Hearthstone

Q&A session with Producer Yong Woo about the past, present and future of Hearthstone

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On February 24th (KST), Yong Woo, Lead Game Producer for Hearthstone, hosted a Q&A session with Korean players on Twitch about Hearthstone.

While the session was planned to be an hour-long one, it ended after an hour and a half. It seemed that he had a lot to say about the changes, the future of Hearthstone, and how they could have communicated better about everything.

Although we have paraphrased the questions and answers in order to be as concise as possible, we want to mention that he seemed very sincere about how they could have done better, and how they will do better in future.

Also, the questions that are very similar to the ones already asked and answered in his previous Q&A session have been omitted.

If you would like to read about those questions. Please refer to our previous post:
Dev interview with Producer Yong Woo about the Mammoth-sized changes in Hearthstone


We will have a lot less cards in Standard when the sets rotate out after the Year of the Mammoth. Wouldn't it be better to rotate them one set at a time?

That was something that we considered, but we felt that it would be easier to announce the changes and balance the game if the sets are rotated as the 'Year' ends.


Isn't balancing the Standard format through 'Hall of Fame' a bit irresponsible when taking Wild players into account? Shouldn't there be balance changes catered towards Wild format as well?

I think we need to talk more about our goals for Standard and Wild format. We want to bring more diversity and changes to Standard format, and that's how the balance patches will be made.

As for Wild format, there should be changes coming from new cards being brought into the format after the Year of the Mammoth. We will be announcing new events and tournaments when we get a clearer picture of the format. We will also be able to get a better idea of the format's metagame through these events, and then we will start making changes.

Our main goal for the Wild format is that we want a format where players can play with their favorite decks without the fear of said decks disappearing. We don't want to change the cards in Wild format so dramatically that they lose their appeal. Of course, this does not mean that we will not make any changes at all.


What are your thoughts on reverting a nerfed card like Blade Flurry and putting it into Hall of Fame?

We first want to focus on stabilizing the metagame. We want to see how the both formats change after the six Hall of Famers are pulled out of Standard. Reverting a nerfed card can be a good idea, but we wouldn't want to put too many cards into Hall of Fame at once. So, we will wait for the metagame to settle down first.

▲ I miss the old Molten, straight from the hand Molten...

 

Combo decks will be weaker when Thaurissan is rotated out. Do you have any plans to make it a 'Classic' card?

Combo decks are very fun to play with.

However, we've received a lot of feedback about how players are unhappy with decks that can deal over 40 damage in a single turn - the receiving end would often feel helpless in the face of such combos. We agree with those players.

What we want from combo interactions are summoning minions and drawing cards, rather than dealing a lot of damage to the enemy player. New cards will be made with this principle in mind as well.

While I understand that combo deck players may be unhappy about Thaurissan rotating out, we want to shake up the metagame. Also, while they won't be exact copies of Thaurissan, we will definitely make new cards that combo decks can make use of.


Do you think that sending Standard cards to the Hall of Fame was the right thing to do?

The reason why we came up with the Hall of Fame is because we did not want to make a card unplayable in Wild as a side effect of nerfing it. That's why we decided to send the cards to Wild rather than making them stay in Standard in a weakened form.

We did not want to make the same mistake that we made with Handlock and Molten Giant, as Molten Giant became unplayable in both Wild and Standard, and Handlock was no longer a viable deck anywhere. So, instead of taking the risk of making Ice Lance an unplayable card and losing a deck archetype, we wanted to allow the deck to survive in Wild format.

'Hall of Fame' was something that was controversial even amongst ourselves, however, we made this decision because we thought it would be for the best in the long run. We sincerely apologize for breaking the promise that 'Classic' set cards will not rotate out to Wild format.

This is why we have decided to give a dust refund even without actually disenchanting the cards.

To sum it up, while we are not sure if we did the right thing, we did it for the sake of Standard format's stability.

▲ For a greater good

 

"Anyfin" Paladin is also a combo deck that can kill in a single turn. What are your thoughts on this deck?

It definitely is a deck that could be problematic if it becomes too dominant in the metagame. We will keep a close eye on it.


Although the metagame has indeed been changing after the introduction of Standard format, the metagame is not as diverse as it should be. Are you satisfied with how Standard is right now?

We are satisfied with how a set rotation causes a lot of changes to the metagame. However, we are keeping a close eye on how a metagame can be stabilized over time as more resources and statistics become available. Our goal is to prevent the metagame from becoming stale too quickly while allowing it to be figured out after some time.

