To say that the launch of Spellslingers has been a success would be an understatement. The game has built up a sizable following in a short amount of time thanks to its accessibility, cost, and level of strategic depth. With one small expansion already released and the game’s first large expansion on the horizon, it’s easy to forget that the game has only been out for two months.

Today marks the third balance patch in that time span. While some may point to that and raise concerns about stability in the game, others can rightly also point out that it speaks to a development and design team that is paying attention to their players’ concerns and is taking proactive steps to ensure the game remains fresh and more importantly fun to play.

Earlier this week I reached out to Wizards of the Coast hoping to get some insight into how things have progressed since launch, what the next few months have in store for us, and what a longer-term roadmap for the game may entail. Lead designer Lukas Litzsinger was kind enough to spend some time answering my questions. While we all wait for the mega-update that is the v.1.01.02 patch, please enjoy this interview!

[Editor’s Note: This interview was conducted before the release of today’s patch. When Lukas refers to “a patch going out this week” he is referring to the v1.01.02 patch released today.]

Hipsters of the Coast: So how have things been going so far?

Lukas Litzsinger: From the whole development and publishing team we are so gratified to see the outpouring of love and support from the game’s community. We’ve established a solid core group of players who are playing regularly, are excited, and are eager to see new content and features released. We have just posted our release plans for the rest of the year, and we are working hard to make Spellslingers a bright star in the Magic: The Gathering constellation.

HotC: What can we expect from Helvault Unsealed?

LL: Helvault Unsealed is a big expansion for Spellslingers. It is over three times the size of D&D Icons, with 160 new cards and new mechanics like moonlight and miracle. Moonlight uses our new “flip” technology, something you will see employed frequently in the set to represent double-faced cards. Flip allows cards to keep buffs and damage on them, in contrast to transforming, and is not just for werewolves! In addition, you’ll find a lot of references to fan-favorite cards from Magic’s Innistrad sets. Laboratory Maniac is one of my personal favorites and is one of two alternate win condition cards in the set.

The flexibility Spellslingers gives players when constructing their decks is best-in-class and allows for a lot of creativity. We wanted to lean into that with this expansion and open up more combos, so you will find a lot of cards that perform at their best when other cards are built around them. It’s still going to be the fast and fun game that players have gotten used to, but the deckbuilding options are going to be way deeper than anything we’ve seen yet. I can’t wait to see what players come up with.

Liliana Vess opens the Helvault

Liliana Vess opens the Helvault (Art by Todd Lockwood from 2016’s Magic Story: Stone and Blood)

HotC: How does the team approach tuning cards down versus tuning them up?

LL: Generally card games like to play it safe when buffing cards, since it is harder to put the djinn back in the bottle once it’s been released. But we believe that buffing underperforming cards and Spellslingers is an important part of keeping the game fresh. While early patches focused on reducing the power level of cards and ‘slingers that were overperforming, there is a lot of great content that just needs a little nudge to see more competitive play. We will be giving it that nudge with a patch that is going out this week and contains a large number of tweaks to cards and Spellslingers in a more positive direction. We are not afraid to make changes to the meta and believe that one of the strengths of digital games is the ability to constantly tweak numbers. We may make mistakes, but we want to be proactive and are not afraid to acknowledge and correct them if we do.

HotC: When can we expect a roadmap for the start of 2023?

LL: We’re focused on delivering the fast, fun game that our growing community of players love. While we can’t yet confirm what’s in store for 2023, we’re looking forward to hearing player feedback and constantly improving the game.

Once again I want to thank Lukas for taking the time to answer our questions. The new Spellslingers patch brings enormous changes to the game ahead of next month’s release of Helvault Unsealed. For more on Spellslingers check out our Ultimate Guide to Magic: Spellslingers!

Rich Stein (he/him) has been playing Magic since 1995 when he and his brother opened their first packs of Ice Age and thought Jester’s Cap was the coolest thing ever. Since then his greatest accomplishments in Magic have been the one time he beat Darwin Kastle at a Time Spiral sealed Grand Prix and the time Jon Finkel blocked him on Twitter.

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