Razoir’s Card Creation Workshop

Hey ! It's Razoir, back from a long break, today I'll be speaking about an unusual subject - Card Creation. Creating your cards can be fun, but be careful not to design them to be overpowered!

Introduction

Hey ! It’s Razoir, back from a long break, today I’ll be speaking about an unusual subject. “Card Creation“. Because who has never thought of a cool, interesting new card they’d have wished to play in hearthstone ? Perhaps using a new incredible mechanic ? Like the ability to get over taunts ? Well we all have that game Designer spirit don’t we ? However we aren’t working for Blizzard, we will never see our creation as a real card and we know nothing go the rules imposed on their creation. Why can’t we create a Starving Murlord or a Head Yeti legendary ? Well, with deep analyzing and deduction we can understand most of the rules that govern the Hearthstone world. And who knows ? I find that it helps quite a bit to know those rules, especially for arena draft but also for ranked play. I believe knowing the mechanics behind each card can only make better players out of you.

How to create cards ?

Well of course that’s nice to have understood the mechanics behind card creation. But do I have to spend my whole day fiddling with Photoshop and make a card per hour ?

Rejoice ! Because someone did that for you ; the Hearthstone card generator can help you to deal with all your creator needs easily. It’s pretty well done and even has an image database for the lazy ones. I’d advice you all to create a few cards already, using your current ideas about it ( without over-thinking ). Using these you’ll be able to correct them while reading the article, and you will learn quicker while having fun.

Card value

Minions

To understand better the value of each card, card creators have thought of a point system. It is to say the theory that each card mana has been linked to a certain value, a certain number of points. For example, a neutral 4/5  is a 9 point card. It is easy to guess. Thus, we are able to understand better why card A costs X mana. And why card B costs Y mana.

The system is quite simple, and I have developed a value table that will help you understand quickly the rules below.

MANA –  POINTS

1 Mana – 4 points         2 Mana – 6 points

3 mana – 8 points        4 mana – 10 points

5 mana – 11 points       6 mana – 13 points

7 mana – 15 points      8+ mana – No Rules

Now, using the table, you understood why your 5 mana 3/10 didn’t work. But what about your 2 mana 1/1 with charge and windfury ? Well that’s what we’ll be looking at in the next part of the study.

It is interesting to note that 4/5 is a godly stat, as it permits to trade into 4 ATK minions without dying, as well as killing 3 ATK minions without entering hero-power range. So having those stats costs 1 more value point. This is also the case of 3/4 minions.

Card effects

But what makes the diversity in Hearthstone is that all card is different, and that is possible with the help of effects. As such i have worked on another table studying the value “costs” of all your common hearthstone effects. Remember it may increase or decrease depending on the stats of the minion and the potential combos it can lead to. But that depends on each card so i cannot create a rule for it.

Common effects

Charge – 2 points – increases in function of the Atk of the minion, 2 points is the minimum.

Divine Shield – 2 points

Taunt – 2 points – 1 point from 4 mana onwards

Windfury – 3 points 

Stealth – 2 points 

Spellpower + 1 –  2 points

Battlecries

Draw a card – 3 points

Deal X damage to the enemy hero – X points

Deal X damage – X+1 points

Summon a X/Y – X+Y points

Restore X health – X-1

Restore X health to your hero – X-3 points ( never less than 1 )

Give +X/+Y to a minion ( ephemeral ) – X+Y – 2 points ( never less than 1 )

Give +X/+Y to a minion ( eternal ) – X+Y points

Silences a minion – 3 points

Deathrattle

Draw a card – 2 points

Deal X damage to the enemy hero – X-1 points

Summon a X/Y – X+Y -1 points

Special effects

Enrage +X atk – X-2 points

Deal X damage at the end of the turn – X+1 points

Cannot Attack – +4 stat points

Positive/ Negative effect for both your opponent and you : Depends on the effect but it still often consumes value points ( see Grove-Tender, Elite-Tauren-Chieftain or Coldlight-oracle )

To help you a bit, here’s a few exercises for you, feel free to do them if you aren’t sure to have mastered the concept.

– What’s the cost of a 3/3 – deathrattle : deal 3 damage to the enemy hero ?

– What is an example of stats for a 4 mana card that restores 4 health to your hero ?

