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Chinese Interview with Ben Thompson and Dean Ayala

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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:

Blizzard LogoIksar

Q: In Standard currently, we're lacking big finishers, resulting in players increasingly adding tools that help generate more value. This leads to much longer games, especially for control mirrors. What are your thoughts on this issue?

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".

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Two things:
 

Quote

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.

 

Called it.   Funny they admit it after denying it last interview, but w/e.    Still think it was probably changed because the boom bots decks were too effective with it in testing (they're still pretty strong).

Quote

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 is such a key Warcraft character.

 

...?    Leeroy is a key warcraft character?    He's a meme from a youtube video.    Leeroy Jenkins doesn't actually exist in wow.   Moreover of the two cards Leeroy is the far more abused, he's been behind MANY One Turn Kill combos before, and Rogue's abusing him even now.

Edited by Migol
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Uhm, while you are technically right that Leeroy was a meme from WoW classic days, Blizzard did make him available in game in WoD, you would ressurect and keep him alive throughout your neo-UBRS run until you killed Beast (or, most likely, just ressurect him and speedrun the dungeon until Beast was killed at which point it was probably safe for Leeroy to do his running), he'd get devout shoulders from it somehow and you'd then be able to recruit him as a powerful epic follower!

Was fun 🙂

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I'd like to see Leeroy in HoF.

Just because I have him and I like to receive dust^^

(To be honest, I like every card that is moved to HoF, no matter if I have them. If I have them - free dust. If I do not have them - free card.)

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21 hours ago, Zadina said:

They might change Archivist Elysiana for tournaments only.

Sounds pretty bad to me. One of the key interests in watching tournaments online (or sports on TV for that matter) is that the rules are the same as when you play the game yourself for your own fun. If they start making different rules for tournaments, they will confuse and possibly lose the audience by creating a distance. If they think Elysiana is wrong for whatever reason, they should fix it for everybody. It will also be much better for tournament contenders, as I can't see how they would prepare their decks if they can't play them with the same rules that will apply during the tournaments.

22 hours ago, Zadina said:

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.

There are a lot more minions with charge (plus 2 spells). Why focus on Boar and Leeroy Jenkins? Unleash the Hounds, Tundra Rhino, King KrushKor'kron Elite and Grommash Hellscream see significant play too, not to mention neutral minions Southsea Deckhand and Bluegill Warrior (although I'm aware that Leeroy Jenkins is the most popular of all by a fair margin). If they think charge is bad, they should remove the keyword and all related cards completely. If charge is OK then Stonetusk Boar is one of the weakest charge minions in the game, so moving it to Hall of Fame and keeping the rest is fully nonsensical. Plus Stonetusk Boar belongs to the WoW universe too, so their reasoning doesn't hold. If anything would need tweaking, that would be Leeroy Jenkins in my opinion. And they should only consider the game mechanics to make such decisions. Lore is a nice addition to a card game, but it only works on top of working mechanics.

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I still don't understand, and I think I'll never do, why charge isn't good for the game, while burn is. Why a combo deck based on spell should be fair, while a combo deck based on charge is not?

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6 hours ago, Synesthesy said:

I still don't understand, and I think I'll never do, why charge isn't good for the game, while burn is. Why a combo deck based on spell should be fair, while a combo deck based on charge is not?

Hearthstone has always privileged minion interactions while leaving spells mostly as "fire & forget" cards. In a vacuum, there are indeed not many differences between This Guy and Generic Removal; both are in the end 6 damage to a target. The difference is that the game is build so that it is way more easier to assemble a combo that is much larger than the sum of its parts with Leeroy than with Fireball. Hence, more Fireballs, less Leeroys.

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7 hours ago, Synesthesy said:

I still don't understand, and I think I'll never do, why charge isn't good for the game, while burn is. Why a combo deck based on spell should be fair, while a combo deck based on charge is not?

And there are tools against charge. Taunt.

Against spells there is nothing. (Well, apart from Counterspell which is only avaiable to mage)

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13 hours ago, Keizoku said:

Hearthstone has always privileged minion interactions while leaving spells mostly as "fire & forget" cards. In a vacuum, there are indeed not many differences between This Guy and Generic Removal; both are in the end 6 damage to a target. The difference is that the game is build so that it is way more easier to assemble a combo that is much larger than the sum of its parts with Leeroy than with Fireball. Hence, more Fireballs, less Leeroys. 

Well, you can't deal infinite damage with Leeroy, while you can with Fireball (and a 5 cards combo). Most of the OTK I can think about, are based on spell and spell damage and not on charge minions. Malygos rogue, Malygos Druid, mind blast priest, exodia mage, old freeze mage, ... Charge based OTK are lots less, I now remember a combo in warlock that wasn't a true OTK because it was capped at 28, old combo warrior with that windfury worgen, and the patron of old and the force of nature druid of old, both I never played. But if you see, the second decks have all been nerfed, while the first are almost all alive, at least in wild. Why?

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8 hours ago, Synesthesy said:

Most of the OTK I can think about, are based on spell and spell damage and not on charge minions.

 That's because you consider them all to be different decks, but they're not really: ultimately there are only two pure spells 'OTK' archetypes:

- Archmage Antonidas, which centers on generating way too much fireballs and is mage-exclusive.

- Spell damage, using either Malygos or Prophet Velen (or both) and blasting face with a couple cheap but grossly boosted spells; which is/has been available to most classes at one point in the game. Conceptually it doesn't really matter whether the deck cheats out the spell damage out for cheap or finds a way to have it stick to the board, the end result is exactly the same.

By the same token, there are only two big minion-based 'OTK' deck archetypes:

- Overboost one single minion to ungodly levels: Inner FireDivine Spirit combo has been a staple of priest's gameplay since the beginning of the game: usually it uses one big sticky minion but as Dog demonstrated with his Topsy Turvy Madness, even Stonetusk Boar can work. The old Warrior Worgen falls under this one as well.

- Minion multiplication shenanigans: this is where most charge OTK's fall under: Patrons, FoN, Doomguard Cubelock, etc... Druid's much maligned Aviana-Kun combo enabler falls under this as well. Again, those are but variations of the same concept of getting so much on the board it overwhelms your opponent, and you don't especially need charge here either.

Lastly, some more food for thought: Blizzard has the habit to nerf/HoF to Wild enablers for such 'fun' decks. If spell-based OTK's ever become a problem it's Malygos and Antonidas who are on the chopping block, not the damage spells themselves.

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