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Ben Brode and Ben Thompson Twitter Q&A

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Hearthstone's Game Director (Brode) and Lead Artist (Thompson) sat down together at Gamescom and answered some questions on Twitter via video.

The two developers started with some more general questions like which is their favourite card from Knights of the Frozen Throne. Their answers were from an artistic perspective: Valeera the Hollow for Thompson and Deathstalker Rexxar for Brode (source). They also talked about Sarge, the cute mouse from the Hearth and Home short, and its presence in the Mean Streets of Gadgetzan trailer (source). In a later question, Ben Thompson picked Archmage Antonidas as his most favourite card artwork-wise (source).

Moving on to gameplay-related questions, Ben and Ben were asked about RNG in Hearthstone. Thompson thought that RNG makes Hearthstone more fun to play, with Brode agreeing with him and adding that random cards can add more skill to the game.

Someone asked for a quick update on the ladder changes that the team has been planning for a while now. Ben Brode said that there are three opportunities to improve ladder, with the team being focused on the first two: 1) reducing the grind for top players, 2) adding progression for players that are stuck at the bottom of the ladder and 3) improving winrates for new players and the overall new player experience (source).

Moreover, Brode added that they haven't considered adding Monk and Demon Hunter in Hearthstone the same way they did with Death Knight, but it could happen some day (source). When asked about new mechanics in expansions that never return, Ben Thompson observed that Deathrattle made a return in the current expansion after its introduction in Curse of Naxxramas. Ben Brode added that they bring back mechanics they like, but they also want to make room for new ideas (source). The same goes for Arena where the idea is to keep trying new things (source). Brode thought that players haven't figured out Meat Wagon and how powerful and fun it can be. He uses it with Validated Doomsayer and Devilsaur Egg (source).

The inevitable Druid question came up. Ben pointed out that Druid is strong, but KoFT is only two weeks old. They are still obviously monitoring the situation, while Ben encouraged people to read Dean Ayala's post on the state of Druid. Since we haven't covered this post (being on vacation, sorry!), I will include it below. Some interesting points: Druid is being closely monitored, while Ultimate Infestation and Spreading Plague aren't as overpowered as they seem.

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We cite internal statistics from time to time, but I tend to be cautious of that myself because it's very difficult to find any statistic that represents everyone. Given enough time and enough access I find that it's not difficult to display data to support almost any opinion about the metagame. At the end of the Un'Goro cycle, Hunter was actually the highest win rate class among all Hearthstone players. In fact, Hunter held the highest win rate for the a large portion of the expansion. Of course, I wouldn't say that in retrospect of Un'Goro that Hunter should have been less powerful, but that is what the data might suggest. With that in mind, here are some thoughts on some of the comments I've read in this thread.

  1. Druid surpasses in popularity the historic Undertaker Hunter.

The statistics being used for this post are for one rank over one day. The statistics we cite about Undertaker Hunter reference all Hearthstone players at all ranks over a time range of a week to a month. Druid is popular right now, but these statistics aren't comparable. If I had to guess what the most popular class within one rank of all time is, I would probably guess Mage at Rank 25 on an average day or Warrior at Legend during the Warsong Commander / Molten Giant era.

  1. Blizzard disappeared after the expansion.

As with every early metagame, we are monitoring play rates, win rates, and player sentiment on a daily basis. We hop in threads like this one fairly regularly to say exactly that, but people tend to want to know exactly whether we are or are not going to change something. We are discussing what potential changes we could make if Druid increases in popularity over time, but ~5 days of popularity is not enough to make that call at this time.

  1. The people want to know the status of a druid nerf.

We are looking at a number of Druid cards, but for a deck or archetype to reach this level of popularity this early on in an expansion is not abnormal. The population usually finds something powerful, latches onto it, then other decks that are powerful vs that archetype come onto the scene until one of them emerges as the new popular deck before the cycle continues. It's certainly possible that Druid is in fact so powerful that it prevents the normal metagame cycle from happening, but it's too early to tell. Here are some thoughts on current Druid cards. Keep in mind that these are some of the discussions we have internally, not a list of changes.

