I attended the PAX East 2018 Hearthstone press invitational event to interview game director Ben Brode where I asked questions about the new Hearthstone: The Witchwood expansion. He explained in detail how the Rush and Echo keywords work, the Genn Greymane and Baku the Mooneater game mechanics, and the Monster Hunt.
Dave: Wow, it feels so real. It’s like I am actually at BlizzCon. Then what are we doing with these, what is with the glasses?
Ben: Guys, this is crazy. We can’t be more happy to be here with you today, in fact, everybody here has already gotten to see the amazing cinematic that Ben Brode announced with our newest expansion, is that right? We were all here to see it.
Now, we on Hearthstone pride ourselves on avoiding the cheap parlor trick, the random marketing to do. In fact, we like to keep things fairly simple, straightforward; but when we do it, we go all out, and with that in mind, we’d like to invite you to pull out your own candle. Place it upon your heads, and let us take another look at that amazing cinematic. This time in living Kobold vision.
Dave: There you have it. That is the absolute and latest, and state-of-the-art Kobold VR. Props to our cinematics team for putting that together.
So, who wants to hear a story? I have a story for you. You guys want to hear a story? Ten thousand years ago, something happened. Now, we don’t know what happened because kobolds don’t write anything down, but we do know that it was around this time the kobolds started to dig. When all the world is crafting war, when shore to shore the warships moor, when sun and skies whole dread, listen up, my son. Pack it up and run. Put this candle on your head. When those seas of blood start churnin’, when the Legion comes a-burnin’, when frets and threats above abound, just grab your pick and light your wick, and dig, dig, dig, deep down. This is Kobolds and Catacombs.
My name is Dave Kosak. I am the lead mission designer for Hearthstone.
Ben: My name is Ben Thompson, I am the art director.
Peter: I am Peter Whalen. I am one of the designers in the Hearthstone team.
Dave: Over the next 40 minutes or so, we’re going to tell you all about what’s upcoming next in Hearthstone. So, Peter kick us off, what is happening in Hearthstone? What is this expansion all about?
What is Kobolds and Catacombs?
Peter: This is Kobolds and Catacombs. This is our love letter to classic dungeon crawling: gather your party and venture forth into a deep dungeon filled with horrible monsters, terrifying traps, and phenomenal treasure.
So, how did we get here? For every expansion a bunch of us get together in a room, and we talk about what’s next. We have just done Un’Goro, with its enormous dinosaurs. We’ve done Knights of the Frozen Throne with the Lich King, and his horrible undead minions. so we wanted to do something a little different. Something a little more whimsical, a little more classic Warcraft; and so someone pitched: “What if we did the treasure set?” Hmm, Treasure set! That sounds pretty cool, and so we were onboard. We were going to make the treasure set, and that is how Blingtron’s Lootapalooza was born.
That is right, Blingtron’s Lootapalooza. We were going to explore the history of Azeroth’s most enigmatic treasure Golem.
We even talked to some people in the World of Warcraft team, and put the art from Blingtron’s card image in our Year of the Mammoth preview. But the more we explored Blingtron’s Lootapalooza, the less we liked Blingtron as the heart of the set. We really wanted to do that classic dungeon dive, that feeling of going deep underground and unearthing amazing treasures. That’s how we hit on the Kobold.
These are the little rat creatures from World of Warcraft. They’ve got candles on their head that they absolutely love, they’ve got treasure that they mine in the earth, and so they were perfect for us. They were going to build us the earth dungeon, the dungeon that contained all other dungeons inside of it, they would build us the catacombs.
Ben: Now the catacombs offer a wonderful opportunity for the loot-minded explorer. There are tons of tunnels and darkened corners in which to get in a lot of trouble, and you and your party are going to get into a lot of trouble. Make no mistake. Now, it’s also no secret that the Kobolds, not the sharpest tools in the shed; and as a result, the path is rarely straight ahead, and almost never well-constructed. These are the catacombs, and it was super important to the art team to start to figure out just what these looked like, not just for our design team, but for you the players.
So, we took it upon ourselves to figure out the mind of the Kobold. What does it look like when you’re in that small little rat-like mind? Well, you’re probably very single-minded, you’re probably very direct in your thought. You’re probably not thinking too clearly and too straight when you’re building these things; and as a result, well the result is what you end up seeing.
There’s a lot of loot, and a lot of treasure, and a lot of places to store it. You hide it in these darkened corners and you quickly have to find other ways that are both escape routes and entrance routes. You get things like Gorges with rope bridges strung quickly across that you have to cross as soon as possible before it collapses beneath you. Open up a lava tube in the wall? Well, let’s board that right up and get the heck out of dodge.
Now, ultimately, whether it be constructs hastily constructed in some homage to some ancient Kobold god, or some wondrous beast that’s been enslaved and or maybe hired to guard the treasure from prying eyes, they should always and always point to this feeling of Kobolds throughout every part of the dungeon, and you should definitely, if you don’t see them, smell them and know that they’ve been there.
And that brings us to the new board. The new board is presented to you with the classic Kobold-looking style and aesthetic (such as it is), and as a result there’s tons of candles, make no mistake; but there’s also beautiful magical items, wonderful piles of treasure hoarded away; and of course, for those people who run into players taking slightly too long on their turn before they rope out, tons of new clickables to explore, but do I need to remind you: “Don’t touch the candles.”
Dave: One of our artists, she put it best. She said if this is a love letter to the classic dungeon crawl, it’s a love letter written by candlelight. The very last, we left our Kobolds as they were digging. They have been digging for thousands of years, which brings us to chapter two, wherein they find stuff: “So, dig, dig! Dig in with claws and paws, and dig! But always trust your shnoz. Your nose knows to behold: The smells you sniff, delightful whiffs! Of silver, jewels and gold…”
Ben Brode announced the next expansion Hearthstone: Kobolds & Catacombs. The expansion adds 9 Legendary weapons including the Dragon Soul which summons a 5/5 dragon per each spell cast; and a new single-player experience never done before named the Dungeon Run. You have to defeat 8 random bosses, and you level up. It’s free to play.
Ben Brode (game director) and Ben Thompson (art director) featured the 2017 Year in Review video, highlighting the Hearthstone content released over the past 12 months. Toward the end of the video, both developers teased there is going to be a reveal at BlizzCon. Will it be an expansion? Will it be something else altogether? Get ahold of a BlizzCon Virtual Ticket and watch the panel to find out.
BlizzCon 2016 had the presence of three peculiar Hearthstone cosplayers, at least those Dperschonok caught up with, and the Hearthstone stage looked awesome and tavern-friendly. The Darkmoon Faire touch was cool, as well. Check out our Overwatch Cosplay and Warcraft Cosplay photos too.
Blizzard Entertainment announced Hearthstone: Mean Streets of Gadgetzan at BlizzCon 2016. It will launch early December, and pre-orders are up. The next expansion adds three faction cards: The Grimy Goons, the Kabal, and the Jade Lotus.
Each class belongs to one of the city’s three factions. Your class cards and neutral minions all fall into that faction’s theme. The affiliations are:
For context, the 2016 HWC Europe winner was Naiman. DrHippi was second finalist.