We're back covering Dean Ayala's community Q&A 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.

Forged in the Barrens

  • The rewards track will reset when the expansion launches.
  • Classic mode will go live with the expansion launches.

Demon Hunter

  • They didn't have as much lead time on Demon Hunter as Dean would have liked.
  • Demon Hunter was created in a similar timeline that a regular expansion would have been.
  • They had some really crazy ideas for the hero power that they may have been able to do if they had more time.
  • Much of the time spent on the development of the class was nailing the basic design that not much was spent on archetype balance.
  • Dean is happy with how Demon Hunter turned out, but if they do a new class they should break off a small team earlier to work on it.


  • Adding achievements for old adventures is something they will eventually do.
  • Dean thinks old adventure heroes would make great rewards for achievements.


  • They are working on cosmetics in Battlegrounds.
  • They have written art descriptions for cosmetics but it will be a while before we get them.
  • Dean would love to show Battlegrounds info on the friendslist in place of the Standard and Wild ranks.
    • They have art and UI questions to solve.
    • If it is something that won't require a lot of work and require them to cut something else, they'll do it.
  • Queen Wagtoggle and Hooktusk will be added back into the pool. No timeline provided.


  • They are working on a new cosmetic that is coming soon.
  • Dean is excited to see what people think about the new cosmetic.
  • The rewards track is primarily a way to earn new cosmetics. They didn't want to harm their other revenue stream with it.


  • Dean fought against a certain card that has Charge in the nerf reverts.
  • Leeching Poison was not reverted because they thought wild would be less fun.
  • "If 10-15% of decks are Tickatus decks I think that's probably a bad thing, regardless of whether they win or not."
  • Whizbang the Wonderful isn't the only solution to making it easy to jump in and play Hearthstone.
    • Dean thinks it would be sad if he remained in Standard and players didn't care about cards outside of the ones in his pool.

Dual Class

  • A dual-class secret could happen but Hunter/Rogue isn't currently a shared cross-over.
  • Dean would love to do an entire year with dual-class cards.
  • He thinks it would be hard to do the entire year, but it is fun to think about.


  • Doom in the Tomb went on too long. If they do another one like it, it has to be shorter.
  • Dean considers minisets an evolution of doing meta-shakeup events.
  • He used to think that it would get harder over time to create new keywords; Not anymore!
  • They tried to remove most of the major win conditions out of the core set. Things get stale otherwise.

The Future

  • They have thought about having a character in a 3D space within Hearthstone. Decorate, explore, meet friends.
  • A rework of the main menu is on the to-do list.
  • Daily Deals in the shop are something they have talked about. They aren't exactly sure how to do it yet.


  • The meaning of life is to make money to watch anime, eat good food in a good house with good dogs.
  • Is a "sucker" for top x-style content online.

Full Q&A Transcript

Quote From Iksar

Ask me a question about Hearthstone and I will try my best to answer. More likely I can answer your question if it relates to game design in some way, but can give other questions a shot. 6:00PM - 7:00PST https://t.co/HgosaAX79s (Source)

@IksarHS Hey! Any thoughts for a pets/familiars expansion? I feel like it would be super cool, opportunity for featuring cattos and dogges, designing cute dragons and conjurers (pokemon masters?) That's my way of saying please make more cats they're cute @Songbird_HS help me https://t.co/jim3Y5qP3f

@PascoaHS @Songbird_HS We have pet battles in WoW so it stands to reason we could do a narrative about the pet battle and collection experience around Azeroth. Pokemon was obviously a huge inspiration for pet battles so @Songbird_HS seems like a good pick for that job. (Source)

@IksarHS @PascoaHS Plz plz plz plz plz

@Songbird_HS @IksarHS @PascoaHS Cora hire me to do ur VFX pls.

@hadidjahb @IksarHS @PascoaHS Hired. I can pay you in dog pictures.

@Songbird_HS @IksarHS @PascoaHS Perfect, is my desk next to Bea's?

@hadidjahb @Songbird_HS @PascoaHS I miss you @hadidjahb 😢 (Source)

@IksarHS Ever since dual class was introduced, I've wondered what it might look like if a Dual Class Secret was made (since Rogue and Hunter share the same mana cost). Would it be possible to even code such a thing, or would it be a can of worms best left un-opened?

@AJz77x We could definitely do a dual-class secret, we don't right now because Hunter/Rogue isn't a shared crossover. I had actually thought what the implications of just going full dual-class for a year would look like. All cards shared for a full year between X/Y classes. (Source)

@IksarHS @AJz77x Aren't some classes naturally very hard to dualclass with due to some class identities? The easiest example would be Druid.

