Hello everybody and welcome back to another Fan Community Spotlight. 2 months ago was when I highlighted a piece of custom Duels content on the series for the very first time and since then, there's only been a whole lot more. Every installment of Duels content though has only highlighted custom heroes. Today on the series, we're highlighting another piece of Duels content, but it's a little bit more than just a custom hero. This is a whole expansion to the mode that introduces a lot of game-changing mechanics.

We have AgentCroque here to talk about this ambitious project that changes the mode as a whole. He has made some posts on his Twitter and his YouTube channel about the project. The expansion is called the Duels Allegiance Expansion. This expansion adds the Allegiance mechanic which are a series of Allegiances you can choose after a few games which contain a passive effect, a Draft number, and an Ally objective. After you pick an Allegiance, you will then add a number of card buckets that are synergistic to the Allegiance equal to the Draft number. The Ally objective is a Quest-like effect for you to meet over the course of the game, and when you do so, you will add that Allegiance's Ally card to your hand.

Take a look at the Grimy Goons Allegiance for example. While this Allegiance is active during your Duels run, it has a passive effect to buff to give two random minions in your hand +1/+1 whenever you play a multi-class card, a Draft number of 3 meaning that you will pick 3 synergistic card buckets after choosing it, and an Ally objective that will add the Allegiance's respective Ally card to your hand once you play minions with a cumulative total of 16 bonus stats over the course of the run. The Grimy Goons Allegiance's Ally card is Han'cho, Criminal Mastermind which will add 2 "Goons" to your hand (Hunter, Paladin, or Warrior minions from Mean Streets of Gadgetzan) and repeat all of your handbuff effects that you've played.

Over the course of the run, you'll also pick some bonus effects for your Allegiance. In the case of Grimy Goons, the bonuses you can acquire are Call the Gang, Bruiser, Heist Preparations, or It's Half the Battle!

You may also encounter ACE upgrades, which are more powerful than regular upgrades, but you can only have one of them during the run. With the Grimy Goons Allegiance, your choice of ACE upgrades are Secret Tunnels, Expert Smugglers, or More Bang For The Buck.

As this is a pretty big project, this is naturally a lot to cover at once and you may feel like your brain is a bit crowded with new information. As of right now, only a few Allegiances are fully completed, but there will be many more to come and when they do, you can bet that I'll be here to highlight them. But for now, I hand the mic over to AgentCroque to talk about how all of these huge custom additions to the mode came to be.

What is this project and how does everything work?

AgentCroque: "The Duels Allegiance Expansion is my personal side project next to my youtube and twitch, and consists of so Called allegiances. Their purpose is similar to the current pool 2 passives in duels, and are meant as a replacement. They are way more involved than what the current passives do, but start out a little weaker. They all have a passive effect and an ally. Allies are inspired by battlegrounds buddies and have unique effects tailored to synergize with the whole package. They are acquired by fulfilling a certain condition unique to each allegiance. As an example, if you have the Galakrond allegiance, you will have to invoke Galakrond 6 times to get your ally. You would then be able to upgrade your allegiance over the course of the run much like you would pick additional passive treasures, and will unlock one extra powerful Ace upgrade quite late in any given run. To make sure your allegiances have enough synergy with your deck, you get to draft a few completely synergistic card buckets right after picking it.

Chromatic Dragonkin Card Image

Allegiances would also impact your in between games experience by replacing cards in the buckets you would usually get with allegiance synergistic cards randomly.

They would also cause fun little character interactions between opposing allegiances to happen, for example if a League of explorers aligned player runs into a League of Evil aligned enemy!"

This is quite the ambitious project. How were you inspired to work on it?

AgentCroque: "This project slowly happened over time. I am very involved with the duels mode and make youtube content for it for close to a year now. Playing it so much, deckbuilding and experimenting with it gave me a number of insights, and over time i nailed down several aspects of the mode that I find anti fun or frustrating. That mostly came down to the bucket and passive treasure system being so random and causing frustration when the synergies you were aiming for do not arrive, while some very specific strategies like in the past face priest or very recently fire mages get boosted by this system so hard they ruin the fun for many. Since the most unfun decks were this way because they were laser focused on being built around certain pool 2 treasures, I wanted to introduce a system that cannot be built around and does not need to be built around to be good. That is why allegiance selection would be completely random, and why they are all made to be a whole package that should work in any deck."

Do you have anything behind the scenes you want to share with us, or perhaps a sneak peak of what's next to come?

AgentCroque: "Well, I am currently slowing the project down a lot because I picked streaming back up since the mode is so much more fun after the recent patch. This will be a very longform, slow burning project that I will go back to and make videos about now and then. I have plans for a lot of different allegiances, and as long as I have fun making them I will just keep going until I run out of factions.

When I present a "complete" allegiance, that does also not mean that I made literally everything possible for it. I usually only make 3-5 basic upgrades and 2-3 ace upgrades, but an actual system in game would need way more options for each allegiance to make the picks more interesting.

The next allegiances I will make videos about will be galakrond and the boomsday project! Allegiances I have started designing, but did not finish yet are the Jade lotus, the defias brotherhood and the Kabal."

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

AgentCroque: "I honestly havent been making cards for a long time. Apart from 2 or 3 random joke cards I made (one of them called Explode Un'Goro, that one was fun) I made a few custom duels treasure videos a few months back, but that`s it. In the end some of them got a bit more complex, like the Herald of the old gods one. I guess that was a proto version of what I am doing now.

My design philosophy is that the fun of one player should never come at the expense of the other player, which is why I avoid risking otk enablers as much as possible. Just personal bias of course, I hate OTKs decks. I love cards that have a lot of moving parts and variety, meaning they play differently every game in an ideal world. Which is why I started with the league of evil, lackeys introduce a lot of that!"

Do you have anything else you wish to share?

AgentCroque: "Well, if you enjoy hearthstone duels, check out my YouTube and twitch channels! Youtube subscribers and twitch followers make me feel appreciated and warm my heart ;)

I am also very active on twitter! Worth checking out.

Apart from that I just wish everyone a pleasant, peaceful time."

This will conclude this installment. This is quite a big project and I think you should absolutely follow it. You can follow it through AgentCroque's Twitter or YouTube channel. He also streams on Twitch if you're interested in checking that out.

Hope you enjoyed this installment, and I'll see you all for the next one.