Hello everybody and welcome back to another Fan Community Spotlight. While we're out in the wild west waiting for what will be wickedly wonderful or woefully weak cards, we've got a wonderfully whammy of two winners in weaving card design. Today, we're taking it to the track with the need for speed! Not the EA racing franchise, but something that has a higher standard of quality.
CHS Ping Pong is a set created by Mr.Stupid and TheFriendlyEnemy, both of whom I've featured quite a few times on Fan Community Spotlight. Both of them have been friends of mine in the custom Hearthstone scene for multiple years, and both of them are extremely talented card designers. Put two of them together and you've got yourself a winning formula.
We can predict that pairing two great card designers together would just make a high-quality set with no questions asked, which is why these two also went the extra mile and decided to challenge themselves for this project. The set is called "CHS Ping Pong" because of the way the set was designed featuring both creators going back and forth designing one card at a time, and additionally the creators were not allowed to communicate with each other in any way except for seeing what cards the other had made.
The 'ping pong' aspect of the card design is even exemplified in a video made by TheFriendlyEnemy containing every card in the set down below in a ping pong fight between the two set creators.
The video is EXTREMELY fast, so you might want to set the speed to 0.25 if you want to have time to read all of the cards. Even then, you might have to pause the video to read each card thoroughly, but you'll at least have a fair amount of time to get your bearings in order to stop-and-go each time. You can look at all of the cards in one place in the album hyperlinked above.
The set also contains one or two new keywords depending on how you choose to count them. Speed is a counter that starts at 1, and this counter increases whenever you play three cards in the same turn, and you'll be able to view how much Speed you currently have in the bottom-right where the Death Knight Corpse counter is. Speedy (X) builds off of the new Speed resource by providing a bonus effect on some cards if you have X or more Speed when you play them. Your Speed isn't spent when you do this, it's just a binary threshold that detects if you have that much.
This also happens to launch a brand new minion type for the game, the Ethereal. Ethereals have tribal synergy that occurs if the last card you played was an Ethereal, not too dissimilar to something like Elemental or Undead.
Now, the two of them are off to the races!
What exactly is this set about? What is the inspiration for the set theme?
Mr.Stupid: "This set was a small game idea I had while working on my super hero set. A cute idea I thought was funny enough to share with my buddy TFE. Though to my shock he was down for it and after I wrapped up my Miniset, we got to work. The inspiration was actually Darkmoon Faire’s Miniset. I thought it was a neat theme that didn’t get as much love as it should have, so I thought why not expand on it."
TheFriendlyEnemy: "This set is about a race taking place within and around the Netherstorm. While a lot of Ethereals are present, and we even see Boom at his lab (for the purposes of the set, the League of EVIL haven’t yet died), the set isn’t entirely within the Netherstorm. Every class is taking their own route to get to the finish line as fast as possible, including through the skies, by sea, by portal, or even through space."
How did you manage to make this unconventional structure of set design work?
Mr.Stupid: "I’d say mainly playing things by ear, seeing what your partner did and trying to build upon it instead of tug things in the other direction. We weren’t allowed to talk besides through cards, so we had to trust each others ideas."
TheFriendlyEnemy: "Going into this set, I was expecting Ping Pong to be some kind of chaotic group design challenge like Hearthphone or Ouija, where it would take extra effort to make the end result not turn out to be some crazy mess of disconnected cards. Surprisingly though, it wasn’t a challenge at all. In fact, we finished in just 13 days, which shocked me, since I’ve spent about half a year per set on my custom Year of the Spider.
In hindsight, it’s easy to see the reasons why it would work; both participants make the same amount of contribution, no communication means no lengthy clashes of ideas over unimportant details, and both participants act as a perpetual source of inspiration and feedback for the other. While it definitely helped that me and Mr. Stupid are quite similar as designers, the results of the Ping Pong format are still impressive enough that I’d even consider it for serious projects."
What are some of your favorite cards that you made for the set? How about from your partner?
Mr.Stupid: "I think my favorite cards that I made, were all the Ethereals. It’s been a tribe I’ve been wanting to put in a project for soooooo long, and finally had the chance to do it here. While I did have some issues finding art, once we got a good amount, it was so fun to expand on what classes got Ethereals and they’re ironically ping pongy nature between minions and cards that benefit off them.
As for TFE’s cards, he had a lot that just made me pause and go “Dang…” Especially when it came to Speed and Speedy cards. Like he made Victor’s Trophy when we were still tinkering with the keyword."
TheFriendlyEnemy: "I worked on a lot of the Neutrals at low rarities whenever I was stumped for what to do with my turn, and I think that inadvertently led to some gems, like Nexuskitten and Trackside Medic. I’m also quite attached to Signage Tampering, which I think tells an amusing story. As for Mr. Stupid’s cards, I was very pleasantly surprised by Godspeedster; I really thought I had used up all the Holy related speed puns prior to that. Nexus-Lord Salhadaar is also an interesting card that explores a design space that I think could be used further."
How did this type of set design challenge your card designing principles?
Mr.Stupid: "Because we couldn’t talk to one another, we couldn’t really give feedback on any particular card. Instead we had to individually tinker with cards or keywords until we both liked it. We also had to have faith in each others ideas. I know I probably threw TFE for a loop when I made the first Ethereal."
TheFriendlyEnemy: "The results of this set have made me seriously evaluate my attitude towards design. As someone who was introduced to collaborative set design through months-long community projects like Gunslingers of Westfall, I was shocked that just two designers could make a full set in 13 days with this approach. It’s so counterintuitive to me that designing under additional restrictions improves the process, but it rationally makes sense and the results don’t lie. I used to think more iteration was always the answer, but having completed Ping Pong, I’m realising a lot of the time it’s best not to overthink things."
Do you have anything behind the scenes that you wish to share?
Mr.Stupid: "This set was actually made very quickly. Just short of two weeks in fact, though it’s the first set I’ve ever made with a partner so that makes sense. Still, I was blown away by the speed we were able to make all of this without even really saying a word to one another."
TheFriendlyEnemy: "Due to the nature of the set, there wasn’t anything behind the scenes other than the cards you see before you. There’s a video documenting the exact order they were made in, as well as what cards were cut, so go watch that. There are a few highlights I’d be happy to share. At one point (0:38 in the video) Mr. Stupid sent me a half finished card, which was a clever strategy. The creation of the Speed and Speedy keywords very early on was also a pivotal moment in the set, since it established the direction for everything else to follow. Finally, the art for The Boommobile came out during the set’s creation, and we both knew we had to use it for this set. This occurs at 1:09 in the video, and Mr. Stupid came up with a much cleaner design than mine for it in the end."
Do you have anything else that you wish to share?
Mr.Stupid: "I originally went to TFE with this idea because I admired his card making, seeing him as one of the best in the whole community, but working alongside him, I really got to see just how great he is."
Our race is over! Our winner is... everyone for being here today and witnessing this marvelous creation. But like some sports broadcasts, you only saw a little bit of the big picture. You can find the rest of it by clicking the banner below.