Everyone's favourite Hearthstone Dad, Dean "Iksar" Ayala has brought us another 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.

There is a large comment chain on Illucia, Dirty Rat, Tickatus, Mill Rogue, Treachery etc. Its worth the read!


  • We should see a main screen revamp arrive before the Stormwind mini-set.
  • The revamped main screen adds buttons for Mercenaries and Battlegrounds.
  • Dean isn't sure when the Random Hero Portrait feature is coming but he has seen slides for it.
  • If Mindrender Illucia was going to be around for another 3-4 years, they'd likely rotate her. Bye bye next year!
  • Curse of Naxxramas will be the first adventure to get achievements.

Forged in the Barrens

  • They've been happy with Forged in the Barrens but are ready to try more things.
  • Engagement with the expansion, and all expansions or balance patches, rarely moves a noticeable amount.
  • Engagement trends on a line over time and Forged in the Barrens didn't move in a way that makes them think its an outlier.

Future Potential

  • They have been contemplating ways to release new cards and events that could change game rules for a limited time.
  • Improving the workflow for Arena to better make micro-adjustments is something they are going to try and do.
  • Any thoughts on a hunter rework? Creating a class specific mechanic that every other class has at least one of?
    • No, would probably look at a class like Paladin or Shaman first. I like Hunter, it has one of the clearest class identities.


  • The team responsible for Battlegrounds has been scaling up "for a while now".
  • They evaluate balance of minions, heroes, and Darkmoon prizes on a daily basis.

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Full Transcript of Iksar's Q&A #22

Quote From Dean Ayala

Hearthstone AMA #22 Ask me a question about Hearthstone! Or Design! (or anime…) 6:30PM - 7:30PM PST https://t.co/hLMFM33puL (Source)

@IksarHS started one piece yet?

@CaptainPlanetOW no, still thinking about it currently watching re:zero season 2 and To Your Eternity season 1 (Source)

@IksarHS pretty tough day to be a blizz fan with the lawsuit news coming out. i doubt you can comment on it, but what do you do on the hs side to keep the culture positive and inclusive?

@RidiculousHat I haven't looked into it much, but from what I did read it sounds horrifying. I hope whatever truth comes out of it lands as harshly as possible on those responsible. In 10 years I've been here, I've honestly thought of Blizzard as the most open and inclusive place there is. (Source)

@IksarHS I’ve seen a huge positive reaction today to this card. What’s the development backstory and your thoughts? ūüźóūüó° https://t.co/yQmPuQvoqc

@ben_heathstone Well, I know the origin story from South Park. The dev story I don't know as well. @MyntyPhresh @Songbird_HS @JohnEvMcIntyre probably best suited to answer. (Source)

@IksarHS You have hired me to work on cards: what is the first thing you'd guess that I would fuck up?

@J_Alexander_HS You'd confuse making an interesting game with making a fun game. (Source)

@IksarHS This is an interesting answer

@J_Alexander_HS FWIW, I think you'd make some pretty cool cards. (Source)

@IksarHS How do you and the team feel about the rush mechanic now that it's been around for a while?

@Raktoner Love. It's important to have damage from hand cards so that falling behind isn't a death sentence, but it's nice when those can be minions sometimes to promote more minion combat. (Source)

@Raktoner The caviat is that if there is too much rush then minion combat doesn't matter at all. Players just launch damage from hand and board states don't matter. Tough to balance, especially when creating archetypes centered around rush. (Source)

@IksarHS I'd be very interested to hear your thoughts and your point of view about a card like Illucia.

@FenoHS Illucia, Dirty Rat, Tickatus, Mill Rogue, Treachery Decks, etc. All fall into a similar bucket. Some players live for this style of mechanic, without the existence of being able to ruin their opponent's strategy the game is much less interesting to them. (Source)

@FenoHS Some people despise these mechanics because they don't like being messed with in a way that feels unfair, despite how powerful that thing might actually be. (Source)

@FenoHS Our goal isn't to take all extreme emotions out of Hearthstone. If we did that there might be nothing player's hate, but there might also not be anything player's love. (Source)

@FenoHS In the case of 'mean' cards like Illucia, the goal is to have them in the game for people that love them, but keep the power level low enough that it doesn't feel like the only strategy you are playing against. (Source)

@FenoHS Players should be able to play the game in a way they want, but if it's a way that is widely despised they should be penalized for doing so. Meaning that deck probably shouldn't be the most powerful one in the game, or the most played. (Source)

@FenoHS In cases where Illucia or Tickatus is the most played or powerful card, or part of the most played or powerful decks, we strongly consider making a change. (Source)