Innervate, Swipe, Wild Growth: When we changed Keeper of the Grove and Ancient of Lore, the goal was for Druids to have more interesting decisions to make when deckbuilding rather than a large group of cards to be automatically included. Even though those cards changed, there are still some other offenders of this such as Innervate or Swipe...and Wild Growth to a lesser degree. Having some powerful cards that help define what makes a class different can be good, but those cards in particular have spawned a number of internal conversations where we have been weighing the upside and downside to having each as a part of Druid for Hearthstone eternity.

Ultimate Infestation: Changing a card like Ultimate Infestation we think would have a bigger impact on player sentiment than actual play rate or win rate statistics. It's a big, flashy, cool design but it hasn't appeared to be statistically responsible for Druid power or popularity. Power level aside, having such a powerful card draw effect in Druid is something we are wary of in Druid because we wouldn't consider it part of their identity as a class. Partially for that reason and for sentiment reasons it is still part of discussions in terms of what to do with Druid should population and power level continue to rise.

Spreading Plague: Part of what keeps Druid vulnerable is their weakness to minion swarms due to a lack of powerful AoE. While we think plague is a soft version of AoE that fits the Druid flavor kit, it might shore up one of points of vulnerability more than we would have originally intended. Ideally Spreading Plague is used in heavy minion swarm metas and less so as a general inclusion in any Druid deck. Token Druid, Token Shaman, and Murloc Paladin are all showing high population in the current metagame so it's possible the meta for plague just happens to be now, but it's a card we're continuing to keep a close eye on going forward. (source)

Lastly, Ben Brode sat down with French site JudgeHype, where he talked more or less about the usual popular topics. A summary of his answers can be found below:

  • No plans for 2v2 mode yet.
  • Druid is currently being monitored. If they change cards, they would look at Innervate, Spreading Plague and Ultimate Infestation. The last one, though, has a considerably smaller winrate than Innervate or Swipe.
  • Ben doesn't think that the meta has always been dominated by aggro decks, see for example Freeze Mage, Patron Warrior and Miracle Rogue.
  • The consensus is that the current way of introducing Adventures as Missions together with Expansions is the best.
  • More seasonal events, like the Midsummer Fire Festival, are being worked on!
  • They are not working on a brand new tournament client, but on making the current client as stable and as polished as possible for eSports competitions.
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I still prefer adventures over full expansion, but I know it's only a matter of money/usefull cards ratio.

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If enough people demand another adenture, we'd probably get one.

I loved doing the class challenges and having no idea what card I was going to get, since youc an see the prizes during the actual adveture bosses.

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I prefer this over the old style, I just wish Lich King was easier. I want my pack. Won't be doing it 9 times, since I don't care about the hero skin.

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3 hours ago, SithLordOfSnark said:

I prefer this over the old style, I just wish Lich King was easier. I want my pack. Won't be doing it 9 times, since I don't care about the hero skin.

It's pretty easy for some classes. Druid in particular is very easy. Since he removes all 3 or less cost minions in your deck at the start, you can just take a very condensed jade deck filled with junk that gets removed. Innervates, Wild Growths, Jade Idols, Jade Blossoms, Auctioneers. That might be enough on its own. I threw in a Nourish, Fendral and the rest of the Jade cards. Only use your innervates when you have auctioneer on board, and just spam jades.

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Personally, I don't think Ultimate Infestation is a problem.  I think Ultimate Infestation on turn six or seven is a problem.  Jade druid tends to be a tempo deck rather then a value deck, and they fall behind slightly early in both tempo and card advantage due to ramping so heavily.  SO what generally happens is they go for a tempo swing at some point in the mid game, by either puking out a bunch of jades, or trading their small jades + drake or ultimate infestation, swing the board in their favor, then just play jade after jade and tempo their opponent out of the game.  While ultimate infestation is very strong at all points in the game, its in that mid game where the tempo swing it provides is devastating and generally just means you get tempoed out.  Later in the game, the tempo swing isn't nearly as severe, meaning it is less problematic imo.

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21 hours ago, SithLordOfSnark said:

I prefer this over the old style, I just wish Lich King was easier. I want my pack. Won't be doing it 9 times, since I don't care about the hero skin.

