Everyone's favourite Hearthstone Dad, Dean "Iksar" Ayala, who also became a real dad while on paternity leave, brought us another Q&A! As usual, here's our recap of all the important points and a full transcript of the event.

  • All previous Q&As from Dean can be found under our "Iksar's Community Q&A" topic.
  • Anything covered in the previous Q&As will not be covered in the recap but will appear in the transcript below.

Dean Ayala

  • Dean was on vacation because hes no longer just a Hearthstone Dad but a real one!
  • Molly and baby are both happy and healthy.
  • There is an entire tweet chain about burnout and overtime. It's right at the top of the transcript so give it a read.

Congratulations, Dean and Molly!


  • Hero cards will be making a return in the future.
  • Dean and Celestalon were brainstorming another alternate reality set for next year.
  • What happened to Dalaran after Descent of Dragons? Untold, at least for now.
  • A wild-only set that skips standard isn't likely unless their team were to change drastically.
  • They haven't discounted old adventures possibly because of shop space. Dean assures us it isn't because they are trying to "[rake] in so much cash from 7-year old content".
  • Tradeable has an opportunity to become a baseline keyword, like all keywords. Players need to love it and they need to think they have a sizeable amount of design space with it to stick.
  • The mercenaries will return in the last expansion of the year and "they will be very cool". No spoilers.
  • An Undead Tribe would make sense once they have the right expansion theme or they want to introduce graveyard mechanics to the game.
  • Toning back a lot of the card generation in Hearthstone will see its final form after the next rotation when the new core set gets introduced.
  • If any new cards that were created for the core set get kicked out, they'll become Wild-only cards.


  • Quillboar would probably have never been added as a tribe to the constructed game if not for Battlegrounds.
  • Totems were an idea for a new Battlegrounds tribe but there was never an interesting enough design to do it.
  • "totems will have their day in the sun one day....."


  • It is a goal over the next year(s) to do a better job with player customization.
  • "Make it feel like nameless Priest vs nameless Mage and give players a better sense of visual identity through customization."

Hearthstone 2

If Hearthstone had bigger teams (design, development, everything), what would be something ambitious that you'd like to lead the work on?

  • Big visual update.
  • Some game rules changes
  • Rebranding as Hearthstone 2.
  • HS1 playable as a game mode within HS2.
  • Guilds.
  • Hearthstone playable with a big story questline in World of Warcraft.

Card Changes for Wailing Caverns Mini-Set

Dean provided insight into some changes that happened from when he created the cards by himself.

Celestalon later confirmed that one of these card designs that didn't make it into Wailing Caverns is in a future set. (Source)

  • Chaos was the original name of the Fel school.
  • Druid and Demon Hunter were supposed to get a Dungeoneer minion. (Draw a spell, if its x school do something)
    • The Nature school for Druid would have given itself +2/+2 if you drew a Nature spell.
    • The Fel school for Demon Hunter would have given your hero +3 Attack.
  • Frostweave Dungeoneer was originally a Fire school card. It dealt 1 damage to all other minions.
  • Primal Dungeoneer was originally a Frost school card (Freeze Shaman!). It would freeze a random enemy minion.
  • Devout Dungeoneer originally copied the spell that was drawn.
  • Paladin had two cards that were changed:
    • Turtleshell Maul - Common, 1 Mana - 2/3 Deathrattle: Summon a 2/1 Turtle for your opponent.
    • Mysterious Brawler - Common, 2 Mana - 1/4 Frenzy: Draw a Secret from your deck.
    • Party Up! had a placeholder name of Party of Adventurers.
  • Warlock had a card that was the opposite of Priest's Against All Odds. It was 4 mana to destroy all Even-cost minions.
  • Mage had some interesting cards proposed:
    • Burning Hot - 4 Mana Spell - Draw a spell. If it was a Fire spell, cast this again.
    • Flame Snap - 2 Mana Spell - Deal 1 damage. Shuffle a Flame Snap into your deck that deals +1 damage.
      • Dean thought this could be busted but liked the idea of a +10 damage card over time - "It's like a Pogo-Hopper spell".
  • Warrior:
    • Arms Warrior - 2 Mana 2/3 - After you equip a weapon, gain +2/+2.
    • Sharpened Axe - 1 Mana 1/2 Weapon - At the start of your turn, Sharpened Axe gains +1 Attack.
    • Kresh, Lord of Turtling only gave you 3 Armor on Frenzy instead of the 8.

