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.

Diablo in Hearthstone

  • Dean loves it, though the team has varying opinions.
  • Having Diablo showing up in the mercenaries reveal stream was one of the biggest surprises. How likely would it be to see a full "prime evil" expansion (or better yet full year) based on that IP?
    • "I wonder if it could be a cosmetic thing." 
    • "Say we release a miniset but also offer an alternate art diablo themed version of that miniset as well."
    • "Based on how the Diablo in mercs stuff went, considering doing this more often."


Unsure if relevant but Celestalon has had a suspicious image in his Twitter profile about Chronobreaker being "wanted".

Stormwind Meta

  • The current meta is less polarizing, statistically, than most.
  • There are rarely ever any 65%+ win rate matchups between any meta decks.
  • Buffs are being considered. There is a balance discussion next week within the team. No comments until that meeting happens.


  • They are very happy with the way the new Battlegrounds patch released. Feedback has been generally positive.
  • Battlegrounds cards are some of the hardest to script for the game as their editor hasn't been built with Battlegrounds in mind.
  • We should see Battlegrounds cosmetics on the Paid Rewards Track.
  • Possible balance changes will be locked down next week.


  • Dean played Galakrond Shaman to Legend last season and he will probably do the same this season.
  • Dean thinks that the population of Warlock is too high which is limiting the range of experiences he could be having.
  • Dean doesn't think Warlock's deck is out of line, its just too consistently powerful.
  • Dean is not aware of changes being locked in for Warlock, but he has said to Alec that they should figure something out.
  • Crystallizer has been brought up by Gallon as a card high on the list.


  • Wait and play the game before you make your final judgements on how it works.
  • Mercenaries has its own systems for in-game rewards.
  • We should see Mercenaries cosmetics on the Paid Rewards Track.


  • They're going to be looking into a possible issue with offering rates on Epic cards on Tuesday.
  • The issue is not an intentional change and it needs to be investigated.
  • Dean wants to see them doing ranked Arena and matchmaking.
  • With matchmaking, Dean would also want to change the reward structure.
  • There is no timetable on Arena changes.


  • Like Quests, Hero cards are a great thing to have, just not in every expansion.
  • We can expect to see Hero cards again.
  • The team doesn't use custom cards as a reference for what to put into the game.
  • Dean avoids looking at custom cards unless folks directly send them in.
  • Giant cards can be dangerous but having the ability to be reduced to 0 isn't always an issue with cards, they've just missed the right balance sometimes.
  • They try not to make over the top random cards be the most powerful in the game, but they still want them to be powerful enough that players want to experiment with them.


  • They have considered spicing up the main menu based on an expansion's aesthetic, it just comes down to the time to do it.
  • We'll continue to see the occasional backdrop on the main menu for events.


  • Most should be completable in a predictable time frame, but they are okay with having some hard to finish achievements.
  • You shouldn't be forced to play a suboptimal deck for a 100 games to maybe get an achievement.
  • Oh My Yogg's achievement was on the edge of what they felt was acceptable.


  • Dean thinks it would be really cool to have some one-off, rare spell school designs for some classes.
    • Voodoo Shaman through Shadow Spells.
    • Dragon Warrior through Fire Spells.
  • Pandaria will happen at some point, Monk is not actively in development.
  • Dean has been "really thinking about [an auction house]" in Hearthstone.
    • Such an idea is massively complicated and possibly economy breaking.
    • Upsides to a form of player trading would be very high though.
    • There are no plans, just something that has been on his mind.
  • Dean could see them doing some Joust cards again if the set theme was right.

In-Game References to Real People

We covered this a bit more in-depth with backstory here.

  • Blizzard Employees will no longer be getting in-game references in Hearthstone.
  • It is possible we may still see references for community people, but Dean isn't sure if a decision has been made on that yet.
  • The reference to Dan Nguyen with the Master Nguyen Battlegrounds character was a work in progress for a while and they wanted to fulfill that promise.

