Hearthside Chat with Josh Durica: Game Mechanics Update


Do you like to play with fire? Has this ever happened to you? Hi, my name is Josh Durica and I’m a gameplay engineer on Hearthstone. The designers on Hearthstone
are constantly coming up with cool new cards. And as a gameplay engineer, it’s my job to code these new cards and their interactions. I’m here today to talk about two small rule changes we’re making so interactions, like the one
you just saw, are clearer. So what exactly happened in that clip? Before I explain that, let me first tell you a bit about “Whenever” and “After” terminology in Hearthstone. Some cards, like Violet Teacher, say “Whenever you cast a spell, summon a 1/1 Violet Apprentice.” Other cards, like Wild Pyromancer, say “After you cast a spell, deal 1 damage to ALL minions.” Both cards trigger off the same action; A spell being cast. However, they trigger
at slightly different times. Cards that say “Whenever” trigger before a spell’s ability activates. Cards that say “After” trigger after a spell’s ability activates. Armed with that knowledge, let’s revisit the opening clip. We begin with our unsuspecting player having a Violet Teacher on the board and a Mindgames in their hand. Mindgames’ ability
puts a copy of a minion in the opponent’s deck
into your battlefield. When our player casts Mindgames, Violet Teacher says “Whenever”, so she triggers first, spawning a 1/1 token. Next, Mindgames’ ability activates, pulling a Wild Pyromancer into the battlefield. Finally, that same
Wild Pyromancer activates after Mindgames’ ability, dealing one damage to all minions, and destroying all our player’s hard work. When this sort of things happens
to players in real games, it can be a very frustrating experience. How did Wild Pyromancer trigger? He wasn’t there to see you
when you cast the spell in the first place? This leads me to our first rule change. In order for “After” triggers to activate, they need to be present
for the original action. For example, Wild Pyromancer says, “After you cast a spell”, so in order to activate, it needs to be on the board at the time you actually cast the spell
from your hand. Let’s take a look at
that new rule in action. Once again, our player casts Mindgames. Violet Teacher triggers spawning a 1/1. And then, Mindgames’ ability activates pulling Wild Pyromancer
into the battlefield. However, this time, Wild Pyromancer does not trigger because he wasn’t on the board when Mindgames was cast. That’s one rule change down! Now let’s take a look
at another interaction that will help me explain
our second rule change. To begin, our player has the minion, Bolvar Fordragon, on the board, which reads, “Whenever a friendly minion dies
while this is in your hand, gain +1 Attack.” They also have the spell,
Spirit Echo, in their hand which has the ability, “Give your minions Deathrattle: return this to your hand.’” First, they’ll cast Spirit Echo, giving Bolvar the return to hand Deathrattle power. Next, our friendly opponent will give poor Bolvar a fiery death, causing his granted
Deathrattle to trigger, sending him back to our player’s hand. Here’s where it gets weird. After returning to the hand, Bolvar’s ability triggers off
his own death, and he gains +1 attack. Why does this happen? Well, in Hearthstone, the order
in which triggers are activated is based on what zone they are in. First, we activate all in-play triggers for Player 1. These include Deathrattles,
and abilities on cards like Wild Pyromancer. Next, we activate in-hand triggers
for Player 1, like Bolvar Fordragon. Finally, we activate any in-deck triggers for Player 1. Then we do the same thing for Player 2. So, in our case, Bolvar’s granted Deathrattle
triggers first, because it’s an in-play trigger. Then, when we activate in-hand triggers, this includes
our newly resurrected Bolvar, and he gains attack from his own death. We think it’s pretty unintuitive that Bolvar is allowed to trigger off
of his own death, especially because he wasn’t in your hand at the time that he died. As such, our second rule change
is a subtle tweak to how we activate triggers. Before activating any trigger, we now first look through all the zones and compile a list of all active triggers. Then, when we go zone by zone, we only activate triggers
that are contained in that original list. That means if activating one trigger, creates a new trigger, that new trigger will not itself
be activated. It’s important to note
that triggers still activate in the same order as they did
before our changes. Taking a look at
the second rule change in action, we can see that when Bolvar
returns to your hand, this time he doesn’t gain 1 attack because obviously, he wasn’t in your hand when he died. As you might have noticed,
most of these interactions affected by these rule changes
are edge cases. However, these interactions
generally felt bad when they did occur, so we think it was worth
the time to fix them. And, of course, that work
doesn’t stop here. If you’re wondering why your particular
Hearthstone pet peeve wasn’t fixed, or if these changes seem tiny to you, keep in mind these are changes to the core systems of Hearthstone. Code where one line swap
can affect 1000 cards. We want to make these changes
incrementally and carefully. And we need your help! Please tell us about gameplay interactions that don’t make sense to you. As a final note, if you’re more interested in in-depth details
about these rule changes, check out the official blog post, which goes into way more detail. It should be an interesting read
for anyone who wants more insight into how Hearthstone runs under the hood. We’ll also be answering
as many community questions as possible! From everyone on the Hearthstone team, thank you for listening
and we’ll see you in the tavern. Bye!

