Hearthstone interview - Modes design lead and Game Designer talk about Twist

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Hearthstone Twist

Recently, Hearthstone has undergone a bit of a big change. Replacing "Classic" with a new mode called "Twist", the rules have changed and with that comes new design philosophies and ways of seeing the game.

Essentially, this is a rotation mode that only allows you to play with certain decks or in certain ways, restricting players so they invent new combos and ways of using cards that are otherwise overlooked. Being such a big game, as it continues to grow, it becomes hard to balance cards in ways that incentivised exploration. This new mode is attempting to do that.

To get a better idea of what we may see and why the team felt this change was necessary, we sat down with lead mode designer Matthew London and features team lead Chadd Narvig to get their insight. Though we may need a few months to fully see what Twist has to offer, it certainly illuminated some lingering questions.

The pitch

Twist essentially rotates every few months to a new meta, with some prebuilt decks to grab and a justification to go back and hunt down cards. The first Twist used cards from the core set plus all sets from Ashes of Outland onwards. This means that you may have a meta deck idea but you will be missing some of its combo pieces. You could replace what you're missing with something fresh or entirely change your playstyle.

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In order to really get to the heart of the mode, I asked the team to pitch me on the mode - "why should someone play twist?" Matthew London had a lot to say here. "When the standard format is different, you really get this opportunity to discover something new about the game." Being quite a big game, the team wants a chance to explore older cards and ideas with a fresh set of eyes. Going away from the typical restraints of the game, this gives players the chance to get away from the meta.

"We are always looking for ways for players to get more value out of their collection of cards." This value-first thinking shows that the team feel there is untapped potential in some cards that could really shine in a new format.

A new meta

This new mode represents an interesting relationship with the development of a meta. Both working against the solidification of one and a celebration of the creativity of the fanbase, the team hopes for a new meta each time, which will then be honed and explored. "One of the hallmarks of Twist is this idea of frequently rotating formats. We're excited to see how players engage with the meta as a new format is introduced to Twist."

This being said, it's not a party mode similar to Tavern Brawl. You can find yourself at the top of a leaderboard and this will encourage people to come back every month or so to solve the next Twist. "There are ways you can interact with that meta, either by leaning into it or pushing against it."

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The team will pay homage to older versions of Hearthstone in here, as well as looking forward to the future. "The goal isn't to fire and forget but to create a rotation of experiences players can engage with."

"One of the things I'm most excited to do is revisit the early days of Hearthstone, thinking again about that promise of Wild and being able to relive those classic archetypes."

The community

"A lot of the feedback I've seen is people saying Classic was really great when it came out… but, ultimately, as a static format… there's not really a lot to discover." We talked about community feedback and the choice to replace Classic mode. Unfortunately, by Twist's launch, the team thought that there was less to discover which made players less interested in staying long-term.


"Classic is a really important part of Hearthstone's legacy and I'm looking forward to bringing it back in moments where players want to take that ride again." This is where Chadd came in. Though this is replacing Classic for now, it's certainly not off the table and Twist gives the team a chance to explore new ground.

Then, Matthew talked about his inspiration behind Twist. "It was inspired by seeing that excitement that bubbles up at the beginning of a new format. Seeing people surging back to the game, getting passionate about it, getting excited about the new cards." As a result, Twist is partially an attempt to imbue this feeling - giving fans a way to get excited about older cards again.

"One of the things that is great about Twist is we get to shake things up and keep the conversation going."

For more articles like this, take a look at our Features and Hearthstone page.