Dean “Iksar” Ayala is a Lead Designer on the Hearthstone team, and he’s been doing weekly Q&A sessions on Twitter for a while now. They usually happen on Wednesdays, afternoon-evening 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 summary of his most important talking points.
If you want to read the full Q&A – all the questions and answers – here’s the Tweet you should go to:
Hearthstone AMA #21
Ask me a question about Hearthstone!
Or Design! (or anime…)
6:00PM – 7:00PM PST pic.twitter.com/ReqE9XeCR7
— August Dean Ayala (@IksarHS) July 15, 2021
Below, you will find my summary. It’s still pretty long, but Iksar tends to answer the questions thoroughly and includes a lot of details. I try to ignore “fluff” answers and 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. Things in parentheses are my own notes/comments and not Dean’s words. Let’s start:
- There’s a new minion type in one of the future sets that’s currently being tested, which is about 4-5 sets. He can’t tell which one, though. (It means that we should get a new Constructed minion type either this or next year.)
- (Answered by Alec) Recent Priest nerfs were not avoiding Shadow spells for the sake of “Shadow Priest” from the upcoming expansion. They felt that Renew had the highest impact on card generation which they wanted to address.
- There were some discussions of Classic format shake-up (e.g. introducing Naxxramas adventure). He said that they could consider doing it with the last expansion of the year or with rotation.
- Control and Combo decks tend to get the harshest reactions when they are on the top. They still try to not always nerf based on players’ reception of the meta. (I honestly kind of agree, I know that a lot of people say that they want more Control/Combo decks, but when one starts dominating the complaints are crazy. But when decks like Face Hunter or Elemental Shaman dominate right now, they aren’t hated nearly as much.)
- The reason why Horde expansion had Alliance characters is that they wanted to push out all 10 Mercenaries at the same time so you can follow them throughout the year. They’ve considered staggering their releases, but didn’t think that’s a good idea in the end.
- They talked about removing Legendaries from Discover / random generation, but that’s not the answer to the problem. What they are doing instead of printing less cards that generate other cards.
- No plans to release “wing-based” adventures now. They don’t plan any other solo player content than “Book of X” this year, but they are still considering what the live-content team will work on next year (so we might get another adventure).
- They have tried to add the mechanics of one class to other classes (e.g. Ramp in Warlock) but in the end, it didn’t feel like it was worth it, because they want classes to have their “unique things” and feel different.
- He thinks that buffing some older Wild cards is not worth it, as the impact would be “minimal”. Their approach to Wild is to keep things that ruin the experience for everyone in check, but otherwise leave it alone.
- (Answered by Alec) No plans to make Shadowform upgradeable as it was in the past.
- Displaying Constructed MMR is something they might consider since they’re already doing it for BG and Duels. But they’d need to make some changes first since they’re often adjusting MMR inflation (e.g. so #1 Legend players don’t take off too far so no one can catch up to them) and MMR numbers changing randomly would be strange and unclear if it was displayed (it’s also something that’s only really relevant for high Legend players, to be honest).
- (Answered by Celestalon) They might add achievements for Casual mode for the sake of tracking. Right now you can only track your Ranked wins and not your Casual wins.
- They will add achievements for old adventures, but probably not for old sets. But if they decide to add Naxx to Classic, they might do achievements for that.
- They are considering adding hero skins from old adventures (e.g. Dungeon Run, Dalaran Heist etc.) as rewards for finishing those adventures when they finally make achievements for them.
- Achievements claiming will be improved, but right now they’re too busy with Mercenaries. At the very least the completed achievements will be listed on top.
- Purchasable game boards as a cosmetic are being investigated, but currently only for Battlegrounds. There are some compilations for making that for Constructed, but he could see that in the future.
- They’re also considering “user generated content”, where players can for example customize their own boards or cards.
- There are plans for cosmetics for Mercenaries game mode, but they are focusing on gameplay right now.
- The biggest missed opportunity was “not launching with social systems” (he probably means stuff like guilds etc. which he often talks about).
- Dev team has done some exploration on “underwater expansion” (Murlocs, Pirates, Naga, submarines, sea monsters etc.) and maybe we’ll see it someday.
- Dean’s favorite golden card animation is Huge Toad.