Everyone's favourite Hearthstone Dad, Dean "Iksar" Ayala, finished off the week with a Q&A!. As usual, here's our recap of all the important points and a full transcript of the event.

  • 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.

Addressed during the Q&A is the Friday change. Dean says he forgot about it one Wednesday and did the back-to-back Friday to make it look intentional. He's not sure if it'll stay Friday, but it is probably going back to Wednesdays. Regardless, we'll be here to cover it!


Balance Patches

  • Details will arrive on Monday or Tuesday next week.
  • They had previously expected to do a patch this upcoming week, even before the expansion released.
  • Creating these patches are very taxing on some members of the team that make the patches.
  • Dean thinks that mid-late this week would have been better timing to plan for.
  • It takes the devs 3-5 days of gameplay to know if they need to make balance changes.
  • Planning and releasing a patch on all platforms takes an additional 3-5 days.
  • In the future, Dean thinks they might try to plan the first balance patch the following end of week if the expansion launches on a Tuesday.
  • When they do make cards like Deck of Lunacy, they want to do so in a way that makes them not the most powerful way to play.
    • Lunacy violates this and Dean doesn't think it will be around for long in its current form.

Developers, Developers, Developers

  • The people making games are often the former most passionate members of the community.
  • No one comes to throw a pile of cash on my desk for making some choice that made our company money.
  • We really do just want to make a great game we can be proud of.

Forged in the Barrens

  • Shaman or Priest are probably the current sleeper classes. Some archetypes are hovering around 50% winrate.
  • They will be making a decision about buffs after the dust has settled on the nerfs.

Achievements

  • When they are less busy, Dean and Celestalon will likely sit down to audit how many points each of the achievements are worth.
  • Achievement points earned should be in-line with the effort given.

Classic

  • They won't be touching the mode for at least a full expansion cycle.
  • If players want them to release Curse of Naxxramas to re-experience that meta, Dean is down for it.
  • No plans for Classic are set in stone.
  • Dean's favourite Blackrock Mountain card is Grim Patron.

Cosmetics

  • They have hired a new Art Director and Dean is hyped to talk to him about cosmetics and what direction they might go in.
  • At least 2 Diamond cards will arrive with each expansion.
  • Doing a Diamond card reward for old adventure achievements could be cool.
  • Some arts don't work well with Diamond cards so they are considering making alternate art for the next set of them specifically for a Diamond animation.
  • The pipeline for cosmetics has ramped up significantly.
  • They want to explore new versions of cosmetics though no details to share yet.

Tickatus

  • Tickatus is a card that generates a lot of feels on both sides.
  • These types of decks are always a question of population and severity of gameplay change.
  • Shudderwock was similar but had a much higher population.
  • Naga Sea Witch was also similar but felt much less like you were playing a normal game of Hearthstone.
  • Most of the games Tickatus is played in, Tickatus loses.
  • Even in games where the deck has the card, sometimes it isn't played to get the win.
  • Dean doesn't want Tickatus to prevent them from promoting power in Control Warlock.
  • If Tickatus is a power blocker, they'll probably nerf it to make room for more powerful pieces.
  • "Sentiment is the only reason you should make changes. Data only helps us inform what sentiment actually might be rather than listening to one specific community."
  • They will be taking a look at Tickatus after the nerfs, though plenty of decks beat Tickatus.

Insights

  • Dean would like to do a game mode with customizable options (deckbuilding restrictions, house rules, etc.).
  • Pat Nagle is excited about the idea of user-generated content but its not on their list of things being worked on right now.
  • Dean thinks Blizzard as a whole could be doing a better job at user-generated content.
  • Exploring graveyard mechanics is something Dean would love to try but a whole new zone adds a lot of complexity.
    • He is not certain if it would be worth it in the end with the complexity, UI, and accessibility.
  • Internally, there is some thought that is text should only be introduced onto a card if there is a gameplay reason for it. (Such as Tribes)
  • If existing Quilboars in the constructed game don't play any differently than other cards, and there is no need to make a Quilboar deck, why add something that players should pay attention to?
  • Dean likes the idea of minion types as it makes the world feel larger. MTG does this by making everything a tribe.
  • Showing your Battlegrounds rank on the friendslist for Battlegrounds players is something they want to do. An engineer has already mocked up a version of it.

Full Transcript of Q&A #13

Quote From Iksar

Hearthstone AMA #13 Ask me a question about Hearthstone! 5:30PM - 6:30PM https://t.co/q9tytvyC8H (Source)

@IksarHS i was going to ask my engineer question again but they're tired so let's chill on that one what do you make of the giant disparity in player experience regarding tickatus between different ranked brackets? what has the card taught you that you didn't know already?

