Have a question about Hearthstone? Ask Ben Brode!

Game Director Ben Brode will be hosting an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session on Reddit today the Hearthstone Twitter account has announced.

Update: The thread will be on /r/iama not /r/hearthstone so the questions may not be as specific as they would be otherwise. Here is a link to the thread if you want to ask questions.

We'll be highlighting all of the major questions and answers on this post when the session starts. Stay tuned!

Highlights

  • Brode wants to make Handlock a thing again, but un-nerfing Molten Giant might make the deck too strong in Wild if they ever make more Handlock cards in the future.

  • Blizzard has considered bringing cards back to Standard from Wild for a limited amount of time.

  • Each class will be receiving two legendaries in Knights of the Frozen Throne.

  • Major goals for the Ranked Ladder rework:

    • Reduce the monthly grind for top-level players; increase progression for bottom 25% of players; get better matchmaking.

    • Brode hopes he'll have something to share later this year.

    • A separate task of bettering the new player experience.

  • Ice Block "matches our red flags for cards that maybe shouldn't be in Standard forever."

  • Blizzard "will eventually" make a new Druid and Warlock hero skin.

    • There are plans to add a woman hero skin.

  • Brode wants to give players more personal stats but isn't a fan of profile pages.

  • Is Hearthstone too expensive for an average player? Brode doesn't think so, but Blizzard is "listening to community feedback here."

  • Blizzard is not considering reducing the crafting cost of Wild cards.

  • Charge is easily Hearthstone's biggest balance problem, Blizzard might just keep nerfing them over time.

  • In Brode's opinion, Stonetusk Boar is the one card that limits design space the most.

  • It doesn't sound like new classes will be coming to Hearthstone anytime soon. Brode notes that the team already has to find more unique things for Warlock to do.

  • Arena rewards will be changed somehow in an upcoming patch.

  • Blizzard is "nearly done" with design on the last set releasing this year, working on the first set of next year, and brainstorming ideas for the second set of 2018.

Recap

What is your favorite Hearthstone meme?

Who doesn't love memes? I'm actually working on a "meme review video" of my favorite memes. If I have to choose, I have a special fondness for 4 mana 7/7.

 

What's the reason for announcing an expansion and not revealing new cards in the following weeks only to dump ~40 cards a few days before the expansion is released instead of having a steady stream of reveals?

We used to do a steady stream of new reveals of about 1 card a day, and it kinda dragged. The feedback we were getting was that hype was slowing down as we got closer to the expansion, and i think that's the wrong direction. Un'Goro had a dip in excitement, but ramped way up towards the release and used a similar strategy. Un'Goro felt awesome - let's see how this one goes!

In the past you mentioned cards that have been previously nerfed might be un-nerfed and moved into the Hall of Fame in the next standard rotation, what is your/Blizzard's current stance on these cards, specifically Molten Giant? #HoFMolten2018

I'm a little torn. I think there are pros and cons. The potential downside I'm most worried about is our ability to make Handlock really insane in Standard going forward with new cards, without pushing it into insanity in Wild. We'd like to make Handlock a thing again - and we can do that in Wild by moving the card that and buffing it, or by making new cards in Standard that are good in both formats. This doesn't mean we won't move/buff it, it's just something we're thinking about.

Has the team ever considered creating a set of free cards that rotates weekly? These cards would be usable in casual and maybe have a crafting discount.

Yeah, but I think there's some complexity there. There are goals you are trying to solve with that suggestion - we are looking at other options that I think hit the similar goals that are maybe a little less complex.

Has the team thought about releasing a few (1-3) cards each month to help keep the game fresh in-between sets? This would provide Blizzard with the opportunity to print hate cards like Golakka Crawler or Eater of Secret earlier or to support decks that did not pan out as you guys had hoped and could serve as "balance patches" in less severe situations.

Yes, we've considered that, limited-time cards that come back from Wild into standard for a while, and other crazy ideas to mix up the meta in between sets. I think it's one of Hearthstone's biggest opportunities. We took a stab at it recently with increasing the total number of cards each year. There are obviously downsides to that, and I think a lot of the ideas we've seen so far to tackle this problem have their own unique downsides. I don't think there's a silver bullet here, but we're trying some crazy things internally, like - what if we change the ladder format for the last month of a set? We tried "block constructed" and it wasn't as fun as we hoped, but maybe there's other formats that mix the game up in crazy ways that are really fun?

