Photonic Playground: Art of Luke Mancini, Xin Wang, and Charles Lee

David Luong (Blizzard Entertainment senior cinematic artist) and Steven Dowling Jr (World of Warcraft Senior Admin) announced the Photonic Playground Art Exhibition’s April 2015 schedule.

Throughtout the month, key Blizzard and non-Blizzard artwork by Blizzard artists Mr. Jack, Xin Xanadu Wang and Charles Lee will be exhibited at the gallery space. Fans may RSVP for free to the April 4’s meet and greet event where artwork copies will be on sale and authographed by the artists.

Among the collection to be exhibited is the key art for the Hearthstone: Blackrock Mountain adventure.

Photonic Playground: Art of Luke Mancini, Xin Wang, and Charles Lee

Photonic Playground April 2015 Schedule

photonic-playground-april-2015-bgPhotonic Playground presents Blizzard Entertainment artists: Luke Mancini, Xin Wang, and Charles Lee for the months of April and May. Luke works on the StarCraft II team as a 3D/Concept artist and has done numerous key art works for Blizzard such as for Hearthstone: Curse of Naxxramas/Black Rock Mountain, and BlizzCon promo poster work. Xin is currently the 3D Character Supervisor in the cinematics team with over 15+ years of experience and is a VES award winner. Charles Lee has worked at numerous game studios including EA, Red 5, SCEA and is currently at the concept artist/illustrator in the concept art team at Blizzard.

This exhibit opens April 4th, 2014 from 7-10pm. Gallery special edition large framed art as well as 13×19″ and 8.5×11″ premium prints will be available for purchase on site with artists’ autograph.

Featured artists for April 4th, 2015 Exhibition at Photonic Playground

We welcome Luke, Xin, and Charles to the opening night of our art gallery to display their work and have a meet and greet during the show from 7-10pm. They will have large gallery prints as well as smaller autographed limited edition 8.5×11″/13×19″ prints on site for sale.

Once again, the first 10 people in line will receive a special 8.5×11″ premium art print by the three talented artists which will be signed, dated, and numbered!

Their show will be on display through the encore night of May 2nd, 2015

RSVP to the exhibition on Facebook or on the Web!

The event is FREE, please invite your friends and family and enjoy the DTSA art walk happening that same night. For more info visit:

About the Artists

  • Luke “Mr. Jack” Mancini is a 3D/Concept Artist on the StarCraft II team who has worked on some of the big marketing art works for Blizzard, such as Hearthstone: Curse of Naxxramas/Black Rock Mountain key art image –

  • Xin Xanadu Wang is a VES award winning artist, and is currently the 3D Character Supervisor for the cinematics team with over 15 years of experience having modeled/textured Kerrigan from StarCraft II and Leah from Diablo III –

  • Charles Lee has worked at Red 5, Obsidian Entertainment, SCEA, EA and more with over 10 years of industry experience and has a created numerous concept art/illustrations for many games –

Discover the Blackrock Mountain Adventure on April 2

Have you heard the rumblings? Adventurers are making their way toward the Blackrock Mountain with cards and bravery! The doors of this new adventure will opens on April 2.


Blackrock Mountain Explodes into Action on April 2!

Are you brave (or insane) enough to face the ancient evils lurking within Blackrock Mountain? Soon the fabled mountain will open, allowing adventurers the opportunity to journey inside and conquer fiery elementals, fierce dragons, and other hot-tempered foes!

Blackrock Mountain introduces 31 new cards that are too hot to handle, all obtained by emerging victorious in epic battles against some of the mountain’s most iconic villains. Throughout the course of this Adventure, you’ll harness the power of some of Azeroth’s mightiest denizens and unlock powerful new synergies through a whole flight of Dragon-type minion cards. You’ll also get an all-new game board, new music, and a host of legendary encounters—plus, each of Hearthstone’s nine classes will have the opportunity to add two brand-new class cards to their collection.

Delving into Blackrock DepthsThe Towering Heights of Blackrock Spire    

The Gooey Center of Molten Core  — The Dragons of Blackwing Lair

The Horrors of the Hidden Laboratory  

Blackrock Mountain goes live on Windows®, Mac®, iPad®, and Android™ tablets on April 2 PDT in the Americas region (which will fall on April 3 for Southeast Asia and Oceania) and rolls out on April 3 in Europe, Korea, Taiwan, and China, beginning with the release of the first wing—Blackrock Depths. Pre-purchase this new Adventure for $24.99 using real money, iTunes® balance, or Google Play™ balance, and you’ll also add the red-hot Molten Core card back to your collection. The pre-purchase period ends when Blackrock Mountain goes live, so don’t miss out!

