Team 5 on Designing The Boomsday Project’s Legendaries | Gaming News
The thinking behind legendary spells, as well as how cards like Mecha’thun and Dr. Boom, Mad Genius came to be.
Hearthstone’s newest expansion – The Boomsday Project – is absolutely brimming with memorable legendary cards. From the introduction of legendary spells like Luna’s Pocket Galaxy, Floop’s Glorious Gloop and Myra’s Unstable Element, through to wild designs like Mecha’thun, Dr. Boom, Mad Genius and Whizbang the Wonderful, this set has been a lot of fun to experiment with.
To find out about the design process behind the cards, I caught up with Team 5’s Lead Initial Designer Peter Whalen and Lead Final Designer Dean Ayala for a chat. (The first part was published a couple of weeks ago.) They even gave Tech some exclusive work-in-progress (WIP) card art to illustrate earlier designs that didn’t make the cut. Enjoy!
Tech: Boomsday introduces legendary spells for the first time. What, in your mind, makes a legendary spell different to a regular spell? Tell me a little bit about deciding to go down this path and how you approached it.
Peter Whalen: We wanted to capture the feeling of science, of crazy inventions. And so we hit on the idea of having scientists in each of the classes and then along with that their legendary spells. Their premier invention – this is their life’s work, their awesome discovery and now it’s going to be a legendary spell.
What makes a legendary spell legendary? They’re big, they’re flashy, they’re cool, they’re unique. And a lot of the time, they’re the type of cards that you really only want one copy of for whatever reason. Maybe because it sets the cost of all the minions in your deck to one, and you don’t really want to do that a second time, it doesn’t mean anything. They’re not all cards that you only want to do once, but a lot of them are in that space of big and flashy and cool and do something a little bit different.
Tech: Were any of these cards ideas that you’ve been sitting on for a long time, thinking – man this is the coolest idea for a spell but it would just be too overpowered if we gave people two of these.
Peter Whalen: It’s less a question of overpowered. We tend not to do our legendaries as just being – oh this is like an epic or a rare but stronger. It’s more a philosophy thing of they’re weirder, they’re more different, they’re sort of strange cards. Some of these are definitely things that we’ve had floating around for a while. The “set the cost of all minions in your deck to something small, either zero or one.” That’s being floating around since Un’Goro, we tried that out with the [Druid] quest. It used to be a non-quest minion, and it was an interesting deck so we wanted to preserve that.
Dean Ayala: Barnabus the Stomper.
Peter Whalen: Yeah, Barnabus the Stomper – he was pretty sweet, it was a cool deck. And I think Luna’s [Pocket Galaxy] is a cool card in Mage now. So a lot of the things are in that space, some of them were more top-down designs so we had a flavour that we really wanted to hit. Like the Boom-Zooka, where you’re shooting all these minions out of your deck. And it just made sense in the Hunter lab. You’ve got [Boommaster] Flark, and he’s really into guns and explosives and all kinds of big things like that. So of course he’d be shooting some beasts out of his deck.
Tech: Coming back to Luna’s Pocket Galaxy, and bringing that idea to Mage. How did you see it fitting into the class?
Peter Whalen: So, it’s a slightly different mechanic than they’ve had in the past. Mages tend to be really spell-focused and a lot of their cards in the Boomsday Project are very, very spell-focused. You’ve got all the spell damage stuff that’s going on and summoning minions with your spells. So we wanted something that pushed them in a little bit of a different direction.
Mages historically haven’t had super OP minion-based combos. They’re not one of the classes that can really take advantage of – oh, I’ve got these cheap charge minions, I’m gonna buff them and do that kind of thing. So it was one of the classes that we could try that out in. The dangerous things that you’re doing with Mage are – you’re making your Antonidas cheaper or you’re making some giant dragons cheaper. And that’s a cool space to play around in, and to try out and to mess with a bunch of different cards. So Luna’s Pocket Galaxy opened up new space for Mages to explore, and I think that’s why we’re excited to have it there.
Tech: And was it a different card to settle on a mana cost for?
Peter Whalen: We played a lot of games with that card. I think Dean can speak to it since I think he played the most Luna’s Pocket Galaxy of anyone in the office. But yeah, we tried a bunch of numbers for that. And also what number the cards get reduced to.
Dean Ayala: Which version? There were so many different versions of that card.
