Dean “Iksar” Ayala is an Interim Game Director on the Hearthstone team, and he’s been doing regular Q&A sessions on Twitter for quite some time now. 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 #41
4:30PM – 5:30PM PST
Ask me a question about Hearthstone!
Or Design! (or anime…or elden ring…) pic.twitter.com/W1FtCHGp2c
— August Dean Ayala ???? (@IksarHS) April 8, 2022
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:
- They thought about shifting Classic format from “just Classic” to a “rotating format” in which only a select few sets are legal and they change over time. Apparently it’s a real consideration and not just discussion.
- There’s an idea to make a new set using a lot of HS fan-favorite cards and some completely new Wild-exclusive cards to spice up the format, support old archetypes etc. Then it would be a great pack to buy for people wanting to get into the Wild format.
- A feature that lets players upgrade regular cards to golden cards is coming.
- Team likes Tradeable mechanic and considered adding some Tradeable cards to Core Set / making it evergreen, but they feel like having too much of that in Standard can hurt the experience. Especially since some Tradeable cards are just used as 1 mana card draw – like Persistent Peddler which was meant to support Deathrattle DH but it’s played in Questline decks instead with Tuskpiercer. But they wouldn’t be surprised if some more Tradeable cards were added to the future.
- No plans to make players be able to move collections between servers, because the game is built in a way that making it possible for players would be incredibly dev-intensive. If it would be easier, they would have definitely made it possible.
- All three expansions this year will have a standalone setting, with no connection between them.
- No big Duels update planned in short-mid term, mostly smaller changes like what we’ve been seeing before this patch.
- They still want to test the ability to temporarily ban a certain class on ladder – e.g. you pick a class that you 100% won’t face when queuing. But they need some more UI & engineering bandwidth to make that happen.
- Core Set has two goals – teach new players about the game and give each class a baseline toolkit for different archetypes. Cards that are more straightforward and not very powerful are meant to accomplish the first goal.
- They’d like to remake Battlegrounds home screen at some point and one of the changes would be a section with all the notifications & important news (like Armor changes, for example).
- The philosophy behind Wild nerf reverts is to unnerf cards that could make Wild more fun – but “fun” is obviously subjective. (I would assume that if any card turns out ot be problematic it might get nerfed again – I feel like it might happen to Kael’thas.)
- Most of the new shop entires are experiments – they’re trying to find out how much players are willing to pay for something. And so was the new Diamond Drek'Thar. But if something is too expensive, they will shift to what players are expecting and willing to pay.
- Time traveling is a big thing in Warcraft universe and they might do more cards similar to Toki, Time-Tinker if they make an expansion based around Bronze Dragonflight.
- Dean’s work process has changed after he became an Interim Game Director. He spends less time thinking about now, about design and expansions. Instead, he thinks more about the future, leadership and his team (which is, well, what a game director should do).