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.

Achievements

  • They do track progress past achievement quotas. You can see this on many achievements.
  • A bug where mobile doesn't always show your progression should be fixed in the next patch.

Battlegrounds

  • Cards are not designed with any consideration about whether or not they could be added to Battlegrounds. Constructed game only.
  • There are plans for some out-of-game systems for Battlegrounds but we won't seem them until next year.
    • An example of an out-of-game system is the rewards track. Its still in the client itself, just not seen in the game mode.

Book of Heroes

  • All the heroes that were released in the shop will eventually be purchasable for gold. They have to be exclusive first though.

Cosmetics

  • They've been talking about ideas for title and avatars. May see something like that next year.

Events

  • Events were going to have larger amounts of rewards but then the rewards track wasn't well received so they pumped them into it instead.

Systems & Design

  • 50% winrate among all the classes is not the goal.
  • Addressing some of the power creep while making expansions that players want to play is hard to solve.
  • Another big issue for the team is how far behind players get when they come back to the game, even during a set rotation.
    • From a gameplay POV, rotating the last year's sets too would make the game more accessible.
    • Doing so is bad for the consumer though since an end-of-year set has low overall value.
    • Figuring out how to solve this problem, letting players jump back in without being behind is something Dean would love to do.
  • The efficiency of arcane dust is unlikely to be improved.
    • Dean would rather give out more rewards in other ways.
  • Dean could see Magnetic coming back as a keyword in the right expansion.
  • Dean was skeptical at first about the Tradeable mechanic and wanted to do something more like Magic's Cycling.
    • Cycling in Magic: The Gathering is after you pay a defined cost, discard this card and then draw a card.
    • He was also worried about the flexibility in designs with it always being 1 mana. It turns out this wasn't a problem in the end.
  • Tradeable is unlikely to become an evergreen keyword, though Dean could see them adding it in place of another.

Wild

  • They try to hide the mode from new players because it is very complex for someone trying to understand the game.
  • There have been considerations when it comes to adding purchasable wild sets which would contain all the cards but be not disenchantable.
    • No guarantees this will ever happen.
  • The intention for wild is to not be Standard 2.0; Light changes only, sometimes major ones if there is an extremely negative feeling about an archetype.
    • Extremely negative is usually:
      • When your opponent does something that you can't build or play around;
      • Consistent enough to happen often;
      • And has a high population in the deck pool that you see it regularly.
    • Things that happen on Turn 10 are rarely extremely negative since there is enough aggression to disrupt these slower decks.
  • Warlocks may see some minor adjustments in the future.

Full Transcript of Iksar's Q&A #26

Quote From Dean Ayala

Hearthstone AMA #26 5:00PM - 6:00PM PST Ask me a question about Hearthstone! Or Design! (or anime…) I'll go through each question and answer all I can in a few hours. See you then! https://t.co/a30bNAxyoq (Source)

@IksarHS Does hearthstone internal stats for achievements track over the amount required for achievements and would love more ways to see stats and things I've done in game https://t.co/vNimFMTlys

@Ace103HS @IksarHS It does! Look at an achievement you've completed, it still shows progress past the quota. (Source)

@Celestalon @IksarHS Wow devs are so reactionive i can't believe I suggest something and it's in within seconds. Also how did i not notice this before ūüėÖūüėā

@Ace103HS @IksarHS To be fair, not *every* achievement supports that, but most do. (Source)

@Celestalon @IksarHS Wait by most which do I just spend a few minutes pressing random ones that would make sense and they didn't most importantly this one. I only found one and it was total wins https://t.co/bd1VmTVHSU

@Ace103HS @IksarHS That one does count past the cap, yes. I think there might be a bug on mobile that it doesn't always show (something about opening/closing the same achievement multiple times I believe? Not sure.) (Source)

@Ace103HS @IksarHS I looked into this bug; it should be fixed for the next patch! (Source)


like the AMA tweet or @Slysssa will show up and make fun of me for being ratio'd (Source)

@IksarHS Next time you AMA, treat it like how hearthstoners treat their giveaways I’m doing a hearthstone AMA! To enter 1. Like 2. Follow 3. Retweet And I might respond!

@Slysssa you are truly the master https://t.co/8CB1JDU5ef (Source)


@IksarHS What are some big design issues that the HS team have been trying to tackle for a while now? Whether it be issues of a class’ identity, a foundational game mechanic, or even limitation that can't be solved with just 1 or 2 sets.

