Do you like stars? Do you enjoy looking up at the night-time sky and seeing all the stars? Do you like to look at the moon and the clouds around it that it lights up? No? Uh, well... screw you, stars are beautiful.
Excuse me for that. Don't know what got into me there, but today on Fan Community Spotlight, we're looking at some stars. What I mean by that is that we're taking a look at the Astromancer class created by a good friend of mine across the years of WCDCs and someone I've collaborated with at one point for a big competition; everybody say hello to Shatterstar1998.
As an Astromancer, your main hero is Rishi Sterling, a determined Void Elf in charge of her own destiny and studying the stars of Azeroth's galaxies. Unlike most custom heroes, Rishi actually has some amount of backstory to her character, so be sure to check that out.
Your basic Hero Power is Celestial Burst which deals 2 damage to a random enemy. When upgraded, it becomes Cosmic Burst which deals 3 damage instead.
Random targeting in my Hero Power? That seems a bit unusual and maybe a bit unreliable. Oh, wait... We've also got Gaze as the class's custom keyword. Gaze allows you to control the random nature of your cards and Hero Power. When something is Gazed, the next effect you play with a random target will always target whatever you Gazed (if applicable), then the Gaze on that character disappears.
Gaze can also appear naturally on some cards like a passive keyword. When this happens, it applies anywhere. Not just your board, but also your hand and deck. Tutoring draws, and discard mechanics will prioritize your "natural Gaze" cards first. Regular draws still work as normal though.
So how can you keep track of what's Gazed? Easy. A Gazed character will have this blue eye symbol around it:
Tell us about the class. What's it all about? What does it do well at? What does it not do well at? What cards give the best first view of the class?
"In term of flavor, Astromancer is a class that is all about astronomy: The wonder humans had when looking up at the night sky (Celestial Wonder), all the crazy stories we thought of in order to make sense of that vast universe (Mark of Gemini) that led us to develop scientific ways to satisfy that thirst for knowledge (Weaponized Telescope) and what we would possibly discover, all filter through the fantasy context of World of Warcraft (Cosmic Elemental).
In term of gameplay, Astromancer is designed from the ground up to be in the flavor of "control RNG". Its Hero Power and a majority of its class cards are random effects that would be then be improved by its keyword Gaze.
Astral Intellect and Celestial Intervention are two of the most extreme example of cards that is made so much better thanks to Gaze allows you to control its target. Weaponized Telescope is one of the best Gaze granting card for the class.
The class has extremely powerful ability to burst down your opponent. Starscryer Sera is basically an 8 mana Pyroblast with a 4/4 attached if you can Gaze the target. Lunar Eclipse - the class's Quest Reward from Un'Goro, combine with two copies of Endless Curiosity can dish out 30 split damage and heal you for 20 Health for over two turns.
The class is also good at swarming their board with tokens. While lacking in offensive ability, they are more than make up for that with the utility and flexibility they bring to the table. Star Maker is a 2/4 Dragon that allow you the 2 tokens you can play at anytime you find convenient, one with the Gaze utility, one is a healing station for you and your minions. Quetz'lun, the Sky Serpent turn all of those tokens into mighty 5/5 Champions that cost 0 mana and have Rush to remove your opponent's minions.
The class is also extremely good at disrupting your opponent play. And they have a number of tools to disrupt different types of deck too. Starcaller disrupt your opponent with swarming strategy since she can help you keep up board presence with them while capable of dishing out a huge amount of healing. Gaze keyword disrupt your opponent's random effects from reaching their desire target. Celestial Intervention disrupt your opponent's spell and can potentially turn their spell against them.
And finally, the class have extremely versatility. Those cards mentioned above are good for a variety of decks. Their token spawning cards can be used aggressively by using mass buff to build a sticky board or as part of a control deck who exploit their utility to stay alive or as part of a combo. Their disruption tools can be used by aggro decks to avoid control decks from clearing their board or by mid-range / control decks against aggro decks to stop them from playing out their hand.
But those strength come with crippling weakness. Their board clear is conditional, random, symmetrical or expansive. Their healing is tied to minions, whether it is the Astral Spirits or minions with Lifesteal, so if your opponent can take care of them, the class will have difficulty to survive. Their Gaze keyword can easily be turned against them with your opponent using their own random effect. Their best cards and combo need to be set up for multiple turns, so your opponent can disrupt them or flat out kill them exploiting their weak board clear."
How much experience do you have making custom Hearthstone cards?
"I have been making custom class for like, 3-4 years. I started out just making class cards for my favorite classes (Priest & Rogue) on Hearthpwn, participate in a couple WCD competition there, joined the 4th CCC to make a class called the Waterspeaker. It didn't really do very well, possibly because I changed its direction at the very last minutes. I did eventually expanded upon it and hammer out the details, with much better results according to the people on Hearthpwn. But then I eventually grew bored with the class and abandoned it. I then team up with Demonxz95 to create the 2nd place finisher Year of the Dragon (which I would love to revisit sometime after finishing Astromancer)."