@RidiculousHat Nothing. Typical story. Card that generates a lot of feels from both perspective confirms it generates a lot of feels from both perspectives. These decks are always a question of population and severity of gameplay change. (Source)

@RidiculousHat Shudderwock was similar, though it's population was much higher. Naga Sea Witch is in the same camp, but felt much less like you were playing a normal game of Hearthstone than Tickatus. (Source)

@RidiculousHat There is some difference between ranked brackets, but not much unless you look at top of legend where there is always a giant meta difference from the rest of the game. (Source)

@RidiculousHat Tickatus isn't a huge population card, most of the games it plays it loses, and even in the games the deck wins, it doesn't always get played. The reason bad decks see high play rates is because people love them so much they are willing to sacrifice win rate. (Source)

@RidiculousHat There is some upside to having decks like that around. My one concern is that we really don't want it to be the best way to play, but Control Warlock outside of Tickatus is a pretty fun and healthy play experience. (Source)

@RidiculousHat Meaning that I wouldn't want Tickatus existing stop us from promoting power in Control Warlock in future sets. If that happens we would probably nerf Tickatus to give us some room to build more powerful pieces rather than be scared of it. (Source)

@IksarHS do you think there's merit to adjusting a card based largely on player sentiment even though winrate is not there? as you mentioned last week - having the same hot topic multiple expansions in a row is not great for y'all, but the stats aren't reflecting the feedback.

@RidiculousHat @IksarHS not speaking for Dean, but that has clearly happened before, there are cards that have been nerfed purely by player sentiment, the closes example I can remember is Ilucia.

@Wiibomb @IksarHS https://t.co/Ib3MYZVjnl it was power level, probs on turn 2 specifically

@RidiculousHat @Wiibomb We've nerfed many cards for primary sentiment reasons. Shudderwock, Naga Sea Witch, Warsong Commander, Charge, Mage Freeze Cards, Mind Control, Tinkmaster Overspark…. (Source)

@RidiculousHat @Wiibomb Sentiment is the only reason you should make changes. Data only helps us inform what sentiment actually might be rather than listening to one specific community. (Source)


@IksarHS Is there any particular reason that the balance patch is taking so long this time around. Anything to do with mobile? Or maybe you just want to let people experience deck of lunacy because it is admittedly kinda fun to play.

@TaggermcBagger Balance patches are pretty taxing on a bunch of individuals that make the patch. Next week was what we planned for even before the expansion released and the meta didn't feel like it was in a place where an emergency fix was necessary. (Source)

@TaggermcBagger In retrospect, I think mid-late this week was probably a better timing to plan for. We usually know enough to make a choice after 3-5 days of gameplay. Planning and releasing a patch on all platforms takes another 3-5 days. (Source)

@TaggermcBagger If we release on a Tuesday, I think next time we'll plan on having a patch release by end of week the following week. It gives us the weekend to mull options and check out data, make a choice and implement Monday, release later in the week. (Source)


@IksarHS What’s something you wish more of the community knew (about the game, the dev team, life, yourself, whatever)?

@LWaechter25 The people making games are often the former most passionate members of the community. We are you. No one comes to throw a pile of cash on my desk for making some choice that made our company money. We really do just want to make a great game we can be proud of. (Source)


@IksarHS Have you ever considered making a customizable game mode? With toggles where you can choose deckbuilding restrictions, tavern-brawl-ish house rules, and then you challenge your friends :)

@hs_Pasca I'd like to, I know our live content lead Pat Nagle is really excited about the idea of UGC (user-gen-content). It's not on the list of things we're working on but there are many people who think that it's something we should be doing better at in our company in general. (Source)


@IksarHS From the internal data, what is the sleeper class that can compete and win in the meta even before the nerfs?

@VLage_ Probably Shaman or Priest. Shaman has some agressive stuff that might just need a little refinement. Lots of experimentation going on in Shaman right now which leads me to believe the exact right deck hasn't been found. They are already hovering around 50% W/R in some archetypes (Source)


@IksarHS Is Friday your new Q&A day, or will you move back to Wednesday?