100 thoughts on “Hearthside Chat with Josh Durica: Game Mechanics Update

  1. How about making Blood Queen Lana'thel immune to discard and the coin as well. Or better yet, give her the same ability as Clutchmother Zavas. Each time that card is discarded, it gains +2/+2. I think she should have this ability as well, only with a +1 to attack instead of a +2/+2 or +1/+1, etc.

  2. Increase animation speed and stop animations taking turn time. "Draw helpful card from Yog and summon a charge minion, don't play them though because Yog took your entire turn."

  3. Oh Hearthstone. Nice try cleaning up, still spaghetti code. Please fix auras and buffs. I am tired of damage dealt to minions who are buffed and then silenced, or influenced by auras, don't always lose the buffed amount of health, or health from an aura.
    For example:
    A Stormwind Champion is in play giving all minions on the controllers side +1/+1. Say an Elven Archer is also on the board. It has taken 1 damage, so it is now a 2/1 after buffs. Scrolling over the minion shows it gets +1/+1 from Stormwind Champion. After killing the Stormwind Champion, shouldn't the Elven Archer lose the aura, become a 1/0, and die?
    It seems as buffs and auras are put above the normal health, and is the first to go when damage is dealt. This is not intuitive at all. This seems like a bigger problem to me, one that is very relevant right now, given that we have Bonemare as a very popular card to play.

  4. When you put a minion like stormwind champion on the board and there is a damaged minion it won't lose the health buff when stormwind dies and just got healed. Imo this doesn't make sense cause it is just a temporary buff, even if it doesn't go beyond the cap

  5. I think lifesteal should work different. It should take exactly the amount taken from a minion. Not like it gets 4 out of 1hp minion.

  6. Gameplay interaction that doesn't make sense to me? How did my arena opponent at 6 wins draft Tirion + DK Uther + The Lich King + N'Zoth in the same deck? Could you please make some balance changes for arena?

  7. i met high lender priest.
    and i was hunter.
    priest became DK,opponent has only one card,no other card that could affect to DK priest's hero power.
    And opponent used "Shadowform" .
    Think. dk priest's hero power is "Voidform" ,and Shadowform changes your hero pow' deal 3 damage if your hero pow' is Shadowform.
    But priest's hero pow' changed "Deal 3 damage." i lost.
    SERIOUSLY?

  8. 1) I welcome these changes, they make the game more intuitive.
    2) You should have made these explanatory videos years ago.

  9. whenever you steal driud deathknight with rouge you can play it instantly return to your hand no matter how many times you play it. happened to me and two of my friends 
    please like this is important 🙂

  10. I was playing evolve shaman with full board completely destroying the enemy shaman. Then fockin unlicensed apothecary showed up when i evolved and suddenly I'm dead. Please fix that mr. Gameplay Engineer

  11. That guy is so friendly and easy to understand. He should be the spokesperson for announcing all changes. +1 for a great job!

  12. Okay so I have one thing I saw a long time ago and kind of didn't like that interacts this way, if you play a minion and add a charge on it from warrior, and next turn you faceless manipulator the minion that has BEEN in board for one turn already the copied minion cannot attack. so I suppose there is 2 reasons for this to happen 1 – your way of copying minion is 1st copy previous start stats and let the minion come through everything the original one went through, meaning again there is newly cast on it charge, which again says it cannot attack in this turn, OR simply charge effect is not correctly written and means that it enhances a minion with a buff that it can never attack 1st turn of existence on board but has charge, it's very important thing because this could make a warrior combo deck for having for EXAMPLE turn 8 ravenholdt assasin + charge, next turn buff him up and copy him, meaning you have a huge assault which you cannot really prevent that much but still is harder to do then with raging worgen, especially when emperor thaurrisan is gone.

  13. I suggest you to change the shaman evolve situation when you have 2 or more minions on the board on of them being 2 mana and you evolve them and the 2 mana minion transforms into Unlicensed Apothecary demon it deals to your hero 5 damage for all the other minions you evolved.

  14. Soooo when a water elemental attacks a minion with divine shield, it doesn't get frozen. But, when a divine shielded minion gets hit by blizzard it does get frozen… ?

  15. Will this also fix apothecaries being summoned off of DK Gul'dan?
    As it is now, having gul'dan summon a board of demons including an apothecary that died will trigger apothecary

  16. Personally? I see nothing that needs to be fixed in regards with the first rule change's example. As seen above. It's not like the Paladin got away undamaged. As both his Murlocs still died. I might have some bias, as I dislike playing against Priests, and it's not because of the healing. Cuz you know it's what they do. It's how always seem to "randomly" grab all my good cars that aren't dead plays for them. An annoyance I have with the game is the lack of counterplay. But then again I am spoiled by Magic: The Gathering… Mindgames is pretty much a "No-Brainer," right? You dust hard to get it? It goes in your deck without much thought. You pray that secret the mage played turn 3 wasn't counterspell. Play it turn 4 and probably pull something 6+ cost. Far as I'm concerned in that case? The RNG hates you just like it does everybody else. shrugs

