Attention everyone on Out of Cards. ARE YOU READY TO ROCK?!!! Again?
I say again because we've got a remastered set for you this week. Almost exactly two years was when I first looked at Rock in Azeroth, a custom set by MrRhapsody themed around heavy metal music with each class being themed around a specific sub-genre of metal (and if you're not too familiar with the genre as a whole, you would be surprised at just how many different types of metal there are). Music themed sets have been a fairly common trope among custom Hearthstone expansions and in the long time since we've received them, we've received Festival of Legends in the actual game as a set that finally brings the popular expansion type to reality.
With the set out, it only makes sense that you would want to go back to your custom music-themed set, whatever that set may be, and see just exactly how differently your set panned out compared to Blizzard's. A lot has happened in the past two years as far as Hearthstone card design philosophy is concerned, and in that time we also received the new location card type and Death Knight as our 11th class added to the game. Perhaps we might look at this again if a 12th class is ever added to the game.
Today Rock in Azeroth is back in the form of Rock in Azeroth Remixed, which keeps many of the bells and whistles of the original set, makes some changes to what was already there, and also adds some entirely new cards to the mix. Death Knight is now entering the fray! Death Knight's addition has also caused some changes to the way the themes of the class are arranged as is on the image below.
The Solo and Band Member keywords remain from the original set. Cards with Solo trigger an effect if you control no other minions at the end of your turn (which would coincidentally end up in Festival of Legends in a modified form via the "soloist" cards), and Band Members are Lackey-like tokens that are all 2/2s with two keywords (a change from the original set where they were 2/3s instead). New to the remixed set and exclusive to the mini-set is the Perfect Solo mechanic with derives from the normal Solo where the minion in question needs to stay alone on your board after X turns. This is a pretty monumental requirement, so you better believe that it comes with some staggeringly powerful rewards.
As a person who does play drums, I can concur that Taunt and Lifesteal would be the keywords I would have if I were a minion.
The original set was also one of the first custom set (that I'm aware of at least) to have its own Battle Pass, custom coin, bundles, and many other details that you'd never see on a custom set, even one made by a veteran of the hobby. The remixed set does not disappoint for it also has its own set of signature cards, a new custom coin, and a new Battle Pass. I would post them all here, but there's honestly just so much to get into that it would be for your best interest to just visit the forum thread. That's really the only way I could do any justice to the amount of effort put into this project.
Now that we have our reunion welcoming ceremony done, we can get to the actual show! MrRhapsody has provided a Spotify playlist for the set, which houses all of the references to songs and bands that are contained in the set. If you're so inclined, you can use it as a source of background noise while reading the interview or browsing the full expansion, or absolutely anything else.
Let me hear you make some noise!!!
It's been quite a while. How about giving us a recap of what the set is.
MrRhapsody: "So, Rock in Azeroth is a expansion based on the Metal music universe. Each class is themed around a sub-genre of Metal ( Death Metal, Power Metal, Symphonic Metal, etc) Unlike most music based sets, this one focus only on one genre, Metal, and is more like a homage to the Metal culture than a music based set. The main mechanic is Solo, an end of turn effect if the minion is alone on your board, unlike the actual soloist from Festival of Legends, who trigger as a Battlecry (and sucks). Some nice examples are Iron Maiden, Scale of Justice, Rustwyx Ozzyborne and E.T.C, Solo Master. There's also the Band Members, 2/2 minions with two Keywords who're summoned through other cards, like Steelven, the Band Leader, who summon all at once, or Show Opener and Zombie Ritualist."
What all has happened since the last time this set was featured on the series?
MrRhapsody: "This time, the set features Death Knight, and just like in the Festival of Legends, their theme is Death Metal, focusing on Unholy and Blood runes, with cards like Geor,di, the Corpsegrinder, Schuldiner, the Death and Children of Bodom. If you remember by any chance, Death Metal was Warrior's theme, but since it fits DK more, the new theme is what I like to call "Core Metal", which includes Metalcore, Deathcore and Grindcore (Ex: Sevenfold Avenger and Killswith Engager).
The Band Members originally were 2/3's and went to your hand, now they are 2/2's but are instantly summoned and have way more synergy now , like the Spare Keybordist, who almost featured as an actual Band Member but didn't make because the Charge keyword is kinda scary considering cards like Mus'thane the Vengeful. The Stages ,who were spells that worked similar to Objectives from Alterac Valley, became locations to better suit the flavour, like the Dark Stage. And for last the mini-set ( Now named Let's Ride to Metal Land) Features 3 neutral weapons to let your hero be a Band Member, and a brand new and exclusive keyword, the Perfect Solo! It works the same as the original Solo, except by the fact that the minion must stay on the board for (X) turns for it to trigger, two cool examples are the Sodom Agent and the King of Fools."
How has the time between then and now affected the set and your own methods of card design?
