What do all of us on Out of Cards share in common? We all play video games. More specifically, digital card games. More specifically than that would be Hearthstone. But my point is that we're all gamers and we all play card games. Today I've got TheFriendlyEnemy here to talk about a fan-made set filled with gaming references. The set in question is called The Arcane Arcade. An Arcade has been set all over Dalaran with all the hottest games.
You on a winning streak there? The new keyword in this set is Streak. Cards with Streak play themselves again on your next turn if you fulfill a certain requirement, and this will keep going for as long as you can hold it.
What exactly is this set about?
TheFriendlyEnemy: "The set features the grand unveiling of a gaming arcade in Dalaran, hosted by Whizbang the Wonderful. Many characters from Hearthstone are coming along to visit, and we get to see them in a new context; Toki’s trying to speedrun all the games with time magic, Voone is absolutely killing it in the fighting games, and Ragnaros has taken position as the final boss of one of the games."
How long have you been making your own cards?
TheFriendlyEnemy: "I’ve been making cards for 3 years, and got involved with the Custom Hearthstone Discord server about 1 year ago. Since then I’ve completed three expansions (including this one) and numerous other projects including Battlegrounds mini-sets and managing the server’s card creation bot."
Where does the idea for the Streak mechanic originate?
TheFriendlyEnemy: "The Streak mechanic came rather early on. There’s not a lot that’s universal to video games, but a common element to all games is the “flow state”, which is the state of immersion and hyper-engagement that occurs when player skill intersects the game’s difficulty. Put simply, all games are designed to keep you in the zone as long as possible, and the Streak mechanic was designed to emulate this. Initially, it wasn’t keyworded, and a whole bunch of different wordings were tried before I ended up deciding that it just took up too much space, and needed the keyword."
What was the inspiration for a gaming-themed set?
TheFriendlyEnemy: "When I knew that I wanted to make a set, I wanted it to be accessible. The Arcane Arcade was built as a set for everyone, and video games are something that almost everyone (well, everyone who’d be reading a custom Hearthstone set) knows about. This is also the reason for including so many people already in Hearthstone; each of the Neutral legendaries have been in Hearthstone, so people would recognise the characters even with very little background knowledge. Also, we wouldn’t want the Pac-man ghost emblem in HearthCards to go to waste, would we?"
What system (if any) did you use to decide what video games would be referenced and where they were referenced?
TheFriendlyEnemy: "Typically, I tried to avoid references to any particular game, preferring tropes like the card Spawn Camping over individual games. When that proved difficult though (which was often), I went for the game’s recognisability above all else. For each class, I brainstormed some of the most defining games of their genre, occasionally with some community members, and tried to reference those games through cards like Rulebender Baba. After the classes were done, iconic games that didn’t really fit well into any of the classes were added in Neutral, such as Spireslayer."
One thing I noticed about the set was that Mage got an attacking non-Legendary weapon, Paladins were the only class to get a Quest. Where do these specific decisions come from?
TheFriendlyEnemy: "The set definitely tries to break some rules, including how certain card types are used. Mage’s Beating Saber could’ve been referenced as a minion in the same way Dancing Swords was, but I decided to fully lean into the flashy rule-breaking themes of the set, and make the weapon that made it into the final project. Similarly, the Paladin quest, Skip the Tutorial, reuses the Quest keyword but fundamentally changes how they play. It uses all the features of the Quest keyword but completes instantly when it’s played, changing them from working the whole game to earn a reward to a simple 5 mana draw 3 cards."
Are there any other cards you wish to showcase for any reason?
TheFriendlyEnemy: "The cards Twenty Player Raid and Backup Skygryphon are definitely my favourite thing to come out of the set. The mechanic was pretty well received, so it initially going to be Paladin’s core mechanic, but it ended up being too reliant on having a full board in most cases. These two cards were still able to use the effect smartly, and I’m glad that they saw the light of day."
Do you have anything behind the scenes that you wish to share?
TheFriendlyEnemy: "Behind the scenes I had an incredibly supportive community helping me with the set, right from the start. Unlike previous expansions I’ve been involved in, it was by their request that they helped work on the set, and I thank them dearly for it. In particular, NightscaleReaper and Wassculaire were hugely supportive since before I’d even made 5 of the cards, and Aflag, Arigh, and Meepazor provided invaluable advice later on."
What design philosophies do you have? What advice do you wish to spread to future creators?
TheFriendlyEnemy: "Card design is a lottery where the tickets are free; so buy as many as you can! If you’re looking for top-quality, above-and-beyond designs that really get you recognised, you can’t just look in one place. Try every type of design you can imagine. Try sticking within the game’s unwritten rules, and try breaking them apart. Try designing for flavour, or for mechanics. The more often you try stuff, and the more variety you do, the better you’ll get, and the more likely you’ll make something awesome."
Do you have anything else you wish to share?
TheFriendlyEnemy: "I’d just like to say that it’s worth your time to join the CustomHearthstone Discord if you haven’t already, it’s a friendly and super helpful community. That’s all I have to say, hope you enjoyed the set!"
That's it for the interview, but this is just a fragment of the 135 cards in this set. Check out the rest of the set to see how you can really get your game on and let us know what you think in the comments, and be sure to stick around for more.