Wild Balance Changes Not Planned & More! - Community AMA


Hearthstone developers have been responding lately to a number of different questions

Quick summary

  • Conor Kou likes Malygos in Battlegrounds the most
  • Iksar likes Reno Jackson in Battlegrounds
  • If you already own Khadgar, you will receive his new Cardback for free
  • Dual-Tribes could happen in the future, if they ever create an expansion, for which Dual-Tribes would make a sense
  • There are no plans for balance changes for Wild right now
  • They will be watching how things change after the expansion
  • These decks are now under their radar, but didn't cross the line yet: Darkest Hour Lock, Quest Mage, Secret Mage, and Mech Paladin
  • Iksar is asking a player if he ever heard of any rotating format ideas he liked a lot
  • If anything becomes too popular or over the line, they will act, like they did in the past with Naga Sea Witch, SN1P-SN4P, Barnes, etc
  • To nerf a card is an easy process as they only need to "click" on the button, but they need to be sure that It would make a sense


Random facts

PlayerHoly crap @conorkou Malygos is an amazing design. I have no idea how to use him right but he feels really powerful and fun.
Conor Kou: Malygos is my #1 favorite hero to play haha. Glad you're enjoying him!
IksarI like Reno but i am a simple guy.


About Wild balance

Player:  Dear Team 5 dev (@IksarHS @Celestalon @Chris_Attalus @Songbird_HS) please, I beg you, do something for Wild players! You are doing an amazing job with HS & BG, please don’t forget about us!
No plans for balance changes in Wild. Wild is always going to be a place where very slow control decks have a hard time with extreme power combos that utilize all cards in Hearthstone history. Quest Mage is one example of this but there are many others.
Iksar: Wild balance changes are mostly reserved for extreme unfun power swings in early/mid game or an archetype that appears that is considerably more powerful than all others.

PlayerWould Darkest Hour fit this definition? Would a 4 mana 3/4 summon a 9 drop fit this definition? I don't entirely understand this hands-off philosophy. I understand I'm talking to a small subset of players but from my interactions a hands-off approach isn't what people want at all.
Player: The team is doing an amazing job with Standard and BG. More updates, content, communication, experimentation. That's the frustration. These game modes are moving forward, why is the opposite true for Wild.
IksarWild and Standard have different identities. We talk about Wild internally quite a bit, but the bar for making a change is much higher in a format with so many answers. In a world where mage and warlock are seen as dominant you said yourself days ago that Shaman was best.

Player: I understand there is a much higher bar for changes. But that's the entire issue. The disconnect I'm talking about is that the bar appears to be much higher for the team compared to the bar that most players seem to want. My issues also aren't solely based on archetype power.
Iksar: It's possible there is a disconnect, we are just trying to do the best thing. Balance philosophies should always adjust when the time comes, I think that's been true for Standard in the last year or so.
Iksar: I'm sure there are players that would enjoy a similar amount of changes in Wild, we just think that for the majority of folks that isn't the case, so our thoughts on balance cadence for Wild have remained the same.

Player: Did the team feel players generally reacted negatively to changes to Barnes, SN1P-SN4P, etc.? If not, then why do you think players don't want more active changes. Again, my conversations are with a subset. But players seem to consistently, genuinely, desperately want changes.
I think the players that react negatively to changes that come to Barnes or SN1P-SN4P are more likely to react via quitting the game than to react via expressing distaste online.
Mentioned this a few different ways now, but clearly I think there is a difference of opinion in regards to the desire for a different balance cadence in Wild. We have a format where consistent and widespread change is a goal.
Iksar: Wild does not share that goal, and I think benefits from being a distinctly different format as a result. As with all things, we'll re-evaluate around the timing of the next expansion and see where data and player perception is at.
Iksar: None of these are rules to never be broken, in a live-service game I think you have to be very open to breaking convention and evaluating whether or not your design goals are holding up in today's world. In this case, we believe they still are.

PlayerI can believe Even Shaman is arguably the best deck, while also finding the play experience of Darkest Hour an overall detriment to the format. This shouldn't be contradiction, as obviously the team has acknowledged play experience and perception matters most, no?
Player: Also the implication that Mage and Warlock aren't dominant because of Shaman's strength seems strange. Are classes not dominant unless they making up literally 100% of competitive play? Mage and Warlock can be out of balance while Even Shaman is a great deck, too.
Iksar: I only mean that if you believe even shaman really is the 'best deck' than there is some potential for shifts in population to occur.