Full Transcript of Iksar's Q&A #20

Quote From Dean Ayala

Hearthstone AMA #20 I have returned from a 6-week hiatus. Ask me a question about Hearthstone! 6:30PM - 7:30PM PST https://t.co/mIyVJviA4E (Source)

@IksarHS Has your view on working overtime changed as your career has progressed? Do you have different rules for the teams you manage than you do for yourself? How do you identify times when it's okay to push yourself vs times you need to step back?

@RidiculousHat I ask Hadidjah (Source)

@IksarHS follow up question: is this always the right move

@RidiculousHat yes, @hadidjahb is senpai (Source)

@RidiculousHat @hadidjahb Hadidjah is braver than I in answering, it's a difficult question that I often go back and forth on. I don't believe in scheduled mandatory overtime. As for voluntary? Trickier. (Source)

@RidiculousHat @hadidjahb Associates should have their hours monitored closely. New folks often don't fully understand burnout and are out to prove something. I enforce (not request) a reduction in hours if they get above 43-44 a week. (Source)

@RidiculousHat @hadidjahb For more senior designers I think it's okay when someone wants to pile on a task for a few weeks. It's important to make it abundantly clear it's not required and that we can find support, some people want to see their thing through to the finish line and that's ok. (Source)

@RidiculousHat @hadidjahb Interesting to think about how it's celebrated in other disciplines or throughout history. When we tell the story of a world-class athlete, entrepreneur, scientist, inventor… all of those stories start from a place of that individual dedicating their life to their craft. (Source)

@RidiculousHat @hadidjahb If you think about the people in the world you find the most impressive, I imagine if you dug into their lives it's unlikely you'd find a story of working 8 hours and hanging it up to relax. (Source)

@RidiculousHat @hadidjahb Of course, everything isn't about being successful at some craft. I think your responsibility in corporate culture is making sure people feel safe and valued working their jobs and being able to enjoy their lives afterwards with no fear of falling behind. (Source)

@RidiculousHat @hadidjahb As for your own personal ruleset, at some point in your career I think you've earned the right to define that for yourself. (Source)

@RidiculousHat @hadidjahb As a manager, I think it's best to play it safe. Enforce work/life balance. Don't reward overproduction. Those that have a burning desire to keep doing more when the work week is over will do it anyway, but at least they can do it knowing if they stop it's ok. (Source)

@RidiculousHat @IksarHS https://t.co/nPT2cuQs3w (Source)

@IksarHS Man have I missed these, always gives us such good insight on important questions. Anywho, what the heck happened to Dalaran after Decent of Dragons?? Is it still at wyrmrest temple? Did the mages take it back? https://t.co/s48xF44JIG

@BionicDoor I think you are going to have to use your imagination. It's funny I was just talking to @Celestalon about this as we were brainstorming another alternate reality set for next year. How much of this alternate reality should we wrap up? Any? In this case the story is yet untold…. (Source)

@IksarHS So can we take a look at the past design of the Wailing Caverns mini-set? I wonder what these cards look like.👀👀👀 https://t.co/skTmNxIAmX

@ZhexuL Hmm twitter not a great format for this…. Here are some snippets from an email sent on 4/27/2020…. (Source)

@ZhexuL Chaos later changed to Fel… https://t.co/KzWh6zxgvR (Source)

@ZhexuL https://t.co/VnoMwqCWAN (Source)

@ZhexuL https://t.co/CsGYqundCB (Source)

@ZhexuL As you can see a lot of these designs didn't make it… https://t.co/Q9Hz2bNm6V (Source)

@ZhexuL Somehow Kresh, Lord of Turtling ended up being the final name????? https://t.co/UYfvoV5WWN (Source)

@ZhexuL Okay that's enough exposure of my weak designs, but interesting to see how some of the concepts stuck around but the individual cards rarely do. (Source)

@IksarHS @ZhexuL Weak designs?! These are great! You could totally be a professional cool hearthstone dad one day.