@HSTopDecks I just forgot one Wednesday and decided I would start doing Fridays so people would think the swap was intentional. (Source)

@HSTopDecks So the answer is I'm not sure. I'll probably go back to Wednesday because @ItsMeMollyO likes me to drive her to get food somewhere after work on Friday. (Source)


@IksarHS In the process of designing Demon Hunter, an alternate resource alongside mana was considered early in development. Would something like this be considered again if a class got reworked, or a new class would be introduced? Other than UI, what were the biggest hurdles for that?

@Sad_Cart Absolutely, we actually got really close. So the thing that made me want to cut it was that it was a core piece of the UI that was always there but it wasn't always relevant. There would be some metas where resource spenders would be playable, but not every meta. (Source)

@Sad_Cart So we wound up in this spot where we make go 1-2 expansions where DH would have this resource they'd be building up by attacking but not ever including any cards to spend it. Just felt weird for that to be the case. (Source)

@Sad_Cart In the future if we were to ever have a special UI resource I'd want to design it in such a way that it more integrated into the base gameplay of the class. (Source)


@IksarHS How do you guys decide on specific numbers for Achievements? EG - "Buff 600 minions with Invigorating Sermon." Do you have an idea of how long to complete them? Or is it more, "this feels like a challenge but not a grind." Also - what's your progress with the new Achievements?

@RTwoCTwo I started playing a lot of arena, a lot of @LeagueOfLegends, some @wildrift, and I was thinking about getting back into @wizards_magic to see how the last few sets have gone. That said, I haven't made much progress on achievements lately…. (Source)

@RTwoCTwo @LeagueOfLegends @wildrift @wizards_magic Achievement points were meant to have some amount of consistency between classes, but the difficulty doesn't always match up. We've been bogged down in other work, but at some point I think @Celestalon and I will sit down and do an audit of how many points things are worth. (Source)

@RTwoCTwo @LeagueOfLegends @wildrift @wizards_magic @Celestalon To make sure the points given are in-line with effort given. (Source)


@IksarHS Can we expect more old adventures/expansions (Grim Patrons) being added into the Classic mode soon-ish? Or will it completely remain as it is for the time being?

@imik_plays Going to let it be for a while. At least a full expansion cycle. If players are clamoring for us to release Naxx to re-experience that meta then I'd be down for that. Haven't made set-in-stone plans yet. (Source)


@IksarHS Favourite Blackrock Mountain card?

@FilmCriticKurt Has to be Patron. (Source)


@IksarHS How do you like Wild the balance of the Wild meta right now? I know you like these types of questions… :D

@imik_plays Going to see how balance changes affect Wild and we'll re-evaluate after. Sword of the Fallen is pretty good it turns out. (Source)

@IksarHS Yeah, who would've thought… Not me… Ehh, blame Cora?­čĄź­čśé

@imik_plays Cora is a secret paladin apologist…. tbf I really love secret paladin, too whenever I make a guild for people to join I name my guild 'mysterious challenger' (Source)


@IksarHS What design space do you wish Hearthstone could explore but can’t for some technical reason or rule you have within the design team?

@BDecandio7 I really love how graveyards in MTG work. My favorite mechanic is flashback! I've been wanting to try and capture that in Hearthstone for a long time but adding a whole zone to the game is a huge complexity increase. (Source)

@BDecandio7 As much as I might love it personally, I don't know that we'd get enough bang (fun, design space) for buck (complexity, accessibility, UI). (Source)


@IksarHS How many game designers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

@ClarkHELLSCREAM 6. 1 to do it and 5 to backseat game them @Chakki_HS @RealzDev @Rage_HS @GallonHS @Songbird_HS (Source)

@IksarHS @ClarkHELLSCREAM @Chakki_HS @RealzDev @Rage_HS @GallonHS Dean gets mad when I backseat game :( (Source)

@Songbird_HS @ClarkHELLSCREAM @Chakki_HS @RealzDev @Rage_HS @GallonHS not mad just disappointed (Source)

@IksarHS @ClarkHELLSCREAM @Chakki_HS @RealzDev @Rage_HS @GallonHS I haven't done it in over a year. I'm reformed. (Source)


@IksarHS Is there any chance that we might see some buffs in near future?

@imik_plays Yeah, we'd like to first evaluate how any nerfs affect the meta before injecting a second variable changes at the same time. We plan to make a decision around buffs after the dust has settled, though. (Source)


@IksarHS Firebat went on a bit of a tangent about the printing of early snowball cards that basically just win the game when drawn early but feel so bad if drawn late; Lunacy, Undertaker, Kalaseth, Sword/Fallen etc Thoughts on these types of cards and the issues they seem to create?

