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Designing a Year of Hearthstone Expansions

For this challenge I wanted to work more in expansion design by designing a full year of Hearthstone expansions. After learning more about the development process of Hearthstone from the team it got me excited to dive into Hearthstone design. The first expansion in the year of the Raptor is Isle of Giants, the second expansion is Sweet Home Deepholm, and the last expansion of the year is Mayhem at Mechagon. In total I designed 621 cards for this design challenge 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. Due to the sheer amount of cards designed, only a few will be displayed or documented in charts here. If there is interest in seeing more of my work on this study, feel free to reach out and contact me.

Core Set

The year of the Raptor core set Cards introduce the Evergreen keywords Glory and Thorns. Cards with Glory trigger an effect after killing an enemy. Minions with the keyword Thorns deal additional returning damage when attacked. The core set this year focuses on limited card generation in order to prioritize more deck focused gameplay early in the expansion cycle.

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Isle of Giants

Plot

The recently discovered Isle of Giants is home to Colossal dinosaurs. The eager Jurassic Expedition team ventures out into the unknown to explore, but they are not alone. Prophet Zul and Kazakus are also on the island bringing the Zandalari and Cabal to aid them in taking over this new land.

Isle of Giants

Mechanics
 

The Colossal Keyword returns in the form of gigantic undiscovered dinosaurs. Dual class cards also re-emerge with new unseen class combinations.
 

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Isle of Giants

Keywords

Cards with the Primal keyword upgrade in hand at the start of each turn. Each Primal card has 3 stages it goes through.

Cards with the keyword Action can trigger effects similar to Titans, but there is only 1 option rather than the three and that option regenerates at the start of every turn. Actions can also be done instead of attacking with the minion rather than having to wait to attack like Titans.

The Action keyword will stay in the game as a new Evergreen keyword.

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Isle of Giants

Design Direction

Primal was designed to promote resource management and card draw. In testing it added a lot to the dynamic of playing cards. The feeling of playing stage 3 Primal forms of cards was amazing and it resulted in aggro strategies adapting to holding cards longer and giving players more of a back and forth style game.

Action was shaped from a keyword I created back in 2016 called Storm. It functioned very similarly to the keyword Titan. I love the Titan keyword, but I understand how limited the application of it can be due to it's name. I created Action to fill in that gap and provide a similar playstyle, but with a different and wider array of application for future use. From testing it feels very unique and skill testing since it acts as a reusable Battlecry where you can choose the targets again. It also presents the choice of attacking vs using the Action ability which led to a lot of fun and interesting gameplay choices.

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Mini-Set Bones of The Past

Zul and Kazakus find the Boneyard, a legendary location and resurrect the Colossal undead Giga-Drexx and Terror-Dactal.

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Sweet Home Deepholm

Plot

Kobolds led by King Togwaggle work with Trogzor, the leader of the Troggs to open a portal to Deepholm. Kobolds are in it for loot and treasure while Troggs want to return home.

Sweet Home Deepholm

Mechanics

Gear and Trinkets enter the game joining Weapons to form the three groups in 'Equipment Groups.' What is currently the Weapon card type will be renamed to 'Equipment' and Weapons will become a group inside of it similar to how Fire Spells are a school inside of Spells.

Gear cards can be played on heroes or minions and grant effects until the minion dies or damage is done equal to the Gear's durability. Gear attack and durability is added to the attack and health of the equipped character in the form of armor. Equipped characters have a outline around their frame and a symbol at the top showing a Helmet and Sword. On a hero the symbol would be displayed the same way as a Secret. One character can only have 1 Gear card equipped at a time. Playing a Gear card on a character with one already will replace it.

Trinket cards work similarly to the Profession Tools from United in Stormwind. They have no attack and instead provide an effect and lose durability when their effect is used.

 

This expansion each class will get a piece of Gear and a Trinket with one of them being Legendary.

The Keyword Excavate makes a return this expansion with a new pool of Treasures and a new legendary Treasure for every class.

 

Half of the classes side with the Kobolds and the other half side with the Troggs. Troggs and Kobolds enter the game officially as new minion types. 

Team Kobold: Mage, Rogue, Priest, Warlock, Paladin, Druid, Evoker

Team Trogg: Warrior, Shaman, Hunter, Demon Hunter, Death Knight, Monk.


Kobolds love their candles and finding shinys (cards). They care about the player adding cards to their hand.

Troggs are the powerful but not very smart remnants of the Titans. They care about your minions attacking.



 

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Sweet Home Deepholm

Keywords

Cards with the keyword Deep provide an additional effect while your deck is half full or below.
 

Cards with the keyword Resonate provide an additional effect if you are holding a card of the same mana cost.

