Behind the Scenes With Hearthstone’s Death Knight


It's mid-October 2022, and I'm back at Blizzard HQ. The last time I was here (and as a matter of fact, in America as a whole) was in late January 2020, just as COVID-19 was really starting to build a head of steam. A lot has changed since then. Blizzard has had a very public fall from grace, as many of the company's employees stood up and made their voices heard on a wide range of issues, from rampant gender inequality to toxic work cultures. The campus itself is also a strange shadow of its former self. Once a bustling mini-metropolis with open plan offices full of people, meeting rooms playing host to lively discussions and dogs congregating alongside their owners on the lawn outside the cafeteria, the halls and working spaces are now eerily quiet, desks mostly empty aside from monitor frames and chairs. Staff are beginning to make their way back, but it's a gradual process, and the current ghost town vibe offers a stark juxtaposition to the before times.

One thing that this visit does have in common with the last time I made the journey across the Pacific is that Team 5 – the Hearthstone team – are preparing to launch a new class. In 2020 it was Demon Hunter, but now they're embracing one of the great stories of Warcraft – the fall of Arthas Menethil and his transformation into the accursed Lich King – and introducing the Death Knight.

The Death Knight was a hugely versatile class in World of Warcraft, and that has carried over in impressive fashion to Hearthstone. Instead of picking and choosing elements from its World of Warcraft specialisations, Team 5 has instead brought across Blood, Frost and Unholy wholesale, with a rune system that allows players to build decks focusing on one, two or all three of these at a time.

Build a triple Frost deck, for instance, and you can include all the Frost cards, no matter how many Frost runes they require. Go for double Frost with one Unholy, on the other hand, and you can no longer use triple Frost cards, but you can pepper in cards that only require one Unholy rune. It's a super flexible system allowing Death Knights to be great at a wide variety of things, but forcing players to focus on only certain aspects.

Team 5 has brought across Blood, Frost and Unholy wholesale, with a rune system that allows players to build decks focusing on one, two or all three.

Alongside this is a new hero power – Ghoul Charge, which summons a 1/1 ghoul with charge that dies at the end of turn. This in turn factors into the new Corpse mechanic, which sees Death Knights build up Corpses whenever friendly minions die, then spend them via cards that get bonus effects if you have enough Corpses. There's a lot to wrap your head around.

In my hands-on time I stuck with decks that Team 5 had preloaded on our accounts, trying to get a feel for the playstyles and win conditions of the different runes. Each feels very distinct, from the reactive cards, big minions and health manipulation of Blood – very much the classic control option – through to the spell synergies, mana manipulation and direct damage of Frost, and on to the board-swarming, Corpse spending, aggressive gameplan of Unholy.

And then there are the fusions. The double Blood with a splash of Unholy to better gain and utilise Corpses, or the double Unholy with a single Frost rune, with the latter adding in some card draw to allow for reloading. There's so much to learn here – with 68 Death Knight cards in total (not to mention useful neutrals) – that I really feel as though all I've done is dip my toe into an extremely deep ocean… swarming with undead.

Death Knight seems like it's in a good place going into launch (it's hitting alongside the March of the Lich King expansion on December 6 in NA – December 7 in ANZ/Asia Pacific – incidentally), but how did the team get it here? I spoke to a number of key people on the team to find out, including Features Lead Chadd Nervig, Executive Producer Nathan Lyons-Smith, Modes Design Lead Matt London, Senior Game Designer Cora Georgiou, and Game Designer Edward Goodwin. You may already have seen our Designing Death Knight video (below), but there's more to the story than we could possibly fit in that piece of content, so what follows is even more insights from the team.

Starting on Death Knight & Early Ideas for Runes

Chadd Nervig: The Death Knight class in WoW was definitely a huge source of inspiration. I think the very first pre-initial design doc that we came up with of just card ideas was [to] start from all of the World of Warcraft Death Knight abilities that they've had over time. This is a great source of things that feel Death Knighty. What would each of these abilities look like in in Hearthstone? And some of those have carried over for a long time all the way to ship.