@coolboypai There is inevitably power creep, even if you don't intend there to be. Makes the game faster and faster and cards that don't swing the game less likely to be played. Addressing some of that without making expansions no one plays is hard to solve. (Source)

@coolboypai Another big one is that you always feel behind if you are new or coming back. Even if you come back on rotation day there are still 3 big sets and 3 minisets you don't own that are still in Standard. (Source)

@coolboypai From a purely gameplay POV, it would be awesome to rotate 100% of the expansion cards every year so that we create a point in time every year where everyone starts from the same place. (Source)

@coolboypai From a consumer POV, it makes the middle and last expansions of the year really low value because they are only around for a tiny bit before rotating away. (Source)

@coolboypai So how do we solve for valuing a player's collection and purchases while also making sure a player doesn't feel behind in terms of either cards or knowledge from previous sets? Difficult. (Source)

@coolboypai Call of Duty is awesome at this. You can be away from COD for years, decide to come back on a new game release, then feel on the same page with everyone else who is playing. Would love to find a way to accomplish this that doesn't devalue players who are around the whole time. (Source)


@IksarHS Plans on making book of heroes skins purchasable with gold now that all of them are released? I missed the warrior one and I’d love to get it

@FroggyHSxD If we asked you to purchase one, we let there be some time for it to be exclusive before unlocking gold purchase. All of them (except for ones you can earn) will be purchasable with gold at some point. (Source)


@IksarHS A lot of people in the community thought that if Incanter's Flow was nerfed (which is was), Mage should be given some buffs to compensate for its best card being nerfed. Did the team consider/are considering buffs to other Mage cards to compensate for Flow's nerf?

@DatMageDoe Considered it, but not very seriously. Flow is obviously great, maybe even better than it was last expansion. That said, I think the deck is less reliant on it now to be able to execute on a plan. (Source)

@DatMageDoe We were okay with making the simple change and in the worst case, spell mage play rate drops off until new card injections. (Source)


@IksarHS Some of my favorite times in Hearthstone were grinding for the golden and 1k portraits. For this reason the Nozdormu achievement really calls to me but there’s no cosmetic to show off at the end of the mission. Any chance of getting a Diamond Noz or Noz portrait for 500 Noz wins?

@MartianBuu We've been kicking around some ideas for titles and avatars and this sounds like an achievement that is perfect for that. No timetable but likely something that will make it's way into the game sometime next year. (Source)


@IksarHS Has there ever been much thought put into incorporate deck tracking officially like what you see with Hearthstone Deck Tracker?

@FilmCriticKurt Not really. I don't think it enhances the game for the majority audience and for the players it does enhance the experience, the tool is already available. Not much upside. (Source)


@IksarHS Some players have loads of gold and most of what you can buy with it. Do you have some sinks planned soon ? (Except Hero Skins wich most of the players falling in that category would probably already have) Or ever tought of going in a world where everything have a $/Gold cost ?

@Arkentass Cards are a pretty good gold sink. If you have a mass of gold you can spend 10k+ on cards for an expansion and not have to spend real $ at all. Do you think that's not enough? (Source)


@IksarHS What are your thoughts on current dust efficiency and how difficult it is for f2p players to obtain specific cards? Any thoughts on improving the dust system?

@MagikMilk25 Unlikely to improve dust efficiency. When people talk about dust efficiency the real goal is they want more things without having to spend. If that's the goal, I'd much rather just have new reward systems rather than further motivate players to destroy their cards for % value. (Source)


@IksarHS Although the wild pack really helps, do you or the hearthstone team have any ideas for how to make wild cards more accessible for newer players?

@itsmeliamo We intentionally obfuscate Wild from newer players because it's a very complex mode for someone trying to understand the game. (Source)

@itsmeliamo In some ways Wild is a bit more approachable than Standard from a spend perspective. If you craft one powerful deck you are likely to stay powerful forever and be able to build on that deck without every having to pivot to something new. (Source)

@itsmeliamo That said, we've thought about adding a purchase option for entire non-disenchantable Wild sets for low purchase point. Unsure if we'll ever do it but there is some motivation there to have a lower barrier to entry without risking players just buying and disenchanting for value. (Source)


@IksarHS If you could reprint a keyword from the past, which one would you choose?

