I’ve spent a good deal of my gaming life over the last few years obsessed by Hearthstone. It’s a genuinely special game – deeply strategic, infinitely playable, always changing, always surprising and wonderfully presented. It’s also worth noting that I’ve almost definitely spent more time watching Hearthstone than playing Hearthstone in that time. I check in with streams, watch tournaments, follow content creators on YouTube, lurk around the various Hearthstone subreddits and listen to Hearthstone podcasts (plural!) on a weekly basis.
Hearthstone’s community, in other words, is pretty vital. There’s so much to learn, so much to discuss and so much fun to be had that I’m quite happy to divide my time between the community and the game itself. With that in mind, now that there’s a little lull before Knights of the Frozen Throne kicks into gear (more info and card reveals are coming on July 24) I figured this was as good a time as any to take the pulse of some of my favourite pros and personalities within the community. To find out how they’re feeling about Hearthstone right now, what they’d like changed or added, and what they think of the theme for the next set. To do that I gave the same set of six questions to a bunch of people. We’ll do introductions first, then dive into the questions. And a massive thank you to everyone involved!
The player they call the Young Savage, William “Amnesiac” Barton exploded onto the scene when he was just 14 years old, hitting NA #1 legend in the August 2015 season, coaching top players and then signing with Amaz’s Team Archon (he’s now with NRG). Tournament success wasn’t far behind either – he played on the BlizzCon stage last year after reaching the World Championship finals and has had a number of other strong tournament performances. He’s an intelligent and analytical player and has an endearing sense of humour and confidence. When I asked him if he had a bio, he replied “’NRG Amnesiac, best player in the world, no further questions’ – use that verbatim as my bio please.” You can check out Amnesiac’s stream here, follow him on Twitter here and find out a little more about him here.
One of the hardest working pro players around, Dima “Rdu” Radu has been playing competitively since 2014 and is hugely successful, with a number of big tournament wins, including DreamHack Summer 2016, under his belt. He recently finished in the top eight in the HCT Spring Championship, narrowly missing out on qualifying for the Hearthstone World Championship. This wasn’t the first time he came close – last year he was pipped in the finals of the European Last Call by the eventual winner of the whole thing, Pavel. I have no doubt it will be Rdu’s turn soon. You can check out his stream here and follow him on Twitter here.
Just as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, so too is Dan “Frodan” Chou one of the immutable laws of Hearthstone nature. He’s been involved with Hearthstone from the very early days. He was a key figure in the production of two important early series’ – Fight Night and the ESL Legendary Series, and has basically been host and caster for every major Hearthstone tournament since. A strong player and snappy dresser, Frodan has helped shape the public’s perception of Hearthstone. He’s been with Tempo Storm since 2014 and works closely with Reynad on management of the organisation. You can check out Frodan’s stream here and follow him on Twitter here.
A mainstay of Hearthstone’s roster of casters, you’ve probably seen Alexander “Raven” Baguley behind the desk during some of the game’s biggest tournaments, from the Hearthstone Championship Tour and Hearthstone Global Games through to various DreamHacks. Initially Raven was playing competitively, but wound up making the switch to casting, alongside fellow UK player Sottle. They’ve since gone on to become a regular casting duo, and are firm believers that “face is the place”. You can check out Raven’s stream here and follow him on Twitter here.
Having recently graduated college, Cora has dedicated the last year to raising her profile as a Hearthstone caster. With a background in radio broadcast and various card games, Cora has worked on a number of Hearthstone events such as HCT, HGG, Tespa Collegiate Series, and DreamHack Austin. Known initially for her love of Secret Paladin, she has since diversified into a serious competitor when she’s not on the desk. She’s also a co-host on the Coin Concede podcast. You can check out Cora’s stream here and follow her on Twitter here.
Chris “ChanManV” Chan is the creator, producer and host of a number of popular weekly Twitch shows and podcasts covering the worlds of Hearthstone and Overwatch. He’s best known in the Hearthstone scene for Value Town, which is now 130 episodes strong, and has featured a who’s who of guest appearances, but he’s also pioneered a number of other shows, including Streamer Showdown (more recently) and Deck Wars (back in the day). You can check out ChanMan’s stream here, his YouTube channel here and follow him on Twitter here.