Chadd Nervig: In Warcraft, runes are your primary resource that you're using on abilities constantly [in] moment-to-moment gameplay. And so one of the things that we experimented with a whole lot early on was – okay, what are some crazy things? Like, they don't have mana, they have runes instead. What does that look like? Or maybe they have mana and runes. We did a whole bunch of exploration in that track with cards that had a mana cost and a rune cost.

"We did a whole bunch of exploration… with cards that had a mana cost and a rune cost." – Chadd Nervig

Nathan Lyons-Smith: We went through different permutations of how many of each type of rune you could have. I remember a 'your deck can have five runes' version. That was pretty high complexity – as somebody who plays a bunch of Hearthstone – and the team then goes through and play tests a bunch and – oh, let's change this. I'm really excited where we landed with three – I think it's really straightforward. If you want the best card in any given rune, you'd choose three and you're going just that, right? And if you're happy with the mix and you want to put Patchwerk in every deck, well you can do that too.

Chadd Nervig: But it was still – three was enough that two of one defined that was your primary characteristic of the deck.

Chadd Nervig: One of the core problems that we had to solve when designing Death Knight was how to make them feel like a Death Knight in all the ways that a Death Knight does. Having them be able to summon swarms of ghouls, having them be able to be super tanky, but how can they have all these strengths? We kept running into like, okay – they should be able to do this, they should be able to do that, but it just didn't feel like a Death Knight without all of these things. And if they can just do everything and they have no weaknesses, it's not great gameplay. So [the] rune system was our solution there. We get to have some sort of specialisation so you can do all these things, but just not all at the same time.

Chadd Nervig: Another cool aspect of it is just for people who love deck building, I think it's going to be really interesting to be like, okay, there's this deck that's good. Can I tweak it? Can I take one rune away from it and switch to another rune to twist it in this other way? The deck building challenges and trade-offs you have to make I find really exciting.

Setting the Power Level of Triple Rune Cards

Edward Goodwin: When we were designing Death Knight we sketched out this accessibility chart for them – which runes get access to what things. And the deeper into the rune specialisation that you get, the more powerful, the more core fantasy you get of that thing. So for instance, in Blood, as you go through the rune specialisations, you go from like… single target lifesteal spells to AOE lifesteal spells, to max health manipulation. Right? And I think when… we get to put these abilities – these powers like Vampiric Blood… which changes your max health – in the triple rune specialisations, it gives them something… totally unique to Blood Death Knight and totally unique across all classes.

So I think part of it is it's… not just a measure of power, it's also a measure of how many rules do we get to break? What do we get do here that no other class gets to do? So that's part of it. And I think the other thing is, is that we want every single rune specialisation to have something interesting, something that pulls you into that direction, wants you to try to build that deck. And I think when it comes to triple runes, you're giving up so much that we did extend the power band for those cards. I would say that if you're looking at a triple rune card, we do intend for those to be more powerful than, you know, a no rune or a one rune and even some of the two rune cards.

"When it comes to triple runes, you're giving up so much that we did extend the power band for those cards." – Edward Goodwin

Because you're making so many sacrifices, we do want to reward players that are choosing to go that heavily into that rune specialisation. That's not to say we think that the triple runes need to be the best thing ever. We came up with a lot of different ways to hook in synergies from like, two runes of one specialisation, one rune of another. We want players to mix and match and explore here.

Cora Georgiou: There is a cap that we can't comfortably go over in any card. And obviously power creep is something that we get asked about a lot and is something that we're always very aware of. And especially with making, you know, cards like triple Blood rune cards – something like Vampiric Blood is an extension of the single rune and double Blood rune cards. It just sort of takes it to that next level. Is it objectively more powerful if you compare apples to oranges? Maybe a little bit, but not necessarily out of the realm of reason is the important thing… We need to balance – okay, this is powerful enough to entice players to play the three rune decks because the versatility of being able to splash single rune cards from another rune is so enticing and can be so powerful that you need to compensate a little bit.

