Following the announcement of Murder at Castle Nathria as the new Hearthstone expansion (click here to read more information), Hearthstone Game Designer Cora "Songbird" Georgiou, who was the lead developer for this set, decided to hold a Q&A regarding all the news we received.
In this article, we're going to sum up every relevant piece of information, so that you'll be able to clear a couple doubts that might be pestering you as we speak.
OK! I have some time now. Feel free to drop me any questions regarding Locations, Infuse, the expansion theme, etc… For reference, I am the set lead for Murder at Castle Nathria! We've been working on it for over a year now, and today felt like it would never arrive lol. OKGO
For those who are interested, if you scroll towards the end of the article, you'll find the full transcript of the Q&A. Although we tried as much as possible to not distort Cora's words, you may wish to read the actual answers in order to better understand a certain concept.
In Hearthstone, the expansions' flavor is always top-notch: Team 5 is excellent at merging a certain location into their cards, making you feel as if you were actually there. The same reasoning goes for Murder at Castle Nathria, and Cora had a few details to share with us.
- As already hinted by the expansion trailer, each class will receive a suspect, for a total of 10.
- These suspects come from across the Shadowlands, and they all have the respective Covenant Spells that are appropriate for their class and Covenant.
- Just so you know, we're yet to see any of the aforementioned Covenant Spells.
- Regarding the suspects, Cora says they wanted a good mix of genders, races, and covenants to balance the oodles of Venthyr in Revendreth.
- "Lots of Shadowlands research and talking to people who know more than I do about the content lol. The WoW team actually helped a bit as well!"
- We'll see some glimpses of other Shadowlands areas, but Team 5 wanted the set to feel like Revendreth first and foremost.
- The murder mystery theme came first.
- Then, somebody in a brainstorm session suggested Revendreth as the setting for a murder mystery dinner party and it seemed too good to be true.
- "Gothic vampires that throw parties are cool."
Locations are one of the main novelties from the Murder at Castle Nathria expansion. It's been a while since the last time we received a brand new type of card (Hero Cards in Knights of the Frozen Throne, back in August 2017!). For this reason, Cora shared multiple insights about how such cards came to life, as well as how exactly they work; and much more.
- Each class will receive a Location card, for a total of 10 Locations for the expansion.
- Locations will take up a space on the board.
- Imagine them like The Juggernaut, with the difference that Locations have a Durability, so their benefits will eventually end.
- Locations can't be destroyed through other means unless the card specifically says so.
- You can have more than one Location in play at once (not more than 7, obviously).
- They decided to not make too many Locations, because Team 5 don't want to encourage players to fill the board with them and have no room for minions.
- In game, they work like Hero Powers: you click on them and you drag the arrow wherever you want.
- Locations have a 1 turn cooldown: you can use their effect the turn you play them, but you won't be able to do so on your next turn.
- They are like a Hero Power you can use every two turns.
- The cooldown is a balance decision for a couple reasons.
- Team 5 didn't want to put a mana cost on using the ability.
- "It just feels better to be able to play the Location and use the effect immediately."
- Locations are very face up effects.
- "We want the opponent to feel like they can still play their cards even though there's a Location on the board, because the controller of the Location doesn't have access to the effect every turn."
- Team 5 didn't want to put a mana cost on using the ability.
- As locations are their own card type and not just some persistent board-based spells in disguise, any minion with "Can't be targeted by spells or Hero Powers" card text/effect won't manage to block them.
- Locations are here to stay - although they started with simple designs, we'll see more of them in the future.
- "They will be more common than Hero cards, but less common than weapons."
- Not all Locations will be 1 mana with 3 Durability.
- We will see different mana costs and durability ranges, but they all have a 1-turn cooldown after you use the ability.
- No Legendary Locations this time around, but Cora leaves the door open for the future.
- Location cards have been in the works in various iterations for a few years.
- Over time, Team 5 realized that if they wanted to make activatable abilities, a new card type would have been the way to go.
- "The idea of activatable abilities is one we've had for a while, but it took us a while to realize it would require a new card type."
After Locations, here's the expansion's unique keyword: Infuse. In case you have some doubts regarding how it came to life or how it works, make sure to keep reading.
- Cora thinks Infuse is very thematic and has great gameplay.
