Iksar’s AMA: United in Stormwind’s Meta, Nerfs and Hearthstone’s Greatest Challenge
United in Stormwind’s Meta has been live for less than a week. The community already complains about the game experience. Iksar responds.
In Dean Ayala’s, aka Iksar, first Twitter AMA after United in Storwinds’s launch, the Lead Designer gave his insights about the meta and other trending topics in the community. The highlighted points were:
- United in Stormwind’s low interaction Meta & Upcoming Nerfs.
- Powercreep inevitability.
- Hearthstone’s greatest challenge.
United in Stormwinds’s Meta & Upcoming nerfs
Questlines were the new thing in this last expansion, and as soon as the tavern opened, tons of players went to test this enhanced mechanic. Most of the Questlines involved a powerful, even game-ending, reward upon completion, so every deck builder aimed their efforts on supporting them. As an expected consequence, most games revolve around two players doing their own thing. “Solitaire Meta” has become a trending topic.
When asked in his AMA, Iksar acknowledged that “from-hand-only gameplay” was higher than the design team would like it to be. But, he also explained that this state of the Meta would soon change, and he gave two reasons for it. First of all, during the first week of every expansion, players tend to test whatever wacky combo decks they can think of. These “pretty bad decks” make players feel that their opponents’ strategies are overpowered.
On the other hand, Iksar made it clear that the team is meeting next Tuesday, less than a week from United in Stormwind’s release, to discuss balance changes to adjust the meta. Expansion cycles usually include a patch around 10 to 15 days after the launch. United in Stormwind would not escape the rule.
Moreover, he explained that there was no aim for an equally distributed aggro, combo, control, and midrange split. Every metagame should feel different, and this is what they intend for United in Stormwind expansion. The same applies to class representation. There should be playable decks for every class, but that does not mean a Tier 1 deck.
Is Powercreep inevitable? Could a mass Nerf be the answer?
Iksa’rs AMA continued with a controversial topic for many games: Powercreep. Why does it happen, and what does the Desing Team think about it? Despite this not being a United in Stormwind meta-specific problem, the Lead Designer gave an interesting insight. First of all, he mentions that the incremental power of every expansion is something natural in some way.
Power creep isn't intentional, but if our goal is to match current power level then in some ways yes, it's inevitable. If your goal is to match, then there will be some cards and strategies that miss on the low side, and some that miss on the high side. For the ones that miss on the high side, that becomes the new power-point to match. This goes on and on.
With this in mind, is there a way to solve the recurrent issue? Well, Iksar mentioned in his AMA that a mass nerf was not a crazy idea and that it has been discussed. As for timing, if this happens, it would most likely be during a year rotation, so no reason to panic yet.
Hearthstone’s Greatest Challenge
The conversation drifted away, but an important topic came up: Hearthstone’s greatest challenge. Right after an expansion and with United in Stormwind’s meta on the spotlight, this issue might not be perceived as urgent but is something always in the mind of game designers.
As the last take from Iksar’s AMA, we learn, how Hearthstone despite being an “old game”, needs to stay fresh and new. That’s something easier said than done. Battlegrounds was a breakthrough in that matter, however releasing content that needs to be supported in the long run adds more load to the truck, since it requires constant content updates.
This issue is not Hearthstone exclusive, and there is no real good answer out there. For Iksar, the key may lay in “finding new ways to leverage the content we're already creating (Expansions, BG updates, Mercenaries, etc). Just not an easy task to create something fresh and brand new feeling utilizing content originally crafted for a different experience.”
With this, we conclude this summary with the most important topics addressed on Iksar’s Twitter AMA. You can check the full thread here. Make sure to stay tuned to Esports.gg for Hearthstone’s latest news.