– What is an example of effect for a 3 mana 2/4 ?

Now, try to look at the cards you had created beforehand and check if you haven’t done anything wrong. Next will talk about spells.

Spells

Because there are so many different spells with unique effect and because I’m sure the spells you made aren’t vanilla “deal 3 damage”. I’ll try to speak about them.

Damage Spells

Damage spells are the main type of spells in hearthstone and my favorite. They have a use at controlling the board and at finishing your opponent and there is no deck that doesn’t have such spells. Not even Zoo escape that rules. However remember there are a lot of peculiar rules that you must remember if you want to create your own cards.

– Mage have the best spells damage wise. ( do not make a better/same fireball for another class or that would remove the point of playing mage. )

– Warlocks have the worst spells damage wise. Shadow-Bolt, Darkbomb, those are pretty awful but its nice for us as we are able to get the baseline of those cards.

– The other classes are pretty much even value-wise. Shaman and Rogue have the second best spells but those have special mechanics so they cannot be ranked.

MANA –  DAMAGE ( Vanilla )

This is the vanilla table, it means that without added effects, that is the cost for a X damage spell. Now remember Warlock must have worse cards and Mage better.

O mana – 1 damage

1 Mana – 2 damage        2 Mana – 3 damage

3 mana – 4 damage        4 mana – 5 damage

5 mana – No data            6 mana – No data

7 mana – No data           8+ mana – Special however never more than 8 as Mage are supposed to have the ultimate spell, 10 damage for 10 mana

It seems to suit the following rule “Damage = Mana + 1”

Irregularities

Can target only heroes – Cost divided by 2, rounded down

Can target only minions – Cost minus 1 + Playing Condition

Condition – Depends on the condition ( like rogue backstab that can only target undamaged minions )

Now, as you know, depending on the class, their damage cards sometime have added effects over the vanilla. Like Druids with their Wrath or Mages with their frostbolt.

AOE Spells

Another type of spell based on damage is the AOE spells, necessary to all classes. Like with damage spells, it’s still mages that have the best one. So don’t try to make a better flamestrike ! And remember the other rule, Warlock’s spells deal damage to / destroys the whole board, there should not be any Warlock AOE that deals damage only to the opponent.

MANA –  DAMAGE ( Vanilla )

This is the vanilla table, it means that without added effects, that is the cost for a X damage AOE spell.

1 Mana – No data        2 Mana – 1 damage

3 mana – No data        4 mana – 2 damage

5 mana – no data         6 mana – 3 damage

7 mana – 4 damage      8+ mana – No data, Destroy minions

Theoretically, the damage dealt is half the cost of the spell, Flamestrike, however, is an irregularity as it’s a mage spell.

Irregularities

Deal Damage to every character/minion – Cost minus 1

Example : A 4 mana spell that would deal damage to all minions would theoretically cost 6.

Healing Spells

Healing Spells are rarer, but they still exist, however there’s no need for a table as it is quite easy. There’s a simple formula for it.

Heal X – ( Cost+1 ) x 2

Example –  a 4 mana heal will heal 10 HP

Heal to your hero – No data, but i guess we could deduct that the formula would be ( Cost + 2 ) x2

Buff spells

Buff spells are known of most miracle players, they can unleash sudden burst with charge or wind-fury minions, but also give great value to divine shield or taunted minions. Those spell’s value is calculated like minion’s. That means that each mana is associated to a value that has to be spent in stats and effects. However, please take in mind combos. A 3 mana “give charge, +3 Attack and windfury to a minion” should never see hearthstone light. You have to carefully think of the consequence of each of your cards.

MANA –  POINTS

1 Mana – 3 points         2 Mana – 5 points

3 mana – 7 points        4 mana – 8 points

5 mana – 10 points       6 mana – 12 points

7 mana – 13 points      8+ mana – No Rules

Examples :  A spell that give 4/3 to a minion would cost 3 mana. A spell that would give taunt, divine shield and +1/+2 to a minion would theoretically cost 3 mana too.

Drawing Spells

Drawing spells are numerous, but there’s few baseline cards and many draw engine have special condition ( divine favor for example )

MANA –  CARD DRAW ( Vanilla )

1 Mana – 1 card + 0 mana effect           2 Mana – No data

3 mana – 2 cards                                       4 mana – No data

5 mana – 3 cards                                       6 mana – No data

7 mana – 4 cards                                       8+ mana – No data

Now this table doesn’t help much as there shouldn’t be any duplicate so you cannot reuse those baselines but it can helps you for combined effects.

