Practice English Speaking&Listening with: BlizzConline 2021 - Hearthstone: Year of the Gryphon Deep Dive

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Hello, everyone, and welcome

to the Year of the Gryphon deep dive

here at BlizzCon Live.

I'm Brian Kibler, and joining me today to talk all things Gryphon

is Hearthstone Game Director Ben Lee.

Ben, how are you doing? Are you as excited as I am about this?

I'm great.

I'm super excited to show and talk about

all the new things that we're working on.

It's going to be a big year for us

and we hope you're going to enjoy it.

There's already been a lot revealed so far.

The Year of the Gryphon, which is going to usher in

the newest phase of Hearthstone.

We're looking at a new core set,

a classic format,

a new expansion that brings us back to the Barrens,

kicking off a year-long celebration

into the roots of Warcraft.

And on top of all of that,

another new game mode in Mercenaries,

which I know I can't wait to hear more about.

That's right, this year's story is about going back

to the roots of Warcraft.

It's a bit different in terms of how we deliver the story.

Rather than a specific year-long narrative,

we're telling small stories

about individual characters that make up a bigger whole.

So there's ten brand new characters

and they will feature across all of our game modes.

We'll tell their story through single-player,

which we'll be telling more about later in the show also.

All right, so the obvious next question is

who are these ten characters

and how do they play a part in all this?

We're not ready to reveal too much about who they are,

but we will be showing you one of them in our deep dive video

for the Forged In The Barrens expansion,

which I'll throw over to the game designers,

Liv Breeden and Joe Killion, to tell you more about.

Welcome, everyone.

Remember to keep your tusks

and hands inside the tower at all times

and absolutely no spells of any class.

I'm your fearless, battle-ready tour guide, Joe Killion.

And I'm your trainee guide, Liv Breeden.

Er, it's my first day, so cut me some slack, okay?

(LAUGHS) She's kidding!

We don't cut slack out here.

Which reminds me... (CLEARS THROAT)

By attending this tour, you agree not to hold us responsible

for any injuries sustained, including but not limited to

kobold impalements, raptor bites,

centaur-rating parties, harpy eye-pecking,

or just falling off this tower.

Has that ever happened?

Just ask my last tour.

SCREAMING

Well, before we begin our tour,

please direct your attention to this brief orientation video.

DRAMATIC MUSIC

NARRATOR: For a hero of the Horde...

...all roads lead to the crossroads.

You have come for adventure.

But the Barrens wants to break you.

Your axe...

CHANTING

...must be sharp.

Your wits...

...must be keen.

And your heart...

CHANTING

...must be mighty.

GROWLING

CHANTING

Strength...

...and honor.

This is who we are.

CHANTING

WOMAN: For the Horde!

Forged In The Barrens is Hearthstone's latest expansion.

This vast, sun-scorched land brings discovery and danger

beyond your imagination's grasp!

The Barrens is the anvil upon which the Horde as we know it

was founded.

It's a place where eager-eyed mercenaries

can begin their journey to greatness,

embarking on treacherous paths

to sharpen their skills and weapons

as they forge ahead.

Speaking of which, I think I see

one of Hearthstone's newest mercenaries

out on the crossroads.

Bru'kan!

LIV: Bru'kan is a Shaman legendary minion

that gives your nature spells +3 damage.

But what's a nature spell, you ask?

New to Hearthstone are spell schools.

Just like minion types,

spells that fall into one of seven schools

will get a new classification.

Spell schools include arcane, fell, fire, frost,

nature, holy and shadow!

Some classes, like Mage,

have access to multiple spell schools.

Let's try it out!

JOE: Chain Lightning is a Shaman nature spell.

It deals 2 damage to a minion and a random adjacent one.

But there's more!

It's also a rank spell,

meaning it upgrades when you have 5 mana

and again at 10 mana.

Rank spells grow in power as the match progresses,

so they remain useful in the early, mid and late game.

JOE: Sometimes it's worth holding out a little bit longer

to use one of these spells.

The results can be quite... shocking.

SQUEALING

Sounds like those quilboar didn't learn their lesson.

Hey, Liv, aren't you a warlock?

Well, I don't want to brag or anything, but...