@Herodreamer79 I would think about the other extreme. What if all cards felt the same no matter what turn you drew them? Leveling the play experience so there are no highs and no lows is not a goal. It can be dangerous as a designer to fine-tune your game until there is nothing interesting left (Source)

@Herodreamer79 I do understand the sentiment, though. We try not to make Keleseths. When we do, we'd like for them not to be the most powerful way to play. Lunacy is a violation of that and I don't think it'll be around for long, at least in it's current form. (Source)

@Herodreamer79 Just have to be aware of the extremes. Is undertaker ok? Probably not, that's why we nerfed it. Is Flame Imp okay to be way better on T1 than any other turn? Does it also snowball? The answer is yes, it's just less extreme. (Source)


@IksarHS how do you feel about the collection manager in current day HS? ignoring the fact that now we have entire pages of the same card, just from an UI and design perspective, are you happy with how it works? do you think it needs change?

@Wiibomb If we are ignoring what you mentioned, then yeah I think it is serving it's purpose. I think the piece of it I wish we were better at is celebrating all the stuff you own. There is so much there now it almost feels like more of a database than a collection. (Source)


@IksarHS I was going to ask you a question about Hearthstone but now I can only ask about topics that cost (3) more. So what’s your favorite MtG card?

@J_Alexander_HS @IksarHS you could have asked what is the feeling of getting cursed on each exp for 3-4 weeks and nobody cares your existance after "balance patches"

@Metket_ @J_Alexander_HS As the person doing the cursing, it feels pretty good. I curse and I curse and the players are all like 'nooo you cursed me!!!' then I go back into my cave for 3 months preparing my next set of curses. (Source)


@J_Alexander_HS And they think Tickatus was bad… https://t.co/WOiLjKhai7 (Source)


@IksarHS What's your least favorite card to play against in *all* of Hearthstone's history? Also are you still checking out DMs about the design posting from earlier in the week :,o

@RealPrismsword Card to play against is hard, it's usually not a card that is fun to play against but an archetype. My answer is strange, but I always loved playing against Face Hunter. (Source)

@RealPrismsword You know their strategy, and it's this game of maximizing your health total without being too greedy, planning many turns in advance because their strategy was very predictable. Also when you win it's like HA GET REKT REXXAR YOU JERK (Source)


@IksarHS It's weird that Battlegrounds will get a whole new minion tribe while there's probably a bunch of new+old cards in normal Hearthstone that could use this tribe as well. What's the reason behind not adding a new tribe to a "normal" mode?

@imik_plays a question that is brought up a bunch internally…. There is some thought among the team that we should introduce text on a card only if there is some gameplay reason for it. (Source)

@imik_plays If Quilboar don't play differently than any other minion type and we have no plans or need to make a Quilboar deck, I think it's reasonable to ask what is the upside to introducing something else a player thinks they should pay attention to. (Source)

@imik_plays On the flip side, I think players like the idea of minion types and it helps the world feel more vast. MTG makes everything a tribe and Rosewater has written a couple pieces talking about the benefits of having many tribes even if they aren't totally distinct from other tribes. (Source)


@IksarHS When core set rotates, wild player will have to craft all cards we want ?

@ntnlu If you only own the core set versions of those cards, yes you will lose ownership. However, you'll get ownership of a whole new set of core cards. (Source)


@IksarHS Hi Iksar! Could you share some deets on the future direction of shadow priest? So far this archetype doesn't have enough support.

@DrunkDonuuut We'll have support for shadowy feeling decks, it just won't be in every expansion just like no archetype is every expansion. (Source)


@IksarHS What solo adventure is your favorite in general, and favorite to have worked on?

@The_Nookington Dungeon Run was probably my favorite to play, though Dalaran Heist is basically just an upgraded version. Favorite to work on was League of Explorers. Our team was really small and I hadn't had full control over making adventures so it was fun to have the freedom to create. (Source)


@IksarHS Is there any plans for achievements for old Adventures? Maybe with a small reward?

@MuzikkLoL We'll do achievements for old adventures at some point. We'd like to go back and do Diamond card for old sets and I think having a Diamond card achievement reward for adventures sounds cool. (Source)


@IksarHS When will you reveal the new balance changes were gonna see next week?

@Razer916 Probably Monday or Tuesday. (Source)


@IksarHS When something like Lunacy Mage happens, is it because it wasn’t tested enough with the new spell pool or was it a deck that just seemed like a meme and then became a huge problem?