Example : Lay on hands restores 8 HP and makes you draw 3 cards for 8 Mana. A 3 mana heal + A 5 mana draw = 8 mana. 

Other

Destroy a minion – 5 mana effect

Send back a minion to the hand – 2 mana effect

Transform a minion into a “….” – 4 mana minus the value of the “…..” minion ( in mana )

example : “Transform a minion into a 3/4” would theoretically cost 1 mana.

Remember that adding a random effect to any spell decreases its mana cost depending on the risk.

Secrets

Secrets are special cards that only activate during your opponent turn. While i find that they are not as fun as the old Yugioh’s traps. Those are still from my favorite type of cards. So Secrets are available for only 3 of the 9 Hearthstone classes. And contrary to what some might think, i don’t think that should change.

Those secrets have a fixed cost, if they hadn’t, it would be quite dumb as one would immediately know which secret you played depending on its mana cost and they wouldn’t be “secret” anymore. Paladin has the cheapest with 1 mana cost, the infamous hunter secrets cost 2 and my favorite Mage Secrets cost 3.

Now that’s nice, but you already knew that. Your interests lay in the creation of such secrets.

Well, its, in fact quite easy to understand. A secret has an effect corresponding to a spell that has twice it’s value. Thus, explosive-trap has the value of a 4 mana Consecration.

Now if you want a few exercises to train :

– What damage can deal a 6 mana spell that heals your hero for 6 ?

– What’s the cost of a card that makes you draw 2 card, heal yourself for 4 and deal 3 damage ?

– Which class could have the following secret : “When your opponent’s minion attacks, deal 1 damage to all minions and draw a card”

– Which class could have the following secret : “When your opponent minion attacks, deal 3 damage to all of his minions”

– Create a secret for mage, paladin and hunter as well as a common spell for each class

Now, you should have a pretty good idea of how to create any of each type of spell card. So check the spells you have created at the start of the post and try to see if they fit. If they have unusual effects, however, you’ll have to use your head because i can’t help you on this.

Class cards

You were waiting for it and you knew i was going to talk about them, so here they are ! “Class cards”. While we have talked about spells, and while, as you know, there are no neutral spells, we have not talked about minions. Because I’m sure that when you looked at my value table and checked with a few card you knew, you must have found a few contradictions. Why has a Fire-Elemental a value of 15 ? Why has a Water-Elemental a value of 9 + a freeze effect ?

As always, the answer is pretty simple, Blizzard wanted the class minions to be stronger than the neutral ones so they are played more and as such, each class would feel very different. For this mean, class minions have a slightly better value than their vanilla counterparts.

It is to say that being a class minion grants the card +1 in value

However, having a card straightly better than another one would render a card unplayable. So they diversified the class cards. As such, a Water-Elemental isn’t straightly a better Childwind-Yeti as they have different stat distribution and one doesn’t have better stats than the other. ( one is a 3/6 and the other is a 4/5 ). As such, there cannot be a class, vanilla 4/6 or a class 4/5 + positive effect. Because a neutral 4/5 exists. Remember that rule if you want your card to be playable.

Classes Mechanics

Mage

Mage doesn’t have a peculiar class mechanic. Nor does it have special restriction. However, remember that mage’s spells are most of the time the strongest. I will still give you freeze value if you want to have fun with it.

Freeze a character – 2 point / 0 mana

Freeze all enemies – 2 or 3 mana, depends on possible combos.

Freeze on touch – 2 point

Druid

Druid has the “choice” mechanic. As you play your cards, you’ll be able to choose between two effects for them.

A “Choice” effect costs 1 point in the value. That means that they lose their class point at the benefit of diversity.

Gain X mana cristal ( spell ) – X x 2 mana ( +1 if choice like Nourish )

Remember, druid are also be the only one with mana Acceleration. Meaning they must be the only one that can increase their mana without “the-coin“, be it temporarily or eternally.

Hunter

Hunter’s, as much as I hate this class because I was a secret mage player during Naxxaramas, a pretty fun class to play. Mainly because of the beast synergy and traps.