A graphic designer by trade and massive art nerd by destiny, Hearthstone fans know Garrett “we gotta get you a nickname” Weinzierl as the host of The Angry Chicken podcast, the longest-running Hearthstone podcast in the scene (219 episodes and counting) and very much the bar to hit in terms of personality and production values. The show is as welcoming to newer players as it is the more hardcore, thanks largely to the different perspectives of – and chemistry between – the three core hosts, and is now just one part of the larger Amove.tv network, which includes Into the Nexus – also hosted by Weinzierl. Check out the Amove Twitch channel here and you can find Garrett on Twitter here.
Our second Furious Fowl, Joce is a full time podcaster and streamer, and one of The Angry Chicken’s co-hosts, alongside Willie “Dills”. A huge WoW fan and lore nerd, she came to Hearthstone – unlike the other members of the show – without the same background in Magic: The Gathering, and thus initially played the role of the Hearthstone noob. Over the years, however, she’s become a fierce competitor, as interested in the ins and outs of match-ups and the meta as the story behind the cards. Even so, she has her fingers crossed 2018 will be Year of the Unicorn. Other shows she’s in are The Gamers’ Inn, For Azeroth, Embrace the Spoilers and Slaying Demons, and you can find her stream here and her Twitter account here.
Anthony “Ant” Trevino has been a highly competitive Hearthstone player since 2014, but until this year, big tournament performances had eluded him. No more. In the HCT Spring Championship in Shanghai, Ant placed in the top 4, securing his flight to the World Championship and a chance to win the largest prize purse in Hearthstone. (In the West at least.) Ant was also one of the most compelling personalities at the tournament, thanks in part to a moving mini-documentary about his life, but due for the most part, to his infectious energy and positivity. You can check out Ant’s stream here and follow him on Twitter here.
Paul “Citizen_Nappa” Yang is an Australian Hearthstone player who recently had his breakout performance on the world stage, not only qualifying for the HCT Spring Championship in Shanghai, but winning his group – beating Muzahidul “Muzzy” Islam along the way to make it into the top 8, only to be knocked out by Hoej, the eventual winner. Citizen_Nappa is a player who’s not easily fazed, remaining calm and collected at all times, and he’s helped to put Oceania on the map. You can follow him on Twitter here.
Ki Yin “Mage” So may have one of the more confusing handles in Hearthstone, but there’s no confusing the skill and talent that this Kiwi player has exhibited of late. At the recent HCT Spring Championship, Mage took down Kolento – whose stream he credits with teaching him a lot and inspiring him to become a competitive player – and won his group. Sadly, he didn’t make it beyond the top 8, but watching him play, it’s clear he’s a deep thinker, anticipating where the game will be many turns later and planning for that. You can follow him on Twitter here.
One of the best known Hearthstone content creators, Andrey “Trolden” Nolden produces the community-sourced “Funny and Lucky Moments” YouTube video series, which – as of publish – is up to episode 266. Not only are these videos hugely entertaining and do incredible numbers (around 600,000 views per episode) but they give the community an outlet to showcase the insanity that can unfold in a game of Hearthstone. So successful is his channel, that it has become synonymous with this side of Hearthstone, and has entered the vernacular of the community. When RNG gifts you an impossible win from the jaws of defeat, for instance – it’s a Trolden moment. Check out his YouTube channel here, his stream here, and follow him on Twitter here.
Named after an SI:7 Agent mondegreen, Disguised Toast is a content creator and player that came into the scene more than two years ago. He started out producing infographics, as well as interaction and card origins videos, and before long – as a joke – had adopted his logo and started appearing in videos, and eventually on-stream, as a literal Disguised Toast. Those days are over now (watch this video for the full story), but Toast is more of a force to be reckoned with than ever – he’s built a big community for his Twitch stream and his YouTube channel continues to explore exploits, interactions and highlights. Check out his website and follow him on Twitter.
Amnesiac: Very early to have a strong opinion on the set, but the Death Knight replacing your hero is a really cool concept. As a new player I think it’d be really exciting to have that feeling of changing my hero and switching how I can play the game at its core.
Rdu: I never played WoW but I played some W3 so even though I usually don’t care much about the theme of an expansion and care more about the quality of the cards, I’m quite hyped for Frozen Throne showing up in Hearthstone!
Frodan: I never played WoW so I’m looking forward to learning the in-depth lore of the Lich King. Everyone who has played that campaign is mad over it. The reveal was a great reminder why Ben Brode was put on this Earth to sell Hearthstone packs!
Raven: I really enjoyed the reveal, although I love the whimsical aspect of Hearthstone I do like the fact Blizzard are not afraid to go a little darker. The Arthas storyline overall being quite grim.