LIV: Rank spells can be rather impressive, like Imp Swarm.

It's a fell warlock spell that summons a 3/2 Demon.

Since it's also a rank spell,

it continues to improve at 5 and 10 mana.

The more mana in play,

the more impact you'll have.

Now is the part of the tour

where I like to point out some of my favorite sites.

Ooh!

Wow!

All I see are a bunch of rock formations.

Yeah, but most people take them for granted.

DRUM FLOURISH

SCREAMING

Look! Someone needs our help!

She's surrounded! We've got to do something!

Do what? She's a goner.

Nothing left to do but let out a Desperate Prayer.

This holy priest spell restores 5 health to each hero.

It might be just what you need

to get out of a prickly situation.

Ooh.

SQUELCHING

I don't think I'm cut out for this, Joe.

Do you think she's going to be okay?

Of course!

When the Barrens gets the best of you,

you can always pay a visit to the Spirit Healer!

Spirit Healer is a neutral minion

that benefits from a specific spell school.

After you cast a holy spell,

give a random friendly minion 2 health.

LIV: Yeah, but I don't think that's going to help

that poor troll.

WEEPING

Joe, do you hear somebody weeping?

Like the longing cry of a heartbroken lover,

desperate and alone?

In the Barrens, always.

That's Mankrik.

Hey, buddy, cheer up! We'll find her!

Mankrik is a legendary neutral minion

who got separated from his wife during a quilboar attack

and he can't find her.

Rumor has it she was last seen somewhere in your deck.

What did she look like?

She's about yay big,

greenish, looks kind of like a pin cushion full of quills.

You can't miss her.

I think I found her!

Yeah, we might want to give them some space.

That's the Barrens, though. It's tough.

Will you get attacked out here? Probably.

-Will it be painful? -Will it?

Absolutely!

But every battle you survive is a lesson learned.

Just take it from Blademaster Samuro!

LIV: He's a legendary neutral minion with rush.

But there's more!

JOE: The Barrens have hardened him.

He laughs in the face of danger

with Hearthstone's newest keyword, frenzy!

LIV: The first time one of these minions survives damage,

they go into a frenzy!

In Samuro's case,

he deals his attack damage

to all enemy minions.

When you pick a fight in the Barrens,

you better be ready to finish it,

otherwise you could wind up

with an even bigger problem on your hands.

It's plain to see with Druid of the Plains!

LIV: The Druid of the Plains is a Druid minion with frenzy

that transforms into a 6/7 Kodo with taunt.

-Crikey! -You can say that again!

But please don't.

There's plenty of wildlife in the Barrens

that would be pleased to eat you,

like this Sunscale Raptor!

It's a hunter minion with frenzy

that will shuffle another Sunscale Raptor into your deck

with a permanent +1/+1.

Folks, hold onto your hats! I can't believe this!

I heard he was in the Barrens.

I didn't think the rumors were true!

This minion was prepared for Illidan.

I heard Ragnaros looks under his bed for this minion.

Annoy-o-Tron doesn't bother him.

A minion that needs no introduction,

the myth, the legend...

BOTH: The Peon!

PEON: What do you want?

LIV: Zug-zug, something does need doing!

Don't underestimate the backbone of the Horde.

He's got frenzy.

If he survives damage,

he'll add a random spell from your class into your hand.

Well, can he help us get out of here? This place isn't safe!

Look down there. We're surrounded by Razormane Raiders!

By what?

Razormane Raiders!

Now you've got it!

The Razormane Raider is a neutral minion

who will attack a random enemy when he goes into a frenzy.

Well, folks, that's just about it for our tour.

Oh, thank Yogg!

No lie, you're the best tour group I've ever had.

Everyone give yourselves a hand!

-Where did you get that? -It's a souvenir!

And we have a special souvenir

for anyone who thinks they can brave the Barrens.

Starting today,

players that log in will receive a free legendary card,

Shadow Hunter Vol'jin!

When you play Vol'jin,

you can swap a minion from your board with one in your hand,

or make your opponent swap one of theirs.

Thanks for joining us.

Please use the handrail as you descend the tower,

exit through the gift shop...

And put yourself to the test.

Do you have what it takes to be

Forged In The Barrens?

