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.

Minion Types

  • More new minion types will happen in the future.
  • New minion types are a low complexity way to add flavor to the game.
  • They'd like to see new minion types to be able to tell a story of what a minion might do, unlike Quilboars that don't have unifying mechanics.

Class Design

  • Warriors will continue to see Armor as the main form of Control Warrior life gain.
  • Weapons are supposed to be something that makes weapon classes feel different.
  • They are unlikely to add one-off weapons to classes that don't generally use them.

Balance Changes

  • Incanter's Flow was not nerfed because the deck it was in was "only borderline powerful" so they went with a less aggressive change.
  • Balance changes should only be made if you believe the resulting meta will be more enjoyable. They did not believe changing Incanter's Flow would be a net positive.
  • Generally, they balance around higher-level players since the meta trickles down over time.
  • Most commonly they look at the top 1% of players.
  • When there are extremely powerful cards in low-level play, and the meta is less likely to shift on its own, they'll adjust if it won't hurt the other skill levels.
  • Buffs aren't good at being meta-balance-fixers, they instead give classes more options for experimenting.
  • They want to see the effects of changing Spring Water, First Day, and Crabrider before any more changes get made for wild.
  • They try to change cost and stats of a card before effects. Relearning what cards do should be prevented if possible.

Nozdormu Day

  • They've been thinking about adding a quest for playing a game with Nozdormu in your deck.
  • "What if we just forced all turns to be 15 seconds long for one day?"


  • An increase in team size has helped them pump out more cosmetics.
    • Demand has been healthy for them and they are trying to meet community expectations.
  • Miniset is getting close.


  • There is an obvious intention for Hearthstone to be an Esport.
  • Esports decisions for Hearthstone are made between the Esports Team and Executives.
  • There is very little design involvement for Esports outside of the director level.
  • Dean believes that Hearthstone's "easy to learn hard to master" lends itself very well to Esports.

Quote From Dean Ayala

The question of 'was hearthstone intended to be an esport' usually comes from someone with an opinion on exactly how much should be invested into an esports program in terms of time and resources.


  • The playerbase for Battlegrounds continues to grow.
  • Hearthstone would be "far less popular" without Battlegrounds.


  • Enjoys Sichuan-style dishes. Kung pao chicken is one of the most common in the US.
  • If Hearthstone were to do an anime crossover with Naruto, these are the heroes each character would be:
    • Warrior - Guy Sensei
    • Rogue - Itachi
    • Druid - Yamato
    • Demon Hunter - Sasuke
    • Priest - Tsunade

Full Transcript of Q&A #18

Quote From Dean Ayala

Hearthstone AMA #18 Ask me a question about Hearthstone! 7:30PM - 8:30PM https://t.co/zZDYta7oEY (Source)

@IksarHS CustomHearthstone recently made some intentionally complicated “math” cards and it made me wonder. How does the team gauge complexity and determine if an effect is too difficult to grok/understand? It's certainly seems like something that changes over time too. https://t.co/kUgflQVxV7

@coolboypai Serena Bloodfeather is an example of a complex math card we'd only do one or two of at a time. We try to use text that sounds like plain english whenever possible. Any text that feels game rules-y we'd view as a downside. (Source)

@coolboypai Not to say we wouldn't do it, but it would have to have many other positives. (Source)

@IksarHS Now that there is a new minion type, Will there be new ones like Treants or others in the near future? For regular gameplay or battlegrounds?

@lamri247 We'll continue to do new minion types. It's a relatively low complexity way to inject flavor. The biggest hurdle is usually trying to make each minion type feel cohesive and different than other types we've done in the past. (Source)

@lamri247 Quilboar don't have a unifying mechanic the same way Dragons or Elementals do. When possible we'd like for minion types to tell a story of what that minion might do. (Source)

@IksarHS It's been the second expansion in a row where the main gimmick turns out very underwhelming. Have you guys been extra cautious with the gimmicks since schoolomance or was it just a missed mark?

