HSJP DMF release special “Rebirth of the Old Gods Festival” tournament recap

WORK IN PROGRESS: This article will be updated as I finish each interview.

Bliz JP had an invite-only tournament to celebrate the release of Madness at the Darkmoon Faire… and they actually had player interviews so this article covers said player voices.


The tournament was an invite-only 8 player single elimination bracket, usual 3 hero/1 ban Bo3 Conquest format. However, since to be in line with the release of DMF as an xpac, all players were required to use at least 5 cards from DMF in each deck.

Tournament stream vod is here (twitch / YT)
Casting team consisted of Sentosu / Aojiru / Oyatsu / Masaru.

Players and their deckcodes are as follows:

Soul DH:
Highlander Hunter:
Circus Tempo Warrior:

Soul DH:
Evo Shaman:

Tempo Warrior:
Soul DH:

Soul DH:
Evo Shaman:

Soul DH:
Evo Shaman:

Evo Shaman:
Soul DH:

Soul DH:
Evo Shaman:
Control Warrior:

Aggro DH:
Evo Shaman:

Game 1 interview (Tredsred/Alutemu)

Sentosu: First, we’d like to speak with the winner, Alutemu. Looking back at the match just now, what do you think?
Alutemu: Let’s see, the renewed deck… Evo Shaman has been around in the past, but the new 2-mana card that brings you a weapon — the addition of that card has really stabilized the deck, and I think it’s good that you can have an explosive move like the one you just saw.
Sentosu: This version of Evo Shaman has quite a few new cards. Which card draws your eye the most?
Alutemu: It has to be the 2-mana card I just mentioned. I don’t remember the name off the top of my head–
Aojiru: Cagematch Custodian.
Alutemu: Right, that one. It gives you a weapon, and I think you can expect it to do all sorts of good things — not just in Evo Shaman but other decks as well, such as bringing you a key card like a Doomhammer.
Sen: So you list Cagematch Custodian as a powerful card. Now, I’d like to speak with Tredsred. You unfortunately suffered a defeat, but what did you think about this match?
Tredsred: I was thinking the Warrior deck that I brought wasn’t too strong (laughs) but I just couldn’t connect with Risky Skipper and it was hard to use Lord Barov, so I think the Evo Shaman just steamrolled over me. It was a shame.
Sentosu: Aojiru mentioned that for this matchup, Warriors have enough power to go up against Evo Shamans. So do you think you’d have had a chance if you could draw those key cards?
Tredsred: Right. I was playing the match thinking it would be an easier battle if I could counter one Evolution combo with my own combination of Risky Skipper and Lord Barov, but I just couldn’t get to the Skipper. As for which deck has the advantage, it’s too early in the cycle to really tell.
Sentosu: Are there any cards in particular in this Warrior deck that draws your attention?
Tredsred: Well, the most powerful card is probably the new 4-mana 2/5 pirate that adds a weapon. Until now, you often lost tempo in the fourth turn, so I think it’s pretty strong to be able to have a solid move during that turn.
Sentosu: So Sword Eater is a powerful minion.
Tredsred: Yes. I think it’s a card that can be used in various Warrior decks, so you will likely see it often in the future.
Sentosu: Thank you so much. Aojiru, do you have questions for the two of them as well?
Aojiru: Yes. I’ll ask Alutemu first. You were the only one of the eight players to bring a Priest deck. What was the logic behind bringing a Priest deck?
Alutemu: Well, I brought it thinking it was a powerful deck. In the current meta, I feel that Demon Hunter is strong, so I came in thinking I will ban Demon Hunter. At that point, I thought (Priest is) unfavorable against Demon Hunter but can take on other decks, such as Warrior decks that are favorable against Demon Hunters. For example, you can add tech cards such as (Acidic Swamp) Ooze. That’s why I brought this deck.
Aojiru: Thank you. Now I’d like to ask Tredsred a question. trahison also brought a Tempo Warrior deck, but one striking point in your deck is that you included Ringmaster Whatley. I believe there is some circus synergy going on here, but did you feel that this circus synergy could be a focal point in future Tempo Warrior play, based on how you’ve been using it to practice?
Tredsred: Well… I don’t think I felt it that much (laughs)
All: (laughs)
Sentosu: So not much.
Tredsred: We had to use five (DMF) cards in this tournament, so when I got to think about which five cards to add into a Tempo Warrior deck, I thought it would be a pretty good deck if I added the Ringmaster and 2-mana mechs (Bumper Car/Stage Hand). But I had this feeling while playing with this deck that the mechs are a bit weak. The (Stage Hand’s) Battlecry buff stats are a bit on the low end, so while being able to draw via Ringmaster is a strong point, I feel the deck will be a bit more powerful if we can find a slightly more decent mech to draw.
Aojiru: I see.
Tredsred: I tried out all sorts of mechs, but I couldn’t find one that really meshed well.
Aojiru: Right. The mech slot is a bit rough in the current meta.
Sentosu: Indeed. There haven’t been many additions. One last question for Tredsred. Right now, there are many people saying that Demon Hunter is likely the most powerful hero out there. Do you think there will be something that rivals it, or even a class that can defeat Demon Hunters?
Tredsred: I don’t know. I think everyone is just getting used to the new cards so I think there will be many new decks in the near future. In the beginning of an expansion cycle, it’s usually the case that a straightforward aggro deck draws everyone’s attention so I don’t have an impression that any one particular deck is really powerful. I just banned Demon Hunter because this early in the meta they seem kind of unstoppable.
Sentosu: Are there any classes you have an eye on, such as a class that may see growth in the future?
Tredsred: Warriors have been pretty advantageous against Demon Hunters to begin with, so I think it’s got a fair shot at countering them depending on how you draw the cards. I am also keeping an eye on Broom Paladins.
Sentosu: I see. Thank you very much. And Alutemu, your next opponent will be the winner between trahison and glory. Can you give us how you’re feeling about your next match?
Alutemu: Well, since in my initial match I was able to win against Tredsred, a powerful rival and a player that I look up to, so I would like to use this momentum to go all the way to champion.
Sentosu: I see. Both of you, thank you very much.
Tredsred: Thank you.
Alutemu: Thank you.