Peter Whalen: Set the cost of minions in your deck to one or to zero at one point.
Dean Ayala: We played a lot of different versions of the one at zero. The one at zero can be very, very dangerous, just because you can do stuff like drop three minions or whatever the next turn, just play them all at the same time… I think the difference between zero and one was that they both sort of capture the flavour we were looking for – like Peter was talking about, definitely a different version of Mage. Mage is usually very spell-focused, but with that [card changing your minions to zero] sometimes there’s just a huge blowout. Like on turn nine or something where you just draw three minions, with the draw three minions card [Book of Specters] and play all of them at once. Of course they’d all be Lich King and a bunch of other huge minions.
It’s weird because that’s a very small change that barely changes the flavour of the card at all, but it actually changes how it’s played very, very much. So when we can make a change like that, we usually do.
Tech: Cool. Another legendary spell that manipulates what you’re able to do with your mana is Floop’s Glorious Gloop. Tell me a little bit about designing this one.
Peter Whalen: That’s just a cool, weird, math-y card. We wanted our legendary spells to be like these interesting, different types of things that we wouldn’t make normally. And this is exactly the kind of very math-y kind of complex card that we tend not to do. But they’re cool in small quantities. It’s really interesting to play with that.
We’ve played with some top players that are on our final design team, and they would say – wow, this is one of the hardest cards I’ve ever had to manipulate with. Because you were removing your opponent’s minions, you’re playing with your own. At one point, it used to just refresh your mana crystals instead of generate extra ones, and that was much harder to use. It felt clunky because you had to be very careful about not going over and then spending your mana. So this one is a lot easier to use but it still has that same [feel] – this is very skill testing, it’s interesting to use. It’s only going to go in certain types of Druid decks, if you’re doing a very swarmy-type gameplay.
Dean Ayala: Yeah it’s a really interesting card because you have to figure out not only like, how are you going to do the thing – how are you going to get a bunch of minions in play and then trade them and get a bunch of mana. But then you also have to worry about, okay what am I actually going to do once I have all this mana? Because the two things don’t necessarily work together. I have a big swarmy deck, but then have all this mana so you can play big minions I guess is the idea? Or you can cast Soul of the Forest or something like that.
It’s the kind of card that we’ve been playtesting a little bit in the future as well, right, because we’re working on sets that are pretty far off now. Floop’s is a cool card to always come back to because you get more mana when minions die. So minions are probably going to be being destroyed many years from now in Hearthstone, so it’s not really, really narrow. Every time there’s sort of a swarmy card or there’s some giant things to do in Druid or some crazy combo that requires a lot of mana, it’s the kind of card you think about and try to come back to. So I imagine it’s going to build on itself over time and people are going to be thinking about it in different ways as sets get released.
Tech: Another low-cost legendary spell that I’d love to talk about is The Soularium, which is just the ultimate Zoo card.
Peter Whalen: Soularium’s pretty interesting. It’s another one of those cards that’s pretty cool, it’s skill-testing to play – exactly when do you play it, and do you know what types of things are left in your deck? So I think it’s a pretty fun card. It’s also one of the ones that changed the most in design. We tried a ton of versions of that card. I think the one we played the longest was “swap the attack and cost of minions in your hand.” That was cool, but it turns out there’s a card named Glinda Crowskin that makes it really not okay.
Dean Ayala: Summoning Portal also.
Peter Whalen: Summoning Portal also helps make it really not okay.
Tech: Ha! Yeah.
Peter Whalen: I think there was some deck that did 50 damage with your Gul’dan hero power or something?
Dean Ayala: Yes, I think this was the card that changed second latest in the whole set. And it was one of those things that we play-tested a bunch of, but it was just this really nuanced, weird deck. I don’t know if you know Chakki, his name is Keaton, we hired him on to the final design team. And I think it was his first week, and he just built that deck, and we were like “oh man. I guess we can’t make that card!” We just had to redesign it into something totally different. Because it was just some deck that was not really the kind of deck that you could nerf so we just had to redesign it.
But luckily we had a spell that we were excited about. One of the things about Soularium also is that a lot of people were playing Bloodreaver Gul’dan, and the same sort of Control Warlock shell at the time. So it was hard to find a legendary design that was really exciting that you just don’t kind of throw into the Bloodreaver Gul’dan deck. But the one it ended up being is definitely one of those designs, right? Because you can’t really afford to draw Bloodreaver and then discard it because that’s one of the core strategies of your deck.