I don't think I'm cut out for this, Joe.

What? You're doing great!

Most trainees are eaten on their first day.

CRUNCHING

Forged In The Barrens.

I've got to say, I love this take on classic Warcraft.

As someone who played not only a lot of Hearthstone,

but a lot of World Of Warcraft,

having things like Mankrik and his wife in there,

that's a call-back I love.

We're huge fans of the Warcraft license, obviously.

Hearthstone has its own characters and its own identity,

but it's very rooted and grounded in Warcraft,

and we want to make sure we're delivering on that

over this next year.

So we're really excited to see how players react to it

and I think this trailer specifically, it's super epic,

and I think it's my favorite of all time.

It's definitely cool to have all the lore and everything,

but I like to play the game, too,

and I'm really excited to see the cards

and also see how those cards interact with the new core set.

Because as someone who has been

a very vocal advocate

of the idea of a core set for a long time...

- Really? - (LAUGHS)

I don't think I've heard Brian talk about that. Have you guys?

-I don't believe you. -No.

But, no, it's going to be really cool

to see what that means and how all these cards interact.

So what can you tell me about that,

as well as the upcoming classic format?

The core set is super interesting.

It's a big revolution for standard

and we're really excited to see the effect it has on the game.

Some things you know and love are still there,

but some things that have become staples

are going to go out, too.

Variety, I think,

is one of the biggest and strongest parts of Hearthstone,

making for different experiences,

and the classic set and the basic set,

they have done awesome work for the game, they really have,

but it's time for something new.

And to give you more information about that now,

we're going to hand over to game designers

Ryan Masterson and Alec Dawson.

Thanks, Ben. Hi, everyone.

I'm Ryan Masterson,

a game designer on the Hearthstone team.

And I'm Alec Dawson, senior game designer on Hearthstone.

We're here to give you a closer look

at the new core set in classic format.

Ryan, give us the rundown. What's the core set?

Well, we'll be replacing our basic and classic card sets

with a single set of 235 cards known as the core set.

This new core set is a revamped take on well-known cards

from basic, classic and wild

that are buffed, revived and revolutionized,

plus the addition of 29 completely new cards.

We're looking to better match the set with modern gameplay.

We also want to provide newer players

with a strong starting point for their collection.

And we want to create a structure that can change

and shake things up from year to year.

One way that we're modernizing the set

is by not carrying forward

some of the weaker and more redundant cards,

like Frostwolf Grunt and Goldshire Footman.

Many of these cards don't serve

a significant purpose for the set.

We also want to make the game more approachable

for returning players

or players stepping into the tavern for the first time.

And this is something we're going to be updating yearly,

so it gives us a lot of flexibility

and tools to work with

when building out new archetypes for our classes.

Access to the core set is completely free, correct?

All earned completely free.

Just like the basic set of cards,

you'll gain access to the core set

as you level up each class in game.

We want to make this easy, even for newer players.

Much like the basic cards,

you'll earn access to all of the cards for each class

by the time you reach level 10 within.

Neutrals will unlock alongside these class levels,

with all of those being unlocked

before even needing to unlock all the class ones.

If you've played Hearthstone before

and already hit these milestones, great!

Your collection will be automatically updated

to include the new core set cards when it launches.

New players will be able to earn the cards

for each class quite easily.

If you're looking for all the details,

please check out the core set blog.

And no matter how you look at it,

there's never been a better time to play Hearthstone.

I think it's time we start looking at

what exactly the core set entails.

A lot of fan favorites are sticking around.

Let's talk about those first.

Fireball and Tirion Fordring.

So, when you're choosing which cards to keep in the core set,

why Fireball, why Tirion Fordring, why something else?

Yeah, there's a lot of favorites

and familiar staples that are sticking around.

We do want to mix things up

and we also want to make sure that each class

is still recognizable and well-defined.

With all that in mind, Fireball and Tirion are examples of cards

that fit well and they're still around.

In total, a little more than half of the reworked core set

are returning basic and classic cards.

And we'll also have some iconic wild favorites

moving into the core set.

For this year, Tomb Pillager and Annoy-o-Tron

are going to be in the core set.

Ryan, when you're looking at which cards to bring

back into standard,

what are you thinking?

