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A MECHANIC, A GIMMICK, AND A CLASS

For this challenge I wanted to work more in initial design by designing a game mechanic, an expansion gimmick, and a new class. After learning more about the development process of Hearthstone from the team it got me excited to dive into Hearthstone design. This summer's Hearthstone design challenge was inspired by Julie Kimura the Senior Design Lead on the Hearthstone team and Leo Robles Gonzalez, a Game Designer on the initial design side of the Hearthstone team. The Mechanic I designed was Seep, My expansion Gimmick I came up with was Bounties, and lastly the class I designed was Evoker. 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. 

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Mechanic

Keyword: Seep

Seep cards are face up when they are the top card of a player's deck and provide an effect while there. 

Mechanic

Additional Keyword: Aura

When designing the Seep mechanic cards like Murloc Warleader and Baron Rivendare kept coming to mind. This gave me the idea to update existing cards with ongoing abilities on board to a new keyword called Aura. This allowed for better readability and more overall design space. This way some Seep cards could say Aura and Seep if their effects should be active while on top of a player's deck as well as in play.

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Mechanic

Seep Expansion

The Seep mechanic came to me when thinking about an expansion about corrupted Medivh and ruined Karazhan. Thinking pie in the sky about how evil could come out of your deck and effect your turn led me to the mechanic of Seep. Seep fit flavor wise and allowed for unique card effects that could play off of existing mechanics like Dredge and Tradeable.

Dusk Haggler Design Progression:

1: 2 Mana 2/3 Aura: Whenever you draw a card, draw from the bottom of your deck instead.

2: 3 Mana 3/4 Aura: Whenever you draw a card, draw from the bottom of your deck instead.

3: 3 Mana 2/5 Aura: Whenever you draw a card, draw from the bottom of your deck instead.

4: 3 Mana 2/5 Tradeable Aura: Whenever you draw a card, draw from the bottom of your deck instead.

5 (Final Design): 3 Mana 3/4 Tradeable Aura: Whenever you draw a card, draw from the bottom of your deck instead.

Mechanic

Design Direction

Seep was designed to promote card draw rather than card generation. Since Seep effects are only active when the card is on the top of a deck it's very skill testing to draw as well as play. Card design for this mechanic came very naturally and in testing this led to fun swing turns and more minion based combat. 

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Seep Cards

I designed a Seep minion and spell for each class as well as a weapon for Shaman and Demon Hunter. For them I leaned into One Night in Karazhan setting revisited with some new inspirations from old god style cards. This is a keyword I can see working really well alongside a return of the Corrupt keyword in a core set similar to how Magnetic made it's return in the year of the wolf.

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Gimmick

Bounties

Bounties are a new type of legendary spell. At the start of the game if a bounty card is in your decklist it shuffles the bounty target into the opposing player's deck.

At the start of the turn when a player's mana crystals is equal to the cost of the bounty target it jumps into play for free from their hand or deck making room if it needs to. Killing, transforming, or bouncing a bounty target completes the bounty. This transforms the legendary bounty card where ever it is into the reward. 

Bounty Targets are marked with a crossed swords banner and Bounty Rewards are marked with a star banner.

Gimmick

Pie In The Sky

I had many ideations on the bounty gimmick at first. Early in development bounties were complicated and acted more like quests. Some of my early card designs led me to the rule of one way to complete a bounty which is removing the bounty target. 

When designing bounties I wanted to capture the feeling of being jumped by a boss or encounter while adventuring or battling. 
This led me to mana crystal timed encounters. This design allowed for the player building their deck with a bounty to know when the target arrives on board so they can plan for it.
 

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Gimmick

Expansion For Bounties

The Bounty Gimmick came to me when thinking about traveling around in Azeroth, primarily in the Alterac region and how it might be similar to adventuring in RPGs or DnD. What encounters would you have navigating dangerous roads? What evils might be causing issues near by that would make people put out a bounty?

I thought it would be really fun for each class to have a bounty and a bounty hunter that has some connection to the target. It would allow for a lot of fun characters in an expansion and the theme of adventuring out in dangerous land for a reward.

Gimmick

Design Direction

I designed bounties to be skill testing for both deck building and in-game play. Bounties act as planned negatives with strong upsides upon removal. This gimmick would work perfect in an expansion cycle with minion removal and minion based combat. There are a ton of design opportunities to explore as well as flavor for hunting down enemies.

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Bounty Cards

I designed 5 neutral legendaries as well as 2 legendaries for each class since each class has a legendary bounty, bounty reward, and normal legendary for the expansion. Card number 1 "Tal'Gran" is the only neutral bounty and he is also the free legendary given out to all players prior to the launch of the expansion. When designing bounties I did a lot of research into notable WoW figures and ones that could be stirring up trouble in the Alterac Mountains. I wanted the bounties to feel exciting, unique, and rewarding while also having the normal set legendaries playing into the themes and ways to kill the bounty targets. 

