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    • By Zadina
      Hall of Champions returns for a second time!
      This is a Tavern Brawl that gives you a random premade deck that Firebat, Ostkaka and Pavel used in their respective World Championship. Your name changes in the brawl to the World Champion whose deck you are using.
      The cards in the deck use the version of the card as it was from its respective time. For instance, the Gadgetzan Auctioneer in Firebat's deck (from 2014) costs 5 mana, while the Gadgetzan Auctioneer in Pavel's deck (from 2016) costs 6.
      Here are the decks you can get:
      Pavel's Malygos Druid: Pavel beat DrHippi in a mirror match with this deck. Watch out for big minions! Pavel's Tempo Mage: Pavel's Mage had multiple close calls in the 2016 Championship with this deck. How about you? Pavel's Midrange Shaman: Pavel's Shaman was always banned by his opponents. But it's not banned here! Pavel's Malygos Rogue: Pavel's Rogue can struggle against aggressive decks, but it still packs a big punch! Pavel's C'Thun Warrior: Pavel played this C'thun Warrior twice in the Finals, losing to DrHippi's Warrior but winning against his Druid. Ostkaka's Oil Rogue: In the last match of the 2015 Finals, Ostkaka beat Hotform's Druid and was welcomed into the Hall of Champions! Ostkaka's Patron Warrior: Grim Patrons helped Ostkaka win... even without Warsong Commander. That's playing with style! Ostkaka's Freeze Mage: Ostkaka played this Freeze Mage against Hotform's Tempo Mage, burning it down with fireballs. Irony! Firebat's Miracle Rogue: Firebat soundly beat DTwo's Priest in 2014, achieving lethal with a miracle 12/4 Auctioneer! Firebat's Undertaker Hunter: Firebat chose this Hunter to counter DTwo's Warlock, as payback for losing his Rogue deck... Firebat's Ramp Druid: Firebat started the Finals with his Druid... and never lost! He's the 2014 Champion! Firebat's Zoolock: Firebat's Warlock was banned in the finals by Tiddler Celestial. How will it do now? From the previous time this Brawl was around, the older the deck, the better it seems to perform.
      Enjoy the Brawl and tune in for this weekend's World Championship!
    • By Zadina
      Ben Thompson and Dean "Iksar" Ayala sat down with Chinese media for a two-hour interview session and we've summarised all the important info!
      Czhihong was the one who did all the hard work, translating this interview in English and transcribing it into two parts on Reddit - so go him an upvote! In this article, you can find the most interesting points.
      In the first part, the two devs talked about a variety of topics:
      As far as the story is concerned, there are still some new characters that haven't been unveiled yet and they are almost certainly going to be "good guys", since we've seen all of the villains in Rise of Shadows. They talked about Dr. Boom's Scheme, a card which was also discussed in yesterday's Q&A. Iksar admitted that they experimented with Boom Bots and dealing a bunch of damage, but they felt like Armor was more in-line with what they wanted to see for Warrior in the future. It's possible that the card becomes good with the right support, similar to Silence Priest cards in the past. They are adding more Lackey cards in the next expansions, but probably not for Lackey Rogue. When talking about RNG in the game, Iksar mentioned Flame Juggler and said that it's pretty unlikely they will make cards like that in the future, with high impact/early game randomness. The decision to HoF Genn Greymane and Baku the Mooneater was made pretty early, but they felt the right time to announce it was at the rotation. Specialist format: It could feel a bit homogenous in the future, so they are keeping an eye on it. It hasn’t influenced card design. However, when they design counter cards, they try making them more like Tar Creeper instead of a sharp counter like Golakka Crawler. They might change Archivist Elysiana for tournaments only. Here is an interesting answer on game length:
      It’s something that we look at quite a bit, the length of time it takes to play a game. In general, average game length has been sitting around 7-8 minutes basically since the dawn of Hearthstone. Even though that hasn’t changed, the extremes have changed quite a bit.
