Hello everybody and welcome to another Fan Community Spotlight. This week, we're covering a piece of custom Duels content for the very first time on this series. Our subject for this article is a Priest/Warlock dual-class hero for the mode, Puppetmaster Lazul created by Machadogps. Custom Duels content is unexplored territory for most people, so perhaps the following project may give you some inspiration to get some of your own Duels content in the works.
Machadogps is a name that you might be familiar with if you're active in the Duels community, and he has appeared in our top Duels deck articles multiple times. He is also a moderator of Taverna Hearthstone, a Portuguese-speaking Hearthstone server.
Without further ado, here is on the mic with our first Duels content of the series.
Describe Lazul's design for us. How were you inspired to design her in the way that you did? How did you arrive on the current Hero Powers and Treasure cards?
Machadogps: "I've always wanted to design a custom duels hero, but never had an idea that I found satisfying. However, when the art for the "Baby Y'Shaarj" from BG's was officially released, I noticed I wanted to make a card out of it. I was thinking of it's design while playing a run in duels, and then I noticed... What if I made a custom-duels hero with the Baby Old gods as treasures? That's when I chose Lazul (Specially the Puppetmaster, as it's my favourite version of her, plus it has many useful arts). I decided making her a Priest/Warlock specifically because of the Old Gods flavor, as I thought Priest wasn't enough to explore all of her potential, and also dual-class heroes are always so cool.
For starters, the Hero Powers:
For Fortune, it's basically her Hero Power in Galakrond's Awakening, however I wanted to make it a tad bit more unique, so that's why I chose it to only copy spells, which from my experience, usually has a smaller density on the player's deck, so you will usually have a more curated pool for your choosing. Also worth noting this hero power is very priest-like, with the Thief Priest theme.
From Below flavorfully fits Lazul, as for her Bossfight she summons the creature Go'rath, an Old Gods servant which specialises in summoning Tentacles. From a gameplay perspective, it's clearly a warlock-esque Hero Power, as it summons two "Tokens" and deals damage to yourself for only 1 mana! It clearly has some synergy with the more aggressive Treasures like Baby N'Zoth or maybe even Baby C'Thun.
To Serve is my favorite Hero Power out of the three. From a flavor perspective, it makes total sense, as Lazul sacrifices her own minions to the Old Gods so she can get an unfair advantage, which translates into stealing a card from the opponent's deck! From a more mechanical perspective, it's a mix of Warlock (Destroying a friendly minion) + Priest (Stealing from the opponent). Fun fact, it's first design was draw a card from your own deck, but when I asked for AgentCroque's opinion, he gave me the feedback to make it copy a card from the opponent's deck. I liked the idea, but made it spicier... Drawing a card from the Opponent's deck
So for the signature treasures:
Puppeteer is very straightforward, made to be the first treasure the player unlocks when playing Lazul for the first time. Stealing an enemy minion and drawing a card from their deck seemed like a perfect combination.
Kriziki is intentionally slow and clunky. However, it enables some interesting decks with Twilight's Call, Amulet of Undying and Ressurrection cards to cheat out Big Spells like Mind Control and etc. It's more the "out of the box" treasure of Lazul.
The Old Gods are unique in each of their ways, resembling their Darkmoon appearances, however with some kind of twist to them. And now, comes my favorite part: Worship!
"Worship is a new keyword that makes a deck restriction only in the deckbuilding section, which means that after, the buckets/treasures won't have that restriction (It ignores the Baby Old Gods on that restriction too)."
When I got the connection that Lazul could Worship each God as a signature treasure, the creation process became much easier. If I had to choose my Favorite Signature treasure, it'd probably be Yogg. A deck with cards that contain the word "Random" and a Swiss-Army-Knife known as Baby Yogg!"
How long have you been making your own cards?
Machadogps: "I've began making fan-cards since 2018. At the beginning, I did common mistakes like not capitalizing the letters on keywords, not bold them, etc. But I followed card creation as a hobby and improved over time, to the point where card creators search for me in the discord that I moderate to review their texts in the "Hearthstonian" Portuguese Language. What's card creation for me? A way to put and share my ideas with others and talk about game mechanics."
How do you change your card designing methods when designing for Duels as opposed to Constructed?
Machadogps: "I feel like Duels has a much more power level specially for the treasures. The Hero Powers have to be unique in some way, so they aren't just the old heroes ones. When designing a treasure, I feel like there's 3 objectives that you should try achieving: "Is it Fun?" "Can it create/incentivize new/niche archetypes?" "Is it powerful enough to not be forgotten?". If you reach all of them, I'd say it's probably a great treasure."
Do you have anything behind the scenes that you wish to share?
Machadogps: "I made custom flavor texts to all of them! Some of them are just generic fun texts, however Y'Shaarj's one is a reference to the song from Queen "Another One Bites the Dust", just made fit for Y'Shaarj's theme :). I also made a custom select screen for the Treasures and Hero Powers, as you'd see them in-game. I basically used Photoshop, some in-game screenshots from Duels and made the cards look more "Immersive"."
What design philosophies do you have that you wish to share and spread to new creators?
Machadogps: "Don't hold back. If you think your idea is too crazy? I can assure you, you can put it into the text and make it look great. The custom-hearthstone community is a bit conservative with game-breaking concepts. And they were right with that take, until Valdris Felgorge was printed, which for me was the breaking point of "you can do whatever you want". If you have too much trouble nailing the text on cards, I recommend always looking at the Official Hearthstone Card Library and look at a similar card. Another thing, that is a personal opinion, but I find much easier to create cards based on their arts, rather than create a concept and have to hunt for a specific art."
Do you have anything else you wish to share?
Machadogps: "I'm a moderator in the Brazillian Discord "Taverna Hearthstone". We have a big card creation community there specifically for Portuguese talking folk! I also wanted to say thanks for a lot of people: SuperTitan, PãodeAlho, for always giving opinions on my cards, AgentCroque for reviewing and inspiring me to get more into Duels, the whole Duels Community! (Persia, UltraRotom, Avalon, Chrome, etc). And most importantly, Ates (Tabayrak), Daniel (Fusrohdaniel) and Brad (We all love you Brad)."
And now we have reached the end of this installment. It's never too late to start creating your own Duels content when the inspiration strikes you. There may very well be more Duels heroes on the horizon, and I will be there to cover them all. Until then, have fun.
You can already see the entire project in the article, but for the sake of consistency, below is a link to the Twitter post which also contains the entire project.