@ToastieNL @AJz77x yes would be very difficult to do for sharing a whole year, but I think still fun to try and think about (Source)

@IksarHS With so many cards being reverted for Wild, was there any card that you really wanted to see get changed back that ultimately stayed nerfed?

@ZeddyHS Generally if I really want to see a card changed back I can convince @GW_Alec and company. I did lobby against a card we ended up reverting, spoiler alert it has charge. (Source)

@IksarHS are you going to put the hearthstone card game inside wow ever 🥺

@TidesofTime I think the real question is if we'll ever put wow-esque gameplay inside Hearthstone…. (Source)

@TidesofTime Not sure what the evolution of Hearthstone becomes, but we've thought about some crazy ideas like having a character in a 3d space you can decorate/explore/meetfriends. Someday…. (Source)

@IksarHS Are we likely to see another event like doom in the tombs again?

@Tironor …. maybe Minisets spawned from the idea we tried to do shake-up events between expansions but they were all worse than just releasing a small amount of new cards. (Source)

@Tironor Doom in the Tomb also just went on for a little too long. Next time, I think we'd do it at the end of an expansion for no more than a couple weeks. (Source)

@IksarHS What happens when I get 3 more wins on Mage? https://t.co/3ZCe53B1Nu

@Spex_J you just posted this to brag…. it was effective though wow that is a lot of mage very nice (Source)

@IksarHS Do you think that, as expansions go by, it get harder to create unique and interesting key words?

@vitor_lamartine I used to think that maybe, but not anymore. Releasing something and watching how players receive it often helps inspire many new ideas we didn't have before. (Source)

@IksarHS What's the meaning of life?

@Mas11_passions make money to buy crunchyroll and watch good anime while eating good food in a good house with good dogs (Source)

@IksarHS when is the main menu getting an design update? Too many main modes on strange positions…

@henriqlustosa on the to-do list, especially when we make another new mode (Source)

@IksarHS Have you guys considered reverting leeching poison?

@CaraToPistola yes, then opted not to because we thought wild would be less fun in a world where leeching was reverted overall (Source)

@IksarHS When you talk about disruption, e.g. Illucia/Tikatus, do you look at deck inclusion % when determining if a card is an issue, or just win rate. I’m curious how a card would be handled that’s played in like ever priest deck, even if the deck isn’t statistically good.

@Fleeeeetwood play rate, if 10-15% of decks are tickatus decks I think that's probably a bad thing, regardless of whether they win or not. (Source)

@IksarHS Will the Rewards Track reset when patch 20.0 is released or when the expansion/year rotation is released?

@use252 expansion (Source)

@IksarHS Currently, we’re disincentivised to use the “big disenchant button” because a card could eventually get Nerfed and we get more being able to disenchant a bunch of copies at full value, which leads to collection micro-management when we do want dust etc. is this on Team 5’s radar?

@blisterguy I sort of hate what you describe, but I don't have a great solve for it either. We could just auto-disenchant cards you get extra copies of but it would feel like we are taking something away even if the goal is better player experience. (Source)

@IksarHS Is classic mode dropping when the expansion/ new year comes or when the nerf revert patch hits?

@JustSoSly expansion (Source)

@IksarHS @ahirunHS By removing burst damage from core set are u guys planning to introduce burst cards throughout the year? Or do we have boardstone in our hands?

@ShovonBarakat @ahirunHS Burst generally means win condition, and we tried to remove most major win conditions from the core set. Win conditions are the thing that stand out most game to game, so when they are a part of core it can mean they are all you remember about games all year long. (Source)

@ShovonBarakat @ahirunHS And because all players own them, it can make game to game feel pretty stale if you are dying to the same card over and over. (Source)

@ShovonBarakat @ahirunHS That said, we are still making bust and win condition cards in expansions, many of them in fact :o (Source)

@IksarHS How does someone get into game design career? Do you have to make your own game at first or be competitive player? If not, what is another way to gain experience in game design?

@murloc_lord So many different ways. These days, making your own stuff is ideal. There are so many great design schools these days that you are competing with students that have spent 4 years making and playtesting their own stuff with their own teams. (Source)

@murloc_lord You can make it as a player that shows aptitude for design, but this usually only happens if you are a truly world-class player. Even then, more rare. (Source)

@murloc_lord Lots of resources online. Unity, Unreal, very easy to get in and learn how to make your own stuff if you have the motivation to do it. (Source)

@IksarHS How do you determine when a deck is a "problem"? Is it based mostly on tournament play or do you consider ladder an issue as well?