"The versatility of being able to splash single rune cards from another rune is so enticing and can be so powerful…" – Cora Georgiou

But also I think just being able to capture that fantasy of – oh, you played a Blood Death Knight in World of Warcraft, you were a tank, now you're a tank in Hearthstone. You've got access to that additional life gain with cards like Vampiric Blood. So balancing the power expectations and the flavour expectations.

Cards With Multiple Rune Type Requirements?

Chadd Nervig: The more runes on a card, the more restrictive it is on the sort of decks that it can go in. Something that's triple Frost can only go in a triple Frost deck. Someone that's double Frost at least has three different options there for what the third rune is. Something that's, say, Blood/Frost? We had several cards during development, during initial that were cross colour. Something like Blood/Frost or Frost/Unholy. That still ends up being fairly restrictive and restrictive towards a direction that not a whole lot of other cards are going to.

Something that's Blood/Frost can only really go in Blood, Blood, Frost or Frost, Frost, Blood. And those are different enough archetypes that one card usually doesn't bridge that super well, especially not without making several cards to support it. It's also just added complication – the rune system is already kind of a complex thing, so our first launch set for Death Knight – no multicolor cards. However, it is an interesting thing. It's an interesting space that I'd be shocked if we don't explore at some point in the future.

"We had several cards during development… that were cross colour." – Chadd Nervig

Finding the Right Hero Power

Chadd Nervig: [For the] hero power, a lot of the things we tried interacted with runes, back when they were a gameplay thing. We also explored summoning ghouls, zombies of different stat sizes, of different [variations on] die at end of turn or not. The Corpse mechanic ended up being something we really did like as the special in-combat or in-gameplay mechanic for Death Knight. And so this hero power that we ended up going with, or at least very close to it – it had rush instead of charge through much of development – that was one of the leading options for a long, long time. We tried a whole bunch of different other things related to runes… we had a 'choose one' sort of thing that [was] – do a Blood thing, a Frost thing or an Unholy thing. [That] was a lot of complication for a hero power, [for] something that's supposed to be very basic.

Ultimately, the temporary minion that dies and guaranteed gives you a Corpse was the right balance of synergies, complexity, it's a baseline that is useful in every situation – somewhat – and interacts with your other mechanics. And based on cementing that, we felt confident doing the Corpse mechanic. If we didn't have the hero power guaranteed giving you Corpses each turn I think the Corpse mechanic would've been a lot more shaky for us.

"If we didn't have the hero power guaranteed giving you Corpses each turn I think the Corpse mechanic would've been a lot more shaky for us." – Chadd Nervig

On Building Charge Into the Hero Power

Edward Goodwin: …we want you to feel good when you press a hero power, so we want it to be able to deal damage to the opponent's face, similar to how Fireball can deal one damage to the enemies, but also the enemy hero. And with that comes this very long conversation of – we're going into a space that is often hotly talked about, hotly debated – charge is a mechanic that we've… crossed over the line of healthy gameplay experiences before. How do we make sure that we make this experience that we want, but don't brush over that?

The answer that we came to was – large, single target minion buffs are something that we don't want to do in Death Knight for the foreseeable future. Nothing's ever off the table, but it's something that we're restricting ourselves on. Death Knight has so many different avenues to explore with the rune system. They have so many strengths, but that is one clear weakness that we want to give them just because we want the hero power to be a fun thing that enables the class rather than being the only thing that is oppressive.

"Large, single target minion buffs are something that we don't want to do in Death Knight for the foreseeable future." – Edward Goodwin

Cora Georgiou: When we went into Demon Hunter creation – the very first class we made after the additional nine in Hearthstone – we had to sort of give ourselves the license to break the rules when it came to the hero power. Just because the rules had been so clearly established. They were two mana, they are relatively low in power level, and for Demon Hunter, even just committing to making a hero power that costs one mana was something that took a while to come to that realisation.