@imik_plays I could see us bringing back magnetic for the right expansion. (Source)


@IksarHS So uh… any big changes coming in the future? We had nerfs so, it'd only make sense now to have buffs to the weaker classes, pushing different archetypes. So far, the mounts have been quite underwhelming since board fights are dwindling, any solution? https://t.co/YRugcvmEJO

@cinco5cuatro4 Meta still changing. Our goal isn't to have 50% win rates across the board. It's ok if power and population fluctuates over time, we step in to change outliers or in situations where we think the meta is about to take a negative turn or never change. (Source)


@IksarHS When designing a new expansion now, how much thought is put in to those new cards being added to Battlegrounds? Is it just an afterthought of "this would work" like with Felfin Navigator?

@MagikMilk25 An afterthought. We design cards to work well for constructed and design bg cards to work well for bg. (Source)


@IksarHS I'm curious what you think about the state of events in Hearthstone? It feels like all the seasonal events have not been the best in terms of generosity. People often point to the old days of getting double gold or dust and it doesn't feel the same anymore

@KuriennoHS We had originally planned to have a less gold focused rewards track and do big events to make up the difference but it wasn't received very well. We ended up just pumping almost all rewards into the track and I think players have liked that more. (Source)


@IksarHS Have you considered changing the mechanic of "costs life istead of mana" to actually pay/lose life like in MTG instead of taking damage? That way the Stealer wouldn't be broken in Wild because Immunity won't prevent the life loss "theorically", and also it won't break the Quest.

@AlonsoArrietaC1 If we're solving a problem for balance reasons we'd just change the individual card balance in some way. I find that interpretation of paying life to be less intuitive than the way it exists in hearthstone now. (Source)


@IksarHS Why do you hate Rattlegore so much?

@bmkibler Lol, I just think he is a funny poster child for the kind of card that is unlikely to be successful in a quest-centric meta. (Source)

@bmkibler FWIW I only trash talk your deck because I consider us friends and who doesn't love trash talking their friends. Sometimes I forget that context/tone is often lost on the internet so I apologize if it came off mean-spirited. (Source)


@IksarHS Are there any plans to add leaderboards for achievements or Duels?

@ZeddyHS Achievements we'll build on far into the future, probably not leaderboards. (Source)


@IksarHS Going back to your idea of double stars or XP, maybe it could be applied to classes that are not played as much (priest or warrior in today’s meta)?

@CrunchTime4L I think the idea of a daily reroll is good, but I don't mind if sometimes you get a bonus for playing the best thing. Might feel like a jackpot moment. (Source)


@IksarHS Are there going to be rewards implemented for Battlegrounds? Like how in Standard you can unlock skins for leveling on the Tavern Pass, will there be a similar reward for Battlegrounds added sometime?

@nirmayn2454 We have some plans to add more out-of-game battlegrounds systems but they won't come online until next year. (Source)


@IksarHS What is the card you are the most proud of designing from scratch? (Bet it’s Patches R) )

@ramanujoke I honestly don't know. I hesitate to claim invention of any card because everything is always a collaboration or modification of someone on the teams idea. (Source)

@ramanujoke Some recent stuff was the Rokara pirate ship, Mutanus, original concept for Corrupt…. (Source)


@IksarHS Naruto question: Watching the series through for the first time and on the Kimimaro fights. With the original canon series coming to an end before I start Shippuden, were you a bit sad with how little development Sakura received? She does very little other than cry.

@TimRizzo Yeah, original series shows its age. Most anime from that era weren't very kind in their portrayal of women in general. Shippuden improves on that quite a bit. No spoilers tho (Source)


@IksarHS Hearthstone's UI seems to have given you guys a lot of obstacles in the way of systems that the community has shown interest in for a long while– tourney mode, in-game leaderboard/tracking. Will a full UI overhaul ever be possible? What's in the way?

@Caeles_Luna It's not a limitation of our current UI as much as a philosophical limitation we put on ourselves. Card games are already on the complexity high-end of games and part of the reason we think Hearthstone has been successful is limiting complexity in other facets of the experience. (Source)

@Caeles_Luna Limiting complexity doesn't necessarily mean you have to also limit depth, but it does have some impact. We try to have both depth and limited complexity, but have definitely sacrificed depth of systems for better UX many times. (Source)


@IksarHS historically wild has been left to more organic balancing - in standard you curate based on ladder performance and in wild you haven't. current wild kind of feels beyond the tipping point of this approach. do you agree? do you anticipate a change in how the format is approached?

