An interview with Hearthstone’s Cora “SongBird” Georgiou and Edward “Gallon” Goodwin about the Colossal and Dredge keywords, Naga minions, Voyage to the Sunken City decks, and the behind the scenes!
Voyage to the Sunken City is the next Hearthstone expansion! It’s scheduled to launch on April 12 and bring with it 135 new cards, the Naga minion type, plus the Colossal and Dredge keywords.
Introducing the Colossal and Dredge Keywords
The new Voyage to the Sunken City expansion will feature Colossal and Dredge as signature keywords. Minions with the Colossal keyword have extra appendages that work well with their main body. These appendages are also summoned with the main body even if the Colossal wasn’t played from one’s hand. Meanwhile, the Dredge keyword involves looking at three cards at the bottom of one’s deck and choosing one to bubble up topside.
These are really powerful cards you want to dredge up to make use of their effect as soon as possible.
New Hearthstone Keyword: Colossal
“I think Colossal might be the best keyword we've ever made outside of Discovery,” Gallon said. “So Colossal minions are minions that are just too big to fit onto just one card. So whenever you summon them—not just play them—whenever you summon them like if you recruit them or summon them in your deck, they will spawn with their extra appendages. And these are unique limbs that will play off the main body's textbox in very interesting ways.”
An example of the Colossal keyword at work is with Colaque. While Colaque's Shell is intact, Colaque will be immune.
Dredge - Voyage to the Sunken City's New Keyword
As for Dredge, Gallon revealed that it has storytelling aspects to it. “Dredge is a mechanic that definitely tells the stories of the adventures that we have in this set,” he said. “You know, they're trawling the bottom of the ocean to find these lost treasures of the Sunken City. And the way we capture that is by trawling the bottom of your deck.”
Gallon then noted how seeing the bottom three cards in one’s deck and selecting one to put on top works really well with the ‘Sunken’ cards. The Azsharan Sweeper is an example of this, as it puts a Sunken Sweeper at the bottom of one's deck.
“These are really powerful cards you want to dredge up to make use of their effect as soon as possible,” Gallon said.
The Naga Minion Type in Voyage to the Sunken City
Adventurers of the Voyage to the Sunken City expansion will meet a new type of Hearthstone minion. Hailing from the World of Warcraft universe, the Naga are a minion type that’s focused on spells. These minions also tend to give bonuses to those who play one or more spells while the Naga are in hand.
“The Naga are going to be a forever inclusion,” Songbird said. “Whenever we make Naga going forward, they will be tagged as a Naga and they will be able to, you know, take on the characteristics of the minion type that we have created here.”
The Naga's Design Insights
It’s also rare that a new minion type has functionality across the board, Songbird added. She referred to Elementals and Dragons as examples. Like those minions, the new minion type cares if a player has cast a spell while the Nega are in their hand. Although it may seem like a simple decision to have Naga minions and cast spells, Songbird noted that there’s an interesting level of decision-making involved that she hopes Hearthstone players will enjoy.
“In a lot of cases, we've tapped in the past into this idea of, you know, ‘do I play my thing right now? Because I have the opportunity, or do I hold on to it to get a benefit later on?’" Songbird explained. “And I think this is a really elegant way of representing that and sort of giving our players the opportunity to make that decision between playing a little bit greedy or to get more benefit out of your card or playing something when the opportunity arises.”
Mech Mage is coming back with a vengeance.
Gallon also weighed in with insights about the Naga minion type. He emphasized that the Naga are the most spell-focused minions the Hearthstone team has ever created.
“When designing these spell-based decks, a lot of times you want to play as many schools as possible in your deck,” Gallon said. “Let's say you build your deck running Incanter's Flow, for instance. And you kind of get punished for playing minions. What I really love about Naga is that they reward that weaving in of spell, Naga, spell, Naga, and just, you know, mixing it up. And it feels entirely new compared to the other two previous archetypes of spell-focused [decks]. So I think it's gonna play out really well.”
Hearthstone Voyage to the Sunken City decks
Songbird and Gallon aren’t only Hearthstone Game Designers. They have experience playing the game and being esports commentators. They shared their thoughts on Voyage to the Sunken City interactions and the types of decks they’re excited about for Hearthstone players to experience.
“There is one coming back that is a fan favorite,” Gallon said. “Mech Mage is coming back with a vengeance.” He added how he thinks that would be really fun for players.
And then we've got our adventures, which are coming in and bringing all sorts of technology and sort of foreign objects into the space. Cora "SongBird" Georgiou on Mech Mage in Voyage to the Sunken City
Songbird then revealed that she did some of the design work on Mech Mage and Mech decks in general.
“We've sort of got this dichotomy between the denizens of the sea like the Colossal creatures and the Naga, which are sort of the locals of this environment," Songbird said. "And then we've got our adventures, which are coming in and bringing all sorts of technology and sort of foreign objects into the space."
The dichotomy between the natural and the mechanical was cool to play off, and Songbirds hopes that players will be able to see some of that reflected in the Voyage to the Sunken City archetypes.
As for other deck archetypes, Gallon revealed that the Voyage to the Sunken City set is heavy on minion types. When exploring the bottom of the sea, there are all sorts of creatures.
“There's going to be some mercenaries like Pirates trawling the high seas as well,” Gallon said. “So it's a very minion type-focused set. That should be pretty apparent as more cards get revealed.”
Behind the Scenes of Voyage to the Sunken City
A deep dive into the depths is something new to Hearthstone, as the previous expansions featured topside locations.
"We've explored so many different locales above the water and you know, there's really wonderful stories to tell beneath the ocean as well,” SongBird said. She then shared how Charlène Le Scanff, one of the Hearthstone artists, did some underwater-themed concept artwork several years ago.
“And we just sort of kept coming back to it saying like, 'when is the right time to do this' and 'what's the story that we can tell to support this environment that we really want to explore in mechanics and in card art and designs and things of that nature,'” SongBird explained.
After a narrative focused on Hearthstone’s mercenaries, it felt like a great time to dive into a theme that was more limited in scope and not necessarily a full year-long narrative, according to Songbird. She added that it was great to be able to tell a story surrounded by this environment.
"...We can't really tell the story of Nazjatar and the Great Sundering without some of those iconic characters like Queen Azshara, who is so pivotal to the storyline."Cora "SongBird" Georgiou on Voyage to the Sunken City
Voyage to the Sunken City Characters
Compared to previous expansions like Forged in the Barrens, United in Stormwind, and Fractured in Alterac Valley, Voyage to the Sunken City takes place in a new habitat. However, the new Hearthstone expansion still stays true to its World of Warcraft roots. An event such as the Great Sundering and a character like Queen Azshara may be referenced in Voyage to the Sunken City.
“We've got some characters like Ambassador Faelin in the reveal cards who is, you know, new to Hearthstone,” Songbird said. “And then, like you said, we can't really tell the story of Nazjatar and the Great Sundering without some of those iconic characters like Queen Azshara, who is so pivotal to the storyline. So it's a nice mix of what we like to do, which is, you know, keep WoW sort of at the forefront of our minds and make sure that we're being authentic to the story that so many players already know.”
Songbird added how while it’s integral to think about the World of Warcraft universe, it’s also important for Hearthstone to adapt to it and tell generally more light-hearted stories.