Hello readers, this is Demonxz95 presenting a new series on Out of Cards called Fan Community Spotlight. In this series, we'll be taking a look at fan created Hearthstone content ranging from custom sets, classes, or just simple groupings of cards. We'll be interviewing their creator(s) to gain a better idea of their mindset when creating the cards. Hearthstone fan creations are an underappreciated part of the community, and I think it’s time we changed that.
For our first installment, we'll be taking a look at one of the most famous custom classes to grace the community, the Summoner class created by Maxlot, otherwise known as The Flawless Walrus.
The Summoner class originated in the fourth CCC (Class Creation Competition) on HearthPwn, titled Deathwing Needs a Friendwing, which lasted from December 26th 2017 to April 2nd 2018. The same competition would also be the birthplace of CheeseEtc's Chef class, McF4rtson's Sea Witch class, and my own Time Traveler class. Out of 108 entries, Maxlot's Summoner class finished 4th, along with Cheese finishing 2nd, and me finishing 5th. Incidentally, these three classes are the only three from the competition that still continue to receive updates.
Your base hero is Mephilia. Your base Hero Power is Simple Summoning, which summons a 0/1 Pebble with Taunt. With Justicar Trueheart or Baku the Mooneater, it becomes Advanced Summoning, summoning a 1/3 Rubble instead.
In addition, this class also has a class-exclusive mechanic, and arguably the highest lauded of its type as well, Invoke. When you play a card with Invoke, you can choose to either play it for its normal Cost, or pay the Invoke Cost instead. The Invoke Cost will cost more mana, but it will grant a larger effect.
Mind walking us through some of the basics of the class? What are the main mechanics? What are its strengths and weaknesses? Pick out some example cards that best showcase the class.
"In a way, the mechanics of the class are an attempt at a combination between both the minion-summoning type of spells you might see in D&D or rpgs and the big damage spells you'd find in Final Fantasy and Bravely Default. They care a lot about minions and summoning them in different ways and they care a lot about costs. Their area of expertise is purely in throwing out creatures and objects either from other places or out of thin air, so they struggle with healing and buffing, at the least. Well, they can't enchant a minion already on the board, but they're flexible in their summoning and can use cards like Dramatic Entrance and Lackey Break to simply summon stronger minions than they would normally."
"Much alike how a summoner in Final Fantasy may summon Ifrit for only the briefest of moments to incinerate an army of foes, the Summoner class can summon a worm that ravages a town in a giant Earthquake before having it vanish from existence. To properly summon and keep around these huge minions every time costs a lot, which is why summoner uses the Invoke mechanic. The Summoner is so experienced with summoning that they often don't need to bother keeping the minions around. Oh, and they have removal based on cost also, a lot of cost stuff in the class."
"They're nerdy, smart spellcasters and all but why should they take information when they can just copy it? Specializing in conjuring, they struggle at drawing cards but excel at creating a copy of what they can see in front of them out of thin air. Double, Replicate, Contemplate; they're bookish in a different way to mage. Gaining card advantage through draw isn't impossible in the class though, it just comes conditionally, as through Evil Laughter and Gloat. Finally, they're also pretty good at summoning several minions at once, using cards like Rockslide and Energetic Mentee, while the previously mentioned Lackey Break as well as Kofko the Dragon reward you well for doing so."
How much experience do you have making custom Hearthstone cards?
"I started making cards in the third class competition or so on Hearthpwn, Asylum's Gauntlet. In it, I started making the King class, eager to learn card design and get involved with the community. It was an experiment in messing around with using rarities as a mechanic and I agree with a lot of the approaches I took with it still, but also hate the class with a passion. It was terrible but it was the first thing I'd did and I've learned from it since then I'd like to think. Somehow it got into the semi-finals but I'm not going to complain about that for sure.
I then experimented with further class design stuff and quickly stopped making cards about a month after the competition, doing nothing noteworthy or productive until the fourth competition on Hearthpwn, Deathwing needs a Friendwing. At that point, I signed up, thought long and hard about the core mechanics of the class, and gave it some cartoonish, villainy flare for some reason. Came in the finals and then mostly gave up because Sea Witch was just going to win anyway and my mind was on other things at the time. After that point, I've never really fully finished anything concrete, but I've been part of some projects for expansions that never finished, made a chunk of another class called Ringmaster, threw around some concepts and whatever, but really most of my time ends up going back to Summoner. I added the wild sets and then reworked everything to the end, added cards for new expansions, then changed to a different border while reworking all the cards again while doing it and really the Hearthcards Summoner isn't the most up to date, I've since reworked Summoner without secrets, updated invoke and completely adjusted flavours elsewhere. And that's been some years or so, and mostly all the experience I have."
What initially gave you the idea to make a Summoner class?
"I finished Bravely Second not an exceptional amount of time before the competition so I just put all the classes in there onto wheeldecide and span it."
What gave you the idea of the Invoke mechanic, and how to work it into your class the way you did?
"Partially already explained this in the mechanics, but it was inspired by the Final Fantasy/Bravely Default style of summoning things that didn't quite stick around. Originally the mechanics concept was different but similar; Invoke would be attached to a high cost minion with a smaller number than the minions cost, and that minion could be played at that cost but would immediately die. This was a much more direct implementation of my vision, but it wasn't nearly flexible enough to be a class mechanic, so it was quickly changed."
Do you have anything behind the scenes you'd like to share?
"Well I've gotten a lot of my advice for the class and design in general from the r/customhearthstone discord and you can find me there if you want. If you went to the customhearthstone subreddit, the discord link would just be off to the right. If I'd not joined it by that point, I wouldn't be half as content with the class as I am today, so I'm thankful to the people there for helping me with it so much. People like Phyley, Pircival and Dankwraith come to mind immediately."
What's the most important piece of advice you would give to people new to the fan creation community?
"Integrate yourself into and interact with others who've also tackled custom card design like you are currently but have already come to grips with it. Remember that you don't know everything, even if you eventually come to a point where you think you know quite a lot; even criticism from people you deem inexperienced or otherwise unhelpful can be valid. It doesn't necessarily matter how nicely or aggressively it's presented, it doesn't matter how much they know; what matters is that they've seen your design and, from their perspective, have seen a flaw. They might not necessarily know how to fix the issue, but that doesn't mean they're not being constructive. Treat everyone well, consider everyone's opinions and aim to understand each perspective and you might make some friends while you're doing it as well, which is something that will ensure you enjoy and continue making cards far more than anything else."
Do you have anything else you'd like to share?
"Not a lot, no. I'm happy for being given this interview so thanks for that but that's all the time I've got. I've gotta get back to playing Bravely Default: Flying Fairy for my Nintendo 2DS."
And that wraps it up for today's interview. So, what do you think about The Summoner? Is there a specific cards that caught your eye? Tell us in the comments!
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more Fan Community Spotlight, where we will see even more amazing creations from Hearthstone's fan community.