Hearthstone Live Developer’s Insights Liveblog – January 2017

In the past, Ben Brode has taken to YouTube to explain why/how certain things are done in Hearthstone. This is especially the case when there’s unrest in the community about nerfs or lack of updates. Recently there’s been some complaints on how the new player experience is handled, and recent comments on the Standard rotation. Ben Brode, Game Director, and Dean Ayala, Game Designer, will be answering questions live on Twitch to address some of the communities concerns. If you can’t catch it live or just want a recap of the event I will be recording it below!

Key Takeaways

  • There does seem to be concern over how popular the Pirate Package is in many decks. If it continues this way, they might be making changes in the future.
  • Arena could be seeing some big changes. One of the announcements via the stream was that a Top-100 Monthly Ranking is coming to Arena. It will be based off of your win-percentages based on completing at least 30 Arena runs. They’ve also discussed making Arena Standard only, which would increase the impact of new sets on Arena. There’s also the potential of decreasing the amount of common curve cards like River Crocolisk to make decks more dynamic and less curve driven.
  • Ladder system is likely to see some changes. This could be getting a win-streak bonus passed rank 5, getting more bonus stars once the season ends, or having certain rank cutoffs when you reach a certain rank.

Developer Insights Liveblog

Keep in mind the entries below are paraphrased and aren’t exact quotes unless they are actually surrounded by quotations.

Ben: They are going to be wrapping it up, but does this type of thing help you? Live Q&A’s they are looking for feedback on this type of format, and whether or not you think some of these things they are working on are good for the game in the future. You can give them feedback on the Hearthstone Official Forums, Hearthstone Subreddit, their various Twitter pages, and the official Hearthstone Twitter.

Can you talk about your design goals for the Paladin class?

Dean: Paladin is very good at healing and they continue with this theme. They also have the Hero Power, which enables long game decks or you can summon a bunch of recruits and buffs. They do more buffs in Paladin more than any other class. When Reno rotates out specifically, Paladin will be one of the best at healing.

Are you concerned with some of the word consistency on cards and will you be changing some of the old cards?

Ben: Yes, they have been doing this and will be fixing cards in the future. It’s better that cards are consistent, but it’s not as important in a digital game because they can display things in various ways unlike in physical games, e.g. Highlighting targets, etc. Usually they make cards consistent, but certain things are more easily explained with different verbiage.

Dean: They are dedicating a lot of time to making sure there aren’t any text orphans etc.

Someone accidentally sent Ben Brode a linguistics book, what did he learn from it?

Ben: The whole team wrote in the book, and they took it around Blizzard taking pictures with it and sent it back.

Are you satisfied with the current state of Wild?

Ben: The upcoming rotation is very exciting and certain decks will only be available in Wild. He hopes to see more Wild type community tournament and events. The next rotation will be very interesting for Wild. Standard might be twice as popular as Wild. There’s some success with Wild currently, but he’s thinking the rotation will be big for the format.

Dean: There’s a lot of variety in decks in Wild due to the inclusion of older sets. Over time he thinks the most powerful decks in Wild will have a ton of synergy, rather then just powerful cards like Dr. Boom.

What card from Gadgetzan has been the most surprising based on internal playtesting and the live game?

Dean: They tested the Kun/Aviana/Malygos extensively and tried to figure out how powerful it was, because a deck that OTKs players needs to be balanced. They were a bit surprised to see how powerful the Pirate cards were in multiple classes.

What do you consider a Health meta and how do you measure it?

Dean: They have a lot of metrics, and play tons of games each month. They get internal meta reports and keep an eye on winrates and watch for decks going into 55% which happens very rarely. When things are getting too high in population that’s when they consider changing things. The population size of a deck seems to be one of the most important aspects of measuring the meta. The population of Aggro Pirate Warrior was as popular for a couple days as any deck has been. It was reduced by the increase in Reno Warlock that countered the deck.

Did you have any specific decks in mind when creating Weasel Tunneler?

Dean: It’s a fun card, that was made for player’s to create fun decks with, but wasn’t made to be in popular meta decks.

Can you share how big team-5 is now? Describe your average work day?

Ben: Over 70 people and increasing every year. Get coffee, meet about the global community and what needs to be discussed, team standup meeting: what’s going on with the future patches & were goals met from the last week, they do a team building exercise sometimes, they do a team playtest on thursday to get feedback, meets with the designers in the afternoon and discuss various things that are ongoing in the community, etc.

Dean: Lots of playtesting and working on future sets while collaborating with various teams.

How do you balance decks and ladder?

Ben: They’ve had times where a deck was very powerful at a low rank but very weak at the top of the ladder. They’ve printed more skill-testing cards that would increase certain players winrates if they are better at the game.

Dean: They try to make sure and make decks that have higher skillcaps and this is something they focus on more. They try to have easier decks and decks that are good for higher skill-cap players. It’s important for them to have both types of decks.

Has your stance on functionally reprinting cards changed at all?

Ben: There’s potential upside to a very rare reprint, but they haven’t talked about it much. There’s times when a reprint might feel good if it feels totally different in a different meta. Ben doesn’t know if it would be a good idea, and they haven’t discussed it much.

Are you happy with how the Gadgetzan meta has panned out with Patches/Reno decks and no Hunter/Paladin?

