Prepare for trouble! Make it double!
Hello everybody and welcome to another Fan Community Spotlight where today I've got a collaboration project: An expansion set in the Timeless Isles, and you know your Warcraft geography (which I do not), then you know that this is a part of Pandaria and is where the August Celestials are encountered (it's 3 months late, but they've decided to come out for this occasion anyway). Pandarian-themed sets and Monk classes are just about as old as fan-made Hearthstone cards itself resulting in a lot of different takes on the idea, but they always manage to set themselves apart from each other. These all make you wonder if and when we'll get that Pandarian-themed set for the real game and with Demon Hunter being in the game, Monk as a potential eleventh class.
The set in question is called Shaohao's Sha-kedown, created by two people, Henlo and Psyclone. Both of these people are people that I had previously created Liftoff! with (although Psyclone did not appear in the interview). The set features the new Awaken mechanic, which acts as a Sidequest-like effect to get you a reward. Although effects like these are nothing new to custom Hearthstone sets, the execution here is quite a bit different from any other time I've seen this effect and it affects the gameplay in a drastically different way. The task can be completed by either player, but regardless of which player completed the task, the reward goes to the card's controller.
If you've been excited for Pandaria to appear in Hearthstone, then you're going to love this set. Otherwise... you're still going to love it. Now it's time for Henlo and Psyclone to awaken for the interview. Enjoy!
What exactly is this set about? What is the inspiration for the set theme?
Henlo: "Shaohao's Sha-kedown is based around the Sha and the August Celestial of the Timeless Isle. We came up with the Shaohao theming toward the very end of the set (probably a dumb decision on our end but it worked out fine I think). The main theme is based around the Celestial Tournament, which was assembled by the Spirit of Shaohao. Initially, my inspiration for the set was a brewmaster cycle I made a couple months prior to starting Shaohao's Sha-kedown. Also, I realized a number of Mage cards I made separately even earlier than the brewmaster cycle could fit in a set, so I knew I wanted to do something with them. Ironically, not a single one of those mage cards I made, or brewmaster cycle made the cut at the end."
Psyclone: "This set was inspired by trials undertaken by Pandarians in the Timeless Isle, under the watch of the four August Celestials. We decided the include the Sha, spawn of Y'shaarj, as 'party crashers' for the event. They are awoken by powerful emotions that might arise, such as anger or despair."
Where does the Awaken mechanic come from?
Henlo: "The Awaken mechanic came from a friend of ours on the Custom Hearthstone discord server."
Psyclone: "Originally, our set keyword was going to be Stasis: (x) where you would get some bonus for x number of turns. However, we decided that didn't give us enough design space and we went for a keyword that Logovas came up with, Awaken. Awaken is a requirement that can be completed by either player, but you always get the reward!"
How did the two of you communicate your design process? Did the two of you have a particular part of the set that each of you strictly worked on, or was it just making whatever for anything?
Henlo: "In my opinion, Psy and I work together very well because our design process and products are similar. We didn't really have any formal formula in the sense that we designated a class or rarity or whatnot for each other, and just made cards for whatever class or rarity that came to mind. Most of the cards we came up with were bottom-up designs that we came up with using TheFriendlyEnemy's Zephrymatic bot with little to no flavor. From there, we gave critique on each other's ideas, and other community members who joined our set's Discord server pitched in occasionally."
Psyclone: "We found that having a set Discord server helped us organise and communicate while building this set. We didn't assign different parts of the set, just throwing ideas in and building off each others' designs within each class."
What ended up being the easiest or hardest classes to design for in the set?
Henlo: "I'm not really sure if there was an easiest class, but there was definitely one we struggled with. We finished Warlock first, which might be an indicator we found it the easiest, but I think we finished most other classes at a similar pace. I can't speak for my partner, but I found designing for Mage a little hard because it's not a class I enjoy designing for in general. Also, I think I tend to be picky with a lot of Mage cards because I think a lot of Mage tropes are considered unfun."
Psyclone: "I think the easiest class to design for this set was Warlock, because both archetypes(handbuff and enemy debuff) had bleed between the two and had interconnecting synergy. Conversely, I'd say the hardest class to design for was Demon Hunter due to the lack of mechanical precedent for the class. However, I think our Demon Hunter set ended up being one of our better ones and I'm quite proud of it."
Are there any other cards you wish to highlight for any particular reason?
Henlo: "My personal favorite cards are Sha of Despair and Sha of Hatred. I like to think we really hit the nail on the head for most of our Sha."
Psyclone: "One card I'd like to highlight is the Sha of Despair. I like its use of flavour wording, as well as its synergy with Deathrattles and Priest's penchant for high-Health minions. Since it converts all the minion's Health, it does trigger the initial Deathrattle and summon up to 6 more copies for it to go another round!"
Do you have anything behind the scenes that you wish to share?
Psyclone: "One thing that happened during early design in this set that I'd like to share is the mage set. Originally, it was going to have half of its share of cards focusing on cheap spells and the Sha of Pride recasting all your 1-Cost spells on your enemies. However, we ended up taking a 180 on that and making it about big spells, since Pride is the biggest and most powerful Sha."
Do you have anything else you wish to share?
Henlo: "Hope you all enjoyed Shaohao’s Sha-kedown! Thanks, Demonxz95, for doing this FCS."
We've reached the end of the interview, and would you look at that, it's still sunset out. Here in the Timeless Isle, you'll never run out of time to check out the rest of the expansion, so what are you waiting for? Click the banner below to check it out.