Blizzard’s digital crack, otherwise known as Hearthstone, has received a new adventure today called the League of Explorers. It’s a new bit of content for the card game that surprised fans, simply because it was announced just last week, and is now already available for download. The League of Explorers comes even more cards, a new mechanic called ‘discover’, and four new campaign wings to traverse.
At BlizzCon this past weekend, I sat down with the Production Director, Jason Chayes, to find out a little more about the new adventure. Heck, I even asked about the Warsong Commander nerf, and whether League of Explorers aims to fill the hole that change left…
With League of Explorers coming out, you’ve thrown even more cards into the Hearthstone mix. How does the team go about ensuring good balance across the board?
It’s challenging. We have a dedicated team that focuses on balancing and every time we have new cards out, this is what keeps them up at night. We want to make sure that the new cards we add are exciting – that players are going to want to add them to their deck, but at the same time, we never want to go too far and add overpowered cards that stomp on the older ones.
To answer your question, we have a lot of different play testing going on internally. The goal of this testing is to find new ways to push the meta in exciting ways, without necessarily going too far with it.
With each bit of new Hearthstone content, a new mechanic is added. In the Grand Tournament, it was ‘inspire’. In League of Explorers, it is ‘discover’. How does the team come up with these, and what inspired discover?
It usually comes from, “what are things that we wanna do with the game itself?” or “how do we want to push the game in a different or new direction?”. We feel that randomness is still an important part of Hearthstone – it helps for the creation of interesting stories or experiences. The ‘discover’ mechanic provides that random aspect, but in a controllable way in a sense.
We wanted to provide a way for new cards that weren’t anticipated to be exposed, but at the same time, allow players to use their skill to make important choices as to what cards to choose. It could be a decision to choose something that benefits them now, or 5 turns down the line. And that’s pretty much how the ‘discover’ mechanic came about.
Care to share any thoughts on the nerfing of the Warsong Commander card, and thus the Grim Patron deck? Does League of Explorers fill the hole that nerf left in a sense?
The reason we made the change to Warsong Commander was because of the way that games were won using it. You could be sitting on 30 health, your opponent could get enough Grim Patrons in play along with Warsong Commander, and you could essentially lose the game in a single turn. It wasn’t very interactive, and as a player on the receiving end, there is nothing that could be done to stop it at that point.
That’s where the real problem was. It’s not so much that it’s strong deck, it’s more the way it defeated you – it was no fun to be on the receiving end. That all said, we do still think combo decks are very important. We want to make sure there is support for combo decks moving forward, and we did keep that in mind while working on League of Explorers.
The League of Explorers is out now. Will you be playing it? I played a bit of it myself at BlizzCon, and I’m now in the process of grinding up some gold to unlock it!
Last Updated: November 12, 2015