“The reveal was a great reminder why Ben Brode was put on this Earth to sell Hearthstone packs!” – Frodan.
Cora: I love the Knights of the Frozen Throne as a set theme! Blizzard does a fantastic job of giving the Warcraft lore a whimsical twist, which is perfect for Hearthstone. This set feels a bit like Naxxramus, in that it has darker tones and quite literally corrupts our beloved classic heroes into their Death Knight alternatives. It only made sense that they would corrupt the normally harmless Jason Cheyes in the set reveal video, and I can’t wait to see more of the upcoming cards.
ChanManV: I love the Knights of the Frozen Throne as a theme! The Lich King is a big part of the Warcraft lore so it is very fitting that Hearthstone takes it on as an expansion. I really like the fact they are not putting a cute and fun rendition of the theme like they’ve done with some of the other expansions like One Night in Karazhan. The Lich King is supposed to be a bit dark and they seem to have stayed true to that.
I thought the reveal was solid. Ben and Jason were great, and the whole Jason turning into a Death Knight was hilarious! As for the cards revealed, Deathstalker Rexxar and Prince Keleseth were the most interesting cards for me. The Build-a-beast hero power you get from Deathstalker Rexxar just sounds like a ton of fun and great value later in games for Hunter which they could absolutely use right now. Prince Keleseth is one of those cards I appreciate from a design standpoint since it requires ingenuity as a deckbuilder to make this card work. It’s similar to Hemet in Un’goro. The thrill is in the process of finding a viable deck that’s built around it.
Lifesteal was also revealed as a new keyword, which is a great thing since we do have a lack of life gaining ability in specific classes. I did find it strange they decided to reveal lifesteal in Paladin and Priest given they are the 2 best healing classes in Hearthstone already, and thematically it doesn’t seem to match compared to a class like Warlock. I’m hoping they have some sick lifesteal cards for Warlock in the grand finale of reveals.
Garrett Weinzierl: It’s no surprise to listeners of TAC that this is the most excited I have ever been for a Hearthstone expansion. The Arthas/Northrend arch in Warcraft III is what made me into a Blizzard fan. Turning all of the Hearthstone heroes into servants of my favorite video game baddie? Not going to lie, I squee’d!
“Turning all of the Hearthstone heroes into servants of my favorite video game baddie? Not going to lie, I squee’d!” – Garrett Weinzierl.
The reveal itself was pretty standard. Let’s see more cards! I know the number five is in your name Team 5, but could we show more than five cards in future expansion announcements?
Jocelyn Moffett: I was very happy with the treatment they gave Icecrown. As whimsical as Hearthstone can be, there are some stories in Warcraft that are sacred. Arthas, his journey to becoming the Lich King, as well as all the events at Icecrown Citadel, is one of those stories. Not to mention World of Warcraft fans have been asking for Icecrown since Naxx launched. The Hearthstone team did put their own spin on it, but still took it seriously, which I love.
Ant: I didn’t really play WoW so a lot of that aspect I might [not] be able to appreciate, but in terms of the feel of the set it looks awesome. It looks like they are going for a dark art style which is something that I am really drawn to and I’m really excited to see how flavorful the set turns out to be. As for the reveal, I would say they could be revealing a one card set of something really vanilla and I’d probably be hyped. New cards usually come when the meta is stale so anything new will blow me away. I don’t really feel I got the full reveal experience though since I was backstage of the HCT event and our trailer wasn’t in English so I was just waiting a few minutes for each card to be posted on social media in English.
Citizen_Nappa: I didn’t get to watch the reveal as I was getting ready for my first match in Shanghai but I did look at the new cards and was told about the theme of it afterwards. I think the theme is really exciting having played Warcraft 3. Blizzard has always done a great job in bringing flavor to each expansion and I think they knocked this one out of the park. As for the cards we will have to wait and see.
Mage: I like the Death Knight mechanic. It adds alternative win conditions like Jaraxxus that makes the game more dynamic and not just about playing stuff on curve. Hopefully they are balanced though and not just must play in every deck. The reveal was not that much of a surprise theme wise.
“This expansion was a perfect opportunity for introducing Death Knights separately, which means it’s highly unlikely we will ever see a 10th hero class.” – Trolden.
Trolden: Despite really loving Journey to Un’goro, I didn’t really care for the theme. KotFT, on the other hand, represents the best time I’ve ever had in WoW, so I think they couldn’t have chosen a better theme for me even if they tried. Reveal was exciting, but I was slightly disappointed we didn’t get Death Knight reveal. This expansion was a perfect opportunity for introducing Death Knights separately, which means it’s highly unlikely we will ever see a 10th hero class.