@vrpatel When any nerf happens, it's almost always because there was a piece of it that wasn't fully expected. Lunacy was more powerful than we thought it would be after playtesting. (Source)


@IksarHS How many skins or other cosmetic objects are you planning on releasing in comparison with last year? So far it's been the best

@phantomalus ALOT Cosmetics pipeline has ramped up significantly and we'll keep adding more options. Want to explore new versions of cosmetics, too. No details yet though :) (Source)


@IksarHS what's your take on ticketus? any plans for changing it? since the pally, mage and (i hope) pen flingers nerfs are coming, the meta should slow down, but no control decks can compete with it, and locks already got jaraxxus wich might be enough for win condition

@oidella_ We'll look at tickatus after nerfs like we do with all decks, though there are plenty of decks of all archetypes that beat tickatus warlock. (Source)

@IksarHS thanks for answering. it's just that some cards, even if they're not great or tier 1, are just not fun to play against, just look at the cavens below. i really like ticketus myself, but i have a feeling that those type of cards are just toxic for the game and meta diversification

@IksarHS plus, i think cards that make people literally uninstall the game should have an eye on it

@oidella_ I think the flip side doesn't get talked about enough. There is a deck that is so appealing to some players they are willing to lose most of their games to play it. That has to count for something. (Source)


@IksarHS Did you pick Kermit for any particular reason? Is he your favourite Muppet? If not, who is?

@Seba_SN I just like Kermit. I used him for a tweet once and it felt right. He's like me. Lots of weird shit going on around him and he's just trying to hold it together ya know? (Source)


@IksarHS What are your top 5 Favourite Hearthstone metas?

@Kat__HS I've gotten this question before and it's really hard for me to remember metas, or even decks. I had a lot of fun in classic, my favorite decks ever were giants freeze mage and a Shaman I called Totem Dinosaur because Tinkmaster turned so many T2 Totems into 5/5 Dinos. (Source)

@Kat__HS So, probably Classic for Nostalgia. A meta as a player to me is just about finding a deck I love, less about what is being played around it. Patron Warrior, Kobolds Warlock, Mech Shaman…. all fun to me. (Source)

@Kat__HS Recently I liked the DMF meta and played ramp Druid with Carnival Clown having a great time. This meta I honestly can't stop playing the Celestial list you posted. Still going with it…. (Source)


@IksarHS which card has worked out to have the closest gameplay to the World of Warcraft inspired ability/creature?

@iamvhell Spells are the most obvious, things like Pyro just blast the shit out of someone in both games. For minions BRM had good examples: Nefarian has a take on class-calls from the encounter. When Majordomo was a take on the moment where Rag kills him and summons himself https://t.co/rjm7pp2c1O (Source)


@IksarHS Before you leave, I wanted to ask what did you think about this fan-made version of Diamond Kalimos! (Credits to my buddy @HEARTHSTORIA1 for making great animations and videos to the Brazillian community) https://t.co/ayXEetQkps

@machadogps @HEARTHSTORIA1 loooveee We actually hired a new Art Director that is starting soon. I'm hyped to get to ask him about cosmetic stuff and what direction we might take. Hopefully we'll get a chance to introduce him soon. (Source)


@IksarHS Are you planning on any more Diamond cards for us to get or earn on this expansion or other expansions?

@lamri247 At least 2 per upcoming expansion, at least for the next couple expansions. Also we want to go back in time and make one for every old expansion. We actually had some issue making diamonds where the pose of the character wouldn't always translate to making a great diamond visual (Source)

@lamri247 Considering making the next set of diamonds we make an alternate art that is commissioned specifically with diamondizing in mind. (Source)


@IksarHS Do you guys have data on card packs? I.E., I’m curious if you know the best pack that’s ever been opened, or the most valuable one? Like one with 4-5 legendaries, etc.?

@Fleeeeetwood I don't think we do. It's possible to acquire but we generally don't ask the data team to track down stuff like that even if it would be fun to know. (Source)


@IksarHS Will we ever be able to show out battlegrounds mmr or top 200 ranking in the friends list? The bronze 10 makes me sad

@Jkirek_ We haven't kicked off the project yet, but yes I would like for you to be able to show what ranking you want as your friends list icon. A really badass engineer on our team already mocked up a version of this, just trying to finalize the details and schedule work for it. (Source)


@IksarHS Is there an intern at Blizz who’s job is to listen to all the Hearthstone podcasts and report back to y’all what we’ve been talking about? Half joking and half serious.

@NateWolfeTCG It sounds like you are talking about a very small sliver of what our community team does :) (Source)