Hearthstone game designer Dean Ayala and senior producer Yong Woo discussed the game with a Twitch streamer on Thursday, and Ayala again on Reddit on Friday. Top of the agenda were changes to the Arena game mode.
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The focus of the discussion was on the Arena game mode, in which players choose one of three classes to play, and build a unique deck for each game from randomly drawn cards without the limitations of other game modes.
In the words of Blizzard senior producer Yong Woo, there has been “perception from the community that we don’t think about Arena, that we don’t care about it”. He said this was “just not true”. Ayala also affirmed Blizzard’s commitment to Arena, and outlined two broad strategies to tweak it in the near-future.
“You can increase the quality of decks in Arena where there’s more synergy. [So if] you get a dragon, you have more of a chance to get dragons or something like that. We can do something like [that] for the future, but it makes it feel more and more like constructed.
“Or we can actually decrease the quality of Arena decks and take out stuff like Spider Tank and River Crocolisk. A lot of Arena now is you’re just playing one-drops and two-drops and snowballing the game. Spells are less and less frequent as players just play minion after minion.”
One benefit of the second approach is that it solves “the problem [of] the growing card pool,” says Ayala. “Before long it’ll be thousands of cards and if you’re just drafting you can’t really play around anything.”
Reddit followed up on the interview in a Q&A session with Ayala, where he finished these thoughts about snowballing with minions:
“Spells appearing more often is the direction we are leaning. Cards like Spider Tank (powerful vanillas) showing up less and cards like Shadow Madness, Lightbomb, Hellfire (power board swings) showing up more seems like a better experience to have. Too many games come to getting ahead early and snowballing a victory rather than evaluating the risk of expending all your resources into a board clear effect.”
He also confirmed there is no hidden matchmaker rating (MMR) in Arena, and that players get matched based on their current Arena record alone.
As for timing, Ayala says: “This Arena stuff is something that is actively going on and we’re figuring it out. So I would say that it will happen. I don’t know when, but it will.”
Fan site Hearthhead wrote up the interview (originally with Twitch streamer Trump – no relation, I assume). Here’sReddit’s follow-up with Ayala, which goes into more detail about class balances.