Plus an inside look at Deathstalker Rexxar's past designs.

The crew over at GamesBeat recently sat down with Principle Game Designer Mike Donais to talk about Knights of the Frozen Throne, Journey to Un'Goro, class balance, and more. There were lots of interesting tidbits that we wanted to share with you so we've highlighted some of the more important points and included a short excerpt where Donais talks about the Undead tribe and Control Hunter.

Back to TopHighlights from the Interview

  • Blizzard has talked about making an Undead tribe many times. Though it won't be in Frozen Throne, it is the one they've discussed the most often.

  • One of the reasons they didn't do this was because Un'Goro just introduced Elementals.

  • Deathstalker Rexxar 's hero power used to be:

    • Summon 5/5 Zombies for each Beast that died this turn.

    • Summon all beasts that died this game.

    • Summon three Beasts from your deck.

    • A spell card. (It was "promoted" to the Hunter hero power)

  • Donais is fine if Deathstalker Rexxar doesn't make Control Hunter a thing, at least people will try.

  • Lifesteal is a "smaller mechanic" like Poisonous from Journey to Un'Goro.

    • Very careful about Neutral cards with this because of Warlock's hero power.

  • Warlock may not instantly recover with this set, Donais describes a slow climb back to power as ideal.

  • Knights of the Frozen Throne will have new Discover cards.

  • The Death Knight heroes are the only returning characters from Hearthstone.

  • There is an Arthas card.

  • There are a "couple of new" Deathrattle minions in Frozen Throne.


Source: GamesBeat

GamesBeat: With this big undead theme, was there any thought of making undead a tribe, like Elementals in the last expansion?

Donais: Yeah, we talked about that a lot. Even for Naxx we talked about doing undead as a new minion type. We decided that it’s not quite worth it. Maybe one day we’ll do that, but we don’t have any plans for it right now. It’s certainly the minion type that has come up the most often. Elementals was the other one that came up a lot. We obviously did that. We did Mechs already. So I can totally see that at some point.

GamesBeat: What are the drawbacks to making it a tribe?

Donais: I don’t think there are too many disadvantages. One of the reasons we didn’t do it is because we had just done Elementals in Un’Goro. Doing two new minion types in a row didn’t really make sense to me.

GamesBeat: What was the goal in designing new hero powers? You talked about class identity. I’m sure designing nine hero powers the first time around was already a pain. Now you have to give each class a new higher-tier one.

Donais: Yeah, it was definitely difficult. That’s what we spent the most time on. We did a lot of iteration. Rexxar changed maybe 10 different times. He did totally different things throughout. Early on, we had him summoning 5/5 zombies for each beast that died this turn. Then we changed that to be summoning all the beasts that died this game, something like a N’Zoth effect for beasts. Then we changed him again to summon three beasts from your deck. We liked those two designs because they’re kind of build-around. You want to play big beasts, but not small beasts, which is different from a lot of hunter decks.

GamesBeat: With the Hunter hero power, the new build-a-beast thing, it’s a kind of late game tool. In Un’Goro, Hunters got Swamp King Dred, which is another control tool, even though Hunter is typically a faster-paced deck. Why focus on giving Hunter these kinds of powers?

Donais: One thing we’ve had a lot of success with is giving people different deck types to explore. Even if people don’t end up succeeding at creating a tier one hunter control deck with this card, it’ll be fun to try it out, see how slow or controlling a hunter deck they can build. Should they put neutral life gain or neutral taunts in, or should they just use a more aggressive board control deck? The Battlecry on Rexxar is pretty good for that. It does two damage to all enemy minions and gives you five armor. That’s fairly defensive, fairly controlling. It might give you enough time to start using the late-game stuff. But I suspect that your mana curve is going to be pretty low in that deck. Once you’re building beasts, you can easily spend all your mana on that every turn. You don’t need to worry about having expensive spells in your deck.