Full Transcript of Iksar's Q&A #28

Quote From Dean Ayala

Hearthstone AMA #28 5:30PM - 6:30PM PST Ask me a question about Hearthstone! Or Design! (or anime…) Some minor details for Mercs questions below 👇 https://t.co/4UajKAwNWI (Source)

Due to having minimal involvement in the development of mercenaries myself, I won't be able to help answer questions on behalf of that team until post-launch. Once we release, I'll make sure to get educated enough to share information in these AMAs when appropriate. (Source)

I'll be back later today to go through all the questions and knock out as many as I can. See you then! (Source)

@IksarHS Who's your favorite Dragon? Who's your favorite Pirate? (Source)

@Celestalon hmm.. Chronobreaker for Dragon… and Buccaneer for Pirate. Surely those two 🐉🏴‍☠️ (Source)

@IksarHS Ever thought about doing community polls through something like the https://t.co/KsgaWhpVt1 launcher? To gather feedback from players about the game? I feel like there is a massive disconnect between the players and the devs right now and I think we should both work to fix that

@Oakijak_HS We have a consumer insights team at headquarters and also run many polls, surveys, interviews, with players across all regions. We wouldn't run a survey on bnet for the same reason we wouldn't run it through twitter or reddit. Very bias sample. (Source)

@Oakijak_HS I don't believe there is a disconnect between players on social media and development. Disagreement on some topics for sure, but not disconnect. People that engage with twitter/reddit/bnet are the easiest to understand because they come right out and say what they don't like. (Source)

@IksarHS Ok, maybe disconnect wasnt the right word, but it seems that the game is taking a different turn than a lot of people would like to see it take. Do you see that as a problem or just a feature of new design decisions?

@Oakijak_HS Can you be more specific? What decisions do you disagree with that are new? (Source)

@IksarHS If you could transform into a Hearthstone minion, which would it be. If you could transform into an anime character, who would it be.

@JohnEvMcIntyre you know you could help me answer these questions instead of giving me more work john (Source)

@JohnEvMcIntyre garrosh because he's the coolest anime question is too hard to answer, I tend to love edgy characters but they usually end up dying horribly or have a tragic life so uh…. my temp answer will be kakashi sensei (Source)

@IksarHS If I'm the person of r/hearthstone who would be the person of r/hearthstonecirclejerk?

@ZeddyHS zeddy I don't make the jokes i just laugh at them (Source)

@IksarHS When are you going to take other ideas into account. Ppl are asking more interactive modes and they detailed description, you decide to ignore it. According to an answer from last AMA, you care about is pro players. What are you going to do when that will be all your player base?

@Elocvent1 I wish this wasn't a real comment, but it is. (Source)

@IksarHS The current meta seems to have a lot more polarised (65-80+% winrate) matchups among competitive decks than ever in recent memory. Is this something you and/or the team find concerning?

@adam_noodelman There are rarely ever any 65+% win rate matchups between any meta decks. In comparison to past metas, this one is statistically less polarized than most. (Source)

@IksarHS I have never reached legend and always try to do this. Why do I have to play against legend players on ranked ladder, before legend?

@Elocvent1 Matchmaker tries to find people of similar MMR to play against each other. If you match against someone in Legend, it's because we think that person is a very close match for you, better than anyone else in the queue. (Source)

@Elocvent1 Being legend is not an identifier for your skill level, your MMR is. (Source)

@IksarHS How ya doing mon?

@Tesdey Hmm, good question. I was feeling a little spicy today but that probably isn't a good mood to do an AMA in. So now I am feeling happy and helpful instead. Thanks! (Source)

@IksarHS A dressroom on website that lets you make a WoW character and choose equipment from db. Then an automated rendering/filter generates a portrait for HS to use. Classes would be marked with icon and HP. Feasible? Worth the effort?

@RavenSunHS Anything is feasible with enough time and money. If I could go back in time to original Hearthstone I think a change I'd make is personalized avatars. Hero skins these days are such a core part of the game's narrative and theme I don't think we'd go back on it for a new system. (Source)

@RavenSunHS I really like this idea, though. I'm hopeful we can allow for more representation of who you are as a player even if we don't realize that through custom avatars. (Source)

@IksarHS Any Hero Cards Thoughs to the future? Or the fear of cards like Dr Boom and Rexxar Death Knight put an end to the exciting to create cards like that?

