BlizzCon 2017 saw the reveal of the next Hearthstone expansion called Kobolds and Catacombs, so we sat down with Hearthstone Game Director Ben Brode and Producer Eric Del Priore to get some answers to our biggest questions about this new content, as well as a few big-picture questions about a tenth class and that missing Druid Hero.
If you already haven’t, check out the trailer for Kobolds and Catacombs.
As you can see, the expansion is themed around battling monsters and finding wondrous treasures and epic loot to equip yourself with, just like you would in a classic fantasy dungeon crawl. If you didn’t catch it, Kobolds and Catacombs is a play on Dungeons and Dragons, which was a huge influence on this expansion.
And be sure to click through this slideshow gallery to see some of the newly revealed cards.
Now, onto the questions.
Dungeon Run is a new, free-to-play mode where you select a class, receive a pre-made deck, and then battle your way through eight random bosses that ramp up in difficulty the further you progress. After each win, you are presented with your choice of a treasure (a powerful artifact that augments your gameplay and isn’t found in the regular game) and loot (a handful of synergized cards that are added to your deck) in order to boost your power and allow you customize your strategy.
It’s modeled after a “roguelike,” which is a term used to describe RPGs where you progress through randomized levels of a dungeon fighting monsters and collecting loot, with the catch that death is permanent, meaning if you die, you lose everything and you must start over from scratch.
“The nature of the mode, the nature of a roguelike is that it’s permadeath. You lose, you start over. So it can’t really connect with your normal collection,” Brode said, emphasizing how anyone can jump in and play without needing build a deck first. “The whole thing just ended up, by the nature of what will make the most fun mode, ended up being hyper accessible to new players and returning players, and hyper fun for players who are currently engaged with the game.”
After battling through all eight rounds of Dungeon Run, you might be expecting a reward of some new cards or at least a few packs, but that’s not the case. The designers said they didn’t want to hide rewards behind a door that needs to be unlocked by completing a difficult mode. Instead, upon logging in after Kobolds and Catacombs has been released, players will automatically receive three packs from the new expansion along with a random legendary weapon, all for free.
That said, a special cardback will be awarded to players who manage to complete Dungeon Run with all nine classes, not unlike how players had to beat the Lich King with all classes to unlock the Arthas Paladin Hero.
The big selling point of Kobolds and Catacombs is the addition of legendary weapons to the game. If you’re going to be delving down into a dungeon to battle big monsters, then it had better be for a good reason, and that reason is epic loot. Each class will have one legendary weapon, and the designers are expecting them to have a big impact on the game. Only two have been revealed so far, the Mage weapon Aluneth and the Priest weapon Dragon Soul.
“I think Aluneth is going to create a whole new style of Mage deck because being able to draw three extra cards a turn is insanely powerful,” Del Priore said. “You get four cards a turn [when you also count your normal draw.] That’s crazy powerful! But it’s also crazy bad if you can’t actually play four cards a turn, very soon you’ll find out you’ve drawn your entire deck and you’re burning cards left and right, so I’m really excited to see what type of new mage decks end up getting created that use that.”
“Dragon Soul totally changes the Priest game plan. The other weapons are more like weapons that attack and have durability, but these [caster] weapons are pretty unique because we didn’t just want to give everybody weapons that would attack. It would make all the classes feel the same, sort of. So we gave casters different weapons. Dragon Soul says every time you cast three spells, summon a 5/5 dragon. So if you cast six spells in a turn, you get two 5/5 dragons. Obviously if you cast all those spells, you might run out of juice, so you’ll have to build your deck in a specific way to take advantage of it. It’s hyper powerful, it changes the way you’re going to play Priest,” Brode explained.
The game designers were very aware of specific cards that can counter weapons, and they were taken into consideration while designing these new cards.
“It’s very interesting to consider what meta is going to evolve here because there are cards that can deal with weapons pretty handily, like Acidic Swamp Ooze and Harrison Jones, so we actually designed some of these weapons with that in mind. Aleneth, when you play it, at the end of the turn you draw three cards, so even if it gets oozed next turn, you still got a lot of the value of that card. You’re still probably happy about it. So these weapons have been designed understanding those cards are in the meta,” Brode said.
All of the classes have received at least one alternate Hero expect for Druid.
“Obviously Druid needs a hero and that’ll probably be the one we do next,” Brode said when we asked him about it.
Pretty much since the game launched, people have been asking about the possibility of adding a tenth class. With Knights of the Frozen Throne, the Death Knight class was applied to the game, but instead of as its own class, each of the pre-existing nine classes were given a Death Knight form that granted a new Hero Power. With Death Knights being added into the game, we asked if Monks and Demon Hunters would be next on the list. Brode said he hasn’t heard any demand for those classes to be added and that his team hasn’t talked about it at all. He did say that one day they’ll explore those classes, but it didn’t sound like it would happen anytime soon.
As for why they’re against adding a tenth class, Brode explained in detail.
“Adding a class to Hearthstone has some real weaknesses. One of them is, we want to make all of our classes feel unique. People talk about ‘class identity,’ what is it that makes this class cool. In Hearthstone, there’s only so many ways we can slice up the different things. Paladins are the masters of buffing minions. We can give buffs to other classes but Paladins are the masters of that, that’s what makes Paladins cool. Mages are the masters of three-cost secrets. We could give secrets to other classes but it makes Mage less cool. Warriors are the masters of weapons. Other classes have weapons but not the way Warriors do. So what would we give a tenth class? We’re actually already struggling with some of the classes to make them feel even cooler. I’d rather make all our nine classes feel more unique and have more unique things that they do than to spread things more thinly and do that to 10 or 11 or 12 classes,” Brode said.