@hsdecktech @IksarHS @ZhexuL At least ONE of these designs made it into a future set. ;) (Source)

@IksarHS Thanks again for doing these. Any consideration to changing the cosmetics for 1000 wins to something like the golden hero power/frame for 500? With so many great skins now it would be nice to have a way to show off that achievement w/o being tied to a specific skin.

@msjtx2020 Unlikely to do in the near future. We've ramped up cosmetic pipeline significantly but it's been to support things like free and paid track, battlegrounds, and more personalization work we have planned in the future. As a fellow 1000 wins all class player I sympathize. (Source)

@IksarHS Are you more of a River Crocolisk or a Bloodfen Raptor kind of guy? I apologize for this deeply personal question.

@MarkMcKz Bloodfen Boys (Source)

@IksarHS When did you decide to add Quilboar minion type to the game? How much before Barrens was it set on stone? If it wasn't for BGs, would the minion type exist on constructed?

@greatina97 We decided on Quilboar because we wanted to tell a cohesive story all around the game during this timeline. @conorkou had really wanted to do totems but I don't think we have a compelling enough design to do it at the time. (Source)

@greatina97 @conorkou totems will have their day in the sun one day….. (Source)

@greatina97 @conorkou And if not for BGS would we have made them a minion type in constructed? Probably not, no. (Source)

@IksarHS When will masters tour participants receive the golden skies card back? It is around 2 months past the estimated time. :)

@NateDoc_HS not sure, we hired @Abar_HS and he's been working here a few days so he should have the answers to all possible esports questions by now (Source)

@IksarHS Will we ever see a straight to wild set with support for old keywords that we won't see again in standard like Invoke, Reborn, Echo, etc? I'd love to see support for deck archetypes that will never see any more support because they have since rotated. C'thun Anyone?

@Oakijak_HS Not unless our team changes in some drastic way. Our content cadence with mini-set has really pushed all the expansion support teams to the limit. (Source)

@IksarHS Downton Abbey or Lucifer? 🙃😈 https://t.co/A6dv75s5CO

@ItsMeMollyO Downton by a little (Source)

@IksarHS THE KING IS BACK!!!!!! Hope you had a great break Dean!!

@ToastieNL thanks :) (Source)

@IksarHS What are the odds we could ever see a customizable hero portrait? Imagining something like creating a toon/xmog in wow. Would be a lot more interest in being able to buy new mix and matchable toys for my own avatar than new avatars that will get replaced by the new shiny thing

@Seerows_Law We might be far gone for that, though I do think it's something I would change if I could go back in time. Our cosmetics in the past have been too focused on representing warcraft and not focused enough on representing the players who are investing the resources. (Source)

@Seerows_Law We do have a goal in the upcoming year (s) to do a better job with player customization. Make it feel like nameless Priest vs nameless Mage and give players a better sense of visual identity through customization. (Source)

@IksarHS will you guys ever do anything about wild adventures, like occasionally put them on sale or allow them to be bought with gold again? as someone who doesn't have that much money i can pump into hearthstone each month i would definitely grind gold or buy them overtime during sales

@Restodroodopz I don't know the answer to this but I'll find out. I think it's just shop space. I can assure you the answer isn't because we're raking in so much cash from 7-year old content we're afraid to unlock alternative purchase method. We've been working on shop revamp. (Source)

@IksarHS With the upcoming huge shakeup of BG minions; are there similar plans to do an overhaul of the heroes? A complaint I hear from many returning players is that they have less agency in turning bad games into first places, which happens because top hero highrolls are so strong.

