The Story Behind Hearthstone’s New Death Knight Class

Oh my God So we've been thinking about uh when do We do another class we did Demon Hunter And very thrilled with how that went a Hero that you never thought you'd see so The the question was okay do we when do We do another new class and we thought The time was right to do Death Knight Foreign So we started actually way earlier than We normally would one of the things we Learned from Demon Hunter was just how Much work it was to designing a new Class from scratch and getting their Core mechanics right so much would have To get adjusted if some of those core Mechanics changed so we wanted to start Earlier and so a couple of us split off Early about three months before when Initial design for the project would Normally start to start on death knight Specifically But that meant that when initial design Started we were Already in a decent place at least for For Death Knight we had already explored A whole bunch of mechanics uh had our Sort of Blue Sky anything is possible phase and Had started narrowing down what we were Looking for and nothing nothing was Fully set in stone at that point but it Gave us such a jump start that we could Feel confident going into initial design

And final design and and have that final Result so it's been a year and a half That we've been thinking about when and How to do it and then actively in Development for uh just a couple months Short of that [Music] Foreign Death Knights are a class in World of Warcraft and like deep in Warcraft lore And so we started there for a lot of Ideas we we explored a lot of different Things that we thought might have Potential for being part of our class I Think runes are a good example of that Of in Warcraft runes or your like Primary resource that you're using on Abilities constantly moment-to-moment Gameplay and so one of the things that We experimented with a whole lot early On was Okay what are some crazy things like They don't have Mana they have runes Instead what does that look like or Maybe they have mana and runes uh we did A whole bunch of exploration in that Track with like cards how to Mana cost And a rune cost and like every other Turn you'd gain a new Rune of your Choice or based on your deck you'd Defined a deck building or a bunch of Different ways that we uh considered Doing that and so these powerful cards Cost like five mana and a frost Rune the

Net result of that was Hmm This sounds cool in theory but Mana Already Works to control how much you Can play in a turn how much power you Can output each each turn and and how Much you can do in combo with each other Mana already serves that role but we did Like the deck building aspect of it of Like In most of those we we were looking at Like we build a deck around like frost Runes or blood runes or in holy runes or Some combination of those or you'd get To choose like what your Rune lineup for The deck was or whatever and then build Your deck around that and the result of That was the Rune system uh where you Now get to have three Rune slots on your Deck and choose any combination of blood Frost and Unholy and then the cards Require runes so we ended up getting Roughly the same uh impact of that on Deck building without their gameplay [Music] It was important to us that it didn't Feel like just three separate classes it Should still feel like One class death knight they just have a Lot of they have a really wide selection Of powerful things they can do A lot of that came down to We really liked the Rune system because It lets

Death Knights do a lot of powerful Things in a more balanceable controlled Fair way there's so many things that a Death knight can do in Warcraft lore and World of Warcraft that it was like well This just doesn't feel like a death Knight if they're not blasting you with Frost spells if they're not tanking a Ton of damage with life steel if they're Not summoning tons of swarms of of Armies of the Dead All right Serve your king It just was like well it doesn't feel Like definitely without this and that And this and that so It's important for there to be strengths And weaknesses to create a fun balanced Game for Hearthstone so Rune system lets You lets you have those all those Strengths but you get to pick and choose Though Blood Frost and holy are the three Specializations of death knights in in Warcraft and that felt pretty Central to Them so that was that was all along the The the plan there at least for the General flavor of things but there Definitely was some flexibility about Like For a lot of development it was Frost Who got big AOE spells and that Eventually moved over to blood And like card draw was originally

Centered on I think blood had the best Card draw uh most of it uh early on in Development and then that moved shift Around to like everybody gets a bit Frost is a pretty good uh especially but That meant like the individual mechanics Were shifting around but the overall Concept of being like oh okay you're a Spells comboee uh Frosty K or your big Tanky blood decade that was pretty Locked in from the start When we were designing death knight we We sketched out this uh this Accessibility shark for them which runes Get access to what things and the deeper Into the Rune specialization that you Get the more powerful the more core Fantasy you get of that of that thing so For instance in blood as you go through Their own specializations you go from Like a single Target life skill spells AOE life skill spells to Max Health Manipulation and I think when when you Take that we get to put these these Abilities these powers like vampiric Blood in instance which changes your max Health in the triple Rune Specializations and it gives them Something totally unique to them totally Unique to blood death and totally unique Across all classes Um so I think from part of it is it's Not just a power uh it's not just a Measure of power it's also a measure of

How many rules do we get to break what Are we going to do here that no other Class gets to do Um so that's part of it and I think the Other thing is is that we want these we Want every single Rune specialization to Have something interesting something That pulls you into that direction wants You to try to build that deck and I Think when it comes to Triple runes You're giving up so much that we did Extend the Power Band for those cards I Would say that if you're looking at a Triple Rune card we do intend for those To be more powerful than you know a no Rune or a one Rune and even some of the Two Rune cards so Because you're making so many sacrifices We do want to reward players that are Choosing to go that heavily government Especially That's not to say we think that the Triple runes need to be the best thing Ever we came up with a lot of different Ways to hook in synergies from like two Rooms one one special edition one Rune Of another we want players to mix and Match and explore here but if you go That triple rooms I think you will be uh Finally rewarded Heavily rewarded Not heavily a mixture between those two There is a cap that we can't comfortably Go over in any in any card and obviously

