Hearthstone Live Developer’s Insights Liveblog – Year of the Mammoth – February 2017

There’s been a lot of questions due to the news of the upcoming standard rotation: Year of the Mammoth. Blizzard has decided to do a second Live Developer’s Insight to hopefully answer some of these. It appears Game Director, Ben Brode and Mike Donais, Principle Game Designer, will be answering the questions. I’ll be covering all of the questions and answers right here in this post!


  • Neutral cards doing a lot of healing (Antique Healbot) seem unlikely. Healing and Armor classes will be getting more cards that heal and add armor in the future.
  • Purchasing old packs/adventures sounded like it was being worked on.
  • Wild rankings are going to be getting their own end of season blog posts.
  • Gadgetzan Auctioneer was heavily considered being added to the Hall of Fame.
  • The single player content that will be coming in the second expansion this year will be harder and reward packs.
  • There will be a blog post coming this week about upcoming Arena changes.

Developer Insights Liveblog – Year of the Mammoth

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

Refresh the page once the event starts to keep up on the latest questions!

The show’s over folks, thanks for following along with me!

Q: What direction do you plan on heading with Hearthstone in 2017?

A: The team is growing, they are hoping to communicate more with the community and within their own team. Ability to execute on small quality of life things, they are hoping to focus more on that this year. Making Wild a great experience is another thing they are focusing on, and there’s some new features they are excited about in the future.

There’s a lot of questions about Arena, and there is a blog coming this week that will explain certain Arena changes.

Q: What’s your thoughts on healing cards across all classes?

A: Healing can be important because it creates big swings in the game. Reno did a great job at this, but if he was around for a while it wouldn’t be good for the game. They don’t have a lot of plans of adding healing cards in netural, but they will be adding more healing cards to healing classes.

Q: What about buffing cards in the future?

A: It’s important for Classic to be a small percentage of cards in a deck, buffing cards doesn’t seem to have that much upside. Adding them in expansions allows for new decks and then they’ll be rotated out in the future. They can also make cards stronger by introducing new cards that could potentially strengthen older cards (e.g., Paladin Secrets in Secret Paladin).

Q: Will there be a public test server?

A: Ben worries that because content already gets stale too soon, that the public test server would potentially add to that problem. He thinks they could potentially use one to test balance changes. No current plans for this, but they’ll keep talking about it.

Q:  Can you share some insights on how the testing process works for new content?

A: They go about 8 Months for each expansion. 4 months for initial design and 4 months for final design. They’ve gotten a lot of feedback that 1-drops might be too powerful, and they are going to work on that in the future. There’s no way they’ll know how powerful a card is by testing cards in-house. They like to make cards 8/10 which they know some will be a 9/10 and some will be a 7/10. Some cards that can push a specific archetype are made more powerful.

Q: Can you talk about the Rogue class identity with Stealth and Combo nerfed? 

A: They are experimenting with the deathrattle/stealth theme and the clever tricks theme. The clever tricks theme seems like the identity they will be focused on in the future.

Q: Were there any cards aside from Spirit Claws and Small-Time Buccaneer that could have been nerfed? 

A: There were Classic cards in consideration, but they used the Hall of Fame instead. The cards that were already moving to Wild soon weren’t great targets for nerfs. There’s more candidates, they’ll see what happens after the rotation happens. It’s important to take some risks, and make some nerfs later. They are working on technology to patch in balance changes in the future more easily. Gadgetzan Auctioneer was one of the cards that almost ended up going to the Hall of Fame.

Q: What are the thoughts and goals on changing up ladder in the future? 

A: They announced recently that there are adding ranked floors (5, 10, 15). Ben thinks that’s an improvement, but they still can do more. Most players hover around ranked 20, this means matchmaking is worse there because there’s so many different players there. If you’re rank 12, you are one of the best players in the game compared to the numbers which goes against player perception. They don’t want to make it so it’s totally easy to get legend or it will lose its prestige.

Q: Why was Power Overwhelming chosen as a Hall of Fame card? 

A: The Warlock class is very powerful and has a lot of burst. They’ll still have burst with Leeroy and Soulfire, but is riskier. This allows them to put new and powerful stuff in the class.

Q: Ever thought of releasing advanced deck recipes?

A: The community does a lot of this by releasing content based on crazy/unique decks. There have been decks that have had high winrate stats, that the community ends up not highlighting or finding out about.

Q: What kind of reaction from the community did you expect from the Year of the Mammoth?

A: People that were hoping for more changes with Standard were likely happy. There’s other players that might have felt negatively if they play Wild. They want to do a lot more for Wild in the future.

Q: Are combo decks going to get some love?

A: Mike Donais loves combo decks, but it’s important to have decks of every type. Each expansion they try to include cards that could potentially lead to combo decks. They try to shy away from decks that can do 30 damage in a single turn, where combos that can add an advantage or take a couple of turns to setup are more fun.

Q: Would you consider showing Wild season rankings on the official blog?

A: Yes, they will be posting them soon!

Q: Do you feel the rate of card releases are appropriate?

A: One of the reasons why they are going to three expansions a year is to keep things fresh for longer. Mean Streets decks are closer together in balance, but the meta still felt stale so they are thinking about how to make improvements to that will keep things fresh. Nerfing more frequently or potentially adding more cards more often.

