'This changes the game completely': Top Hearthstone players discuss the new expansion
After weeks of teasing a new expansion for Hearthstone, Blizzard finally revealed what its mysterious scrolls were about: an expansion rife with cards influenced by each classes' hero power, a prospect that has the game's most prominent players excited.
The expansion's unveiling took place before a packed house at the Folsom Street Foundry in San Francisco, as hundreds of fans lined up for hours for a chance to get in and see what the big news was. The new mechanic that had the crowd buzzing is called Inspire. minion cards with the mechanic do something whenever their controlling player uses a hero power. For example, Blizzard showed off Nexus-Champion Saraad, who gives his player a random spell whenever each time the character's hero power is used.
“It’s awesome,” said James “Firebat” Kostesich, Hearthstone’s reigning world champion and member of Team Archon. “You never wanted to float any mana for hero power because you’re losing tempo, you’re losing board position. Now they’re trying to bring it back to hero powers being relevant, which is really needed because why do you have nine classes if you never want to hero power?”
Shortly after Game Director Eric Dodds gave a short presentation announcing the new set of cards, Jason “Amaz” Chan, Jeffrey “Trump” Shih, and Kostesich played a three-man tournament using preconstructed decks that featured several new cards from The Grand Tournament. Some of the cards reduced the cost of hero powers, others doubled their effectiveness, and one allowed Shih’s mage to fire off as many hero powers as it could afford in one turn. With Nexus-Champion Saraad in play, Shih also got a bunch of random spells for his trouble.
“I really liked the precon deck they made for me,” he said. “It feels like a deck that might be viable where you combo so many things with hero ability. The mage is really fun, you get to machine gun people and get a bunch of cards.”
Dodds said the design team liked the idea of doing something with the Argent Tournament, an event from a Wrath of the Lich King-era World of Warcraft patch, and creating a mechanic that emphasized hero powers “meshed really well” with that.
“We can put cards into play that work differently depending on all of the hero powers, so it’s like adding a lot of different ways to think about the game deckbuilding-wise,” he said. “The Inspire mechanic lets you interact with so many different hero powers in so many different ways that it expands the game in a big way.”
Chan, Team Archon's owner, said he was especially excited for the Inspire mechanic’s impact on arena games. “Arena is going to be so much more fun because usually you just draft the highest value creature, but not anymore because the hero power is very important as your first choice,” he said.
Octavian “Kripp” Morosan, who casted the mini-tournament and is one of the game’s most popular players, was cautiously optimistic.
“This changes the game completely because you’re taking something from inefficiency to efficiency,” he said. “I don’t know how successful it’s going to be. There’s going to have to be a lot of cards. Generally when you play hero power, it’s a really bad thing right now. Some of the cards introduced in the expansion kind of change that around, but if there’s not enough of them it still might be clunky, at least for some classes.”
The Grand Tournament expansion releases in August.
Screengrab via PlayHearthstone/YouTube