Sharpen your blades, practice your incantations, and prepare to do battle in Blackrock Mountain: A Hearthstone Adventure, starting April 2!

Hearthstone NYC Fireside March 21-2015 Recap

Seventeen of our New York City Fireside members participated in a single elimination (best of 3) tournament. It was a very quick tournament with semi-finals ending around 4:00pm. The last two contenders: Path#1134 and Nelyel#1422 faced each other to decide the victor as attendees spectated.

Congratulations to Path#1134 for winning the $20 Gift Card. Hopefully, he can use it once the Blackrock Mountain expansion goes live. Special thanks to co-organizers Mithalas and Andrey (who provided the Turbo Studios facilities for our fireside).

The tournament brackets can be seen below:

Road to the 2015 Hearthstone World Championship Series – Northamerica Qualifier

We are currently running a sort of RSVP (Reservation)/survey to figure out which venue to go with for a larger tournament where the aim is to get a seed toward the World Championship Northamerican Qualifier. We will keep in contact with Blizzard eSports in upcoming weeks to get that ironed out. If you live near New York City, please reserve your spot here.

Hearthstone NYC Fireside March 21-2015 Recap

Hearthstone Metagame Counters: March Edition

We’re back with the March edition of the ladder. It’s been a couple months since GvG, and only one month away from a new expansion in Blackrock Mountain. Even with a new expansion coming soon, the metagame has not really stabilized. There are still multiple viable decks at all ranks, and as I mentioned last time, the popular decks have been changing daily to adjust to the metagame from ranks 5-legend. The game has thus remained fresh as you never know what to expect to be the dominant deck of the day. However, here are some of my thoughts so far on the current season:

RNG: Oh my god, I have never seen so many games decided by RNG! I am not sure if I’m being salty or if this is real but since everyone is packing at least one , the random two drops play a huge factor in winning or losing a game. In one game, I was against a freeze mage and I dealt with all the s but my Shredder decided to bless me with an additional Doomsayer. In another game against a midrange shaman, his Shredder popped open an that exploded all of his totems to pieces. This wide range of two-drops in the game keeps all these cards stay relevant in the game, and I honestly think Blizzard did a great job implementing this into the game by taking advantage of the digital nature of the card game. However, there is still a feeling that these games are (too?) often decided by the randomness of the two drops. I admit most of the time they do not, but these instances where you are a great benefactor or victim of the RNGesus, you can only shrug your shoulders and move on. There isn’t much else to do but pay your tribute to the luck god. Because of that factor, this game will remain a very fun game to play and watch on an any level. And you can’t just take the Shredder out as it’s too good at its job of sticking to the board.

The pilot is deciding a lot of games after it’s shredded!

/: These cards are teched into a lot of decks to do one thing: remove those annoying weapons! A lot of the top classes right now like rogue, paladin and warrior use weapons to great value. They also serve as good bodies for their mana cost against other opponents so it’s not a huge detriment to your deck. I recommended Harrison last month too but those weapon classes still have not gone away, so keep him in! I’d like to think weapons give a lot of value, especially in the world of the sticky deathrattle minions like Shredder.

Silence: Whether it’s a class card like or a neutral card like , it’s worth running one silence in any deck at this moment. Sometimes even two is necessary as there are so many minions with deathrattles that are populating all sorts of decks, from aggro to midrange to control. Because of these “sticky” minions, standard ways of removal do not completely remove the minion from the board. By silencing these Shredders or s, you can often remove a large component of the card and in some cases win games by bypassing taunts.

Hearthstone: Blackrock Mountain Pre-Purchase Available Today

Want an awesome-sauce news? Hearthstone: Blackrock Mountain Pre-Purchase Available Today. Pre-ordering will automatically reward you with the pre-order exclusive card back. The Adventure consists of 5 wings and costs $24.99.

“Pre-purchase Hearthstone’s second adventure Blackrock Mountain and gain immediate access to the Molten Core card back. This red-hot card back can only be obtained by pre-purchasing the Blackrock Mountain adventure with out-of-game currency, including real life money, iTunes® balance and Google Play™ balance.” – source

Hearthstone: Blackrock Mountain Pre-Purchase Available Today

I took screenshots of my pre-order. Simply click the Shop icon. At the bottom of the shop page you will see: Cards | Adventure. Choose Adventure. Then click the Blackrock Mountain card on the left side. (Instructions are meant for PC)


Hearthstone: Blackrock Mountain Pre-Purchase Available Today

Happy Birthday, Hearthstone – 1st Anniversary

Blizzard Entertainment and millions of fans around the world celebrate the first year since the launch of Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. Hearthstone went live on March 11, 2014. Since then, we have seen the deployment of the “Curse of Naxxramas” Adventure and the Goblins vs Gnomes Expansion.

