Ben Brode Answers Your Hearthstone Questions and More!
WIRED asked Ben Brode user questions from Twitter in their Tech Support series of videos. Ben had quite a bit to say so we've recapped it in an easy to digest format. You should watch the video though, it's worth it!
Here are the quick takeaways.
- Lord Jaraxxus exists thanks to Horde and Alliance heroes in Hearthstone's early days and a WoW Engineer's burning question.
- They may consider adding Wild back to shop in the future, they certainly hear the feedback from players.
- Old card backs will come back one day, they just need to find the right balance on how players can obtain them.
- The hero level game system feels satisfying and extending it in the future would be great. Not sure how to do that just yet though.
Here is absolutely everything. Some answers included here may already be known but have been included as newer players are likely not familiar with them.
- The Coin was not the only idea the team had for balancing going second.
- Allowing the second player to only draw a card lead to a 60/40 win ratio, favouring player 1.
- Giving the second player extra life didn't feel good, they were still playing from behind.
- Starting with a 1/1 minion in the battlefield or giving their first minion +1/+1 made it feel like the second player could overcome the turn 1 advantage.
- They ended up with The Coin and like it due to it taking an active role. You choose when to use it. 51/49 win ratio, still favouring player 1 but not as bad as other options.
- They have to be careful about adding additional cards to the Classic set to replace holes left by the Hall of Fame because they don't want to create the same problem they had before where decks weren't changing enough due to Classic having too strong of cards.
- Some cards may be brought back out of Wild and into Classic that set class fantasy strongly and tell you what each class is about.
- Lord Jaraxxus was added to the game thanks to a relic of Hearthstone's past.
- Originally, there was a Horde and an Alliance hero for each class.
- The original Warlock hero for Horde was Cho'Gall and Alliance's was Wilfred Fizzlebang.
- They had a tough time finding a satisfying Alliance hero for Warlock.
- Wilfred Fizzlebang is famous for summoning Lord Jaraxxus, EREDAR LORD OF THE BURNING LEGION, in The Argent Tournament raid in World of Warcraft.
- Pat Dawson, an engineer of the WoW team, was playtesting Hearthstone with Wilfred Fizzlebang and was curious if the gnome had a Lord Jaraxxus card in his deck.
- Ben Brode immediately designed Lord Jaraxxus to destroy your current hero, Wilfred, and come into play.
- Ben agrees there's a lot of cards that could use a buff, but the goal isn't to get every card to a similar power level. Some cards are intentionally bad. They also like to make challenges for players.
- Some weak cards today may not be weak in the future due to new additions.
- No plans for Wild cards in the in-game shop; They want to keep it simple. Lot's of people asking for it though and it's something they may consider.
- Tournament Mode will be basic to start. Conquest, Last Hero Standing, choosing the number of decks for the tournament. Feedback will help shape the mode in the future.
- There are indeed female Kobolds, "Hard to tell, maybe."
- Inspire could come back one day but they have fun ideas they want to get into the game that aren't Inspire, and they want new sets to be new and exciting.
- There will eventually be a way to get old card backs again. They still don't know the best way to accomplish this goal though, people who earned them in the past like feeling unique. There needs to be some difficulty in obtaining them.
- Ben's favourite golden card is Crushing Walls.
- Decks with 60 cards were experimented with in the past. It makes it harder to build a more cohesive deck.
- Having an increased deck size could make for an interesting Tavern Brawl, but not the core game mode.
- No plans for spectating random players, watch Twitch streams instead.
- Ben likes the hero level system and how it can be satisfying. Making it last longer then it does now would be nice, but they don't have any ideas right now.
- Molten Giant was nerfed to keep Standard different, not for balancing, as they wanted to change up decks that relied on it. With the rotation to Hall of Fame, they are changing it back since it won't disturb Standard.
- Changing cards back to their original state prior to any changes will be made on a case by case basis if cards end up moving to Wild.
And now, for an epic classic from the past. YOU FACE JARAXXUS!
Ben Brode Gets Personal
A reddit thread was inspired by the above video and prompted some more personal questions for our favourite game director.
Quote from Ben Brode
the idea that this belongs on the HS Subreddit is dubious, but i will reply anyway, because I cannot abide /u/mdonais being the top comment
1) What is your favorite non-Blizzard game?
You have to go pretty deep because War3, SC2 and World of Warcraft are WAY up there for me. But outside of that, Tron 2.0.
2) What is your favorite place to grab a quick bite to eat?
Carl's Jr. It's important to note that the abbreviation here is not "CJ's", as Bob Fitch would have you believe. It's "C's J". It's Carl's Jr, not Carl Jr's. This is important. Also, C's J used to have great chili burgers and I'm really sad that they don't any more. Their Santa Fe Chicken Sandwich is still pretty good.
3) Are there any inter-department competitions that we should be aware of?
I used to play a ton of basketball - it's really fun exercise, and I get to cheat by virtue of being tall and heavy and thereby unmovable once I set up in the key. (6'4", 280lbs) I also enjoyed getting to meet and hang out with folks from all over the company. But I wouldn't say it's very competitive.
4) When you became Hearthstone Game Director, were you prepared for how many videos you would be doing?
I have actually done less videos since then, mostly because I'm less involved in actual day-to-day design (the design team is 20 people, now!), and my kids are older and sleeping less. :) We're democratizing videos more and I think that's awesome. (Dean Ayala's video went live last week.)
5) Where is your favorite place that you have traveled to?
Korea! My wife is Korean, so we have family there. This was one of the home-cooked meals we had. drool emoji
Mike Donais Swoops In
Mike Donais saw the aforementioned reddit thread before Ben and decided to answer up.
Quote from Mike Donais
I am not sure where Ben is so I will answer in the mean time.
1) Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup. One thing I love about card games and DCSS is how every time you play you are in new situations with slightly different resources to deal with them. You are constantly discovering new things and that keeps it fun for a long time.
2) I like Sushi. There is a place with really good Alaskan rolls called Octopus or Tomikawa that I go to when I am choosing.
3) We do a lot of Teambuilding things, but that is pretty much the opposite of competitive. We share design knowledge, we loan devs, we play in the same WoW guilds, etc. We even had 9 teams in the last DCSS tournament.
4) I feel like Ben was born for that stuff.
5) I love Spain and Europe in general. The vibe is great and the people are great. I especially like the less populated areas (not major cities). I also like old architecture and castles which you really can't find in the US.
I will also let Ben know about this thread, although I suspect he will see it either way :)