Game 2 interview (trahison/glory)

Masaru: First off, can I ask glory how he feels about this victory?
glory: To be honest, my evolution luck — how all my minions evolved were all so amazing it made me laugh. (laugh)
Aojiru: (laugh)
Masaru: Right. Aojiru and I were like “Whoa!” while we were casting, too.
Aojiru: We were bursting into laughter.
glory: I was thinking they were all evolving into things I really wanted.
Masaru: Even in the first game, you got Taunt minions up so I thought you would be able to perhaps hold on to a victory.
glory: Right.
Masaru: But well, trahison–
glory: I was debating on whether that secret was a Freezing Trap or the one that summons an Animal Companion (Open the Cages), and I lost that game because I guessed wrong.
Masaru: I see. At first, trahison seemed to break a sweat when the minion evolved into a Taunt, but you managed to push through in that first game.
trahison: Right. Evo Shaman has no direct way to heal the hero health. And fortunately for me, the minion had low attack. I think it was 1 attack… a 1/8?
Masaru: It was.
trahison: Because of the low attack, I just thought I’d use the hero power five times. It was good that I was able to switch gears.
Masaru: I see. And your Warrior seems to have had a rough time as you couldn’t draw (Risky) Skipper. How was it?
trahison: Right. I had thought that going against Evo Shaman would be very rough, so I had hoped to win against the Rogue. But even the Rogue went through evolution, to say… (laugh)
all: (laughs)
trahison: There was all sorts of things going on like that (lifesteal) heal for 4, so I think it was bad for me that my plan crumbled down at that point.
Masaru: glory didn’t have a great hand to begin with, but from around (Shadowjeweler) Hanar he had an amazing comeback and had an ample hand in the end.
glory: Right. That deck tends to suddenly have a huge increase in hand, so it’s a deck that doesn’t let you give up until the end even if the early game is really tough.
Masaru: But your luck was amazing as well. Aojiru, do you have any questions?
Aojiru: First off, congratulations on your victory, glory.
glory: Thank you.
Aojiru: As we mentioned earlier, in this bracket glory is facing Alutemu next. Can you believe it? We have a match between two Grandmasters in the semifinals. What a chaotic turn of events. How are you feeling about your upcoming match?
glory: Well, of course I’m going to win. Alutemu went on a rampage during the Masters Tour, so I have to put him in place a bit. I’m going to give him a challenge.
Aojiru: I would like to ask about specifics in your decks as well. This will be a direct comparison against Alutemu, but both of you brought Shamans. Alutemu’s Evo Shaman was lacking a card you brought, the Mogu Fleshshaper. glory, in bringing Fleshshaper, did you decide that having it would be better?
glory: It’s not that powerful a card, but I feel that it is tremendously powerful in a Shaman mirror. And I felt that many people would be bringing Shaman decks, so I included it in my deck.
Aojiru: I see.
glory: I don’t think Fleshshaper is that strong in other matchups, though.
Aojiru: So you thought that there will be Shaman mirrors in this tournament.
glory: Yes, that’s what I thought, so I put Fleshshaper in.
Aojiru: Thank you. And I’d like to ask trahison a question too. You brought a Tempo Warrior deck like Tredsred, but this has quite a unique form. You included E.T.C. (God of Metal), for instance.
trahison: Right. Enrage Warrior has a deck with a high winrate in the new meta, but I just couldn’t fit in enough new cards. There was no way I could get the required five cards in.
Aojiru: Right.
trahison: And I got thinking how E.T.C. has a Control Combo Warrior deck. That uses cards like Pen Flinger and copies E.T.C. (via Bloodsworn Mercenary) to do an OTK, so I constructed this deck wondering if I could create a hybrid with somewhere around there. I’m pretty sure that at first glance, you can’t tell how much damage this deck can deal.
Aojiru: I couldn’t tell.
trahison: I brought in this deck hoping to use that fact to my advantage.
Aojiru: Even in recent Masters Tour tournaments — though this may sound bad — you have been tending to bring very creative decks, or rather, mischievous decks such as Highlander Demon Hunter or Highlander Cyclone Mage. That’s the impression I had, but in this case your “mischievous” aspect would be E.T.C.?
trahison: I believe so. Slightly strange decks like that are intended to bring me a slight advantage with a slightly heavier minion in mirror matches. In this tournament, I felt that I had no choice but to ban Demon Hunter, so I ended up taking a pretty orthodox route. I especially was careful about Rogues and Shamans that couldn’t heal on their own, so I decided to bring a Warrior deck with Reaper’s Scythe that could whittle away at the health of both of those classes.
Aojiru: I see. Thank you very much.
Masaru: I would have loved to see E.T.C. OTK’ing.
Aojiru: I’d have loved to see it, too. By the way, trahison, how much damage can you deal with this deck?
trahison: It’s not too different from a basic Enrage Warrior deck, but what’s characteristic about this deck is that you get a lot more variations. For example, a common move would be to use Kor’kron (Elite), Inner Rage, and copying for 12 damage from 7 mana, but just by randomly adding E.T.C. and (Animated) Broomstick into the fray, you can add 2 damage per hit for a total of 22 damage.
Aojiru: Oh!
trahison: The special part about this deck is that you add damage from an unexpected place, so another pro about this deck is that because of that, you can be a bit more frivolous about using Inner Rage.
Aojiru: I see. As long as you add Rush, even a Charge minion attacking will deal that extra damage.
trahison: Right. Even if Kor’kron goes face, that extra two damage will connect.
Aojiru: Oh, this is an interesting gimmick, don’t you think, Masaru?
Masaru: Indeed. I think some research on this may create a deck that will show solid results in ladder, like one that can endure aggro decks.
Aojiru: And that’s it for my questions.
Masaru: Can we keep going with this interview?
Aojiru: We can.
Masaru: Or should we end it here?
Aojiru: If you have anything you want to ask.
Masaru: Well, as Aojiru mentioned earlier… I’ve been watching all of Alutemu and glory’s Grandmaster games on YouTube, so I’m looking forward to the semifinal match. (laugh)
Aojiru: So basically, you’re cheering for glory.
all: (laughs)
Masaru: Thank you for saying what’s on my mind. I’m looking forward to the match.
glory: Thank you.
Masaru: Thank you.
Aojiru: Both of you, thank you for your time.

