Hearthstone’s next major expansion, Depths of Whatever Keep or Something, will introduce a slew of new cards, overhauling the turn-based gameplay with the potential for innovative new builds and strategies. We were able to get in touch with senior game designer Ben Brode for the latest on what fans can expect from the next major follow-up to November’s League of Explorers adventure.
Billy: What were some of the major goals you wanted to accomplish with this update? Was there a direction you knew you wanted to take early on?
Ben: We were really, really happy with the overwhelmingly positive response to the Reno Jackson, Arch-Thief Rafaam, and Elise Starseeker cards that changed the way the game is played. We really wanted to recapture that same sense of rebuilding the foundation of the game, for better or worse, if you know what I mean. [chuckles]
Billy: Right! It’s like, “Gah, you got me! Oh, no you didn’t! Now I have full health again, and here’s a powerful minion that also gives me one of three table-turning super spells! Doo-wup!”
Ben: Yeah! So the greatest challenge early on was figuring out how to significantly impact the game in a positive way while topping what we had done with League [of Explorers]. We set the bar pretty high and are determined to top ourselves once more.
Billy: Can you fill us in on some of the foundation-shaking new cards fans can expect to play in Depths of Whatever Keep or Something?
Ben: I’m not at liberty to say too much, but I can tell you that we are introducing a new legendary minion that completely heals the other player, but makes you invincible for the remainder of the match. This applies to fatigue damage as well.
Billy: That sounds…interesting?
Ben: Very! The idea is, once the player uses the card, they simply must wait for his or her opponent to run out of health or forfeit.
Billy: Was the card always designed that way?
Ben: Heavens, no! The card started as a spell that made both players invincible for the remainder of the match. We don’t feel like there are enough matches ending in draws, so we created a new spell card separate from the minion mentioned above, but with similar aspects.
Billy: Can you tell us more about the spell? Which class does it belong to?
Ben: I’m not at liberty to say too much, but I can tell you that it’s a six-cost spell that adds another card into your deck which, when played, automatically ends the game in a draw.
Billy: I’m having trouble considering the usefulness of the card. Has it tested well? What kind of strategies do you foresee the card inspiring?
Ben: Perhaps I’m not explaining it clearly with the limited amount of information I’m at liberty to share, but I should add that the paladin spell, in addition to ending the current game in a draw, grants another spell that appears in the player’s hand at the beginning of the next match the player chooses the paladin. That spell then shuffles a weapon card, the Divine Penetrator, into the player’s deck.
Billy: I think I get it. So, players can start building “draw decks” based on the acceptance of a stalemate in exchange for an automatic win next game? But what about ranked play? Won’t such decks undermine the integrity of progression if losing is essentially impossible?
Ben: Great question! We don’t think it will. Not everyone will be able to acquire the card, and even if they do, they might not draw it every game. I should add, too, that in order to keep things fair and balanced, Depths of Whatever Keep or Something will not be purchasable with in-game currency like the other adventures, at least not initially. This way, the cards will only be available to truly gifted players.
Billy: Ah! This makes sense to me now. What minions and abilities can other classes expect? If you’re at liberty to say.
Ben: I have complete liberty to tell you about a warlock card that sets the caster’s health to 4.5, and turns the player’s hand and deck into 1/1 imps. The catch is, the player can only be defeated by taking exactly 4.5 damage from any source. It really plays to the risk/reward style the warlock has always championed. Now, concerning the mage—and I can only use liberty sparingly, here—but the mage can earn an eight-cost minion named Ingestius Fecalnugs that grants an automatic victory each time the player casts a spell.
Billy: So, whatever class draws their—
Ben: I don’t want you to think we’re just handing out easy wins here. The hunter’s newest ability takes some strategizing. Basically, it’s like Unleash the Hounds, except it summons taunt versions of Gahz’rilla.
Billy: Uh-huh. When can fans expect to give you more money for more virtual cards?
Ben: Depths of Whatever Keep or Something won’t be available until Q3 of this year, but pre-purchasing through Battle.net earns you early access to the immunity minion.
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