Hello everybody and welcome back to another Fan Community Spotlight. After 26 consecutive weeks (exactly half a year) of having one of these up per week, I ended up not having one up for 2 weeks. Namely because I couldn't find anything to cover, and also because I got sick during that time. Nevertheless, I am back again and it feels pretty great to be here. This series highlights talented artists who create their own custom card sets. Emphasis on "talented artists" because this week takes a look at HS Factor, a fan-made Hearthstone set created by a person who goes by the name of Grondaia.

HS Factor is a set that is themed after talent show competition series. Think either The X Factor or America's Got Talent and you've basically got the base idea. Hearthstone-ified as you might be able to guess. People who come to HS Factor have all sorts of weird talents to show off. This incidentally happens to be the keyword for the set. Talent is a fairly common custom mechanic idea. They are effectively Quests on minions. Complete the Talent and get a Reward.

We've got a new talent to show off. Welcome Grondaia to the stands to show off their talent of creating a Hearthstone set. Remember to applause when you see the "Applause" sign light up. Give it up for Grondaia.

What exactly is this set about? What is the inspiration for the set theme?

Grondaia: "The core thematic of the expansion is a huge talent show (such as [Insertcountryname]'s got Talent and X-Factor, from which the expansion takes inspiration for its name) where anyone can partecipate and show their most incredible, unusual or bizzare skills. The design of the expansion started from the mechanic, a simple variant of the Hearthstone's Quests (which would later become the "Talent" keyword).

I thought about different versions and thematics wherein this mechanic could've fit, such as a Gadgetzan comeback and the mechanic would have become a Task given to a minion from its boss.

Then I chose the talent show thematic 'cause it seemed more original and interesting and I was also able to put a bunch of memes inside it."

What ended up being the easiest or hardest classes to design for? How did you overcome any challenges that you were presented with?

Grondaia: "I can't honestly decide which class was the hardest to design, but I'm pretty sure that the Demon Hunter was the easiest to make, mainly because I tried to focus more on pre-existing DH archetypes that were underpowered at the start of 2021 (big and token).

The most challenging classes to design were probably Rogue and Shaman, 'cause initially I hadn't any idea of which old archetypes would've deserved a buff or which new ones would've been interesting to make (except for the "if you've cast a spell last turn" Shaman, I was kinda sure to give that archetype a little push).

However, in that period I was playing a lot of Devil May Cry and League of Legends (as Samira), so I thought about a Rogue archetype based on playing a lot of different cards to improve a sort of style rank.

Initially, it was more like a new keyword, but after a bit of work on this concept I achieved a viable and kinda cool final result.

While for the Shaman, I was inspired by Solem, who said that the Overload keyword kinda sucks in one of his videos and then I decided to buff Overload Shaman as secondary archetype for this class.

Also, I know it is not a class, but Neutral cards were really challenging to design, mainly because I hadn't any real guideline to make them, except for the Talent keyword and that's why a lot of Neutral cards are Talent-related."

Are there any other cards you wish to point out for any reason?

Grondaia: "I personally had fun in designing Weapon Mage and Shot Hunter.

These two archetypes were not particularly hard or easy to design, just really fun.

Also, I found fun to design specifically Vil'senus (one of the Warlock legendary minion) and I think its effect is bonkers."

Do you have anything behind the scenes you want to share with us?

Grondaia: "I dunno, maybe you'd find interesting that I actually photoshop'd a bunch of cards' artworks and some of them are really easy to spot."

What design philosophies do you have that you wish to share and spread to new creators? How long have you been making your own cards?

Grondaia: "I make custom cards since 2019 and I usually like to make cards for B-tier archetypes I find fun to play or if a potentially cool idea for a new archetype or mechanic flashes in my mind I try to put it into a card or more.

I never try to make a new mechanic or a cool card 'cause I have to, when ideas come out I just try to make 'em as more interesting as possible and turn 'em into cards.

For this specific expansion I chose to pursue a sort of anti-meta design philosophy and make something more control-ish.

I don't hate aggro decks, sometimes I play them too, but the plenty of aggressive Demon Hunter and Rogue decks in Standard and Odd Paladin and Secret Mage in Wild have made the game kinda frustrating over the course of the time."

Do you have anything else you want to share with us?

Grondaia: "I wish to thank all the guys in the custom Hearthstone server who gave me their support and feedbacks and helped me improve/balance the expansion, and you for the interview of course."

*Applause sign lights up!*

Give a round of applause for Grondaia. This was surely a wonderful talent to have unfold before our eyes. There's a lot more to watch for. You can see even more talent by clicking the banner below. Hope to see you next time.