The Hearthstone and Warcraft teams relationships have grown in time.

Polygon is the latest site to get some one on one time with Hearthstone Game Director Ben Brode. It's a lengthy conversation with all of the usual talking points covered including balancing, upcoming content, and the game itself.

  • Brode thinks Gadgetzan has been awesome.

  • He says the meta is "overall...pretty good."

  • He admits that the meta may feel stale to some people because of the prominence of Pirate and Reno decks.

  • Brode likes that new sets destabilize the meta and how over time it becomes more solid.

  • Pirates might be a problem, particularly Small-Time Buccaneer.

  • Blizzard doesn't want to announce any nerfs though because doing so too soon leads to bad feelings for players.

  • Patches the Pirate originally read, "When you play a dragon, summon this whelp."

  • The card kept getting delayed and became a Pirate instead of a Dragon which fit the Gadgetzan theme.

  • The Warcraft and Hearthstone teams now find themselves designing with the other game in mind.

  • Lots of "cool announcements" to make in the near future such as what this year's theme will be. A la Year of the Kraken.

  • The design team is somewhat limited in the number of new keywords that can be in Standard at a time, which is why you see some keywords (Discover) have multiple releases.

  • On the other hand, though, Brode admits Discover is an exception, not the default. Not all keywords will continue to see use.

  • Hearthstone is inherently growing more complex.

  • When asked about potentially releasing smaller sets of cards throughout the year, Brode didn't rule out changes, telling us to wait for upcoming announcements.

  • Blizzard would like to improve the spectator experience, particularly in regards to the opponent's cards being upside-down.

 

Quotes

We've pulled a few notable quotes from Polygon's interview. To read the full thing, check out their site.

On the meta feeling stale to some and the prominence of Pirate and Reno.

We are kind of lukewarm on that. I wish we had a little bit more variety even in the classes, but specifically in how the ones that are being played always play. We’ve mentioned that we are paying attention to what the win rates are for classes, especially the classes that are running the pirate cards like Patches and Small-Time Buccaneer. But also we’re looking at how it feels to see how often they’re played on the ladder and that experience.

 

On the power of Pirates

We’re definitely starting to believe it might be a problem. What we’re looking to see is if the problem is going to get worse or better or stay the same. Depending on how that happens over the next few weeks or months, we will have a better idea of when or how we would make a decision on nerfs, if they would happen. I’m being a little cagey about our response there, because in general we try to plan our nerfs around patches. I don’t think it’s the best experience to announce nerfs too early, if we decide to make them. Then it feels like you have to play a broken game with this card that everyone agrees is broken and Blizzard knows is broken.

 

On collaborating with the Warcraft team.

The designer of that NPC and all those other pets said, “Oh yeah, I put those in there so that if you guys ever wanted to make an upgraded Animal Companion, you now have them. Also, I designed that card, and here’s how my design would work.” [laughs] It’s great. People are designing stuff in World of Warcraft hoping that we’ll make it into Hearthstone cards now.

 

On the potential for smaller card sets throughout the year.

We have some cool ideas on that, but we’re not ready to share the specifics. We will be ready to share that over the next couple months. Stay tuned for some announcements in that direction.