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Dean "Iksar" Ayala was active on Reddit yesterday commenting on the purpose and the design philosophy behind the Basic and Classic sets as well as the reasoning behind nerfs on cards from these sets.
The Lead Balance Designer explained that the Basic and Classic sets' purpose is to introduce players to the game's mechanics and the fantasies behind each class. Since these sets are always around, powerful cards in them can be frustrating and cause negativity. For example, Wild Growth and Nourish were under the scope for a nerf for a long time. That doesn't mean all Basic and Classic cards have to be weak; some of them, like Fireball, Al'Akir the Windlord, Frothing Berserker and Tirion Fordring, are powerful, they show off class fantasy well enough and are safe from any changes (for now!).
Card nerfs aren't meant to just solve short-term problems. For example, the Fiery War Axe nerf made it possible for other Warrior weapons to see play. It's true that nerfing cards from the Classic and Basic cards makes players feel obligated to invest their gold or real money on newly released sets. The team has tried to offset this with more seasonal events, as well as the reworked new player experience, which all give packs to players.
Ideally the basic and classic set show off the kinds of mechanics each class is about without having too many cards that show up in all possible class archetypes. Basic is important to us because it serves as a set of cards players can use to learn about the game before they choose whether or not to make an investment of their time or money. Classic is important to us because it serves as the secondary jump-off point where you learn the baseline for what each of the individual classes is about along with some of our core mechanics like Battlecry or Deathrattle. From a gameplay perspective, having these sets around forever usually only leads to negativity when the cards are so powerful they show up in every deck in every expansion, making the strategies players use feel more stale than they would otherwise. We've been trying to change some of these power outliers over time, but only when making that change might also be positive for the live game environment. Wild Growth and Nourish were good examples of cards we had thought about changing for some time, so when we arrived in a meta where Druid had been very powerful and popular for a long time, it felt like a good time for those changes. We'd like to continue making these types of changes, as we believe the game will be in a better position to meet the player expectation that the game is new and fresh from expansion to expansion.
We nerf basic/classic cards that are too powerful instead of rotating them when they hit on class fantasy but at too high of a power level. Ramping mana is a strong identifier for what Druid should be about, so it made more sense to us to have some of the simplest forms of mana ramp exist in the base set to teach players what Druids can be about. It also makes more sense to have those cards be medium power level because if we identify mana ramp as an identity for Druids, it would be nice to be able to make some mana ramp cards from time to time without having to create cards even more powerful than two of the (arguably) most powerful cards in the game. Of course, this doesn't mean all basic and classic cards have to be weak. Generally the cards we target for change are ones that exist in every archetype. Cards like Al'Akir, Frothing, Fireball, or Tirion are probably safe. They are powerful and do an awesome job at selling the class fantasy for the class they represent. They also have some weaknesses and you can imagine an archetype within their class that might not play them. This is a pretty good place to be in. (source)
I probably should have included this in the first post. It's true that reducing the amount of auto-include cards in the base set makes cards from expansions more important if the goal is to be able to create every powerful deck. This is something that's more healthy to solve with things like gold injection events like fire festival, increasing the gold on the average quest, or having a new player experience that awards 20+ packs. We keep a close eye on the the kind of investment it takes (time or currency) to obtain a deck archetype that is fun and powerful. The end goal is to make that a painless experience and there is more than one way to go about that. Having a wide variety of forever cards that are so high power level they are included in most decks is one way to go about it, I just don't think it's the right one. (source)
The main point I think is important to get across here is that we don't ever change basic and classic cards just to solve short-term problems. Warrior was fairly powerful at the time we changed FWA which I think makes the change more palatable. If we truly thought that Warrior was better served in the long-term by have FWA as a (2) mana card, then we certainly would have tried to change expansion level cards rather than something in the classic set. Cards like Sul'thraze, Supercollider, Woodcutter's Axe, and Bloodrazer have all had a little more room to breathe and make Warrior feel different expansion to expansion as a result of the FWA change, which was part of the goal. (source)
This brand new Tavern Brawl challenges you to build a deck with cards from 2 Wild expansions and 2 Standard ones.
Specifically, you will need to construct a deck using only cards from Goblins vs Gnomes, The Grand Tournament, The Witchwood and The Boomsday Project. We remind you that this month is dedicated to Wild mode with a new Wild Bundle and thematic Tavern Brawls being available.
Newer players or players that don't have a lot of Wild cards in their collection can pick a Class and a single card and the game will autofill a deck for them with cards they don't have!
If you don't have cards from GvG and TGT, but still want to make your own deck, Baku the Mooneater and/or Genn Greymane are your best bets. Odd Rogue and Odd Paladin are performing well and Even Shaman is also a decent choice.
If you have all the cards needed, then it's a great opportunity to show off your Mech power. Mech Hunter and Mech Paladin are absolute beasts, with the Mechs from GvG and The Boomsday Project synergising perfectly.
This is a very interesting Tavern Brawl, since it creates a whole new meta on its own and it satisfies the players who are asking for yearly/monthly rotations with a specific amount of random sets from all of Hearthstone's history. Sometimes, Tavern Brawls foreshadow future games modes so perhaps this is a small hint on something different being worked on!