@murasavictor Hero cards are great, just not an every expansion thing. Similar to quests. We'll do them again! (Source)

@IksarHS Has the development team ever thought of changing the aesthetic of the main menu to match the expansion most recently released? Would be cool to have the jingle Stormwind-related.

@TimRizzo Yes! Just a time and effort thing. Our art and outsource teams pump out so much work expansion to expansion it's not something that's made the cut. We've done very light box dressing in the past, will continue to do at least that in the future. (Source)

@IksarHS Do you think you guys would ever push a Voodoo themed shaman in an expansion. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea and have even worked on custom sets for it and think it could be very fun! If it where to happen I gotta know, Shadow Shaman or Voodoo Shaman, what sounds better?

@BionicDoor This sounds awesome. I really like the idea of one-off spell school designs that rarely show up. Voodoo Shaman with shadow spells, Dragon Warrior with fire spells, etc. (Source)

@IksarHS What's a card that was hard to program that the playerbase wouldn't expect to be hard to program? 🤔

@SuperiorDavidHS Our editor is pretty good nowadays. I think people would be surprised how basically every BG minion is hard to script, though. Our editor was definitely not built to script BG functionality so most of what we do is pretty hacky with huge scripts to do basic things. (Source)

@IksarHS Are you still playing wild? What’s your thoughts on the current meta?

@baney64 I played Galakrond Shaman to Legend last season and I'll probably do the same this season. Opinion on current meta is the population of warlock is too high, limits the range of experiences I could be having. (Source)

@baney64 In terms of what the deck does, I wouldn't consider it out of line. Just too consistently powerful. Haven't talked direct changes with @GW_Alec yet other than we should figure out something. I don't work directly with that team so it's possible the decision has already been made. (Source)

@IksarHS Withallduerespect, do you think that generally, designers or devs should be tasked with communicating to the base? It seems very out of the average devs skill set (and I manage devs every day!) And can just create problems. I was personally upset with some of your twts this week

@PizzaCardRips It's not for everyone, and obviously not everyone has a talent for it. If you have devs on your team that are good communicators and have an interest in the work, I believe you should train them well, make sure they understand appropriate messaging, then let them loose. (Source)

@PizzaCardRips Lots of examples around the industry of people who are great at it. Rosewater, Greg Street, Kaplan, Luke Smith, etc. They all have said (many) things that some people in the playerbase disagreed or were upset with. I don't think the answer is we should all stop communicating. (Source)

@PizzaCardRips The goal is to have open and honest communication. If you don't like an answer, or if most players hate the answer, then I'd consider that partly a success. Now we know we might be misaligned and can talk about internally if we're still making the right choices. (Source)

@IksarHS Any plans to tweak the practice mode? Currently, it's only "aggro practice" bc all the classes play exactly the same: go face as much as possible, even if that means you'll die, keep going face. If people are gonna test on Casual, what does this serve for, it's a race too ._. https://t.co/aKjWofrcis

@cinco5cuatro4 Practice is meant to be fairly easily overcome, the intention isn't for it to be difficult or a test of player skill. Practice decks tend to be more tempo focused because tempo decks are simple and put players in common situations they can learn from. (Source)

@IksarHS Thoughts on the custom card community? Does it provide useful insight in to what players want and help give the design team ideas or does it make it so its harder to come up with original ideas and not look like copying?

@MagikMilk25 I look at cards when they are posted directly but tend to avoid otherwise. I love that there are players that are passionate card designers but we don't use those designs as reference for things we make in game. (Source)

@IksarHS So no merc questions umm… just a little thing: can we call it Pokemonstone? I mean, I know VGC and Smogon, played almost all pokemon games, this one is REALLY similar. Only missing finding mercs in tall grass and capturing the, with bribes instead of pokeballs

@cinco5cuatro4 Isn't it easier to just say pokestone? I think you should make your judgments on what the gameplay is like after you interact with the gameplay :) (Source)

@IksarHS Dean, is it possible to now separate the new expansion $80 bundles to just “Traditional” Hesrthstone players? What I mean is can the bundles just contain packs and maybe the tavern pass instead of battlegrounds perks or future mercenary packs? It should truely be separated now.