A few days ago, Blizzard Entertainment unveiled plans to launch a second Adventure titled “Blackrock Mountain.” — check out the PAX East 2015 Blizzard Panel video and two of our First Impressions previews after playing Blackrock Mountain’s Grim Guzzler challenge against Coren Direbrew: Preview 1 and Preview 2.

Happy Birthday, Hearthstone - 1st Anniversary

Blackrock Mountain

Three Cards from Hearthstone: Blackrock Mountain

Blizzard Entertainment revealed three cards from the Blackrock Depths wing (Hearthstone: Blackrock Mountain adventure). The Shaman Deck welcomes the intro of Lava Shock, which removes the Overload factor and provides a 2 damage spell attack. It only costs 2 Mana.

Three Cards from Hearthstone: Blackrock Mountain

During our Grim Guzzler hands-on gameplay I had the opportunity to play the Grim Patron card.


It costs 5 mana, but it may be used strategically to force an enemy player to spend a hex/sheep/big spell — if you have something big on your hand. On the other hand, if the enemy doesn’t have anything to counter it with, or you have a tank or two — it’s pretty good to get a Grim Patron card clone each time the card can’t be killed in one shot.

The Paladin and Priest decks can benefit the most with the Grim Patron, followed by the Warrior deck. There could be some interesting combos with Grim Patron (especially Mad Bomber, Unstable Ghoul, and other class-specific cards):

The best combo card with Grim Patron is actually Wild Pyromancer. Here is some theorycrafting with a Priest Deck: Let’s say you put a Grim Patron (5 mana) and it survived the round. That means you have at least a second Grim Patron on the board. Next round go with Wild Pyromancer (2 Mana). Priests have 6 cards that cost only 1 mana, plus one Zero mana card. Any of these can trigger Wild Pyromancer (which causes 1 damage to all minions). What happens here is that the two Grim Patron on the board will now be 4 Grim Patron. If you are able to cast another of these one mana cards or even the Circle of Healing (zero mana) well… let’s say things get a bit hairy for the opponent.

The Axe Flinger card seems the most interesting depending on different factors. With a 5 health and available at round 4 (4 Mana), there is potential for 6 damage to the enemy hero simply as a passive. Let’s say it takes the enemy three rounds to kill that card — it converts into 6 passive damage to the enemy hero. A Priest or a Paladin might extend the damage to the enemy hero by either healing or increasing the health of the Axe Flinger.


PAX East 2015 Hearthstone: Blackrock Mountain Exclusive Event Photos

Blizzard Entertainment invited fansites, press and livestream influencers to an exclusive party event where we had the opportunity to play the Hearthstone: Blackrock Mountain adventure (The Grim Guzzler). This event took place a few hours into the evening at a hotel a few miles away from the Boston Convention Center.

PAX East 2015 Hearthstone: Blackrock Mountain Exclusive Event Photos


Blizzplanet had a blast with Hearthstone senior producer Yong Woo who approached us seeking feedback about the Grim Guzzler challenge in the Hearthstone: Blackrock Mountain adventure. From left to right: Medievaldragon, Yong Woo, Wankyu and Mithalas (NYC Hearthstone Fireside co-organizer).

PAX East 2015 Hearthstone: Blackrock Mountain Exclusive Event Photos


Wankyu and Mithalas had the opportunity to talk with Hearthstone lead designer Eric Dodds. Wankyu is so excited after that, he wants to lead a Boston Fireside Gathering.


Finally, we are very excited to meet Blizzard Associate PR Manager Lyndsi Achucarro who is a long-time supporter of Blizzplanet. Many of the Blizzard Licensed Product previews and interviews you have seen on Blizzplanet the past few years have been courtesy of this awesome lady. Thank you, Lyndsi.


Sadly, I couldn’t take a photo with other awesome people that I met, but here goes a big shout to them: Che’von Slaughter (BlizzHeroes PR Manager), Spyrian (Community Manager), and Trikslyr (BlizzHeroes Associate Community Representative).


PAX East 2015 Hearthstone: Blackrock Mountain First impressions

Blizzard Entertainment invited Blizzplanet to a press party held in the evening after PAX East 2015. There we were able to play a demo that only gave us access to play the Coren Direbrew adventure. This demo didn’t allow us to check out the collection tab, so that is pretty much kept secret at the moment.

I played in both Normal and Heroic mode. Probably about 8-10 matches and tested the Coren Direbrew adventure with a Mage, Rogue and Warrior Deck.

It was awesome to have Young Woo approach me while playing the Rogue deck. I asked him if the decks are random and he says every single time you play you use the same deck. I also asked if there are plans for more deck slots. There are no foreseeable plans, but this is something they have discussed at the table often. So don’t hold your breath, but don’t lose hope either.

