Cool Hearthstone Dad strikes again! Dean Ayala ran another community Q&A this evening, answering questions for a little over an hour. Below you will find our recap of his responses and the full transcript from which our recap was derived.

We aren't going to be covering stuff from previous Q&As if he answers questions again, so take a look at the past Q&As if you're interested.

Basic & Classic Rework

  • New cards will be added to the set.
  • Old cards will be making a return.
  • Some older cards are being rebalanced.
  • Barnes is not coming back.
  • Naga Sea Witch is not coming back.

Craftable Hero Portraits

Everything here is not at all confirmed to be coming to Hearthstone.

  • The team has been brainstorming UI and the engineering to let players craft Hero Portraits.
  • Heroes would probably need to have an exclusivity window before they become craftable.
  • There are a lot of previous heroes, which would give people lots of stuff to spend their currency on.

The Next Set

  • If it is ready for March, they will probably release it then.

This is very interesting because historically, the first expansion launches in April of the calendar year. It seems that the earlier that usual release of Madness of the Darkmoon Faire might have influenced this.

Dean does want to point out though that there is no hard date yet for the expansion and that work from home has been tough.


  • The idea of 2v2 has been brainstormed at least three times.
  • The biggest problems to solve are UI and the flow of the game.
  • Dean still thinks it's something that could happen in the future.


  • Only current achievements reward experience so you don't feel like you must go back and hunt older achievements down.


  • Juicy Psychmelon and Glide are probably the most recent examples of cards we knew were relatively weak to medium power level pre-release.
  • Jade Druid was also a mostly middling deck that saw much more outcry for power level violation than was actually true.
  • It is only a matter of time until they print a 0 mana 1/1 Pirate.
  • Alternate art is something they have considered and will "probably do it in some limited capacity".
  • If they start doing alt art, they will take it slow so it doesn't detract from visual muscle memory.
  • Dean thinks they are at their limit for evergreen keywords.
  • If they add a new evergreen keyword, they are likely to get rid of another one.
  • Hero Cards will make a return. Still need some breathing room.
  • Warlock getting a new hero power is not likely. They considered it sometime around Karazhan.
  • "Generally we are moving away from having too many resources in one card."

Rewards Track

  • Dean was a bit surprised by the initial distaste.
  • Dean thinks that even in the initial system, most players would find they were earning more. It just didn't apply to all cases.
  • Dev Lesson: Clarity is important. Having limited understanding of the system makes it hard to see the full picture.
  • If it could be redone, Dean isn't 100% certain XP for playing was the right call. More complicated, questionable upside.
  • More improvements will come with the next expansion.
  • Any changes in the future will be positive and have no room for misinterpretation.
  • The blame is 100% on Blizzard. Players shouldn't need to load up Excel.


  • Blizzard received a letter about a dog-themed expansion. Cora wants more doggos too. Yespls.

Full Transcript of February 3 Q&A

Quote From Dean Ayala

What prompted you to start doing AMAs? Are you happy with how they've been going?

I think I'd have done things like this sooner had my position been different. I have a wide enough range of work that I feel a lot more comfortable speaking on behalf of the team than I used to. (Source)

In terms of how they are going, I think every week might be too much. When a lot of the same information is poured over every week it makes you less likely to click on the recap. Ideally there is some piece of info that is worthwhile no matter who you are. (Source)

Twitter is convenient for me, but not everyone. It's also pretty hard to sift through questions. There is probably a better platform, but I'm content for now. Might move to bi-weekly. (Source)

What is the reason for the current XP gameplay achievements from the Darkmoon Faire going away? Does it affect the next expansion? Is there any talk on keeping them as they are in the future?

Before we get into why, there is always some total amount of rewards we target to give. When we don't give something somewhere, we give it somewhere else. We do we give something somewhere, it's less we give away elsewhere. (Source)

That said, we didn't like the potential behavior of what it would be like to come into an expansion, want to level up, then think that you have to complete all these old achievements in order to level up optimally. (Source)

So we opted to make rewards go away expansion to expansion so that if you weren't really an achievement hunter but really wanted XP you would only ever have to do the current stuff. (Source)

Can you leak anything about the upcoming basic/classic redo?