[Translator’s note] trahison later DM’d me saying “I forgot to mention the France-Japan Confrontation hosted by MaxTeam and BeerBrick happening next Wednesday (11/25) at 11AM PST during my interview! Please let everyone know!” so I will leave the MaxTeam’s announcement tweet here.

Game 3 interview (Duelist/posesi)

Masaru: Since both Duelist and posesi are here, we’d like to start the interview. First off, congratulations to posesi on his win.
posesi: Thank you.
Masaru: Looking back, how was that match?
posesi: Well, it honestly feels like I won because I got good evolution gacha results. (laughs) During the Hunter vs Shaman game, I made a mistake in looking for the Secret, and ran out of time because of that mistake. If I was able to win at that point, I could have felt like I won properly. I feel like that was a waste.
Masaru: I see. Most of the players brought Evo Shaman, but do you have any cards you’re especially keeping an eye on?
posesi: Specifically for Shaman, the 2-mana 2/2 weapon search, the Cagematch Custodian, is really powerful.
Masaru: I see, because the Custodian lets you draw a weapon, it becomes easier to evolve — so the card has a lot of power.
posesi: Right. The deck really relies on the weapon, and you can’t win with this deck without drawing the weapon, so essentially having four cards for that weapon is huge.
Masaru: I see. Thank you. Duelist, you just saw Mogu Fleshshaper change into another Fleshshaper. What did you think about that?
Duelist: To be honest, I didn’t realize what had happened for a moment. (laugh) It was like, “Wait, the spell didn’t go off?” but there was a new copy of the Fleshshaper on the board.
Masaru: Oyatsu and I were like, “Hmm? What just happened?” so we were both bewildered for a bit there.
Oyatsu: Right. It ended up being that Fleshshaper got healed.
Masaru: An unbelievable miracle of Fleshshaper changing into a Fleshshaper.
Duelist: That aside, I had a lot of turns where I had so many choices to choose from.
Masaru: I see.
Duelist: So I feel like it was difficult for me.
Masaru: So do you have any particular cards you’re watching in the decks you submitted?
Duelist: A notable card… perhaps the 2-mana 3/2 for Rogue.
Masaru: Foxy (Fraud)!
Duelist: Yup. Foxy is pretty powerful, to the point where it just make things work. Also, there were a bunch of hyenas in the first game, but it surprised me when I realized Foxy wasn’t a Beast.
Masaru: (laughs)
posesi: I had to double-check myself.
Masaru: Foxy looks like that, but isn’t categorized as a Beast.
Duelist: Right. I was surprised.
Oyatsu: There’s a saying in Hearthstone: “Those that speak human speech are not Beasts.”
Masaru: I see.
Oyatsu: I had a fleeting thought that she probably speaks human speech.
Masaru: Oh, so she looks like a beast but since she can speak human speech she’s not a Beast?
Oyatsu: Vulpera Scoundrel isn’t a Beast, for example.
Masaru: Oh right, now that you mention it…
Oyatsu: I think that’s the point to take home.
Masaru: Oyatsu, do you have anything else you want to ask?
Oyatsu: Then, I’d like to ask both players. You brought the lineups that you did, but — I realize this is a meaningless question — but if this tournament was a 4-hero one, what would have been your fourth hero? Let’s start with posesi.
posesi: Well, Warriors are honestly powerful right now. I was debating until the very end on whether to bring a Hunter or a Warrior, but I felt like trahison or Tredsred would have something up their sleeve so I hesitated on bringing the Warrior. But I was needlessly worried.
Oyatsu: I see, you guessed based on opponents’ personalities.
posesi: Yes.
Oyatsu: Everyone seemed to have been pretty straightforward, though.
posesi: Right. Well, this is the start of a new meta, so it did feel like those that empowered the powerful decks would win, too.
Masaru: I see.
Oyatsu: What about you, Duelist?
Duelist: Well, I think it would be a Hunter.
Oyatsu: I see.
Duelist: I myself was debating between Hunter and Rogue for my third deck.
Oyatsu: Is that so?
Duelist: Yes, and I felt that Hunter takes fourth place.
Oyatsu: That means both Duelist and posesi had similar trains of thought. Both the decks you brought and the reason why you debated on the third deck are somewhat similar. That’s the impression that I get.
posesi: I genuine like powerful decks.
Oyatsu: I also get the impression that both of you are like that, too — so I’m quite satisfied by that answer.
Duelist: Right.
Oyatsu: Thank you. That’s all from me.
Masaru: So I was talking with Oyatsu earlier that the Grandmasters are winning, and posesi makes the third. Do you have anything you want to say for your upcoming matches?
posesi: It was a bit scary for me, as Alutemu and glory had won before me. I was thinking “What would people say about me if I lost right now?” as I was playing.
Masaru: The pressure!
Oyatsu: So you realized that.
posesi: Well, one of them is sure to make it to the finals now, so I am going to go to the finals as well and show them their place.
Masaru: I see. Thank you very much. Congratulations again, posesi.
posesi: Thank you.
Masaru: Thank you both.