I told him playing as Warrior against Coren Direbrew felt harder than with the mage, and he said Rogue is actually at a disadvantage. After he left and a few turns later, however, I beat Coren Direbrew (Heroic) with the Rogue Deck in my first attempt. I immediately let Yong Woo know, and we both laughed. It was awesome.

I’m not a great Hearthstone player. The max I have ranked is level 13; but that’s probably in part due to playing through Warlords of Draenor beta, Heroes of the Storm Alpha and Beta, and back to Warlords (Live).

PAX East 2015 Hearthstone: Blackrock Mountain First impressions


Coren Direbrew’s hero power is called “Pile On!”: Put two minions from your deck and one from your opponent’s into the battlefield.

He plays a warrior deck with a few Blackrock Mountain cards which put me in trouble. I don’t have it clear if it is actually one of the Warrior specific card rewards or if it is only unique to Coren Direbrew — but it certainly turned him into a Hunter-like menace with a twist. The spell Coren used is named “Get ‘em!” — it costs 3 mana and summons four 1/1 dwarves with taunt.

The Dark Iron Bouncer costs 6 mana, has 4 damage, 8 health and the special ability reads: “Always wins brawls.” That gotta certainly hurt. (Wankyu informed me this is a boss-specific card)

During my Coren Direbrew matches I played as mage. Some of the cards I saw in the mage deck were: Foe Reaper 4000, Sylvanas, Big Game Hunter, Core hound, Polymorph, Force-Tank Max, Frostbolt, ancient brewmaster, Ysera.

Coren Direbrew gets ancient brewmaster, Dark iron dwarf, baron geddon, spiteful smith, execute, whirlwind, brawl, Grim Patron, Force-Tank Max, mogor the ogre, venture co mercenary, succubus, Dark Iron Bouncer, Elite Tauren Chieftain, and war golem.

The Warrior deck got execute, Grim Patron, Big Game Hunter, Force-Tank Max, gruul, Sylvanas, stalagg, illidan, sunwalker, ragnaros, deathwing, mekgineer thermaplugg, death’s bite, Blackwing Technician, feugen, sen’jin shieldamasta, nozdormu, mogor the ogre, Foe Reaper 4000, and hogger.

The Rogue deck got sap, feugen, Ysera, Dark Iron Skulker, Grim Patron, mekgineer thermaplugg, Force-Tank Max, leper gnome, Blackwing Technician, illidan, Big Game Hunter, and deathwing.

By all means, these aren’t all the cards in each deck. Just those I managed to write down and see. Overall, it was a very fun adventure, and the power hero combined with Dark Iron Bouncer, Brawl, and Get ‘em kept me on the edge of my seat. I’m looking forward to play the Blackrock Mountain adventure.

Hearthstone: Blackrock Mountain Adventure Sneak Preview!

I just came back from PAX East at a private Blizzard event to test out the first wing of the new Blackrock Mountain Expansion and it’s totally awesome! The first wing features a match against a Dark Iron Dwarf named Coren Direbrew. His hero power summons a random minion for each player onto his/her battlefield to give life to the bar-like environment that the Hearthstone match occurs in. As you can imagine, these games quickly get out of hand as legendaries and other huge minions are being constantly supplied for both sides on every turn. The only way I managed to keep up was with and with cheap class removal spells like or even . The normal challenge was definitely fun but was a bit on the easier side. The heroic mode though was almost impossible at first as now Coren Direbrew summons two random minions for himself and only one for you. However, this hero power becomes a drawback in the long run as he decks out much faster than your deck does and you can continue to benefit from the free summons each turn. The challenge then became surviving the first couple turns and once I figured that out, it was easier to complete.

Hearthstone: Blackrock Mountain Adventure Sneak Preview!
The Dark Iron Bouncer is a card only the boss can use.

After talking with Eric Dodds, Blizzard’s lead designer for Hearthstone, the Blackrock expansion comes from expansive lore and memorable characters in the Warcraft world. This expansion would play just like how Naxxramas did, with similar pricing. The normal modes would unlock cards upon completion and each of these modes would open per week as a part of four or five challenges that would each give new cards. Additionally, there would be class challenges that would give the class card. To my delight, he added that the funny comments would also remain since despite the dark nature of Warcraft, Hearthstone takes a different, more lighter spin on the same theme. Also, we discussed the new possibility of having dragon decks. This was extremely exciting from my MTG and Yugioh backgrounds, as these creatures used to be the central point of many other card games. Now in Hearthstone, they finally are given the opportunity to have their own deck archetype. There is little doubt that these new cards are going to shake up the metagame in both arena and constructed and I’m excited that it will be coming soon in April, only one month away!

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