Hearthstone at San Diego Comic-Con 2019

Ned Jordan
In Short
The Hearthstone panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2019 took a look at the Saviors of Uldum expansion.

The Hearthstone panel at San Diego Comic-Con this year focused on the upcoming expansion Saviors of Uldum. The panel consisted of Lead Designer Dave Kosak, and three voice actors whose characters will figure prominently in the expansion, Terrence Stone (Sir Finley), Amy Walker (Elise Starseeker), and Carlos Larkin (Brann Bronzebeard).

Hearthstone Panel at SDCC 2019
Hearthstone Panel at SDCC 2019

The panel opened with a discussion of character and card creation. Dave Kosak said that the team takes two approaches, one bottom-up and the other top-down. With the bottom-up approach they have the card effects in mind first, and then once they have the card details fleshed-out they begin to think about what kind of character would exhibit those traits. With the top-down approach, they have an idea for a character in mind and then determine what kind of powers such a character would have. They also get ideas for new cards from other people working at Blizzard. This happens with such frequency that they created an internal email account for card idea submissions to help manage the volume of incoming ideas. The team will put together about 500 candidate cards for an expansion like Saviors of Uldum, and will then begin to whittle them down from there.

For the heroes in the League of Explorers, they wanted characters that represented the traits of iconic explorers throughout history but they also wanted the characters to be uniquely Hearthstone. The team has been focused on The League of E.V.I.L. for a while, and with Saviors of Uldum they wanted to start thinking about the good guys again. They will be bringing back the quest mechanic, with nine total that link the heroes in a narrative arc and that will help you to earn a hero power. The story behind the expansion has to do with the League of Explorers fighting to stop a series of plagues that has been unleashed on the world.

The plagues affect the game, and when one is unleashed both players will have to face the consequences. One of the plagues mentioned during the panel was a plague of Murlocs. Another new play mechanic coming in the expansion is “reborn”. Cards with the reborn keyword will come back to life with one health after being killed for the first time.

Each hero in the League of Explorers will have their own hero card. The developers wanted to add a challenging mechanic to these cards, so in order to use their powers you’ll need to build a deck with no duplicate cards. While this can make things more challenging, the benefits that you get from the hero cards can make it worth it. When designing the hero cards, the team wanted to capture the personality of each hero, a point they were able to bring to life by having the voice actor for each character read the new cards in their characters’ voices as they were revealed during the panel.

Reno Jackson is the kind of explorer that just runs into danger and once he finds it just wings it from there. In some ways he is representative of the player, trying new things to see what happens. When you play Reno Jackson, if your deck has no duplicates, you’ll deal ten damage to all enemy minions. To capture the spirit of Jackson’s reckless Relicologist nature, his attack takes the form of a Gatling gun wand. Jackson is the kind of explorer that would unleash the fury of a relic the moment he finds it. This card works well for a control type player, and Reno signifies that one big move that can turn the tide of a match.

Bran Bronzebeard is a character that links Hearthstone with something familiar from World of Warcraft. Bran is the kind of explorer that wants to know all of the secrets of the world, so he’ll flip every switch he finds just to see what happens. This approach fits perfectly with his nature as a dwarf, as they approach life with a unique open-armed gusto all their own. His hero card in the expansion is Dinotamer Bran, and when played he will summon King Krush, an 8/8 dinosaur with charge. The team played around with different dinosaurs before settling on King Krush because it suited a big play card.

Elise Starseeker is the leader of the League of Explorers, the kind of explorer who does all of the research that can be done before going out into the field. She relies more on her brains than brawn when fighting, but she can hold her own. Her eyes don’t glow with the magical energy that is typical of night elves, and this was an intentional design decision to help you relate to her character better. Her card power allows you to duplicate the cards in your hand as long as you don’t have any duplicates in your deck. She works well for players who are willing to hold back on using cards that they want to have duplicated when Elise Starseeker is played.

Last, we have Sir Finley Mrrgglton, a murloc who serves as the heart of the League of Explorers. He’s the type of explorer whose naivety can get him into difficult situations, but his heart is in the right place and you can always count on him to do the right thing. His card allows you to discover an upgraded hero power. His is the most flexible card, and its low mana cost allows you to use it early in a match and select a hero power that will work as an offset to your opponent’s hero power. Sir Finley’s card was one of the first designed for the expansion, and it made it into the game virtually unchanged from its original concept.

And with that final card reveal, the panel wrapped up. Look for Saviors of Uldum to come to Hearthstone on August 6th.

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Transmitted: 4/13/2024 12:38:19 PM