Rastakhan’s Rumble is coming December 4 for the digital card game on PC and mobile. Most of the Mage’s new cards focus on the class’s Hero Power, but Blast Wave instead plays with a new mechanics from the expansion: Overkill. If you use a card with Overkill to destroy a minion for more health than it has, you’ll activate a bonus effect. For Blast Wave, this means adding a random Mage spell to your hand.
But Blast Wave can give you more than one card. Overkill activates for every minion you kill with the spell. So if the board has three creatures with 1 health on it, you’ll get three random Mage spells.
Blast Wave also synergizes well with some Mage cards from the last expansion, The Boomsday Project. Celestial Emissary is a 2-mana minion that gives your next spell that turn Spell Damage +2. Cosmic Anomaly is a 4-mana minion that gives all your spells +2 Spell Damage while it is on the board. Playing Blast Wave with either of those cards will increase its power and help you generate more random Mage spells.
If you need a clearer picture of how Blast Wave works, you can watch the card in action in the video below.
We talked with Liv Breeden, who worked on Blast Wave’s initial design, and Dean Ayala, who created the card’s final design, about the spell’s creation and potential.
GamesBeat: We’ve seen Mage have a lot of board clears before. They have one of the most iconic board clears in the game with Flamestrike. How do you go about designing a new board clear for the class?
Liv Breeden: This one’s really interesting because the back end is so interesting. Dealing two damage to all minions is not that much damage. If you’re using it purely for a board clear, you’re not going to get full value out of it, unless you’re doing the Overkill bonus to get a bunch of extra spells out of it. I think it’s more than just board clear, because that’s not really the intent you use this for unless it’s for a small board.
Dean Ayala: Board clears and AoE are things Mage is supposed to be good at. It’s in the repertoire of stuff they have, their class identity. Continuing to make cards that allow them to do a bunch of board clears in a lot of different ways and use the tools they already have — we have Overkill here, so obviously — Overkill is one of the new mechanics we have in the set. If you do more damage than is required to kill a minion, you get a bonus.
Mage has a bunch of ways to give themselves Spell Damage. It’s something they already include in a lot of their decks, so it synergizes really well with those. But I think in the future, we’ll just continue to give Mages a bunch of ways to AoE. We have Flamestrike and Blizzard in the classic and basic sets, and then we also have stuff like Meteor that’s fairly powerful. We’ll continue to do stuff in the future. When you run into a Mage, you know this is probably going to be a class that has a bunch of tools to do board clears. That’s one of the things that makes Mages feel different. If you’re losing to a class that swarms the board all the time, maybe Mage is something you can pick in order to alleviate that problem.
GamesBeat: Most of the expansions new Mage cards play with the Hero Power. Blast Wave synergizes more with some of the Spell Damage stuff we saw in the last expansion. Was this an intentional decision?
Breeden: Yeah. Overkill is an ability that scales really well with Spell Damage. Then the choice between dealing two and dealing three or four or five — it makes for different choices. If you use Celestial Entity and its +2 Spell Damage to get this up to four damage, and then it clears the Emissary itself, that’s a huge amount of spell damage as well as a big board clear.
Ayala: Something we think about a lot when we’re doing any of these card types is, not only do we want to make new archetypes, like you were talking about — a lot of the Hero Power stuff that we’re doing with things like Jan’alai. It’s really great when a new expansion launches, that the completely new decks see play, but something we also try to accomplish is look at the cards we made in previous sets. Maybe you have a deck that you really enjoy playing and you’re looking for tools to add to that deck. Maybe you’re not the kind of person that wants to build entirely new decks every set. That has to be totally okay.
We make cards and we look at the things we’ve made previously. How can we give some decks that might not be the most powerful decks — how can we give those a bit of a bump? If you enjoy playing a certain type of deck, here’s some things we intended to be more powerful than they ended up being. We can continue to give those different decks more tools to play. When you mention something like Celestial Emissary, that card is pretty successful in a bunch of decks, but Blast Wave pushes it in a different direction. Celestial Emissary was used in what people call tempo Mage decks, where it’s very aggressive. You use it for an extra two face damage. Whereas maybe with Blast Wave you’re still using Celestial Emissary, but you’re using it in a different way, where you’re playing more of a late game strategy where you generate a bunch of resources and try to run your opponent out of resources.
GamesBeat: Are there any specific decks that you see this card fitting into? Is this going to be in more of a Value Mage? Is it going to fit in Odd Mage?
Breeden: I could definitely see it in a Value Mage, just trying to get as much out of your cards as possible. You include Malacrass and Blast Wave in your opening hand, you have infinite spells forever. It pushes it into a control space.
Ayala: Yeah, I think both. Control Mage is something that really likes a card like this, because generating a bunch of resources and clearing board — those are the things you do when you’re a control class, right? It accomplishes both of those things.
Also, for Odd Mage, when you’re odd you’re restricted a bit in the cards you can use, so even cards that might not necessarily fit in your average constructed deck — when you’re odd you’re pulling from the bottom of the list of cards you might normally include in a deck where you’re unrestricted. Blast Wave is going to be pretty powerful for Odd Mage. They’re going to look to using this, or at least trying it. And for Control Mage, this does what you want it to do. Generate value, clear board.
