We're back covering Dean Ayala's community Q&A this evening and we're going to get right into it!

  • All previous Q&As from Dean can be found under our "Iksar's Community Q&A" topic.
  • Anything covered in the previous Q&As will not be covered in the recap but will appear in the transcript below.

Year of the Gryphon

  • Alliance stuff will happen too.
  • They didn't share much about Mercenaries because they just wanted to let people know what was being worked on.

Classic Mode

  • It wouldn't be hard to adjust the era they are using for the mode.
  • They want to see how things go over the first few weeks/months before doing anything with it.


  • Dean could see the team doing a hero where you got two hero powers.
  • The current goal is to do major patches in every .2 patch - roughly a month into expansion launches.


  • Adding secrets to a new class is tough because it takes up so much space during an expansion.
    • You'd need to add at least 3 secrets so that they were actually a secret.
    • Then more cards need to be created that support those secrets.
    • In the end, you aren't left with many other cards for that class.
    • It also makes secrets feel less special if every class has them.
  • Dean feels they haven't really explored Rogue secrets yet.
  • One way they could change who has Secrets in Standard would be to do it with a core set change, removing other classes secrets.
  • Dean thinks that Warlock could make use of secrets thematically.


  • A replay/match history feature is "very low" on the to-do list.
  • Dean would like to do match history like how they've done it for Battlegrounds.
  • They continue to brainstorm ways to extend the player profile.
  • Duels is still getting live balance so if things are feeling overpowered, know that changes are coming.
  • Dean's favourite Pirate is Ragnaros because they recorded Pirate Ragnaros voice lines.

Full Q&A Transcript

Quote From Dean Ayala

Is there any consideration of shifting the time stamp in Classic Mode from time to time? I would like to relive my first legend experience with Secret Paladin during TGT to see how my gameplay has improved over the years.

I've heard this question a lot, the answer is that it wouldn't be super hard for us to do and if players want that we'd make it happen. There is a lot of unknown right now and we'll learn more in the first few weeks/months of classic. (Source)

It's not something that would take months and months of dev time to accomplish so in this case it's better for us to just wait and see how things go before putting a plan in place. (Source)

what are your thoughts on alternate artworks for some cards. In the book of heroes we already have it but not in other modes

I think we'll do it at some point but want to have a good reason. Part of what makes Hearthstone easy to play is that you learn the art and characters over time and don't have to read every card. (Source)

If you have to remember 4 version of every cards art it makes looking at the board harder to understand. We're more okay with it in single-player because you can go at your own pace and aren't under time pressure. (Source)

Still, it's a compelling cosmetic. Another thing to think about is that when limitation is a factor, it's harder to make compelling stuff for the whole audience. We could make anime versions of every card and that would be super appealing to me, but not for a lot of others. (Source)

So ideally we pick alternate art that is broadly appealing on cards where as with cosmetic heroes we can do things that are appealing to niche audiences. I'd actually love to do partnerships outside the game and bring in outside IP, but people have different feelings on that. (Source)

Do you see a correlation between your play habits in HS (ex: exclusively playing certain archetypes or classes) and play habits in other games?

Not really, I'm sort of all over the place. Usually I try to identify what the creator crafted as the ideal experience then chase that down. For Last of Us that's a lot different than Spelunky, or WoW, or Hades. (Source)

Like I enjoy a challenge, but not so much that I would play Last of Us on mega-hard-mode. That just isn't what that game is focused on (at least to me). (Source)

Were there any cards/mechanics that were just "good enough"? Like, you weren't happy with the design or the synergy's, but you felt they were passable enough to be part of a set?

Inspire was probably the closest example of that, maybe Twinspell. Inspire was something we realized a little too late that the gameplay was generally too snowbally. It wasn't so bad that we felt like we had to do a full redesign, but it wasn't something we were psyched about. (Source)

Twinspell was designed pretty late as something we liked on some cards but didn't have much design space to work with. Generally we like our mechanics to be usable on tons of cards if we're going to keyword them and Twinspell was just good enough. (Source)

How often does someone tell the team "maybe we're going a bit too far" with a card? What has been an example of this in the past, and how did you guys overlook the situation in question?

like every day

recently we had a vehicle that destroyed your hand and turned it into a bunch of buttons to fire weapons, we cut it

for death knights we discussed the cost of adding a new card type, having armor be in the health slot and being hard to understand, shipped it (Source)

normally it's a question of complexity vs what we get for it in return. If it's the core mechanic for the set and is carrying lots of weight for excitement in the set we are more likely to take on that complexity than we would be for a one-off legendary (which the vehicle was). (Source)

What is the team's thoughts on all these new game modes popping out from Hearthstone? Feel like losing core players and splitting interest between new modes that are barely hearthstone anymore? Feels almost like not a traditional card game but card based games instead?

