A chat with Blizzard Team 5 about Hearthstone’s next expansion, Saviors of Uldum

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Reno Jackson, Brann Bronzebeard, Elise Starseeker and Sir Finnley Mrrgglton are back! They have returned to save Uldum from the plagues brought on by the League of E.V.I.L.

Hearthstone’s next expansion is Saviors of Uldum, and will be launching on the 6th of August. Ahead of the flurry of the reveal season, we sat down with Liv Breeden and Dave Kosak, Game Designers from Blizzard Team 5 to find out more about how they designed this expansion.

We need a Hero!

Firstly, we have four different heroes and four classes that the heroes need to fit into (the four non-E.V.I.L classes from Rise of Shadows) Mage, Paladin, Hunter and Druid. The detectives of the internet have speculated that Elise would be the Druid hero, Reno the Mage hero, Sir Finnley the Paladin hero and Brann the Hunter hero. Is this correct?

Dave: “Yup.”

Liv: “Yes, Reno has the Gatling Wand, it’s just awesome, and Sir Finnley is a knight so it makes sense [for him to be the Paladin]”.

Fig 2 - SAVIORS OF ULDUM 4

Does the Gatling Wand mean that we are getting a Mage weapon in this expansion?

Liv: “No, we are not getting a mage weapon, but Reno does get to wield it.”
Dave: “Reno, expert Magician that he is [laughter].”
Liv: “He considers himself a Mage because he found it [laughter].”

So when it came to picking these classes for the heroes, was it done at the same time as deciding the Villain classes for Rise of Shadows or was it done after that to fit the defender classes?

Liv: ”We planned it from the beginning, we had the villains set out and the heroes kinda made sense.”

Dave: “We were looking at who our cast of villains would be and who our heroes were going to be and trying to block out the nine class identities from that.”

Can you tell us a little bit more about what the themes of these heroes are going to be, they have a theme at all?

Liv: “Brann is on his Dinosaur, he is gonna tame all these desert beasts, that’s his theme and Elise is going to be doing stuff with healing”.

Dave: “Part of the fun of the expansion is that we have met our League of Explorers heroes before and we get to see how they have evolved and changed over time. So when we first met Elise she was very buttoned up and bookish, and she is still probably the smartest of the bunch, she’s still the one that fights with her brain more than braun, but in Un’Goro we got to see her go out into the field a bit more with her machete. Now she is a full on explorer ready for field work in her own right. Very powerful Druid on her own, and with all of our heroes you get to see their evolution a little bit and their story continue”.

Liv: “It feels like the heroes have leveled up since they came back, they are bigger and stronger with more experience, and the Quests have kind of leveled up too.”

It’s pretty awesome to see that character development in a card game storyline and as Liv mentioned there, Quests are back!

Exploring the Quests of Uldum

So as you mentioned Quests are coming back and we have been able to see the Druid, Shaman and Warlock Quest so far, will all nine classes have a Quest?

Dave: “Yes, all nine classes have Quests, and only the evil classes have plagues.”

How have the Quests levelled up?

Liv: “Since you get a Hero power immediately for completing your Quest, it’s like the next step for Quests. Instead of getting a card in your hand and you have to play it and it might get Counter Spelled. So you’ve done all the work so we figured let’s give you the reward right away!

Other things that have helped with the Quests, there is the Questing Explorer. Questing Explorer is the new card that basically goes in every Quest deck. One of the problems with the old Quests is that you start with this one mana card in your hand and you are essentially a card down from the get go, so this helps you get your card advantage back to normal levels.”

With Quest rewards being immediate does this mean your opponent can complete your Quest during their turn, perhaps by making you draw a card when you have Supreme Archaeology up?

Liv and Dave: “Yes, that’s correct.”

Are there going to be other cards that support Quests specifically like Questing Explorer?

Liv: “No, unfortunately not, just Questing Explorer. Getting that one extra card is pretty significant so it doesn’t really need all that much extra help.”

Dave: “Some of the class cards play well with the Quests you might be trying to play.”

Liv: “Right, we are going to print cards that go with your Quest so more choose one cards [To go with the Druid Quest] for example.”

Fig 7 - NEUTRAL__ULD_157_enUS_QuestingExplorer

So Quests being has been a bit controversial in the community, we have seen positive and negative feedback, as the first set of Quests in Journey to Un’Goro were quite hit and miss. Some were extremely powerful, with the Rogue Quest being the major outlier. How have you learnt from this to make sure we have more balanced and viable Quests this time around?

Liv: “Well we talked about Questing Explorer already, but there are other things as well. We really learnt from Hero cards as well, because these are Quests that give you Hero powers, so what we learnt is that infinite value is not necessarily a fun mechanic, even in a control class. So the Hero powers that come out of it aren’t going to have infinite value. They usually have a stopping point, or they can create a very set amount of value. It’s not going to be like, I’m going to just keep making an infinite deck forever, because fighting against waves of Frost Lich Jaina can be very demoralizing.”

Dave: “I think the big difference is that previous iterations of Quests were pretty much all or nothing, you really built your deck around that Quest and hitting that Quest really defined the game, with usually a big endgame effect like becoming Ragnaros. This time around it’s a little bit more about the mid game, it’s a little more flexible, there are multiple ways to execute on the Quest and it’s not a game ender when you complete the Quest. You will be able to build a lot more decks around the Quest and work it into different play styles and it won’t be the conclusion of the game when you beat the Quest. Still very powerful and they still are going to be very meaningful to complete.”

Liv: “So we have already showed off the Druid one so we can talk about that, the front end of this Quest is very open, just end [4] turns with extra mana. Which is pretty cool from a deck building perspective but you can also kinda get lost when building your deck, so we liked having the back half [The Quest Reward], be all these choose one payoffs so we’ve done that with a lot of our Quests, there are a lot of ways to complete them, but they give you a direction to go, not just put these seven cards in.”

So which Quest is your favourite Quest?

Liv: “I really like the Rogue one. Rogue is my favourite. It’s not Caverns Below you know [laughter].

Dave: “It’s a tough one, but I really do like the Warlock Quest just because you go all out and then the last few cards in your deck you might be able to play for free, you just really go at your opponent with everything you got and I think that’s really fun for Warlock.”

But wait, what about the Villains?

Will we be seeing the League of E.V.I.L Villains themselves return as class legendaries?

Liv: “They show up in the Quest art, but they aren’t characters in the collectible set”

Dave: “We really wanted to focus on the heroes in this set, but if you look at the art for all the other classes you can definitely feel their influence throughout the set, they are causing a lot of trouble, but they are up in Dalaran at the moment and we will have to catch up with them later.”

Ok, so this one is all about the good guys. So get ready because Saviors of Uldum will be released on the 6th of August, and card spoilers will start two weeks prior to release. In the meantime, feel free to let us know which of the revealed cards got you most excited, and what you think that Gatling Wand will do for Reno?

Last Updated: July 10, 2019

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