Can you confirm that each class will have a hero card and a legendary minion in Knights of the Frozen Throne?

Confirmed.

In the previous live stream you mentioned that a new ladder experience was in the works, can you share any progress on that?

We have a design that we are excited to try. I'm not sure it will be perfect out of the gate, but hopefully players will help us iterate into a great place. I wonder if just mixing it up is the right answer - like doing a new ladder format every 5 or so years. Once we know how long the feature will take to implement, we will start building it. There's a lot of iteration in that process, and once we start honing in on our final implementation, we'll communicate more about what we're planning. Our major goals here are: reduce the monthly grind for top-level players; increase progression for bottom 25% of players; get better match-making. We have another goal for improving the new player ranked experience - that's a separate change that's coming later.

What's your favourite card in the game?

Lord Jaraxxus!

What are the odds of Hearthstone coming to console?

If our players are playing a lot on console, it's the type of thing we'd consider. Right now it's pretty easy to whip out your phone or tablet anywhere - so it's not currently something we're considering.

Rotate Ice Block when?

We wouldn't be doing Wild Rotations out side of Hearthstone New Year. It's definitely a card that matches our red flags for cards that maybe shouldn't be in Standard forever. That doesn't mean we don't want combo decks or freeze mage - it's just that we want things to change each year!

When's the collab with Dre?

PLEASE IF YOU KNOW DRE, TELL HIM TO CALL ME

 

Will the collection manager get more attention?

Yeah - We recently added way more powerful search functionality (i personally love searching for 'extra'), and deck copying/exporting. We'll continue to add features and refine current ones.

 

Can you give us an update on hero skins?

We will eventually make a new Druid and Warlock hero. :) I can't spoil how we plan on making them available just yet.

Regarding Tyrande - our goal was to find alternate ways for regions that were not eligible for the offer to get access to Tyrande and we've been working with our regional offices to make that happen. We've already done it in many regions - seems like we haven't hit yours yet and I'll follow up on that.

Are you planning on making more stats available to players? Like a profile page?

Yes. I don't really like "profile" pages, but I want to do this in a different way. Hopefully more details later this year. Although, I'm not sure it will be handled the same in every region.

 

What's the biggest challenge [about the Ranked Ladder rework]?

The biggest challenging is making those things better without losing what we like about our current system. Our current system is SUPER clear about what you need to do to rank up, and I think that's upside. I'm pretty confident we can do both here, though.

Any idea when you'll have news to share about this?

We have a design we are excited to try out, once we know how it changes through implementation, we are going to announce the details. Hoping for later this year.

 

What is the official end date for the Midsummer Fire Festival?

You know, I'm not sure. I kind of feel like Ragnaros has got a big head about the whole thing. Someone needs to take him down a peg. Like, c'mon, chill out, man.

[Ed. note: Brode is hinting at Ahune's Frost Festival which will reward free Arena wins and Frozen Throne card packs]

 

Do you have any plans for improving the spectating experience?

Yes. This is definitely a place we have a lot of room for improvement.

 

Is Hearthstone too expensive for the average player?

We are definitely seeing players compete at high levels without spending any money at all. If you want literally every card in the game, that's tougher to do, but we are listening to community feedback here. We recently made pretty big changes to the way our Legendary drops work in packs, and are giving everyone a free Legendary Death Knight Hero with the new set. There will also be a lot of opportunities to earn packs of the new set, through some upcoming events and through the single player missions that will be free with the new set.

 

Every other race has a legendary card except Totem. Can we have one?

This is a gross oversight on our part. I will see what I can do.

 

Would you consider reducing the crafting cost of Wild cards?

There is already a perception that your cards reduce in value over time because you can't use them in Standard. I think that's not a healthy perception for the game - and this kind of change would exasperate the problem. We are going to bring back Wild cards for sale, which should make Wild more accessible.

 

Have you considered changing core values of the game? (Deck size, Health, etc)

Deck size is the one we've discussed. But we aren't currently considering any changes. Game length has remained remarkably consistent over every meta, and it feels pretty good (about 7.5 minutes on average).