@CrunchTime4L As you can imagine, there is extensive research done on what types of bundles players like to buy vs the ones that are less successful. All I can say is that we'll continue to create the bundles that are most appealing to players, some obvious benefits to all parties. (Source)

@IksarHS MTG Arena has included Historic as a competitive eternal format, ranked system, qualifiers, official events, and even specific new products for it. Is there a world where that happens to Wild? Or will it continue to be just a casual environment.

@AlonsoArrietaC1 all esports questions go to @Abar_HS, give him a follow (Source)

@IksarHS Are we likely to see a Pandaria theme expansion anytime soon?

@MagikMilk25 There is basically no way we'll not do a Pandaria expansion. The team is just split on whether we should just do it now or wait until we possibly release Monk someday (not in development). I'm personally on team 'let's just do it' but I'm not the only opinion in the room :) (Source)

@IksarHS Are giants ever coming back? Do you personally think cards that read: "Costs (x) less for…" are healthy for the game if they don't have a cap? (Can't go below 1 for example).

@imik_plays They are obviously dangerous, but there are plenty of cards that have the possibility to be reduced to 0 that aren't an issue. Just a question of individual card balance that we've missed on in the past. (Source)

@IksarHS 'Evening. When asked about dust economy, you said that you'd rather give players more resources than change it. How will this work with a new mode which will apparently require a substantial amount of dust/gold investment for f2p players? Will we all get more resources?

@kurgan_ Mercs will have it's own systems that offer rewards. So in that sense, yes, there will be more rewards for playing than there is in-game now. (Source)

@IksarHS All Game Modes awards XP for Reward Track but rewards are very Constructed focused, except some Tavern Tickets for Arena/Duels. Do you plan to add things for BG and Mercs in it ?

@Arkentass Cosmetics on the paid track yes, but probably not on the free track. We'll keep it to packs and gold. (Source)

@IksarHS Are these Arena bugs on the team's radar? - Sphere of Sapience discoverable under weapon discovers despite being out of rotation - Epic offering rate bug

@kolstIRL I'll look into the first one, can you help me understand the second? Our system for offering rates is unfortunately rather complex, did at some point epics just start appearing way more often? Was it after a patch or after a micro-adjust? (Source)

@IksarHS The epic bug seemed to have been propagated directly by the microadjusts. It appeared that once a class was microadjusted, those sets were impacted thereafter. Thus, warrior wasn't impacted last rotation. The last meta's sets remained impacted through this rotation…

@IksarHS And then once the newest round of microadjusts came in, the seven classes adjusted (either up/down) then had all the current sets impacted as well. At least, that's what it looks like from what we can see.

@kolstIRL @IksarHS My understanding is that card rarity has no effect on offering rate in arena now other than serving as a base of the data the macro-adjustments AI is feed. Might be a bug or it might be AI think some of the epics having different rates would balance classes best.

@reerkat @IksarHS Well, for 3 classes, the rarities still behave normally for new rotation sets. I'm not sure how it affects rares - it's a little unclear from the data we have (due to offering bonuses, etc) but it might be true that affected sets simply have the rarity factor turned off entirely.

@kolstIRL @reerkat Micro adjusts move good cards up in population for bad classes and down in population for good classes. Is it possible there were just some really good epics in bad classes and now they are appear more as a result? (Source)

@IksarHS @reerkat I think for a few reasons, this can't explain it: - It looks like a ~400% increase in offering rate, making epics closely match a common. - This increase is happening in nerfed classes, for the highest winrate epics. - It also seems to impact mediocre epics across the board

@kolstIRL @reerkat ok, well after some initial investigation we haven't put our finger on exactly what happened, no intentional changes went in on our end we have some time on Tuesday set up to dig into it more deeply and come up with the answer (Source)

@kolstIRL @reerkat This is what happens when you make a wildly complex back end system to control arena drafts. Investigating bugs is an adventure 😭 (Source)

@IksarHS Alright Iksar, third time is the charm right? Have you guys considered giving packs depending on your ranked chest? For example, if I got legend on wild, I got wild packs, if I got legend in classic, I got a classic epic, etc..

@machadogps Not crazy, I would be afraid that some players view it as a downgrade. Generally old packs are valued less than new ones. (Source)

@IksarHS In hypothetical future when you guys release new class: Death Knight, what do you think will happen to Lich King card and all the generated DK cards from him? will the card change into smth else with same power?(illidan treatment) maybe DK class core set legendary? or smth else?

