Blizzard talks spellstones, epic loot and Christmas gifts in Hearthstone's Kobolds & Catacombs

Hearthstone's Kobolds & Catacombs expansion went live today, so you're probably already deep into Dungeon Run and ready to share your thoughts on the new metagame. In the latest of our chats with the Hearthstone team about Kobolds & Catacombs we found out more about the new loot, treasures and those pretty pretty spellstones. 

"Unique, powerful weapons are a common element of the fantasy dungeon crawl," explains game designer Dave Kosak. "These are the sorts of weapons that heroes go on quests for—some might be even be sentient and talk to you. That was the kernel for our Legendary Weapons. We really wanted to capture that fantasy in the game."

Peter Whalen, also a designer on Hearthstone, explained that Spellstones came from the team looking back on ideas for previous expansions. "One advantage of creating three big expansions a year is that if an idea is cool, but doesn’t quite fit thematically, we can come back to it when the time is right," he says. 

"Spellstones originally came about when we were developing Journey to Un’Goro.

We had two ideas for Quests. The first one, which we shipped, focused on Legendary cards you’d build a deck around, and that would give huge rewards. But the other idea we had was to create 'mini quest' cards that would level up in your hand as the match went on, and that wouldn’t force you to build around them. Spellstones came from the second idea."

Kobolds & Catacombs also introduces the Unidentified Items class of card to Hearthstone. These have a consistent base effect, and they will also gain additional characteristics when you add them to your deck. Kosak goes all Santa Claus on us and compares it to opening gifts. 

"When we have a fantasy that we want to get across in Hearthstone, it’s important for us to really find the 'sweet spot,' which is the simplest execution of that fantasy that’s also the most fun," he says. "Unidentified Items fall right there. You still get all the joy of opening your Christmas present—you don’t know what it’s going to be—and you can adjust your strategy depending on what you get. But you can still plan for it."

When it came to picking some Legendary Weapons for Kobolds & Catacombs, the Hearthstone designers only had all of World of Warcraft's lore to choose from. Tricky. "Eight of the nine Weapons are from WoW—cool things with great names or long histories from that game, that mean a lot to players," says Whalen. "We wanted to tie the ninth Weapon into our adventurers—the characters going through the catacombs—because we wanted a Recruit weapon. Recruit is tied in to this adventuring guild, so their weapon—the weapon of Master Oakheart—is Woecleaver, which Recruits a minion when you attack." 

It's clear that as well as a lot of programming, art, and you know, developer wizardry, there's also a lot of love that's gone into this expansion. (No, you've had too much spiked eggnog.) 

"We’ve all had experiences from childhood onward of exploring dungeons with our friends, whether in a computer or tabletop game, and we really wanted to capture that feeling and fantasy," says Kosak. "Everything from the candle-lit board, to loot and Dungeon Run treasures—everything feels like it hit that fantasy. We hope our players feel that way, and we hope we can take at least a few people on a trip back to their favorite dungeon."

Kobolds & Catacombs is out now, and you can buy the cards here. 

Rachel Weber
Managing Editor, US

Rachel Weber is the US Managing Editor of GamesRadar+ and lives in Brooklyn, New York. She joined GamesRadar+ in 2017, revitalizing the news coverage and building new processes and strategies for the US team.