So not only was it pretty interesting, we liked how it played a lot. It seems really exciting for a Zoo deck, but I don’t think it actually makes the deck that much better. I think it changes it but it doesn’t make it that much better. And then also it didn’t contribute to just doing more of the same Control Lock things that people were doing. But it hit a lot of the things that we were pretty excited about in terms of the gameplay of the set.
Tech: How close did that other card design get? When did you actually make the switch to this design?
Peter Whalen: Pretty late in the process.
“It’s not ideal that we had to make a change that late, but it is ideal that we found it before we released it.” – Dean Ayala
Dean Ayala: Yeah. I guess it probably wouldn’t sound as late. It was like oh you know, a month or two before or something like that. But like-
Peter Whalen: Oh, it was more than that. It was pretty late. Later than we were excited to make that change. (Laughs)
Dean Ayala: We were done with the set. Design was over. We’re making some balance changes, we’re changing some numbers, some fours to fives. That’s where we were in the set, where we really didn’t want to change anything to where it would make a really big impact on anything. But sometimes you run into a card or the meta changes in some way where a change is absolutely 100% necessary, and it’s not really a – maybe we should do this or not. That was just one of those circumstances.
It’s not ideal that we had to make a change that late, but it is ideal that we found it before we released it. I think that would have been something that we would have had to nerf, and it would have been hard to do.
Peter Whalen: It’s great that Soularium hasn’t destroyed the world.
Dean Ayala: Yeah, yeah, I’m excited about that.
Tech: Turns out Chakki was a good hire.
Peter Whalen: Yeah.
Dean Ayala: Yeah, yeah, he did good.
Tech: Awesome. Speaking of big changes, let’s quickly double back on a couple of the cards we’ve already talked about. Were there other alternate designs for Floop’s Glorious Gloop or Luna’s Pocket Galaxy that you want to mention? Or were they always around that final-
Peter Whalen: -Oh no, Luna’s had a crazy one! Luna’s was mostly this [- similar to the final design], but there was a version of Luna’s that then became a minion and then became nothing because it was too crazy. That was “open a portal, you can drag your spells into the portal to summon minions of the same cost.”
“There was a version of Luna’s that… was ‘open a portal, you can drag your spells into the portal to summon minions of the same cost.’” – Peter Whalen.
Tech: What!? Really?
Peter Whalen: (Laughs) And so it would open a portal on your screen as this additional UI element just for this turn, and you could drag your spells up to it to feed it to the portal, and then it would summon the minions at the same time.
Peter Whalen: I’m serious! It was cool! But it was pretty crazy.
Tech: That sounds unreal!
Peter Whalen: We had a lot of crazy stuff going on in the set. We didn’t need to spend all of our UI resources on this card.
Tech: I love that you can prototype that though, and seriously consider whether that’s something that you want to introduce into the game.
Dean Ayala: I’m just thinking of how we can get a portal into the game to drag shit into-
Peter Whalen: -It’s pretty cool.
Dean Ayala: We should do that, yeah.
Peter Whalen: So that was one version. But mostly we played with the “reduce the costs of minions in your deck by some amount or to some amount.”
Tech: And how about Floop?
Peter Whalen: Floop was pretty much this the whole time. This is the only version I remember of the card, for Glorious Gloop. Actually for the minion as well. We messed with whether to refresh mana crystals or some of the numbers on it. But it was basically just this. Oh, and whether it was friendly or both sides.
Tech: Oh okay, yep.
Peter Whalen: It was pretty much just this. The card’s pretty interesting so we didn’t feel any need to change it.
Tech: The last legendary spell that I’ve got on my list is Myra’s Unstable Element, which I just love from a flavour perspective. Give me some of the background on that card.
Peter Whalen: That was the first legendary spell. When we were asked by the directors or whatever – okay, you want to do legendary spells? Why do you want to do legendary spells? “Draw the rest of your deck.” That was why we want to do it – this card.
Draw the rest of your deck is so cool. It’s an exciting text box. We can actually make it at a mana cost that’s still exciting, like five seems insane, five is awesome. And it turns out, that’s okay. And the gameplay for it’s pretty cool. It’s skill-testing; when exactly do you want to blow up your whole deck? Is blowing up your whole deck a thing that’s good for you? Are you going to repopulate it with a bunch of Pogo-Hoppers, or maybe one cost cards from your opponent’s class?
