The addition of the Demon Hunter class to Hearthstone is a very big deal. It’s the first new class since the game launched six years ago and is set to shake up more than just the meta. One of the new mechanics being introduced alongside Demon Hunter is its exclusive Keyword; Outcast.
Cards with Outcast gain a powerful, additional effect when played from either the left or rightmost position in your hand. For example, Skull of Gul’dan, is a 5 cost spell that Draws 3 cards.
However, when played as an Outcast, each of the three drawn cards have their cost reduced by 3. When used at the right time, and if RNG is on your side, this can be an absolutely massive play.
At the 2020 Hearthstone Summit, I had the good fortune to chat with Dean Ayala (Lead Designer), Valerie Chu (Senior Narrative Designer) and Liv Breeden (Game Designer) about the Year of the Phoenix, Demon Hunters and the future of Hearthstone. Asking about Outcast, Ayala told me that the basic idea of Outcast came from existing cards in the game that mentions the left-most or right-most minion or card.
Ayala told me that “It’s interesting if you have a card that says, ‘play this as the leftmost card’ maybe you want to manipulate your hand in a way where playing the leftmost card is beneficial.” Outcast is just one way that Demon Hunter feels very different from other classes in the same way, Shaman has Overload, Rogue has Combo and Paladin has Divine Shield.
“It’ll go a long way to making Demon Hunter feel like they have access to something the other classes don’t,” Ayala adds.
Chu said that she felt Outcast adds something special to games. “I think it’s quite suspenseful, right? If your opponent’s playing a Demon Hunter, they might have an Outcast card, but you don’t know where that card is positioned. So there are a lot of different things on the table.”
Breeden explained that in introducing Outcast wasn’t Blizzard trying to “change Hearthstone’s patterns.” Instead, Outcast (and other new additions and mechanics) were added as a way to “make interesting, fun mechanics in the way they play together.
“It turns out that the card on your left is the one you’ve been hanging onto for a long time and the right card is the one you just drew. So having to discard those cards feels really bad. So we flipped it and the card that’s been in your hand for a long time, you’re keeping it for a reason and you get a bonus out of it.”
Breeden believes that topdecking an Outcast card is also exciting because when you see it’s an Outcast card, you’re drawn to it immediately. “It’s just a feel-good mechanic and it makes you manipulate your hand and is very fun to do.”
The Outcast Keyword is exclusive to Demon Hunter and will become part of Hearthstone when the class is added to the game on April 8.
Having played with Demon Hunter and Outcast cards, it certainly does make a difference to the way you play your cards, the cards you hold onto and the rhythm and cadence of the cards you play.
It’s hard to explain just how different the Demon Hunter class is to play, but Outcast goes some way to help explain it. It’s a really interesting mechanic and one that is bound to have theorycrafters working overtime to develop insane decks that do insane things nobody ever expected.
Leo Stevenson travelled to Irvine, California as a guest of Blizzard. Travel, accommodation and meals were provided by Blizzard.