Q: Will you make buying old packs a possibility in the future?

A: They are working on this, and they want to reintroduce old content in the future.

Q: Is there going to be Heroics in some of the Singe-Player content?

A: Not this year, but they’ve increased the difficulty of some of the missions. This will be harder content, there’s no easy road like the normal portions of Adventures.

Q: Three expansions a year is likely to make Hearthstone more expensive was this the intention?

A: They feel like expansions in general were just more fun. At the same time, it’s important that Hearthstone is a F2P game. It’s an attainable thing to be a free to play player, and that’s something they are committed at keeping possible. They’ve been attempting to increase the packs that are given over time, like Tavern Brawl and with Quests. They’ll also be giving away packs during the Single player portions of upcoming expansions.

Q: Will further Classic rotations happen/how permanent is the player’s collection now?

A: They think it will be healthy to move more in the future, but they aren’t sure on which they will be. They are looking to make decks come down in Classic cards, current decks have around 20 in them and they’d like to see that lower. One of the goals of Hall of Fame is getting new and fresh decks.

Q: Will you reverse the nerfs on Blade Flurry/Molten Giant and add them to Hall of Fame?

A: In Wild there’s a lot more ways to do burst damage (which makes Handlock less powerful), so Molten Giant might be fine in Wild. Blade Flurry is a different case, it might be too powerful to change back.

Q: How will you decide in the future to nerf a card or move it to the Hall of Fame?

A: No hard and fast rule. If there’s a card affecting Wild balance, they would nerf it since it wouldn’t make sense to add it to the Hall of Fame.

Q: Are you going to make/add more Classic cards?

A: They’ll be looking into this, but there are no current plans to do so. Shatter is an example of a card that might get added to the Classic set which could replace Ice Lance.

Q: What stats were influential when deciding the Hall of Fame cards?

A: Not just stats. A card like Azure Drake is being played in a lot of decks for the history of Hearthstone. When you’re looking at cards at the 6 – 8 mana cost, stuff like Ragnaros is always considered an option and limited the play of other cards.

Q: Will you be able to disenchant Hall of Fame cards and still get the full dust refund?

A: You’ll be able to disenchant them for the normal value. Ben thinks that Wild is going to be more awesome this year, and they are planning more Wild support.

Q: Will the Hall of Fame cards still be craftable and in packs?

A: They won’t be in packs, but they will be craftable.

Q: When will the six classic cards be rotated? And when will the nerfs happen?

A: Nerfs will be at the end of February. The rotation will happen when the expansion happens, which is still a ways away.

  • Instead of Adventures they are going to do three expansion, there will be single player content but the rewards will be packs instead of specific cards.
  • If you missed it they are moving 6 cards from the Classic Set to the hall of fame, which means they won’t be playable in Standard anymore.
  • Ben Brode is recapping the blog post about Year of the Mammoth.
  • The show has started!

Leave a Reply


  1. PoorBoy
    February 23, 2017 at 10:29 am

    The real answer to Won’t 3 expansions a year be more expensive is YES. The pretense that this is a F2P game is such lie. If you want to have a viable deck in the meta then you will be buying lots and lots of packs with real $

    • Raemahn
      February 24, 2017 at 11:03 am

      Blizzard has historically reduced the price of expansion buy-in for the first several days, and boosters are still cheaper than they would be if this were a physical card game. Couple that with the ability to dust cards you don’t want/need and you are getting a more value from this game than any other I’ve played (and I’ve played a lot of CCGs over the last couple of decades). This game is a bargain, and I manage to get all the cards I need by doing my daily quests. It is slower than buying in, but more cost effective, and I’m not even trying to increase my winnings through the Arena.

      Do I buy cards? Yes, but more because I want Blizzard to continue to put out such fine games. Blizzard is a for-profit company. Let them make money from those that are willing to pay for it and appreciate the fact you can still do fairly well without paying a dime.

      Oh, and I am not attached to Blizzard in any way. Just a long-time consumer of CCGs.

  2. Nandiman
    February 21, 2017 at 10:58 pm

    “What about buffing cards in the future?” – this question comes up often for some reason even if Bizzards response is so obvious that it makes the question moot.

    Buffing any existing cards means giving everyone a free new strong card (its free because the majority already have the card in their collection). Blizzard would rather “print” a new card that would have similar effect to the old buffed one, this way you would have to spend dust or gold to get it. This has always been Blizzards stance on buffing cards, they rarely buff cards, they would rather nerf or make new cards.

    • Raemahn
      February 22, 2017 at 3:59 pm

      I’m to hazard a guess here (that’s all anyone can do really), but I’m accepting the answer Blizzard gave that the idea is to keep the Classic set as a foundation and not as the primary focus in every deck. The reason this is important is it helps alleviate the problem we have of sets getting stale quickly. If every expansion only introduces a small handful of cards for your favorite deck/class then change would never occur. This happened all the time in Yu-Gi-Oh! in the early days (I can’t speak to that game now as it has been a while); every set that came out had 1-2 chase cards and the rest were trash. I’d prefer to have more new cards in every set that are interesting and worth crafting than see the same decks over and over with only a few minor tweaks based on the 1-2 chases cards new to the set. This makes the job designers’ job a lot harder as they have to come up with something new and interesting every set, but it makes the game better overall for the players.

      Just my two cents, for what it is worth. 😉