@FenoHS In the world where those cards exist outside of top-tier decks, I think it's a good thing. There should always be a wide variety of experiences. When you start to shave all your highly emotional experiences off you don't end up with a more fun game you end up with a boring one. (Source)

@IksarHS @FenoHS Not to pile on here too much, but I feel Illuica isn't really a "strategy" as much as it's one card used to remove what's supposed to be a viable counter to the playstyle of the decks including it. You don't build decks around her; you just use her to stop specific things

@J_Alexander_HS @FenoHS I agree with that, I think the main takeaway is that if I were to make a list of all Hearthstone cards in standard and ask players to pick their favorite one. I imagine Illucia would be high on the list. That has to count for something. (Source)

@J_Alexander_HS @FenoHS The positive impact of removing someone's least favorite thing is medium. The negative impact of removing someone's favorite thing is enormous. (Source)

@J_Alexander_HS @FenoHS Obviously the scale of players who would be mildly happy is much larger than the scale of players who would be very upset, but I think at the very least a decision on what to do is not simple. (Source)

@J_Alexander_HS @FenoHS FWIW, Illucia is not something I'd consider a slam dunk yeah this is definitely the right card for Hearthstone. It's on the line and we don't even all agree about her internally. (Source)

@J_Alexander_HS @FenoHS @BoarControl has been lobbying for the death of illucia for a long time so don't blame him huehue (Source)

@IksarHS @FenoHS @BoarControl Thanks for taking the time and clearing @BoarControl of any wrongdoing. When I read all this, I keep thinking of Coldlight. It was always in bad (well, terrible) decks that were rare. It got removed all the same. I know there's core vs expansion, but it just feels odd

@J_Alexander_HS @FenoHS @BoarControl If Illucia was around another 3-4 years I think we'd probably rotate her. Coldlight survived for a long time! (Source)

@IksarHS @J_Alexander_HS @FenoHS @BoarControl Please don’t let this stop you guys from printing other cool disruption cards in the future. I like illucia. Keeps the combo decks in check. :-D

@CrunchTime4L @IksarHS @FenoHS @BoarControl I think this is actually a great example of the disconnect I mentioned. Illucia was designed to do a "mean" thing You like it because it's a super-effective tech card These are vastly different things

@J_Alexander_HS @CrunchTime4L @FenoHS @BoarControl I think we agree on the goals, I just don't believe that players who love Illucia love her because of her power level. They love her because of how satisfying of a card it is to play. (Source)

@IksarHS Was the sharp increase in offering rate of epics in Arena a bug, or an intentional change?

@kolstIRL Unintentional as far as I know, @BoarControl might know more. (Source)

@IksarHS Any update on the 'main menu revamp' ? Will Battlegrounds join it soon or will it not happen before Mercenaries ? (And any chance we ever get the 'Big Visual Update' you mentionned ?)

@Arkentass Main menu changes are pretty light, just putting merc and bg on the start screen. Should come in a patch before the stormwind miniset. (Source)

@IksarHS What’s your favorite sports anime?

@StephNewland I haven't watched many, but haikyu easily (Source)

@IksarHS Solid choice! If you like Haikyu, check out Kuroko's Basketball, Slam Dunk, or Hajime no Ippo :)

@StephNewland ughhh so much anime so little time (Source)

@IksarHS Any preliminary analysis for why Barrens meta has been considered very well balanced, but a bit boring/style? Does public twitter sentiment reflect engagement statistics?

@ToastieNL Engagement very rarely moves a noticeable amount from any one expansion or one balance patch. Engagement always trends on a line over time and Barrens hasn't moved that line up or down in a way that would make us think it was an outlier in some way. (Source)

@ToastieNL I would say we're….. happy but ready to try more things. Been contemplating different way to release cards and events that change the game rules in some very minor way for a limited time. (Source)

@IksarHS is the random hero portrait feature going to be available soon? i am really looking forward to that. sorry for the bad english and thank your for doing this

@Diego8833 I've seen slides for it but I don't know when it's coming…. I will have to check in on it since I haven't been involved personally. Sorry! (Source)

@IksarHS The return of spells in 25% of BGs games has been a nice breath of variety into the game. However, the power level of the spells is very disparate, and the new "comeback system" highlights this issue even more. If the spells are staying can we expect more balance iterations soon?

@pocky_plays Team for BG has been scaling up for awhile now. Can't comment on exact decisions but @GW_Alec @DCalkosz and team are evaluating balance decisions on minions/heroes/prizes on a daily basis. (Source)

@IksarHS I've been really inspired by Magic's recent Modern Horizon 2 set for advanced players. How much of HS content is geared towards enfranchised players and how much of it is for new players? Is it 50/50 or more skewed towards one?