@DesorDeloford Based almost entirely on ladder play. Problem is usually when something has extremely polarizing gameplay and is >5-10% play rate or if any deck reaches the 20-25%+ marker without signs of slowing down. (Source)

@IksarHS Any plans to add these as hero portraits. I emotionally can't take another year without playing as Darius Crowley https://t.co/AvJIPf1DsW

@TaggermcBagger Eventually we want to add achievements for old adventures, these sound like excellent achievement rewards for that. Not sure if they have all the required VO, but tagging @Celestalon for the idea, I think I like it! (Source)

@IksarHS Daily deals in the shop? Other card games (MTG Arena & Shadowverse at least) have it, and I find myself spending more often than in Hearthstone because of it. 🤔

@DuncanSmith_hs having a reason to go to the shop is beneficial for everybody, better for players because there is either something free or a nice deal and better for Hearthstone because it exposes some products you could be interested in you might not have otherwise seen (Source)

@DuncanSmith_hs So yeah, we've been in discussion to do it just not sure exactly how yet. A lot of work goes into things like shop personalization or automating daily deal products in a way that doesn't cause us to have to client patch (Source)

@IksarHS when will we get cosmetics for battlegrounds?? i’m here to ask the hard hitting questions. 😅

@F2K_Nicholena working on it, we have already wrote a bunch of art descriptions things we want to commission for our regularly outsource artists that's all I'll say for now…. could be awhile (Source)

@IksarHS Biggest shocker out of the Cinematic trailer tournament?

@mattatarms Ashes of Outland beating Barrens was like… what?! Also surprised Frozen Throne beat Karazhan. Death Knight fantasy is pretty strong turns out. (Source)

@IksarHS Battlegrounds players show up as “bronze chickens” on friend list UI. Since this shows your highest rank in standard or wild, Any chance to update this based on BGs rank? I want to be a legendary Happy Cow plz

@Slysssa We had someone passionate about this at work that did some work to display it and showcase his work. There are still some art/UI questions to solve but I want to do it, just have to set aside the time and people to make it happen. (Source)

@Slysssa the less hand-wavey version of this tweet is that I'm looking into it, but haven't done enough research to know what art/ui/engineering cost it is. If it's reasonable and won't cause us to cut something else we love, then we'll do it. (Source)

@IksarHS Beta game gets beta engineering costs 🥺

@Slysssa you'd be surprised at how many things seems simple but take three weeks of engineering time to actually do :( (Source)

@IksarHS What is the reason that Whizbang wasn't returned to the core set? I think a lot of people were asking for it.

@imik_plays All cards must die for new cards to be reborn. At least in Standard. I think it was a novel concept for awhile but it would be sad if there was a big audience of people that just never cared about what new cards there were outside of what Whizbang offered. (Source)

@imik_plays A lot of the sentiment around keeping him was that it made it easier to jump in and play if you didn't own cards. We agree, though Whizbang isn't the only solution to that. Core set I think is a better version of getting free stuff into people's hands. (Source)

@IksarHS What kind of content do you enjoy vs the content the design team enjoys. Asking for a friend…

@ClarkHELLSCREAM hey I am on the design team…. you mean, how do we play hearthstone differently? (Source)

@IksarHS Content could be decks you enjoy, video topics, or specific content creators.

@ClarkHELLSCREAM oh THAT content I get it (Source)

@ClarkHELLSCREAM I don't watch much twitch or youtube these days so I actually really enjoy seeing twitter content. I wish more players would just post deck codes of stuff they liked to play and why. (Source)

@ClarkHELLSCREAM I'm a designer deep into my soul, so I love any discussion around very designery topics like game feel, new player experience, systems design, etc. (Source)

@ClarkHELLSCREAM I know people on the team devour streams pretty regularly. Lots of us watch grandmasters, lots of us just pull up streams. Final designers are mostly constucted watchers while a lot of other people on the team are into watching BG streams these days. (Source)

@ClarkHELLSCREAM I'm also a sucker for TOP X things video/editorial content. I always scroll really slowly through them to not spoiler myself on the next thing. (Source)

@IksarHS Looking back at Year of the Phoenix, what do you think is the #1 thing that you think could have been improved upon?