@yggdreigon_hs Hard to answer questions like this because A: I don't know what you are referring to B: It sounds you are saying you personally don't like something and asking me why we didn't make something you did like. (Source)

@IksarHS Hey Dean! How are you? Control Warrior feels like it could go into a new direction without Shield Blocks/armor gain and with new ways to mitigate damage, like Bulwark. Are there any plans/ideas to go into that? Maybe more "shield" weapons with different effects?

@PascoaHS I think we'll continue to use armor as the main form of control warrior life gain. It's interesting to have damage mitigation as an option but I think the core fantasy of Warrior loading up on armor is probably stronger. (Source)

@PascoaHS I like doing one-off effects that make you think about your damage sources differently. Doing small bits of chip damage is great vs specifically Bulwark but I don't think tokens being strong vs Warrior is particularly interesting or thematic as a general rule. (Source)

@IksarHS Now there are a lot of cards with 8, 9 or 10 mana, however there is only one "7+" button. Have your smart guys considered this issue?

@CN_Soda Just a restriction of the UI and trying to use the space in the most effective way possible. Fun fact, if you want to search 8 mana minions you can type mana:8 and search. (Source)

@IksarHS What's your go to order at a Chinese restaurant? Ps. please bring Madame Lazul back to the shop : )

@BIGYKN Sichuan. In the United States the most common sichuan is usually kung pao chicken but I usually enjoy any sichuan style dish. (Source)

@IksarHS From what I can gather, most people thought Incanter's Flow would be nerfed. However, since it wasn't, would you be able to share the thought process as to why it wasn't? No judgment here, more of a general curiosity since a lot of non-card game designers just assumed it'd be hit

@Fleeeeetwood A change to Incantor's Flow would have been more impactful and given that the deck was already only borderline powerful we opted to make the less aggressive change. (Source)

@Fleeeeetwood It's worth noting that you should only make a balance change if you believe the resulting meta is more enjoyable. In this case, we didn't think changing Flow would have made a net positive effect. (Source)

@IksarHS Just want to say thanks for being part of my favorite game. Please pass along love to the team.

@jdeejohnston I shall. Thanks for the positive energy :D (Source)

@IksarHS If Hearthstone ever did a cross-over with an anime, let's say Naruto - What heroes would you assign characters too? The two that come to mind are Illidan as Sasuke, and Malfurion as Yamato :D

@Luker_HS hmm here are some very quick top of brain answers Warrior - Guy Sensei Rogue - Itachi Druid - Yamato Demon Hunter - Sasuke Priest - Tsunade AND DEIDARA AS SOMETHING Team deidara (Source)

@IksarHS Deidara is legit my fave character so this is a based reply https://t.co/pBJAaPUjLm

@Luker_HS I am a very predictable edgy character lover so I'll always love Itachi most. Deidara is just so awesome, though. Probably 2nd fave. (Source)

@IksarHS @Luker_HS Can't wait for me Rogue

@Itachi_HS @Luker_HS https://t.co/3BniVdfKka (Source)

@IksarHS What's your balance perspective on high level vs. "pubs"? Can be related to HS specifically (i.e. power level of Rogue and Priest at high Legend vs. below), but this is a general game balance issue I see across genres. Genji and Medivh in HOTS is another case that comes to mind.

@LTTUltimate The meta at the high level tends to trickle down to lower level play over time, so given the choice we generally balance around high-level play. The statistics we most commonly look at at top 1% of players. (Source)

@LTTUltimate High level players generally have access to more cards and are more likely to try new strategies, so when an imbalance exists we are usually only concerned when it looks unlikely any stratgies will arise to challenge the powerful thing. (Source)

@LTTUltimate When counters do exist, high level players will usually gravitate towards them and shift the meta on their own. This is the ideal case. (Source)

@LTTUltimate When there is something extremely powerful in low-level play, it's less likely for the meta to shift on it's own so we step in to adjust so long as it doesn't adversely affect other skill levels. (Source)

@IksarHS Is it true that Hearthstone was never meant to be an Esport?

