Have you been stressed out and feel like you just need to take some time and unwind and not do anything? If so, then it sounds like you need a holiday, and that's exactly what we're doing on this Fan Community Spotlight. Our installment for this week is off to the islands as we look at Holidays at Un'Gol Island made by Moondreamer, who is actually appearing on this series for the very first time. This is also the first Fan Community Spotlight after the column officially turned 3 years old on August 26th of this year.

As we all know, Hearthstone's heroes of warcraft have been working non-stop whether their quest is to save the world or destroy it. Either way, they could all use some time to get away and finally relax.

Here at the Un'Gol island is the new Recoverable mechanic. Take a look at Un'Golian Warrior. On your next turn after you play it, you can either spend 1 mana to put it back into your hand, or just leave it where it is. Not everyone is about using this time to sit down and see the sights though. Some people have taken this island expedition as an opportunity to make some trades, which means that the Tradeable mechanic from United in Stormwind is also coming back.

All players will also get Zuraka, Naga Hunter as a free Legendary before the expansion launches, and pre-ordering the expansion will also get you the Party Maiev skin for Rogue. Heaven knows how much of a vacation she needs from all the shit she's dealt with.

After making a set, you'd probably need a break yourself and what better place than Un'Gol Island! That's exactly why we're going to give Moondreamer more work to do by conducting an interview to see how this set was made.

What exactly is this set about? What is the inspiration for the set theme?

Moondreamer: "Holidays at Un'Gol Island is a set about Azeroth's heroes and villains going on a much needed vacation after countless world-saving missions and evil world-domination schemes. There's a few reasons behind the theme:

  • First and foremost, artwork. As an aspiring designer, I don't have an art team at my disposal. A decent artwork is, in my opinion, the single most important element of a custom card. Unfortunately, this means that I'm very limited when it comes to which expansion themes I can explore. The main reason I've landed on a tropical island theme for this expansion is simple: there's a ton of high quality Hearthstone art that features Pirates, Nagas and characters with sand in the background.
  • Another reason is that I usually prefer serious or grim expansion themes both in custom and real Hearthstone expansions. This project was a deliberate attempt at pushing myself out of my comfort zone.
  • Much like Karazhan becoming the heart of a massive party and Nathria becoming a Cluedo board, the idea of heroes and villains going on a fun vacation together in a WoW location feels very Hearthstone-y to me.
  • Why Un'Gol Island? I googled "Wow Islands" and it was the only one the wiki described as a tropical island. I haven't played WoW so I don't have any other way to research cool expansion locations. Sorry. :("

Where does the Recoverable mechanic come from? What about the inspiration to bring back Tradeable?

Moondreamer: "I find Echo and Twinspell to be pretty cool mechanics and I wanted to find a way to make a new version of them. Recoverable is the end result of this experimentation. When a card with Recoverable is played, at the start of your next turn you'll be able to spend 1 Mana to add a new copy of it back to your hand. Recoverable cards can be added back to your hand countless times as long as you are willing to pay the price for them. To avoid giving players infinite value packed in a single card, most Recoverable spells draw cards and most Recoverable minions are pretty tame.

The main reason I've decided to bring back Tradeable is because I had quite a few designs in mind that used the keyword in ways I hadn't seen anywhere else yet. Also, I've had a bunch of commerce/trading artworks to use and I thought it would thematically fit quite well."

What part of the set do you think was the most fun to design and why was it fun?

Moondreamer: "My favorite part of thinking about and designing custom expansions is finding ways to revitalize old undersupported archetypes. I'm mainly a Wild player and since a Wild-focused expansion is clearly not happening, the only way that some very interesting archetypes will ever receive support again is if the developers decide to print them again. My expansion pushes quite a lot of these archetypes: Deathrattle Mechs and Poisonous minions for Hunter, Self-Destruction of Mana Crystals for Warlock, Pirates mixed with Shadow spells for Priest, Lifesteal in Demon Hunter and more."

Are there any other cards you wish to showcase for any reason?

Moondreamer: "Since I can't pick my favorite cards from the set (I've been trying for half an hour!) I'll instead share some cards that summarize the entire expansion pretty well. Picking these cards was by far the hardest part of the interview!"

Do you have anything behind the scenes that you wish to share?

Moondreamer: "Coming up with completely new and interesting archetypes is really challenging. Hearthstone has tried quite a lot of things by now, so creating archetypes that weren't just something old reimagined in a new way was difficult. I'm particularly proud of Cannon Rogue and Kadoom Hunter.

Two fun facts about those archetypes: Cannon Rogue actually started as my Warrior archetype for the set and used a giant explosive charge that grew stronger and stronger instead of a cannon. Switching from a massive explosive to a cannon allowed me to design a Location that would deal its damage over multiple turns instead of all at once allowing more time and counterplay for the opponent. That, and also the fact that a giant bomb that explodes and then stays on the board, ready to do it again in two turns doesn't make any sense.

Kadoom Hunter was born out of my love for Hunter's set in The Boomsday Project, which is thematically my favorite expansion of all time. That, and also the fact that in the days prior to the release I was having fun with a silly homebrew deck that won by putting pressure early and then triggering Naval Mine's Deathrattle a bunch of times in the midgame."

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?

Moondreamer: "I've been playing card games for my entire life. I've been making some custom cards every now and then for the past few years, I just haven't felt like sharing them before.

My advice (and personal opinion) when it comes to custom cards is that the most important part of the card isn't actually the design but the presentation. Two things in particular:

  • The artwork, which needs to fit the theme that you are going for, be in the Hearthstone style (or at least be believable) and be in high quality.
  • The text: follow the rules set by the Hearthstone team and watch out for spelling mistakes, remember that keywords should use bold text and be careful with comma and period placements. If you have any doubts about the wording of a card, check the database to be sure. Bad wording completely ruins a card, no matter how good its design."

Do you have anything else you wish to share?

Moondreamer: "The reason I've started getting more involved is the custom Hearthstone scene is because being a card designer is one of my dream jobs. Also, I have a pretty cool thematic and narrative hook for another expansion that I'll work on when I have some spare time. If it ever comes out, it will be a dark expansion to set iself apart from Holidays at Un'Gol Island and it will take place somewhere cold."

We've arrived at our destination. Now that you've looked at the brochure for our vacation, it's time to actually go out there and enjoy! The entire scope of what you can do is just a second away and all you have to do is click the banner below.