Hearthstone game director Ben Brode is leaving Blizzard, much to the shock of the community

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I'm not crying - I've just got a little crafting dust in my eye. In a heartfelt post on the Hearthstone forums, game director Ben Brode has announced (out of nowhere) that he's leaving Blizzard Entertainment to start a new company. Brode has been the face of Hearthstone since its inception, and quickly became a beloved figurehead for the community thanks to his constant interaction with players and his booming, highly infectious laughter. 

"After 15 years at Blizzard and almost 10 years working on Hearthstone, I have made the incredibly difficult decision to embark on a new journey," Brode writes. "I am very fortunate to be able to take a crazy risk right now in my life, and I’m excited to be scrappy and a little scared. I’m going to help start a new company. We’ll probably make games, but we haven’t figured anything else out, yet. I’m looking forward to designing, programming, and actually creating things again."

It's hard to imagine what Hearthstone will look like without Brode around, but he wants to assure us that everything will be just fine. "I get too much credit by virtue of being a public face, but the 80+ people on the development team are still there, and they are the ones actually making the cards, brawls, events, missions, and features," he writes. "I am confident the game is in the best possible hands, and I’m excited to see where a new generation of leaders takes Hearthstone from here."

Good luck on whatever it is you do next, Ben, and thanks for all the hearty belly laughs. In honor of Brode's bountiful mirth, let's bask in the glory of his latest guffaws alongside Sean "Day[9]" Plott from the recent reveal stream of The Witchwood.

If you or someone you know is just starting out in Hearthstone, be sure to check out our guide to the best Hearthstone decks for beginners