The story behind the cut TGT card.

Nearly everyone in the Hearthstone community is now familiar with the infamous Pirate card that was cut so close to release that it was in the trailer announcing the set but was mysteriously missing upon release. Developers on the game have previously said that it was due to some over-the-top synergy that went away with the introduction of Standard and Wild, and we now know that this card is the new Patches the Pirate! Lead designer, Ben Brode, took some time to talk more about it now that the card is finally in the public eye.

Story time!

Once upon a time this card was 'Dragon Whelp' in Blackrock Mountain. Same cool trigger, but it didn't have Charge, and wasn't Legendary. It meant that the first dragon you played always came with two 1/1 Whelps. The fact that Faerie Dragon is a Dragon (in Hearthstone) made this a little weird for us. We also wanted Dragons to (in general) be high-cost cards (because of the "if you're holding a dragon" trigger, and because we wanted Priest to have the only 1-Cost Dragon), so we booted the card to the next set and made a note to try it as a Legendary minion (so you'd only get a single 1/1.)

I think we briefly considered making it a Murloc, because it fit well with their swarm-like gameplay, but for some reason it felt the most fun as a Pirate. Once we made it Legendary, we tried it as a 2/1 minion, and then eventually it became a 1/1 with Charge.

We had a ton of fun playtesting the card in TGT, but at the last second we decided that in combination with One-Eyed Cheat, the resulting gameplay was not as fun as we would have liked (an un-attackable 4 damage every turn). We made the call to rip it out, but the art on the card was part of the cinematic for The Grand Tournament (Pirates riding paaaarrots!!), so we swapped the art on Skycap'n Kragg with another pirate in the set (the 4/6 Charrrrge Pirate) and cut the offending card.

We still loved the design, though, and it came back in Whispers of the Old Gods as N'Zoth's First Mate. You'll notice it's still a 1-mana 1/1 Flying Pirate, but themed for that expansion. Once again, the design was cut, but I don't remember why this time. We tried it as a warrior-only card during this timeframe as well.

Finally, the card reappeared in the Mean Streets of Gadgetzan as 'Patches the Pirate' with more eyepatches than most pirates have eyes. Again, a flying pirate, exactly the same card text it had before he disappeared from TGT.

I can't wait to experiment with some crazy pirate decks come December!