There's a lot of reasons that we would want

some of these wild cards to come into the core set.

For starters, we get to see these cards

used in a new context,

something different than when they were originally released.

It's a known card

but in an unknown format and that's a cool dynamic.

Tomb Pillager is a great fit with that in mind

and can potentially mesh with and enable strategies

that will be available in the new standard environment.

We also get to introduce newer players

to some favorites of old.

Maybe a card has great class effects.

Or maybe an older card can help enable new archetypes.

Or in some cases,

maybe they're just timeless pieces of Hearthstone,

like Annoy-o-Tron,

and now we get to see it in more Hearthstone games.

I'm so excited for Annoy-o-Tron to come back.

It's one of my favorite cards.

"Hello, hello" as much as we can.

Okay, so as mentioned earlier,

some of the core set also includes familiar faces

with some big updates.

We saw serious value in keeping

some of these cards in standard rotation,

but recognized the need to bus some underperforming cards,

and this new core set was the perfect opportunity for that.

Assassinate, one of rogue's basic cards,

is getting an update.

As well as Menagerie Warden,

a Druid card in wild that's gone into the core set.

Yeah, Assassinate,

it's one of the many simple cards that does a great job

communicating class fantasy and identity.

But it's more than just a little bit weak.

Even as an unconditional baseline effect,

it's never really seen play.

These are the type of buff opportunities

that we've looked for.

We think this will raise the floor of power for new players

and start their collection off on a good footing,

without invalidating cards and strategies from expansion sets.

There are also some wild cards that did something

we wanted to include in the core set,

but in some cases didn't do it well enough

to fit with the modern game.

Menagerie Warden is one of them

and it's been adjusted to be cheaper, slightly smaller

and overall more powerful and fluid.

All these well-known cards will do a great job

of creating building blocks

for the future standard gameplay.

But there's a few big things left to talk about,

including lots of changes in Shaman,

brand new cards, and the revamp of the legendary Dragons.

And let's start with Shaman.

So you told me that Shamans gain a new totem

in their hero power pool,

as well as some changes to cards with Overload.

Shaman is seeing more changes in the core set

than many of the other classes,

including that change to their hero power.

Cards that fit well will remain,

and in some cases have been adjusted

to be more consistent role-players

in Shaman's toolkit.

Among those are the Overload cards Feral Spirit,

Lightning Storm and Earth Elemental,

which have each been buffed.

Shaman's hero power is also seeing a minor change.

It will still summon 1 of 4 random totems,

but Wrath of Air totem will be removed and replaced.

It will be replaced by the new Strength totem,

which can buff your other minions,

including the other basic totems,

and turn them into combat threats to battle enemy ones,

or even threaten the enemy hero

in a way that makes them much less ignorable

as a group than they used to be.

It's so exciting, so many changes coming to Shaman.

I'm especially excited for buffed Lightning Storm.

That sounds great.

I think it's something that players have been asking for

for quite a long time.

But enough about Shaman.

Let's talk about brand new cards

that are coming to core for the first time.

So out with the old and in with the new.

Let's kick it off with the legendary Rogue minion,

Vanessa VanCleef.

RYAN: Vanessa VanCleef is the daughter of Edwin VanCleef

and is taking his place in the core set,

just like she took his place

as the leader of the Defias Brotherhood.

Unlike Edwin, she's not much of a brawler.

She is much more tactical in her approach

and skilled at making poisons,

especially those that attack the mind.

In Hearthstone terms, all of this combines

to create a very powerful

and skill-testing new legendary card,

capable of turning your opponent's power against them.

Now let's take a look at the new Shaman minion, Novice Zapper.

ALEC: An early game spell-damage minion for Shaman.

Novice Zapper plays well with damage spells

when you're going for a lethal

or casting that buffed Lightning Storm.

One of our early goals for the core set

was to give each class a one-drop

that tells you what our classes are about.

So Novice Zapper hits on both

the Overload and spell damage seams going on in Shaman,

making it a really great addition overall for the class.

Kicking it over to Warlock,

we have a new discard inclusion, Felsoul Jailer.

RYAN: The Felsoul Jailer is a new 5 mana Warlock minion

that can lock up an opponent's card

until they can get rid of the Jailer itself.

