Mike Donais and Peter Whalen on Nerfs, Design, Early Kobolds Cards, and Cards that Didn't Make It

Mike Donais and Peter Whalen on Nerfs, Design, Early Kobolds Cards, and Cards that Didn't Make It

IGN's Cam Shea had a chance to talk with Mike Donais and Peter Whalen about how the Kobolds and Catacombs expansion has been progressing and what some cards looked like back during development.

Interview Recap

Below is our recap of the interview's most important points. We've also got some interesting cards that didn't make it or were transformed into different cards. Note the Rogue weapons which were going to be a part of a special Dual-Wield mechanic - it wasn't fully fleshed out.




  • The team will be making a balance evaluation after the World Championship.
  • The evaluation will look at how the ladder has been and what went down at the championship.
  • There may be balance changes in February. (Ben Brode mentioned this previously


  • Each expansion has a target of one or two (sometimes three) themes each class is going for.
  • During internal testing, a lot of Cubelock was played.
  • Powerful defensive options were important to the team which is why we see "a fair number" of them in Kobolds.
  • When considering costs for powerful effects, the team looks at three different things.
    • Similiar effects and how much they cost. Does the current effect have a downside or upside in comparison?
    • How much play has the similar card seen in tournament decks the last four years of data?
    • Where does the card need to be placed? How fun is it?
  • If decks show up too much, they have to be careful about giving it too many new cards as players can get tired of seeing it.
  • Cards like Barnes and Emperor Thaurissan are "fantastic to have in Standard", but not forever. It's good to push powerful decks.
  • Mike Donais loves giving Rogues cards which they aren't sure how they're going to get used. "We'll let them figure it out, and hopefully it's not broken."


  • Seeing Quest cards being used in different ways has "been really cool".
  • Corridor Creeper raises a red flag when it comes to balance. Community feelings and data are both important in the evaluation.
  • It's normal to see lots of powerful decks after the last set of a year due to there being more powerful cards in the rotation.

Dungeon Run

  • One of the original pitches for King Togwaggle, the non-collectible mission version, disenchanted cards in his opponent's hand. It would not have been from anyone's actual collection, just their Dungeon Run deck!

Cards in Development

  • Possessed Lackey was experimented with as "Battlecry: If you control a Demon, Recruit a Demon".
  • Dark Pact cost 0 mana at one point.
  • Carnivorous Cube comes from the team wanting to make another card in the same realm of Moat Lurker since Karazhan.
  • Carnivorous Cube was originally called Gelatinous Trapezoid.
  • Carnivorous Cube was tested a lot internally with Druid, Hunter, and Warlock.
  • Rin, the First Disciple was much more complicated with her seals though there was always going to be five. They each had a different effect.
  • The seal effects were: Deal Damage; Restore Health; Summon a Demon; "A couple other things".
  • Rin's Azari, the Devourer originally was a 15/15 that could not be targeted. Testing proved people were not impressed with it which made them come up with the idea of deck destruction.
  • A couple years ago they tried a version of Psychic Scream which put the minions into your own deck. It lead to Priests wanting to always play the fatigue game.
  • Psychic Scream was originally named Run Away!
  • One of the original concepts for the Rogue Legendary Weapon was being able to dual-wield two weapons somehow. They couldn't make it work how they wanted.
  • Another version of Kingsbane had "Battlecry: Discover a card, everything you draw is a copy of that". This effect was also tried out on a Warrior Weapon.
  • King Togwaggle at one point didn't have the random spell and at another had the effect happen on both Battlecry and Deathrattle. More on that later.
  • Twilight's Call originally brought back any minion. It lead to crazy Malygos and Prophet Velen interactions.
  • Lesser Diamond Spellstone, and its upgrades, originally didn't require resurrected cards to be unique. This lead to more Malygos and Velen problems.

Peter Whalen on King Togwaggle's Design

Quote from Peter Whalen

I think King Togwaggle evolved a bunch as time went on. It started off as just “Battlecry: swap decks with your opponent,” and it turns out we really couldn't do that. There were some very much feel bad moments, and so we fixed it: “Battlecry and Deathrattle: swap decks with your opponent,” but then somebody Shadowstepped him and didn't let the other guy kill him, so we couldn't do that either. That lasted exactly one game, and involved Hemet [Jungle Hunter] as well. It didn't survive past that.

Then we tried a number of different things in that direction of “while this guy is in play, you each draw from your opponent's deck.” That was pretty cool. There was some cool stuff in there. Then, we had this one: “Give your opponent a spell to swap back.” We tried a certain number of cards from each deck, so like swap five cards from your deck for five cards from their deck, or 10. We tried a couple of different things in that space. That was interesting. Meant if you didn't have any cards in your deck, it didn't help you at all. So, it wasn't a huge problem with people playing Hemet, blowing up their deck, and then playing this, which was a problem with some of the other designs.

So, that was one that we iterated on a bunch, and I think it ends up in a cool place where it tells this really cool story about King Togwaggle who steals stuff, but as long as you pay him enough mana, he'll give it back. It's cool.

Peter Whalen on Cards Without a Home

Quote from Peter Whalen

I think there are certainly cards that don't have a home yet. The Shaman Spellstone is very strong. I think the 2/2 in Warrior that gains a lot of armour is very powerful, just on its face value, but like a lot of things, it's very contextual. There are cards that are stronger in some meta games and weaker in other meta games. We see that with Y'shaarj, who saw very little play when Whispers of the Old Gods came out, and now sees a fair amount of play in a couple of different decks, and so I think there are definitely cards that, as the meta game shifts, we will definitely see things change.


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