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Hearthstone Reddit AMA on Year of the Dragon Recap

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August Dean Ayala, Mike Donais, Ben Thompson and Giovanni Scarpati answered several questions on Reddit earlier today and we have gathered their responses.

The announcement of the Year of the Dragon with all its new features sparked the fans' interest who posted their questions on Reddit. Here are the most interesting points:

  • The new Keyword of the first 2019 expansion may have something to do with spells casting twice. The developers gave these words as hints: two, twins, double down, spell. (source)
  • They want to add more medium to long-term goals for more accomplished players. They have many different ideas, like having static achievements (1000, 2000 wins etc.), add a continuously rewarding system or have a weekly/monthly progression. (source)
  • The vast majority of players plays only in one region and there was no technology for world wide collection when the system was built. Having our card collection in all regions hasn't been a priority for the team. (source)
  • An upcoming improvement for mobiles is going to target the game's sounds, for example removing sounds from Adventures players don't own. (source)
  • Communication from the Hearthstone team is going to be better, more honest and more frequent from now on. (source)
  • When asked if the team is planning to add new formats in the game, such as Pauper, Mike Donais responded that the best way to do that is via Tavern Brawls. (source)
  • Achievements and tracking progress are coming with the first solo Adventure of this year and hopefully they can expand on this more in the rest of the game. (source)
  • A Murloc called Sludge Slurper was teased for the first 2019 expansion. Mike Donais loves Murlocs and wants to add more of them in the next expansions. (source)
  • They are giving away a free Legendary card one week before the expansion releases, same way they did with Marin the Fox and Volcanosaur. (source)
  • Golden Zayle, Shadow Cloak is a reward from the upcoming 5-wing Adventure. The Golden version cannot be crafted or disenchanted and it cannot be obtained from card packs. The normal version can be crafted, just as other promotional cards like Elite Tauren Chieftain. (source)
  • New heroes are coming in 2019, with a small hint to perhaps a new Shaman hero. (source)

Being the Arena expert, Iksar answered several related questions here and here. In brief, he posted a list of cards from the expansions that are coming back from Wild that will be banned in Arena. He also talked about how card buckets will be handled, older events like Dual Class Arena making a return (but not many plans for newer ones), the leaderboards, how Discover will work with old sets being back and more!

Lastly, here are some full answers to important questions that deserve to be read as a whole:

Design lessons from the Year of the Raven:

Blizzard Logomdonais & chaemirixHS

One important lesson was that new expansions should have a big impact on the meta. We want to see the game continue to evolve over the year because that’s what makes it fun. We helped this by changing some Classic cards so that our new expansions will have a bigger impact, but we will continue pushing new cards that have a bigger impact.

Another lesson we took away from Year of the Raven is that having something to do between expansion releases is important. We are hoping to address this in a variety of ways this year and in the future. One way that we already mentioned is Arena changing every 2 months. Another way is releasing the single-player Adventure a month after the expansion. We’re not done with just that though. (source)

To speak to this from a single player perspective, we learned a ton from the past year of solo adventures.

Monster Hunt gave us some great insight into how we can better tell stories in the Dungeon Run format, and the value of bringing in new unique Heroes. It also taught us a lot about Hero Powers, and just how much a new, strong Hero Power can dictate the pacing and style of the game.

The Puzzle Lab was a departure from standard gameplay, but it paved the way for doing things in Hearthstone that aren’t traditional, while still feeling like Hearthstone. You’ll see some of this idea in the upcoming solo adventure!

Rhastakhan’s Rumble taught us about how big we can go with combat, and the value of player choice and tracking. I’m super glad we were able to react so quickly to community feedback on this. (source)

Plans for this year:

Blizzard LogoIksarHS

We have a bunch of plans for this year that aren't new game modes. Our focus right now is making sure existing game modes feel like they’re fresh and exciting, like our recent update to Arena. The honest answer is that we haven't figured out what the next Hearthstone game mode will be. We talk pretty in-depth about common suggestions like 2v2; we've even spent some time in design and engineering prototyping what that mode might translate to in Hearthstone. That said, it's not something we’re working on today. We have some ambitious ideas for game modes in mind, but they’re still very early on in the design process.

As far as new stuff goes, in 2019 we’re really focusing on improving some of our existing systems while also doing some unique events throughout the expansion timeline to shake up the meta in fun ways. We'll share more information about these events as they get closer to release. (source)

How they treat different mechanics:

Blizzard Logomdonais

I must ask why you prefer to make mechanics that work for only one expansion when you could stretch the idea out to work all year in three? I liked how Treant Druid was spread out and wouldn't have minded that for Freeze Shaman as an attempt.

We do a mix of this. Sometimes a mechanic like Rush and Lifesteal and Discover is kept for years. Sometimes we do it for one expansion. Freeze is a good example because it isn't very fun to have your minions frozen a lot so making that into a Tier 1 deck is pretty dangerous. We have seen this in mage already.

When we have a build-around like treants or elementals or dragons we can launch it and see how it goes, then slowly add cards to increase the power level over the next few years. Dragon Priest is a great example of this because it has been a reasonable deck for years and it changes each year as some of the strong cards leave, and new strong cards show up.

In the future we want to have more decks that rely on cards in two different years so that when rotation happens the deck changes, with some cards leaving and new cards entering the decks. (source)

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