Hearthstone Lead Designer Talks Beta, Nerfs, and the Future

Hearthstone Lead Designer Talks Beta, Nerfs, and the Future

We got to ask a few questions of the mastermind behind our latest digital addiction, Hearthstone.

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I agree that Unleash the Hounds should cost 3. Problem with Hunters at the moment is that almost every Hunter deck I've seen for the past 2 weeks is built exactly the same. There's no variation whatsoever and that makes them very boring.

Putting UtH to 3 mana as far as I'm concerned will do absolutely nothing. All you're doing is delaying the combo and making it slightly weaker against swarm rush decks and pretty much just as effective against all others. The real problem with UtH is that is was a OTK card which Blizzard doesn't like that. Now Hunters are at a point where that card is needed for it to function as a deck. Its main powers stems from combos with Buzzard and Hyena on top of strong mid game creatures not being as popular.

I think a cap on the hounds it spawns and bumping them up to a 2/1 while leaving the board after 1 turn and moving power elsewhere would be better. Possibly still keep them as a 1/1 but 3 1/1 cards wouldn't function as the AoE card for which it was made. 3 2/1 card should take out pretty much all 1 and 2 mana cards with a Timer Wolf allowing them to trade up to pretty much all 1, 2 and afaik 3 cards.

The card is not problematic on its own in a vacuum but it has a generally speaking 6 cards to combo with which is 1/5 of a deck and then if you run a hunter deck like what I have Multi Shot and Deadly shot punish small board control with weak minions. Only thing I can say is more the moment run more high health mid games cards will make your deck more resistant to Multi shot and UtH.

...Now, I understand that the journalist didn't spend as much time playing the game as some of us, but almost all of those questions were a waste of breath. Maybe an aspiring game designer might find them interesting and how spending long nights doing god awful work debugging and whatnot, will be rewarded with donuts...
I might be expecting a bit much, but maybe questions along the lines of future content or what the direction of the game will take, would be more interesting to the people who actually play this? No? Maybe?

Christ.

I like Hearthstone a lot and the launch has been very favorable for me. Got 10+ wins 3 arena runs in a row now which is helping me gather gold + dust.

That said the Devs are really really dumb when it comes to balance and their overall mindset of cooky casual fun games over competitive play is frustrating to the extreme. They take forever to nerf cards that are obviously super overpowered and even when they do make card changes they usually do it for the wrong reasons which really demonstrates their inability to comprehend the nature of card games.

To me saying they nerfed Tinkmaster because it counters the super powerful gigantic I win legendary cards and not because Tinkmaster was an auto include neutral legenday demonstrates a broken mindset.

The Diabolical Biz:
I agree that Unleash the Hounds should cost 3. Problem with Hunters at the moment is that almost every Hunter deck I've seen for the past 2 weeks is built exactly the same. There's no variation whatsoever and that makes them very boring.

I've seen two variants. The synergistic controlish beast deck and the all out aggro charge deck. Granted they have similarities but they're better at different stages of the game. One thing that is apparent is that Unleash is a staple of both of them so it does probably need a tweak. I don't know how effective increasing its mana cost would be though since I rarely see it played on turn two. If they already have a piece of the combo in play, having Unleash cost one more isn't going to change anything.

TBH, I'd rather they buffother cards than just constantly nerf stuff. I mean, probably a quarter of the cards are borderline useless and it really sucks when you're forced to pick them in Arena.

RedDeadFred:

The Diabolical Biz:
I agree that Unleash the Hounds should cost 3. Problem with Hunters at the moment is that almost every Hunter deck I've seen for the past 2 weeks is built exactly the same. There's no variation whatsoever and that makes them very boring.

I've seen two variants. The synergistic controlish beast deck and the all out aggro charge deck. Granted they have similarities but they're better at different stages of the game. One thing that is apparent is that Unleash is a staple of both of them so it does probably need a tweak. I don't know how effective increasing its mana cost would be though since I rarely see it played on turn two. If they already have a piece of the combo in play, having Unleash cost one more isn't going to change anything.

TBH, I'd rather they buff other cards than just constantly nerf stuff. I mean, probably a quarter of the cards are borderline useless and it really sucks when you're forced to pick them in Arena.

That's true. The core play still revolves around dropping a Starving Buzzard, UtH and a Timber Wolf or two, sweeping most of your field, and refilling their hand.

I also agree about the nerf thing. Pagle probably needed a nerf but Tinkmaster was one of the few reliable counters to Druids (probably the best class) and nerfing him didn't really make too much sense.