MrRhapsody: "Well, a lot has happened, eh? It's been two years and much changed for Hearthstone, we got DK, Nagas, Undeads, signature cards, and also huge changes in design philosophy for the devs. I remember people saying that the original Virg Vakerness was OP because he could've give Stealth to Mal'Ganis through the Bassist, and now we have The Jailer and Mal'Ganis in the fucking core set! This just proves my point that more offten than not custom cards aren't as strong as we think. But anyway, the original set launched a little after the Barrens, and then we got a bunch of high powerlevel expansions later, like Stormwind and Nathria. Many interactions that seemed to be OP in the original set got into the game somehow and proved to actually suck, like the original Drai'man the Disturbed and Sheldras Moontree for example, so although the main complain about the original set was the powerlevel, i've decided to not just keep the power level high, but to also buff a bunch of cards, like Malmsteen, the Speedy, Hunting High and Low or The Big Four."
Are there any other cards you wish to showcase for any reason?
MrRhapsody: "First, I'd like to highlight the Impure Warlock archetype, with Shaggrath, the Impure, Mayhem, Deathcrush, Puritania and Cradle of Filth's Keeper. I kinda hated that I haven't got this idea back in the original. By that time, I hated Black Metal, but then I've discovered Dimmu Borgir and loved their song, and although their music has symphonic touches, it still opened the genre's doors for me. And as opposed to Pure Paladins, Impure Warlocks let's you play Neutrals, however, you get punished for doing so. Other card I wish to show is the Destruction Preventer. I'm a huge fan of Sonata Arctica, and by march 18th they did a show on my city after a 5 years delay, and to celebrate, i've made the Destruction Preventer (Named after one of their songs) right after the show, along with its signature version, even thought the set was already done."
Do you have anything behind the scenes that you wish to share?
MrRhapsody: "First of I want to say that the Remake was in development since the March of the Lich King lauch, so the fact we got an actual music themed set right after it was just a coincidence. Another thing I want to bring to the interview are the polemic AI arts. Often we card designers struggle to find good art for our cards, so I'm no exception, so had to recur to that tool to get some things right, like the Stages. Almost all of them were AI generated, and why do you ask me, because i love AI art? Of course not! I'm a artist myself, god dammit, however the truth is, they are a good stopgap for when you want specific art or don't have a lot of time to waste searching for a fitting art, a god example is the Castle of Grass, which is a pun on the Linkin Park song Castle of Grass, and the original art was from a Yu-Gi-Oh card which just featured a wall of spikes, no castle nor grass, so AI was a good opition to keep the flavour of the card without wasting a bunch of time. All of this was to say that wheter you like AI art or not, the fact is that they are good tool to have around while making custom sets.
For the last curiosity, I will defend my cause. Remember the Warlock skin and Legendary Mattheus Darkreign? Whose card art was made by me? By the time the original set came out, i've decided to give a shot to the Hearthstone art style, which was waaaaaaay off my lane, and so the result was kinda mediocre and quited the idea of switching styles. But then I discovered an official Hearthstone artist called Trent Kaniuga, who sells a bunch of workshops and courses to teach the Hearthstone artstyle. For those who don't know, he was the artwork designer of cards like Overlord Runthak, Plaguespreader, Coilskar Commander and many more, and on his website there's a lot of gerenal art content and Hearthstone art stuff, for example, he recorded the whole process of creating the artwork for Overlord Runthak, and showed with details how the Hearthstone art directors commisioned the artists (And also showed that art directors mess way too much on the card art, so when a card comes a shitty artwork, complain to the Team 5's art direction, not the artists) By using a bit of his tips and tricks, I mannaged to improve the artwork a lot! Just look a difference. So if you reader want to become a pro artist but are too afraid of AI, worry not, our work is still wanted and aprecciated. (Another fun fact: Mattheus is a mashed up version of my name, while Darkreign is the name of my first WoW character)."
Do you have anything else you wish to share?
MrRhapsody: "I'd like you to show the extra stuff here, like signature cards, diamond cards, coins,and the skins. These extrra stuff on surelly my favorite part of making a custom set, and I think every set makers should give a try to those. And for last, once again i'd like to reinforce my main card desing mantra: It is not always a competition, the only thing you need to have to be a custom card designer… is fun! Criticism is always fine and welcome, but please y'all, don't let the over tryhards destroy the community, skill comes with time and pratice, like everything in life. So come on, make cards based on stuff you like, or memes, or a card you'd like to see in the game, doesn't really matter, what matters is that making custom cards is really fun for a lot people, so come on and HAVE FUN!"
Interviewer's note: As I noted before, there's way too many of these to list, so here's simply one of each. All the rest is in the forum thread.
That's what we call in the world of rock a "reunion tour" and we've now reached the end of it, but there's still plenty more to come. Visit the forum thread by clicking the banner below to look at the entire set. It's absolutely worth your time.