a “feelsbadman” reward. Is this still being looked at?

Yes, we are planning on making a change in an upcoming patch. Details to come.

What are your thoughts on the current affordability of Hearthstone?

It’s something we continually evaluate. We’re currently seeing some players getting large collections without paying a cent, and that’s pretty awesome. We’ve recently made big changes to the way Legendaries drop in packs, as well as giving everyone a free Legendary Death Knight Hero in the new expansion.

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Tournament mode discussion…

I have a question, is there a tournament mode on the works?

We’ve been thinking about it a lot. It’s a feature we think makes sense for Hearthstone, but we have nothing else to say regarding it right now.

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Any more stuff coming to Hearthstone from other Blizzard games?

Given that we’ve had the Diablo-themed Cow King Tavern Brawl, will we see similar special events or perhaps even expansions included in Hearthstone from other Blizzard properties?

For instance, would love to see the Overwatch heroes and lore characters as Hearthstone cards/heroes, or perhaps… hero cards?

Cool idea! I don’t think we’d see stuff from other games outside of Tavern Brawls and Card Backs, though.

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Plans on separating Mobile and PC versions in the future?

Would you ever consider separating the mobile and desktop clients to make the desktop client more feature rich? Lobbies, Tournament modes, 2v2? Would love to see more features, would pay for them too!

I don’t feel like we have basically ever been restricted on cool new features due to the parity we shoot for between platforms. We have wildly talented UI Designers who are up for the challenge.

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Ben explains Hero Cards more in-depth.

Will these Hero Cards ever be non-heroes? Will they ever be depictions of Alleria, Magni, Medivh, etc.?

Hero cards are a new thing that replaces your hero, not transforms them. It’s a bit weird because these 9 hero cards feel like a transformation, but it’s possible to turn from Anduin -> Jaraxxus -> Deathstalker Rexxar -> Jaina DK Hero -> Uther DK Hero, for example. (assuming you do some weird thoughtsteal shenanigans.) I think seeing the art of the hero helps you understand what’s going on in the game, and what Hero Power your opponent is going to be using from now on. If you play Deathstalker Rexxar as Jaina and then it looks like Jaina still but with the Rexxar power… I dunno, that seems very weird to me.

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Ben talks about their current schedule.

When working on expansions, how much of it is done in advance? Do you work expansions ahead of the current set or even the upcoming set?

We are nearly done with design on set 3 of the year of the mammoth. We are hard at work on the first set of next year, and are brainstorming ideas for the second set of 2018.

Are there any card designs that you’ve either not been able to get to work (a la Patches in TGT) or that haven’t found a place in any set so far?

Yes

If so, could you share your favorite scrapped card ideas with us?

No

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Asked about future rapping.

Are you going to do another rap?

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