Hearthstone devs break down Voyage to the Sunken City’s new mechanics

Blizzard Entertainment

Hearthstone’s latest expansion, Voyage to the Sunken City, transports players to the underwater runes of Zin-Azshari for the adventure of a lifetime. We caught up with two of the story’s developers to chat about its inspiration, as well as the process behind the Colossal and Dredge Keywords. 

From the confines of the tavern to the Mercenaries Village, Blizzard’s iconic competitive card game, Hearthstone, continues to go from strength to strength, taking inspiration from some of Azeroth’s most recognizable vistas and transforming them into a CCG paradise.

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Starting off a new Hearthstone year in style, the devs have created an all-new expansion for avid adventurers to dive into: Voyage to the Sunken City. Set amid the forgotten ruins of Zin-Azshari, a once proud but now forgotten metropolis, players are tasked with slaying the demons that defile it and uncovering long lost secrets.

In order to understand this aquatic universe better, we sat down with Associate Game Designer, Edward Goodwin, and Game Designer, Cora Georgiou, to discuss the origins of Sunken City, and the thought process behind some of its new mechanics.

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hearthstone voyage to the sunken city screenshots jaina player takes on enemyBlizzard Entertainment
Nestled amid the corals that lie deep beneath the waves, Sunken City is a whole new look for Hearthstone.

Hearthstone Voyage to the Sunken City’s inspiration

While at first glance it may puzzle fans as to why Blizzard have suddenly taken the age old tavern underwater, it turns out that this has been on the cards (get it?) for some time.

“An underwater set is something that we’ve wanted to do for quite a while now, and having just come off of the Year of the Gryphon and the year long narrative with our mercenaries, we’ve played it quite close to the World of Warcraft experience,” Cora explains. “It felt like, going into a year with three expansions that aren’t connected, that it was finally the right time to do an underwater expansion and be able to explore that setting and environment.

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“When we knew we wanted to do that, there were a couple of different stories we could hook into – with Vashj’ir being one of the ones that players were very excited about the potential for – but ultimately Nazjatar and the Great Sundering and the creation of the Naga was a story we were just really excited about telling, and it worked out perfectly with the environment we were looking to explore so it seemed like the perfect fit!”

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World of Warcraft wow Zin-Azshari in the Great SunderingBlizzard Entertainment
As the Great Sundering tore Ancient Kalimdor apart, Zin-Azshari fell to ruin beneath the waves.

Colossal & Dredge: New Keywords for a new story

Alongside this aquatic new setting come two new Keywords: Colossal and Dredge. The first splits large monsters up into different ‘appendages,’ which synergize with their primary body parts to create powerful combinations.

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Colossal was born out of the devs “trying to capture the feeling of these larger than life creatures that exist under the water,’ Cora recalls. “They seem like they’re just so big that you couldn’t fit them on one card. Obviously, we’ve done minions in the past that summon additional minions to come with them, but we wanted these creatures to be special; to be set apart in some way.”

Dredge, by contrast, works entirely differently. Allowing players to see the three cards at the bottom of their deck, you can pull one of them to the top, and even combine it with new Azsharan cards to send a powerful ‘Sunken’ card to the bottom of your deck.

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“With Dredge we wanted a mechanic that played towards our explorers,” Edward explains. “Remember we have this team of explorers who are going and venturing forth into the underwater, aquatic unknown and trying to figure out what really happened. I think Dredge is a really wonderful thematic Keyword for that because, just like digging and trolling through the bottom of the sea, Dredge looks at the cards at the bottom of your deck.”

Noting that the devs have encapsulated “the right feeling, and the gameplay, and the excitement,” Cora concludes that “[Suken City] is really special.” If that doesn’t encourage you to dive in, we don’t know what will. So venture forth, fellow adventurers! Zin-Azshari awaits!

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