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HearthstoneOct 17, 2023 12:05 pm CT

The next Hearthstone expansion is Showdown in the Badlands

Hearthstone has a new expansion in its sights: Showdown in the Badlands, which releases November 14, will bring 145 new cards and two new keywords to the game, all set to a wild west theme. The Bloodrock Mining Company tries to mine Azerite from the Badlands, aided by corrupt townsfolk, while Elise Starseeker leads the Outlaws to oppose them.

We had the opportunity to sit down with Game Designer Leo Robles Gonzalez and Lead Narrative Designer Valerie Chu to talk all about this new expansion, and learn as much as we could. So ready yourself, for it’s high noon, and the showdown is about to start!

New Keyword: Quickdraw gives cards bonuses on the turn they’re added to your hand

The first new Keyword for this expansion is Quickdraw. Cards with that keyword get a bonus effect on the turn they’re added to your hand, so you’re aiming to be quick on the draw, and play them before ending your turn.

Note that for Quickdraw to activate, it doesn’t matter how the card is added to your hand: the bonus effect will trigger not only when you draw the card, but also if the card is created in your hand (even from Discover effects), or returned to your hand from the board, etc. The only requirement is: play it on the same turn it got into your hand, no matter where it came from!

New Keyword: Excavate gives random treasures, and improves as you keep digging

The other new keyword for Showdown in the Badlands is Excavate. Every time you play a card that has this effect, you’ll get a random excavated treasure, and then move on to the next tier.

At first, you’ll be at tier 1, which has the weakest treasures. But once you get one, you’ll move to tier 2, and the next time you Excavate, you’ll get a treasure from that new tier, and so on. But do note that after you get a treasure from the last tier, you’ll reset back to tier 1 for your next Excavate.

The Outlaws get special Legendary minions with “singleton” effects

Elise Starseeker leads the Outlaws, who are the good guys in this showdown. To differentiate them from the other group, these classes (Demon Hunter, Druid, Hunter, Paladin, Priest, and Shaman) have special Legendary Outlaw minions.

The special thing about those Legendary Outlaw minions is that they get a bonus effect if your deck has no duplicates. That’s right: these so-called “singleton” effects are back for those classes, surely making Reno Jackson — who will also feature in the expansion — very proud.

The corrupt townsfolk get powerful Legendary Excavate Treasures

Opposing the Outlaws are the corrupt townsfolk (Death Knight, Mage, Rogue, Warlock, and Warrior). Instead of Legendary minions with singleton effects, they each have a unique Legendary Excavate Treasure, that they get once they Excavate for a fourth time.

These treasures, which are surely to be very powerful, are beasts made of pure Azerite. One example is The Azerite Rat, the Legendary Excavate Treasure for the Death Knight class. It’s a 4 mana, 5/5 Elemental/Beast with the following effect:

  • Battlecry: Resurrect your highest Cost minion. Give it +2/+2, Reborn, and Lifesteal.

That seems like a really powerful effect, no doubt, so we’re eager to see the other ones as well.

A pony, Thunderbringer, is the free reward card for this expansion

The free reward card that all players will get this time is a pony, Thunderbringer. It’s an 8 mana, 6/6 Elemental/Beast, with the following effect:

  • Taunt. Deathrattle: Summon an Elemental and Beast from your deck.

This type of card certainly opens up many different possibilities, since it allows players to cheat out specific cards into the game, so we’re excited to see if, and how, this ends up seeing play.

A fan-favorite meme comes to life as Ogrefist Boulder

The Hearthstone team made it clear that they pay attention to the memes that the community loves so much. One of those memes has to do with the card Boulderfist Ogre, a 6 mana 6/7 minion whose flavor text simply states “ME HAVE GOOD STATS FOR THE COST” — and the card does absolutely nothing beyond that.

Well, the community embraced that card as a meme — and so did Showdown in the Badlands, in the form of an Epic (Tier 3) Excavate Treasure. Enter Ogrefist Boulder, a Location that costs 3 mana, has 2 durability, and this effect:

  • Set a minion’s stats to 6/7.

Honestly, that’s pretty good stats for the cost! And the joke has been a long time coming. The developers shared that when they first came up with Locations as a new card type, back in Murder at Castle Nathria, this was one of the first cards they ever considered — but it wouldn’t fit into the theme for that expansion, so they saved it for the future. Well, the future is now!

What were the thoughts behind creating Showdown in the Badlands?

Valerie and Leo shared that, when coming up with new Hearthstone expansions, it’s their goal to “take you on a journey with a lot of variety and whimsy — but still with a sense of home and cozy.” This can be a tricky balance, but they add: “The wild west setting is really far from the high fantasy place from Warcraft experience, so we’re really happy to get to switch that up so much, but balance it out with familiar characters and a familiar zone like Badlands.”

Design-wise, they also think that “it’s very important to lean into the theme and figure out what’s most fun about it. Which game design ideas do we like but still fit with the overall theme for the expansion? That’s how keywords like Quickdraw and Excavate were chosen.”

They concluded that they’re “really fortunate to have such a rich universe as Warcraft to pull from, but also, since the story is so robust, there are moments (they) can explore new grounds. There’s not a lot of wild west stuff in World of Warcraft — but what if there was?”

Originally posted October 17, 2023. Updated October 28, 2023.

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