Dean “Iksar” Ayala’s Twitter Q&A – February 10, 2021 – Roundup of All Answers – Upgrading to Gold Cards, Core Set, Cosmetic Rewards for Difficult Achievements, Tauren Hero

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.

Check out his last Q&A from February 3 here.

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

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.


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. Nephilim99
    February 11, 2021 at 10:40 pm

    “Some of the cards from Core Set are his “favorite cards ever”.”

    Big Priest coming to standard confirmed /s

    • Hit5
      February 12, 2021 at 1:07 am

      thats from his twitter (February 2, 2021):

      “My Top 10 Favorite Cards

      1. Defile
      2. Ultimate Infestation
      3. Rin, the Disciple
      4. Dr. Boom, Mad Genius
      5. Dire Frenzy
      6. Fel Reaver
      7. Zeph
      8. Void Ripper
      9. C’Thun
      10. N’Zoth”

      i dont think that they add zeph, c’thun and n’zoth. but you never know 😀

      • Stonekeep - Site Admin
        February 12, 2021 at 1:17 am

        Maybe he meant the new cards, not the returning cards 🙂

      • Cursore1610
        February 12, 2021 at 7:10 am

        I swear to God if they put Defile in Standard once again I am leaving this hellhole of a game.

        • Killyridols
          February 12, 2021 at 9:03 am

          What’s your beef with Defile? It’s a solid control tool, and is often a skill test card.

  2. Kethcup
    February 11, 2021 at 10:53 am

    “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.”

    Am I the only person who find these two points kinda contradictory?

    • Ribbuster
      February 11, 2021 at 11:43 am

      I agree with you. If they want players to have the option to click and play and not deckbuild then cards like Whizbang should stay in Standard to allow players to click and play in formats other than Battlegrounds.

    • Praxis
      February 11, 2021 at 7:00 pm

      I think they are only contradictory if you take a very narrow approach to what deckbuilding and collecting each means.

      For example, you can build a relatively large collect and not have any idea how to go about building a good deck. You can still enjoy the game by being able to netdeck a variety of different decks for different formats and you never need to develop skills for deckbuilding. For individuals who don’t care so much about deck building, the meta is most fun when the meta is solved so that they can go about crafting legendaries and epics they know will be used.

      In contrast, you can go about theorycrafting using cards you don’t have, based on your knowledge of the metagame and win conditions. For these individuals, the beginning of an expansion will be most fun because they can go about testing out their new fangled decks against an unrefined meta which allows many deck archetypes to thrive.

      I will acknowledge that having a wide collection facilitates deck construction, by providing access to more resources. However, deck building skill and enjoyment isn’t necessarily contingent on having a large collection.

    • Stonekeep - Site Admin
      February 12, 2021 at 1:26 am

      I wouldn’t say that they contradict each other, to be honest. They aren’t against game modes where you use cards from your collection – in fact, that’s what keeps the game alive, because it sells packs. And I agree with him that introducing lots of modes that wouldn’t take your collection into account would devalue packs a lot.

      But like Iksar said in the previous Q&A’s, he wants to make them more accessible to people who don’t like deck building part by giving people an option to just get straight into the game like we do in Battlegrounds. In fact, Cosntructed already kind of does it with auto completed decks – players don’t need to build and can let the game do it for themselves. But I imagine that many people don’t know that and they would like to make it easier / more clear, like again – just clicking one button to play with an auto-constructed deck from your cards and get straight into the game.

      Long story short = having modes that use your collection doesn’t necessarily equal having to build decks. They can let the game build a deck for people, or maybe use pre-made decks for those who don’t like deck building part.