@Reavered_HS It's a question with a lot of subjectivity. We have an esports team and have ran championships, leagues, broadcasts, and events all over the world for many years. So in a literal sense, there is obviously direct intention for Hearthstone to be an esport. (Source)

@Reavered_HS The question of 'was hearthstone intended to be an esport' usually comes from someone with an opinion on exactly how much should be invested into an esports program in terms of time and resources. (Source)

@IksarHS Tomorrow is Nozdormu day. Wouldn't it be a good way to push the idea forward if Noz games (only those who triggers him) were worth double XP during the 15th of each month?

@oEltinho We've been thinking about just adding a quest for playing a game with Noz in your deck. What if we just forced all turns to be 15 seconds long for one day? (Source)

@IksarHS What does success look like for the latest round of buffs?

@ChaosOS_59 Buffs don't do a very good job at being meta-balance-fixers, but give classes a few more options for experimentation and allow for more tools in future card releases. (Source)

@ChaosOS_59 Success for buffs means that the cards we think make for better play experiences have a higher chance of being used in a deck. Success for nerfs is almost always a meta-level change or a population change to a particularly unfun playstyle. (Source)

@IksarHS 2 things :) , will we see nerfs for wild?, las sets of changes barely did anything. And is there any chance that we can see the card buckets in dungeon run like adventures and duels with golden cards based in our collection like it happens in arena drafts?

@Joshosss Want to see the effects of changing Spring Water, First Day, and Crabriber. All were highly played in strong and powerful decks in Wild. After we see how things shake out I think we'll take a look at the high power decks and see if the resulting meta is acceptable. (Source)

@IksarHS I am Japanese. Currently, only Snowflipper Penguin has an effect when summoned, but I would like other 0 mana minions to have an effect as well. How do you decide whether or not to give an effect?

@KAZI88k Some of it is the time the FX team has on a given expansion to make visuals. We'd love to make a custom entry for everything but there isn't always enough time to do that. (Source)

@KAZI88k So we pick the characters that are iconic or the characters the FX team is most passionate about making a custom effect for. (Source)

@IksarHS Why did this card change the cost, not the effect? Please tell me the reason. https://t.co/ihtuJEXvDm

@Gurubashi_homo In cases where we are trying to change power level, we'd prefer to change cost/stats if we can so players don't have to relearn what a card does. Sometimes this doesn't make sense but in this case changing the cost was a solution that met our power level goal. (Source)

@IksarHS Hello Iksar I have three questions for you -How did you choose cards for BoH ? I see you changed some cards to fit more to the lore (like armorsmith for Horde characters) but on the others hands I don't know if all cards have the same treatment (I haven't played to wow 1/4

@IksarHS Actually so I don't know, but I like to be "rp", most of all because I have bought "Azeroth is Burning" card back because of BoH) Were all the cards supposed to fit to the lore or some cards were added to support an archetype composed of lore cards ? 2/4

@IksarHS -It can sound weird but could we have an option to have non-golden hero ? I liked the King Anduin one in Tavern Brawl, and I prefer to have a full golden, or full non golden deck than to mix up, but as I will never had a full golden deck I would like to have my non golden hero3/4

@IksarHS as well -If an Alliance expansion had to be released, would Shalamayne be a priest weapon (as it is now Anduin's weapon) ? 4/4

@Red1003493649 Weapons are supposed to be something that makes weapon classes feel different than non-weapon classes. So unless there was some expansion level reason to do it (legendary weapons in Kobolds), we're unlikely to add one-off weapons for classes that generally don't use them. (Source)