There’s a ton of cool gameplay there, and it’s also an insanely exciting, insanely short text box.
Dean Ayala: The short answer is it didn’t change much because it’s awesome.
Peter Whalen: I often – you know those card design competitions on the internet? One of the ones I’ve always wanted to run was “design a card with six words or less, or five words or less or whatever.” Draw the rest of your deck is a pretty sweet one.
Tech: So that was there from the very beginning, and that was the card?
Peter Whalen: That was the card. I think that was the first legendary spell.
“It’s draw ten cards for five mana… That’s insanely dangerous, especially in a class that has Prep. But it turned out to work out pretty well…” – Peter Whalen.
Tech: Right. And did the mana cost change?
Peter Whalen: Nope. We got it exactly right, thank you very much. (Laughs)
Dean Ayala: I mean, it changed a lot, it just changed back to five at some point.
Peter Whalen: So we were right is the point.
Dean Ayala: (Laughs) We tried some different numbers.
Peter Whalen: We tried a lot of numbers for it.
Tech: It is a very interesting card. I was playing Rogue when the expansion first launched and it was really challenging trying to get my head around exactly when the right moment to actually play Myra’s is.
Peter Whalen: It’s one of those cards that’s incredibly dangerous, and so final [design] played with it a ton and tried a bunch of different numbers. Because, I mean, it’s draw ten cards for five mana or for some small amount of mana? That’s insanely dangerous, especially in a class that has Prep. But it turned out to work out pretty well, and I think on live it’s been pretty cool.
Dean Ayala: Yeah, I think it’s actually pretty good. It’s one of those cards it’s looking like people are going to continue thinking about for many sets to come. Those cards are always really interesting.
One of the reasons that we wanted to make it reasonably powerful is it actually does play quite a bit differently in a lot of different decks. Initially our thought was – hey, maybe you play it in a deck that has double Deckhand and double Cold Blood and a bunch of one mana spells, then you play all of them and eventually you try to kill your opponent on turn six or something.
But actually, the way a lot of people use it is you do stuff like – shuffle a bunch of cards in after your deck is empty. Or you just play Espionage and you shuffle cards back in that way. Those decks are actually really interesting. The fact that there’s multiple ways to play this card, and we can also just play into it in the future as well. Whenever we think about saying – maybe you shuffle cards in as Rogue or you just put cards in your deck, those cards are just now a lot more interesting in Rogue, just because you have the ability to draw your whole deck.
So, it’s a lot of those reasons why we pushed it to a point where it was actually pretty powerful even though it was relatively dangerous. But it’s really cool. I’m looking forward to seeing what people do with it, continuing in this expansion and for the many expansions to come.
Tech: Okay cool. Let’s touch on some of the most memorable legendary minions from the set. Let’s start with Mecha’thun. That was an exciting one for Tech to be able to reveal – so flavourful. I didn’t think you’d be able to top giving us Archbishop Benedictus. But-
Peter Whalen: -Yeah, Mecha’thun’s cooler.
Tech: For sure. And you know, the crazy thing is, I think the initial feedback on that card when we revealed it was that it’s a pure meme card. But it definitely felt like it could be viable right from the get go. Were you surprised by the reaction? And are you surprised by the fact that we’ve seen players running Mecha’thun decks in the play-offs?
Dean Ayala: People just run Mecha’thun, yeah, on the pro player level, which is pretty cool. I mean, on the positive side I think when we released Mecha’thun, it was widely really positive feedback, I thought. There’s a lot of people out there like, oh this is purely meme card. I think that’s not true, but there’s also nothing really wrong with that. Alternate win conditions are really cool for people. There’s a lot of people that are trying to build the Paladin deck where you summon all the 2/2s. And winning in different ways is just really cool to a lot of people.
And I think just reading Mecha’thun’s text box everyone just has the reaction of – they read line one and they read line two, and they read the end of it and they’re like – wait, wait what? Whoa that sounds crazy! Yes, so the reaction we get when you first read it is really cool.
And the fact that you can play it in a bunch of different decks is awesome too. People were running it in Druid, there’s a Paladin deck that people were playing pretty early on. Now people are playing it in Warrior, there’s the Priest deck, it’s seeing a lot of play in different places. And each of the decks have their own sort of way to pull off this crazy combo. And… I’ve had a number of circumstances [as Warrior] where you discover Mecha’thun from Dr. Boom and then, well, my last card is just Mecha’thun, and they have to find a way to deal with that. Which is also just a cool card to get off the random generation.