So we already had a leg up when we went into Death Knight saying, if we want to break the rules a little bit, we can as long as we remain within reason. And it just so happened that we did settle on a two mana hero power, but something that works very uniquely with the flavour of Death Knight, with the new Undead minion type and then of course with the Corpse mechanic.

And, like Edward said, there's some limitations that come along with that, but it's really important to us that every class have its strengths and every class have its weaknesses. And even though Death Knight, because it has three distinct versions that you can play, has maybe more strengths than the average class, they are not strengths that every single Death Knight deck will have access to. And then having something like large single target buffs be something that the whole of the class is not as readily available to still makes it feel like, oh well, you can't have everything. And that's important for the other classes in Hearthstone to still feel like they're special.

On "Charge" No Longer Being a Dirty Word

Cora Georgiou: The gap between – what was it? – Chillblade Champion to Kayn Sunfury being the first charge minion that we released in years, I think was, it sounds kind of silly, it was kind of a big step. And just a big step in recognising that it's okay to change your mind. It's okay to go back on design decisions as long as you understand the ramifications and as long as you are careful. And I think that concept of breaking the rules a little bit, like with the Demon Hunter hero power or with reintroducing charge in limited amounts and being able to take those risks is important to growth and is important to advancing the future of Hearthstone and to keeping things interesting and fresh.

Being willing to break those rules, but also understanding what the consequences can be and, of course, always having a potential out when it comes to those. I think it just makes the game more fun. It makes design more interesting.

That concept of breaking the rules a little bit… and being able to take those risks is important to growth. – Cora Georgiou

Corpses for DK Versus Fury for Demon Hunter

Cora Georgiou: In a way Corpses is kind of like a spiritual successor to what Fury [for Demon Hunter] could have been. A lot of the excitement of Fury came around having an alternate way of spending resources and ways to build up those resources and then capitalise on them that felt really unique to that specific class. And with Demon Hunter I think the designs that went along with Fury meant that there were just certain Demon Hunter decks that didn't spend Fury at all. So when we went into Death Knight, we knew if we want to do Corpses, every Death Knight can generate Corpses readily, the hero power says essentially 'gain one Corpse when your ghoul dies.' So it was something that was going to be very integral to the identity of the class.

But we still wanted to have that knob to turn as far as which Death Knight spec, which rune spec, is the one that is able to most readily spend Corpses, so of course Unholy is going to generate and spend more Corpses just by virtue of having a lot of small Undead creatures that have reborn – you're just going to naturally build up more Corpses and then to have a card like Lord Marrowgar, which is just the biggest version of 'spend your Corpses – do the thing and you will be rewarded.'

But that doesn't mean that the other rune combinations don't have access to Corpse spending. We didn't want you to ever end up in a place where you just had this big pile of resource built up that you felt that you couldn't do anything with, because, as we learned with Demon Hunter, it wasn't that fun.

Chadd Nervig: I think it's a little similar [to Fury] in some ways in that Corpses are an added UI element that are always goning to be there for Death Knights. I think [our] attitude changed a little bit in that there was concern that Fury for Demon Hunter would've meant that every deck has to care about Fury forever. And we've decided that equivalent concern for Death Knights is just fine.

We're just fine with like, every Death Knight deck forever is going to care about Corpses, but that's okay because they don't need dedicated generators for it. Their hero power automatically generates one. Every minion in a deck is automatically a Corpse generator. So it's just a matter of – we're always going to have to make Corpse spending cards for Death Knight, and that's fine. And that provides us a very class-specific type of card, something that feels very Death Knighty automatically.

On the other side of the problem with Fury was that it meant every Demon Hunter deck cared about attacking a lot or whatever the Fury generation was. Corpses are much more freeform. There's so many different ways to generate Corpses through all sorts of different minions, different spells, your hero power, that we felt, okay, that doesn't limit us design-wise.

On Adding the Undead Minion Type

Chadd Nervig: We had been thinking about adding an Undead minion type for a long time and kind of knew that it was going to line up with whenever we did Death Knight. So we've just been waiting for Death Knight to be the right time to introduce Undead.