With the right timing or with clever play,

it can deny an opponent's play long enough to secure a victory.

The last completely new card we have to show today

is the neutral legendary minion, Overlord Runthak.

ALEC: Overlord Runthak is here to rally your minions,

bringing handbuffings energies into the core set.

Handbuffs are something we talk about all the time on the team

as being a very standard part of Hearthstone now.

It's kind of core to the Hearthstone gameplay.

So we wanted to provide a solid card in the core set

for future handbuff decks to use.

This makes it easier for us to design into these strategies

without having to craft new handbuffing cards

every time we want to explore the archetype.

So while all these cards are seriously awesome,

Ben introduced something earlier

that might just take your breath away

and replace it with fire.

We're excited to introduce a completely refreshed look

at the legendary Dragons.

The legendary Dragon cards from the classic set

are an iconic cycle

and some of our favorite Hearthstone cards.

They're big and powerful, but for many of these cards,

they haven't seen play for a long time

and we wanted to breathe some new life into them.

Ysera fits this category

and the new version will give players the opportunity

to more consistently take advantage

of her powerful Dream cards.

In some other cases, the Dragon may have seen more recent play,

but only in very niche deck styles or OTK style decks.

And for Malygos especially,

that's been his entire identity for a long time.

Malygos's new version is more different than the original

but leaves no doubt that he is indeed the very aspect of magic.

Ultimately, we've created new versions

of these legendary Dragon cards

because we think they're awesome.

We hope existing and new players alike

will have all new reasons

to fall in love with these characters

the same way that we have.

Brand new cards, changes to the legendary Dragons,

there's so much coming into the core set, I'm really excited.

But a lot of you are probably thinking,

"What's happening to all my basic and classic cards?"

Okay, so as mentioned earlier,

some of these iconic cards are staying in core,

while others will be rotating into wild.

But there's actually one new place

you'll be able to play them,

our classic format.

That's right.

While we're looking at Hearthstone's future,

we're also recognizing Hearthstone's past,

and the classic format is our take on that.

With the new classic format,

you'll be able to relive the early Hearthstone experience

with iconic cards and combos from launch.

This mode brings back cards in their original forms,

reverting any alterations so the cards appear

in their original state.

Leeroy Jenkins, back to 4 mana.

Blade Flurry, 2 mana and a hit space.

RYAN: It will be introduced to the game

as part of an overall adjustment to playable formats.

Classic, standard, wild and casual

will be the four main formats available to players.

Classic's reward systems, rank systems and seasons

function the same as standard and wild,

and classic cards will appear in their own section

within the collection manager.

RYAN: With the new classic format,

players will have the opportunity

to travel back in time

and revisit some of Hearthstone's brightest stars

in their earliest incarnations.

And with the new core set, players will earn a card set

curated specifically for today's gameplay experiences.

There's never been a better time to play Hearthstone.

Thank you for hanging out with us today

on our deep dive all about Hearthstone's new core set.

We can't wait to welcome you into the classic format,

and get your hands on the new core set

when the Year of the Gryphon begins.

Wow! There's a lot to talk about coming out of that.

Obviously, some cards going away,

some cards coming in from other sets.

Annoy-o-Tron can say hello once more!

Or twice more, as the case may be.

But obviously I'm someone

who's been super passionate about the idea of a core set

for a very long time, and this kind of hits all the boxes

of keeping the game fresh every year.

This isn't just,

"Okay, we're revamping the classic and basic sets,"

this is, "We are changing

the way that the core experience of Hearthstone works

such that every year it's going to be updated by itself."

Yes, absolutely.

One of the things we want to do, as well,

is make sure that we're providing building blocks

throughout the year.

When we think about expansions,

different archetypes for different classes,

there's not always the base cards

for you to have to put into those,

which means we might need to dedicate an entire class's cards

to just one archetype, which isn't the most exciting thing.

Having variety is one of the big strengths of Hearthstone.

Having a core set that we can edit every year,

make new, make fresh,

it gives us extra building blocks.

One of the examples of that

is we have a card which does handbuff for you,

which is a legendary neutral minion.

And that means that you can support other cards

that are playing into the mechanic

without needing to have tons of them in your class set.