“Chakki, the first time that he saw Mecha’thun, he was just building Mecha’thun decks for like two days straight, really trying to figure the card out.” – Dean Ayala.
The feedback on Mecha’thun has been really, really positive. It was one of the cards that we saw even in final design that we were really excited about. Like even some of the – I think you would consider the really competitive players like Chakki, the first time that he saw Mecha’thun, he was just building Mecha’thun decks for like two days straight, really trying to figure the card out.
So I think it appeals to a really wide audience, and then it also is just like one of the design success stories when you translate it to how players are actually interacting with that card. Because it’s not reaching a percentage of population that makes you feel like you’re running into Mecha’thun decks every time. There’s also a pretty wide diversity of Mecha’thun decks. It’s like one card that creates a new archetype in multiple classes.
And also, it’s strong enough that you don’t feel like you’re throwing away games, but it’s also not the most powerful deck in the meta. So for all of those reasons the one card – Mecha’thun, I think is a pretty huge success.
Tech: So tell me a little bit about creating that card. Who pitched this concept? What did it look like originally?
Peter Whalen: …The idea was that it was this doomsday scientist originally. And it was going to be this huge thing that was – I wanna destroy the whole world. As long as everything is defeated, then I win. I win, from the ashes, I’ve destroyed the whole world. And so that was the top-down concept that got us to – it had to be ten mana, of course, because its alternate win condition is destroy the whole world. So it was a ten mana 1/1 [with] “battlecry: if this is the only thing in your hand or deck or battlefield, you win.” So it was sort of the cheese stands alone type idea – I’m the only thing that matters.
Then we wanted to go one step further, which was – well actually, you have nothing, you don’t even have this guy. This guy’s not around either. So it changed to a deathrattle, where you have to have everything destroyed and then you win. And then, having him be a 1/1 maybe was a little bit too easy to kill. And also it wasn’t as cool a fantasy as when he became Mecha’thun – the giant robot Old God. And it obviously had to be giant, he had to be like a 10/10 or something. So we changed him to a 10/10. And then that’s where it ended up, a ten mana 10/10 “deathrattle: if everything’s gone and you have nothing left, you win.”
Tech: Awesome. As you say, having alternate win conditions is great. And it’s cool that it has such a stringent set of requirements, but is still achievable. I think you really hit the nail on the head with that one. Next one, Whizbang the Wonderful, I also really adore this card.
Peter Whalen: Me too.
Tech: What’s the story behind Whizbang?
Peter Whalen: Whizbang went through some iteration. Very early on we had Whizbang’s text box, which was “when the game starts, replace your deck with one of Whizbang’s wonderful decks.” But exactly what Whizbang’s wonderful decks meant? That took some iteration to figure out what we could do technically, that was reasonable, also what was still fun, and what was good gameplay for the long-term for it.
So very early on, back in League of Explorers maybe, someone pitched the idea of Rafaam’s mirror, and it was “when the game starts, your deck is replaced with your opponent’s.” So all of your matches are mirror matches always. And we didn’t really want to make that, since promoting lots and lots of mirror matches on the ladder, it drives up the play-rate of the highest played decks. There’s some downside to it. So we wanted to find a version of that that was cool.
And I think part of the cool fantasy of that was you have a deck in a card and you’re going to play a bunch of different decks as time goes on. So we tried a bunch of different versions of deck in a card. Maybe you have a straight up random deck. Maybe you have your last opponent’s deck. Maybe you have… we tried a ton of stuff. And we settled on – well we’ve actually made a bunch of decks that are pretty reasonable, and those are the deck recipes.
“Whizbang is probably my favourite card we’ve ever made. I think it’s just cool and it’s a lot of fun to play with.” – Peter Whalen.
So what if we just had you play the deck recipes and those are pretty reasonable things that you could do. And then we had to decide well, is it a random – every day it’s a different thing, so everyone today is gonna play Deathrattle Hunter? Or is it random every time you play? And random every time you play just ended up being a little bit more fun, so we ended up doing that. And Whizbang is probably my favourite card we’ve ever made. I think it’s just cool and it’s a lot of fun to play with.
