Hello everyone. So, the reveals of the new expansion, Ashes of Outland, may have just ended. But that doesn't mean you have to stop seeing some fresh cards. In this FCS, you can even compare the way Ashes of Outland is designed to this set. Today, I've got Zozoth with me to talk about Deepsea Imperium, an undersea themed expansion, featuring the Water Elemental lord Neptulon himself, dividing the classes into four alliances:

  • Mage and Paladin representing The Solar Empire
  • Druid and Priest representing The Reefdwellers
  • Rogue and Warlock representing The Unseen
  • Hunter, Shaman, and Warrior representing The Viziers

Remember when Demon Hunter wasn't a thing? Pepperidge Farm remembers.

Under the sea, you encounter a new keyword known as Empower. When you play a card with Empower, you can pay X additional mana for a bonus effect.

What is colloquially known as the "Cleave" mechanic found on cards like Foe Reaper 4000 and Cave Hydra has also been keyworded in this set.

The Interview

Give us a taste of the set. What's the set about? What can we expect to see?

Zozoth: "I got inspiration to make this set after watching the movie Aquaman and after playing a board game called Twilight Imperium. In it, players try to take control over a set of planets as a set of factions; each with their own strengths and weaknesses. This set would work similar to that; the nine classes separated into four factions, each trying to claim the Trident of Kings for themselves and be named King or Queen of the Seas. I don't play WoW, so nearly all of the characters are OC, but I did try to incorporate some of the underwater-based WoW races."

How long have you been making your own cards?

Zozoth: "I have been playing Hearthstone casually since GvG but I started making cards back in early 2017. Back then I made a lot of stand-alone cards, as I could never really settle on a singular theme or idea. Around that time I also joined the "Custom Hearthstone" community on Reddit and Discord to get feedback for my cards, but after seeing some of the detail in the complete sets people made on there, I got inspired to think of my own theme and work through it to produce a complete set!"

Empower is a cool mechanic. Where does the idea come from and how you implemented it?

Zozoth: "I played Shadowverse a little bit back in the day but could never really get fully invested in it. It wasn't too much of a jump from Hearthstone since a lot of the base mechanics are similar. But one of the keywords I really liked was Enhance, where the player could pay additional mana to boost a minion's effectiveness. When implementing it into Hearthstone, I decided to go with an approach similar to 'Choose One', where the player could play the minion plainly to keep up with tempo, or save up until the proper moment to maximize the power. When designing cards with Empower, I tried my best to balance the base minion such that it would be playable without the effect having to trigger. For me, the best example of this is Doomseer, which can work as a simple 0/7 Taunt early game to help against some aggro decks, or a Twisting Nether on a body for the late game control matchup."

I noticed that every class gets a third Legendary card (a weapon) in this set? What significance does this serve?

Zozoth: "The interesting thing with the Legendary Tridents is that I had actually completed the set without them but realized that having two legendary minions per class wasn't anything particularly new or flashy. So I decided to add the Tridents as a way to tie together the whole "Battle for the Sea" flavor, as it would make sense that each leader would have a Powerful Trident of their own. I actually had this set completed before Galakrond's Awakening, so it is sort of nice to see that the Hearthstone Devs are also willing to give three legendries to each class. I planned to have these Tridents given out for free to all players similar to the Galakrond cards, so that newer players can get a taste of the legendary effect of each Trident without having to spend some of their hard-earned dust on it. The good thing with this is that the Tridents work well enough on their own and can get value with many of the cheaper cards, so they aren't as big of a buildaround as Galakrond or C'Thun."

What other cards in particular do you wish to highlight for any reason?

Zozoth: "Two of my favorite cards of the expansion are Daelin Proudmore and Aryll's Mindbender. My favorite deck type to play is a Control Highlander Deathrattle Paladin in Standard and Wild (a mouthful, I know). Blizzard's Paladin support has been a bit awkward as of late, as they seem to be pushing a more token/aggro playstyle with not many control cards being printed. I made Daelin as a way to boost the slower Paladin decks without making it incredibly unfun to play against. He works as a fairly aggressive Taunt in the lategame that can Tutor a number of useful cards such as Tirion Fordring, Shirvallah the Tiger, or even one of the other cards from the set, Lightbane Drake.

Aryll's Mindbender was a fun card to make. Priest is not a weapon class, so when designing the Trident, I hoped to make something similar to Dragon Soul where it would work as a passive effect. I believe this could lead to some interesting mindgames as it can trigger for both players. Some fun uses could be trying to lock out one of your opponent's minions after playing a 0-Attack minion like Doomsayer, or simply setting up for a Shadow Word: Pain or Shadow Word: Death by "saving" a certain attack number on the weapon and waiting for your opponent to make a move"

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

Zozoth: "Initially, I toyed with the idea of Dual-Class cards; having one Rare and one Legendary card per faction for two classes. I eventually scrapped this idea for two main reasons: The first was that there was an odd number of classes, and so doing three dual-class legendaries and three tri-class cards would be awkward to work with. The second was that I was having too difficult a time to balance the cards while keeping both (or all three) class' flavor and different playstyle in mind."

What design philosophies do you have? What advice do you wish to spread to future creators?

Zozoth: "I always try to design my cards such that they are usable in some shape or form. The neutral cards proved to be a challenge of sorts using this mindset, as there is no way to make every single card in my expansion 100% playable while maintaining proper balance within the set. So for most of the Commons, I took a look at the abilities of popular Arena cards and tailored some of the effects around that such as Merciless Merguard, a powerful mid to late game minion removal or Gem Guardian, a very defensive card helpful for getting the player back into the game.

For design of the class cards, I mainly focus keeping the class' theme for the set while also considering how the cards could fit within existing deck archetypes. For example, my Mage set works with shuffling spells into your deck through cards like The Expanse and Gnomish Astrologer to work with Ramna, Celestial Flame as a finisher of sorts. So naturally, I also added some big removal spells like Magma Plume that could work with the many Highlander Control Mage decks popular in standard right now.

I also dabbled with entirely new class deck types such as the Jellyfish Control warrior, which revolves around generating and buffing small tokens throughout the game and them finishing with a massive Delia, Violet Queen similar to a C'Thun deck. Again, while the cards were designed around a specific playstyle, their general utility could find them a home in many Control-Style Warrior decks."

Do you have anything else you wish to share?

Zozoth: Not much really, I just hope you enjoyed my expansion! Some of the best parts about completing expansions like this is seeing how new card releases by Blizzard could work together with the cards in your set. For example, because of the powerful effect from Solaria, Keeper of the Sun, any new big Divine Shield minions would work as a welcome addition to the Divine Shield control paladin decktype.

And that would do it for this FCS, but this is a little bit different than before because this one is a special 2-parter. Next time, I'll have Zozoth again interviewing him for the set directly after this in year, Crusade of Light.