Game 4 interview (NAGON/Tansoku)

[Translator’s note] There were some technical difficulties where the stream wasn’t picking up the players’ audio (to the point where there were two commercial breaks). Only the third-time’s-the-charm part is trascribed here.

Sentosu: Okay, now we’d like to hear from both of you. We’re sorry for making you do this so many times, Tansoku.
Tansoku: Oh, no, no.
Sentosu: Then, can you tell us your thoughts?
Tansoku: This is the third time now.
Sentosu: We’re really sorry about that.
Tansoku: It’s okay.
Sentosu: Right, looks like we’ve got it this time. Please tell us what you thought!
Tansoku: So we’re okay?
Sentosu: How was that match in hindsight?
Tansoku: Well, it really feels like I was lucky. I really feel apologetic to NAGON, but it feels like everything was decided by luck. I’m so sorry.
Sentosu: Oh, that’s going too far. By the way, were there any card choices that you were particular about?
Tansoku: Well, I guess it’s where I added Yogg-Saron, Master of Fate in my Rogue deck? I mentioned this earlier (during tech difficulties), but NAGON conceded before I could put Yogg down so it got no time in the limelight. But that’s about it — Yogg in my Rogue.
Sentosu: You did win the match, so perhaps we’ll get another chance to see Yogg. After all, this tournament is titled “Rebirth of the Old Gods Festival”, so I’m looking forward to it.
Tansoku: Right!
Sentosu: And there’s more to ask NAGON, too. Unfortunately you lost, but your lineup was quite different from that of other players. And your ban wasn’t a Demon Hunter, though it was the Aggro type. Can we hear about how you approached this tournament?
NAGON: I think I banned Demon Hunter?
Sentosu: Oh, I’m terribly sorry. I had it reversed. Terribly sorry. Then, can you talk about what you included in your deck?
NAGON: My decks… well, I thought Control Warriors would be the fad, so I added the 5-mana 5/5 (Platebreaker) in my Demon Hunter deck. I also adjusted my Shaman deck to be anti-Warrior as well, so I think the weakness created from that showed in my match.
Sentosu: And your Warrior is also a Control type. Did you have Tempo Warriors in mind with this choice?
NAGON: No, I just chose it because I felt it was a powerful deck.
Sentosu: I see. This deck was banned so we couldn’t see it in action, but what cards are key for this deck?
NAGON: Well, it’s called the Silas OTK Warrior. You use Silas Darkmoon to send the Soulbound Ashtongue to the opponent, and defeat it using Shield Slam. Another strong point of this deck is that the combo only requires those three cards, so even when you’re not actively going for the combo you can use the other cards to play a normal control game. It’s a powerful deck because there are very few unnecessary cards.
Sentosu: I see, so it’s an OTK deck that utilizes very few key cards, and you can also endures attacks as well, making it a very special deck. Oyatsu, do you have questions for the two players as well?
Oyatsu: I do. I’d first like to ask Tansoku. All eight players brought Demon Hunter decks, but you were the only one to bring an Aggro Demon Hunter. Can I ask the reasoning behind it?
Tansoku: Because Soul DH is too strong, I thought someone would totally bring a lineup that would target it, like someone would bring Libram Paladin or Control Warrior and one more deck that would specifically target Soul DH. So I brought an Aggro DH that is strong against Libram Paladin, but it turns out nobody brought that. I should just have brought a Soul DH myself.
Oyatsu: That said, this Aggro Demon Hunter may have its own spotlight in the future, so I’m looking forward to how it will do. One more question for both of you — again, this has nothing to do with the tournament, but can I ask you two what your favorite card in the newest expansion is? Let’s start with Tansoku.
Tansoku: Me? I guess I’d have to say Yogg.
Oyatsu: Figures.
Tansoku: I loved it back in Whispers of the Old Gods, but it’s back and it’s stronger so it’s my favorite card.
Oyatsu: And you, NAGON?
NAGON: Stiltstepper.
Oyatsu: Stiltstepper?
NAGON: I didn’t add it to my deck, but what it does looks strong on paper so I kinda like it.
Oyatsu: That’s a pretty cool pick there.
NAGON: I couldn’t use it for this tournament, but I still feel like it has a bit of potential.