      It’s intentional that there are no small packages of cards that basically say “I win”; In Mecha’thun, there were situations where you go “Ok I was holding these 4 cards in my hand, now I win”. It’s intentional that that exists less now, but part of that means we’re moving into more of a resource battle. I think that can be fun, but pushing the game to a conclusion is also something we want to do, so we’re just trying to balance right now between those things.
      In the second part, they talked about Arena, Wild, achievements, communication and more:
      It is possible that at some point Charge cards, like Stonetusk Boar and Leeroy Jenkins, get HoFed. Stonetusk Boar is actually at higher risk, since Leeroy represents Warcraft fantasy better. They don't think Malygos ruins the fun in Standard, but they are keeping a very close eye on him - "it's a very thin line". Single player content: They feel that the cost associated with the single-player for Rise of Shadows is consistent with the amount of content behind it. The free portion of the Adventure already has enough stuff, like a new Hero skin, 3 new Hero Powers and 4 new decks, one of which is random and has a lot of fun stuff when it goes off. There will be lots of different options to track your progress. If they add an Achievements system on Hearthstone, it’s going to be similar to a progression system that makes you a better player (for exampe, win x games) instead of something like "Play 25 Murlocs".
    • By Zadina
      Team 5 hosted a Q&A on Rise of Shadows on the official forums and we've gathered the most useful posts from it.
      Liv Breeden, Peter Whalen, Stephen "Puffin" Chang, Chadd "Celestalon" Nervig and Hadidjah Chamberlin answered some questions and shared their thoughts on the two-week old expansion.
      The most newsworthy piece of information out of this Q&A is that the team has prepared replacements for the recently Hall of Famed Basic and Classic cards, as well as the two Legendaries from the Witchwood! These replacements will go live with the patch after the upcoming single player content, before the second expansion of the Year of the Dragon.
      We've started with some big posts with lots of info and we've summarised the smaller, yet juicy posts in a bullet list below.
      Let's begin with Peter Whalen: he answered a question on why the team nerfs cards from the evergreen set (with Cold Blood as an example), instead of putting them in the Hall of Flame. He also clarified that they have never put a Basic card in the Hall of Flame, but they are open on doing it in the future.
      Peter Whalen
      A couple of things going on here. For Basic cards, we’ve always nerfed in the past. If we Hall of Fame a Basic card, we need to replace it at the same time since it’s in everyone’s collection. That’s something we might do in the future, but haven’t yet.
      For Classic cards, it’s a question of whether the effect is something we want around long term in standard. There are a few of pieces to that - how well does it fit the class’ fantasy, is it a healthy effect for the game to have around always, and is it something cool and exciting that we want to preserve in Wild. For Cold Blood, it’s a healthy effect, something we want rogues to be able to do, and not so unique that we felt like Wild rogues badly needed it, so we nerfed it instead of Hall of Faming it. (source)
      On Keyword philosophy:
      Peter Whalen
      I wrote an article about a year ago about some philosophy on keywords when we changed Enrage (https://playhearthstone.com/en-us/blog/21614307) and that’s stayed pretty consistent. At a high level, keywords do some really good things. They condense card text, they make it easier to learn a new card once you know the keyword, they can tell a good story, and they can give us mechanical hooks to make other cards that care about them.
      In exchange, when we do focus tests with people that are more casual, just starting Hearthstone, or coming back to it, the single biggest thing that turns people off in card text is keywords. People have a much easier time with “Teach it 2 Shaman spells” or “Get a fantastic Treasure” than with “Lifesteal, Rush, Windfury.”
      Part of our card text philosophy is that we want people to feel confident playing their cards and then understand the details once they play it. Keywords make you feel lost. If you don’t know a keyword, you just don’t get the card. In client, you can mouse over it but that creates an extra burden and a lot of people interact with cards outside of the client as well.
      So there’s a tradeoff here. We want to get real value out of our keywords when we use them. We prefer not to use keywords on a one-off card. There might be exceptions in the future, but Witch’s Brew is a great example of this. “Repeatable this turn” is very understandable to experienced and new players and doesn’t take up too much text space. It does lose a bit of the story which is sad, but the clarity, especially for a card in a different year than Echo, was much more important to us.
