It's the start of a new year, and it's the start of a chilling new season of our Hearthstone WCDC's, and with that new season comes a lot of new changes. Change can be a bit scary at times, but with some work, we can all get through it no problem. It took a while for us to get back online with the new competitions, but we're finally here and we're super excited to see where it goes.

Conversation this week is going to explain exactly what is going on, and it's much less "fluffy" than most other Card Design Conversations, but it is a necessity to get everyone on the same page.

Where is Shadows?

That's a question that you might be asking yourself right now. You may have noticed that Shadows hasn't really been around too much over the past few months. That would be because Shadows got a new job some time and that has affected the amount of time that he's been able to spend on Out of Cards, which in turn has also affected the momentum in which we kept these competitions rolling. He was pretty integral to getting the whole process ran up.

Eventually, Linkblade and I took the reins where Shadows left them, and we're running the show for the moment. We now have access to all the banner files, and we're also learning exactly how these competitions work and we set them up. This doesn't mean that Shadows will be completely MIA for all of these competitions and card talks, but don't rely on him being here all the time. Life often gets in the way, and I support him in his new job 100%. When he isn't there, you can count on Linkblade or I to be where you need us to be, and you'll be able to ask any of us any questions.

What's New With Season 6?

We know that people have been giving feedback about what to change for these competitions for quite a while, and we ran multiple seasons with no changes mainly because we didn't really have the time to discuss what to change or when to prioritize it over anything else. In the long run, the FC side of the site is, understandably, a much lower priority than most other things we cover or need. They're fun pieces of fluff, but before you can work on the fun pieces of fluff, you have to work on the more important things first. Did your parents ever tell you to finish your homework before watching TV or playing video games? Working on the card competitions versus working on the rest of the site is like that.

For this season, we've decided that we no longer wanted to keep you guys waiting to try to improve the system. Most of what we're doing this season is less on the way the competitions work themselves and more on how we advertise them around, but we have some functional changes as well. Most significantly is the fact that your entry description will be visible in finalist voting. This is a suggestion that I have seen tossed around a bit, and I must admit that I'm not fully sure how well received it'll be, but everyone on the staff thought it was worth trying out and I thought so too.

Speaking of finalist voting, the number of finalists per competition has gone down from 8 to 6. We've changed this because over the past few seasons, we've ended up receiving a lower submission turnout. This was often to the point where the finalists would consist of around half of the people who submitted, and this in turn also meant that the average quality of said cards would be lower and a few times has some questionably made cards ended up in the finals because it didn't really have to do that good to get a spot in there.

Thankfully, this wasn't a huge problem, but it is something that we're trying to avoid. In the grand scheme of things, reaching the finals shouldn't really be that much harder than it was before, and the less spots ensures that instances of poorly made cards reaching the finals should decrease. If we see an upsurge of new people entering, then we can easily change this back.

And that leads me to my next point: Advertising. Card Design Conversation has always had a purpose to advertise the currently ongoing competition. While this probably had a positive effect on our submission count, and we will continue to keep doing this, it ultimately wasn't enough to make a very significant change all by itself. You may noticed on Tuesday, we published a redirect article on the front page. That's a new thing that we will do for every competition in this season to increase traffic. Despite how liberal we are about FC-related content on the site compared to other sites that focus on Hearthstone, it's still a very concealed corner of the community, and that little bit of extra exposure should make a big difference.

For this season, we're going to be operating on a new schedule:

  • Monday - Previous competition ends/New competition starts
  • Tuesday - Redirect article posted on main page
  • Friday - Card Design Conversation
  • Saturday - Submission period closes/Second voting period begins
  • Sunday - Fan Community Spotlight/Finals voting begins

You've Got to Axolotl Questions

Last time on Fan Community Spotlight was the first one of 2023 where I covered a project by a good friend of mine, Mr.Stupid. In that particular installment, I covered his custom core set, the Year of the Axolotl.

A couple new and old cards in the Year of the Axolotl Core Set

Making a new Core Set is a pretty daunting task, and that's one with a whole year of custom expansions in mind. But at the same time, it can also be pretty fun and thought-provoking. The Core Set of each year determines exactly what each class is going to be playing with for a year, and being in control of what cards you believe should be part of that can be pretty exciting. In the case of new cards like Archmage Modera or Axelotol, it also gives you an opportunity to build some groundwork to either push all new archetypes or have a solid building block for existing archetypes.

But while it's fun to make some new cards to fill some gaps, it's also fun to bring some new faces back. Seeing Tess Greymane back for 2022's Core Set was no doubt exciting for a lot of people. All of the League of Explorers came back too, and while not all of them are as playable as they were back in 2015 (who woulda thunk?), they're still kicking ass here and there. Especially Brann. Brann in particular has caused some chaos in combination with cards like Kael'thas Sinstrider prior to it being nerfed to 8 mana.

Bringing back some old cards for archetypal pieces is a way to give some cards a second chance. Perhaps they were good at one point, but fell over the course of time and are back for me. Or maybe some are like Hir'eek, the Bat which was always unplayable and has received a significant buff in this rework, but that significant buff may be enough to give it some life and a chance at redemption. And there's always the additional 3 sets that come with the year too.

The Death Knight Rises

We've launched a competition to serve as a prologue to the upcoming season 6 which will officially start with the next competition. In this competition, you're designing your own Death Knight cards. We did a competition like this near the end of season 5 before the Death Knight we received in Hearthstone was revealed, but now that we have that, we can launch it again in a very different way. Runes and Corpses change a lot of how Death Knight would be played without them and there's a lot of design space to explore.

There's no prize for winning this competition (those will resume when season 6 officially starts for real), so you can treat it as a fun little intermission before we really get the ball rolling.