Gimmick

Design Direction

Sweet Home Deepholm originally was an expansion I designed 6 years ago as the last expansion of a year long story. I loved the theming of it and I wanted to revisit it once more to give it a new coat of paint and remake it as it's own stand alone expansion. From my research I had the fun idea to introduce Kobolds and Troggs as minion types at the same time by having them work together to use the Titan treasures to reopen a portal to Deepholm. However, this alliance will not last long.

Gear and Trinkets were designed to expand and add variety to equippable cards. By renaming the Weapon card type to 'Equipment' and making Weapons, Gear, and Trinkets 'Equipment Groups' it allowed for a lot more flexibility in design. Just as the Spell card type got very diverse, Weapons started to diverge from their original design as well. The addition of Spell Schools allowed for many new and fun designs and archetypes and I believed that 'Equipment Groups' could help organize past and future designs in a similar way. Sweet Home Deepholm felt like the best time to make this change due to it's theming and the addition of the Evergreen keyword Action from the previous expansion which worked great with item style cards. 

Deep was designed to promote draw and longer games. In testing it did just that. The trick was balancing cards for when their Deep effect was active vs inactive. This took a bit to nail down, but I really like where I landed with the way the Deep cards were designed.

Resonate has changed a bit through testing. Originally Resonate cards provided additional effects if the player held a specific minion type or spell school. From paper tests and test card text it felt strange and resembled the dragon minion type identity too much. From there I explored Resonate having to do with copying cards, but that didn't fit either. I finally landed on Resonate cards becoming active if the player is holding another card of the same mana cost. Funny enough a month later this exact effect was created as a series of Neutral cards in the expansion "Showdown in the Badlands."

Bringing Excavate back for this expansion was something I thought a lot about since "Showdown in the Badlands" came out as I was testing out early card concepts (Before the mini-set was even announced). The year of the Raptor was planned to come out years down the line when Excavate would have been out of rotation for some time. Given that and the theming, it fit perfectly with the introduction of the two minion types and the location of Deepholm. For this iteration of Excavate I leaned more towards the legendary Excavate rewards impacting the rest of the game as build-arounds. This worked extremely well to round out the theme of each class in the set.

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Mini-Set
Gathering of The Elements

The 4 Elemental Lords meet in Deepholm about the portal to Azeroth finally being opened. They each gather their elemental armies and return to Azeroth. The year of the Raptor Core set will bring back "Neptulon the Tidehunter" and the hero card "Al'Akir, the Winds of Time" so that all Elemental Lords will be in the standard rotation for this Mini-Set.

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Mayhem at Mechagon

Plot

King Mechagon wants to mechanize all organic life. However, his son Prince Erazmin and his Rustbolt Revolutionaries have other ideas. Fend off the robotic onslaught or become one with the machines.

Mayhem at Mechagon

Mechanics

Highlander support, Side Quests in the form of blueprints, and Legendary Prime minions return for each class. 

A set of location cards based off of the various districts in Mechagon City will be given to each class as well.

Prime minions will be updated to have the bolded keyword Prime on them rather than the Deathrattle to preserve card space and design room for Deathrattles on Prime minions.

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Mayhem at Mechagon

Keywords

Minions with the keyword Provoke makes it so the opponent has to target them with spells and Battlecries before they can target other enemies. Cards with Provoke are canceled out by having Stealth or Elusive similar to how Taunt doesn't work with Stealth.

Cards with the keyword Reserve when played are placed in a circle above your hero's head. When clicked on they can be activated immediately or on future turns. For example, Battlecry cards with Reserve when activated trigger their Battlecry and enter play. A maximum of 5 cards can be in Reserve at a time and cards that are in Reserve occupy the same space as Secrets, Quests, Questlines, and Side Quests.

 

Mayhem at Mechagon

Design Direction

Provoke was designed to add more to decision making with minions and removal. It also offered protection from the large amount of burn damage players can have from hand. The theme of Mechagon fit perfectly for this given the conflict between King Mechagon and his son. In testing Provoke felt fair and impactful. It successfully lowered the effectiveness of Battlecries and damaging spells in a way similar to Taunt. 

Reserve is a keyword I worked a lot with. It originally was designed to be a new spell type like secrets, but through iterations of it I found that it worked a lot better as a keyword. Balancing Reserve was a bit of a challenge at first due to the nature of a mechanic where mana is floating until the card is put into play. However, by limiting the amount of cards you can have in Reserve to 5 and have them compete with Secrets, Quests, Questlines, and Side Quests it made them much more tactical. It also fit really well since I wanted to bring back Side Quests this expansion as well.

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Mini-Set The Robodome

The battle between Prince Erazmin and his father King Mechagon has awoken the living city of Mechagon which has captured both groups and their lieutenants within the "ROBODOME" for all to see as they finish this fight!

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