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Hearthstone interview - Descent of Dragons and card design

During our time at BlizzCon, Shacknews had a chance to chat with Lead Designer Peter Whalen and Associate Software Engineer Sarah Chen about Descent of Dragons.


It's been a busy time for Hearthstone since the BlizzCon Opening Keynote. Blizzard's Team 5 is busier than ever, launching the open beta for a whole new game mode that takes Hearthstone to entire new frontiers. However, lost in the excitement of Hearthstone Battlegrounds is that there is a whole new expansion that's on the way. Hearthstone: Descent of Dragons is the last expansion for the Year of the Dragon and it looks to wrap up the year-long storyline centered around the League of E.V.I.L. It's a pretty big deal for Team 5 and Shacknews was lucky enough to talk to Lead Designer Peter Whalen and Associate Software Engineer Sarah Chen.

Whalen and Chen discuss where the League of E.V.I.L. storyline is to this point, what new mechanics players can expect to see in Descent of Dragons, how Galakrond works the for E.V.I.L. classes, what the other four classes can expect to receive, and how the team has gone about unleashing the dragons to wrap up the year. We also made sure to ask about revisiting certain fan-favorite dragons, like Ysera, Malygos, and Deathwing.

"We go back to the core," Whalen told Shacknews. "What is the fantasy of this creature? This is the aspect of magic. We take a look at Malygos. It's a super powerful wizard dragon and so, originally, it gave you Spell Power +5. That's pretty cool. Now we did a different take on it. It still hits the core of, 'I am the most powerful magic user ever.' If you're holding a dragon, I get an upgraded Mage spell and those are very powerful. [Arcane Intellect] is a three-mana, draw four. It's pretty nuts. There's other ones that are crazy, too. Zero-mana Frost Nova, one-mana Polymorph, these are pretty good cards.

"So you look at something like Deathwing. What's important about Deathwing? Well, mostly it's that he's crazy and very aggressive. And so you play him and he attacks all the other minions. Look at something like Ysera. Ysera is important because she cares about other creatures and, in this case, about having lots and lots of dragons. So she's going to open portals to the Emerald Dream and bring dragons through them. So she shuffles portals to into your deck that summon dragons when you draw them. So really, it's go back to finding the core fantasy of what this dragon is about and then find a cool take on that that makes sense in the set."

Whalen and Chen also discuss the upcoming single-player element of Descent of Dragons and then briefly touch on Hearthstone Battlegrounds. For more on the latter, be sure to check out our continuing coverage. And for more interviews like this, be sure to subscribe to Shacknews and Gamerhub.TV on YouTube.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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