From concept to finished card, we explore some of the latest arrivals in the newest set Rise of Shadows with two of Hearthstone’s game designers, Liv Breeden and Stephen Chang. Wait ’til you hear how cool their concepting tools are! That should be a game all its own…

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You can tune into the whole chat right there in the player above, or grab it through The Scrapyard podcast feed. But here’s a few of the highlights from the discussion.

The idea that the design team has a nicely built concept tool makes perfect sense, of course, but I just wish I could get a chance to play with it! Being able to visually script some card mechanics into a playtest tool just sounds like a blast.

This also speaks so well to the idea of how Twinspell evolved out of an idea to give a card ‘charges’. Not the attack immediately kind, but more like a wand or weapon where each use gives you the card again but takes one charge off the remaining uses. They were able to easily test this feature, and move quickly toward the sense that the Twinspell idea is a really nice fit as an evolution of the existing Echo mechanic.

One of the new Hagatha cards is a further example, delivering something akin to an Echo effect but not using that keyword – because the effect was also very ‘ghostly’ in style (and, indeed, derived from an earlier abandoned Ghostly keyword concept) that suited Witchwood very well. This time it gets called “Repeatable this turn”, which we have seen used before too.

I also enjoyed exploring the difference between flavour mechanics that are tied closely to an expansion set versus core mechanics that work really well with the whole game.

The idea that a keyword like ‘Adapt’ just requires too much explanation if it were to appear out of the blue and doesn’t have a natural ongoing fit with the game. While recent arrivals like Rush and Discover do a very good job of explaining what they are right there in the name and don’t take much getting used to. And they are well balanced in a very broad way.

And I must give a big nod to Stephen Chang’s involvement with the ongoing efforts to make the Deck Recipes as high quality as possible. As someone with a Golden Whizbang the Wonderful I really appreciate getting to use him and know he’s not going to die horribly on a regular basis. Variety is the spice of Whizbang!

Meanwhile, we also learned these fine folks are already working so far ahead of us. Stephen working on finishing the final set for this year’s cycle, and Liv is already way out in front designing the first set for next year!

At least we get our fresh new Year of the Dragon and Rise of Shadows set in less than two weeks!!

Check out ALL the new cards – the whole set has now been revealed – over at the Play Hearthstone website.

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