Hello everybody and welcome to another Fan Community Spotlight. Reveals for United in Stormwind are going to start very soon, but until they do, we've always got FCS to fulfill your need for "new" cards.
Today, we've got someone who was last on this series only about 2 months ago, GrandInquisitor to talk about The Draenor Experience. As the name suggests, this expansion is set in the land of Draenor, which was the homeland of the orcs and ogres and the refuge spot for the Draenei, and also the land that would become Outland. In typical Hearthstone fashion though, it's a little bit different than what you may be used to in the Warcraft games.
As with GrandInquisitor's last project we showcased on this series, the Tactician class, this expansion lacks its own new keyword. But what it does have are two things that are even more significant than a keyword, two things we very rarely ever see: A new minion type and a new card type.
Plants are a new minion type in this set which tend to have swarm-based playstyle and grant bonuses to either future Plants that you play later this game or have special effects based on playing other Plants on the same turn. As expected, the various Plant minions that already exist in the game will also be retroactively given the Plant tribal tag. The amount that we actually already have in the game might surprise you.
Finally we have the new Wonder card type, which are Legendary cards that alter the very battlefield itself. They last for 3 of your own turns and have a pop-up each turn reminding you of how long they have left to go.
Now that we have a little bit of what we can expect out of the set, it's time to experience what Draenor has to offer for us with GrandInquisitor as our tour guide.
What exactly is this set about? What is the inspiration for the set theme?
GrandInquisitor: "So this set looks at the oft-spoken about but not well explored world of Draenor, what would eventually become Outland. I’ve always been interested in the homeworld of the orcs and ogres, and the story of Warlords of Draenor always fascinated me (even if the expansion itself was mixed). I wanted to take a deeper dive in exploring the world and putting it into Hearthstone, especially since we had some Draenor natives introduced like Forest Warden Omu, bending the timeline a little bit.
I always like when fantasy settings have some more modern elements incorporated into them; it makes the world feel a lot more human, and it can create some interesting worldbuilding like with Shadowrun or Arcanum. So this isn’t just a retelling of Warlords through Hearthstone cards, but a reimagining through Hearthstone’s iconic whimsical perspective.
What if instead of Wrathion and Kairozdormu sending Garrosh to an alternate timeline to create a new Iron Horde to fight the Old Gods (spoilers: that didn’t end well), they went back to an alternate Draenor and monetized it through tourism and conservation efforts!? That’s The Draenor Experience: meet with the locals, explore scenic vistas, and buy plenty of merchandise!"
Of note here is the new Plant tribe and Wonder card type. How did both of these end up the way they did?
GrandInquisitor: "So one important element from Draenor that got very little attention even during WoD was the Primals, plant-based creatures that were part of the ancient infectious hivemind known as the Evergrowth. I really like them, and some Primals have even appeared in Hearthstone through the aforementioned botani Omu. I wanted them to be a major factor in the set's flavor and mechanics, and so I felt the best way to include them was to establish a new minion type, specifically more the swarm-y kind like Murlocs and Totems. This synergy started out as a parasitic keyword called Evergrowth, which would trigger once for each other friendly Plant on your board, but it felt like it would be far too snowball-y of a mechanic.Their main functionality is a sort of inversion on Elementals (also present on Draenor), where they rely on being played together in a single turn as opposed to consecutive turns. Notable examples of this include Botani Harvester and Gnarlgar.
As for Wonders, I wanted to introduce something that helped get the tourism theme across, so I settled on an aura effect akin to Landmarks in LoR or emblems in MTG. The specific details are in the Reddit post I made linked below. Draenor also has a ton of iconic dungeons like Blackrock Foundry and vital plot locations like the Throne of the Elements. I also wanted to include some beta locations that were eventually cut or modified, like Farahlon, the remains of an ancient sporemound which would become the Netherstorm in Outland, as well as the PvP island of Ashran through the Ashmaul Burial Grounds."
What ended up being the easiest or hardest classes to design for and how did you overcome any challenges that you were presented with?
GrandInquisitor: "Easiest classes by far were Druid and Mage. Druid has existing Nature and “Plant” synergies, so making those synergies was sort of a cut and paste job (though I did have some fun with art and flavor like with Nagrand Prickler). The added Arcane synergy was something I wanted to include after hearing about Farahlon potentially being full of arcane energy after the aforementioned sporemound was slain by the Titan Aggramar (lore stuff), so that took a little more tinkering. With Mage, I loved what they did with the hero power synergies in the Barrens, so I wanted to continue on with that through the lens of the ogre magi. They can cast high power spells if they want, but why not just shoot your opponent down repeatedly with a cheap and reliant ability? Also, gotta put in the funny random Mage card with Gorian Idol because oger.
The hardest was Demon Hunter, simply by virtue of it being the newest class and assuch having less of an established base of cards to go off of, and in turn very few rules to bend as well. Also inspired by Barrens with their Deathrattle theme, I wanted to expand that even further into a sort of “too angry to die” motif. So now Demon Hunter is not just the aggressor, they’re the persistent aggressor with Undying Vengeance. Also, instead of doing more aggro synergy stuff like they’d received since their inception, I wanted to expand on their Big Demon theme by including some of the remains of the Burning Legion after Mannoroth tried and failed to enslave the orcs. And finally, the Primals are pretty vengeful against all fauna for taking over “their land,” so why not give DH some minor Plant synergy too? Maybe give them something to work with in a future expansion. ;)"
Are there any other cards you wish to point out for any reason?
GrandInquisitor: "High-Sage Viryx and Shadow-Sage Iskar are a fun inverted pair of legendaries, mimicking each others’ effects with mirrored stats. They’re the leaders of the arakkoan people on Draenor, with one specializing in Holy magic and worshipping the sun god Rukhmar, and the other specializing in Shadow magic and worshipping the cursed god Anzu.
With the plethora of Plants on Draenor, I wanted to bring back Razorpetals for Rogue and give them a whole ping-based archetype revolving around them. Generating petals with Primal Onslaught or Jungle Boogie, and finishing them off with Phylarch the Evergreen and Botani Evoker. There’s even a neutral Razorpetal generator with Blightthorn Growth to offer some versatility in other classes akin to Vulpera Scoundrel."
Do you have anything behind the scenes you want to share with us?
GrandInquisitor: "I’m still working on my Tactician custom class, which I’ve discussed here before. Look forward to that when United in Stormwind comes out."
Do you have anything else you want to share with us?
GrandInquisitor: "No refunds."
And that will conclude this week's Fan Community Spotlight, much needed while we still wait for new cards to be revealed. If what you see in this article intrigues you, then you will be delighted to know that you can look at the entire set by clicking on the banner below. Take care everyone, and I'll see you all in the next one.