Un'Goro Q&A with Ben Brode and Mike Donais

Un'Goro Q&A with Ben Brode and Mike Donais

Today's Hearthstone Developer Q&A with Ben Brode and Mike Donais has concluded. Check out our recap of the stream below.

Today they discussed the recently announced Caverns Below nerf, quests, archetypes, card design, arena, and more. They did not speak about the upcoming expansion since that will be revealed next week.


Top 3 Takeaways

  • The new expansion will be launching in August. The reveal is next week!
  • The Quest mechanic met their expectations and some of the less popular ones can be improved down the line with new cards.
  • We'll be seeing more Arena balancing in Patch 8.4 with the focus on class balance through small pull chance changes.

Q&A Recap

Many community questions were answered today. Here's everything we learned!


Stream

  • They're here to talk about things the community is interested in, but not new stuff.
  • They'll discuss philosophies behind the game's design.
  • They would love to do more streams like this and in general interact with the community.

Next Expansion

  • Next expansion is confirmed for August.
  • Missions will tell the story of the expansion. They will be free to all players.
  • Ben is super excited about the announcement.

Card Nerfs

  • The Caverns Below is causing too much aggro to be played. They'd like to see more control on the ladder.
  • If it's really hard to interact with a card on the other side of the field, it's a candidate for a nerf.
  • Data behind the scenes can show them what kinds of cards are working together that could be problematic.
  • Sometimes they've nerfed cards due to tournament meta.
  • Buffing cards takes away from future design space. Creating new cards to work with them is better.

Quests

  • They had trouble guessing exactly how good each quest would be.
  • Quests that didn't meet the mark with Un'Goro can be improved through future sets where they see weaknesses.
  • Overall they worked out very well for them.
  • One of the goals for a new expansion is for people to be experimenting with the new cards. Quests hit this mark.

Archetypes

  • They were surprised at how many decks from each class have popped up from Un'Goro. 
  • They still have their eye on Jade Druid as it can push control decks out of the meta.
  • Freeze Mage is something they'll keep an eye on. It uses many Basic and Classic cards and so it doesn't change much year to year which isn't inline with their philosophy.
  • Discard mechanic will slowly get more cards. They don't want to see it be the only Warlock deck, so they'll have to be careful.

Card Design

  • Ben doesn't believe Primordial Glyph limits design space. 
  • They tried to make Shamans play more with spells so they added Spirit Claws. That didn't work out as they hoped so they had to nerf the card.
  • Humongous Razorleaf has done better than they thought it would.
  • Pyros is being played more now, but it wasn't really touched early on like they thought it would be.
  • Lots of factors go into the Rarity of cards.
    • Commons should be simple to read and convey base mechanics of a set.
    • Rares and Epics can be more complicated and specific use cases.
    • Legendary cards should be exciting and stuff you wouldn't normally see on a Hearthstone card.

Ladder

  • Redesign of the ranked ladder system is going good. Nothing to announce right now though.
  • The ladder changes will not be coming with the new expansion in August.
  • Not enough progression at the bottom of the ladder sucks.
  • Most active players are between Rank 20 and Rank 18. The matchmaking experience is not good.
  • Top end players feel there is too much of a grind.
  • They will be able to hit a few issues with the first adjustment to ranked. Other issues, such as new player experience, will come later.

Arena

  • The next patch, 8.4, will receive more Arena changes. The goal is to make the classes closer together in balance.
    • Mages will receive some minor nerfs to their card drop chances.
    • Warriors will receive some minor buffs to their card drop chances.
  • Vicious Fledgling will have its drop-rate reduced by 50%.
  • Mike would like to write a blog post at some point to talk more about the little changes they're making to Arena.
  • Mike thinks it would be fun to change up the Arena every few months.
    • Will people get to keep playing their old decks when changes are made? They'll have to figure it out.

Hero Health

  • The first time they experimented with health was when each hero had different health values, just like in WoW TCG. It was tricky to balance.
  • Two times in the history of Hearthstone they considered changing the starting Hero health.
  • The most recent time they considered the health change was back in Alpha. Their potential changes were:
    • Player 2 gets 1/1 on the Battlefield.
    • Player 2 gets +1/+1 to their first minion.
    • Player 2 gets +3 Hero Health.
  • The Coin ended up getting win-rates very close, so they did away with any potential health changes.

Misc

  • When new sets come out, the game should be fresh and exciting.
  • Classic and Basic cards make up around half of the cards in decks.
  • They don't try to throw in cards into expansions just for the sake of filling packs. Some "pack filler" as people call it have actually been useful in certain decks.
  • They come up with expansion ideas by using a whiteboard. They get the whole team together to brainstorm.
  • Lich King vs Battle Pets was a wacky idea that probably won't happen.
  • Warcraft Babies was another wacky idea for an expansion.
  • They spent so much time creating characters in Mean Streets of Gadgetzan, they really wanted to do Mission content for them.
  • Fireside Gatherings have a special Fireside Brawl. It lets people play Hearthstone in a different way by going to one of these events.
  • Exploration of something like 2v2 sounds like something to experiment with in Fireside Gatherings.

VoD

You can watch a vod of the stream below.

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