- Infuse effects are not repeatable: Infuse cards will transform into their upgraded versions in your hand similar to Corrupt cards in Darkmoon Faire.
- Hey, who knows: maybe we'll get an Infuse version of Horrendous Growth!
- Infused cards are transformed and will remain that way through zone changes.
- If you shuffle an Infused card, it won't revert to its base form.
- Just like Corrupt and Corrupted, Infused cards are totally different cards from their Infuse counterparts.
- They started with the idea for Infuse/Anima as the mechanic theme and built from there.
- Board presence mattering was a big goal they wanted to hit.
- Infuse came a bit later in the design process.
- They tested a few different versions that felt too complex and didn't have great gameplay.
- The current version of Infuse means good gameplay, simple rules and big design potential.
Murder at Castle Nathria
Looking for some general information regarding the Castle Nathria expansion or how one of the revealed cards work? This is your section.
- Just like any other expansion, they've been working on Murder at Castle Nathria for a year.
- One class has a brand new theme they've never tried before.
- Regarding Murloc Holmes: if your opponent has only 2 cards in their hand/deck, you'll need to solve 2 clues instead of 3.
- "You still have to get all available clues correct to get the cards, but in that case it would just be 1 or 2 clues rather than 3."
- Prince Renathal has a Start of Game animation effect like Genn Greymane, C'Thun, the Shattered and Darkbishop Benedictus.
- They tested both 45 and 50 for Prince Renathal, but "it was probably too much."
- Decimator Olgra will attack enemies in random order.
- If you want to go face, you may need to tank a couple hits first.
- Suspicious Usher gives you a copy of the Legendary you Discover, but gives one to the opponent as well if they manage to guess it right.
- "The person who plays the Usher chooses, and then when they pass the turn over to the opponent, the opponent will be prompted with the same choice at the start of their turn."
- If you play the Legendary before your opponent's turn, you'll give away the answer!
- "Rogue suspect is spicy."
- This is the answer that Cora gave to a question regarding which Suspect is the most likely to end up being problematic.
- There is some very very funny flavor text in this set.
Finally, here are some fluff info regarding some behind the scenes tidbits, Cora's predictions, and more.
- Cora usually takes screenshots of people who make good predictions about upcoming content.
- We wonder if we've ever ended up in her phone gallery in the past...
- Shaman has one of the funniest card arts of the entire set.
- Denathrius voice actor for the skin is the same that worked on the Shadowlands WoW expansion (Ray Chase).
- Cora's favorite suspect characters are Warlock, Paladin and Rogue.
- Bea, Cora's Corgi dog, is very high on the new expansion (pun unintended).
- "She's shouting her praises at the squirrels in the yard right now."
- Unfortunately, we won't receive a Castle Nathria rap song from Cora.
- Ben Brode stands undefeated.
- There is a Mage deck, a Priest deck and a DH deck that Cora really likes.
When it says locations have a 1 turn cooldown does that mean it can only be used once per turn or every other turn? Also how do you use location abilities?
Once per turn and every other turn. You can use the ability immediately when you play a Location from hand, but after you use the ability you will not be able to use it the following turn. And you use them similar to hero powers. Click on the Location and then select the target.
I genuinely want to know your reaction when I accidentally guessed the whole expansion! I swear this was dumb luck and some deduction :)
I take screenshots whenever I see people make good predictions about upcoming content. You have a couple screenshots saved in my phone.
What made you decide on this theme? I think it looks awesome but I honestly didn’t expect a Shadowlands theme after it launched less than two years ago.
I wanted to do a Murder Mystery, and Shadowlands hadn't been out for too long but Revendreth fit the theme so well that it just seemed right. Denathrius is a super cool character and being able to use WoW and Hearthstone fan favorites for the suspects was too good to pass up.
Do locations take up a spot on the board?
They do! There is no limit to how many Locations you can have on board at one time, but they do take up a minion slot.
And then I assume they disappear after the durability exhausts? Is there any other way to remove locations and free up a slot if needed?
Yes, after you use up the durability they will be destroyed! Locations can't be destroyed through other means unless the card specifically says so. So we'll see.
Is the Shaman class going to get a card whose artwork is almost as good as bioluminescence's artwork?
They have one of the funniest artworks in the set, easily.
great expansion! how will Suspicious Usher work?
