Dean Ayala (Iksar) value town interview summary

hearthstone 4 - Dean Ayala (Iksar) value town interview summary

This is a write up on all the key points of

I know the interview and some of it's content have been posted before but many people don't have an hour to watch the entire show.

Dean made a ton of interesting points and it would be a shame if team 5's somewhat rare communication would go unnoticed.

This write up is mostly paraphrasing Dean and the points are often out of order. Please listen to the interview and Deans actual words and intonation and refrain from taking these points out of context.


  • Dean has a new puppy. Doing this interview in his free time!

  • balance patch was mostly aimed at the longterm health of the game but they pay attention to the current state of the meta

  • goal was freeing up deck space, enabling more creativity without destroying existing play styles

  • classes having clear weaknesses is important as otherwise they would feel samey

  • they're currently playtesting set 1 and 2 of this year

  • resource generation will be much lighter post rotation (feeling more like original hearthstone)

  • it's challenging to give the current best deck new stuff to play with in an expansion without power creep or making it overpowered.

  • currently too many OTK decks out there, some worse than others in terms of game feel. Worst one: Mecha'thun priest. Signaling/ building up is important.

  • lack of resource wars (because of infinite resource generators like Rexxar) lead to OTK decks

  • they really liked dirty rat and we should expect more cards like that in the "short term future"

  • Dean would love to hear Keaton (Chakki) out there. Has to finish Blizzards media training first.


  • cold blood is still powerful and gonna be played in rogue

  • game design wise preparation is one of the most restrictive rogue spells but not necessarily in a terrible way

  • they talk a lot about preparation but didn't find a good reason to nerf it at the moment

  • cold blood was restrictive in that it made it difficult to print more through put/ damage spells without enabling a pure face/ burn deck

Read:  The recent designer insights are part of a larger balancing problem that team 5 has failed to address for a while now.


  • Shamans core identity is summoning totems and find ways to utilize them (flametongue, bloodlust, future cards)

  • not a lot of players notice that shamans care about battlecries

  • shamans are one of the most challenging to design for in terms of class identity because they do everything a bit (jack of all trades). So what are they not supposed to be good at?

  • Short term answer: shamans should be bad at generating resources ( probably no more Hagatha type cards).


  • Equality probably still gonna be used in upcoming control paladin decks

  • Equality "skipped" 3 mana nerf because it was the right thing to do in the long term.

  • If 3 mana was the right solution they probably would have adressed Baku with it.


  • Hunter's Mark and Rexxar are shoring up some weaknesses hunters should have

  • Hunters not supposed to be good at removing giant minions (as opposed to mage or rogue)

  • Hunters are good at doing face damage and playing beasts

  • Downside of Emerald Spellstone was supposed to be playing defensively by playing traps. Cards like Wandering Monster turned out to be more proactive (minion and trap in one)

Game Cost

  • part of the goal of toning down classic and basic cards is more expansion cards to see play

  • while exciting for really engaged audience he recognices it's a detriment for newer/ budget players

  • they don't want an insurmountable wall for new players. Making decks cheaper via super powerful classic/ basic cards would be a bad solution to that problem

  • That's why they're doing events, bundles, free legendaries at launch, new player experience, free golden login cards etc.

  • they're discussing the current reward structure of the game (end of season/ arena rewards etc.)

  • they're brainstorming ideas for additional reward systems (get stuff for playing beyond the daily quest). It's a long term project

Baku/ Genn

  • Genn/ Baku pose issues to having a super fun new year which feels different and has new strategies

  • They haven't landed on a solution yet. Keeping the spirit of the cards/decks while playing at a lower power level is difficult.

  • They want to have solved the problem by the time the next expansion comes around.

  • Consistency is part of the selling point of the archetypes.

  • when designing Baku/ Genn only odd warrior and paladin were thought to be the power outliers. Issue now is that there are 7 or 8 decks that are extremely powerful which makes it very difficult to design around.


  • Team 5 hears a lot about Barnes and they talk about it a lot (along with Baku and Genn)

  • Barnes decks are played more than their win rate would suggest > a lot of people seem to like playing them. It's not a balance concern it's a feels concern.

  • They don't wanna completely take away some peoples favorite archetype, especially in wild > what should they change?

  • difficult to keep tight class identities in wild (the few neutral healing cards each year eventually make heal hunter possible)

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