@Jkirek_ Do you mean because they die to mid-game damage highrolls or because the endgame composition of a highroll hero feels unbeatable? (Source)

@IksarHS I dom't really know what to ask, so… How's the "Upgrade to a golden card" doing? 🙄😂

@imik_plays It's going. I just came back and haven't checked in on it so you have reminded me to do so. (Source)

@IksarHS Is there any chance tradeable becomes an evergreen keyword like rush? It's the perfect solution for making tech cards playable in best of 1 game

@adam_noodelman Always a chance to make a keyword evergreen, just have to see how it plays out in practice. If players love it and we think there is a huge amount of design space we'd consider it. (Source)

@IksarHS Since we see the mercenaries in FitB and now they are returning as upgraded versions in the Questlines, will we see them return as Hero cards or something similar in the final expansion of the year of the Gryffin?

@JiminatorHS They will return, and they will be very cool. I wouldn't give away what the expansion teams are working on so early, though! (Source)

@IksarHS Maybe one more… Who are your favorite people who complain about the game? 😄

@imik_plays @Kripparrian because he's a friend and always means well, also because he has cool dogs and @underflowR (Source)

@IksarHS Hey Iksar, I've been part of the game the past 3 years and part of the CustomHS community around the same time. I wanted to ask how much the community CustomHS affects the decisions you go in making cards or if Bliz ever thought about having a community CustomHS set? If so, how?

@Pokeniner2 I think Magic has done some community card design events in the past, the logistics of it seem pretty daunting to me. I love checking out custom card sets but I wouldn't say they impact design any more than the inspiration we gain from playing other games in the space. (Source)

@Pokeniner2 Maybe one of the biggest impacts from the customHS community has been hiring @MyntyPhresh from there :) (Source)

@IksarHS Probably a weird question but.. Where are my goblin hero portraits? they're like my favorite race man I feel so left out :( also any ideas when Kel'Thuzad will be available as a hero portrait again?

@Yaboipuns I agree but consumer research will show you that most humans don't share our love for our small, green, and resourceful friends. Dr. Boom has gotten a lot of spotlight at least… (Source)

@IksarHS Some months ago I helped you to notice that the friendlist was full of bugs for almost a year. Now with 300 friends instead of 200 it is working even worst. Any news about this? Thanks https://t.co/b9e0faAJ9z

@MontuHS My un-exciting answer is that tech with the friends lists changes somewhat frequently and we squash the bugs as they come in. We'll keep adding new modes and bnet will keep having new functionality so I'm sure more bugs will come in and more bugs will be squashed. Such is dev. (Source)

@IksarHS I noticed that the frost mage was put up in the last mini-expansion, and the ping mage was put up in the last expansion, will they receive new cards recently to enhance the deck? Or you think they're complete enough to play?

@KyleYue98 I'm afraid recent meta questions are going to take a few weeks for me to get up to speed enough to answer again. @GW_Alec and team are the experts. (Source)

@IksarHS You probably answered it at some point but why no undead tag yet? Frozen Throne or Naxx were great opportunities. We have random stuff like pirates and quillboars now but still no undeads.

@OtomanoCulto Waiting for the right expansion theme. If we ever introduce graveyard mechanics or have some undead themed setting it might be a good time to roll them in. Haven't had the right theme for it yet. (Source)

@IksarHS What do you think of my custom card? https://t.co/1B8ZC5pkV2

@Samson0_ Seems like you could just say reduce the cost of your hero power to (0) for very similar gains? (Source)

@IksarHS Kind of conspiracy here. Did Dev team had financial issue in their mind when you designed Tickatus? Warlock is weak class right now but if control decks ever dominate Tickatus and Warlock will be huge gatekeeper it seems.

@IksarHS Generally Control decks are expensive and Faster decks are cheaper. Did you printed Tickatus to make meta faster and cheaper? Also are you guys concerned about Tickatus to be too strong against new Questline decks?

@hurtsbayar1 We don't design metas around financial goals. There are a lot of decisions made around financial goals but that isn't one of them. I'm not worried about Tickatus because there is nothing to indicate power or population is increasing. (Source)

@IksarHS Do you ever see Hearthstone fully moving away from the pack model for monetization and instead monetizing fully with Battle Pass, Tavern Pass, Cosmetics, etc?

