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By Nikola Petrov Hearthstone 27 Mar 2018 190 views

Lead game designer Peter Whalen lifts the curtain and shows us the thought process behind one of the two brand new keywords in the game.

In the latest installment of the regular YouTube series ‘Hearthstone chat’, one of the leading card designers at Team 5 revealed some insider information as to how the latest set, The Witchwood, came to be.

We already knew that this was a top-down set, meaning theme and story came first, and mechanics were designed in a way to fit the in-game narrative. However, we did not know that the Blackwald forest wasn’t Blizzard’s first choice. The original set was to be named ‘Murder on the Gildnean express’. The expansion was meant as a ghostly murder mystery set in the grim lands of the Worgen. For whatever reason, they ended up dropping the murder mystery part but definitely kept the ghost parts.

As part of the design, the team tried several ‘ghost’-type minion abilities. One of them was ‘Ghostly’ and simply read ‘Discard this card at the end of the turn’. Interesting, as this would provide immediate value (as Ghostly minions are generally overstated for their mana cost), at the expanse of flexibility and play order.

As playtesting went, they asked themselves what the most fun version of ‘Ghostly’ was, and Echo won the vote. It is thematic, but also a powerful gameplay tool – though being a bit understated for their mana cost, ‘Echo’ cards provide value both early and late game. The timing and the order these cards are being played will reward skillful players, and provide fun interactions for novices, so it’s a win-win, really.

Not to mention the Witchwood is a perfect setting for such a mechanic – both in terms of ghosts and spirits as its regular inhabitants and in terms of building a massive army at the expanse of all your mana to withstand said horrors. 

Unlike the ‘even and odd matter’ style of some of the early reveals, Echo is sure to leave a huge impact on Arena play, something a great chunk of the community cares for.

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