Player: Hey dean, could you elaborate a bit more now that we're on this topic, esp. regarding quest mage? China has a much larger wild player base than the rest of the world combined, and quest mage is one of the most frequent topics on Chinese HS forums.
Iksar: I mentioned this some other places, but I'm just referring to plans we have made for the near future. We'd like to see how the first expansion of the year shakes out before re-evaluating Wild.
Iksar: I hate making black and white statements because opinions can always change. However, our stance on Wild is that it is not a place where consistent balance changes are likely to happen.
Part of the identity of Wild is that it's a place where you are generally more safe from a constantly fluctuating meta environment like Standard can be at times.
Of all decks, I think Darkest Hour Lock, Quest Mage, Secret Mage, and Mech Paladin are the ones we look closest at.
Iksar: Darkest Hour and Mech Paladin because they create the most early/mid game states that feel impossible to overcome.
Quest Mage because of vast population size and the feeling that it invalidates grindy control archetypes Wild players tend to enjoy playing.
Iksar: And Secret Mage because of a strong population and power level that could drive it to be more populous over time.
Iksar: In our current thoughts, none of these decks have crossed the line to the point where we feel the need to step in and adjust them, though we do certainly talk about and evaluate them as time goes by.

PlayerOne thing that I don't understand is, why you're so strict about Blizzard's philosophy around Wild, when almost like 99% of the actual Wild players are begging you for some nerfs to make other cards more visible. Nothing against you, I love what you do, but #WildNeedsNerfs.
If we believed 99% of Wild players wanted something, we would act on it. The reality is there is nothing ever close to being that agreed upon. I think different forms of media can be echo chambers for a particular desire, but they aren't always representative of the playerbase.

Player: Hmm, interesting, thanks for your thoughts. I just gave up a long time ago asking for changes regarding Wild, because I know I just can't do anything to prove that some interactions are really annoying and unfair - as one person on twitter (as I know your desires for Wild balance).
Iksar: The spirit of Wild is that it's the place you can go to enjoy whatever deck you love most for as long as you want. Standard is a place where metas shift more rapidly and set rotation shakes up the cards available to force change.
Iksar: I imagine there are probably Wild players out there that would enjoy meta shifts and shakeups more often as well as Standard players who wish they wouldn't have to swap decks as often to be competitive.

Player: Imo I feel that others (and even my frustrations) at times come from wanting to be able to use old cards but not be as burdened by the god tier strategies that constantly destroy. I think a third format that utilizes a restricted card pool might help alleviate some frustrations.
Iksar: If the goal is to be able to use old cards but not run into very powerful synergistic decks then I would agree Wild is probably not the ideal environment for that. Have you heard of any rotating format ideas you liked a lot?
Iksar: Our hope is that we can stay true to the spirit of each format while addressing the outliers in Wild like Sea Witch, SN1P, Barnes, etc. It's totally possible Quest Mage crosses the threshold of being one of those outliers, it's just not something we have plans for right now.
Iksar: I wish I could give you some rule-set of guideline to follow of when that line will be crossed, but it's something we'll have to feel out over time. Population size, power level, and community feedback all play a role in that.

Player: Everyone asks for Aviana, Boom, Raza etc go be unnerfed and what we get is an answer of “we’re too lazy to listen and do something about it so let’s say that the vocal part of the community isn’t an accurate representation of the community".
Player: Ask for Timewarp, Voidcaller, Mechwarper, some sort of DH nerf. Nothing done. Yeah and you guys really want us to keep playing this format when BG and standard are getting constant changes and communication? Yeah ok.
Iksar: Making the changes is trivial to do if we thought it would result in a truly better player experience. Our only desire is to make the most fun possible game. The narrative of we're too lazy to come to work and click a button is really strange to me.

PlayerI understand your points, but on the other end, Mark Rosewater put it as "don't bore players, do something exciting, even if it fails, they'll respect the attempt".
Iksar: I listen to and respect Rosewater very much. I don't follow the vintage magic format very closely, but is their balance strategy for vintage much more aggressive than Wild in Hearthstone has been?

So, what do you guys think? Are you playing Wild mode? Do you think Blizzard should un-nerf/nerf some cards in Wild more often or not?


Editor notes: If you want to see the source, just click on the "Name" part before each response.



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