Oyatsu: It lets you draw a card, and if you use what you drew your hero gets +4 attack. That’s a pretty unique card, and it is a card that Aggro Demon Hunters use.
NAGON: Right.
Oyatsu: I personally feel that it’s a very interesting card. Thank you very much, that’s all from me.
Sentosu: Okay, thank you. I’d like to ask NAGON a question. I hear that you really like control decks. Are there any classes other than Warrior that you’ve got your eyes on?
NAGON: In the current meta, there aren’t that many other control decks out there.
Sentosu: So it’s hard to think of one.
NAGON: Perhaps Broom Paladin? It was powerful in the previous meta, but for this tournament I had to use five cards from the new expansion so I just couldn’t build a good Broom Paladin deck and gave up. But I still think there’s a possibility for it to be a deck to stop Demon Hunters.
Sentosu: Just because we didn’t see it today doesn’t mean that Paladins have fallen short.
NAGON: Right. It really was a powerful deck.
Sentosu: I see. Thank you. That’s it for the interview for the two of you. Tansoku, you have the semifinals up ahead. Can we get your thoughts on the upcoming match?
Tansoku: Well, I really want that mousepad, so I will make sure to win. I’ll do my best!
Sentosu: Today’s tournament is set so that the more you win, the more prizes you earn. And Tansoku, we built up a situation where the other three semifinalists are all Grandmasters. What do you think about that?
Tansoku: That means I’m the next Grandmaster. (laughs) Well, at least that’s what I think, so I will defeat them all and become the champion.
Sentosu: You’ll defeat them all!? Okay, thank you both for this interview.
Tansoku: Than you very much.

ascii.jp interview with Hamilton Chu

yes, this is a different interview.

Source: What Will Happen to Cards Once Hearthstone Is Japanese? What About Support to the Japanese Community? Asking the Producer by Akira Jisatora

The Japanese localization for Blizzard Entertainment’s PC/mobile trading card game “Hearthstone” made its surprise announcement on October 3. We were able to inquire Mr. Hamilton Chu, the executive producer that was on stage at the event, about the intent of the Japanese localization and future support.
For this, we had the assistance of “matsujun” who runs community websites for PC games that are not localized in Japan yet (including Hearthstone) as well as the eSports tournament organization JCG.

Not just localization, but will “support” with someone in charge to take care of only Japan

Congratulation on starting the Japanese service for Hearthstone. I’m happy about the Japanese localization that many fans have long awaited for. What kind of events do you plan to hold in Japan once the Japanese service begins?
We don’t have a concrete schedule solidified yet. However, thanks to Japan having a wonderful partner in SANKO, we hope to be able to do all sorts of things by tag-teaming. 
As you know, the community is the main driving force behind Fireside Gatherings (official tournaments sanctioned by Blizzard) being held all over the world. Hopefully this will be the catalyst for people in Japan to invite their friends and enjoy Hearthstone. 

This was the first time where a Blizzard website page was created with Japan as its target, and where you could enter an official tournament from Japan. In the future for the global Hearthstone tournament scene, will Japan be treated as a “country that has eSports”?
Of course. Kno has already done very well, and I believe that Japan will enter the genre of eSports more and more as time goes on.

I have the impression that Blizzard supports various activities of the user community. Are you thinking about supporting the Japanese community as well?
Of course. We would like to communicate very openly and actively send our thoughts concerning games to Japan as representatives of Blizzard, and of Hearthstone. 
At the same time, we are going to release a Japanese version of the client, so we would like to actively receive feedback from the players through the community. We will be bringing up the Japanese language forum in full force soon, and this will be managed by a Community Manager that will work solely with the Japanese community. Said members will also manage the official Japanese Twitter account, so we hope that we can get active information distribution as well as communication through those channels.