However the “beast” tag, isn’t free. It costs 1 value point. And that is the same for murlocs. And I find that this shouldn’t change. Tribal cards should not be the same as common cards as everybody would be playing them then. And that’s what destroyed Yugioh ( Elemental Heroes~). Tribal synergy is fun, but a double-edged sword for the game.

So i find pretty sad that mechs don’t have that drawback. Well, nothing i can do about it so no need to worry. I’d advice you to always remove 1 value point for tribal tags but do as you feel. However, remember that even Blizzard still takes away 1 value for new beasts / Murlocs so that’s something you must still do.

Warriors

While warrior’s class cards use specific different gameplay mechanics ( Enrage, Armor ) none of those are specific only to warrior. Not even gaining armor with spells as mage can do that too. However, I’ll still talk about the cost of “giving armor” as it’s one of the main Warrior’s mechanic. And I’ll take this opportunity to talk about weapons too.

X mana spell – gain ( 2X+1 ) Armor

Weapons

Weapons take mechanics from minions so you’ll have to refer to that to gauge the weapon battlecries and deathrattle that Naxx and GvG brought. Weapons are very hard to value as small change can make a weapon overpowered. As such, a 2 mana 3/2 weapon is ok, but a 2 mana 2/3 is overpowered. Here’s a table but please, think a lot when you make weapons or they easily become overpowered. Weapons are too irregular to create a table so I’ll only give you the vanilla weapons and you’ll have to create from that, sorry.

MANA –  Stats

1 Mana – 1/4                                                                    2 Mana – 3/2

3 mana – 2/3 + effect OR 3/2 + 3 value effect          4 mana – 4/2 + 1 mana effect

5 mana – 5/2   or 3/4                                                      6 mana – No value

7+ mana – No Rules

Rogues

Another weapon class that is also the only class that can give stealth to a minion ( except spare parts but that’s different ) it’s gameplay revolves around cheap spells and draw. They also have a “combo” mechanic that increases the value of their cards. A pretty interesting class gameplay wise.

Give Stealth to a minion – ( minion effect ) value of 2

Give stealth to all of your minions – 1 mana spell

Combos are pretty special, so I’ll talk separately about minions and spells.

For minions, having a “combo” effect makes them lose their class +1. If you “combo” the minion, he’ll have the value of a minion 1 mana higher. If you do not, he’ll have the value of a minion 1 mana lower, with maximum stats. That means that a combo-ed 2 mana minion will either have the value of a 1 mana minion ( 4 ) so it’ll have 4 stats points. Either have the value of a 3 mana card. However, what will make the difference is only his effect ( that means you cannot combo a 4/5 with a 3 mana card. It’ll have to be a card with a value of 6 + an effect with a value of 3-4.

For spells, it’s easier. A combo-ed spell will have the value of a spell 1 mana higher. If you fail the combo, it will have the value of a card 1 mana lower. ( vanilla ).

Example : A 1 mana  1/2, “combo, deal 3 damage to the enemy hero”. A 2 mana spell, “draw a card, combo : draw two cards”

Paladin

Like Warriors, Paladin aren’t very interesting, while they use many mechanics, they don’t have any of their own. Their main mechanics are weapons, heal and buffs and the gameplay turns around divine shields and the number “1”.

Priest

The main mechanics of Priest are heal and control. They don’t have any special rules for it except that their spells must not be able to destroy minions with an atk of 4. That’s the golden rule. Remember health increase works the same as a stat increase of 0/X.

Warlock

Warlocks have a pretty interesting mechanic as all their gameplay revolve around hurting yourself to be stronger. It involves dealing yourself damage, or discarding cards.

Minions 

Deal X damage to yourself – X/3 mana gain – the effect counts as a value of 2

It means that a 2 mana 4/5 will deal 6 damage to yourself.

Discard X card(s) – X mana gain – having the effect has a value of 2

Spells

Discard X card(s) – 2X mana gain ( only allows vanilla damage/draws/etc… )

Example : A 2 mana 3/6 “deal 6 damage to yourself”, A 3 mana 7/2 “discard a card”, A 1 mana “discard a card and heal for 8”

Shaman

Shaman has a very interesting mechanic too. Overload, means to play a stronger card for less mana but pay the added cost the next turn. There a rule you should know, however, it’s that it shouldn’t be possible to have more overload than crystals. Meaning that a 2 mana 5/7 “overload 4 mana” cannot exist.

