And so, weekly Dean “Iksar” Ayala’s Q&A session on Twitter became a thing. He started them on January 13 and promised to do them every Wednesday (afternoon pacific time). People have been asking lots of questions about the game’s balance, design, specific cards, mechanics and so on. 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, just like during the previous weeks, I went through all of his replies and decided to make a quick summary of the most important talking points.
That said, if you want to read the full Q&A – all the questions and answers – here’s the Tweet you should go to:
Ask me a question about Hearthstone and I will try my best to answer. More likely I can answer your question if it relates to game design in some way, but can give other questions a shot.
5:30PM – 6:30PST pic.twitter.com/G2Kaffdi0Y
— August Dean Ayala (@IksarHS) February 11, 2021
Just like always, my summary is pretty long for a “summary”, but Dean always answers a lot of questions. Of course, I didn’t cover everything – instead, I tried to focus on the more interesting / important stuff. I also try to not repeat points that have been already discussed in his 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. Stuff in parentheses are my own notes and not Dean’s words. Let’s start:
- Upgrading regular cards to Gold cards is a project that’s being worked on alongside crafting Hero skins/card backs (mentioned last week). There are still some things to work on like UI or questions like whether you should be able to use Gold.
- What he likes about Core Set is that players will have real strategies to work with after they level up to 10. Instead of getting a few Basic cards, often without any win condition, Core Set will provide actual synergies.
- Some of the cards from Core Set are his “favorite cards ever”.
- No plans to nerf Pain Zoo Warlock & Secret Mage in Wild for now, but they look at them every major patch.
- Their class design philosophy has changed a bit ever since the 2019 blog post, e.g. they want Priest to embrace shadow-fantasy. Core Set should showcase it when it comes out.
- Cosmetic rewards for long-term/harder achievements might be a thing, but probably not again for X ranked wins. Possibly for things like achievement points, total reward track levels ever earned or high legend finish.
- The chance for a Tauren hero is “very high”.
- New game modes, especially the ones that differ a lot from regular Hearthstone, are the most challenging to develop. Battlegrounds was difficult and the new game mode they’re working on right now also has a lot of things they need to solve.
- Hint about new game mode: Dean loves the art – there are many epic artworks, but also some cute ones. Once it releases, he will have his new favorite cute artwork (previous one was Shifter Zerus)
- In theory game modes like 2v2, co-op etc. would be great, but they never found a gameplay design that felt right. He still thinks that they will make them eventually.
- No plans to switch to rank-based ladder (like in Constructed) in Battlegrounds/Duels.
- Even Paladin was probably the deck that stayed in Tier 1 for the longest time in HS history – after it got nerfed it lost a lot of popularity (so it was no longer problematic), but it was still a Tier 1 deck for a long time.
- Classic adds alternative versions of the same cards to the game, which opens a possibility to e.g. nerf a card in Standard and leaving it in Wild. It’s an option they have, but Dean prefers to have the same versions across game modes to avoid additional complexity.
- Iksar thinks that deckbuilding shouldn’t be a core part of the Hearthstone experience. It should be optional – if you’re into it, that’s cool, but there should be an option to just press a button and play the game (like in Battlegrounds).
- They added deck building to Duels because they wanted the cards you own to matter. More modes where your collection doesn’t matter = packs become less valuable/exciting.
- It’s hard to add Deathrattle synergies to Rogue/Hunter, because those classes have little to no defensive tools, and Deathrattle cards are generally slow. That’s why most of the DR-related stuff has to be tempo-based in those two.
- He played with an idea of a card that costs more than 10 mana, but you can spend mana on it over the course of multiple turns.
- They will consider doing a “Classic” Arena rotation, limited to just Basic + Classic cards (RIP Demon Hunter though).
- Constructed & Battlegrounds share the same designers (14 in total, but 3 work on different projects at Blizzard right now) – some people are working on new expansions, some on BG content. They rotate around each cycle.