Tech: It’s a very elegant solution for what the concept was. But I can’t help but wonder what it might have been like if it was, say, playing your opponent’s last deck. Is something like that impossible to implement or is it kind of straight-forward and that’s not really a concern, you just really want to find the best solution?
Peter Whalen: It is neither of those things. It is neither impossible nor straight-forward. But it’s definitely a thing that we could do. And I think for the first time that we’re doing a Whizbang type card – a deck in a single card – I think it was better to do the one where you understood exactly what your options were. But I’m not sure you’ve seen the last of Whizbang type cards. I think it’s ended up being really successful and cool. We don’t have any planned in the near-ish future, but someday. Hearthstone’s got a long life ahead of it. I’m really excited about that kind of card, and I think the team is as a whole. So we’ll revisit it someday.
“I’m not sure you’ve seen the last of Whizbang type cards… I’m really excited about that kind of card, and I think the team is as a whole. So we’ll revisit it someday.” – Peter Whalen.
Dean Ayala: It’s also one of my favourite cards. Just hearing the stories of people getting the chance to play against their friends or getting new people into the game. I always like hearing stories about the first time players play a deck that has some real synergy in it. It’s like – all my cards are working towards a goal or two! And having the dots sort of connect – oh wow, you can do a lot of really fun things in this game!
A lot of the deck recipes really try to accomplish that, so when you’re playing the Whizbang decks, I think you get a pretty good feel not only for what’s going on in the expansion, but also what are the kinds of fun things that you can do in Hearthstone. And hearing all the stories about a lot of people having some of their first experiences with a deck with synergistic qualities, it’s been really cool for us to hear. And I think for that reason we’ll probably explore stuff like that in the future.
Tech: Awesome. And obviously, as the deck recipes change, so too does Whizbang.
Dean Ayala: Yep. Yes.
Tech: Excellent. The next card on my list is the hero card for the set, Dr. Boom, Mad Genius. It’s another awesome card from a flavour perspective and from a mechanical perspective. How did this one get to its final design?
Peter Whalen: Oh man, he evolved a lot. We had a bunch of different versions of Dr. Boom. The early ones summoned Boom Bots, and various iterations either maybe Dr. Boom was cheaper based on how many mechs you had and then his hero power summoned Boom Bots. We decided that our Dr. Boom was cooler than GvG Dr. Boom. He was going to summon Kaboom Bots, which were upgraded Boom Bots. We ended up actually doing Kaboom Bots in neutral after they left Dr. Boom’s hero power. Kaboom Bots were 2/2 Boom Bots that always hit for four. And that’s the card that ended up shipping…
It was cool, but it wasn’t really fun enough, or capture the fantasy of where Dr. Boom ended up. He ended up as this crazy, maniacal genius that doesn’t really have a plan, and doesn’t really understand exactly everything what’s going on. And so he’s in his brand-new mech suit that he’s invented, but he doesn’t quite understand it and he didn’t really hook up the controls all that well, so there’s just one button to control it. And it’s giant and red and every turn he just mashes it. And sometimes it fires the laser and sometimes it makes some Microbots and sometimes it just gives him a big shield.
So I’m really happy with where the flavour for him ended up, and also the design. He’s really fun to play. He’s been seeing a bunch of play.
Dean Ayala: Dr. Boom was a series of my opinions being wrong. (Laughs) Dr. Boom was basically a Warrior from pretty early on, and part of that just offended me for some reason. Dr. Boom, Warrior? That’s ridiculous! I don’t really know [what I wanted], maybe like Warlock or I think I wanted him in Hunter at one point. I think, in retrospect, it was just because he was green. It was just one of those things that you think about. I don’t know why it offended me so much. But once we had the actual art in place and you see Dr. Boom and he’s in this giant mech suit, you know, the vision was always there from initial design and art. But I think once you see it for the first time you’re like oh, obviously. This definitely looks like a Warrior card, like everything’s sort of there. And it’s not just because it’s red.
Peter Whalen: (Laughs) That helps though.
Dean Ayala: Just having the big mech suit full of armour, it really made the card come together and made me think – definitely, this card is in the right place. And then also from the perspective of flavour, whereas the identity of Dr. Boom from GvG, just in terms of gameplay I guess, he was about his Boom Bots. Outside of that? It was kind of like his whole identity, right?