There will be some new cards, some old cards, some rebalanced cards. We decided not to bring back barnes tho (Source)

Could you tell me one fan favorite old card that did make it back into the set?

no spoilers (Source)

Let’s meet in the middle, one spoiler

okay naga sea witch is also not coming back (Source)

Has there been any consideration to making the coin a unique thing instead of a "spell" (i.e. to disable proc'ing Spellburst, Auctioneer, etc).?

Looks and plays like a spell, I think is most intuitive that it would be. Argument not to is that there is some balance concern with it though historically going 2nd is a lot worse for you already. (Source)

Dog themed Hearthstone expansion when?

I don't know if you know the story about this but we actually received a letter from a young fan at some point about how much they loved dogs and how great it would be to have a dog expansion. (Source)

they ended their letter with something like 'I look forward to seeing more dog and dog-related cards' which then became a meme for many years until it was forgotten (Source)

1. How is it do design to both a casual and a competitive player base?
2. How is it working with former competitive players?
3. I know players have been wrong a lot when it comes to power level / asking for nerfs, but what was the most wrong that comes to your mind?

1. Difficult but necessary for all games that have large bases. Have to remain focused on building options for players rather then forcing them down a path. If you create a great competitive feature, those players will find it and engage with it. (Source)

If you place it at the forefront of your game and force everyone through it, those that aren't competitive might have to engage in something that makes them not want to play anymore. (Source)

Having quests in Hearthstone to go play single player content or BG is an example of this I think about. If a player doesn't like that content but we say hey here is a reward you better do it…. it toes the line. (Source)

2. We hire designers not players. Their background helps them have a unique perspective but the reason all of our former players were hired is because they displayed high potential for game design. (Source)

3. hmmmm

Psychmelon and Glide are probably the most recent examples of cards we knew were relatively weak to medium power level pre-release.

Jade Druid was also a mostly middling deck that saw much more outcry for power level violation than was actually true. (Source)

I think a lot of players are realizing now that the new rewards system is actually more generous than reddit would have had you believe 3 months ago. What are your thoughts on that whole saga in retrospect (I'm sure you have internal data on gold balances)?

I was pretty surprised by the initial outpouring of distaste for the system. Even in it's launched form I think most players would find they were earning more, it just wasn't 100% of all theoretical cases and it was a minor amount more. (Source)

I learned that clarity matters a lot when it comes to rewards, especially if players have felt burned by the system in the past. Unless it's easy for someone with limited understanding to know that your new system is better, they probably won't see it that way. (Source)

Thinking that we were just going to hold back a bunch of rewards to give away later in events or through other fashions gave us flexibility to learn about how people engaged, but I think we were blindsided about how much that flexibility was going to cost us. (Source)

As the person responsible for a lot of that decision making, it's mostly on me. It's a shame because I think that players and dev in this case were mostly aligned on what felt like a rewarding amount of stuff. (Source)

So some issues in execution, some in communication. If I could redo from scratch I'm not 100% sure doing XP for playing was the right call. Makes the system much more complicated with questionable upside. (Source)

We're in a reasonable place now though. Still going to improve in next expansion. You can be sure it's going to be extra clear that whatever changes we make are positive with little to no room for misinterpretation. (Source)

Sounds a lot like I'm blaming players for not getting it, but it really is on us. Players shouldn't have to break out their excel sheets to understand something. It should just be clear right away. (Source)

What was it like transitioning from QA(?) to a designer role? Was it a difficult transition, and were there any new skills you had to pick up in order to fit better in your new role? Eyes

I think you'll find that most designers hired 10 years ago were in some right place, right time situation. These days people actually go to school for it! (Source)

I had applied to game design roles on WoW and happened to be the #1 ranked NA Hearthstone player when Mike Donais needed a playtest partner because he was literally the only person in final design at the time. (Source)

also is there any particular reason for the kermit gifs or is that just your Theme now

kermit is relatable to me, just sort of trying to hold it together with all these crazy people doing weird shit around him (Source)

