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Year of The Ogre

For this challenge I wanted to work more in expansion design by designing another full year of Hearthstone expansions. After making my "Year of The Raptor" I couldn't wait to dive back into Hearthstone design. The first expansion in the year of the Banshee is Outlaws of Vol'dun, the second expansion is Nightmares of The Emerald Dream, and the last expansion of the year is Shining Seas. In total I designed 627 cards for this design challenge with 209 cards per expansion including the mini-set since I also accounted for the Monk and Evoker classes. I really enjoyed this challenge and I can't wait to do more!

Notice

All card art used is AI generated and Hearthcards.net was utilized to help mock up designs. The following designs are mine alone. I acknowledge some designs might need some tweaking and balance testing depending on the game state Hearthstone is in. I did my best to test out a majority of my cards with paper print outs and Innkeeper battles. 

Core Set

The year of the Banshee core set adds a new mode to Arena known as "Gladiator." Players open Gladiator Packs, pick a card from the pack, and pass it to the next person. This mode would have 4 players and each gladiator pack has 12 cards from the standard set. After the 4 players pick through a pack a new pack is opened until all 12 packs are dealt out. From there players choose to make 1-3 decks from what they opened. Entry to this mode is free, but if players want to add the cards they opened to their collection they can either win all 8 games or buy them using Gold or Runestones.

The keyword Invoke is brought back this year and modified slightly so that Invoke cards can target the current hero as well as other hero cards in a deck. The core set this year also adds the new Keyword Provoke. Minions with Provoke make it so the opponent has to target them with spells before they can target other enemies. This year also focuses on card and deck manipulation.

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Outlaws of Vol'dun

Plot

In the lawless land of Vol'dun a small town sits in the middle of the desert. Bandits, goons, cheats, and evil doers pass through these tavern doors all too often, all wanted by the law. Fights tend to break out over bounties, debts, and cheating.

Outlaws of Vol'dun

Mechanics
 

Each class gets their own legendary outlaw and legendary Bounty. 

Mount cards make a return for each class.

 

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Outlaws of Vol'dun

Keywords

Cards with the keyword Gambit flip a coin. If you get Heads you get the effect, but if you get Tails you get the coin added to your hand instead.

Cards with the keyword Marked can be seen and played from the top of your deck. When a Marked card is dragged over your deck you can pay 2 mana to remove Marked and copy it.

Outlaws of Vol'dun

Design Direction

Gambit was designed to give a risk vs reward feel that felt in theme with a western inspired expansion. In testing Gambit served that purpose and felt unique in each class. Gambit having a 50/50 mechanic changed the way swing turns worked with how the player must be ready to change their plan. Gambit originally didn't do anything if the coin flipped tails. That made Gambit cards feel very hit or miss and led to a lot of frustration in paper tests. With the addition of giving the player the coin on tails the mechanic became very versatile and whole.

Marked was designed to represent the real life concept of marking cards to know where they are in a deck. I wanted to capture that idea in Hearthstone through the new keyword. Marked fit the cheat feel of the wild west while also adding an interesting way to manipulate cards in your hand and deck. Having Marked cards be able to be played from the top of your deck created an interesting dynamic of sometimes having an extra card to play as well as knowing your next draw. This also worked really well with the Dredge keyword which will be returning in the last expansion of the year. Originally Marked didn't do anything in hand and in testing it didn't feel impactful enough. From this I came up with Marked cards being able to be copied once by dragging them over your deck and paying 2 mana. This felt very much in theme of cheating with Aces up your sleeve and it was very fun to play with since classes each had a unique take on it.

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Cryptic Depths

The Outlaws through their fighting have uncovered a hidden oasis crypt under the town. 

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Nightmares of The Emerald Dream

Plot

N'Zoth is invading the Emerald Dream and turning those he corrupts. Each class must embrace the Emerald Dream as well as the Nightmare. Use both sides of this fight against each other in order to prevail.

Nightmares of The Emerald Dream

Mechanics

Each class gets a legendary Flip Wild God and a legendary Taken Champion or Eternal Spell.

