Ben is the lead designer for Hex PvP for those who aren’t familiar with him. Since there was some good design and development discussion in Ben’s interview, I will attempt to give the cliff notes here:

Set 1:

  • Briar legion is one of his favorite Set 1 cards due to his love for plants. Honorable mention to Plant Garden.
  • A new member of the Briar Legion family is in Set 2.
  • He feels Set 1 is mostly well balanced for power but that the Incantations may have been nerfed a bit too much.
  • There’s maybe a couple of cards that are slightly more powerful than he’d like but nothing too damaging.
  • Set 2 contains cards to shake up the metagame and address the more powerful cards from Set 1.
  • R&D members spend ~15-20 hrs/week playtesting on average
  • Gorefeast exists so that aggro troop-based decks have a weapon that control decks need to respect and fear.
  • There are some decks that look close to optimal in the metagame, some that are close but not perfect and there’s at least one if not more archetypes that are being significantly under appreciated. There’s at least one very powerful deck that isn’t represented though the tribe in this deck has been used in other decks.

Set 2:

  • There is a rare in Set 2 that will interrupt a spell for 1 resource. The threshold is higher than 1 and there are other costs to be paid and other benefits to it as well.
  • There will be resource fixing shards
  • A card will have higher threshold when it more fully represents the spirit of that shard.
  • When a card is meant to be played in multi-shard decks, it’s likely to have a lower threshold.
  • When you play mono-shard decks, there are cards with high threshold that reward you for doing so (Feral Ogre was the example.)
  • Cards cost can vary with their utility in the early game (e.g. Adamanthian Scrivener.)
  • The original Heart of Fire was designed to be used with Soul of Fire but they determined it would be less fun to have them in the same set. We’ll probably see the first design in a future set.
  • The new Born of the Flame has a high cost to guard against un-fun experiences due to the high variance of the card.
  • They want the tribes to be a part of the metagame. Set 2 has a ‘boatload’ of new cards for the tribes.
  • They’d like to celebrate the tribes but don’t want tribal to take over the metagame.
  • The other 4 races will be focused on in the next block (Sets 3 & 4.)
  • All of the Set 1 races get to explore new abilities in Set 2. Humans will encourage you to play tri-shard and give you options to do so. Some races get new keywords or play patterns.
  • Set 2 is smaller than Set 1 but feels like a large set.
  • No Escalation in Set 2 but it will return in the future.
  • The draft experience is deeper with more stuff to be explored just off the beaten path. There are more archetypes to draft as well.
  • New champions!
  • Players tend to underrate alternative champions in general. Polonius is his pick for champions that could be a little better.

General Design

  • They want all the gems to be viable, some are going to have a more narrow fit than others.
  • There are more socketed cards on the way that will work well with some of the currently unpopular gems.
  • Ben’s favorite decks tend towards Dwarves, big toolbox, tinkery type decks but feels that it doesn’t dominate his design choices.
  • No official answer of whether we’ll be able to put the same gem in both sockets of a double-socketed troop.
  • Tunneling is a major part of Set 2, will look very cool visually and add a new texture to limited and constructed. The keyword has a strong thematic link and isn’t available in every shard.
  • Sets 3 & 4 are designed as a block but still work well with Set 1 & 2.
  • When asked if there was anything they can’t do due to the digital nature of the game, he said the one thing he misses is getting reads on opponents in ‘mind game’ situations.
  • There will be a card loosely inspired by Fish Hands in a future set.