Hearthstone: The Witchwood – Interview with Dan Emmons

Hearthstone: The Witchwood

This past week I got to sit down and talk with Dan Emmons from the Hearthstone Developer’s Team. With the release of the recent Witchwood update, Dan took some time out to talk about the recent update.

So The Witchwood been out for about a few weeks now, and recently you guys had to work on the card Shudderwock because it was too strong?

Based on our data, the Shudderwock card isn’t actually too strong. The deck itself isn’t actually winning like an exorbitant amount. What we found was that the actual play pattern of the deck like the Shaman kind of combo deck where you one-turn kill somebody was like Life Drinker, and recurring Shudderwock was just like an unfun experience because it was taking so long. So we’re looking into that particular thing like we’re going to cut the animation time of the battle cry for Shudderwock itself.

We’re also going to speed up some of the other animations so that when the player does like execute the combo, it doesn’t take as long as it is currently taking. So it’s not really a power adjustment to Shudderwock as much is just like a quality of life usability thing. The deck in and of itself doesn’t have a super high win rate, so we’re not really scared, from our perspective. We just want people you know that come across the deck when they’re playing ranked flight to have a better experience. Because I know getting stuck in something that you can’t really do much about is not a fun way to enjoy a game.

That does sound like it would get annoying. 

Just like okay you’re doing your combo. That’s cool. You did it. You win the game. Yeah, let’s move on to the next one. I think is a much more fun version of Shudderwock for everybody involved.

Are there any cards that are just obviously the most popular?

I don’t have a data in terms of players, like which cards are showing up in the most decks. I know that Genn Greymane and Baku The Mooneater remain involved, and we need are really big hits in terms of like deck. People are building around it and Shudderwock was very popular for a while. I think that there are a lot of really interesting cards that sort of encourage you to build for the next round. So we’re seeing a lot of different types of decks, which I think is really good for Hearthstone in general.

Last time I spoke with Dean before Witchwood came out, we started talking about the new ability: Echo. It is a really fun thing to use. How exactly did you guys come up with that?

So we had a card called Unstable Evolution and it worked kind of like Echo. Essentially a minion randomly grows into one more cost, and you can do it for the rest of the turn. You can constantly evolve one thing or multiple things, and we really like the fight pattern of that. So when we were looking for mechanics for Witchwood, we were kind of figuring out like thematically what would work well, and it’s a creepy kind of like you’re in the woods.

As a Game Designer on Blizzard Entertainment’s Hearthstone team, Daniel Emmons is part of the Live Content Design team, which creates Tavern Brawls, in-game events, and Fireside Gatherings.

Daniel joined Blizzard in August 2015 as a Designer on the Hearthstone team. Since arriving at the company, he’s worked on set design and systems design for his team. Prior to Blizzard, he worked as a designer on Magic: The Gathering and also did board game design.

Outside of work, Daniel has an affinity for comedy. He did improv in NYC for a number of years, as well as teaching improv classes professionally in Connecticut.

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Joshua Williams
Joshua Williams 39 posts

Anime Liker. Vidya Gamer and in a constant state of confusion.