      (source) As far as what determines card rarity is concerned, Legendaries usually have this special one-off effects. Epic cards are more complex, whereas Common ones are very easy to understand.
      Liv Breeden
      Legendary is easiest to decide. Mechanically, if we only want something to happen once a game (ignoring shenanigans), we’ll make it Legendary. Or if it needs to be the only copy of something. A good example is the no-duplicate cards like Reno and Kazakas. Or if there’s something that doesn’t make sense to happen twice in a game, like this scrapped card: “Battlecry: Detonate all Bombs in your opponent’s deck.” After that card, there’s no Bombs in their deck, so the second copy feels like a dud. We try and avoid that where we can. Also, if the design is top-down and can only fit one named character, we’ll make it Legendary. Ragnaros, Lightlord’s effect is directly linked to Ragnaros, so it’d be silly to make his flavor anything other than Ragnaros.
      As for the others, it’s mostly a complexity thing. The more the complex a card is, the more rare it is. Shadowcaster is a complex card that can do a lot of different things, but you need context of how to use it effectively. Dirty Rat is another good example; if you just play Dirty Rat, you may not know what you’re getting in to. Other times, if the card is a weird one-off card we put it at Epic, like Void Contract or Immortal Prelate.
      At the common level, we try and put the most basic and easy to understand cards for a class. Rare is somewhere between Common and Epic.
      In Initial Design (first 16 weeks), we try and get it as close as possible, but it’s mostly just from most complex to least complex.
      Later on in Final Design, once designs are mostly locked in, we may shuffle them to make the class feel better. Like, if all the commons for a class are minions, or if an entire deck archetype is at rare. (source)
      Most hero cards are out of Standard after the yearly rotation, but some still remain and they are powerful. Here's what Peter Whalen had to say about them:
      Peter Whalen
      We’ve learned a lot about hero cards since we launched the Death Knights. In general, we like them to either have a fair amount of variance in their gameplay or to have their hero powers be at a power level more in line with Justicar Trueheart than, say, Bloodreaver Gul’dan. Zul’jin is a good example of this. There’s some wiggle room here, but the core idea is that we don’t want the hero power to drown out the rest of the cards that you’re playing. With each expansion, we’re going to continue to make powerful cards – a card being powerful isn’t necessarily a reason for us to change something. The most important thing here is that the game doesn’t feel hopeless or inevitable. I think the variance in Dr. Boom’s and Hagatha’s hero powers helps a lot there. You could get lucky, your opponent might get unlucky, and there’s still a lot of gameplay back and forth between you after those are played. It’s meaningfully different from some of the very powerful and more repetitive hero powers we’ve seen in the past.
      For the other question, will we change them, that’s more a question of how things shake out in the metagame. Things have been changing rapidly over the last couple weeks. Just looking at hsreplay, Warrior is around the fourth best class right now (and Shaman is fifth), so let’s see how things evolve. We don’t think that Dr. Boom feels inherently bad to play against and it doesn’t seem like a huge balance outlier right now, so we’re going to let things develop before we make a call on card changes. (source)
      Known player and YouTuber CzechCloud made a lengthy post on both Standard and Wild metagame. In regard to Standard, the team is keeping an eye on Rogue and Archivist Elysiana, but thinks Zilliax is fine. In Wild, they are taking a look at Barnes and Darkest Hour decks (more on that in the next post).
      Stephen Chang
      We learned a lot about Hero cards after we introduced the Death Knights and applied that knowledge to the Hero Cards in the Year of the Raven. The type of value that cards like Dr. Boom, Mad Genius and Hagatha the Witch provide are less reliable than those found on some of the Death Knights. We’re continuing to learn from these Hero Cards as well and will continue to monitor their use in the current meta. Dr. Boom, Mad Genius saw a lot of play at the start of Rise of Shadows, but his use is starting to taper off as the meta evolves and players are playing decks that counter Warrior. It’s unlikely that we’ll rotate these to the Hall of Fame early and if we felt a change were needed to any of these Hero cards that we would nerf them instead.