So on your turn you play Suspicious Usher and Discover. Then at the start of your opponent's turn they're presented with the same Discover options. If they choose the same card you chose, they get a copy.
thanks! so if you play legendary right after discover, you are giving the answer xD
Yes! Not very sneaky…
It looks rad. What came first, the murder mystery theme, or Revendreth and the Shadowlands as a setting?
Murder mystery theme came first. I forget who it was, but somebody in a brainstorm session suggested Revendreth as the setting for a murder mystery dinner party and it seemed too good to be true.
Aside from Clue, were there any other notable inspirations for the theme of this expansion?
My favorite tv show is about a fake psychic detective and his shenanigans. I also love mystery novels and other movies. Lots of inspiration to draw on.
Do you see locations as Hearthstone’s way into more non-minion permanents that stay on the board? Are you guys looking to iterate on locations for future expansions? Is it too soon to ask questions like this?
Nah not too soon to ask! Locations are a permanent part of Hearthstone now, so we'll be using them going forward. We want to be careful not to overuse them, and we started intentionally simple with the designs.
Outstanding. Do you see board clutter issues becoming an issue in the future? Potentially additional slots added to the 7 board slots we have currently?
It's definitely something we've thought about. We've essentially decided to not make too many Locations, because we don't want to encourage players to fill the board with them and have no room for minions. Clutter is a concern for sure.
It's always whodunnit and never howareyoudunnit.
Will "Can't be targeted by Spells or Hero Powers" be updated to include Locations, or will Location effects work on such minions just fine?
Location effects work on these minions.
Are there plans for Locations to exist beyond this expansion, as it's a new card type instead of a key word?
Yes! We will be making new Locations in future expansions. They will be more common than hero cards, but less common than weapons.
How early in the design process did you arrive at Infuse?
A bit later on in the process actually. We tested a few different versions that felt too complex and didn't have great gameplay. Went back to the drawing board after a while and this version was born. Good gameplay, simple rules, big design potential. It ticked all the boxes.
I thought of another question. Which, if any, classes have themes they've never done before?
Uhhh there is one in particular that is new and cool.
the expansion mainly revolves around revendreth, and it looks lovely, both of the sets this year so far feel so rich in theme & gameplay mechanics. but will we still get cards revolving around other shadowlands realms??
The different suspects come from across the Shadowlands, and they all have the respective Covenant Spells that are appropriate for their class and Covenant. You'll see some glimpses of other areas, but we wanted the set to feel like Revendreth first and foremost.
Do Infusion effects repeat, or are they finished after triggering for the first time?
They are not repeatable. Infuse cards will transform into their upgraded versions in your hand similar to Corrupt cards in Darkmoon Faire.
What card, in his daughter's first expansion, will @JustAGuy66 get to reveal?
Not if I have any say in it. Unfortunately, I don't have much say in it. So we'll see lol.
Will all locations be 1 mana 3 durability?
Nope! You will see different mana costs and durability ranges. They all however have a 1-turn cooldown after you use the ability, and the activatable abilities themselves are free across the board.
Cora, what happens in step 2/3 of Murloc Holmes if your opponnent does not have cards in hand?
If they don't have cards in hand/deck it will skip that step. You still have to get all available clues correct to get the cards, but in that case it would just be 1 or 2 clues rather than 3.
can you play two copies of the same location at once? and…. will there be legendary locations?
Yes and not at this time. We wanted there to be room to grow with Locations in the future, so we've started fairly simple. They're all pretty synergistic and powerful effects though, imo.
First of all - been absolutely DYING for a revendreth expac. What made you choose Nathria/Revendreth for the expac theme? ALSO, is the denathrius VA for the skin the same as the wow expac VA?
Yep that's @RayChase! He's freaking killer. And it was the perfect setting for a murder mystery dinner party. Gothic vampires that throw parties? Yeah, sign me up.
Infuse is 100% board based. It was just by "chance" (it was the most fitting keyword, etc.) or did you want to push more board presence?
We tried a couple different versions of Infuse, but this was the one that felt most thematic and had the best gameplay. We actually started with the idea for Infuse/Anima as the mechanic theme and built from there. Board presence mattering was a big goal we wanted to hit.