The Diabolical Biz:

RedDeadFred:

The Diabolical Biz:
I agree that Unleash the Hounds should cost 3. Problem with Hunters at the moment is that almost every Hunter deck I've seen for the past 2 weeks is built exactly the same. There's no variation whatsoever and that makes them very boring.

I've seen two variants. The synergistic controlish beast deck and the all out aggro charge deck. Granted they have similarities but they're better at different stages of the game. One thing that is apparent is that Unleash is a staple of both of them so it does probably need a tweak. I don't know how effective increasing its mana cost would be though since I rarely see it played on turn two. If they already have a piece of the combo in play, having Unleash cost one more isn't going to change anything.

TBH, I'd rather they buff other cards than just constantly nerf stuff. I mean, probably a quarter of the cards are borderline useless and it really sucks when you're forced to pick them in Arena.

That's true. The core play still revolves around dropping a Starving Buzzard, UtH and a Timber Wolf or two, sweeping most of your field, and refilling their hand.

I also agree about the nerf thing. Pagle probably needed a nerf but Tinkmaster was one of the few reliable counters to Druids (probably the best class) and nerfing him didn't really make too much sense.

Yes, I wish that if they needed to nerf him they'd have just made him a 1/1. Now he's incredibly risky to play unless you have the perfect circumstances. Definitely agree about Pagle. If he draws a card right off the bat, he's already payed for himself and being at the 4 health spot makes him difficult to remove early unless you're a Warlock or a Priest.

Smilomaniac:
I might be expecting a bit much, but maybe questions along the lines of future content or what the direction of the game will take, would be more interesting to the people who actually play this? No? Maybe?

Christ.

He *did* ask about future content and got denied. Maybe you should try reading the whole article next time.

What's next - how do you plan to support Hearthstone after launch?

We are already working on the first adventure, and we should be able to talk about it before too long. I can say that we as a team are really excited to start working on many of the great features that will really start to expand the game and broaden the Hearthstone experience.

godofallu:
That said the Devs are really really dumb when it comes to balance and their overall mindset of cooky casual fun games over competitive play is frustrating to the extreme.

The vast majority of gamers will only ever be casual. This is especially true with Hearthstone, which is very obviously designed to be much simpler and more accessible than something like Magic. It's hardly dumb of developers to cater to their actual audience, rather than to the tiny minority who want to play differently.

DoctorImpossible:

He *did* ask about future content and got denied. Maybe you should try reading the whole article next time.

Oh come on, it was a blurb of non-information. He might as well have asked "Do you plan to do anything for future of the game?", get a "yes" and then not ask anything else about it.
That's not journalism, it's not even trying.

"First adventure"? What does that even mean? What about additional cards or expansions? Will there be seperate tournaments?

The Diabolical Biz:
I agree that Unleash the Hounds should cost 3. Problem with Hunters at the moment is that almost every Hunter deck I've seen for the past 2 weeks is built exactly the same. There's no variation whatsoever and that makes them very boring.

The problem with UTH isn't the cost. It's that the hounds have charge.

Pretty much every 1TKO combo which has ever existed is because of charge. It's a broken mechanic that makes the game hard to balance.

Played it in beta got bored, played it this launch to get 3 wins for a mount in world of warcraft... and so kinda got bored with it again as you guys above said too many druid or hunter combos running about cheesing, makes meta game pretty dull.

Might dabble in just getting daily quests done for the 150g random blind deck mash up thingy which is always pretty fun.

The game is worth playing just for arena. Much more fun than constructed.

Even though now that I have one of the "top tier" (sort of) decks I'm having fun with constructed again.

Overall it is a really good game, recommended for anyone who is remotely interested in card games. When the come out with an ipad (and in my dreams android) version it will take over the world.

Hopefully the mobile versions will have asynchronous play so you can be really casual having dozens of games going at once.

I don't play Hearthstone but as a Magic player and an RTS and 4x player I think there's something to be said for not buffing and nerfing. People nearly always find a way round a problem and it seems like it could ruin the game simply to nerf something because people are reporting it's too powerful after just a few weeks of testing.

ForumSafari:
I don't play Hearthstone but as a Magic player and an RTS and 4x player I think there's something to be said for not buffing and nerfing. People nearly always find a way round a problem and it seems like it could ruin the game simply to nerf something because people are reporting it's too powerful after just a few weeks of testing.

