When the The Grand Tournament expansion for Hearthstone launches next month, it will introduce a third set of card packs that players can purchase or earn as rewards. While new cards are always welcome, this introduces a problem for Blizzard: How do players earn these packs, and what if new players coming into the game want to earn one of the other, older types of packs?
Outside of simply purchasing packs, Arena mode has always been the best method of getting new cards, since you're guaranteed a pack at the end of your arena run. But after the Goblins vs. Gnomes expansion launched, arena runs started only giving Goblins vs. Gnomes packs, leaving some fans annoyed that they couldn't get classic packs any more. With The Grand Tournament, this system will change.
"People don't always want the latest pack," Hearthstone game director Eric Dodds told Polygon in an interview following the expansion announcement earlier today. "We're actually changing it so that going forward it's not always the same type of pack from arena."
Here's how it will work once The Grand Tournament goes live: When you finish an arena run, the game will determine how many packs you're awarded — this is usually just one, but skilled players with a high number of wins always have a chance of winning multiple packs. Each of these packs will be assigned a type at random. You're still guaranteed at least one pack each time you complete an arena run, but there's a chance for it to be a classic pack, a Goblins vs. Gnomes pack or a The Grand Tournament pack.
It's unclear if this will be totally random or if the likelihood will be weighted in favor of newer packs like The Grand Tournament.
"It actually plays very much into our idea of 'delightful surprise,' which is one of the catchphrases that we use a lot when designing things," Dodds said. "Whether it's about playing the new Saraad card, which has the inspire ability to send a random spell card to my hand, or playing the piloted mechs that give you a random minion when they die. That idea of delightful surprise is super important to us."
Keeping with the theme of delightful surprise, Dodds said that players can also expect more changes to the relatively fresh Tavern Brawl mode in the future. Dodds wouldn't answer whether Blizzard might start charging an entry fee for Tavern Brawl similar to Arena mode, but he suggested the whole modes structure could be changing in the future in a way that may better facilitate that kind of change.
"The way to look at Tavern Brawl is as our place to go for content that plays totally different from what you've seen in other parts of the game," Dodds said. "Right now it's playing out to a certain cadence, but we do have plans in the future to expand that and have it be even crazier. What you're seeing right now is one way of looking at Hearthstone. But it's our experimental lab; we're going to try all kinds of crazy stuff. The future will hold more surprises, I'm sure."
Though he's not ready to give all the details on where Tavern Brawl is headed, Dodds did reveal that the mode will at least on occasion repeat challenges from previous weeks rather than offering up a completely new challenge every time.
"So far, every Tavern Brawl has been brand new," he said. "That is not always going to be the case. It's certainly possible you're going to see ones that have been exciting in the past come back now and again."
You can check out our look at last week's Tavern Brawl in the video below, or take a look at our full playlist of Hearthstone videos on Polygon's YouTube channel.