Minions 

Overload X – X mana gain – the effect counts as a value of 2

Also with weapons

Spells 

Overload X – X mana gain but vanilla damage/draw/etc… ( or randomized )

ExamplesA 2 mana 2/5 with taunt “overload 2”, a 1 mana “give a minion +2/+2, overload 1”

I think that concludes Class talk. I guess you can now create a few cards for each class without messing up. However, because we all love questions, i have a few exercises for you :

– What’s the overload cost of a 3 mana 4/7 ?

– What’s the combo damage of a 2 mana “deal 3 damage to your opponent’s hero, combo : …………”

– How many cards must you discard to give a minion +4/+5 with a 0 mana spell ?

– Find a choice effect for a 6 mana 5/3

Now, we slowly arrive a the end of the study, and i guess now that you have all your minions and spells settled and corrected, you wonder about those extremely rare and strong cards with their orange jewels. No worries, that’s what we’ll be talking about just now !

Legendaries

I’m afraid that for those, you’ll have created completely strange and unusual effects and that you’ll find no help in here. However, i still have a few things to say about those !

First of all, know that legendaries do not just seem better than the other cards. They are fundamentally better as they have an added 1 point of value. Meaning that class legendaries stand at the top of the food chain, as they have a whole 2 points of value more than their peers. Theoretically, a mage legendary could be a vanilla 4 mana 5/6 and a neutral one a vanilla 4/6. However, as i said sooner, Blizzard doesn’t want cards to disappear, they want all their cards to be playable, so they announced that there would never be a card fundamentally better than another. Never there should be a card better in every situation. ( because yes, a 4/6 in better than a 4/5 in any situation ).

Now i am saying this, but know that in the dark age of GvG’s release, Blizzard has betrayed its ideals. Dr.Boom has completely crushed War-Golem and buried it in the realm of dead hearthstone cards. But War-golem was already an extremely bad card value wise, you would prefer to play a Boulderfist-ogre even at 7 mana so i guess it’s normal to have it buried. We’ll wait for a buff if it ever happens.

I’m sorry about  cannot give you specific rules or exercises on legendaries as their effect are too unusual ( except Thalnos ).

Design rules :

– In classes, a legendary should be logical lore wise or just flavor-wise. A good legendary : Archmage-Antonidas a bad legendary : Flame-Leviathan

– In classes, play-style is important. A legendary should have a lot of impact, and a unique effect that suits the class’s play-style. A good legendary : Archmage-Antonidas a bad legendary : Flame-Leviathan

Me ? Bitter about Flame-Leviathan ? What are you talking about ? Are you joking ?

Exercices : 

– Create a buffed, playable War-Golem

– Create a legendary for your two favorite classes

– Create a legendary that suits Aggro playstyle.

– Create a legendary that suits Control playstyle.

– Create a legendary that suits Tempo playstyle.

– Create a legendary that suits Combo playstyle.

Fly With Your Own Wings

Here we are folks ! This is the long-awaited conclusion of this long, card creation article. You are now full-fledged card creators and you would easily be able to work for Blizzard ! Congrats ! Thanks for having it all read. I hope it will help you cure your creation frenzy. If you ever want to have an advice or reviews on your cards, don’t hesitate to post links in the commentaries below, I’d be glad to answer them and it will be quite fun to see what you were able to come up with ( special bonus points for people doing Mage cards ! ).

I’m not a WoW player so i don’t care about Lore but i guess old players will take pride into creating unused wow characters. But well, if you want to create Pastry cards, you can do so too. As always, the most important thing is to have fun so do whatever you want, do not let yourself be locked by other’s opinion or even this guide. If, like me, you like to draw your own cards, you’ll see that it is not easy to make something that suits the card design. But if you don’t, there’s plenty of art you can take on the net, no one will mind so don’t worry. Remember there was a WoW TCG before Hearthstone, and that most of hearthstone’s art was taken from there. So if you want your cards to appear bona fide, just take it from there too.

It was nice writing this guide. See you soon for a more conformal guide on all my GvG Mages ( there’s quite a few ), i am currently working on my exams so it’ll have to wait a bit though.