The Lich King fight it's preatty easy for a few classes here a list of the deks I used:

  • Priest (easier): 
    AAECAZ/HAgScAssI0gqStAIN+wGXAvgC5QTxBYAGyQbRCtMK1wryDPC7AqbOAgA=

    Save a Shadow Word: Pain for Maexna. Gameplay:

     

  • Druid: any version of Jade will work, you have 2 diferent aproaches, you can avoid put minions that cost 3 or less mana, or you can put trash, so you can draw your cards with more constency.

  • Shaman: 

    AAEBAaoIBJMJhBfjuwK2zQIN2wP+A9AH8AenCL8Xt2z6qgL2vQL5vwKRwQKdwgKLzgIA

    Save Devolve for phase 2, Gameplay: 

     

  • Warlock: 
    AAEBAf0GHjCKAZMB7QXOBtsG3Aa2B8QIzAj2CPMM+A2ODsIP9Q+tEPAR/RGQFcMWzxaFF9i7AsW8At28Ao/HAufLAvfNApfTAgAA
     Save Corrupting Mist for phase 2 (or can use a Twisting Nether) If you decide to use Corrupting Mist, you need a big body in the field, or a least more that 24hp (and with Reno Jackson in hand ;) ).
    Gameplay: 
  • Warrior:
    AAEBAQcG+wHUBIIOsBXOFvHTAgxLkQOiBJEG/wf7DOUPgq0C0q4CsK8CrLsCzM0CAA==
    This is a tricky one hehehe, you have a BIG combo win condition, you need use Brawl in P2, and then put a Public Defender and Kel'Thuzad, that way you had "infitnit" turns, and play your(s) Scaled Nightmare and wait till you be able to OTK him.
    Gameplay:
  • Rouge: I went for the pirate option:
    AAEBAaIHAsgDkbwCDqgFxgXUBe4G5wfGD/sPmxX5qwKStgL1uwKgvQK5vwKbyAIA
    The spels are to fill up the deck, the only one usefull are the Counterfeit Coin, and only if you can put a 2-drop in the 1st turn.
    After that, is like any other pirate deck, be agressive and try to kill him as fast as you can.
    Gameplay:
  • Hunter: "Molten gigant style" 
    AAEBAR8AD40BqAK1A5cIxQjbCYEK3ArUEemrAritAuq7Ap/CAo7DAtPNAgA=
    You need to be able to play yours Molten Giant in the first or second turn, but they arent your only win condition, bcose you also can play with Scavenging Hyena and/or Vicious Fledgling.
    And the Stitched Tracker is really useful to get extra Molten Giant/Scavenging Hyena/Vicious Fledgling (depending the ocation).
    Gameplay: 
  • Mage: Another "Molten Giant" deck
    AAEBAf0EAA/AAa4DqwTLBO0E7AW8CNwKiQ6MrALXtgLrugKYxALUzgLu0wIA
    In your hand you need to had:
    Variant1: 1x Molten Giant, 1x Kabal Lackey, 1x Duplicate
    Variant2: 2x Molten Giant, 1x Mirror Image
    Variant3: 2x Molten Giant, 1x Breath of Sindragosa
    Variant4: 1x Molten Giant, 1x Kabal Lackey, 1x Ice Block or 1x Ice Barrier

    As the Lich King are going to kill your gigants as fast as he can, you need to be able to Duplicate them.
    If you aren't able to kill him before P2, its going to be a little hard (but not imposibe) to win.
  • Paladin: 
    AAEBAZ8FBJYJ6w/pEYW4Ag36Ac4D3APIBPQFzwbdCuIR3hSKrgK7rwKBsALlywIA
    This is a dificult to play out strategy, but it can be done (I did it twice, the second time with my Arthas portrait :P ).

    You need to collect Equality, Consecreate and Barnes before the Lich King's turn 7 and not draw Majordomo. Easy right :D

    You play Barnes which draws Majordomo just before his Frostmourne turn on 7.

    You need to be able to survive a hit from his weapon then on your turn you kill your own Majordomo which gives him one then you play equality consecrate which turns him into Majordomo, removing all his armour and putting him on 8 health.

    Then you need to have 8 damage to face still left on the board or an empty board so you can hero power. If you don't have an empty board you can still hero power and hope!

Credits to:

  • Thrombin2 (Paladin, Mage)
  • xwirus (Warrior, Rogue, Warlock, Hunter, Shaman, Priest)
Edited by Demenzel

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