Hello everybody and welcome to another Fan Community Spotlight. This week, two worlds of Blizzard collide as we're taking a look at Overwatch characters made into Hearthstone Mercenaries made by Cydonianknight which is now the fifth time they've been featured in this series.
With Mercenaries being only a couple of months old, as well as the fact that the cards themselves feature a lot more components to consider, creations for the mode are still very few and far between. This really shows as this is only the second project on this series to focus on the mode. Mercenaries creations are in general, much more daunting to get into and require much more finesse to get the right balance on, especially for people like myself who generally don't play the mode very often (and I do suspect that this will become more problematic in the future with the real mode). If you're a fan of Mercenaries and you enjoy creating cards, then I do encourage you to try to build your own cards for the mode. Who knows how much untapped potential is still left to explore?
So who's ready to get into some crossover action? I must admit that I've never played Overwatch before, but this is still an exciting crossover project to me. If you do play Overwatch, then it'll probably even more exciting for you as it is for me and you'll also have a different perspective as to how various character attributes are translated across different gameplay styles. But now is the time I toss the spotlight over to Muse's knight of Cydonia to talk about a future worth fighting for and we've got a total of 5 faces to achieve that.
Describe these Mercenaries for us. How were you inspired to make them in the way that you made them?
Cydonianknight: "Overwatch has been one of my favourite games for a while, with the heroes being such iconic characters, with their own unique identities and abilities. I’ve been looking for a way to neatly translate them over to Hearthstone for a while, Legendary cards got a bit overcomplicated and didn’t fulfil the fantasy of playing those characters in Hearthstone for me. With the recent addition of Mercenaries, and the functionality of using abilities and equipment, I thought this mode was very fertile ground for Overwatch heroes to be part of the mode.
With the abilities, I wanted to capture the fantasy of playing the heroes from a mechanical perspective, which may mean that balance fell to the wayside a little so that the mercenaries resembled their Overwatch counterparts.
Widowmaker: The first one I designed, her gun Widow’s Kiss, which grows stronger if the target hasn’t acted yet, is similar to the damage ramping of her gun in the game. Venom Mine applies Bleed to a target but also slows the target, allowing Widowmaker to tee up her target for Widow’s Kiss the following turn. Grappling Hook allows Widowmaker to leave the battlefield and increase the damage of Widow’s Kiss for the future, meaning she can be used in the early and late phases of the game. Infra-Sights was interesting to design, I had absolutely no clue how to convey her ultimate in Mercenaries, until I landed on this fairly unusual equipment which allows for some information gathering on your opponent’s comp.
Brigitte: Support heroes have all become Casters, which means that healing will become a common theme among them. Brigitte has healing in spades, with Flail Strike being quite similar to Cornelius’ Taunt/Heal ability, with an Attack replacing the Taunt. Shield Bash is a very disruptive tool in Overwatch, so the speed slow with Divine Shield felt appropriate. Rally needed to feel extreme, with a big board-wide heal and speed upgrade, similar to her ability in the main game. Her equipments are fairly standard, however I did land on a unique mechanic of reducing the Cooldown of an ability (in this instance Rally), by taking away some of the power of the equipment.
Roadhog: Scrap Gun has a very unique mechanic of dealing more damage if the enemy you attack is directly opposite Roadhog, representing the need for him to be close to an enemy to deal damage in the main game. Whole Hog absolutely needs some fine tuning, I wanted an ability that could decimate the enemy Mercs but still had this random, scrappy feel. Chain Hook is probably the most iconic part of Roadhog’s kit, so this was an important one to get right, I’m not sure if I’m there with balance but it does feel very representative of the in-game ability. The Meatier Hook equipment brings this ability up a significant notch, with Chemical Canister allowing him to tank slightly more damage every turn.
Reaper: By far the simplest design, with dual shot nature of Hellfire Shotguns being a neat way to incorporate his guns into the mode. Wraith Form feels like a much more balanced version of Valeera’s stealth mechanic, with it feeling like an escape mechanic as it is in Overwatch. Death Blossom is just a simple AoE that can chain off itself, enough said. I wanted to represent his Lifesteal mechanic through Soul Harvester, albeit this restores the full amount of damage dealt unlike the 35% it currently is in the main game.
Genji: My favourite design of the five, Shuriken Throw perfectly incorporates the 2 styles Genji can use his primary in the main game with a simple Choose One effect. Deflect is such a cool mechanic, ignoring the first instance of damage in a turn and reflecting it back fulfils the fantasy of the ability from Overwatch. Dragonblade needed to feel like it was capable of performing a Team wipe if possible, as this can so often happen with a skilled Genji player. Gaining Immunity on the first instance of death represents the Speed Genji can move. Choosing the order was inspired by the multi-targeting that recently came about with [Hearthstone Card (Goliath, Sneed’s Masterpiece) Not Found]. Energy Absorber allows for some damage ramping to lead up to a big Dragonblade turn, whilst Cyber-Agility Circuit is powerful in a Mech comp, with more Mechs like Bastion and Zenyatta coming in later updates."
As custom Mercenaries are still very new and untapped, how do you navigate how to design them?
Cydonianknight: "Luckily, the template for abilities and equipment is already there within Overwatch, the trick is translating them into Hearthstone. Turning shooter mechanics into a card game has varying levels of difficulty depending on which heroes you are designing for, Reaper and Widowmaker were fairly easy whilst Roadhog went through a few iterations before I landed on his current design.
Another source of inspiration for mechanics, is obviously the currently existing Mercenaries. There’s a lot of design space left to cover but they are excellent stepping stones on which to build. As stated previously, the main drawing point was capturing the fantasy of Overwatch heroes.
A very early decision was to have the three roles in Overwatch, be the three roles in Mercs. Its not a perfect translation (Caster = Support, sort of works), but it functions well enough."
Do you have anything behind the scenes that you wish to share?
Cydonianknight: "Finding tech-style art proved fairly tricky. The art for Reaper’s abilities is as close to perfect as I could get, using art of Tess Greymane for Hellfire Shotguns. The tech for designing summon abilities on Hearthcards, as far as I’m aware, aren’t there yet, so I’d love to figure out how to do this for future Mercenaries. For instance, Torbjorn needs to summon a Turret to capture that fantasy again."
Do you have anything else you wish to share?
Cydonianknight: "More Overwatch Mercenaries are on their way. I’ve currently got Zarya and Mei in the pocket. I’ll do a couple more and then we’ve got another update. This was and is a cool project, and a nice break from WoW characters and themes. Hope you all enjoy it, and thanks for the interview!"
And with that all said, we have now reached the end of this week's installment. If this inspired you to make Overwatch cards, Mercenaries cards, or Overwatch Mercenaries cards, then go for it and have fun.
The banner below will take you to the thread on the Fan Creations forum with this project. The entire project is already visible in this article (as of the time of writing it), but it will be updated in the future and you'll be able to see them all in one place there. With big updates, I'll also cover them here again.