We actually had a little bit of snowfall in my area this past week! It's not all that common here anymore sadly, and it very quickly turned to slush, but it was nice to enjoy it while it was there. Sometimes slowing down and appreciating the little things like that really helps me get in a creative mood; I was just itching to design some wintry cards afterwards.
This time our Conversation will look at some really wild things!
You're In Fire!
Let's start off by congratulating the winner of the latest WCDC, Sothis and their Burning Radiance!
They're ideas will shape next week's competition, so look forward to that!
Into The Wild
The latest Fan Community Spotlight took a look at a popular setting idea for future expansions in Woop's "Stroll into the Wild West". As the name implies you can expect to find a lot of your typical western tropes here, along with some more interesting but no less relevant ideas.
Cards like Booze Alemental or Wasteland's Wispers are very evocative of the overall theme of the expansion, but still feel both appropriately Hearthstone-related and not too far out there mechanically. With different flavour these could easily make their way into any set, but slot perfectly here as well. I'm a big fan of the return of a Wisp-related card in Druid, for example.
Equally, attention was paid to making sure that things that didn't feel appropriately Hearthstone-related were cut or reworked, even if they were highly flavourful in the context of the set. The clearest example of this is a cut card Woop showed off in the interview - Quick Reload. This card, which uses the new Chamber mechanic (explained more in the full interview), makes perfect sense in a Wild West set, and the card effect has a decent amount of precedence in Paladin.
When you try to marry those two ideas, however, you run into this interesting clash of fantasies - does it make sense for a Paladin to be wielding a gun? In some version of the Wild West, perhaps, but not in a Hearthstone version; guns are more likely to be found in the hands of Hunters in Hearthstone, with Rogues and Warriors having the potential for it as well. Recognising something like this and changing your plans is something that can be hard to do at first, especially when a card looks on the surface as good as this one does, but it's a good skill to have.
Check out the link above for the full interview and a link to the full set!
Into the Wilder
Something that's been on my mind lately is the idea of cards designed specifically for Wild Hearthstone.
Now, in any normal Hearthstone set there are arguably cards that are 'designed for Wild' - cards which have little to no obvious synergies or applications in Standard, but may be a valuable tech card or combo piece for Wild decks. Sometimes it can just be that a card is so powerfully synergistic that even if good in Standard it really shines in Wild (sometimes to the point of needing kept in check).
What I'm talking about though is something which is designed from the ground up with the idea that it will only be played in Wild. These cards would never touch Standard, and would jump straight to the more powerful playground of the eternal format. How do you design differently? What rules do you constrain yourself to?
A game like MtG has had full sets that are examples of this, skipping Standard completely and only able to be played in Commander, Legacy and Vintage - more recently there was even a set that went straight to Modern, the first of its kind. There are many lessons to be learned from these sets if you ever feel like designing a 'straight-to-Wild' Hearthstone expansion or mini-set, but I'm going to highlight a couple here.
Firstly, you should take full advantage of the fact that more enfranchised players are the primary demographic for this hypothetical set. Where there are many good reasons not to drop random old keywords into Standard expansions, a Wild expansion could embrace them, giving us new twists on mechanics as a sort of staging ground for potential future ideas. We actually saw something similar to this with the Galakrond's Awakening adventure cards - while they only used mechanics from the last year, they were still callbacks to previous sets all bundled together, none of them a main focus but all present.
A perfect mish-mash of the Year of the Dragon, all in one set!
Similarly, you shouldn't be afraid to push the complexity of cards going straight to Wild. Wild players will generally have a better understanding of the game, and putting weirder cards or ones with more complex interactions in a Wild only set is a perfect way of deepening the game without potentially overwhelming or complicating Standard too much. Not that Standard shouldn't have any complexity, of course, but you could get real creative mixing and matching keywords and ideas for Wild.
Having said that, the next lesson is not to get tricked into thinking that because this is Wild you can go crazy with the powerlevel. Yes, in general Wild has a higher powerlevel than Standard due to the sheer number of available cards and all their interactions, but you can still break that by pushing too hard.
The distant screams of eternal formats echo in your mind...
Have fun, get creative, but don't go overboard just because you think Wild will be able to handle it. Of course, as a fan creator your overpowered design won't actually affect anything anyway, so if you really feel like it, may as well go nuts. A note for those dedicated to realism in their designs.
I might make my next project a Wild only set, if only to see what I end up thinking that means. I'm sure many people would have different interpretations of how to go about it, so why not give it a shot yourself?
Our final note is of course your notice that the next WCDC is up! You've only got one shot for this one, so click the banner and make it count!