What is your name, and how long have you been playing/working on the World of Warcraft TCG?
My name is Matt Dunn, and I worked on the game for a short period of time in 2009. I just joined up with Cryptozoic at the start of June, so I suppose that means I've been working on the World of Warcraft TCG for about four to six months now in total. I first started playing back when Heroes of Azeroth was released, although I have a couple of blind spots from my jumps from the outside world to R&D.
How would you describe yourself as a gamer? What excites you the most?
When it comes to playing games, there are two main things I enjoy: mischief and mayhem. My more mischievous side loves looking for ways to break the rules. I adore cards that do things like change types, trade resources, and especially ignore costs, since these can all lead to some wacky interactions. Heroes with weird deck-building rules are also a favorite of mine.
On the other hand, I'm also drawn to a healthy dose of chaos and destruction. I love big effects that blow things up, or even just alter the nature of the game in some way., , and would all be good examples.
What sort of goals do you have in mind when designing cards?
The other R&D folks already covered a lot of the things I keep in mind when working (what is the target audience of this card, how does it fit into the set as a whole, etc), so instead I thought I might talk about what I try to think about when not working. You see, I sometimes like to go hunting for things that lead to design inspirations, partly to keep the skills sharp, but mostly because it's fun to do. The trick is to find some fun restrictions to challenge yourself with. The most obvious, of course, is to try to base designs around characters, items, abilities, and events in the Warcraft universe, and even there you have the choice of pursuing a design that stays true to the mechanics of the game vs. one that matches up on a more thematic level.
There are plenty of other fun options outside the game to explore, too. Some examples might be: can I make a design that fits some silly name, like ‘Rime or Reason' or ‘Chews-Wisely'? Can I design a card around a particular concept, like a monster that swallows people whole? Can I fit a design around a sweet piece of art from the Blizzard fan art page?
While these restrictions help keep things interesting, the fact is that these are real situations we can find ourselves in as designers. It's easy to imagine a scenario where, say, someone walks into the room and says, "Alright, folks, we shifted some things around, and now we have a hole in Set X. We need an Alliance rare, and it needs to fit either this art of a Paladin or this art of a Hunter. We're looking for a weird, build-around card, and you have one hour to turn it in. Go."
What has been your favorite story from working at Cryptozoic?
So one day, a bunch of us were sitting around testing Mystery Cryptozoic Deck-Building Game X. I think the players were Dan Clark, Drew Walker, Phil Cape, and myself, but Ben Stoll may have been involved as well (my memory is a little fuzzy). Early in the game, Drew had picked up a juicy card, probably because it was expensive, and Drew likes big numbers. The card, however, had some variance to it, in that its power was based on his discard pile, which shuffles back often in this game, and Drew would repeatedly draw this card at the worst possible time. Over and over again, Drew's opening draw would be followed by increasingly more violent bursts of cursing, as he grew more and more frustrated with his prized card failing to live up to his expectations.
Finally, though, the stars aligned, and Drew found himself set up for the dream scenario. His deck was completely emptied, and with no sign of the big card in his yard, we all knew that Drew was preparing for a monstrous turn, a fact that was confirmed by the broad grin spreading across his face as he excitedly contemplated his options while waiting for his turn to come around. It seemed like all that suffering from earlier would finally pay off.
However, Dan Clark was up first, and he had other plans in store. Ever the instigator, Dan saw before him a golden opportunity, and he wasted no time in capitalizing on it.
"I'm going to play this card right here. We all get to draw a card. Isn't that nice? You're welcome, everybody."
"Wait, draw a card?" Drew, having just snapped out of his big-numbers daydream, was only now realizing the dire implications of this move, as he would have to shuffle his discard pile into his deck to draw one. "Does that mean…does that mean I have to…"
"Yes it does," replied Dan, flashing Drew a sly smile.
Patrick once talked about the "blow my brains out test". Well, the aftermath of this incident may be cause for a new test, which could tentatively be called the "table test". The question it asks is very simple: "Could this card lead to a scenario so frustrating that it causes Drew Walker to karate chop a table in half?"
What is your favorite card in the World of Warcraft TCG, and why?
is still my all-time favorite. She breaks the rules, and yet does it in a way that makes sense. The card captures the character so perfectly, and using the raid deck as a tool was so cool. Also, turning into a dragon is just awesome. In a weird way, she's sort of like the original Master Hero.
Horde, although Garrosh has certainly made me question my loyalty lately.
What is your favorite card from Tomb of the Forgotten?
I'm definitely going with. Not only does it allow me to get up to my usual rule-breaking shenanigans, but I get to recite a rad quote whenever I play it. "I am the bone of my sword…"