We like having a bunch of different options. If you are a core Hearthstone user we are supporting you less, we're actually shipping more cards, more live updates, more system updates, etc than ever before. (Source)

We also want to put effort in to make other types of strategy games that appeal to us that we think might also appeal to players that aren't currently interested in 'normal' constructed gameplay. (Source)

Knowing mobile needs to be taken into consideration, where does a replay/match history feature stand on the "to-do" list?

Pretty low. Replays is an extremely intensive project that I think we have a number of projects we'd rather spend those points on. I'd actually like to do match history in a similar fashion to how battlegrounds has match history. We are brainstorming ways to expand player profile (Source)

and some version of telling you about the recent games you've played is on the brainstormed list. (Source)

The new expansion is about the horde, can we expect a alliance expansion?

We'll do some Alliance stuff, too. (Source)

Any eta on next new trait in BG like elementals? A real big patch u know. Maybe more limited time modes coming with different rulesets like spells? Keeps it fresh and tons of experiments possible

We're planning on doing major battlegrounds patches in every .2 patch currently. That is about a month after each expansion launch. In between we'll add heroes. (Source)

My girlfriend really likes her idea of having two heroes/heropowers at the same time in battlegrounds. Has the team ever tried something like this before?

I know it's been brought up. I think it's a cool idea, some UI questions but I could totally see doing an individual hero like this and seeing how it feels before expanding beyond. (Source)

Currently the game has the cheapest and most abundant card draw we've ever seen with cards like Secret Passage, Cram Session, Fungal Fortunes, Cutting Class and so on. Are you happy with how this is working out as it has spawned a lot of hyper aggressive aggro and OTK strategies.

Mass card draw is a pretty sweet fantasy, having a full hand, tons of options, slinging out card after card. I think it would be sad if there wasn't at least 1-2 archetypes that fulfilled that dream. (Source)

There are inherent buildarounds to all the cards you mentioned that ask you to build a deck in a specific way to get a better benefit that helps promote archetype diversity, though there is always a danger in having mass card draw decks feel like the play out the same very game. (Source)

In part, that is one of the reasons we lean on generation because we can fulfill the fantasy of having lots of options and a full hand of stuff to do without each game playing out with the same pieces and same win conditions. (Source)

OTK always gravitates towards draw for obvious reasons, but are we happy with that? Hard to give a black and white answer. OTK decks existing at all I think is fine for Hearthstone, it reminds people of the crazy possibilities and combos that can happen. It's a population thing. (Source)

There were times when Mecha-thun decks were so popular that is just sort of felt like bullshit to play because you knew it was just going to lead to you dying in the same way with nothing you could do to prevent it. (Source)

I don't mind if you get mecha'thun'd once every few play sessions, but if it's happening multiple times an hour of play that's not the experience we're very excited about. It would be easy to say "OTK DECKS NOT ALLOWED" because we'd just nerf all the cards right away. (Source)

Anyway, mass draw is a danger, but danger isn't bad. Danger often means excitement, just have to remember we are a live game and to make live service adjustments when necessary. (Source)

Some seem to like the flavour and personality it adds, but I think it's kinda unnecessary, leading to confusion. While it can be a nice touch to have for some legendaries, at lower rarities and for less pushed cards, it seems futile, breaking design rules for little benefit.