Will those that disseminate information live in Japan?
No. There is no office in Japan, so they will be part of the APAC team in Korea. However, that does not change the fact that they are specializing in the Japanese forums. 

Any plans to make an office in Japan?
We have just begun our involvement with the Japanese market, so we are not able to provide you with plans as such at present. 

(I’m asking such questions because) It would be great to strengthen the ties if there is someone that will actually come watch the activities of the community. Thus, this is a request to consider having a representative that resides in Japan as well.
Indeed. It is very important for the staff to actually meet the people of, and to deepen the understanding of, the community. 

The Japanese qualifiers for Hearthstone was held recently. How would you assess it?
The Japanese qualifier tournament was very good. I was happy that Kno secured his victory, and that he did very well at the Regional Championships afterwards as well. I was extremely amused by Myrzaki who got second place. Before the tournament, he was a little-known player, but starting from the Fireside Gatherings, he lost once yet climbed all the way up to the finals from the losers bracket. I’m sure his run through the brackets also increased the amusement of the spectators, as he showed that “you can really get this far”. 

Most Hearthstone players seemed oblivious of the existence of this tournament. In most Japanese games, the app itself has an integrated news page that would inform players of tournaments. The Japanese players are used to that, so they don’t check news media on their own. Furthermore, I don’t think most of them acknowledged that this was an event that they cold actually attend. 
If you are going to provide service to Japan, I believe you need to think of better ways to make announcements to the users. Do you have any such plans?
It’s just like you said. I don’t think it’s a good idea to aggressively send information to players much like spam e-mails, but I believe there also is a need to send out information, especially information of this nature, with the strength of the community as a whole. 
Of course, there is official information that comes from us as the publisher, but the fact is the sharing of information among the community is the easiest way to disseminate information. I do believe that there is room for us to improve in terms of being a publisher that can send out official information.
After a month or two after the release of the Japanese client, if there is a lack of communication between us and the users from your point of view, it would help us a lot if we can be notified as such. 

Can you tell us the ratio of PC to mobile for the Japanese player environment?
I don’t have specific data as present. And as someone from Blizzard, I believe in the idea that “no matter what platform you use, the user experience must be the same”. 

The fact that many Japanese people play games on their mobile devices must have had some influence on the decision to create a Japanese localization of Hearthstone. Do you have anything to say regarding that?
It’s not entirely the case that such a situation was the catalyst. Since last year, when Japan first became a country eligible for the Hearthstone World Championship, we have always had the thought that we would like to see the people of Japan continue to play our games. After thinking about what would give the most enjoyable experience for the Japanese players, the plan for a Japanese localization came to fruit. Many players in Japan use their mobile devices to play, so we believed that this will be a plus for us as well.

Were the sales in Japan any part of the decision?
I’ll just say from the PR standpoint that Japan is an important market. (laughs) As a game player and a game developer, there is a given that we must provide an experience that satisfies the players. We must create games that players will find wonderful, and the results will come as a result of that. 

Are there any points where Japanese player are different from players elsewhere, such as how long they play and how much they make in-game purchases?
I don’t have that data. (laughs) However, strangely enough, players of any country you look at shows similar patterns. Therefore, there is no such case that players from a certain country play 3 times as long compared to other countries, or anything like that. 

Will there be more Japanese localization for Blizzard titles outside of Hearthstone?
It’s very hard to say what we would do for our other titles. However, when we released a Japanese version of Diablo III last year, we had very positive feedback. We’re looking forward to what will happen now that a localized version of Hearthstone is being released. 

There were previous titles where the localization updates stopped midway. How long will you continue service to Japan?
Forever! (laughs) We believe we will support every country in the exact same way. I believe that you will continue to be able to play for millenniums to come. (laughs) 

We’ll never do an easy, literal translation. We’d like to be notified of things to improve on.

Honestly speaking, I didn’t find the Japanese localization quality to be that high. It felt like some text was too literally translated, and didn’t feel like it created an atmosphere that was apt for the Japanese.
Thank you for your honest opinion. That makes me a bit sad, but we do have a policy to “avoid literal translation”, so we translated with the intent that we included elements that were fit for each destination country without losing the essence of what is already in the game including lots of humor. 
It would be great if you could point out specifics such as “the selection of this word for this spot is not right.” However, we would like you to realize that we didn’t merely go for an easy, literal translation. We kept moving forward to incorporate various elements that were uniquely Japanese, and this position is something that will not change in the future. 
We will be creating a window for such feedback to be received by the APAC team. We will let you know once that officially opens up.

Will you ever make Hearthstone with cards in real life?
The answer to that is no. First off, Hearthstone was created on the given that it will be a game that was played digitally. We thought about how you can enjoy playing a card game in a digital environment, such as effects, voices, matchmaking, and arena. This is what makes Hearthstone uniquely Hearthstone. It is impossible to reenact this experience with a physical card game. 

