A leading Hearthstone Battlegrounds developer opened up about the development process of bringing Murloc Holmes over to the game mode as a new hero.
Hearthstone’s Battlegrounds mode has been a massive success since launching back in November 2019. The game mode has garnered a huge audience of players with its seriously addictive gameplay loop of pitting a lobby of eight players against each other in 1v1 battles with all unique cards to see who comes out on top.
Battlegrounds is entering Season 2 on August 30 with patch 24.2, and with it, an absolute boatload of new content and updates to existing mechanics and heroes.
Also in the update is the addition of two Murder at Castle Nathria-themed heroes to Battlegrounds in Murloc Holmes and Sire Denathrius.
Battlegrounds dev details designing hero Murloc Holmes
Murloc Holmes is making his way over from being a Legendary card in Murder at Castle Nathria to being a hero playable in the Battlegrounds mode. His Hero Power, which has no cost, reads: “Detective For Hire: Look at 2 minions. Guess which one your next opponent had last combat for a Coin.”
Battlegrounds Game Developer Mitchell Loewen opened up about the design inspiration for Holmes in the eight-play game mode: “He (Murloc Holmes) took a lot of inspiration from the constructed version of Murloc Holmes. We saw that version pretty early on and while we tried to come up with his design and we went, ‘Wow, that’s a really fun design, what would that look like in Battlegrounds?’ And that led us down this road of kind of detective, figuring out clues thing.”
Murloc Holmes went through a ton of design changes before the final version of his hero power was settled.
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Loewen explained why it was such a tricky process, “Murloc Holmes went through a lot of iterations. At one point in time, the choice was between three cards. There was also a really early version where you got to keep the minion if you guessed right. And that one ended up being really difficult because we had to give the hero power a gold cost to make it fair, but then players were like, ‘Do I really want to push the button? I don’t if I want the minion even if I’m right.'”
He continued, “So we ended up reducing the reward to just a coin and making the hero power free so that you get to do this mini-game every turn, so there’s no reason to not just push the button so players can always engage with that fun little detective game.”
The one major difference between Holmes in Battlegrounds versus constructed play is choosing from two minions instead of three cards. The Battlegrounds designer explained why stating, “Sometimes when it was at three choices it was hard to make the choice feel like you have agency to figure it out. With three choices, you can kind of easily narrow it down to two, and then the two choices just feel like a random pick.”
With a free hero power that gives the chance to generate gold each and every turn for free, Murloc Holmes could be quite a powerful hero for a long time.