Celestalon’s Twitter Q&A #1 Summary – Questlines in Alterac Valley, New Evergreen Keyword, Design Teams & Focus, and more!

Q&A’s are generally Iksar’s domain, but since he’s still on a paternity leave, Hearthstone Initial Designer Chadd “Celestalon” Nervig decided to take his mantle and try one out. We don’t know yet if it was a one-time thing or will he host AMAs regularly, but it’s always nice to get some insight into how things operate at Team 5. While people asked all sorts of questions, since Celestalon’s position is much more focused on card design, most of his answers were related to that. Sadly, Twitter is kind of a mess when it comes to such things. Messages are short, you have to create long threads if you want to talk about something in detail, lots of comments get hidden, and it just doesn’t flow right. To make it a bit easier for all of you, I went through all of his replies and decided to make a summary of his most important talking points.

Check out previous Q&A’s here!

If you want to read the full Q&A – all the questions and answers – here’s the Tweet you should go to:

Below, you will find my summary. It’s still pretty long, but Iksar tends to answer the questions thoroughly and includes a lot of details. I try to ignore “fluff” answers and not repeat points that have been already discussed in recent Q&A’s, so if you want to learn more, go back to them. And if you want to read his full replies on all topics, check out the Tweet above. Things in parentheses are my own notes/comments and not Celestaln’s words. Let’s start:

  • They know that Questline cards have been dominating the meta in Stormwind, and understand the players’ concerns that they still will in the new expansion. But the goal of Alterac Valley is to make slower strategies more viable. If any decks (such as Questline Warlock) still dominate, they will make balance changes.
  • There’s a non-evergreen keyword from the past team plans to re-introduce as an evergreen one. (Any guesses what that could be? Maybe Reborn, Spellburst, Twinspell, Recruit, Inspire?)
  • Despite Wild format being more popular than it used to be, especially in some regions (like China), they still focus on Standard first when designing new cards. They still try to cut down on stuff that will break Wild format, though.
  • Card balance is very hard, because there are a lot of moving pieces – when changing a card you have to consider the whole deck and how it impacts the meta. They’re willing to make changes when they see improvements opportunity, but it’s not always as simple as just hitting the strongest cards.
  • The team is overall happy with year-long narrative during Year of the Gryphon (Celestalon thinks it did better than Year of the Dragon story with League of EVIL + League of Explorers).
  • Warlock is the most problematic class when designing new cards – they have to work around many of the old cards that would become broken with new ones (and we see exactly that in Wild already). Bloodbloom in particular was the most problematic one.
  • (Iksar) While cosmetics monetization is successful overall, it’s not nearly as profitable as gameplay-related products (like card packs).
  • The team wants to do some upgrades to the collection manager, but it’s a big undertaking, and they usually want to focus on new, cool things so it’s hard to find enough time.
  • It’s hard to find balance between improving old stuff / fixing bugs and adding new ones. Adding new things is more exciting and creates more hype. But right now they will try to slow down a bit with new features and try to focus on polishing the game and making it more stable. It will take some time, though.
  • He knows that this answer won’t be received well, but his favorite archetype ever is probably Questline Mage.
  • They considered adding a new “terrain” type of cards (that would, for example, change how the board looks like) instead of regular spells for Objectives (e.g. Dun Baldar Bunker, Iceblood Tower), but they came pretty late in design and it would require too much art/engineering investment.
  • They have considered adding a daily log-in reward, but he feels like daily quests fill that role right now.
  • Some of the things he has been most excited for in Hearthstone recently were BG cosmetics, Barrens Mystery, achievements in general and Demon Hunter class.
  • One big feature Celestalon would like to see in Hearthstone are raids (but no, it’s not something currently in the works).
  • His favorite Hero card from the new set is Magister Dawngrasp, both from the design and gameplay perspective.
  • They plan to update Battlegrounds Hero images with how much Armor they get at the start of the game. They will probably start it with newly announced Heroes.
  • Speed in Mercenaries changed a few times in development between lower number being faster (like it is right now) and higher number being faster. Both ways have their downsides and can be confusing until you know how the system works.
  • The reason why they changed Illidan Stormrage Legendary card to Xavius is that they thought he might see some play in Demon Hunter and it would be weird for Illidan to play Illidan.
  • If he could put one character from other Blizzard franchises into Hearthstone, it would be Zeratul (from Starcraft).
  • There are multiple smaller teams working on Hearthstone, and they overlap to a certain degree. For example, initial and final design for Constructed share some people. Battlegrounds is also pretty connected, they often playtest new designs with people from Constructed team. Duels team has some overlap with Mercenaries team and single-player content team. Tavern Brawls are with Events, and also some Duels. Overall there’s a lot of flexibility and sometimes people are working on multiple things at once, there aren’t many member who are dedicated only to a single thing.
Posted in Q&A


