Hello everybody and welcome back to another Fan Community Spotlight. The new set, March of the Lich King has been announced, Death Knight is coming to the game, and we're all really excited to see some new cards. While cards on this series are not official "new cards" (the series is called Fan Community Spotlight after all), they'll still serve to help bridge the gap in-between reveals while our eagerness to view new cards grows insurmountable.

Our project in question for this installment is a custom expansion and mini-set called Tales From the Broken Isles created by someone by the name of Chr2. Even though we're already past Halloween, it's still reasonably appropriately spooky given not only the time, but also Death Knight's announcement and the new set that comes with it. Each class primarily represents an aspect of the Broken Isles. Additionally, each class also gets its own Legendary location.

The keyword for the set is Extreme, which is a keyword that fittingly works on two different extremes. Cards with the mechanic will activate their Extreme effect if they're the highest or lowest-Cost card in your hand when you play them.

Shall we converse with Chr2 to see how this set came to be how it is? Let's go see.

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

Chr2: "The set is about the Broken Isles, an ancient landmass in the middle of Azeroth’s seas. The idea was to have each class represent an aspect of the Broken Isles, through the zones themselves or the factions that inhabit them.

The main inspiration for creating the set was the possibility of Legendary Locations, something we had not yet seen in Hearthstone, so I wanted a theme for the expansion with that in mind. I remembered how World of Warcraft: Legion had introduced class halls, which seemed perfect as Legendary Locations, and since the Broken Isles was the primary continent from WoW: Legion I chose that as the basis for the expansion. However, after realizing not all class halls were located on the Isles, I decided to expand to other wonders, which the Broken Isles were not shy of."

What is the inspiration for the Extreme mechanic and how you use it?

Chr2: "I actually started the design process without a custom keyword in mind. After having already made a few cards, I knew I would have to think of one before committing too much to any archetype. So I spent the next couple of days thinking about potential keyword candidates, often looking to existing Hearthstone cards for inspiration, when I stumbled upon Vanndar Stormpike and Drek'Thar from the Fractured in Alterac Valley set. They gave me the idea for the similar Extreme effect. My card Dargrul, Underking is a callback to both of those cards, and tries to combine the two in one.

Some of my early Extreme cards, such as Val'kyr Stormbreaker and the Fallen Avatar, were inspired more by the unique mana cost-related aspects of the Extreme keyword, while later cards with the keyword were built more around a relationship with the Cordana Felsong card.

The name itself is based mostly on a connection to the mechanics of the keyword. The only connection it has to the Broken Isles, if one really wanted to force it, is that the Isles’... sigh... terrain could probably be considered, you know… “Extreme”."

What part of the set was the most fun to design?

Chr2: "The part that was most fun to design was also the most time consuming. Since I had limited the theme of each class to specific aspects of the Broken Isles, finding appropriate artwork was never easy. Finally finding the perfect art, even if it meant having to do some tweaks in Photoshop myself, was very rewarding.

In terms of card mechanics, what was most fun to design was finding novel ways of doing Locations and attempting to figure out what a Legendary Location could look like. Often as I lay in bed at night, trying to fall asleep, I would think of different designs for whatever Location I had been working on that day, writing anything of value down on my phone so I could see it the next time I had the time and make the card."

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

Chr2: "Every Hearthstone expansion has this stand-out Neutral Legendary in both the main- and mini-set that is used in almost every deck. I don't think I accomplished this for the main set. In the mini-set, however, I feel like I was more successful, particularly with Tichondrius. He is probably the card I'm most excited about out of all the ones I made, both in terms of theme and mechanics.

Additionally I'd like to showcase my 3 favorite Legendary Locations:

Vault of Eyir - There are several of the Legendary Locations I'm proud of, and most of them had Deathrattle, something we haven't seen in Locations before. Vault of Eyir I feel did it the best. The on-use ability is very similar to the current Paladin Location, Great Hall, but with the Legendary flair of having a related Deathrattle.

The Naglfar - Another Location with Deathrattle. While Vault of Eyir did the concept better, the Naglfar probably had the most interesting mechanic of the set. A Location that goes Dormant when it dies is a really cool concept, but I'm not sure I gave it the best ability or return condition for the idea.

Halls of Valor - This isn't the most exciting Legendary Location, but the reason I'd like to showcase this card is because it basically birthed the entire set. When the idea to make a set with Legendary Locations popped into my mind, this was the first card I made.

Lastly I’d like to showcase the Demon Hunter Legendary; Varedis Felsoul. Not many of the class archetypes of this set delve into unexplored territory, but Varedis, and his support cards, intended to give Demon Hunter access to the discard archetype, something that is currently only available for Warlock."

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

Chr2: "When you’ve spent a long time in a sort of card-creation haze the numbers start melting together and it can be difficult to get the balancing right. I would often ask for my brother’s opinion on cards, and he would sometimes have a comment on either the balance or wording of a card. Therefore many of the cards from the set went through several iterations before landing on their final version.

One such, the Icon of Envy, was particularly difficult to get right, having undergone maybe 10 or more iterations. The card was intended to be a payoff to the Poison package for Rogue, and the version I went with may not be the most exciting version of the card I made, but it is probably the most balanced.

I mentioned earlier that the Locations went through a change in terms of theme, but there was another significant change in the set’s theme early on; the Nighthold was not supposed to be the mini-set of the expansion.

Originally I had only intended to give 5 of the classes Legendary Locations, but after looking back to the introduction of Legendary Weapons, I decided to make one for all 10. This meant that Warlock, which previously wasn’t supposed to get a Legendary location, now had to get one. The only candidate worth mentioning was the Tomb of Sargeras, the location of WoW: Legion’s final raid taking place on the Broken Isles, and my original mini-set. It wasn’t a big issue though, as I had only made 1 card for the mini-set anyway, which became the other Warlock Legendary."

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?

Chr2: "I’ve been making custom cards for a while, I just rarely shared them before this. Tales from the Broken Isles is actually my second attempt at a custom expansion. A while ago I was very slowly working on a custom expansion about dragons where each class represented a different dragonflight, but canceled the idea when Blizzard basically made the exact same expansion.

My main design philosophy when making Hearthstone cards is an adherence to the lore it was built upon. The Warcraft franchise is what got me interested in Hearthstone in the first place, and I base almost all my cards on established characters or places. Inventing your own characters and stories is cool. It’s something Hearthstone does often and something I aspire to, but I believe they should fit firmly within the Warcraft setting."

Do you have anything else you wish to share?

Chr2: "When making the cards for each class, I sometimes had so many ideas that I would have to scrap cards, even entire archetypes, to make room for the ones that needed to be there. It’s not unlikely I would make something like this again where I could use the cards that didn’t make it and apply the experiences I learned from designing Tales from the Broken Isles."

And that will conclude this week's installment of Fan Community Spotlight. If you want to check out the rest of the set, you can click the banner below. You've got 170 cards to look at in the Broken Isles, and even more cards to release with March of the Lich King coming on December 6th.