top of page
ghostly hearthstone art style banshee spirit.jpg

Year of The Banshee

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. This year focuses on a year long journey starting at sea as we follow each class on a quest that leads them to the remains of Y'Shaarj and then N'Zoth who are both wreaking havoc on Azeroth. The first expansion in the year of the Banshee is Tales of Shining Seas, the second expansion is Mysts of The Taken Vale, and the last expansion of the year is Nightmares of The Emerald Dream. 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 Year of The Banshee core set brings the keyword Invoke back and modifies it slightly so that Invoke cards can now choose to target the current hero, or another hero card in the deck. The core set adds the new minion type known as the Faceless. Faceless minions care about having copies of cards in your deck. This year also focuses on card and deck manipulation.

Possessed-Glaive.png

Tales of 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.

Tales of 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.
 

Decommissioned-Curator.png
Purge-Corruption.png
Shadowed-Raven.png
Dusk-Haggler.png

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 to trigger an effect.

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 interesting 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.

Gator-Gill.png
Flesh-Feaster.png
Way-of-the-Wyrm.png

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.

Seep 1.jpg
Seep 2.jpg
Tal'Gran Bounty Card.png
Tal'Gran.png
Endless-Sack.png

Mysts of the Taken Vale

Plot

Y'Shaarj has returned!!! His corrupting Sha are wreaking havoc as his sights are on reclaiming the Eternal Vale through the help of his Mantid and Taken armies. Will the Taken or Eternal prevail?

Mysts of the Taken Vale

Mechanics

Each class will get a legendary Hero Card and a legendary Taken champion or Eternal spell.

Mantids enter the game as the newest minion type. Mantids care about having multiple copies of cards in your hand.

 



 

Venthras,-The-Faceless.png
Venthras,-The-Mind-Flayer.png
Lord-Falconcrest.png
Haradryn.png

Mysts of the Taken Vale

Keywords

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

 

Spells with the keyword Eternal shuffle back into your deck after being played.

 

Cards with the keyword Consume destroy a card in your deck to do an effect.

Cards with the keyword Flourish add their effects to the next card of the same type you play.

 

Mysts of the Taken Vale

Design Direction

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 the keywords for a custom expansion I called "Terror at Orgrimmar." Back then Taken and Eternal worked very similarly to how the Prime minions from "Ashes of Outland" wound up functioning 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 (Like you are taking them back). Then I made the keyword Eternal spell only and made it always shuffle back into your deck when it is played (Like it lives on in your deck). While confirming the expansion order for the Standard cycle I decided to keep "Terror at Orgrimmar" and make it the mini-set to better focus on the theme of the Vale and plot progression.

I designed the keywords
Consume and Flourish to match the good and evil tug of war between the Taken and Eternal. Consume fit the identity of destruction for a reward which worked well with the Faceless and Mantid minion types. Flourish instead promoted card types working together. In play tests both mechanics felt very at home in Hearthstone and allowed for very intuitive and fun card designs. Consume originally was designed to always destroy a random card that cost less than the one played to act as an inverse to the Corrupt keyword. However, that limited designs and led to the mechanic feeling weird to work around.  Flourish originally started pie in the sky with the concept of chaining cards together to achieve mana reduction. This however felt a bit too forced and I explored more into comboing cards together which led to the final design of growing cards through adding effects.

Hundro,-The-Troggster.png
Colossus,-The-Living-Mountain.png
Colossus,-Land’s-Wrath.png

Mini-Set
Terror at Orgrimmar

Y'Shaarj's attacks on the Vale lead him and the classes to the city of Orgrimmar as he tries to reclaim his heart which is corrupting the city.

Bounties 1.jpg
Bounties 2.jpg
Bounties 3.jpg
Bounties 4.jpg
Example-of-Evoker-Hero.png
Example-of-Dragon-Hero.png

Nightmares of The Emerald Dream

Plot

N'Zoth has invaded the Emerald Dream and is twisting those he corrupts. Each class must embrace the Emerald Dream as well as the Nightmare. Use both sides of this fight in order to prevail.

Dragon-Aspect.png
Twilight-Alchemist.png
Hover.png
Hungering-Laviathan.png

Nightmares of The Emerald Dream

Mechanics

Each class gets a legendary Flip Wild God and a legendary Champion.

A set of 

Herald-of-Deathwing.png
Essence-Collector.png
Draconic-Wisdom.png
Essence-Burst.png

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 in hand and in play.
 

Minions with the keyword Champion are always drawn the first turn they are able to be played. For example, a 5-cost Champion would always be drawn at the start of the player's 5th turn.

Azure-Striker.png

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 Keyword Champion is a legendary specific keyword and came from some ideation and testing I did with "Bounties" with my "Mechanic, Gimmick, and Class" design challenge. Bounties are mana crystal timed events players fight for rewards. With Champions I wanted to explore the idea of timed draws to simulate a deck leader style of play. In paper tests this mechanic felt surprisingly more skill testing resulted in a lot of cat and mouse style play. Archetypes could exist around Champions due to their guaranteed draw and both players could plan around it.

Pyre.png
Dream Breath.png
Fire-Flame-Guider.png

Mini-Set
Awakened Abyss

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

Evoker 1.jpg
Evoker 2.jpg
Evoker 3.jpg
Evoker 4.jpg
bottom of page