Not only that, but this is also something that is free

every single year for every player.

There's obviously been some discussion

regarding the cost

and the difficulty of collecting things in Hearthstone,

and this is a complete refresh of every player's collection

with a bunch of new stuff that they can use every single year.

Absolutely.

We've made some big steps over the last couple of years

in terms of approachability of the game.

We made some changes last year in terms of no duplicates.

I think it really makes card packs feel more rewarding

and more generous.

We would encounter these problems where

there are unlucky people out there.

The scale of Hearthstone is so big

that there was some guy out there

who would get ten epics of the same one,

and we wanted to make sure that that person

has a good experience.

We also gave returning players

free decks and those were meta-competitive decks.

So this year, we thought about it,

"What can we do that's more?"

And the core set hits a whole bunch of boxes, like you said.

It makes the game more approachable,

but I think it just makes it more fun

and more engaging for existing players also.

You don't just have the same cards you've been up against

every single year.

There's still some of them, of course.

There's no reason to get rid of Tirion or Fireball,

these are cool cards that

satisfy the fantasy of being a Mage

or this major character in Hearthstone.

But maybe someday they won't be in the core set for a year,

but they can come back, and that's one of the things

that's great about this idea.

Can we take a step back for a second

from the core set specifically

and sort of talk a little bit more

about the collection system at Hearthstone,

because there's obviously been a lot of discussion

in the community,

especially with respect to the Tavern Pass, this past year.

I was wondering if you could share the team's thoughts

on how that has been going and your plans for the future.

So, we've been listening to a lot of player feedback

and we've already made changes to the system.

We've made it give more gold, more rewards in general.

We've also made it easier to complete, as well.

These are really important things.

We want the Tavern Pass to feel great

and for players to really engage with it

and feel rewarded for their time.

So when you look at the end of the pass, post level 50,

it actually requires a lot less experience

per amount of gold that you get.

That's something we're looking at transitioning to

for the majority of the track.

We want players to feel their progression,

get those rewards more quickly.

And also, on top of that, there are these situations

where players just need 10 gold or 20 gold,

and we've been very mindful of that.

That's really great feedback

and we look for that kind of feedback

when we're looking at different forums

and different reactions from our players.

And we want to make sure that those players

that are just missing that little bit of gold

for that extra arena ticket or for that extra pack,

that there's some way for them to get that, too.

So once we've done these changes, as well,

we're really open to your feedback

and we want to hear more from you as our players, as well.

All right, well, obviously tons of changes coming

that I'm super excited about.

And I feel pretty happy to be involved

in announcing this core set

after everything I've done to proselytize for it

over the years.

But there's a bunch of new cards coming from that, as well.

And I expect we'll be seeing them soon?

Yeah, absolutely.

I mean, we revealed a few of the cards today,

three during the opening ceremony,

some of our legendary Dragons.

Excited for those. A personal favorite of mine.

I love Deathwing. His original classic version is super cool.

And the new version,

it kind of keeps the spirit of the card.

It does something similar but

it's more up-to-date and competitive

for what Hearthstone is today.

So we're really excited to see them,

and we can't wait to show you more,

which is going to be coming very soon, in fact, later this week.

All right, well, I love me some big dragons,

but I also love formats that are not standard, as well.

We have this whole revamp to the core set

and, of course, the classic format coming out.

But there's also the game modes.

Hearthstone has a ton of ways to play now,

so can you talk a little bit about

what's coming to Battlegrounds and Duels in the future?

Absolutely.

We've spent a huge amount of effort

investing in our new game modes.

We've really been making them as delivery systems for content.

So we've done that groundwork, and for the Year of the Gryphon,

we're going to be concentrating

on making new content for them.

So to give you more information for one of those game modes now,

we're going throw things over to Alec Dawson

to give you more info about Battlegrounds.

Hey, everyone. I'm back with an update on Battlegrounds.

Looking back, the Year of the Phoenix

was our first full year with Battlegrounds

and it proved to be a wild ride.

From dastardly dragons, to perilous pirates,

to electrifying elementals,

we kept the mode fresh with new heroes,

minions and minion types.

Most recently, we've seen Bob visit the Darkmoon Faire

for a new spell system, the Darkmoon Prizes.