A Hearthstone player and writer from Poland, Stonekeep has been in a love-hate relationship with Hearthstone since Closed Beta. Over that time, he has achieved many high Legend climbs and infinite Arena runs. He's the current admin of Hearthstone Top Decks.

Check out Stonekeep on Twitter!

Leave a Reply


  1. 2asandab
    December 2, 2021 at 12:47 pm

    Quests always get boring imo – they funnel the playable cards too much.

    Questline mage has to be the most boring deck of all time.

  2. AndreWindy
    December 2, 2021 at 6:34 am

    Interesting how they changed Illidan Stormrage legendary card, so Illidan can’t play himself, but they seemed to drop that pretty quickly since you can have Rokara play Rokara, Tamsin play Tamsin, Yrel play Yrel and so on.

    • Stonekeep - Site Admin
      December 2, 2021 at 10:00 am

      We can go even further back, with Medivh playing Medivh and Khadgar playing Khadgar 🙂 But yeah, I get what you mean, however the difference is that that others are only cosmetic Hero portraits, while Illidan is the basic Hero for Demon Hunter class. They can’t realistically do that for every Hero portrait because they would have to exclude A LOT of iconic characters, but they can do that for base Heroes (like we don’t have an Anduin card or a Malfurion card). And cosmetics are probably considered “non-canon”, unlike the base Heroes and cards – to not look far, the new Mecha skins.

      • Axiom11154
        December 3, 2021 at 8:24 am

        I’m still surprised we weren’t offered a dust refund when they changed Illidan to Xavius.

        Illidan summoned elementals and Xavius summons demons.

        they technically changed how the card fundamentally worked.

        • TardisGreen
          December 3, 2021 at 9:15 am

          The change is totally irrelevant as the card is competitively unplayable regardless of whether the summons minions were elementals, demons, beasts, or anything else for that matter.

          Stop expecting handouts.

          • Axiom11154
            December 3, 2021 at 10:21 am

            couple of things….

            first, Iliidan/Xavius is unplayable NOW…. Illidan did see some play before Ashes of Outland when it was changed.

            second, I didn’t even own the Illidan card at the time, so even if they did offer a dust refund, it would not have affected me (but thanks for assuming and making a you know what of yourself)

            third, I forgot to mention that Xavius summons his minions AFTER your card is played, Illidan summoned a minion WHENEVER you played a card…. so that’s a second fundamental change to the card (in addition to changing the type of minion summoned)

            • Pandamonium
              December 3, 2021 at 3:02 pm

              He was right – it was always unplayable. A handout would have been just that, not justified. Doesn’t really matter if you had the card.

              • Pandamonium
                December 3, 2021 at 3:08 pm

                Also, that’s the most minute change to the card. I never even realized it changed at all. Original Illidan didn’t summon elementals. Like if they took off a point of attack or health I’d think yes on the refund, but not this. Demons coming out are stronger than elementals anyway.

                • Axiom11154
                  December 3, 2021 at 11:46 pm

                  so you’re saying a card that says “whenever you play a card, summon a 2/1 elemental”

                  is the same thing as a card that says “after you play a card, summon a 2/1 demon”

              • Axiom11154
                December 3, 2021 at 11:48 pm

                you’re both wrong, it was playable in the past.