Rarity/complexity are correlated because of how players open packs. We put more complex cards at higher rarities because you are less likely to open a pack and see multiple complex cards. (Source)

So, generally speaking, yes we'd like to keep flavor wording like this on higher rarities. As for doing it at all, I think this sort of thing just appeals to a certain user. Not much different than how discard cards might appeal to some players but not others. (Source)

Some mystery behind the curtain or extra flavor it gives a card can be fun. We're also okay with you not understanding what some cards do so long as when you learn what they do we don't feel like you'd be disappointed on average. (Source)

Being surprised on how something works in a way that benefits you is not ideal, but it's fine. Being surprised in a way that does not benefit you is the worst and we try to avoid it. (Source)

So, I like doing it when we have a story to tell that is worth getting that extra flavor out there. As long as we're doing it in limited quantities and it's not heavily contributing to how a player understands the game. It's important to be aware of the 'death by 1000 cuts' idea (Source)

when it comes to adding small bits of complexity all over the place, but we take a look at every set holistically as we're finishing it and make sure we're not doing too much weird shit no one is going to get. (Source)

are you and/or the team happy with or surprised by the reception to mercenaries? feels like there's a very wide array of thoughts out there on what the mode actually is and no clear answer bonus question: why'd you decide to stick to weekly AMAs for now?

we didn't share much, but there is some value in just letting people know that 'hey! we're working on fun new stuff!'. We knew there would be questions, but frankly we're still figuring out some of the details so didn't want to set too many false expectations. (Source)

so I understand the open questions people have, but generally I'm happy with the fact that people know we're out there trying to support the game in fun new ways and not just sitting on our hands, we'll share more details in due time (Source)

And I don't know, because Wednesday comes and I can't think of a good reason not to. I want to expand some of this to questions I have for the community soon, just thinking of how best to frame it. (Source)

I've been very interested in our cinematics lately and wanted to get some info on what people thought of the barrens piece and how it compares to other cinematics we've done in the past. A lot of thought on the creative side is going into how we tell story and what tone it's in. (Source)

hi Iksar can you introduce more banning cards in Duels or balancing each hero power and treasure? Some cards and hero power still too powerful like Druid or double time

we're still doing more live balance so I would expect power level of treasures, hero powers, (and possibly bans) to be in your future. (Source)

Question, if you were to put Secrets into any other class(es), outside of the current 4, what it would be, and what would they look like (potentially)? I'm certain y'all spitball ideas off the wall in the early parts of a Set's inception.

Secrets are hard to add because Ideally you have the secrets themselves and a few buildaround cards to shore of the deck. Players rarely play secrets because they are good on their own, but because they synergize with other cards they use. (Source)

So if you think about an expansion, you have to add at least 3 secrets (otherwise it's not really a secret!) and then a bunch of cards to support those secrets. It doesn't leave room to support basically anything else for that expansion. (Source)

That said, we spent most of our exploration with Rogue then realized that. As for another secret class, I honestly think we haven't seriously explored that idea. Four of the classes having secrets is already a pretty big portion. Having many stops them from feeling very special (Source)

Like if you think about Divine Shield, mana ramp, discard, etc. The fact they are so limited in class makes them feel like a fun unique fantasy that makes you different than everyone else. For something as unique as secrets in our game, I think 4 might already be too much. (Source)

This is true, though, since the core set is a thing atarting this year, y'all would have the ability to at least make a few secrets and maybe a support card or 2 during that years core set, right? At least the potential option is there now, anyway.

Definitely, the way to do it is probably cut secrets from a class in a core set rework (or maybe 2 classes) then add them to a new class. I think that could feel fresh and different while keeping the classes feeling special. Warlock seems like it could fit thematically. (Source)

At first drawing cards was the weakness of some characters like Shaman, but now through the interview a few days ago, we know that you want all characters to have the ability to draw cards. How did this idea change?

In our quest to make the classes feel unique you have to make some hard decisions about what some classes can do and what some classes can't. Because having choices and cards to play is fun, we didn't want to take away all source of resource generation… (Source)

But having purely random generation has its own downsides. We ended up softening on the 'no card draw' stance and treat drawing cards similar to playing minions or spells. All classes can do it. (Source)

However, there is a difference in being able to draw cards sometimes vs being very good at card draw. Classes that have card draw as a strength play tons of cards, have full hands regularly, etc. Rogue/Warlock have always been good at this. (Source)

We still don't want Shaman to be the mass draw class but don't mind making some draw cards here and there. Unlikely we'll do a bunch of mass draw cards like Sprint or Battle Rage, etc. (Source)

I've played Hearthstone every single day (including my wedding day) since the beta. One thing I've never gotten is the process of getting a gold minion. The process seems convoluted. Has there ever been discussions on making that easier? Maybe you pay the cost again to upgrade it

yes, doing some brainstorming currently around the visuals for upgrading to golden. No specific details yet but smart people are working on it. (Source)

We've been able to build spells. Will we ever be able to Build-a-minion? Has this been kick around? thoughts?