What initially gave you the idea to do an Astromancer class?
"The initial inspiration for class is when looking through the Mage Boomsday Project cards. They are probably underwhelming compare to the other classes, but the artwork (plus of cards like Star Aligner and Harbinger Celestia) are so beautiful that I've been designing a couple astronomy-related cards. This is only strengthen for the Puzzle Labs artwork. However, during the time I was entering the Class Creation Competition, I was debating whether or not to bring this only really in the infant stage class or another class I have been pouring a lot of effort into it called the Ethereal. I have distinct themes and decks for the Ethereal ready to go while I'm just even building Astromancer from the ground up. And the Ethereal was receiving positive reviews from the Discussion forum too! However, fate force my hand when someone informed me that the Ethereal's keyword is the exact same keyword one of the previous finalist (the Summoner) created. With much difficulty, I have to abandon a class that I've spend so much time creating and finding artwork (because artwork of the Ethereal from WoW is really rare and specific, so I have to spend a lot of time and be more creative with my art) and just submitting what I got so far for the Astromancer. The token playstyle that eventually became integral to the identity of the class didn't even existed yet during the time of the class's creation. During the second phase, I finally solidified my class as a versatile disruptive class and decided to go with a unique token swarming playstyle that offer more utility than offensive power."
Gaze is a really interesting keyword. Where did Gaze come from? Was it a testament to how much RNG is in the game, or was it something else? Did Gaze come first to create some groundwork, or did it come later to compliment the existing groundwork?
"Gaze actually came quite early in the class's development. It's kind of a protest / exploit against the game's huge amount of RNG. I remember how many times Doomguard discard my important cards or the thing I would give up to roll a Spell Damage totem in order to make my cards a guarantee board clear and know that I have to do something to address these thing for the game. The name Gaze itself was chosen since it demonstrate a "focusing" aspect that go well with what it actually does, as well as representing the astronomy theme of the class."
What inspired you to keep working on your class after the competition was over?
"The news about the photographing of a black hole has reignited my love for space and everything in it, which at first manifest as me replaying, rewatching and rereading every single sci-fi books, movies and games that I own and then finally switch back to Hearthstone after I saw the artwork that I used for Eldrond the Redeemer (made by artist M. Brackett)"
Do you have anything behind the scenes you'd like to share?
"This is the original version of Endless Curiosity. The artwork is inferior, the effect is way more broken with the Quest so I have to bump up the cost to 2 mana.
Doomsday Hysteria was one of my favorite cards created for the class that I've been struggling to find space for. It's always on the edge of making the cut before I have to put in a better idea.
Before putting in Frozen Throne, Strangulate was a card named Silent Night.
Hawken Kipler, the playable character for the Dalaran Heist, is named for Edwin Hubble and Johannes Kepler. I didn't realize how close his last name was to Brian Kibler until after I finished his entire backstory.
His and Eldrond writing process was quite interesting. Eldrond was originally the playable character for the Dalaran Heist. Kipler was going to be a high-tier boss and Eldrond's former friend who he manipulated to get into Dalaran. However, I realized that this is like a bad and cliche WoW writing. So I decided to ascend Kipler to playable status, make Eldrond a boss with the mechanic he has right now and invent an entire new backstory for Kipler. This in turn result in a goofy-looking nerdy human which has a dark side and Eldrond - the race which is frequently portrayed as anti-hero in wow and who has a "mean" looking artwork, a very sympathetic character. Finally, their relationship become ex-lovers because I realized it made the stakes for their fight much higher, as well as making the emotional resonance behind the Signature Treasure Kipler's Evocation much more meaningful, complicated and touching."
What's the most essential piece of advice you would give to people new to the fan creation community?
"I'll let you in for big cheat code: Type _ + Fantasy art on Google Image and 70% of the time you'll find the image that you need. As long as you're creative / specific enough with the word or with cropping image, your artwork problem will be significantly reduced."
Do you have anything else you'd like to share?
"I've been very impressed with the game's balance of female representation. Unlike its parent game, I feel that women in this game isn't a rarity reserved for main characters but just as part of the world as the male characters. And unlike its parent games until very lately, the female characters here have very distinct personality and are equally prominent compare to the male characters. I know that some people won't care, or actively against these things, but I feel that it made my experience as a male who was brought up in a household with many strong women more immersive."
That's it for today on Fan Community Spotlight. Check out Shatterstar1998's Astromancer class, and tune in for more amazing fan creations showcased right here on Out of Cards.