How many people do you have on your friends list

1-2 less than whatever the maximum is because I always have to delete someone when i add (Source)

I am old and have worked at blizzard for almost a decade though so thats cheating (Source)

When will we have the 0 mana 1/1 pirate?

only a matter of time…. (Source)

The Jaina card and Sylvanas portrait from the Anduin Book of Heroes have amazing art, any chance we ever see them or some of the other solo adventure portraits as purchasable alt heroes?

we've been doing some brainstorming around what UI and Engineering cost would be to make craftable hero portraits a thing (Source)

there would probably be some exclusivity window to what they are a part of then they'd become craftable. This is tbd for now but I think players would like it and I'm all for finding ways for players to spend their currency. (Source)

If a player is hoarding currency is generally means the decision around buying something is too difficult or there is nothing compelling to buy. Both make me :( (Source)

So more things to use your stuff on can be upside there, we have lots of cardbacks and portraits so sounded like a good thing to explore (Source)

Will shaman get more murloc love? Was supposed to be a class strength, but seems to have gone to pally. Also how much do you hate the class strength/ weakness list? Thoughts on putting out a statement that it's dead?

Ha, class strengths and weaknesses are always a hard thing to stick to. They'll can feel restrictive but when you take away the restrictions all the classes start to blend together. (Source)

In some ways I think Hunter and Rogue deliver the best on core class fantasy and are also two of the most restricted in terms of what they can and can't do. (Source)

What's your idea of the perfect metagame? Do you prefer 9 classes with a 49-51% WR or do you prefer to have dominance in some order?

Would much prefer a wider range that changes naturally over time, really really hard to accomplish that. Ideally there is a clear powerful thing that gets built against and becomes less popular until a new thing becomes dominant. (Source)

Many players just want to know what the best deck is and try to play it. When you can do anything, it can actually be a paralyzing decision to make. Especially when you factor in you have to feel good about crafting whatever that deck is with your precious resources. (Source)

What the community reception to disruption cards like Shenanigans, Stelina, Oh My Yogg, and Chaos Gazer been like? I've noticed that there's been more of them recently and love how much they add to the game and its design space.

I love disruption stuff, just not when it's the most powerful thing. Disruption usually has to be fringe in order to be generally acceptable. Goal is that players that love it have many options but players that hate it aren't regularly subjected to it. (Source)

The people that love disruption LOVE disruption though. It's the reason they play the game. To do mean stuff to people! (i know because i am this person) (Source)

I think it will be an uncomfortable question but I will be happy if you can answer how you can: was the advance of the current expansion, by one month, random or is it a sort of plan for the HS year "re-scheduling"?

still figuring it out, work from home has been hard

If we're ready in march timeline we'll probably release then, if it's stretching our team to the point where quality is slipping or the impact on the team is negative we'll move out til april or later. (Source)

Question about cosmetic on cards. I like the idea of the alternate art on the coins, but it seems so far very limited, only the coin is kind of little compared to what that could be, do you plan on expanding that concept on other cards? What about card cosmetics in general?

We've considered, will probably do it in some limited capacity. Eventually players play but just looking at visual queues, would hate for you to have to read every card forever because there were so many different visuals. (Source)

I think as long the moments of new art are special and unique without detracting too much from the visual muscle memory you build… we'll be okay with doing it more often. If we do we'll start verrrrry slow. (Source)

How happy is the team with the constructed rank progression system? Has the topic been revisited internally at all since its release?

engagement data is much improved on the ranked system in comparison to what it was previously. We're pretty happy with it, was modeled after wows arena system in terms of reset. I like that players spend most of their time going up. (Source)

Which Hearthstone character would you be most likely to hire onto the Design team?

wow… hmmm…. Elise seems like a responsible answer, I would trust her with project management. Dr. Boom sounds like a really creative guy that is into innovation (bombs mostly). Bob also seems really encouraging to work with. (Source)

Is there a process to decide if a newly added effect will stay past an expansion ( e.g discover, lifesteal) or a one off ( e.g joust, adapt), or does it vary based on response and circumstances?