As we are seeing too many Pirate decks in the metagame, we felt that we needed to take action against them. It's been three months since we've released Mean Streets of Gadgetzan, so now we are thinking about whether three months was an acceptable amount of time before a metagame settles down.

 

Don't you think that too many promises have been broken regarding the game lately?

We are sorry for backing down on many things that we've said. We did not make these decisions lightly, but we felt that we had no choice if we wanted to keep Standard format diverse while still allowing players to continue playing with their favorite decks in Wild. However, we sincerely apologize for breaking the promises, and we'll do our best so that we won't make the same mistakes again.


Can we have more deck slots? 18 slots are not enough.

Although we have increased the deck slots from 9 to 18, the majority of players do not make use of all 18 slots. Even for the players who use all 18 slots, it's often small variations of certain decks. Also, some players feel that having more deck slots made the interface a bit clunkier.

Of course, there are players that make the most of all 18 deck slots, but those players would want more than 18 slots. Just increasing the number of deck slots will cause more harm than good at this rate.

Instead, what I want is an easier way to export and import decklists to and from the outside of the game. We hope that this will be a more elegant way to solve the deck slot problem.

 

Why does playing Hearthstone sometimes cut off the music that I was listening to?

As someone who commutes by train, I have plenty of first-hand experience with this bug. However, as much as I want to fix this glitch, we would need to upgrade Hearthstone's game engine to fix it, which, unfortunately, takes a lot of time and effort. Therefore, this bug is not high on our priority list. I hope you can be patient with us.


What do you think about giving end-of-month rewards for playing in both Wild and Standard to make Wild format more popular?

We have no plans for it.

We did think about using that method to attract more players to Wild, but we felt that it might force the players to play in Wild to maximize the reward that they get. We don't want to force the players to play a game mode that they don't want to play just so they get more rewards, so I don't think it would be a good idea to give out rewards for playing both Wild and Standard.


Would it be possible for cards to return to Standard after being rotated out?

We will consider it once both Wild and Standard formats stabilize. Even when we do, we won't be bringing a lot of cards back to Standard, but a few cards like Shatter comes to mind. We will need to think more about this, however.


Will there be an easier way for players to get Wild-exclusive cards other than crafting?

We have one designer who is focusing on this matter, and there are definitely plans to allow players who are interested in playing a certain archetype in Wild to more easily get the card they need. Hopefully we can show you that before the Year of the Mammoth ends.

 

Why did you shift the Arena to Standard format?

What we want to emphasize with the Arena changes is that we have developed a way to customize the Arena's card pool. Shifting the Arena to Standard format is only a part of the changes that we've made to Arena. Adjusting the frequency of specific cards is another change that we've made as well.

There are players who rarely play in the Arena, and there are players who exclusively play in the Arena as well. What we've heard from those Arena fans is that the Arena metagame feels stale due to seeing the same group of cards for three years. With resources that help players to pick better cards, the Arena metagame doesn't feel any different even after new expansions. These changes should make the Arena different for both occasional Arena players and Arena enthusiasts.

For the players who were using the Arena to get a feel of Wild format, I am very sorry that we have disappointed you. I hope that you can still enjoy the new Arena. What we want from the players is more feedback, so that we can change our direction if you feel that we are going the wrong way. Please don't assume that we will be ignoring the player suggestions.

 

Aren't expansions more expensive than adventures in terms of getting a certain card?

While it would be more expensive than before to collect all cards from three expansions, we are aiming to make the cost of building a certain deck not be any more expensive than before. Also, as we want to make sure that F2P players can enjoy the game even without making purchases, we will take action if this isn't the case.


Will the past promotional heroes and card backs be available again?

We are looking for ways to give players another chance to get the promotional heroes and card backs. For example, Tyrande Whisperwind was not available worldwide, so we'd like to give another chance for players to get her again. So, we have a good news - we should be ready to bring some of them back in the Year of the Mammoth.

▲ Pretty please?

 

Don't you think that the nerfs to Warsong Commander and Blade Flurry were too much?

Both of those cards were nerfed outside of our usual cycle because we thought they were too harmful to the metagame.

Since they were 'emergency nerfs', we intentionally nerfed them harder than usual because we didn't want to risk the nerf being not enough to fix the metagame.

However, we are being more careful not to make any card unplayable, as we do not want players to lose their favorite cards and deck archetypes.


When will the bugs related to Spectator Modes be fixed?

We will be fixing some of the bugs when we roll out the balance change at the end of the month. It won't be perfect, but some of the more frequent bugs like those from the Druid's 'Choose One' cards will be much less frequent. We can't possibly wipe out all bugs at once, so we'll continue to fix as much as possible with your feedback.

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