      In general, we like it when players find the answer themselves by playing decks that can counter the decks they find to be dominating the meta. That said, we’ll continue to monitor the play rate and win rate of Rogues to ensure it doesn’t get out of hand and if it does, we’ll step in as we have in the past.
      We know that players have concerns regarding Elysiana, particularly in the competitive scene. We’ll get a lot more information on her with the upcoming World Championship and we’ll continue to monitor her overall use and will step in to make a change if we think it’s needed.
      We like the way Zilliax is being used. As such a flexible card (due to having so many keywords) Zilliax naturally finds his way into a variety of decks for different reasons, and we like this. Some decks really value the Lifesteal, some value the Mech minion type, some use him to synergize with Rush or Taunt cards. Often how he interacts in each game or deck feels different and less repetitive. In general, Zilliax just feels great to play and doesn’t feel awful to play against so we’re pretty happy where he is right now.
      One of the things we enjoy most with each new expansion is the additional tools players have available to modify their existing decks and to create new ones. In Wild, there are interactions that simply aren’t available in Standard that players are able to explore, which is very exciting and can shake up the Wild meta. We do see this evolution with each expansion and experimentation that takes place.
      In general, we’re more comfortable with really powerful strategies in Wild than we are in Standard. That said, we have stepped in in the past, Aviana and Naga Sea Witch for example, when certain decks are too unfun to play against and have strategies that seem unreasonable to contend with. We’ve talked about potential changes to Barnes and Darkest Hour decks and will continue to look at the impact of the other decks you mention. We’re happy with Wild being a place where players can explore very strong synergies and decks, but will step in to make changes if we think the game will be better for it. (source)
      Misc #1: They have no plans on extending the no duplicates rule to Epic cards. As far as Wild is concerned, they've discussed nerfing Barnes and Bloodbloom but the meta hasn't completely settled yet after the release of Rise of Shadows. Standard seems fine for now.
      Stephen Chang
      We’re happy with the no duplicates rules for Legendary cards, but have no plans to extend it to epic cards.
      When we release a new expansion, we’re always excited to see players try out new cards and discover synergies and decks that will shape the meta. We’ve seen this with Rise of Shadows and have been monitoring the ebbs and flows as decks rise in prominence and get countered by other decks. With the Wild meta in particular, we tend to see crazier interactions and stronger decks and this is something we’re generally happy with. In certain cases when decks seem out of line with what we’re comfortable with, we have stepped in, like in the case for Naga Sea Witch and Aviana. We’ve discussed the possibility of nerfing cards, such as Barnes and Bloodbloom, but the meta is still settling down and we’d like to continue to gather more data before making any decisions. We’ll continue to monitor the meta closely to make sure nothing gets too out of hand.
      We’ve been watching closely as the meta has adjusted day to day and week to week since Rise of Shadows has been released. We’ve seen a variety of different decks be “the best deck” so far and are happy with how players are adjusting and countering what they’re seeing as the most prevalent decks on the ladder. (source)
      Misc #2: Celestalon talked about Tribes, what makes a specific type of minions worthy of a Tribe name and how they try not to mix Tribes with one another (apart from the special one-off amalgams). Same cards available to different classes, like the tri-class cards in Mean Streets of Gadgetzan, are something the team considers, especially since this year we have the League of E.V.I.L. vs the Defenders of Dalaran. Mana ramp cards will return in Druid.
      Chadd Nervig
      Tribes, or ‘minion types’, exist for a few reasons. Mechanically, they link a wide variety of disparate cards, so that they can be referred to and interacted with (“Whenever you summon a Beast…”, “If you played an Elemental last turn…”, etc.). They also help add flavor to a card. We have a variety of minion types right now, and are open to the idea of adding more in the future. However, each minion type we add does add a bit of complication, so we look at what the upside of each one is.
      Take Treants for example: We’ve designed Treants to be consistently 2/2 tokens, with “Treant” in their name. So, if we add a Treant tribe, what do we gain? Treants are already quite recognizable, and searchable. It would allow us to print cards that are Treants, but not named “Treant”… but that would conflict with the goals of Treants to be 2/2 tokens, so we aren’t particularly inclined to do that right now.