…And now that we've gone back and recatalogued everything as [an] Undead minion type, it's meant that we've added over a hundred minions as being Undead. I think Undead is now our second most common minion type. So there's a lot of Undead. We did want to build a new synergy phrase for them [like] the other minion types have – like 'if you're holding a dragon' for dragons. We went through a lot of iteration on that… we wanted something that interacted with – okay, death is the primary driver for the Undead. How do we have a mechanic that interacts with that? So it's very flexible now – if you have some Undead, if your opponent clears them on their turn or you trade them off on your turn, your Undead synergies are active…

A lot of them are class specific. Our five Scourge classes besides Death Knight have Undead deck archetypes and that synergy piece works to make sure that these Undead decks feel like a Shaman while being Undead and this… Druid deck feels like a Druid while being an Undead deck.

Discarded Undead Synergy Concepts

Chadd Nervig: 'If an Undead died this turn' was one we tried a lot, but it felt like – oh, if your opponent clears your board, it just turns off all your cards. There was also 'sacrifice an Undead to do something' – we explored doing that. It meant the output had to be really strong every time, because you're giving up probably something strong or else it requires you specifically to have a bunch of very small, like 1/1 level Undead that you really don't care about. It basically limited how much design space we had for it. This [- the final design] was just much more flexible.

Experimenting With Plagues

Chadd Nervig: Another thing that we experimented with and then hit the cutting room floor, so to speak, was plagues. Plagues are a big element of Death Knight gameplay in WoW, with them having multiple different diseases that they apply to their opponents as damage over time effects and debuffs. And so we explored multiple plagues or a common plague debuff or maybe something tied to which rune you were predominantly using.

"Plagues are a big element of Death Knight gameplay in WoW… so we explored multiple plagues or a common plague debuff…" – Chadd Nervig

The net result of all that was, well, it really depended on what your opponent was doing more than what you wanted to do, because your opponent needed to have minions for you to apply these diseases to. It didn't feel like you were in control of the game. And it didn't feel like these were that necessary. It was also just a lot of added complication of tracking, like, okay, are you really goning to apply two different debuffs to enemy minions regularly? And then they're probably gonna die. You probably want to just have them die. That's mostly what you're going for within a turn or two. So the debuffs don't really have time to do much there.

We ended up taking just the couple [of] cards that were using those diseases – those plagues – and using those. Blood Boil was our favourite use of our Blood plague. That made it in as a card. And Scourge Strike was our favourite version of Unholy's plague. Frost plague kind of turned into a few different cards – it wasn't carried over specifically on anything, but we learned along the way and it inspired a bunch of other ideas. So… hints of the plagues made it through all that iteration. But plagues as an overall mechanic? It didn't really suit Hearthstone, even though it was something we were excited to explore from Warcraft.

Examples of Plagues Early in Development

Chadd Nervig: There were two different Frost plagues that we tried. One of which was Brittle Plague, where it was a debuff you could put on minions and take one additional damage from all sources. You hit 'em for two damage, they take three, you hit 'em for five damage, they take six, et cetera. That was not particularly effective… you have to use some minion or spell or something to apply this and all it ends up doing is probably one extra damage if you combo it with something. It was better to just have something that did damage and you didn't really want to use it.

The other one we tried was Iceshard Plague. Iceshard Plague was a debuff that you could put on minions and when they take damage, the enemy hero also takes two damage. We tried a version of Frost Death Knight where most of their damage spells were random targeted – almost all – but you pretty easily applied Iceshard Plague to things so that you didn't mind if they hit a minion, because that would effectively also hit face. Ultimately [the] problem there became – oh, the right way to play is just save up several sources of Iceshard Plague, put multiple Iceshard Plagues on either multiple minions or multiple copies on the same minion and use something like an Arcane Missiles type spell to hit it five times and deal 10, 20 damage to the enemy hero and try to OTK them.