  17. Second rule change example… You're citing a WILD card? A format "Blizzard" practically couldn't care less about. A 5 cost Legend. About the only 5 drop you would keep in your opening hand with or without the coin. A Paladin card interacting with a Shaman card? It's not like Gadgetzan bunched Paladins and Shamans together. So I'm guessing the easiest way to this obscure edge case to even happen is … Prince Malchezar? So the odds that one of your 5 Legends IS a WILD. When playing WILD your Legend pool is GREATLY expanded! For an even edge worthy Legend that is basically Polymorph bait…? From the example shown IF Bolvar had been properly primed to say a 10/7. Came back to your hand as an 11/7 from what I would like to call, "A happy little accident." I can see the argument for the rule change as to be implemented. As seen above? I see nothing that needs fixing either. The games "Spaghetti Code" does have some weird interactions, and I would really wish that battlecry would work when a minion is summoned via Dirty Rat, or any of the random portals. I understand why it doesn't. But when the battlecry cry doesn't happen. It all too many times that it feels like a dead pull. I'm sure there are instances where these arcane and obscure interaction actually need the "Fixing." But with the materials as presented in the above video … Pull on some other spaghetti strings. Because the two quirks above I've never encountered,but will now miss their removal from the edge case scenarios.

  18. (This is more in reference to the first change, as I think the 2nd change makes perfect sense and isn't intuitive at all)

    This is one area I consistently disagree with the Hearthstone design team. I don't think they should dumb the game down because some things take slightly more than brain dead thinking than the normal interactions. If you ask me the wording made sense as it was before. If you do this thing once you fully understand how it works and it takes no more than a few minutes of thought to understand why.

    I get they want their game to be accessible, but I don't think they should dumb their game down too much in ways like this because this depth is what draws many kinds of players in.

  19. still my can't be targeted by spell minions like bearshark can be targeted by some spells !!
    then the imp who does 1 dmg if a spell is cast, gets revived and still does damage while he actually was dead when the spell was cast.

  20. I got one! When I use Firelands Portal on enemy Sylvanas on empty board, she triggers her steal before my summon, and nothing is stolen. But as Frost Lich Jaina, when I finish Sylvanas with my hero power on an empty board, my water elemental summons first, and that elemental gets stolen.

    Firelands Portal and DK-mage hero power both seem like using a missile on Sylvanas, then summoning a minion, but I bet because one is a spell and the other is a hero power, that the order of effects are different.

  21. Thank you for all the hard work. I assume you've already reviewed all of Disguised Toast's documentation and have those interactions listed to be worked on.

  22. Fix (Hunter card) Flare. Flare does not trigger before counter spell or mana band, despite the fact that the card claiming to destroy all enemy secrets in play (and remove minion stealth).
    at 2 mana and this card does not function as it claims to? it feels really horrible to play against a mage that it should do well against…

  23. This mechanic quirks are the type of things that make hearthstone a real fun game to watch and add a lot of crazy clips to the pool. I'm gonna miss the good 'ol "wtf just happened" moments
    The REALLY GOOD THING is this kind of videos explaining the game mechanics and bug fixing process. I hope to see more

  24. Their is a badly thing when the opponent got the paladin's secret "Sacred Trial" and you summon "Onyxia", that will never kill a baby dragon but always Onyxia because the battlecry trigger before the minion himself. That's not logic.

    Sorry for my bad English from the french community 🙂 see you in tavern

  25. You fixed cards that see no play at all. This should have been fixed when the game was in beta. You can't fix the bugged meta game and cancer community.

  26. This is actually a great insight on how computers think, and how specific you need to be when coding them. They have no sense of what "should" happen, and do everything by the book, letter for letter. As such, Josh and the crew need to be very, very careful with what they put in the book. Reminds me of my own game development days, when the dumbest stuff would happen because I told the computer to do exactly that, trying to get it to do something else.

  27. These new rule changes broke the interaction between Djinni of Zephyrs and Potion of Madness. The Djinni no longer gets charge.

  28. Unlicensed Apothecary -> Bloodreaver Gul'dan still applies its trigger due to him summoning the minions one after each other. Is this intended? He reads "After you summon a minion… " For unexpecting (and newer) players, this might look pretty awkward. Especially with respect to this video. You could have made a point on this.

    Same should hold with N'zoth and any other multi-minion summons. They come out one by one and triggers come after each summon.

  29. Dislike for the tone in which he pronounces it. These changes should be done in any case. The way he tells it is like "Look how it is good guys! We are now logical! Hearthstone now make a little bit more sense. Don't you think it is cool! I'm so proud we are such great guys! Of course you should too. We are doing such a great job. Buy!"
    Nope. Just no. Sorry

  30. this game sux.
    i blame the lack of quality on the greedy minded designers. they want your hard earned real american dollars and all they want to give in return is pretended merchandise. i call that a scam, but you can call it what you want.

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