Power creep is something that we get Asked about a lot and is something that We're always very aware of and Especially with making you know cards Like triple blood Rune cards Um something like vampiric blood is an Extension of the single Rune and double Blood Rune cards Um it just sort of takes it to that next Level is it objectively more powerful If you compare apples to oranges maybe a Little bit but not necessarily out of The realm of reason I think is is the Important thing that we were looking at We need to balance okay this is powerful Enough to entice players to play the Three Rune decks because the versatility Of being able to Splash single Rune Cards from another Rune is so enticing And can be so powerful that you need to Compensate a little bit but also I think Just being able to capture that fantasy Of you oh you played a blood death Knight in World of Warcraft you were a Tank now you're a tank in Hearthstone You've got access to that additional Life gain with cards like vampiric blood Yeah so sort of balancing the power Expectations and the flavor expectations Foreign Challenge that we faced when designing Death Knights and I think it's going to Be the challenge whenever we make a new Class is the hero power for a class

There are so many different constraints Related to the hero power that makes it An impossible task to really create a Great design yet somehow initial always Seems to do it uh it needs to be simple Right you need to be able to unders the First time you click it you can Understand what's going on uh it needs To be within a very narrow band of power Right we we don't want you to just be Pressing to hear about every single turn And have that be the best thing that you Do Um we want you to play cards but it also Needs to be so iconic to what the class Is about because the the hero power kind Of dictates everything that the class Will do for the rest of time my thanks Warrior has its armor up hero power how Many archetypes or how many ways to fly Warrior are inspired by that Hunter Deals two damage to the opponent's face You know something as simple as that Means that Hunter is the whole theming Around Hunter is based around the hero Power so going into death knight that Was always going to be the biggest Challenge how do we create something That it captures the spirit of Death Knight to like to its core fundamental Like if you had to give a one word or One sentence description How Does It Capture that stays in that power range And also lets us create new archetypes

Creates new ways to play uh in Hearthstone Um that's another thing for for hero Pass you know it needs to be new Um so with death knight I think the Initial design team uh really gave us Maybe the the best possible starting Place when we started with Death Knight With Demon Hunter there's a lot of Iteration with the hero power even into Its final stages with death knight we Basically locked in the idea of it [Music] Hero power a lot of things we tried Interacted with runes Um when back when they were a gameplay Thing we also explored summoning Tools zombies of different stat sizes of Different uh like Diet end of turn or Not the corpse mechanic ended up being Something we really did like as the the Special in combat or like in gameplay uh Mechanic for Death Knight So this uh hero power that we ended up Going with or at least very close to it It had Rush instead of charge through Much of development Um that was one of the leading options For a long long time we tried a whole Bunch of different other things related To runes related to like a We had like a choose one uh sort of Thing that you like do a blood thing a Frosting or on a holly thing was a lot

Of complication for hero power so I'm Supposed to be very basic Um and ultimately just The temporary minion that dies and Guaranteed gives you a corpse uh was the Right balance of of synergies complexity It's it's a baseline that is useful in Every situation somewhat uh and Interacts with your other mechanics and Based on cementing on that we felt Confident doing the corpse mechanic if We didn't have the hero power guaranteed Giving you corpses each turn Uh I think the corpse mechanic would Have been a lot more shaky for us I Think when we went into Hunter Creation that Are after the additional nine in Hearthstone We had to sort of give ourselves the License to break the rules when it came To the hero power Um just because the rules had been so Clearly established they were two Mana They are relatively low in power level And for Demon Hunter even just Committing to making hero power that Cost one Mana was something that took a While to come to that realization so we Already had a leg up when we went into Death knight saying if we want to break The rules a little bit we can as long as We you know remain within reason

And it just so happened that you know we Did settle on a two Mana hero power but Something that works very uniquely with The flavor of Death Knight with you know The new Undead median type and then of Course with the corpse mechanic Foreign I think another thing that we Experimented with and then Hit The Cutting Room floor so to speak Was plagues plagues are a big element of Death Knight gameplay and wow with them Having multiple different diseases that They apply to their opponents as as like Damage over time effects and debuffs and So we explored multiple plagues or a Common plague debuff or maybe something Tied to which Rune you were Predominantly using net result of all That was well it really depended on what Your opponent was doing more than what You wanted to do because your opponent Needed to have minions for you to apply These diseases to uh Didn't didn't feel like you were in Control of the game and it didn't feel Like uh These were that necessary it was also Just a lot of added complication of Tracking like okay are you really gonna Apply two different debuffs to to enemy Minions regularly And then they're probably gonna die you Probably want to just have them die

That's that's mostly what you're going For uh within a turn or two so the DeVos Don't really have time to do much there So we ended up taking the uh just the Couple Cards that were using those diseases Those plagues uh And using those so blood boil was uh our Favorite version of our favorite use of Our blood plague that made it in as a Card And skirt strike uh was our favorite Version of unholy's plague Frost plague Kind of turned into a few different Cards it wasn't carried over Specifically on anything but we learned Along the way and it inspired a bunch of Other ideas so there's there's hints of The the plagues made it through through All that iteration uh but plagues is an Overall mechanic uh it didn't really Suit Hearthstone even though it was Something we were excited to explore From Warcraft I'm really excited to see what players Think of Death Knight I'm looking Forward to talking to players and Hearing what they think of it once They've got to try it out and I want to Hear from all you death knight Mains out There people who are going to be like I'm going all in on death knight or Specifically like who's going to be like Me and be all Frost all the time

Well let's let's Channel some Icy blasts Here guys Foreign [Music]

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