Ben Brode on Design Space, Game Design, Adventures, and Feedback

Ben Brode on Design Space, Game Design, Adventures, and Feedback

Josh Calixto of Glixel sat down with Ben Brode to discuss game design, community feedback, and keeping Hearthstone fun.

Mr. Brode

  • One of Ben’s favourite ways to decompress from work when he gets home is to talk to people on the internet who play Hearthstone. That’s how he became a big part of their communication strategy.
  • Ben has a passion for explaining the team’s point of view to help give people a deeper understanding of things they may not think about.


  • They're currently ramping up a team for Adventures, with the next one releasing alongside the next Expansion (as previously announced).
  • Adventures will be free content for players to consume. It will reward card packs.

Game Design

  • Cards removed from the Classic set for this year's Standard rotation were due to the fact that they were hoping to get more variety out of certain classes.
    • As an example, Conceal was very popular with Miracle Rogue for years.
    • Sometimes, they just need to make room for new stuff.
  • Standard needs to always be fresh, Wild is allowed to have the same decks forever.
  • Designing a top-level metagame is hard. People will always play the best decks out there, leaving less room for variety.
  • For the high end of play, they try to create lots of tools and cards that test the skill-level of the player.

Card Design

  • Yogg-Saron, Hope's End may have been one of the most fun cards ever created, but it was bad for competitive; It didn't belong there.
  • Sometimes, they have a really cool idea for a card but during playtesting, it gets re-evaluated due to someone finding a broken combo.
  • Animated Armor was originally going to be a Neutral minion but due to bad interactions with Master of Disguise, it went to the mage set.
  • A similar issue with Dreadsteed and the old Warsong Commander is why Warlocks ended up with the minion.


  • The community “hugely” affects the final design of the game. They're here to serve and are heavily motivated to make the game more fun.
  • The top concern for the team is making Hearthstone as fun as it can be for as many players as possible.
  • Feedback from Un'Goro has shown that the expansion has been super fun.
  • Feedback on pricing shows they have some discussion to do internally.

Ben on Design Space

Quote from Ben Brode

There's this concept of design space, which I think is an oft-misunderstood term, but it's basically: if you imagine every "vanilla" minion: a one mana 1/1, a two mana 2/2, a two mana 1/3, a two mana 3/1 – all the way down to a 10-mana 10/10, a 10-mana 9/11, or whatever. That's all the design space there is for vanilla minions. You can't make any other vanilla minions. You've used all the space for vanilla minions.

Then once you start putting words on cards, there's a lot more space. Let's say I made a card that said: All your 1/1 minions get +29/+29. Stonetusk Boar makes it so that you cannot make that card. It's just game over. Stonetusk Boar has reduced some design space. Every card both uses some design space and restricts some design space for the future, and often, what happens during playtesting is that we try some new thing and then realize it totally does not work with this other combo that we've got in the game, and so we have to cut it.


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