      Lackeys are similar; they keyword and consistent name already fill the role of the minion type, so an additional minion type there doesn’t really gain us much.
      Undead is another minion type that we see brought up. What would a build-around theme for Undead look like? Is there a clear delineation between what counts as Undead or not? Since minions currently only have 1 type (apart from the special one-off amalgams), minion types tend to work best when they’re exclusive. Pirate is one where that gets complicated; in order to keep things clear, we tend to not make Murloc Pirates, or Beast Pirates, etc. Undead would be even more problematic in that regard; we’d basically have to go to a world of multiple types per minion, since dozens of cards look Undead along with an existing type already. It’s not out of the question, but we’d have to have a very good reason to cross that big bridge of complication.
      Tri-class cards were pretty cool, yeah! I wonder if, in a world where the classes are divided between good and E.V.I.L., there would be a place for multi-class cards in the future? Hmmmmm… It’s definitely something we’d consider!
      Mana ramp is indeed part of the core identity of Druids in Hearthstone, and we do intend to maintain that going forward. While they may not currently be as extreme at that as they once were, that leaves us room to add more/stronger mana ramp cards in the future. I think it’s safe to say that you’ll see mana ramp cards in Druid again.
      A few reasons! First, we generally try to sprinkle some flavorful cards into each set. It helps set the tone of the set, helps it feel like you’re in Dalaran. Second, mechanically, it helps lay the groundwork for future build-arounds. As mentioned above, minion types are important for mechanical interactions, and we recognized that numerous Elementals were rotating out of Standard at this time, so we could use some replacements. Just as Dire Mole saw play merely for being a 1/3 Beast (heck, even sometimes just a 1/3), there’s potential for a 2/3 Elemental to see play, with the right supporting cards. (source)
      We've summarised some shorter answers:
      They have replacements for the cards from the evergreen set that recently got HoFed. They will be released after the upcoming solo player content, but before the next expansion (source). There will also be replacements for the two Witchwood Legendaries that were HoFed! (source) Still no news on new game modes (source) or rewards after the 500 wins milestone (source). They are working on delivering ways to obtain Tyrande and Khadgar alternate heroes by the end of 2019. (source) They are considering printing Legendary spells and weapons again. (source) Team 5 mentioned that the burglar effect would change to “from another class” instead of your opponents class going forward. Pilfer, though, still has that effect and it's a Classic card. The team hasn't decided yet if they will change Pilfer or not. (source) Dr. Boom's Scheme was a card that seemed weak from the moment it was revealed and doesn't fit with the bomb theme that Warrior has in Rise of Shadows. Liv Breeden responded that the team wanted to give more defensive tools to Warrior. (source) No plans on printing more cards with the "Teaching" mechanic that Swampqueen Hagatha has in the near future, but this mechanic may return at some point. (source) Classes with weaker removal options will have to opt for Neutral class that do just that, even if they are not as powerful as class cards. This is part of making class identities and differences more apparent. (source) All 5 devs had a different interpretation of what the "E.V.I.L" in the League of E.V.I.L stands for, so the mystery remains!
    • By Zadina
      Team 5 is hosting a Q&A on the official forums for the newly released expansion.
      The Q&A will start around 10:00 AM PDT on Monday the 22nd of April. You can already leave your questions here.
      Dylan Bates
      Well met, E.V.I.L. adventurers!
      Put down your Wrenchcaliburs, Wagglepicks, and Headhunter’s Hatchets and set fingers to keyboard - we’ve assembled a league of talented D.E.V.E.L.O.P.E.R.S. to answer your Rise of Shadows questions here on the Hearthstone forums at the start of next week!
      You can go ahead and start listing your questions in the thread now - starting at 10:00 AM PDT on Monday, April 22, we’ll have designers and artists on hand for a couple of hours to check in on how your evil schemes are coming along and to talk to you about your favorite decks, awesome plays, answer your burning questions, or discuss anything else you’d like to know about Rise of Shadows!
      Remember to favorite/like any questions you’d like to see answered and we’ll see you Monday!
    • By positiv2
      This thread is for comments about our Big Warrior guide.
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