 



 

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Nightmares of The Emerald Dream

Keywords

Cards with the keyword Flip can be dragged over your deck to pay 1 mana in order to flip them over to their other side.
 

Minions with the keyword Taken add an upgraded version to your hand when they die.

Spells with the keyword Eternal shuffle an upgraded version into your deck.

Nightmares of The Emerald Dream

Design Direction

I designed the Flip keyword to allow for more decision making and use cases for cards. In testing it felt very fun and made it feel like there were a lot more options in deck building. 6 years ago for I originally designed Flip as "Split" for a custom expansion about N'Zoth corrupting the naga called "The Split of Nazjatar." Split worked functionally the same as Flip, but it didn't require mana to change it to the other side. Years after I created Split, Tradeable and Forge were added to the game and flipping a card for 1 mana made a lot of sense and avoided the design issue of it resembling Choose One too much. I really liked the mechanic of flipping a card over to use it's other side and I felt that revisiting it during another N'Zoth themed expansion made a lot of sense. My previous custom expansion with Nazjatar even helped me come up with the mini-set for "Nightmares of The Emerald Dream."

The Keywords Taken and Eternal were designed together to have cards transform in new ways. They were made to act as opposites and give a good vs evil feeling when playing them. 6 Years ago I designed these keywords for a custom expansion called "Terror at Orgrimmar." Taken and Eternal worked almost the same as the prime minions from "Ashes of Outland" funny enough. Given that I wanted to revisit these mechanics and update them to have new identity for this expansion. I changed Taken to add an upgraded version to your hand when they die. Then I made the keyword Eternal spell only and kept it shuffling into it's owner's deck when it is played.

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Mini-Set
Awakened Abyss

About N'Zoth reaching into the oceans of Azeroth from the Emerald Dream and corrupting the Sunken City.

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Shining Seas

Plot

Set sail as each class has their own part of the ocean they explore. Each captain is on a mission for treasure and is upgrading their cards with gems from the past.

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Shining Seas

Mechanics

Each class gets a legendary captain leading the journey and a Legendary Quest.

The keyword Dredge returns for this expansion!

Slotted Cards are introduced. Slotted cards have 1-3 slots where they can have gems placed into them during deck building that alter the card. When slotted cards are generated they have random Gems in them. There is a Gem of each expansion similar to how the Transfer Student works by gaining an effect. For example, Knights of The Frozen Throne has the Ice Gem which grants Lifesteal when slotted into a card. Some Gems do not work on Spells or Weapons.

Each class gets a Map card. These function similarly to Elise's Map to the Golden Monkey, but with different rewards.

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Tales of Shining Seas

Keywords

Cards with the keyword Bargain display 4 cards from a pool where the player can spend 2 health to acquire 1 card multiple times up to 4. All 4 cards can be taken by the player, but that would mean spending 8 health. This keyword would be used similarly to how Discover appears in Spells and Battlecries.

Minions with the keyword Travel can be moved around on your side of the board once per turn.

 

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Tales of Shining Seas

Design Direction

Bargain was a very interesting keyword to design. I wanted to capture the idea of traversing the oceans and running into cool people. This led me to looking into the concept of trading for supplies. Bargain created a shop like experience in Hearthstone and it felt like a cousin to Discover and Excavate. At first I played around with a gold mechanic like Battlegrounds, but I quickly moved away from it due to complexity. From there I looked at the idea of bargains with warlocks where health is spent as a resource. This led me to the concept of paying 2 health per card. In testing it felt very skill testing and fun to go shopping for cool cards you wouldn't see otherwise like Excavate. 

Travel originally came to me when I was designing my custom expansion of "Wanders of Alterac." 6 years ago. When looking over my older projects for inspiration I found that it fit very well with exploring the high seas and traveling around the world. With Travel I wanted to promote minion placement and have cards that like to move around the board. This hasn't been done before in Hearthstone and it added a whole new dimension to board based strategies in paper tests.

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Mini-Set Maelstrom Madness

The captains gather in the center of the massive Maelstrom fighting each other for loot and glory. Each class gets 2 dual class cards.

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