@SuperiorDavidHS Fully? Hard to believe. Our products are diversifying more and more over time so it's likely we'll see less revenue generation from packs and more from other sources over time. Cosmetics are a small piece of revenue generation, though, not a replacement for content. (Source)

@IksarHS If Hearthstone had bigger teams (design, development, everything), what would be something ambitious that you'd like to lead the work on?

@PascoaHS Big visual update, some game rules changes, and rebranding as Hearthstone 2. HS1 playable as a game mode within HS2. Guilds Hearthstone playable with a big story questline in World of Warcraft. (Source)

@IksarHS whats the last lesson u learned when developing a card in the game?

@henriqlustosa How important visuals and UX are to mechanics. Magnetic isn't nearly as cool with a choose one UI like we had it originally, so many examples like that over the years I always am reminded of with new designs. (Source)

@IksarHS I am curious about the contours of when and why y’all have official communication when you do. Sometimes it feels like the community spends a lot of time wondering when we will hear anything, sometimes there is a constant stream. What factors into communication decisions?

@JaredPullet I do a weekly (well, other than this last 6 weeks) AMA so I'd like to think the gates of communication are pretty open. If we aren't saying anything on official channels it's usually because there isn't anything to say, not because we are avoiding. (Source)

@IksarHS Welcome back! What were you doing during this holiday? I hope you have a good time!

@RCHDK_HS I was on paternity leave, baby and mom are happy and healthy even if sleep is less frequent. I had a great time <3 (Source)

@IksarHS @RCHDK_HS Any advice for someone about to go on pat leave of my own?

@NimyL @RCHDK_HS Having a baby is scary, but you get used to it pretty quickly. Babies are more sturdy and resilient than it seems. Try to enjoy it, they are only little once :) (Source)

@IksarHS Also I am still very interested about the ramifications of the Baku and genn nerf. Seeing that you work a year ahead or so, how much impact did the decision have on subsequent sets already in progress?

@JaredPullet Had a pretty positive impact. We didn't design many cards specifically for odd and even decks because they were already so good. So when we removed, what happened were all the tier 2 decks that were behind odd and even decks actually started seeing play. (Source)

@IksarHS What are your thoughts on the state of card generation in priest, and how it feels ro play against that class?

@Jesp1ne We toned back a lot of card generation in the last year or so, I think you'll really see the fruits of all that when the next rotation hits and the new core set hits. There was too much this time around. (Source)

@IksarHS Hello! Hearthstone ads and PVs are always stylish and exciting to me. However, it is a pity that the quality of advertisements for Japan that you see in Japan is low. (Slide show of free material, etc.) Do you have any plans to improve this?

@jojothe6251 I have very little insight into advertisement of Hearthstone in other regions. Do you find that it's much different than other mobile games in your region? Do you mean ads on mobile? PC? Real-world advertisements? (Source)

@IksarHS I know this is ways off, but when Year of the Gryphon rotates, and the Core Set changes, if some of the new cards made for the core set this year rotate, will they: A) Go to wild, or B) Exit Stage Right. Mainly curious about Pursue Justice, I like my buttons & mid-range tokens.

@AJz77x Wild (Source)

@AJz77x Come to think of it, I'm not entirely sure of this answer. Using my phone a friend ability with @GW_Alec @Celestalon (Source)

@IksarHS @AJz77x @GW_Alec @Celestalon 🙏I hope wild is the answer, I wouldn't want to lose cards.🙏

@gtluizmoratelli @IksarHS @AJz77x @Celestalon Wild! (Source)

@IksarHS How easy would it be for someone to get back into playing Hearthstone at this point, after not playing for a couple years?

@Ardrikk Pretty easy, the game hasn't mechanically changed much even if the cards all have. You get to choose a free deck from a group of 10 decks and they are all fairly competitive. That's if you don't spend. If you do, there are pre-made ultra-competitive decks for 20 bucks. (Source)

@IksarHS Will standard hearthstone be seeing any new deathknight cards in the near future? I know there was plans to do so, but are they coming together? Thanks!

@CuteyTV Hero cards will be back :D (Source)

@IksarHS Why is life priest? Wait, I mean pain. Why is life pain?

@J_Alexander_HS Nice to see you, too, JAlex. (Source)