Dean: In the beginning, there was a lot of Pirate Warrior, and then Rogue and Shaman. The numbers are starting to stabilize with decks that run the Pirate package, but if they remain the same they might need to change. There’s a lot of different decks, so they are happy with that. The decks with the Pirate package tend to feel the same. They aren’t as happy with decks that run the Pirate package. In terms of Paladin and Hunter, one of the Paladin decks have been successful statistically. Some of the new Hunter cards are powerful, but they can’t keep up with the speed of Pirate decks. The Hand buff mechanic has a bit more longevity because Reno will be rotating out and there won’t be much Jade synergy added in the future. The future for Hunter/Paladin is bright as long as the meta slows down, and if the Pirate package decks stay they will have to step in and change something. The top deck to the 12th ranked deck was 52 percent to 49 percent based on their internal meta report.

If you decided to go the route of moving some Classic cards to Wild – would you consider moving cards like Blade Flurry/Molten Giant and reverting the nerf?

Ben: The existence of cards that are played commonly increase the same-ness of Standard. They originally nerfed cards to change up Standard, this did work to some point, but it removed the ability to play those decks in Wild. They are looking at either nerfing cards again, or leaving the cards as they are and moving them to Wild. He isn’t sure if changing the cards back is a good idea, it could lead to confusion to returning players and players in general. There’s pros and cons to this method, and he isn’t sure that reverting the cards would make Wild more fun due to the power level of both cards.

A while ago you discussed balance in Arena and changes?

Dean: There’s a lot of stuff they are thinking about for the future Arena. They are thinking about making Arena Standard. It would be cool if you could potentially build a Jade deck when Gadgetzan came out. They are considering changing the frequency of Common cards. They are going to have Top-100 rankings in Arena. Over 30 Arena Wins they will average out the amount of wins to display a Top-100 Ranking. They are going to increase the amount of spells and swing-y cards for options and reduce cards like River Crocolisk showing up.

  • They are now going to start taking questions.
  • They are looking at win-streaks and considering increasing the rank you experience them to. This could reduce the experience of grindy-ness at the higher end of the ladder.
  • They are also looking at breakpoints on the ladder, like if you get to a certain rank on the ladder then you shouldn’t be brought back as far.
  • They are looking at increasing the number of bonus stars you gain at the beginning of the season (based on your last season rank).
  • Can we make the ladder system better by keeping the same system? By doing small things, that aren’t overly excessive.
  • Ben feels the thing about ladder that isn’t going well is that it’s too grindy.
  • The clarity of the ranked system is of benefit. If you increase or decrease it’s very clear to the player.
  • They’ve had great success with increasing Casual player winrate and have been improving this system.
  • There’s a some kind of collection component that keeps players that purchase packs against others with similar collections.
  • They exclusively match beginning players against other beginners in Casual.
  • They’ve spent a lot of time trying to make Casual better.
  • The minority of new players go into ranked, and those are the players seeming to have problems in terms of new player experience.
  • Ben mentioned that they’ll be doing more communication like this in the future.

And we’ve started! Be sure to check it out on Twitch if you can!

Leave a Reply


  1. Bryan
    January 13, 2017 at 11:19 pm

    One more thing worth noting: fixing bugs in hearthstone. Recently, I have noticed that the Fandral + Wrath + Spell Damage bug hasn’t been fixed. When you play Wrath with Fandral and +1 Spell Damage (ONLY 1), it will always deal 5 damage regardless how you play it (even if you play it quickly/wait for Fandral to fully summon itself, it will still deal 5 damage.) This bug has been here in hearthstone for a long time… I hope blizzard would fix this.

    • Unicorn
      January 14, 2017 at 2:53 pm

      That’s not a bug. Wrath’s choose one is deal 1 and draw or deal 3. With Fandral you deal 4 and draw. +1 spell damage equals deal 5 and draw. This is exactly how the interaction is supposed to work.

  2. AsuraSlash9
    January 13, 2017 at 3:40 pm

    Regarding ranked i think the third option is the best solution, personally I think that having a sort of checkpoint would tremendously reduce the anxiety and let the “grindiness” feel a lot lighter. I know I’d play ranked a lot more if it were so (and I already so play a lot of ranked). Also it would alow a sort of testing of new decks in ranked a lot easier.

  3. TacoRocco
    January 13, 2017 at 12:30 pm

    I’m not too happy with the proposal of changing arena to standard. One of the fun things about arena is being able to use any card! If they want to make the new sets have a greater impact on arena, then they should just increase the rate that those cards appear. Or if they really want a standard arena, then have Standard arena and Wild arena, sort of like how ranked and unranked constructed is. The fun of arena is getting all sorts of different cards, not for people to just build Jade decks.

    As for the Ranked suggestions, I think all three possibilities you mentioned in this post are great ideas. It would make ranked less painful and make Legend more attainable for people who don’t invest all their time into it.

    • Tomathus
      January 13, 2017 at 2:29 pm

      Or they could make it weird and only have like two expansions, such as a set and an adventure, along with the classic and basic sets, and have those be in arena for a month and then change it each month.

    • Usurperlord
      January 13, 2017 at 2:43 pm

      I completely agree, especially with the arena statement. It brings a sense of nostalgia for the older players and the newer players are introduced to cards they’ve never seen before which might incentivize them to play wild

      • Dyrus
        January 17, 2017 at 5:44 am

        The problem is that the card pool will explode, and you pick 1 card out of 3.
        So as time passes, arena will be even more luck based.
        You basically CAN’t build a deck with only 1 out of 3 random from a GROWING pool of cards.
        The alternative solution, would be to select 1 card out of FIVE random.
        That would resemble the MTG draft, and would have much more sense, statistically speaking.
        Problem is Blizzard is money oriented. You know: 3 years for deck slot, because “it confuses people”.