@Fluxflashor This is one of those questions I stare at for awhile and wish I had a great answer for. I'll pick 1, but just know there are probably 5-10 other things that are better answers. (Source)

@Fluxflashor We didn't have as much lead time for Demon Hunter as I would have wanted. We tried to make a new class + expansion in a very similar timeline as we have normally for a new expansion without a new class. (Source)

@Fluxflashor So we had some really crazy ideas for hero power or different resources that we probably could have pulled off given more time to explore. That and we spent so much time figuring out basic design goals for DH that we didn't have as much time to do archetype balance at the end. (Source)

@Fluxflashor I'm still very happy with how DH turned out overall, but I think in the future if we do a new class again we'll break off a small team (maybe 2 people) a couple months early to do ideation. (Source)

@IksarHS How exactly do you playtest cards? I'm completely uneducated about the topic, but I was curious, how high is the sample size? Do you actually play with each card or just the problematic ones? How much do you evaluate the card in a vacuum vs the card in a specific deck?

@Shmilia We don't playtest every card, but most. In the case of some cards like Puddlestomper (3/2 Vanilla Murloc) we don't have much to learn by jamming it in tons of games. (Source)

@Shmilia We playtest every day, one group is the initial design group that works with freshly made cards, not focused so much on balance but trying new mechanics, archetypes, and weird ideas that might not work. (Source)

@Shmilia The other is the final design group, that focuses on archetype design, balance, and what the meta-game might look like once it hits players hands. The people in the final design group are all world-class players. (Source)

@Shmilia Evaluating card in a vacuum isn't always relevant. A card is powerful based on what is around it, not what is theoretically around it. There are cases where we protect against future design space but we try not to cut or balance fun cards based on cards that don't exist yet. (Source)

@Shmilia You are right, though. In order to get a perfect answer we'd have to release the cards, evaluate feedback from a huge audience and we'd want to see a sample size of hundreds of thousands of games, obviously we can't do that. (Source)

@Shmilia So instead we hire people that understand card design philosophy, hearthstone design history, and are some of the best players in the world and make very educated guesses on where we think things will land. (Source)

@IksarHS What is the point of having some really bad cards in the core set? Yetti, Ice Rager, etc. I thought core set should be more serious and yet, there's about 30 or more % of bad cards that we will never see play.

@imik_plays A goal of the core set is still to be a place where very simple cards to learn/upgrade exist. We didn't want there to be nearly as many "never include" cards but the ones that do exist are normally there to fill starter decks with limited complexity. (Source)

@IksarHS One thanks and one question. The thanks: I appreciate the Caverns Below revert :,) I'm glad to see a bunch of past cards be given a chance to be played again by the fans of those decks. The question: Any chance on "upgrade a card to golden" happening still? Would be a nice sink

@RealPrismsword yes, working on it (Source)

@IksarHS Can we remove the heros not selectable from the rewards accomplishment track? My ocd is going crazy that it says I don’t have first with Queen Wagtoggle or Hooktusk and I can’t fix that.

@BDecandio7 We'll add them back :) (Source)

@IksarHS Third time is the charm: What do you view as the future of Arcane Dust as a resource? Now that cosmetics can be purchased with Gold, do you see a world where things can be "Crafted" as it feels better to craft something than buy it with Gold.

@TimRizzo I would argue that dust is the worse feeling one because it only becomes a resource by destroying your other stuff. But yeah, we're actively working on things like upgrading non-golden cards with dust, not sure if we'll make hero skins / coins for dust. (Source)

@TimRizzo There is UI cost to adding optionality in terms of the resources you use, so we're trying out some different designs for how it might look. No update for now, still in progress. (Source)

@IksarHS Has the Tavern Pass performed as well as you've expected? Has any thought been given about including it in the $80 Release Bundle? I would personally buy it stand-alone if it included a some non-cosmetics besides the XP Boost. Maybe 5-10 packs along the way and a Legendary.

@willowkiller One of the business goals of the tavern pass (I know, evil business!) was that we created a product that did not cannibalize sales of other products. Meaning, if we made X dollars from it we'd rather it didn't mean we just made X dollars less from a different product. (Source)

@willowkiller So we set out to make a cosmetics based product and make it separate from the non-cosmetic based products. We plan to basically add more and more value to it over time as new pipelines spin up for newer and cooler cosmetics. (Source)

@willowkiller We have the first version of a 'newer, cooler' cosmetic coming soon, so looking forward to seeing what people think. (Source)