@coolboypai These days, probably the more engaged audience. The new player population is just not nearly the size as it was in year 1 or year 2, so I think it's appropriate to design in a way appropriate for our actual audience. That said, we still try to keep the game approachable. (Source)

@IksarHS What's your favorite anime?

@the_stooksbury probably fullmetal alc (Source)

@IksarHS My daughter has asked that for our next Hearthstone reveal video, could the card please be a dragon or about a dragon?

@blisterguy we'll see what we can do @Chris_Attalus (Source)

@IksarHS Who's the best Hearthstone player at Blizzard that's never been on the Hearthstone team?

@adam_noodelman that's a good question…. maybe @natenanzer or @Indalamar2 for people that no longer work at blizz but used to jeff kaplan is a pretty damn good battlegrounds player, too (Source)

@IksarHS Have you seen Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken yet and how does the theme in the series (crunch and how budgets affect creative project, the need for producers and how everything from camera angles to sound affect animation) relate to game Dev in your opinion?

@Hyyyyl omg I feel like I have to watch this now…. thanks for the rec :) (Source)

@IksarHS Best children’s book you’ve come across so far? (A lot of them suck) And, if I may, I humbly and highly recommend “You Hold Me Up”

@JaredPullet Babe is just a 1 month old so we haven't been doing much reading yet, but I imagine we will soon! (Source)

@IksarHS Is there any chance of a second microadjust per rotation in Arena? I've seen growing sentiment that at least one more shakeup would help - as one class being on top for long periods (i.e. two of three metas in a row) under this frequency makes it feel more stale.

@kolstIRL No promises but we just discussed this yesterday. Part of the limitation is how cumbersome the work is. It's a pretty heavy lift on at least two teams that aren't design, going to try and improve the workflow a bit. (Source)

@IksarHS I see. I had initially thought it was tough work too, but I hear other people say it's like "pushing a button" so I wasn't sure. That's good to know, very insightful - thanks!

@kolstIRL There is nothing in game development on a game with 150 devs on multiple platforms that is like pushing a button heh (Source)

@IksarHS How are the wife and bab doing :)? Dad getting used to sleepless nights ;)?

@ToastieNL they are great and happy and healthy, things have not been easy but we were prepared for that. Molly is OP (Source)

@IksarHS Any thoughts on a hunter rework? Creating a class specific mechanic that every other class has at least one of?

@rgbowencom No, would probably look at a class like Paladin or Shaman first. I like Hunter, it has one of the clearest class identities. (Source)

@IksarHS Would the team ever consider doing a collab? For example, a collab with Naruto or Dragon Ball. Is something like that possible, even if it’s some integration of Starcraft, Diablo, or Overwatch lore?

@nirmayn2454 We've discussed licensing another IP into Hearthstone but it would have to be a really large event to make sense from a business perspective. Not sure we're willing to do the 'naruto expansion' quite yet. I can dream, though. (Source)

@nirmayn2454 doing some tie-ins with overwatch or diablo is much more likely because we can do something smaller (Source)

@IksarHS Ever thought about printing a legendary that let's you Discover a 1-Cost spell as a new Hero Power. I know some classes might be broken with that, but would be cool to see, especially in Hunter.

@Theolis_Wolfpaw I wonder how excited people would be to play against devolving missiles hero power mage, lol. I could see it working but we'd have to pick the right class. Something that is mostly pro-active rather than repetitive removal. (Source)

@IksarHS How do you evaluate what mechanics to bring back if you ever do? Curious how you evaluate that.

@FilmCriticKurt We rarely do this. In the past we left keywords in standard or brought them back because we felt like there was room to have more of them. Nowadays we view ourselves at about the limit. (Source)

@FilmCriticKurt For things like hero cards, quests, or no duplicates cards they are usually just so high impact that they end up defining a lot of what the game is when they are around. (Source)

@FilmCriticKurt We've determined we like them, but not as an always on sort of thing. In the same way that we like individual archetypes like rush warrior or ramp druid or whatever but that doesn't mean we're happy if that is the strategy every expansion. (Source)

@FilmCriticKurt So rather than make only some hero cards or quests impactful and do them always, we've opted to make them more impactful when we do them but just take breaks. (Source)

@IksarHS About diamond card 2 things :) If benedictus will be one of the diamond legendaries for next set, does it mean the hero power he gives will be diamond aswell? and Any plans for fiamond cards from old expansions and adventures, for like collectioning or compliting heroic modes?

@IksarHS :(

@Joshosss We'll do diamond cards for every old expansion, not sure about adventures. We'll also make achievements for old adventures, starting with Naxx. Just takes time. (Source)