 

Do you have plans to add another woman hero skin?

Yes!

 

How do you feel about Charge as a keyword?

Charge sometimes is great. I love the Hogriders, and I love the Charged Devilsaur. Charge makes you feel powerful, and that's important.

But you're right, it's been our biggest balance challenge. I'm not sure what the future of Charge will be. We might just keep nerfing Charge cards over time.

 

In your opinion, which card is most guilty at limiting future card mechanics?

Stonetusk Boar

Donais just walked by and I asked him this question - He said "Boar, but also Prep, Innervate, and Malygos."

 

What is the team's current stance on additional, full classes?

A class needs unique "space" - i.e. things they can do that nobody else can do. Only Paladins get Divine Shield, or "setting Attack/Health", or 1-mana Secrets. Mages are the best at AoE and Blasty single-target spells.

I think we are already having trouble carving out awesome space for 9 classes. I want us to find more unique things for Warlock to do, for example. I think adding a 10th class makes this problem much more difficult, as we could be using that space to make our core 9 classes more fun.

Also, you would be less likely to open cards of your favorite class in card packs, the more that we have in the game.

Something I often think about - what is the 'perfect' number of classes? What would be too many? Is 15 too many? How about 50? I kind of think the number even be less than 9, except that we have some important fantasy considerations.

Are Death Knights, Monks, and Demon Hunters ever going to be able to represent themselves in Hearthstone?

I'm actually super excited about the way Death Knights are coming to Hearthstone! Making a Death Knight starting hero means making an ultra simple Hero Power.... but now we've been able to create much crazier hero powers.... and we've made NINE different Death Knights. I'm super pumped.

 

What's the takeaway from Un'Goro?

One of the biggest things that helped was the rotation. I think adding the Hall of Fame and hitting those 6 cards allowed us to see the "freshest" meta yet. This is a bit more of a challenge for the last set of the year. I think if anything, we could have gone lighter mechanically, and saved some of our new mechanics for set 3 of the Year of the Mammoth.

But I think the team did an awesome job on the set, yeah. Dinosaurs!

 

Are Arena rewards still being looked at?

Yes, we are planning on making a change in an upcoming patch. Details to come.

 

Does having the same game on desktop and mobile limit you at all?

I don't feel like we have basically ever been restricted on cool new features due to the parity we shoot for between platforms. We have wildly talented UI Designers who are up for the challenge.

 

Why do the hero cards replace your hero rather than transform (a la Shadowform)?

Hero cards are a new thing that replaces your hero, not transforms them. It's a bit weird because these 9 hero cards feel like a transformation, but it's possible to turn from Anduin -> Jaraxxus -> Deathstalker Rexxar -> Jaina DK Hero -> Uther DK Hero, for example. (assuming you do some weird thoughtsteal shenanigans.) I think seeing the art of the hero helps you understand what's going on in the game, and what Hero Power your opponent is going to be using from now on. If you play Deathstalker Rexxar as Jaina and then it looks like Jaina still but with the Rexxar power... I dunno, that seems very weird to me.

 

How far in advance are sets made?

We are nearly done with design on set 3 of the year of the mammoth. We are hard at work on the first set of next year, and are brainstorming ideas for the second set of 2018.

 

Original Announcements

Hey there! In case you're new around these parts, my name is Ben Brode, and I'm the Game Director on Hearthstone.

I'm responsible for the overall design of the game, as part of a team of badass folks. I started at Blizzard in 2003, and started working on Hearthstone in 2008. Nowadays I spend most of my times in meetings, talking about the sick designs that our talented team comes up with. I tend to stay pretty active here on Reddit and on Twitter (@bdbrode), but I am excited to solicit questions directly – Reddit /AMA’s format is super cool. Having a dialog with the Hearthstone community is very important to me and the development team, and this is one of the easiest ways to facilitate that. I think Hearthstone is at its best when we work together to improve the game. Let's chat!

 

Join @bdbrode for a Hearthstone #AMA on Reddit today! AMA starts at 3pm PDT, we start taking questions at 2:30pm PDT. Stay tuned for link!