[It] wasn't the best gameplay, though it was definitely exciting to play. [The] opposing side really didn't enjoy it when it happened and it also still very much felt out of your control. You're just waiting for your opponent to play some minion that you can do your weird combo on. So we went for more of a mixture of direct and random targeted damage for Frost in the end.

Designing the Death Knight Prologue

Matt London: We thought that the Demon Hunter prologue did a really good job of introducing characters to Illidan and his history, and also being a test drive for the class. So we thought that that was really helpful and that was something that we wanted to try to recapture with this. Obviously it's a much more iconic story, one that's more familiar to longtime Warcraft players, which makes it a little easier. And also in terms of the actual play experience, game balance, things like that, we've learned a bunch from doing the Demon Hunter prologue, and we're able to apply those learnings to the new one.

We [also] draw so much inspiration from the solo content that we've done in the past. You know, we've really evolved a set of tools to be able to tell stories in Hearthstone in ways that we couldn't back in the old days. And a lot of that comes from Book of Heroes and Book of Mercenaries…

One of the things that's really interesting about Arthas's story is that it's connected so closely to other big Hearthstone characters. And so we actually get to see the moment at which Sylvanas becomes a banshee [in the prologue], and we have some really cool effects that we've put in just for that one moment. So fans of Sylvanas will get to see that moment in Hearthstone – it's really cool.

Why Death Knight is Coming at the End of the Year

Chadd Nervig: It seemed like the obvious thing to do [with Demon Hunter] to put a new class at the start of [the first] expansion [of the year, as] it's when everything else is a big high point. But I think in retrospect we learned a lot about what that ended up doing. And we think putting a new class at the end of the year actually has a lot of benefits. For example, when we added Demon Hunter, rotation happened. And so it meant for all the other classes, that was the low point in the year for how much knowledge we have about how they're gonna play, exactly what their power level is, what the meta's gonna look like. The meta especially is really hard to predict – most notably at rotation time because so much changes for all the classes.

Instead, putting it at the end of the year, that's a high point of knowledge about the other classes. The other classes haven't had a rotation, they've gotten ten new cards and the neutrals, and the existing… meta… is probably staying. We have a good understanding of what that's going to do, and so we can much more precisely expect what their power level is going to be. Conversely, when it's at the beginning of the year, we also had uncertainty about what the meta and power level of things were going to be and also trying to balance Demon Hunter to hit that. Now we have much more knowledge about the meta and power level [of] all the other classes, and that means we can balance Death Knight much more appropriately.

"Putting it at the end of the year, that's a high point of knowledge about the other classes… and that means we can balance Death Knight much more appropriately." – Chadd Nervig

We also similarly found that with Demon Hunter, the card pool was 45 Demon Hunter cards. And that meant that even just a couple cards being a little underpowered or a little overpowered meant either a deck archetype was really strong and ended up getting nerfed or was just a couple cards too weak, [which] meant that whole deck archetypes were weaker than we had hoped. So we've increased the number of cards here by 50%. There's 68 cards for launch of Death Knight, so we are much more confident in being able to deliver on having a variety of Death Knight decks that are all meta contenders.

The rune system also needs a bigger pool of cards and that's also why Death Knight is going to have a larger core set than the other classes for the future. Their core set is 32 cards instead of the other classes' 17. So almost twice as large – it's just going to ensure the Death Knight always has options.

"We are much more confident in being able to deliver on having a variety of Death Knight decks that are all meta contenders." – Chadd Nervig

The Approach to Balancing Death Knight

Edward Goodwin: We definitely see the options that having Corpse spenders gives us. That number on a lot of these Corpse cards is something that we can really easily adjust. That's a lever. And then also we've talked about if we need to change rune requirements on something, maybe there's a strategy where it is problematic in some way, but is also doing something really good for us in another way. And we don't necessarily want to lower its power level in the deck that we like. Maybe we can just change rune requirements so that the deck that we think it's really healthy in, [where] we love the gameplay, can still use it while also eliminating that pain factor that we're feeling here without actually changing the power of the card in the first instance. So I think there's going to be a lot of levers here. Death Knight is probably the class that I'm least worried about – if we need to make any adjustments there's so many ways for us to get there.