The Year of the Gryphon promises even more shenanigans

as we swing by to visit bartender Bob.

We're committing more than ever

to keeping Battlegrounds a fun and thriving mode

for our players.

There are significant balance updates just around the corner

as we kick off the Year of the Gryphon,

and we can expect to see some of our new mercenaries

make an appearance as playable Battlegrounds heroes.

We've also got plenty of plans for new minion types

entering Battlegrounds.

It's going to be an absolutely packed year.

So, how about a quick look at our next minion type now?

In 20.2, we'll be introducing

our first Battlegrounds exclusive minion type,

quilboar.

From the magical thorn collars of Bristleback

to the Scouts of Razormane,

this fearless minion type knows how to dish out some hurt.

Oh, yeah, and then there's that guy.

He's just soaking up some rays.

Currently, we're still in development

and finalizing a lot of the details,

but their gameplay will revolve around

generating and taking advantage of their own resource.

They're feeling really unique so far

and we can't wait for you to get your hands on this prickly group

in a few months.

Expect to hear more from us on the updates

coming to Battlegrounds soon.

Well, I'm sure like so many of you at home,

I've been enjoying Battlegrounds a ton

over the past year and a half or so,

and I'm even more excited to see

where it goes in the future with stuff like quilboar.

BEN: I love the quilboars. Their art is awesome.

It's some of the best we've made.

But it isn't the only game mode

that we're putting focus on throughout the year.

Take Duels as an example.

It's getting some major content updates

in the Year of the Gryphon.

We'll be adding more heroes to Duels.

But don't worry, you won't lose any of the progress

or the unlocks you have on your existing characters.

These are just going to be additional characters

like you might be familiar with from Battlegrounds.

Then, of course, there's Book of Heroes,

the single player adventures that players have gone on,

learning the stories of characters like Jaina,

Rexxar, Garrosh, or my boy Uther.

BEN: We're going to continue telling the stories

and finish up the Book of Heroes

with all ten of the main classes of Hearthstone.

And up next is Valeera Sanguinar.

But beyond that, we also have the Book of Mercenaries coming,

which will be telling the story

of those ten characters that we keep mentioning.

They're really grounded in Warcraft lore

and we want to make sure that

they get their own unique moments.

And they'll also be supported by

additional content throughout the game

for the various game modes.

We're really excited to tell their stories

and we hope you're going to love those characters.

BRIAN: We talked a lot about mercenaries,

and we talked about

there being a new game mode called Mercenaries.

So they're obviously going to be involved in that.

-Yep. -What can you tell me about it?

Mercenaries is a big addition coming to Hearthstone.

We kind of have this term internally,

we think about premier gamers.

Battlegrounds, it's a huge part of Hearthstone.

Obviously traditional, standard and wild Hearthstone,

that's the other one.

But that's been there since the start.

Mercenaries is our new kind of premier edition to the game.

We've really put a huge amount of effort into it

and we want to make sure it's an awesome, fun experience.

In terms of what it specifically is,

it takes a lot of different elements from different games.

We're really inspired by our peers

and by all the other games out there.

We love Hearthstone and, as a team,

we play a huge amount of it.

But we also play other games, too.

And we're really inspired by tactical RPGs and by roguelikes.

And Mercenaries takes elements

from both of these kind of categories.

So in terms of the combat and the way it plays out,

you have these characters and these heroes,

and in terms of how you compare it to Hearthstone,

it's almost like having three heroes

instead of your one hero where you play cards.

Your heroes have abilities

and you then decide which abilities to use

against your opponent,

obviously trying to create powerful combos and synergies.

And the way you encounter that combat

is you progress through a map.

And those of you familiar with roguelikes out there,

it's kind of a traditional map

where you progress through different encounters.

Some of them might be combat,

some of them might be other things,

interesting things to do along the way.

The really cool thing about Mercenaries, though,

is that the progression is permanent.

So when you're going through a mission,

you get to keep the experience you've earned

or the items that you've earned.

It's really awesome in the fact that you're playing through,

you might have these really cool characters,

like Ragnaros, Jaina and Illidan in the same team.

It's a pretty crazy combination.

And there's even more wild things than that in there.