I love offline events, so I’m looking forward to seeing “BlizzCon Japan”!
That’s a great idea! The best part about BlizzCon is to have an event where the community and publisher comes together, and everyone who enjoys what you enjoy all comes together for a single event. Personally, the developers have fun directly speaking with the community members of that nature. It would be nice if we could hold an event similar to BlizzCon in Japan as well.

Even with Japanese localization, all “assets” to present will continue to be usable

Users that have already been playing must be curious about whether or not there are changes once the Japanese localized client is out. We asked a few additional questions.

So this is just a Japanese client, and not a server for Japan?
There are no changes at all server-wise. People all over the world can play in the language of their choice, on the server of their choice.

For instance, I can connect to the Americas server using the Japanese client/app?
That’s correct.

Can players use the cards and content that they have already purchased?
The collections themselves are tied to the server, so as long as you are using the same server, you can continue to use what you have even after switching languages. 

The launch is set for sometime in October. Will the PC and mobile versions all come out at the same time?
The launch is simultaneous for all platforms. 

There is a preregistration campaign. Can veteran players also participate?
Yes. If you enter your name and e-mail address for the preregistration, we will send a code for a card back by e-mail once the Japanese client launches. The localization is a celebration, so we would like all veteran players to participate as well. It’s not just to gain new players. 

Can users receive the preregistration goodies no matter what region they play in?
It will be limited to players who are on the Asia server. 

4gamer interview with Hamilton Chu

Source: “Hearthstone” Developer Interview. What Blizzard has Cherished Regarding Localization into Japanese and Development of Hearthstone by Rune

Blizzard Entertainment announced the Japanese localization for their online card game “Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft” (for PC/iOS/Android) on October 3, 2015. Two days later, on October 5, we had an opportunity to conduct a short interview with Mr. Hamilton Chu, the executive producer of the game.

In this interview, we were able to hear stories concerning the localization into Japanese as well as the current game balance as seen from the players’ point of view, so we’d like you to take a look.

Japanese localization that cherished feelings


Thank you for having this interview today. First, we’d like a brief introduction about yourself.
I work as an executive producer overseeing all of Hearthstone. Please think of it as someone who supervises all the supervisors for each division including development, marketing, and community relations.


The other day, the Japanese localization for Hearthstone has finally been announced. This is the first time Blizzard offers direct service in Japan instead of going through a Japanese publisher, right?
Hearthstone was an IP that we felt a desire to deploy it directly from our company. However, when we have events in Japan, we will have the assistance of SANKO.


What kind of impressions do you have about Japanese players?
I feel that many Japanese players play games very passionately and are devoted to the games that they play for long periods of time.


Many games in Japan are released for smartphones. What kind of demographic do you think will be the target for Hearthstone?
I believe Blizzard games, no matter what platform, are those that we would like to have played by gamers who love games to begin with.


How many people currently play Hearthstone in Japan?
We haven’t disclosed any specific numbers, but despite there being only a non-localized English version available, many players are playing Hearthstone. We are truly appreciative of that. Therefore, by now releasing a Japanese version, we are expecting that many more Japanese people will start playing.


Were there any hardships concerning the localization into Japanese?
Of course, there were countless hardships if I started listing them. One hardship that stood out was definitely the translation for the ADR script. Hearthstone cherishes the feelings of the characters, and we spent a tremendous amount of time especially to figure out how to translate the phrases that were humorous. We felt that for localization into other languages that this was a hardship as well, so Japan was no exception to that.


True. The voices when minions are summoned are impressionable.
Right. Characters that appear in Hearthstone are all unique, and there is a vast variety of personalities. For example, Lord Jaraxxus is a very interesting character, and it was very important to choose voice actors that could capitalize on such character traits.

Main factor of success was “rules anyone can understand”


The rules for Hearthstone are very simple, and it feels like it is easy even for people who normally don’t play any card games to start playing. Was that point on your mind during development?
Just like you mentioned, we made the game rules very simple. Card games is a genre that is often shied away from due to the difficulty of game rules. We always discuss how we can relay just how fun card games are to as many people as we possibly can.


Are there many card game fans who work for Blizzard?
Of course! (laughs) The staff at Blizzard are full of people who love card games. I myself have been playing “Magic: the Gathering” from their alpha phase.


Please tell us what parts you worked out in aiming for a game that is easy for beginners.
For instance, when you choose a card, the border turns green, and a large arrow appears. We felt it was important to make it obvious what they need to do with one glance, regardless of who was playing the game. And, elements like that are I believe one reason why Hearthstone is being played all over the world.


It seems that Hearthstone has a stronger element of randomness compared to other card games. Even in tournaments, we often see players be elated or dejected by a result of something random. What was your intention behind creating such a game design?
There are basically two big reasons. First, it makes it interesting for all, as it becomes “fun to watch, and fun to play”. When you have a card effect that randomly summons a minion, and a very powerful card comes onto the field, it really excites people.


True. When Doomsayer is summoned from a Piloted Shredder, you have a very grave situation on your hands. (laughs)
Secondly, the element of randomness requires players to have an even deeper set of playing skills. For instance, the field changes depending on which minion the Piloted Shredder randomly summons, and you have to instantly make a judgment call and restructure your strategy around it. Did you watch the game between Kno the Japanese representative versus Kranich the Korean representative?