@Red1003493649 Not something we're planning. There are so many different ways to change an customize a player's experience that we have to pick and choose which ones we think are the most important so we aren't overloading our UI with layers and layers of buttons/screens. (Source)

@Red1003493649 I wish I could answer this more clearly but I don't work on BoH. Generally speaking, the core goal of BoH is to be a very mildly challenging gameplay experience that is mostly focused on telling the stories of our characters. (Source)

@Red1003493649 So when choosing minions and spells, we're trying as hard as we can to choose characters and settings that do a great job of helping us accomplish the core goal, which is telling that story in a compelling way. (Source)

@IksarHS you knew this was coming. what role does the design team play in esports overall? i feel like it's not very clear who is in charge of what and how design influences competition and vice versa.

@RidiculousHat @IksarHS I like that he used the Kermit gif from that thread, I feel like it's classic cheeky Iksar and I love it.

@ZeddyHS @IksarHS 100% there's a premeditated answer here after seeing that gif

@RidiculousHat @ZeddyHS esports decisions are made entirely by some combination of the esports team and executive leadership, very little if any design involvement outside of director level (which I am not) (Source)

@RidiculousHat @ZeddyHS I personally believe the design philosophy of easy to learn hard to master just lends itself very well to esports. (Source)

@RidiculousHat @ZeddyHS lol, there was not it's actually just my favorite kermit gif (Source)

@IksarHS Mini set ? Are we getting close ?

@onescoop yes (Source)

@IksarHS We know we'll get acheivements for old adventures eventually. But will they be retoactive? For example, clearing all levels of dalaran heidst with all hero powers.

@V3dn3y If it's tracked in game it should be retroactive. If it's not already tracked in game it likely won't be retroactive. (Source)

@IksarHS In the early years of the game we didn't have a lot of cosmetics, so in the last 2 years a lot of skins were added. What has changed for that to happen?

@Kx_Jdbskx Mostly team size in terms of our internal team and our outsourcing partners. There is some healthy demand for cosmetics so we've just been trying to meet expectation. Going well so far. (Source)

@IksarHS This is a question I’ve been wondering since the success of the game mode: How correct of a choice does the whole dev team think it is to release BG instead of scraping it like many other concepts? To me it seems that HS BG is one of the greatest choices the ever made in HS

@DerpedGuyInSuit Extremely good choice. Playerbase for BG is huge and growing, Hearthstone would be far less popular in its absence. (Source)

@IksarHS Do you guys keep track of how often people concede after a certain card is played against them? Is that a relevant metric at all?

@Velho_Treant We don't look at that metric. If there is a card that is doing that the community is usually loud enough about it that I think it's enough to rely on player feedback and our own intuition. We do look more broadly at what behaviors a player has before they quit. (Source)

@IksarHS What do you personally to survive internet hate? Like either when you see people flaming hs and when people flame you.

@Hi3n3rgy Outside of the threats of violence the vitriol doesn't bother me much anymore. What can sometimes get to me is when every comment has to have some negativity attached to it, even if it's supposed to be positive commentary. (Source)

@Hi3n3rgy It's pretty common that when someone likes a card the commentary is something like "I love this card so much for X reason, also I wish all those other horrible designed that sucked were more like this one. Good job on this card, hope you can stop designing bad cards!" (Source)

@Hi3n3rgy Recently we ran a BG tournament that I think players really enjoyed. Despite that, most comments afterward we related to how we're not doing enough. (Source)

@Hi3n3rgy Again, I'm glad players share their opinions, it helps us get better. It can just be really taxing when every single comment has some tacked on negativity. Makes it hard to feel good about anything you create. (Source)

@Hi3n3rgy The answer for me is to try and not get consumed in reading feedback all day every day. I make time to take it all in and make sure I'm also making time to turn it all off and focus on creation. (Source)

@Hi3n3rgy also, rereading my own tweet…. I'm not referring to diversity here, I'm 100% down with being consistently held accountable for fair inclusion. (Source)