Breeden: If you’re running an Odd Mage and you use your Hero Power to ping down something that’s at four health down to two, that helps you get the extra trigger off it, too.
GamesBeat: When you make a card like this, do you worry about the mana cost in terms of whether it goes in an odd or even deck?
Ayala: We certainly think about that, especially in the cases where the odd or even decks are very powerful. If we have things like Odd Rogue, or Even Paladin and Odd Paladin — Paladin is a different one because both of those decks are pretty powerful. But when you look at something like Odd Rogue that’s very powerful, we look very closely at making generically powerful cards in Rogue that are odd, just because when you have a deck that’s already very powerful, you don’t want to give it too much to tip it over the edge to where it’s the only deck people play.
When you talk about Odd Mage specifically, it’s not a deck a lot of people are playing right now. There’s room to improve. But there’s a balance there like with anything else. With Blast Wave we looked at Odd Mage and said, “Odd Mage is something pretty cool in playtesting. Does this push it over the edge in terms of being too powerful?”
Maybe it was 6 cost before and we made it 5 because we wanted to give Odd Mage more tools. I think neither of those were the circumstance in this case. We felt like Blast Wave was a card that just did what it did for quite some time.
Breeden: The only thing that’s changed is that it did 3 damage when we first pitched it, and then we moved it down to 2. Because it’s a little more interesting when it’s at 2 damage.
Ayala: Right. There are more interesting decisions to make than just getting the Overkill.
Breeden: Do I focus and kill just the 1 health minions? Do I care about that? Do I just care about the removal? Do I bump it up with spell damage?
Ayala: The short answer to you question is, yeah, we certainly think of the odd or even cost of cards in terms of the odd and even decks, but in the case of Blast Wave, we just had it at 5 for a while and determined that was correct. It was going to be fine in odd Mage. It wasn’t too powerful.
GamesBeat: One other thing I think of is Quest Mage with Open the Waygate. This will give you spells that didn’t start in your deck. Did you have the Quest in mind when making this card?
Breeden: I don’t think that was the initial reason we made this card, but it does help it a lot, especially since they lost Cabalist’s Tome. It’s that there’s a way to generate random spells for Mage. It creates a lot of support for old stuff. Especially for sets that are rotating out, it’s good to give them one last hurrah, give them some juice, make you go revisit old cards that maybe you really enjoyed the first time. Maybe now they play differently and it feels really awesome.
Ayala: When you have class identity and you give people build-around bonuses for doing thing that are in their class identity, supporting decks from the past just naturally happens. Just from a thematic perspective, when we say that Mages are the masters of wizardry and they can open up their spellbook and generate spells, that’s what we made the quest about. It made sense for the thematic kit. When we’re thinking of cards to design for Mage, this is one of the things Mages do. They can generate spells, because that makes sense for a Mage.
Then, when we make a card like Blast Wave, or we go through the list of things — what do Mages do? What should they be good at? Generating random spells is a fun thing and it’s also in their kit. It also happens to be something where we’ve done build-arounds in the past for the same reason. We’re going into that tool kit of what Mage should be good at. We end up supporting things from the past kind of by design.
GamesBeat: Board clears have traditionally been very good in Arena, and this could potentially give you value with extra spells. Do you see this being a powerful Arena card?
Ayala: I don’t think so personally. Blast Wave is one of those cards where — you want to really be taking advantage of it in terms of — you want to play it in a deck that does not get ahead on board with minions. A lot of generally powerful Arena decks are decks where you play a bunch of minions and get ahead on board. You’re winning with cards like Bloodfen Raptor or whatever. Being in a space where you are ahead on minions, you don’t really want to cast Blast Wave.
Generating resources is great, but killing your own stuff isn’t that great. Blast Wave is generally used in decks that get behind on minions because they have a bunch of spells, or decks that have a bunch of Spell Damage and can take advantage of it that way. That said, it’s still going to be generally useful in Arena. It’s going to have some good use cases. But it’s definitely best used in a deck built around it.
GamesBeat: Blast Wave is actually a spell for Mages in World of Warcraft. When you make spells for Hearthstone, do you look at ones from World of Warcraft and then try to turn them into cards? Or do you start with an idea and then see if a WoW spell would be a good fit for it?
Breeden: It depends on which end we start from. I think with this one we started with the mechanical first, where we said, hey, we want an AoE that gives you Overkill benefits. AoE Overkill is just cool in its own right. Then we eventually ended up with Blast Wave. With cards like Surrender to Madness, I think we started with the fantasy first. Then we said, well, how do we get Surrender to Madness to feel like a Hearthstone card? And we worked from there.
GamesBeat: Any other fun tidbits about designing Blast Wave?
Ayala: One of the more interesting design stories about this card — there was so much discussion about whether we should ship it now and if it would work. One of the questions we got doing playtesting initially was, what does Overkill mean on a spell that’s AoE damage? It could either mean, if you Overkill at all you get this one, or depending on how many minions you Overkill, you get that many things. Eventually we chose to do more Overkill equals more cards, because that … .
Breeden: It was just so much more awesome.
Ayala: It’s just more fun, yeah. I think we ended up going the right direction with this card. It’s been really fun in playtesting, and I hope players have fun with it.
Breeden: It’s one of my favorite cards of the set.