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.
6:00PM – 7:00PST pic.twitter.com/9Ls6fLvtVD
— August Dean Ayala (@IksarHS) February 25, 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:
- After the Horde expansion, they will “do some Alliance stuff too” (which isn’t really a surprise, but it’s nice to have official confirmation).
- It wouldn’t be very hard for devs to shift the “timestamp” of Classic mode to let’s say TGT if that’s what players will want. But first the mode needs to come out and then we’ll learn more in the first few weeks / months.
- They target major Battlegrounds updates for .2 patches (e.g. 19.2), which usually release a month after expansion. That’s when we should expect a bigger update (remember that it was confirmed that they’re working on unique minion types for Battlegrounds).
- Playing as two Heroes at once or a single Hero with two Hero Powers in Battlegrounds is an interesting idea that has been brought up. There are some UI questions, but a single Hero with two Hero Powers might happen.
- They didn’t share too much about Mercenaries, because they’re still figuring out some details and don’t want people to have false expectations. It’s only natural that people have a lot of questions, and they’ll share more details in due time.
- No plans for Secrets to come to the fifth class, four is already enough or maybe even too many. Classes having different mechanics / synergies is a good thing, since it adds to the fantasy and makes them unique. The only chance they do it is cutting Secrets from one class in Core Set and then adding new ones to another. Iksar mentions that Warlock might be the best candidate.
- Alternate artworks is an interesting cosmetic and it might happen in the future, but having a few different artworks for a card would make it more difficult for players to recognize them. Many people know what card does what based on its artwork, and with lots of alternate artworks they would have to read the text all the time. Alternate artworks in single player (Book of Heroes) is different because players aren’t under a time pressure.
- Replays are “pretty low on the list”, since it’s an extremely intensive project and they could use that time to tackle a few smaller projects instead. He likes the idea of match history, though – they’re thinking of ways to expand player’s profile, and showing your past matches might be a part of it.
- We currently have a lot of efficient card draw in the game, and it’s dangerous, but danger isn’t always bad. Most of the powerful card draw comes with certain deck building restrictions and it doesn’t lead to too many OTK decks anyway (he also mentions that they want OTK decks to exist in Hearthstone, just not be too popular, because it becomes annoying then). If necessary, they can make adjustments.
- Team’s philosophy on card draw has changed in general. They don’t want to restrict it completely from some classes. Having multiple cards in hand and making choices about which one to play is fun. For example, Shaman isn’t meant to be great at drawing cards, but it can have SOME card draw.
- The team thinks about spreading some mechanics to classes that currently don’t use them a lot. For example – more Divine Shields in Priest. They also thought about adding mana ramp cards to another class than Druid, but they definitely won’t want to make it global.
- When asked about splitting playerbase between game modes – he said that they like to have multiple options and if you’re a core Hearthstone player (e.g. Standard), they aren’t supporting you less because of new modes, you’re still getting more new cards, updates. etc than ever. They like to push different type of “strategy” games that might appeal to players that don’t like current Constructed.
- Most of the Tavern Brawls are designed to be played a couple of times and they aren’t fun when played a lot, that’s why the players are rewarded for the first win and the team didn’t create incentives to play Tavern Brawl a lot.
- About “flavor wording” (like the one done on Mankrik or let’s say The Amazing Reno) – it adds some fun to the card and while makes the card harder to understand, he thinks that it’s alright to do on Legendaries from time to time
- One of the most “controversial” discussion topics on the design team is the tone and theme of expansions. Should they stick to the source material (Warcraft) and just add some lighter / humorous themes? Or go all in and do wacky, alternative reality things like disco in Karazhan?
- When asked about mechanics that were just “good enough” but devs weren’t that happy about, Dean brought two – Inspire and Twinspell. Inspire turned out to be too snowbally and it had to be tuned down and Twinspell didn’t have a lot of design space, they like keywords that can be applied to a higher variety of cards.
- The team recorded “pirate lines” for Ragnaros that are hilarious (I’d like to hear more about it).