An interview with Hearthstone’s Lead Designer Liv Breeden and UX/UI Designer Evan Freed about the Infuse keyword, Legendary suspects, the new Location card type and the behind the scenes of Murder at Castle Nathria!
Murder at Castle Nathria is the next Hearthstone expansion! It’s scheduled to launch on Aug. 2 and bring with it 135 new cards, the Infuse keyword, Legendary suspects and the new Location card type!
Hearthstone Lead Designer Liv Breeden and UX/UI Designer Evan Freed sat down with us for a chat about the new expansion!
The Story Behind Murder at Castle Nathria
Known for his deeds within the World of Warcraft Shadowlands expansion, Sire Denathrius is a key character in Murder at Castle Nathria. The premise in the Hearthstone expansion is that he threw a dinner party that was going swimmingly until he was murdered. Players must then solve the mystery while taking advantage of the latest cards and in-game mechanics.
“We've always wanted to do a murder mystery theme,” Breeden said. “And around the time when we started developing it, Shadowlands had been out for a little bit, I think, and people were just really excited by the idea of the gothic architecture of Revendreth.”
Unleashing Your Anima Through the Infuse Keyword
Breeden added how the Shadowlands location evoked vampiric vibes, oozing the flavor needed to build a mystery setting. This plays into the Infuse keyword as well, since these cards get upgraded into better versions of themselves after friendly minions get taken down.
“We wanted to capture that feeling from Warcraft where it's, you know, sucking out the Anima from fallen enemies,” Breeden revealed. Seeing a lower-powered Infused card transform into an upgraded version via Anima is exciting across multiple cards as well.
As for Freed, he is excited about what Murloc Holmes, a neutral Legendary, brings to the table. “He has this Battlecry where you're solving clues about cards in your opponent's deck in their hand that they've played already,” Free explained. “And the UI is really cool with it. We have this little magnifying glass pop up when he's summoned. And then there's this cool banner that leads you through what clues he's trying to solve.”
Legendary Suspects and Board Synergies
In addition to Murloc Holmes, the new Hearthstone expansion doesn’t disappoint with its 10 new Legendary class minions. Among them are ones such as Decimator Olgra and Baroness Vashj. Decimator Olgra is a familiar face as she is also Mankrik's Wife.
Freed is excited about Baroness Vashj as well, who is a new Shaman Legendary minion. “She has this ability where if she would transform into another minion, you summon a minion instead,” Freed explained. “And there's some cool synergies with her Location — Muck Pools — that transforms the friendly minion into one that costs more.”
Primordial Wave, Baroness Vashj’s covenant spell, can transform minions for additional synergy. “It can transform minions, so you get this really cool interaction where you summon Baroness Vashj and you transform her a bunch of times, but really you're filling up the board with these more powerful minions as you go along,” Freed added.
To Breeden, what’s really exciting is how these three cards all tie together to capture the murder mystery experience from board games. Breeden added how while it’s exciting to play as Murloc Holmes, it’s also fun to see the other side in terms of character motives. Players can look forward to seeing how the story unfolds through their own actions as well.
It's a super new space for us, and it's something that we've been trying to capture for a while.
All About the Location Card Type
As for the Location card type, Breeden noted that it’s something brand new to explore in Hearthstone. “It's a super new space for us, and it's something that we've been trying to capture for a while,” Breeden said. “This is something that you can throw out on the field and feel good about investing the mana because it's very difficult to get rid of Locations for your opponents.”
A couple of Location cards include Muck Pools and Sanguine Depths. The Muck Pools card, in particular, transforms a friendly minion into one that costs one more mana.
“Once you use it, it goes on cooldown for a turn,” Breeden said. “So when your next turn rolls around, it'll still be closed up. And then the turn after, it'll open up and you can use it again. So it's not so much like, ‘I have to use this all the time,’ it's like you still have to be really smart and strategic about when to use it.”
I'll be honest, I've been trying to get 40-card decks in for a little while.
Murder at Castle Nathria Release Date
Hearthstone’s Murder at Castle Nathria is scheduled to launch on Aug. 2, and Breeden is excited about the Prince Renathal Legendary. This neutral card allows players to begin with 40 health instead of the usual 30. What’s more, it lets players have 40 cards in their deck. This mechanic hasn’t been explored in deck building yet, according to Breeden.
“I'll be honest, I've been trying to get 40-card decks in for a little while,” Breeden revealed. “But final design is like, ‘that's just a bad card, nobody's gonna play it.’"
However, the Hearthstone team found a way to make it enticing in terms of adding 10 more health and playing with more of one’s collection despite building a potentially less consistent deck.
As players anticipate the launch of Murder at Castle Nathria, they can also look forward to familiar faces and some of their favorite characters who may pop up within the expansion. According to Freed, there are Easter eggs in the cards and flavor text. He’s excited about players putting together the overall mystery.