@balanira_ I think Lich King from KFT would just stay the same functionality, we might change the text to say 'special dk cards' or something to that effect. (Source)

@IksarHS Have you considered making the Juggernaut reward from the warrior questline trigger at the end of your turn instead of the beginning, so it has some immediate impact on the board?

@PMBoutin Considering buffs this week. Can't comment on what the team is thinking until we have that meeting. (Source)

@IksarHS What’s the internal sentiment for putting things into the game from real life like Hearthstone World champions? We rarely get anything other than an homage that isn’t officially recognized.

@Frodan This is a relevant question. There are some very recent downsides that have come up from naming characters after real-life people (McCree). We had Master Nguyen in dev for some time and wanted to fulfill that promise, but unlikely to do any more characters named after ourselves. (Source)

@Frodan Not sure if this should also apply to people outside our work. You can't control the actions of a person you put in the game, there are some examples of influencers or esports players I think we might have regret paying homage to if we did. (Source)

@Frodan I think it's a little sad if that disqualifies us from ever doing it, but not something we've settled on that I'm aware of. Fortnite has gone the other direction with this and it's been cool for them, so we'll have to make a thoughtful decision as a group. (Source)

@Frodan And to be clear, we've made the decision about naming characters after ourselves, unclear to me whether a decision has been made about using the likeness of any real person. (Source)

@IksarHS Have you watched one piece anime?

@Elocvent1 no, on the list (Source)

@IksarHS What cards are you looking at for Wild Warlock? Any chance Crystallizer could be reworked to convert health like Thekal so it doesn't work with the questline?

@ChaosOS_59 We'll look at all the high-win-rate suspects. Crystalizer was brought up by @GallonHS as something high on the list. (Source)

@IksarHS Follow up question: what are the current development plans/goals for Arena, now that Mercs are put?

@GamingPatzer I'd like for there to be ranked and I'd like for there to be matchmaking, and because of matchmaking I'd like there to be a different rewards structure than what currently exists. No timetable, been busy with mercs. (Source)

@IksarHS Do you think an Auction House would work in Hearthstone? I heard it didn't work too well in Diablo 😅 would HS be any different? or do you think AH should stay in WoW? Here's a mock up I made. Players could use both dust or gold to purchase cards from other players. https://t.co/ZA3x2eT60G

@JockyRhonson Been really thinking about this, massively complex, possibly economy breaking idea…. but the upsides to having player trading of some kind are really high. No plans currently but has been on my mind. (Source)

@IksarHS Dean it's Thursday are you drunk Also remember when you brought back the minor mechanic from old gods; the "forbidden" spells. That was fun, are there plans to bring back other minor mechanics like that? Like Spellstones

@yggdreigon_hs When you have a 2-month old baby in the house sometimes schedules change. And yeah, I think it's cool to bring back minor mechanics when they make sense. Omega was cool, spellstones were cool, could see doing some 'joust' cards again with the right set theme as well. (Source)

@IksarHS Kellen Goff has done a really good job as the voice of Thrall in some recent HS content, but are you able to elabourate on why Chris Metzen was not available to recite the voice? Covid-reasonings, scheduling conflicts, etc.?

@CBloodrider I wish I knew Chris Metzen's schedule, that would mean we might be friends. I'll look into it but I don't think this is the kind of thing we'd disclose for the sake of privacy. (Source)

@IksarHS Will tradinitionl control ever come back? I am not being mean-spirited here. I just really adored the archetype, and, it is lowering my levels of fun, sadly. Players shed some light onto is, my friend!

@Hijacke80152612 Traditional control has many different definitions. Personally, I'd define Barrens Priest as traditional control. That was around a month ago. Decks that play into the extreme late-game will always have a place in Hearthstone, just not in every meta. (Source)

@IksarHS Can we get say Naxx and GVG added to classic mode ? I pretty much only play classic and would kill for this .

@Myti_7 Will consider. I think at this point it would be a good idea, just a matter of timing. (Source)

@IksarHS any plans on making the league of explorers meet the mercenaries?? I feel like that’d be a very fun character dynamic!

