Introduction and Mechanics
On October 15th, 2023, Blizzard announced the release of the third set in the Year of the Wolf, Showdown in the Badlands! As always, the company granted some Latin-American creators an interview, and once again Cards Realm was one of the guests. In this article, let's briefly discuss what was said in the interview.
Showdown in the Badlands is Hearthstone's 25th set, and it marks the end of the Year of the Wolf. Usually, players expect a higher power level from the year's third set so that those cards can stand out from the other sets available in Standard.
Badlands' theme is a Wild West adventure, in which Elise Starseeker and Reno Jackson are outlaw heroes in a town where corruption and greed reign free! Some mechanics have already been announced, including one that is beloved by many players:
Ever since the last update, the card Thunderbringer has been available as a pre-release reward. As a reminder of the good old days of Kathrena Winterwisp, this little horsie can bring some monsters to the game well before their time. Just be careful with the presence of Yogg-Saron, Unleashed in the meta!
This interview was granted by the pros Leo Robles Gonzales (Game Designer) and Alicia Cornelia (Senior Game Producer). Here are a few of the topics we discussed:
What to Expect from the Set
LRG: Showdown in the Badlands is set in the past, and it shows us how Reno Jackson and Elise met, before they created the League of Explorers, in the Badlands, a desert that is very similar to the ones we know from western movies. There's this city, Bloodrock, where miners recklessly Excavate Azerite. So, Elise bands together with a group of outlaws to face the miners' greed and this battle was the inspiration for the mechanics and cards we want to show you.
About the Set's Mechanics
AC: The new mechanics really connect to the set's theme. The first mechanic is Excavate, which adds treasures to your hand; the quality of the treasures gets better the more you use this ability.
The next one is Quickdraw, which is inspired by who draws their weapon first in a duel. This ability's effects happen if you play this card on the same turn it was added to your hand. Finally, we have our last ability: Singleton!
LRG: Just to recap, half of the classes are on the miners' side, and, therefore, carry the Excavate ability. Quickdraw is available for all classes. The other classes are on Elise's side and have these legendary cards with all these incredible abilities that happen when your deck doesn't have repeated cards!
Changes to the Core Set to Adapt to the New Set
LRG: Even though we have no plans of altering the Core Set for this set right now, it is still a recent addition to the world of Hearthstone, and a tool that we're still learning to use, as we saw with Gadgetzan Auctioneer, which is a card that could be useful to address some issues we identified in the format. As we want the new cards to shine, for now, we don't have plans to change anything.
LRG: Does the reintroduction of Singleton mean we're prioritizing control decks over everything else? Actually, our goal with each set is that each player finds a deck that they enjoy, and that is why we always try to create as open metagames as we can.
Of course that, at each set, one single deck ends up becoming the best, but, during the design stages, we work hard to make each class feel represented. Obviously, when we're planning a set, and we can see a deck is performing above everything else, our intention is that the meta changes and updates itself so that players' experiences are always pleasant.
Though Singleton strategies traditionally tend to be slower, I wouldn't discard the existence of aggressive decks, even more so because that isn't the only mechanic we're pushing out. In classes such as Hunter, I believe we can have aggressive Singleton decks.
LRG: We always try to innovate with this class, as it is the greatest most recent innovation in the game and the Rune system is still this class' greatest asset, considering there is nothing like it in the other classes.
On one side, the system gives us a guideline for what we want this class to be (and in general, we're quite happy with what the class has done in the game), but this class' development is something we have to monitor constantly, as it is totally different from the other ones. We try to do cool things with the Runes, but we're always keeping an eye out to make sure things don't go out of control every time a new set is released.
AC: It is certainly very interesting to see how players develop this class as soon as cards are available online.
About Independent or Interconnected Sets
AC: When we had interconnected sets, such as the League of Explorers or Mercenaries, it was easier to develop characters and tie mechanics to them, but, on the other side, we always have to be mindful of the point of the story we're working on to make sure things make sense, and we invariably end up missing opportunities to develop characters outside this nucleus.
With independent sets, not only we can change the theme from a more serious tone to a more relaxed tone from one set to another, but we also have more opportunities to develop new cosmetics and characters, besides allowing us a bit more flexibility to develop different mechanics.
Skins in the Battle Pass
AC: It is important for us, when we're choosing which Skins will be included in the Battle Pass, that they make sense even after the next set is released - If it is interesting, but only momentarily, it is probably not a good choice, as it won't make sense the rest of the year.
AC: Way back in March of the Lich King, when we released the first Signature Cards, we had this goal of keeping a balance between the alternative art and the card's functioning for players, so that they understood what the card did.
The feedback we got was that we might have gone a bit overboard in this sense and that made us reassess our goals. From Festival of Legends onward, we tried to tie the card's artwork to the set's theme and use tooltips to keep the card easy to understand. We believe we were successful in achieving what we wanted, and we already used that in Titans as well! In Badlands, we aim at making the experience even better.
With that, we end our interview, and we thank everyone involved for this opportunity.
Cheers, and see you later!