Yes. I saw it from beginning to end.
The very last turn of the very last round is the best example of what I am talking about. During that turn, Kno used the effect from Dreadscale that deals 1 damage to all minions on the field to explode the Boom Bot, hoping that it will damage Kranich for 6 health. Without knowing whether or not he will get another turn, he came up with the idea, calculated points, chose that action, and executed it in a very short amount of time. I believe that is an example of the high skill level we see from players at the professional level.


I see. That was a very impressionable scene where one could get a glance as to just how his skills as a player were.
Kno had already played his turn while I was thinking of exactly the same thing. (laughs)


Speaking of decks that require high skills to use, there is the Patron Warrior deck. That deck is often very hard to calculate, but from release of Blackrock Mountain to present, it has shown its place in the meta as a top tier deck. Players often talk about “when will Patron be nerfed?” but what kind of impressions do you have concerning that particular deck? (Patron Warrior: a deck centered on combos from Grim Patron, a minion that summons another copy of itself by surviving an attack. The card is highly compatible with the Warrior deck that can create synergy by having many means of damaging your own minions. Ever since the release of Blackrock Mountain, it has always been at the top tier of deck rankings for progamers, and is widely used both in ranked matches and in tournaments.) 
I feel that it’s not as powerful a deck as many players think. The Patron Warrior deck is very popular, but it does not always mean that popularity and deck strength are proportional to each other.
Patron Warrior is a deck that is often used in tournaments as well, so I believe that is giving the impression to players who watch the tournaments that it is a powerful deck. However, it is important to consider what everyone thinks about this Patron Warrior deck, so we will continue keep an eye on Patron Warrior and decide where to go from here from there.


On a card-by-card basis, Emperor Thaurissan is also a very powerful card. Thanks to that card, new deck types such as Malygos Warlock came into play.
Like you said, Emperor Thaurissan is a very powerful card, and was an element that created all sorts of new decks. Also, that card has the “element of randomness” that I mentioned earlier. For instance, if someone using a Druid deck gained the effects of the Emperor, whether or not they have Force of Nature and Savage Roar in their hand already will greatly change the outcome. I believe that things like that cause this card to lead to situations much like the one I mentioned earlier.


Changing topics, can you tell us the intent behind the addition of the new mode “Tavern Brawl”?
Good question. We developed it with the goal being a mode where a wide array of players could play, including those that are too lazy to construct their won decks and those that want to enjoy playing with rules that are different from normal. Also, ranked matches until now were based on a monthly basis, but we had wanted to offer a different mode where something new happens every week.


You win one card pack if you win once in “Tavern Brawl”. Was this intentional, as a way to help out the beginners?
There is that aspect, yes. Also, we designed it so that even beginners can try it out without too many worries. I believe we made it so that it can be enjoyed freely, where you play once just to taste, and if you like it, you’ll continue to play.

Is the recommended server for Japanese players Asia or Americas?


Onto another topic. Concerning the upcoming release of the Japanese version, there is speculation among Japanese players that all future tournaments will be played on the Asia server. Please tell us what Blizzard’s opinion is concerning which server Japanese players should be playing in the future.
This is something that is often discussed internally as well. Currently, many of the Japanese players are playing on the Americas server, so that server may be more familiar for them.
On the other hands, the Asia servers has much less of a time difference, so there is merit in playing there with regards to creating more proper matchmaking. Blizzard does recommend playing on the Asia server, but we would like the players to choose a server that they feel is easier for them to play on when choosing a server.


Then, please give an insight regarding deck-related assets for participating in tournaments. For instance, if all tournaments are going to be played on the Asia server from now on, I believe that every player currently playing on the Americas servers will not have a deck to play*. Is there a possibility that Blizzard will provide loaner accounts during tournaments for players in that predicament? (* Player data for Hearthstone is saved on a server-to-server basis, so someone playing on the Americas server must start all over if he wishes to play on the Asia server.)
I believe that the current issue we have where it is difficult to participate in tournaments on a different server will persist. However, concerning this localization for a Japanese version, we are considering some form of solution such that this will not become a huge issue.


I am hoping that the assets obtained by all players on the Americas server will not go to waste, then. Finally, can you give one last comment to all fans reading this article?
First off, thank you for playing Hearthstone for all this time despite the differences in languages. Also, we really do appreciate your attendance of various events and communicating with us. We will be releasing a Japanese version as well soon, so we would like you to give your continued regards for Hearthstone.
We will be creating an official forum in Japanese, and we will be hiring community managers that concentrate only on Jpaan. I hope we can actively listen to everyone’s feedback and suggestions.


We’re looking forward to the release of the Japanese version and how the game will unfold in the future. Thank you for this opportunity you gave us today.


Hearthstone is a game that many Japanese people have been playing even without a localized version. With the upcoming release of the Japanese version, it will be a good opportunity for those that were shying away just because it was a card game with English text to touch upon Hearthstone and see why it is a game that is played all over the world. The Japanese version is set to be released in late October, so we have something to eagerly look forward to.