The issue here is a lot of problems in magic can be solved in the sideboard. With only one game per opponent the Hearthstone designers don't have many options beyond buffs and nerfs. Also, it's Blizzard.

Does anybody feel like the bugs have gotten even worse after launch?

Now there's the "minion-stack" bug as opposed to the card-stack in your hand. The floating bug's even worse now and the card-dancing is still happening.

SecondPrize:
The issue here is a lot of problems in magic can be solved in the sideboard. With only one game per opponent the Hearthstone designers don't have many options beyond buffs and nerfs. Also, it's Blizzard.

Since posting it I've actually sat down and played Hearthstone. To Blizzard:

No shit a game where you can't respond to spells, are guaranteed a linear increase in mana and where creatures can all attack and be attacked is hard to balance. It's because there's no depth to play and because a lot of the tools you should have as a player are taken away.

Having said that some of their creature costing is also just strange. Though pleasantly I didn't feel like any of the cards were just rubbish.

The Diabolical Biz:

RedDeadFred:

The Diabolical Biz:
I agree that Unleash the Hounds should cost 3. Problem with Hunters at the moment is that almost every Hunter deck I've seen for the past 2 weeks is built exactly the same. There's no variation whatsoever and that makes them very boring.

I've seen two variants. The synergistic controlish beast deck and the all out aggro charge deck. Granted they have similarities but they're better at different stages of the game. One thing that is apparent is that Unleash is a staple of both of them so it does probably need a tweak. I don't know how effective increasing its mana cost would be though since I rarely see it played on turn two. If they already have a piece of the combo in play, having Unleash cost one more isn't going to change anything.

TBH, I'd rather they buff other cards than just constantly nerf stuff. I mean, probably a quarter of the cards are borderline useless and it really sucks when you're forced to pick them in Arena.

That's true. The core play still revolves around dropping a Starving Buzzard, UtH and a Timber Wolf or two, sweeping most of your field, and refilling their hand.

I also agree about the nerf thing. Pagle probably needed a nerf but Tinkmaster was one of the few reliable counters to Druids (probably the best class) and nerfing him didn't really make too much sense.

The problem with Tink and Pagle was they were present in pretty much every deck, regardless of whether it's mid/control/aggro and those 2 could pretty much decide games 1 way or another with pure RNG. If both players drop a pagle and 1 guys draws 2 or 3 in a row and the other draws 0 then the game is massively swung 1 way.

I like the Pagle fix, I don't think the Tink answer was "Let's add even more RNG!" Changing the card to change to a 2/2 or a 4/4 instead of 1/1 and 5/5 might have been better.

The most game ruining aspects for me are the legendary cards that completely turnover games and cause your opponent to win, just because they drew that one card.

I know it's a casual card game and not to be taken uber serious, but when you know you've won and your opponent suddenly pulls Deathwing out of his deck and kills literally everything you have on the board and puts a 12/12 on his side of the board... I've never won in this scenario and it's ridiculous. The punishment is that he destroys his own hand, but I've only ever seen someone draw and use this card in situations where we are later on and people have very depleted hands with 0-3 cards in, so is often barely a punishment at all.

They normally then directly target down your champ with whatever health he has left and kill him. It is too tough to get anything on the field that beats a 12/12, b4 you've just been murdered, so the only way to win is if you happen to draw the ideal card at that point (like a polymorph), but it's highly unlikely.

Or Lord Jaraxxus is another turnaround that seems completely unfair and unbeatable. The punishment is meant to be that you will only have 15 health, but more often than not I've seen Warlocks use this and up their health and then they have the ability to summon an infernal (6/6 minion) every turn for 2 mana (normally the card version costs 6, so surely an ability to do it should cost more?!)

I try to say to my friends that Hearthstone isn't pay to win and that more cards tends to just add more variety/difference to the game and then they get slammed with a card like that and I literally have no answer.

For me, the ones that will depress me is the Neutral cards that almost EVERYBODY uses, regardless of their deck.
It's the Shield of Argus's, the Amani Bersekers, the Argent Chargers etc. I once lose to this cards 3 times in a row.

Ubiquitous Duck:
The most game ruining aspects for me are the legendary cards that completely turnover games and cause your opponent to win, just because they drew that one card.

DeathWing is AWESOME, it saved my butt more than 10 times. But there's also times when it never survived a turn, due to my opponents already have a counter. You really need to save one polymorph/hex/other insta-card destroyer for emergencies like this.

 

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