Disguised Toast: I’m a big lore nerd and seeing one of the “Hero” classes from WoW is really exciting. I know a few people might be disappointed to not see Death Knights as its own class – but this version might work out well, maybe even set up a similar system for Monk and Demon Hunter classes too.
Amnesiac: The idea of the Hunter hero power is very interesting in that we haven’t seen anything like it before. Given that the theme is the undead I wouldn’t be surprised if the Priest hero power revisited the idea of bringing minions back to life as they have done with Onyx Bishop and Resurrect.
Rdu: I’m pretty bad when it comes down to imagination but I would like to see the Death Knight Shaman hero power combining 2 totems for the price of one (2 mana as usual and also letting you chose which ones you want).
Frodan: I’d like to see some sick KFT hero powers that deal with positioning such as “2 mana: your left most minion gets +2 attack and -1 health”.
Oh, and one card I want to predict is a Ragnaros the Ice Lord card. 8 mana 8/8 freeze 8 random characters at the end of your turn.
“Given that the theme is the undead I wouldn’t be surprised if the Priest hero power revisited the idea of bringing minions back to life as they have done with Onyx Bishop and Resurrect.” – Amnesiac.
Raven: I have thought about this a fair bit! I think Mage could have “Deal 1 damage and freeze the target”. For such a powerful effect it would have to cost, say 7/8 mana to activate!
Also since DKs have lots of diseases I would like to see true damage over time added to the game. So Priest or Warlock could have a DOT that deals 1 damage to the minions on board per turn.
Cora: One of my favorite decks of all time is a token based Paladin that revolves around creating and buffing Silver Hand Recruits. I’d love to see Death Knight Uther not only create additional Recruits with his hero power, but perhaps adapt existing recruits as well. Uther would be nothing without his dudes!
ChanManV: Wow this is a tough one to answer! After seeing Deathstalker Rexxar, anything is really on the table. For me, it’s mostly about looking at some of the weaknesses of the classes and seeing if there is a hero power that helps with this. So I would like to see some kind of hero power that does area effect damage for Druid (like 1-2 damage to all minions) or for Warlock the hero power would be draw a card from the graveyard. I can think of a hundred others but those are the ones that jump out immediately for me.
Garrett Weinzierl: I’d like to see a Defile-like mechanic. It was the most terrifying ability in the Arthas boss fight. A damage ability that starts on one minion and then spreads to adjacent minions if not handled correctly. Probably too slow for Ranked play. But my fingers are crossed for this to make an appearance in the solo missions.
Jocelyn Moffett: Death Knight Anduin should have the power to resurrect somehow. It would be too powerful to have the power to rez a random minion for two mana every turn, but to keep it consistent with Deathstalker Rexxar, Anduin could pay two mana to put a friendly dead minion back into his hand or something. Not as exciting as creating Zombeasts, but I think it could be quite powerful.
Ant: These are really hard to guess what they do since they are new so I wouldn’t even know where to begin. I will say that I hope the Death Knight Shaman has undead totems which would be pretty cool in art and flavor wise. Maybe an Undead totem can bring something back that died this game. It would also make this Ant really happy if Death Knight Totems look like little gravestones though this is extremely unlikely but a boy can dream.
“I wonder if they would be willing to introduce a ‘passive’ hero power. We have seen them in Tavern Brawls and Adventures, Blizzard usually experiments future card abilities in those game modes. Since there are 9 new Hero Powers, it’s very possible.” – Toast.
Citizen_Nappa: I expect some sort of an undead theme because of the flavor of the expansion, other than that I have no clue.
Mage: I’m going to guess some kind of armor gain mechanic for Warrior to replace Justicar. I would like to see a Rogue Death Knight with spell synergy or weapon synergy because Rogue just had such a unique and cool play style. And I hope they push that.
Trolden: I loved reading speculations about a “Healing Warlock” hero power! I’d also love to see some of the most iconic Death Knight abilities represented as Hero Powers, f.e. Death Coil – Deals 2 damage to a target and heals your Hero for 2.
Disguised Toast: A guess? I wonder if they would be willing to introduce a “passive” hero power. We have seen them in Tavern Brawls and Adventures, Blizzard usually experiments future card abilities in those game modes. Since there are 9 new Hero Powers, it’s very possible.