Here comes another update, once again focusing on Arena balance as classes get the appearance rates of cards tweaked so everyone has a comparable win rate. We're seeing Hunters, Rogues and Warriors getting their rates nerfed, while Druids, Mages, Paladins, Shamans and Warlocks get theirs buffed. This is coming after the more comprehensive update last month that saw some bigger Arena changes, including the removal of Mind Control Tech.
We're also getting changes to Rumble Run in this update, featuring better synergy for your shrine with new cards picked, boss deck adjustments and the ability to re-pick the shrine you lost with. Check out the full details below:
January 10 (source)
This Hearthstone update mixes Rumble Run up for a refreshing new change, while also bringing in some updates to Arena buckets together with the cessation of December 2018’s dust refund. Read on for details!
Following our Arena update last December, we have adjusted the appearance rate of each individual card available in Arena to ensure the overall win-rate of each class remains as close as possible to our ideal of 50%.
Hunter, Rogue, and Warrior have had the average quality of their Arena picks lowered. Druid, Mage, Paladin, Priest, Shaman, and Warlock have had the average quality of their Arena picks raised. December Update
The dust refunds that were available following our last update in December 2018 are no longer available as of this post.
Rumble Run Changes
Champions, rumblers, and trolls of all sizes! We’ve watched you spend a month punching faces in the Rumble Run, and we think there’s room for some changes based on how things have gone. Here’s what’s new with the Rumble Run.
Weighted Card Rewards We’ve increased the possibility of synergistic cards for your shrine appearing more often. One of our primary goals with this mode was to showcase the nine troll champions and have you really get to know them. We wanted you to “live the dream” of fighting in the Gurubashi Arena, and to do so, we had to make sure that each Run had its own strong theme. Adjusting the card bucket offerings for decks and re-adding bonus buckets will help strengthen that experience.
Boss Deck Adjustments One of our design goals with the Rumble Run was to provide huge, overpowered combat. Balancing at such a high power level is a challenge. When it works, it works great. You get epic, monumental combat against overwhelming odds. But when it doesn’t work, it feels random and swingy – like when the AI pulls an overwhelming combo. And since no one likes being repeatedly hit in the face with a club, we’ve pruned some of the power from the boss decks so that your Runs will play out more moderately. We have a lot of data about which bosses have the biggest body counts, and we’ve used that to target the worst offenders. Rumble Runs are now a little easier, but more importantly, they’ll feel a little more fair.
Shrine Selection Changes In early builds of the Rumble Run, we allowed players to pick a class and shrine before playing. What we found was that playtesters immediately picked their favorite class, gravitated to a certain shrine, and played that shrine repeatedly.
We had wanted to encourage players to try different shrines, especially to experiment with stuff they normally wouldn’t, so we put the current random shrine drafting in place. While that helped achieve our initial goal, it removed that feeling of mastery – the ability to choose a shrine and play with it until you feel you’ve mastered it or exhausted its possibilities.
So we want to bring that back. With this update, whenever you lose, you can expect to always be offered the shrine you just lost with. The shrine that the boss used to beat you in your last run will also be offered, per the status quo.
Some Final Rumble Ruminations
We always prefer to experiment, try extreme ideas, and get feedback rather than play it safe. In true troll fashion, we went big with the Rumble Run and tried some different ideas to give this expansion a unique feel and to capture the thrill of stepping into an arena against known opponents for some superpowered brutality. It’s wallop or be walloped in there, for better or for worse.
One of the things we experimented with—and heard great feedback on—was about the earlier pack rewards for the Rumble Run. Previous Hearthstone missions awarded packs via quests for completing content. For The Boomsday Project, we gave packs out without a quest to celebrate the launch of the expansion’s missions. This time around, we front-loaded the rewards and gave players three extra packs on launch day instead of during the Rumble Run. We felt that packs might be more interesting to people during the initial weeks of the expansion.
As many of you have pointed out, this decision just made the missions feel especially un-rewarding. It’s always more gratifying to earn packs by competing a quest, rather than just being given them. To this end, we’re adding the new quest described above, and going forward, we’ll keep this feedback in mind for the launch of new single-player content.
We had a ton of fun making mode and really appreciate the time that many of you took to write out thoughtful feedback. Everything we learn helps make future content better.
And now, it’s back to the Rumble Run!
This January is dedicated to the Wild format: apart from the Wild Open qualifiers taking place this month, you can now get a card Bundle with packs from previous expansions that are not usually available.
The Wild Bundle contains 10 packs from each of the following expansions, that have rotated out of Standard: Goblins vs Gnomes, The Grand Tournament, Whispers of the Old Gods and Mean Streets of Gadgetzan. The Bundle costs 25 Euros or 25 USD.
If you are interested in the Wild format - or perhaps you even want to complete in it, the Wild Open qualifiers will be taking place this January.
Lastly, most Tavern Brawls are in Wild and this will continue being the case throughout this month.
It's been a while since we last heard of Ben Brode who left Blizzard in April 2018 to form the Second Dinner game development studio. In the latest update, we learn that Brode along with former Hearthstone developers are currently working on a Marvel game and the studio received $30 million in funding from Netease in China.
Netease is currently co-developing Diablo: Immortal with Activision Blizzard. Here's the latest press release posted on the Second Dinner website. The company now has enough funds to expand and grow beyond its five co-founders.
They also released a video talking about exciting news in the new office.