@coolbeansjorge no narrative plans for that, but it sounds like a great idea :o (Source)

@IksarHS If you were like Odakawa. Which animals would the different people on Team 5 (the public ones we know is easiest probably) be?

@IksarHS Also; any chance there will be a GDC talk about the sound design on HS?

@Hyyyyl Honestly there should be. Andy is a legend, maybe we can convince him to do it. (Source)

@IksarHS Would you be willing to do something like Doom in the Tomb again? The last time you did that was really fun.

@_thefinalunion Yeah, we've been discussing that actually. Not exactly Doom in the Tomb but just some systemwide change for a limited time in addition to cards. (Source)

@IksarHS If expansions are added to Classic, please tell me you guys know better than to add Naxx by itself with no nerfs, right? No one wants to play the Undertaker meta again. Naxx + GvG or Naxx + Undertaker nerf would be cool though.

@AkagiHs cman naxx with no undertaker meta!?!?! what if it was just for a little while (Source)

@IksarHS Regarding achievements, how much split is there between completability and memorability? Because there are some EXP achievements that do feel bad for not completing, cuz' can be outright denied by your opp (Rokara's Juggernaut) while others are quite hard (Oh my Yogg's lethal)

@VillalobosChamp Most should be completable in a predictable time frame. We're okay with having some hard to complete ones, but you shouldn't have to play some very weird suboptimal deck 100 times to (maybe) get an achievement you want. (Source)

@VillalobosChamp If it's out of your control but it takes a couple play sessions before you get it. That's mostly ok, they aren't supposed to be agonizing. Oh My Yogg was definitely on the edge of what we think is acceptable in retrospect. (Source)

@IksarHS Do you understand Mercenaries better than we do after we saw that video? I’m just looking for a yes or no here, no need for follow-up if you don’t want.

@troldann I understand mercs very well from a player perspective, spent a lot of time playtesting :o (Source)

@IksarHS what are your thoughts on the current meta developments in Battlegrounds? i know its only been a few days and its still very early in the meta but at least from what ive seen playing dragons and beasts feel oppressively dominant with no real counter since toxfin was removed

@Unownknight7 We're really happy with bg release, tons of crazy stuff happening, room for innovation, generally positive feedback. That said, yes definitely considering balance changes. Locking down next week. (Source)

@IksarHS Hey Dean, i dont know if you can answer this, but i was curious. Since both mercs and standard share currency, will it be possible to "play" both game modes at the same time? Since standard "asks" for a big amount of gold, and i presume mercs will be the same. Thank you in advanc

@juniorgryphon3 Mercs will have it's own rewards/questlike system in addition to what currently exists. There are also merc specific rewards for playing mercs. (Source)

@IksarHS besides Gojo obviously, who are your top JJK characters? have you read the manga at all? watching anything else? reading anything else?

@shardbased Not big on manga reading, mostly just anime watching. I just finished Megalobox season 1, will probably watch the next Megalobox. Also looking to finish up Attack on Titan then start To Your Eternity and Link Click. (Source)

@shardbased And I honestly love most of the characters in JJK. Probably the three main characters. https://t.co/ckAIdmeOa9 (Source)

@IksarHS Having Diablo showing up in the mercenaries reveal stream was one of the biggest surprises. How likely would it be to see a full "prime evil" expansion (or better yet full year) based on that IP? (Please consider it 🤞)

@MikeGeeHS Personally, I love it. Team has varying opinions. I wonder if it could be a cosmetic thing. Say we release a miniset but also offer an alternate art diablo themed version of that miniset as well. Based on how the Diablo in mercs stuff went, considering doing this more often. (Source)

@IksarHS Does the team ever think of the game in terms of competitive integrity vs fun wacky stuff? Cards like Yogg Box are the reason I for one play the game but they can be really bad for people that want to play HS in a competitive manner. 1/2

@A_Minzatu We try not to make over the top random stuff be the most powerful stuff in the game, but we still put a focus on making them for players like yourself. One of the more challenging balance questions to answer each set. (Source)

@A_Minzatu How we can make some wildly random and fun cards that are powerful enough to warrant experimentation but not so powerful that players only interested in winning feel obligated to play them? A question we answer very often. (Source)