How is everyone feeling about the expansion so far? Been managing to play your favourite janky builds in amongst all the Owls, Pirates and Troggs? It's so interesting to see the meta evolve at the start of an expansion - as any custom card creator can tell you, people will wildly under and overestimate cards all the time, with people frequently doing both for the same card, and seeing the shocked reactions to some card's early performance is always fun.

Conversation this week is just me having a field day, honestly.

Double Honours

Twice the congratulations this week! Firstly to BloodMefist and their Frostwolf Houndmaster...

...and secondly to anchorm4n and their Sergeant! Congrats on the WCDC win!

They'll be in charge of next week's theme, so look forward to that!

New Pastures

The new expansion comes with an interesting new mechanic spread across several cards. I suppose to someone only familiar with Hearthstone it might not actually be that noteworthy, but to those who've dipped their toes in... honestly any of the other big card games, you likely took one look at them and thought 'oh, finally!'.

I'm talking, of course, about the Objective cards.

Wildpaw Cavern Card Image Frostwolf Kennels Card Image Dun Baldar Bunker Card Image

In the Pokemon TCG, they're called Stadium cards; in Yu-Gi-Oh!, they're a sub-section of spells called Field spells; in Magic: the Gathering... I guess Enchantments are pretty close. None of them are exact analogues, each with their own rules and restrcitions based on the needs of the game they're in, but essentially all of them provide a constant effect that affects your whole board, or sometimes the opponent's board - or both! I'm sure other card games have similar mechanics too, those are just the ones I'm familiar with.

The reason the mechanic intrigued me was because - as you might have been able to tell from my examples - other games have taken the approach of making these effects their own types of card, often with various synergistic mechanics. Magic of course goes the most in-depth with this, but is also the least like the iteration in Hearthstone; I'd say that Pokemon's Stadium cards feel the most similar to me, but even there Stadium cards have their own place on the board to play them.

Hearthstone has only really had one new type of card introduced to the game in its lifetime - Hero cards - and that honestly isn't that unusual. In its many years of existence, Magic has only really had Planeswalkers introduced to the main game - we'll not count Tribal - though it has had plenty of supplemental card types for different formats like Planechase, subtypes like Curse, or the more interesting Dungeons.

Objectives just twigged my interest because they felt like the perfect time to trial another card type - it seemed so obvious to follow in the footsteps of these other games - but stepping back and looking at it again... why? What's the purpose? In physical games it's much more necessary to separate these kinds of effects into different card types because they necessitate continuous tracking, and it's just easier to remove some of the burden from the player by more clearly delineating everything.

In a digital game though something like that really isn't needed, and we've known this since the inception of Hearthstone - in any of the other games, Secrets would probably be their own card type, or at least a subtype of a card type. In Hearthstone, all the faff can be taken care of behind the scenes and they can just be spells, allowing for potential synergies. Quests follow this same logic, so clearly a new type of card and yet just spells in execution.

It makes me wonder - what's the barrier for a new design that would truly necessitate an entirely new type of card? Does it need to be something groundbreaking, or could it be something simple that just doesn't quite fit in as a spell? Could it even be purely an optical thing, something that truly could be a spell but isn't just to make it seem more unique? These are all interesting questions, and definitely something to think about when designing new custom mechanics; after all, I know I've seen a million different takes on 'Location' cards, some glorified spells and some... maybe meeting that uncertain threshold.

Cost Management

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