Hello everybody and welcome back to another Fan Community Spotlight. The new Mercenaries mode launched earlier this week, and predictably we've all been caught in playing the new mode and us here at Out of Cards have been caught in covering all the information about it. This is a very weird installment for the series as I'm going to be covering a project made by... myself. Normally I wouldn't do something like this unless there was some significant occasion attached the installment in question, but I haven't had any new material to cover in a long time and I want to do one of these articles on something.
And that would be why I'm covering a project of mine that I've worked on for a few months, but I never finished. I got about halfway through with the set before it eventually just fell out of me. The set is called Azeroth World Tour, and it's a set with a theme of travel and vacation as we tour all across the Azeroth realm, visit many of notable areas and interact with some iconic characters. I would have a link here to the set, but here's the thing. I never made this set publicly visible, and as such, the only person that can access it is myself.
The set contains not one, but TWO new card types. Location cards and Hero Power cards. Location cards are a card type you're likely to be familiar with if you follow the fan-made creation scene in the way that I do. You play them and they have a persistent effect while active. Some of them are temporary (with a timer on the card in the form of the blood drop icon below the mana cost) and others don't expire on their own and will only go away if you attempt to play another Location on top of the one that is currently active for you. The other new card type is Hero Power cards which (as you can probably guess), give you a new Hero Power. This lasts for a certain amount of uses, displayed in the purple circle in the bottom-right, and then you revert back to your previous Hero Power. The set doesn't introduce a new keyword, but it does use Observe, a mechanic from a custom community set I worked on, Liftoff!
So now would be the part where I interview the creator of the set, and that happens to be myself. Normally, I would have ShadowsOfSense take this mantle if this were to happen but I don't believe this occasion has the same significance as those previous ones. So let me just play my Faceless Manipulator to copy myself and give him (them? It? Do faceless have genders?) the microphone.
What exactly is this set about? What is the inspiration for the set theme?
"The set effectively takes place all over Azeroth, traveling all across the planet. The idea is one that I had in my head for quite a long time and it stemmed from the fact that since most if not all sets nowadays take place in one specific area, why not take place in ALL of them? Travel all over the place.
In typical Hearthstone conventions, I decided to add a little bit of silly flavor (but not overly so), and the expansion has a vacation/travel theme to it. All players receive a copy of Tour Guide Lina for free, and she basically serves as the main character of the set, providing us with all of the information about each place we visit on our trips as we take a rid around the zeppelins. Each class is themed after a certain place of the Warcraft universe with their Location card representing the place as a whole and the other Legendary card being a significant character of that area.
The first 6 cards I made for the set were Tour Guide Lina, Magmatic Creation, Storm Seer, Ironforge, Maelstrom, and Titanic Sentinel. I had established a basis from there and tried to work my way out."
There are Location cards and Hero Power cards here. How did these come about and how were you inspired to use them?
"Location cards are very much a trope of fan-made expansions that’s been used by many people before, so that one was pretty obvious. It’s a design that’s easy and fun to use though. Sometimes designs are overused because they’re good designs, hence why a lot of people used them in the first place. Why I used them here is because they play into the expansion’s theme of travelling. There are several significant places in Azeroth to travel to, and the concept of a world tour invokes a feeling of seeing what’s all around you.
One point that always persists whenever Location cards are used is their permanent effects. While I wanted to keep some of this aspect there, I also had a way to combat this by making some of them temporary like Silvermoon City and Undercity. As noted before, temporary Locations have a blood-drop icon underneath the mana cost which signifies how many turns they last before they disappear. Permanent ones like Moonglade or Shadowmoon Valley do not have this icon. The aspect of temporary Locations is not only a boon for balancing, but also for future design. Should other Location cards be added in future sets, you can play multiple of them in the same deck without one of them being fully wasted because it either forces you to overwrite your active one or just sits in your hand because you want to keep the one you currently have. I am aware that a Health icon is perhaps not the best way to display this, but it’s what is available in HearthCards and I think it’s intuitive enough to understand.
If you notice that the border color for Shadowmoon Valley is different than other Demon Hunter cards, this is because Demon Hunter does not have its own template for Location cards, meaning that I had to use a similar-looking custom class border instead.
Hero Power cards a bit different. We’ve always had cards that change your Hero Power since Shadowform and Lord Jaraxxus way back from the very beginning of the game. I got the idea from cards like those as well as the fact that I realized that the “Backpack” card template that they used reminded me of the Hero Power design. The purple circle icon in the bottom-right then gave me the idea to put it on a timer. Hero Power changing cards are almost always permanent (until you play another one anyway) with very few exceptions, but this design of making temporary Hero Powers that are cheaply accessible made for some fun design place to play around. You can make simple Hero Power designs like Forge Blade or some more complicated ones like Stalking Shadows, and I think how differently you can design them is what made them interesting to me. In the context of the set, they also somewhat juxtapose the Location cards which are always Legendary, whereas Hero Power cards could come in a variety of different rarities."
What ended up being the easiest or hardest classes to design for and how did you overcome any challenges that you were presented with?
"The easiest class, or rather the first (and only) one I finished was Paladin. Paladin’s theme of Divine Shields ended up coming naturally when I themed the set after Silvermoon (and cards like Silvermoon Guardian and Blood Knight exist, both using a Divine Shield theme) and when I made Titanic Sentinel. Seeker of Justice was a card I made fairly early on the class and then that later manifested its second theme of handbuffing with cards like Airline Meal.
As for the hardest ones, the ones that I ended up with the least amount of progress on were Hunter and Priest. I wanted to make a Secret theme for Hunter (and that gave way to cards like Starfledged Huntress and Prowler Companion), but then I couldn’t think of anything to give them and it ended up leaving me stuck. I wanted Priest to have some interaction with Holy spells and healing resulting in its only two cards I made for it which are Ring of Light and Velen the Divine, the former of which is actually part of a cycle across multiple classes.
Rogue sits in a weird spot as, despite the number of cards I made for it, it ended up being a jumbled amalgamation of trying to give them support for Burgle, Deathrattle, and Combo all at once."
Are there any other cards you wish to highlight for any particular reason?
"A couple that I want to show off that I didn’t point out before are Perfect Moment, Champions of War, Troop Speaker, Flight Attendant, Magi Tourist, and Superflow. A couple others, but I don’t want to go too overboard.
Last but certainly not least in this department is the Shaman Legendary, Prince Thunderaan."
Do you have anything behind the scenes that you wish to share?
"Meteor Infernal was a card I originally proposed for Liftoff, but ended up not making it into the final product. If you’ve been following my designs for a while, you may also recognize Out in the Open, Chaos Burst, Burning Legion, and Velen the Divine as cards I’ve made before for different purposes. Sometimes it’s good to be “creatively lazy” and use designs you’ve used in the past."
Do you have anything else you wish to share?
"I can’t guarantee any good progress (or any progress at all for that matter), but do let me know if you want me to try to continue this project."
That would be it for this installment. I do hope that you enjoyed looking through this unfinished project of mine despite the fact that a lot of the cards I have are, predictably, very unrefined. Perhaps it has inspired you to do something for your next custom project, and if it has, then it's all worth it!
Next time, I should hopefully be back to my usual spot of having other people's creations on the spotlight. With Mercenaries out, we may see a surge of fan-made content for the mode over the next few weeks.