I think we're close to the limit of keywords we'd want in standard. When you have too many it starts to defeat the purpose of having them at all. A keyword we keep around for a long time needs to have a lot of design space and low complexity. (Source)

I think discover adds a lot to the game even though it's relatively high gameplay complexity. Lifesteal I would argue doesn't have enough design space for it to feel like a clear add, but the fantasy in places like demon hunter and warlock helps its case. (Source)

If we add something in the future it's likely we'll look to axe one at the same time. (Source)

See MTG's future sight set as an example of too many keywords in a standard/draft environment.

Funny the example you use of too many keywords is from MTG. Most everything of what I teach about the usefulness of keywords comes from words written by @maro254 (Source)

Are there or have there ever been any plans for a multiplayer/2v2 mode in Hearthstone, if not what are the obstacles that would keep y'all from it?

we've tried to brainstorm this at least 3 times that I can remember. It's mostly UI and questions around game flow. We had thought about things like simultaneous turns but never fell in love with the gameplay of something. It's still something I could see happening. (Source)

When you design cards, how much do you weigh the impact those cards will have in wild? For example, when you created more secret mage support, was wild taken into consideration? Bonus question: What would you estimate the probability of wild balance changes within a year to be?

Team is generally aware of common wild interactions so a lot of times a card that gets talked about never gets taken seriously because of how it would break the game in some way in combination with an old card. (Source)

So we don't change many cards for the sake of wild, but it does impact the type of cards we design in the first place. As for wild changes within a year…. extremely high chance. (Source)

if you look at the cadence of wild changes in the last 2-3 years it would be a pretty big change to go 10-12 months with nothing changing. (Source)

Would we ever see the Heroes themselves as Legendary minion cards with some cool effects? Kind of like what we saw with Anduins book of heroes

We had hero cards for this, not sure we'd do them as minions. If we want to use those characters on cards I'd like to have a special reason to do it. (Source)

When you begin development of a new expansion, how many Keywords and mechanics are there at the start compared to when the expansion is finalized?

Hard question to answer because it could be 5-30 depending on what you mean. The team will email about or concept a ton of mechanics but only 5-6 ever get implemented and playtested seriously (Source)

Most commonly we'll latch on to an idea and change it little by little until it's much different than the original version but keeps whatever the spirit of what we were trying to capture. (Source)

I really enjoyed hero cards. Would you ever consider bringing them back and doing more? Could we see different rarity levels for them or additional effects (i.e. Corruptable Hero Cards)?

Definitely. Hero cards are great but they don't play very well when a ton of them are in Standard at the same time. After we give them some breathing room we'll find ways to bring them back. (Source)

Do you think the Warlock class could still get a new Hero Power this far into the game's lifecycle? Or has that ship sailed completely?

I think ship has sailed. We considered sometime around Karazhan timeline? Maybe earlier? I don't remember now. We were worried we just could never make medium power level low mana neutral cards because warlock took advantage of them too well. (Source)

Is the lack of Hero Cards this Standard Year intentional? What caused you to move away from this type of design?

We will do them again, just wanted to take a break. They are a big enough deal to us that we'd want them to represent major characters and be a part of the metagame. That said, if hero cards are a huge part of the every meta it can detract from the excitement. (Source)

Is the design team working on moving away from the multiple degrees of random deviation (e.g generating a random lacky which generates a random card) with the upcoming yearly rotation and subsequent new set release? Playing against decks that are more created by than not isnt fun

Generally we are moving away from having too many resources in one card. Control matchups I think are most compelling when they are filled with big bomb cards. When control matchups devolve into one infinite generator and 29 removal cards the game gets less fun. (Source)

Quote From Celestalon

True or False, DirePants is the most used username in Hearthstone?

Ohh, I know this one! When you create a new account, you have to pick a username and there is (or at least was?) a button to generate a random one, out of small set of prefixes/suffixes. Some are recognizable, like BattlePants/DirePants/etc. (Source)

However, the additional reason here is that if we find your name is offensive/rulebreaking (usually as a result of someone reporting it), we'll force you to change it, and set it to one of these random names until you do. So if you see someone named DirePants, that's prolly why. (Source)