@RidiculousHat We don't intend for Wild to be Standard 2.0. I don't expect the philosophy around Wild balance to change in any drastic way going forward. We'll make light changes to major power outliers, we'll make major changes to extreme negative feeling gameplay archetypes. (Source)

@RidiculousHat Both of those things are just very subjective. To us, Warlock currently is on the edge power outlier and will probably see some further minor adjustment. (Source)

@IksarHS @RidiculousHat what is a negative feeling gameplay archetypes? so far darkest hour was one of those, but wouldn't the Sorc apprentice OTK, combo druid, and the rogue OTK decks that all kill on 5/6 with no board interaction fit under that umbrella as well?

@MemnarchHs @RidiculousHat again, subjective usually extreme negative means your opponent is doing something you have no opportunity to build or play around, that thing is consistent enough to happen often, and its high population enough that you see it regularly (Source)

@MemnarchHs @RidiculousHat for this reason, things that happen on T10+ rarely fall into this bucket because there is enough aggression for aggro decks and disruption for slower decks to build around an interaction (Source)

@IksarHS @RidiculousHat each of the decks i mentioned though do have gameplans against aggro and are way too fast for control. the OTK mages have ice blocks which buys them 2 turns, the OTK druids have Oaken summons + lots of armor and the OTK rogues now have evasion and Cloak of shadows.

@MemnarchHs @RidiculousHat I think if OTK mage was 40% of the population we'd be having a conversation about that deck instead of warlock. (Source)

@MemnarchHs @RidiculousHat But simply because a combo exists doesn't mean it warrants changing. If OTK mage had a great plan vs aggro and control it would probably be winning more games. (Source)


@IksarHS what are the vibes

@paulsworkintwit https://t.co/xGisE1DUNQ (Source)


@IksarHS How do you guys liked the tradeable mechanic? It honestly feels like an evergreen mechanic rather than a one time thing, it's at least in my opinion one of the best mechanics ever introduced in a set since discover

@yggdreigon_hs I love it. Admittedly, I was a bit skeptical at first and wanted to do something closer to how Cycling works in Magic. Was afraid the UX of dragging to deck wasn't communicated well enough and always (1) mana draw didn't give us enough design flexibility. (Source)

@yggdreigon_hs Turns out we were able to make plenty of designs that felt great to play or trade at 1 mana and dragging to deck was adopted right away. Still unlikely to make a forever keyword (we have too many of those already) but maybe we'll get rid of a keyword and replace it! (Source)


@IksarHS Hi Iksar, do you like Ghibli anime? I want you to try watching Made in Abyss, it's like Ghibli anime style about a girl who journey into the abyss to find her mom. ūüėĀ

@vivamagician This is a good reminder to finish it. I started it but my wife finished when I got sidetracked with something else and I never got back. (Source)

@vivamagician and of course, ghibli is ūüĒ• (Source)


@IksarHS Congratulations on the new addition to your family! Has being a parent influenced your thoughts on game design, particularly in areas like ranking and progression? Are there things that Hearthstone could do to be more accessible to parents and others with limited time?

@Michael40927175 My son is two months old so most of my learnings have been around diapers and learning his sleep schedule. I think as he grows up I'm sure I'll be influenced by his interactions or interests. (Source)

@Michael40927175 But generally speaking Hearthstone is marketed as a casual/fun experience but the core experience is a multiplayer PvP game which most people wouldn't consider very casual. (Source)

@Michael40927175 We could do a better job of having a more laid back experience where success is defined by progress rather than victory. Progression track was part of that, Mercs takes that idea a little further. (Source)


@IksarHS Have you ever considered having a random player voice a future card? 1 person from these AMAs/reddit or something wins the opportunity to record something for an upcoming card? I think that would be both FUN and INTERACTIVE.

@BIGYKN I've floated the idea of doing a couple influencer hero skins and getting them voiced. Imagine we did a @Kripparrian skin and a @DisguisedToast skin but only gave them to Kripp and Toast. Only way to get them is by watching a streamer defined amount of hours of their stream. (Source)

@BIGYKN @Kripparrian @DisguisedToast It amuses me to think of kripp only giving out his skin for 50000 hours watched or toast just never giving it out and keeping it for himself (Source)


@IksarHS Would you call Quest Shaman and/or Quest Mage control decks?

@J_Alexander_HS I think we would both agree that it doesn't really matter what I consider a control deck. In my position I find it most useful to use terminology most aligned with players. So in that case, no I don't consider them control decks. (Source)

@J_Alexander_HS Player perception doesn't always make sense, but I think control decks are either fatigue decks or decks that start the game reactive and eventually become pro-active with large minions. (Source)