Blizzard’s Dave Kosak and Dean Ayala on Tombs of Terror’s Dual-Class Heroes and Balance
Hearthstone’s brand-new single-player adventure, Tombs of Terror, is now available. Chapter 1 and 2 of Tombs of Terror are both playable with Chapter 1 being free and Chapter 2 costing 700 in-game gold or $9.50 AUD. Like the Dalaran Heist that came before it, Tombs of Terror is a multi-chapter PvE experience that tells a story. This time around, Blizzard is telling the story of the League of Explorers as they attempt to stop the Plague Lords.
In Hearthstone, heroes have only ever been one class. You could choose Priest, Warlock, Paladin, Hunter, Rogue, Shaman, Mage, Druid or Warrior. These classes have driven the deck archetypes as some cards are restricted to a specific class.
In Tombs of Terror, Blizzard throws that idea out the window. For the first time in Hearthstone’s history, players will be able to choose dual-class heroes.
The first two heroes available in Tombs of Terror are Reno and Finley. Reno is a Rogue/Mage and Finley is a Shaman/Paladin. Speaking with Dave Kosak and Dean Ayala of Blizzard, I wanted to find out how the team came up with these dual-classes.
“A dual-class is one of the twists on the build-as-you-go format. We thought it would give us a lot of interesting gameplay mechanics like it makes your deck building way more interesting when you can suddenly mix cards together that you couldn’t normally mix together in Hearthstone,” Kosak explained.
As Reno is a Rogue/Mage he has tremendous utility when it comes to Combos. He can cast really low-cost Mage spells and pair them with Rogue Combo cards to do things players have never seen before. As Kosak suggests, “You’re like little spell, little spell, little spell, little spell and then VanCleef. It’s crazy.”
Coming up with the right class for each of the League of Explorers’ members was a puzzle for the team. Just as it was with the League of E.V.I.L. Kosak explains;
We took our five evil characters from the League of E.V.I.L. and the four League of Explorer explorers and we sort of tried to map classes onto them, and see where they fall, so all our explorers kind of had a primary class there.
But then in making them dual-class, we tried to figure out what would pair in an interesting way and who would speak to the character and speak to their gameplay in an interesting way.
For some of the heroes, it was obvious. As Finley is a Sir, he’s obviously a Paladin, at least according to Kosak and Ayala. “Paladins have Murlocs,” Kosak says, “So that’s kind of appropriate. And, he’s definitely a kind of fish creature, so he’s also Shaman. Shaman also plays Murloc, so it’s just perfect.”
For others, like Reno, it comes down to the storytelling across the Tombs of Terror. The Rogue class suits him perfectly, but Mage is a bit of a stretch. However, being a treasure hunter, Reno is going to find and collect artefacts and objects of power. By stealing these things on his adventures, he’s learning magic along the way.
To tell these stories, Blizzard is using each character’s Signature Treasures. There are six per character and they are unique to each hero. Kosak explains, “If you look the treasures, they get progressively more powerful which gives us some progression, but they also tell a little bit of the story.
“You know, Reno starts out with a hat and a torch and things you’d expect an adventurer to have. Then gradually he finds more magical items and magical characters until his last treasure is that crazy Gatling wand that you see him using in the collectible card set.”
Through these signature treasures, Blizzard is able to tell a story. In Reno’s case, it shows what’s happened between the League of Explorers expansion and the Saviors of Uldum.
In addition to the dual-classes and Signature Treasures, each hero has three Hero Powers to choose from. These draw on both classes and are quite different from one another. Reno’s first unlocked Hero Power, Amateur Mage, deal 1 Damage. However, if used as a Combo, it deals 2 Damage. Finley’s third Hero Power is his best example of his dual-class as he is able to give a minion Divine Shield and Windfury.
Kosak told me that in Monster Hunt from the Witchwood expansion, the team learned that “if the hero power is too powerful, it kind of dominates your game. You sort of play it every turn by default, and you really always build a deck that would take advantage of it, and that limits you a little bit.” So the team wanted to create Hero Powers that weren’t too powerful but were still fun to use.
It is single player so it is fun to play with something that is a little bit overpowered, especially as you progress and you unlock the later hero powers, they get pretty powerful.
Finding a balance was really important however, the team enjoys creating single-player content because it’s fun to bend the rules of Hearthstone. Kosak and Ayala also want to provide an experience for players not overlay comfortable with PvP where they can feel powerful and advance a story.
That’s one of the cool things about single-player. Not only is it a different experience from the PVP experience, just playing in a single player environment is awesome, but the whole deck building experience is just a lot different.
Building to these treasures, fighting overpower with overpower, and figuring out a new way to build your deck each individual time. It’s a little bit easier I think to start with a deck of ten cards and build that slowly over time. Gives you a little bit more accessible in terms of building a deck and finding synergies and learning Hearthstone.
It can teach you Hearthstone a little bit, that’s been one of the roles of single player.
You can start playing Chapters 1 and 2 of Tombs of Terror as Reno or Finley now. Chapter 1 is free.