Cora Georgiou: Just in general design, I think we're always a little bit more comfortable putting power into cards that we feel we can respond accordingly if we put too much power in. Whereas cards, like, I think The Jailer was the most recent one that we released, that we were like – okay, this card's already 10 mana, this card has a very powerful binary effect that already is fully destroying your deck. You know, where do we go from here if this becomes a problem? Making cards like that can be a little bit interesting at times because we don't know what the clear cut way to respond is. And that's not to say that we're not optimistic, that's not to say that we don't do a significant amount of play testing, and try to get things right. But things happen. Especially with Death Knight, we're putting out so many cards that it's really important that we be able to respond. And I think with Death Knight we are acutely prepared to do so.

Chadd Nervig: One of the things that I'm most looking forward to is the impact of small numbers of changes or additions of cards in the future. Take for example, there's a popular deck in the meta that is either double Unholy, single Frost or triple Unholy, but then we add a new single Blood card or buff a single Blood card or something, and suddenly that deck is looking over there like – oh, that Blood card looks good to me. I could really use that. How do I get it? There's interesting trade offs that start having to be made and it's like – okay, well I could give up my triple Unholy or single Frost cards and pick up Blood. But then while I'm over there, I'm already got single Blood, so there's a couple other cards that I'd pick up too. So now suddenly we've made like a change to one card or added one card and a third of your deck changed – that lets us spice things up, to have changes that we make or card additions that we make be very impactful for Death Knight.

Ten Rune Combinations & Game Balance

Edward Goodwin: What's funny about this is we look at this as not necessarily a problem that needs tackling, but more of a moment of excitement. I think there's so much here for players to explore that there's genuinely going to be rune combinations that you might be able to come up with. If you're a great deck builder, you will be able to come up with something that we didn't – I think that this is a moment where that's actually going to be a huge amount of excitement. We look at player creations as things to be excited about rather than things to be worried about. So yeah, it should be a lot of fun.

"If you're a great deck builder, you will be able to come up with something that we didn't." – Edward Goodwin

On DK In Hearthstone So Soon After Wrath Classic

Nathan Lyons-Smith: A long time ago before Covid, Blizzard was doing slate planning of – hey, what do we think is coming when? And I remember John Hight, then the executive producer of World of Warcraft, got up and laid out – here's the different expansions that are coming when, and Wrath of the Lich King Classic [is] coming in 2022 [at the] end of the year! And I was like – wow, John! You and I have talked a bunch about trying to line up some of our content that might match. I'm pretty sure we're gonna have the Death Knight class then! This is actually well before we knew exactly when these things would be lining up, but with that kind of thing we're, you know, getting aligned and talking about if we wanna do this thing early enough.

And so I said – hey, I think I think this is gonna happen. And John came over and grabbed my arm and we danced a little jig in front of all the executive producers because we 'deliberately' had content lined up to match. And… the actual most amazing part of this is it happened right? It was two and a half years ago! Two and a half years ago! I go, 'Hey, are your plans going to be the same in two and a half years?' And actually, they were. Wow. I wouldn't have bet on that. One of us would've changed.

John's now the franchise general manager for World of Warcraft – for all of Warcraft, and [I'm] so happy that they had Wrath of the Lich King lined up and we're rolling right off of that into our biggest expansion with March of the Lich King. And so really looking forward to-

Chadd Nervig: -All Lich King all the time.

Nathan Lyons-Smith: Yeah. All Lich King all the time.

Death Knight and March of the Lich King are coming to Hearthstone on December 6 (December 7 in ANZ/ Asia Pacific). Pre-order bundles are now live, so be sure to check out the details, and don't miss out our Designing Death Knight video.

Cam Shea has been playing Hearthstone since beta and went behind the scenes of the Demon Hunter development process back in 2019/2020. When he's not playing games he's mixing records.