Was the location “cooldown” a balance thing? If I understand correctly 3 durabilities is 5 turns which seems like a lot of turns to use them, especially if not drawn early. I know you can’t say yet, but I’m assuming the higher mana cost ones have less durability.
It was definitely a balance decision for a couple reasons. 1. We didn't want to put a mana cost on using the ability. It just feels better to be able to play the Location and use the effect immediately. 2. Locations are very face up effects.
We want the opponent to feel like they can still play their cards even though there's a Location on the board, because the controller of the Location doesn't have access to the effect every turn.
When should we expect your Castle Nathria rap to be live? Or maybe a reggaeton?
hahahahahahahaha unlikely. Brode is a better rapper than I am, hands down.
What influenced the choice of suspects? It looks like a fun mix of new and returning HS-originals and WOW staples!
Lots of Shadowlands research and talking to people who know more than I do about the content lol. The WoW team actually helped a bit as well! Ultimately we wanted a good mix of genders, races, and covenants to balance the oodles of Venthyr in Revendreth.
This set looks different and amazing and good job for this. Just a little question regarding the trailer. Indeed, it look as an Halloween murder party so, why is this expansion not later this year? I don't know the lore about it so maybe I miss some information.
This will be the most recent expansion when Halloween comes around! The 3rd set of the year doesn't come out until the winter.
Is this expansion just really Nathria, or is sort of the shadowlands expansion? Is bea featured somewhere?
It is Nathria through and through. And no, unfortunately not lol.
How does Bea feel about the expansion?
Very good. She's shouting her praises at the squirrels in the yard right now.
who's the culprit?
Idk they're all just so murderous. Could be anybody.
So rafaam is back ? And do we encounter another members of the LoE ?
Rafaam?! The Supreme Archaeologist?!
If the 10 legendaries were pieces in a board game, like Cluedo/Monopoly, which classes’ character are you choosing as yours?
Hmmm my favorite of the suspect characters are probably Warlock, Paladin, and Rogue.
What was the highest deck card limit ya tested with the new log in legendary when developing the card?
I believe we tested 45 and 50. It was probably too much lol.
How far in advance are expansions typically planned ? You mentioned you worked for over a year on this one. Is this the typical duration or are there outliers ?
Yep that's the typical duration. We work about a year in advance.
For expansion theme what came first the murder mystery theme or the location of castle nathria?
The Murder Mystery, followed shortly after by Revendreth as the setting. Gothic vampires that throw parties are cool.
Were locations a mechanic developed for this set in particular or were they an idea for a while that was looking a the right set/theme to slide into?
The idea of activatable abilities is one we've had for a while, but it took us a while to realize it would require a new card type.
Will Prince Renathal have a “start of game” animation similar to what we’ve received with Genn/ Baku and Mean Benedictus? Asking for my Start of Game tribal deck. Thanks!
Does every class get exactly one location?
Yep! This set will be 10 total Locations, 1 per class.
So it looks like right off the bat, we’re seeing the return of some support for deck archetypes we haven’t seen in a long while such as ‘enrage warrior’ and ‘evolve shaman’. Can we expect to see support for other older archetypes from this expansion as well?
Some old and some new :)
Are Locations permanent addition to the game or exclusive to this set?
They are permanent.
Maybe this isn't something you can answer, but is it safe to assume like all previous new card types, there will be new location cards printed in other sets as well. Or will they be a one and done type deal?
We will make Location cards in future sets.
Were these new locations hard to balance and conceptualize? Being something cheap and so flexible in my opinion must have been quite difficult
They have been in the works in various iterations for a few years now. Started as Champion minions in Barrens, Objectives in AV, etc. Over time we realized that if we wanted to make activatable abilities, a new card type would be the best way to do it. So yeah, took a while lol.
Does Decimator Olgra attack depending on order played or is it random?
Are there any references to the movie Clue in the set?
There is some very very funny flavor text in this set.
Without spoiling anything what is your fave class in the new set?
There is a Mage deck, a Priest deck, and a DH deck that I really like.Does Infuse continue to hold its effect if the card is shuffled back into the deck? Or does it need to be re-Infused when it comes back into your hand?
Yes, Infused cards are transformed and will remain that way through zone changes.
What do you predict will be the most problematic card out of the “Prime Suspects”?
Rogue suspect is spicy