But at the end of it,

you get to take all the rewards they earn home with them

and improve them.

So if you struggle and don't complete a level,

then maybe the next time you will

because your characters have improved.

So you talk about how you're going through these missions,

you're leveling up, gaining these rewards,

is this something that uses your collection at all,

or is it completely separate?

It's completely separate.

So you're going to have these characters

and they're kind of outside of

the normal Hearthstone collection,

much like Battlegrounds is outside

of the normal Hearthstone

and it's kind of its own thing.

We really think about Hearthstone

as kind of a platform for card games.

That's where we've been evolving more towards.

And, honestly, going back to even before I joined the team,

Hearthstone's always been that way a little bit.

When you think about arena, wild and standard,

and then single player additions to that, as well,

they're really almost...

there is some interconnectivity.

And I think a good way to look at that right now

is the reward track.

So when you're thinking about Mercenaries in the future,

it's going to link into the reward track.

So we want to make sure that,

however you want to play the game,

that is something we're very committed to,

however you want to play the game,

you're rewarded for what you want to play.

And we made big changes to the reward track

to adhere to that for Battlegrounds players.

You talk about different multiplayer game modes,

the single player game modes.

Is this a single player or a multiplayer game mode?

It's a bit of both.

There's a lot of single player

in terms of when you think about the ratio

of how much you're going to do.

The majority of leveling up

you're going to do with your characters

and the progression is going to be single player.

But we do want there to be multiplayer in it also.

So we hope it will turn out to be

highly skill-based battles between players.

There's a lot of decision-making.

There's definitely less randomness

than in traditional Hearthstone.

There's still going to be some random outcomes.

Like you can imagine a character like Ragnaros,

his iconic deal 8 damage to a random target,

that's something we're going to lean into

with a character like that.

But somebody like Illidan is probably very precise,

has a skill which you know the outcome of it

and how it's going to work out.

We have characters like Jaina and Illidan

and all these in addition to the ten mercenaries,

so there's characters new and old across Warcraft.

Absolutely.

So in terms of the old characters,

we've mentioned a few of those already,

but another one that's coming is Tirion Fordring.

He's got a really storied history

and he's wielder of one of the most iconic weapons in the game,

the Ashbringer.

But we also have the mercenaries themselves.

And if you look at the Forged in the Barrens trailer,

the star of the show is Rikara.

She's awesome. She's this powerful orc warrior.

And, of course, she has the best thing, a cute pet dog.

All right. I'm sold. I'm sold. All right.

Well, Mercenaries, it sounds awesome.

When can we learn more? When can we get our hands on this?

So, we're not quite ready to talk about the dates yet,

but we do want to make sure

we release Mercenaries later this year.

And, of course, we're going to be keeping you all up to date

with as much information as we can.

Well, that is the final piece of news

we have to share with you today.

-But it's been a lot. -Yeah.

We have the Year of the Gryphon coming

with Forged in the Barrens.

We have the all new core set, the classic format.

We have updates coming to Duels

and Battlegrounds and Book of Heroes,

the all new Book of Mercenaries,

and then this new Mercenaries format.

There's just a lot going on at Hearthstone this year.

It's a huge amount of stuff.

We've been putting a huge amount of effort into making sure

there's always new things for you to come and do

whenever you want to play Hearthstone.

Speaking of which, make sure to log in today

to claim your free legendary for Forged in the Barrens,

Shadow Hunter Vol'jin.

And visit the shop to claim your 30 years of Blizzard card back.

That card back is really unique.

It's pretty different than anything we've done,

so please let us know if you like it.

Man, this has been seriously awesome.

Thank you so much for joining me today.

And thank you to the rest of the Hearthstone team

for making this all possible.

Really appreciate it.

And thank you so much to you, all of our players.

We're really happy to be able to share

all of the exciting news coming for Hearthstone.

Make sure to stay tuned

for our card reveals coming later in the season,

and later this week, for all of our core set cards.

Well, my favorite, card reveals.

Anyway, I'm sure you can't wait for that at home.

Thank you all so much for watching this deep dive

and we'll see you all in the Year of the Gryphon.

The Description of BlizzConline 2021 - Hearthstone: Year of the Gryphon Deep Dive