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hearthstone Hearthstone Designers Discuss Creating the "Discover" Mechanic

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IGN have conducted a fascinating interview with Lead Designer Ben Brode, and Associate Designer Dean Ayala, about the conception and evolution of the Discover mechanic. Reading through the article, I noticed that it also unveils some other things about the design team's plans and ideas, which I thought I'd share.

The first thing I noticed, was that they tested various places to put the card that you discover. They mention that they tested putting it on top of the deck, but that was a problem with cards like Forgotten Torch which shuffle the deck. This has big implications for the future, as it means that the deck has an order, and Blizzard can put things in various places in the deck. These are mechanics that we have seen in other card games, but not as of yet in Hearthstone. To know the deck is ordered, and that cards are actually shuffled in when they say they are, means that the top and the bottom of the deck can be used in future card texts. As the game stands currently, we would be unable to tell if a card was just randomly selected from the remaining pool of cards in a deck.

I also found it interesting that Ayala said they found, through playtesting, that discover and "draw a card" were roughly equal in value. This enabled them to use stats from similar cards, (he gives Gnomish Inventor as an example). It should be reasonably clear that the smaller the pool that you draw from, the better the card is relative to a card drawn from your deck. Given that they used this metric, it tells us what we already know; Museum Curator, Ethereal Conjurer, Dark Peddler, and Raven Idol are good cards. Those cards draw from a small pool and are still costed for "Draw a card".

The fact that the designers admit that it is frustrating to lose to cards from another class is also interesting. Brode says this is now referred to as Class Bleed, and that they don't want too much of this. I suspect that means we'll see fewer cards like Unstable Portal in the future.

Another thing I thought was interesting was that the last tweak was still a matter of weeks before a set was locked down. Brode considers that "towards the very end". This shows just how far in advance they plan things.

Finally is the comment that card draw is dangerous because it sets up consistency, and consistency is boring. I feel that tells us the minimum levels of randomness they have in store for the future of Hearthstone. This doesn't have to be a bad thing, as they've decided that Class Bleed is to be avoided. This seems to imply they're intending to walk a very narrow tightrope of randomness, but it does mean we probably won't be seeing consistent combo decks like Patron Warrior again any time soon.

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