Lead Designer Ben Brode is down in Australia promoting One Night In Karazhan. As part of that he's doing a Q&A session over on the Australia & New Zealand Twitter account for Blizzard. We're gathering all of them here in this post for easy consumption!

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Back to TopHighlights

  • "This is our first year, we're still trying to figure some stuff out. I think it's possible that we'll either nerf or remove more cards from Classic in the future...if we feel like the Standard format isn't changing as much as we feel it needs to."
  • No Hearthstone API on the way.
  • "We actually want to position Priest as the master of healing..."
  • Arch-Thief Rafaam is only in the Karazhan cinematic as a reference to past releases, he won't be in the adventure.
  • On Arena Balance: "We already struggle with Arena balance. I don't think the solution though is to never make strong commons for Mage or Rogue...We've been looking into some other technology, maybe rewriting some of the ways that Arena works. So that we could control the drop rate of individual cards..."
  • "We're definitely releasing some cards that I think could have an impact on Priest."
  • Yes, you can use the Medivh skin in the Karazhan adventure. "It's a little bit weird...but give it a shot! I think you'll be surprised at what happens.

Back to TopHow do you develop new expansion themes?

"You ask about how to come up with a new expansion and here's how it works: We all get in an office together and we get a big whiteboard and someone from the team stands up and writes down any idea that gets shouted out in the meeting. We have a column for flavor ideas like Karazhan and we have a column for mechanical themes like maybe something to do with your hero power, like for The Grand Tournament. We just make a giant list and then at the end of the meeting, everyone gets up and puts a couple of dots near their favorite ideas. Then we have a series of meetings where we narrow things down. Sometimes an idea just catches fire and we all get really excited for it. It's actually what happened with One Night In Karazhan so we're super excited for the new adventure, hope you like it too."

Back to TopWhat's your favorite card back?

"My favorite card back up until recently was the Legacy of the Void card back. If you're playing on a mobile device or an iPad, you can tilt your device and see different stars as you rotate around the card back. But I actually really love the new disco card back for One Night In Karazhan, I'm really excited about that."

Back to TopWill Classic always remain in Standard?

"So we just went through our first set rotation and the idea, of course, is that Basic and Classic sets will remain evergreen and always part of the Standard format. I think that there are some risks there with that because having cards that are always part of the format means that they're kind of counter to the idea of Standard which is that it changes all the time. So this is our first year, we're still trying to figure some stuff out. I think it's possible that we'll either nerf or remove more cards from Classic in the future - I'm not sure what those would be or when we would do that - but if we feel like the Standard format isn't changing as much as we feel like it needs to, we might take some more steps in that way."

Back to TopIs there a Hearthstone API in development?

"I think an API for Hearthstone would be really cool. We aren't currently planning on that kind of feature, but we have talked about it in the past and I think it would be awesome when we get around to doing it."

Back to TopWill we see the Foe Reaper 4000 effect return at some point?

"I really like the Foe Reaper effect. In fact, I really like a lot of the effects that affect combat. So any kind of card text that makes you do your math differently or choose your attack differently. I'm a big fan of those effects. So I certainly think we could see that type of effect more in the future and also we're looking for other new mechanics that effect combat in fun and interesting ways."

Back to TopOn Paladin's healing ability over Priest's

"While Paladin has a lot of healing effects, we actually want to position Priest as the master of healing. So its hero power can heal and that gives it an opportunity to have a lot of those trigger on heal effects because you know you'll always have access to a heal effect of some kind. So I think we'd like to maintain some things that are unique about each class. And for Priest one of the things that is unique is that they have lots of effects based on healing. I don't think that spreading that around to multiple classes would be good for the game. I think you need some class identity...right now that's one of Priest's things."

Back to TopIs Rafaam actually connected to Karazhan?

"In the last few adventure cinematics we've tried to reference our previous cinematics. You can actually find Elise Starseeker in the Whispers of the Old Gods cinematic and one of the gnomes from the Goblins vs Gnomes cinamatic, made it into that one as well. So we like to kind of bring some of those characters back and you might see them in other cinematics in the future. In this case that's all this is - Rafaam is stealing a book from Medivh. It's the kind of thing he would do, he's the Supreme Archaeologist, so you might see him again in the future stealing things from other cinematics."

Back to TopBrode discusses Firelands Portal and arena balance

"I've heard a lot of the feedback about Firelands Portal on how Mages are already strong in the Arena, do they really need another strong common? Actually I think this brings up a much bigger problem in Hearthstone, which is Arena balance in general. We already struggle with Arena balance. I don't think the solution though is to never make strong commons for Mage or Rogue and also only make strong non-situational cards for classes that are weaker in the Arena like Priest or Warrior has been.

So it's a tough problem though. But I do think it is a problem. Arena balance hasn't been great and we do need to fix it. The question is - is that the way, is that the way to fix the problem in the Arena? I'm not sure.

We've been looking into some other technology, maybe rewriting some of the ways that Arena works so that we could control the drop rate of individual cards. Potentially in a way that doesn't effect our ability to design those strong commons for all the classes. And I think that that might be a better direction to go in. [We're] also looking at other radical changes.

I think we do need to solve the problem, I just don't think that constraining our design in that way makes the most sense."

Back to TopBrode's favorite producer on Team 5? Not Yong Woo apparently.

Back to TopOn Priest's viability after Karazhan

"The thing about Priests, I guess the thing about all decks in general is that you don't play them in a vacuum. You have to play them against somebody else's deck. So your deck is good or bad depending on what other decks people are playing. And after One Night In Karazhan comes out the meta is going to explode.

It's hard to tell what new decks people will be playing. Priest and different Priest decks might be good or bad against the new metagame. And so we'll have to find out. We're definitely releasing some cards I think could have an impact on Priest. I think the card Book Wyrm that we announced recently could be an exciting tool for Dragon Priests and we have some more Priest cards to unveil soon as well. But it all depends on what the meta shakes out to be and I'm looking forward to what happens with the release of the new adventure."

Back to TopCan we use the Medivh skin in the Karazhan adventure?

"You will definitely be able to use the Medivh hero skin for missions where you will choose your hero - some of them you will be given a hero. But yeah, you can use the Medivh hero skin. It's a little bit weird obviously because the timelines are a little bizarre, but give it a shot, I think you'll be surprised what happens."

Back to TopWhy make Karazhan a party?

"Actually we considered doing Karazhan back when we were thinking about our first adventures. Almost Karazhan, but we went with Curse of Naxxramas instead. And we love Karazhan, it's always been one of our favorite raids, we all have fond memories of playing through it.

We were just coming off of Whispers of the Old Gods and we were thinking, 'Okay, do we really want to do another spooky translation?'

I think we're finally starting to hit our stride on the Hearthstone team in that we're understanding a little bit more about what is Hearthstone [and] what is not Hearthstone? And we've often - even though we've explored some pretty scary places - we've done it a fun way. Kel'Thuzad was a really hilarious character, I think. Whispers of the Old Gods was not dark and scary entirely, it was also fun and lighthearted as well.

That fun and lighthearted twist on things is kind of our thing now. And so when we had the idea to do Karazhan, but from lighthearted and enchanted, fun tower where things are going a little haywire - you have to get through some enchanted objects. That really hit us. And then once we had the idea that Medivh was throwing a party there and you have to save Medivh's party, the whole thing just took off and we were so excited about it.

[We were] also really excited to explore Karazhan in a different time than anyone else has explored it: back in it's prime. This is a place that has an opera house, that has a banquet hall, and we wondered what it would have been like when [there were] actual parties happening there. We couldn't wait. And that's why we ended up going in that direction."