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Class

Evoker

The Evoker class is all about the Dragon Flights, Spells, Essence, and Empowering cards. Evokers in deck creation choose a dragon flight out of the 5. The dragon flight chosen determines their hero power in dragon form. 

The Evoker class has the unique Keyword called Aspect. Aspect Cards enter the hero into dragon form for a turn replacing their normal hero power. Aspect is shown as a banner like Tradable under the mana cost. The color of the dragon head symbol matches the selected Dragon Flight in deckbuilding.

Essence is a resource acquired by Evokers from casting spells and it can be spent on cards similar to Death Knights with Corpses.

I believe the face of Evokers should be Wrathion. He is the last remaining pure black dragon and the concept of staying hidden works well for a new class revealing themselves. He is a beloved character and would work perfectly for a prologue teaching players Evoker.

Other characters that would work well as cosmetic Evoker heroes would be: Kazakus, Lady Prestor, Reno Jackson, Victor Nefarius, The Main Dragon Aspects, and the Dracthyr Scalecommanders. Dragon form heroes could also change appearance based on the base Evoker hero players have selected. 

Class

Evoker Identity

When designing Evoker I wanted to capture what they are known for in World of Warcraft. I explored their two routes of Preservation and Devastation as well as the role of dragons in their lore and creation. By dragon flight selection only effecting the Dragon Form hero power it allows for a lot of deck building creativity based around it. Each dragon flight having something they are good at thematically can promote cool deckbuilding and future card design. 

Base Evoker Hero Power
Channeled Blast:
1 Mana Deal 1 Damage to a Minion and Gain 1 Essence.
(Upgraded) Chromatic Blast: 1 Mana Deal 2 Damage to a Minion and gain 2 Essence.

Red Aspect: Passive: Minions Cost 1 Less, But Spells Cost 1 More. Cannot cost less than 1 or more than 10. Theme: (Minion) (Zoo) (Armor) (Rush)

Blue Aspect: Passive: Spells Cost 1 Less, But Minions Cost 1 More. Cannot cost less than 1 or more than 10. Theme: (Spell) (Combo) (Spell Damage) (Mana Discount)

Green Aspect: 2 Mana Give Your minions +1/+1, your opponent draws a card. Theme: (Buffs) (Healing) (Midrange) (Essence)

Bronze Aspect: 2 Mana add a copy of the first card you played last turn to your hand, but you don’t draw a card at the start of your next turn. (Value) (Time Manipulation) (Control) (Card Generation) 

Black Aspect: 2 Mana Give Enemy minions -1/-1, but your minions transform into random ones of the same mana cost if they attack this turn. Theme: (Debuffs) (Transform) (Aggro) (Weapons)

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Class

Evoker Expansion

When researching World of Warcraft lore I found out that Evokers Empower their allies. In a past design challenge I designed a keyword called Empower which allowed players to pay mana by dragging an Empower card over their hero to upgrade it. This fit Evokers perfectly. I really liked how the keyword Dormant was introduced and made Evergreen with the Demon Hunter class and I think Empower would work perfectly in the expansion Evokers are introduced.

The expansion I came up with is "Era of the Incarnates." Incarnates are powerful elemental dragons imprisoned by the dragon aspects long ago in the Dragon Isles. Having an expansion where they break out and each class gets an elemental dragon incarnate would be really fun and it would be a perfect time for Evokers and Dracthyr to enter the game thematically.

Class

Design Direction

The Evoker class has tons of room to grow. The dragon flight's themes help keep the class on track design wise. This allows for Evoker card design to stay in line long term without the restrictions of Runes like Death Knight. In testing with the base class cards I designed it was really fun to make decks based around specific dragon flights or multiple to fill in the areas certain dragon flights lack in. I could see expansion design making really cool archetypes with this and it's a type of deckbuilding and class that the game hasn't seen before.

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Evoker Cards

I designed 32 core Evoker cards and 10 Evoker expansion cards similar to Death Knight when it came out. I dove deep into the WoW Evoker class with their Preservation and Devastation specializations, lore, play style, and abilities. It may sound weird, but I decided to not split the class into Preservation and Devastation like Death Knight and the rune system. The reasons for my decision is that It felt too similar to Death Knight in testing, it fractured the class identity too much, and it heavily limited future card design. Due to these reasons I explored the dragon aspects and landed with my Dragon Form hero power selection during deck building. This made the Evoker class unlike any other and paved the way for archetypes and the class moving forward without hard limitations.

Designing a class from the ground up is no easy feat and it took me months to fine tune. I designed Evoker to be a easy to learn hard to master class. It has 3 core pieces being Aspect, Empower, and Essence. I'm very pleased with how Evoker played in my paper tests and it become something I can really see entering the game in a couple years. After designing the core of the class it became really exciting to work on the Evoker introduction expansion "Era of the Incarnates" which takes place in the Dragon Isles and has Raszageth as their class Incarnate. For this expansion I wanted to expand on Aspect a bit more as an archetype while also providing hints at where the class could go moving forward.

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