So I think for the card to not exclusively to have something to do with Boom Bots is hard to wrap your head around because it seems like that’s his identity. But really Dr. Boom is bigger than that. Right? His character in The Boomsday Project is he’s the leader of the science lab and he has all these minion scientists and he’s truly the evil genius behind everything.
And I think when you’re playing the deck, and he has this big red button hero power, and you’re playing all your mechs, and all your mechs have rush, it makes them much more powerful. But it’s coming from Dr. Boom, and he’s the reason that everything is so powerful. And all the mechs are his minions.
I think the identity of Dr. Boom didn’t have to be Boom Bots. I think it still really comes through that he is the one that’s doing all this crazy stuff that’s very different than the flavour of Garrosh and just gaining a bunch of armour or playing with Shield Slams and that kind of thing. The identity of Dr. Boom and his deck are so much different than standard Warrior that I think that everything really came together quite nicely.
Tech: Yeah totally. So you had the idea of the big red button and the random stuff that could happen. How about the rush side of his hero card? Was that the plan from inception or did you try a few different things as to what additional powers he would have?
Peter Whalen: Those actually happened simultaneously. Early on, we tried a bunch of different battlecries and a bunch of different hero powers. We knew we wanted something that synergised really well with mechs. So there were versions where playing mechs reduced the cost of Dr. Boom. There was another version where playing mechs increased the amount of armour that Dr. Boom gave you.
And then when we got to the “he’s going to be the leader of the mech army in his giant mech suit,” we went straight top-down just from the flavour side and said – okay, he’s gonna buff all your mechs, he’s gonna give them all rush, and his hero power’s going to change every turn. It’s going to be this big red button, random and different every time. And so those actually came simultaneously and they both worked out pretty well. We massaged exactly what the hero powers were a bit, but it didn’t change too much after that point.
Tech: I love the card, I think it’s heaps of fun. Since we’re almost out of time, let’s talk about one more legendary. Any suggestions? The other ones on my list are Flobbidinous Floop, Stargazer Luna, Subject 9.
Peter Whalen: Luna’s kind of interesting.
Tech: Oh yeah?
Peter Whalen: Yeah. Floop’s not that interesting, he was exactly the same thing the whole way through. But Luna, we had in Kobolds – we were pretty close to making it as a three mana 2/4 – you can play the top card of your deck. And so you could continually play it, it would reveal what the top card of your deck was, and then you could drag it out of your deck and do cool things.
There’s still a lot of UI complexity there, and it means that it’s hard to use the top of our deck for anything else or that deck space. It’s also a little bit weirder on mobile. So just, the UI complexity there’s pretty big. And so actually someone from the art team pitched, what if instead you just could play the right-most card of your hand, instead of playing the top of your deck, and then you have a little bit more control over it, because you know you’re going to draw at least one card. And also it’s very, very close gameplay-wise, but it’s way easier to wrap your head around and to actually implement and use and do. And so that’s what it ended up being.
It’s actually really cool. I think that’s the kind of card, that if we were a physical card game, it would be much easier to use the top of our deck and do things from there, and much harder to use the right-hand side of our hand because your cards get shuffled around and it’s just a trickier thing to track. But in a digital card game it actually ends up being way easier to do it this way. And also, I think actually the design plays out better, because you have a better sense exactly of what you’re going to be able to do. At least for the first card.
Tech: It’s a fun card, because you’ve built your deck to take advantage of it, but it’s still rolling the dice and trying to roll into this additional tempo that you’re able to generate. I also really love that there are a couple of cards in this set along these lines – impacting the card in the left-hand side of your hand or the right-hand side of your hand. I think that’s a fun space to explore as well.
Peter Whalen: Me too. One of the things we wanted to explore with The Boomsday Project was sort of science-y cards. And one of the things that science-y cards meant to us was manipulating your resources in different ways. And trying to solve puzzles, both in Puzzle Labs but also actually in the normal collectable set. And so, cards like Soul Infusion that buff the left-most card in your hand. Cards like Luna that use the right-most card in your hand. They sort of create these puzzles to solve, how you’re going to manipulate the cards in your hand.
Tech: Thanks as always for your time guys!
Cam Shea is Editor in Chief for Tech’s Australian content team. He’s a massive CCG nerd who isn’t sure how he’ll juggle Artifact in addition to Hearthstone and Shadowverse. He’s on Twitter.