Swampqueen Hagatha

This was a take on that, but not exactly what you are talking about. (Source)

Is there any single piece of media outside of games that has helped you significantly with new ideas/inspirations for Hearthstone design?

there is media outside of games? (Source)

I can't believe you're dismissing naruto like this, that's not very dattebayo of you

Honestly the answer probably is anime. I think one of my personal greatest weaknesses is my lack of exposure to other mediums because my life is so all-consumed by games. Play, design, business, education, etc. (Source)

Games is really broad, though. I've learned a lot from a bunch of sources. Playing different games, different platforms, watching talks, meeting and discussing different game-related disciplines like production, engineering, etc. (Source)

This isn't a media answer, but traveling is helpful for inspiration. You can watch all the TV in the world but getting out there and living these different places, different people, different lifestyles. (Source)

When working for a global audience, it's hard to appreciate just how different a human's desires and ambitions can be if you spend your whole life exposed to limited culture. (Source)

Historically, 6 set meta's can be a bit awkward because the powerlevel is high. After next year, with miniset and core, the "relevant" card pool will be larger than Ever before. Does this lead to concerns already, are there contingency plans in place or do you believe in the heart of the cards that it'll all work out?

We try to make lots of buildaround cards and specific archetype cards so that the same individual pieces are just tranferring from deck to deck. That helps, but I think we've been mostly okay this year. RoS, SoU, and DoD were pretty high power level sets. (Source)

I would say we've still managed to make AoO, Scholo, and Darkmoon impactful without power creeping very much. It gives me some confidence that we can do that again. (Source)

Whats yout favorite Pirate in Hearthstone?

we recorded pirate lines for Ragnaros that are hilarious to me so my answer is pirate Ragnaros. (Source)

In the Blizzcon Q&A we learned the team wants to give Class Mechanics to classes that don't have them. Does that mean Keywords? What about a class is a Keyword meant to accentuate?

I don't remember the question or answer off-hand so I might give one that wasn't intended. We've talked a lot about the benefit of spreading some mechanics beyond where they currently are. Recently, Priest and Divine Shield were discussed. (Source)

Having something special for your class can make it feel unique, but that doesn't mean it can only exist in one place. I think weapons are a good example of mechanic that a few classes are good at in their own ways, and not every class gets to do it so it can still feel special. (Source)

I've often thought that mana ramp could be fun in classes that aren't druid, though we wouldn't want to spread it to all classes. (Source)

Priest has struggled some with having a special identity so we've looked for ways to shore that up. Divine Shield could have been a part in that but we decided to play up the flavor of the shadow/holy versions of priest instead. (Source)

Shaman has also struggled because overload is unique but not always something that is super fun to utilize (okay its rarely very fun…). (Source)

Has there been any thought to change Tavern Brawl's reward structure? Like most wins a day gets a prize, or top 100 winners get a prize at the end of the week? I've not felt incentive to play more after the first win most times.

Most tavern brawls are designed to be fun after an encounter or two but not have much longevity beyond that. With that in mind, we purposefully don't create incentives to play a ton of tavern brawl because the experience is often not designed to be fun that way. (Source)

How has wfh effected the team when it comes to the D-word? [The word in question is Donut (Info Here)]

ol, when my wife says the d-word I still pause and tense up even just at home. That rule has been put on hold for now, looking forward to getting some d's when we get back in the office, though. (Source)

What would you say is the most controversial game dev topic on team 5? Basically a design related question that causes a lot of discussion internally.

Probably not exactly what you are meaning but….. Tone and theme of our expansions. Should we be a traditional Warcraft game that is able to do lighter themes and emphasize humor? Should we be a wild and wacky alternate warcraft universe where we make karazhan a disco? (Source)