Hearthstone Wiki

Team 5 (also known as Blizzard Team 5) is the Blizzard Entertainment development team responsible for Hearthstone. Beginning as a "small and nimble" team of 15 members for much of the game's original development, the team has since grown to more than 100 members.[1][2] Created specifically in order to develop Hearthstone,[3] Team 5 is responsible for all ongoing game design.[4]


Team 5 May 2018

Team 5 in May 2018

For most of the game's original development, the team comprised only 15 "hard-core ninjas",[3][5][6][7] but by the game's mid-beta in November 2013 had begun to grow. The next few months saw the recruitment of several additional members,[8] and the team has continued to grow since then.[9] During June 2015 the team numbered 44 members;[10] by January 2016 this had grown to "about 50 people".[11] During September 2016, there were "70+" people on the team.[12][13][1] After roughly doubling in size each year since the game's launch, Ben Brode stated in January 2017 that he expects the team to continue to grow, becoming "significantly larger" over the next couple of years.[1].

As of now, the team has at least 104 members, taken from the amount of credits cards that represent current members, as well as a few others. The actual number is likely more, since the Credits cards are updated infrequently.

Each member of the team as stated in the game's credits is depicted in their own credits card, shown during the credits reel.

Confirmed members[]

The only public listings of Team 5's members are found in the game's credits, which are updated infrequently and often lack more recent additions to the team. It is not therefore possible to state with certainty the current size of Team 5 or to comprehensively list its members. Below are the latest official listings of Team 5, as stated in the game's credits, as well as some additional confirmed members.

The list below is auto-generated from the Team 5 category page. More information about the members, such as their role, join date, and other sources can be seen in their respective articles.

Click 'Expand' to view the list of members

Former members[]

The list below is auto-generated from the Former Team 5 members category page. More information about the members, such as their role, join/leave date, and other sources can be seen in their respective articles.

Click 'Expand' to view the list of former members

Non-Team 5 developers[]

Team 5 is assisted in its role as primary designers of the game by various other Blizzard employees. For a full list see Credits (list). A few notable members perform a particularly significant role in the game's development, and are listed below. Some of these employees may be part of Team 5, but without official confirmation.


  • Micky Neilson - Listed as Story Lead in the game's original credits. Left Blizzard in March 2016.
  • Rob Pardo - Listed as Chief Executive in the game's original credits. Left Blizzard in July 2014.


Team 5 itself breaks down into several more specific teams, many of which in turn contain sub-teams or groups, each dedicated to a specific area or phase of the production process.

For more information on the role each team plays in the design process, see Design and development of Hearthstone#Card creation.

Below are official overviews of the specific teams during different time points:


Click 'Expand' to view more details

In April 2021, Dean Ayala explained how the design team breaks down:[14]

The design teams of Hearthstone: A very long thread for prospective applicants and Hearthstone enthusiasts.

Depending on who you ask, there are somewhere between 3 and 7 design teams.

Initial Design

Final Design



Live Content



The reason it's complicated is that some of those groups work together as a shared resource.

Initial, Final, BG, and Systems operate under the same leadership structure and share people based on workload. They attend the same weekly team syncs and share information regularly.

This means that if you work in Initial, it is pretty common to swap to Final/BG/Systems for months at a time while it would be very uncommon to swap to Live Content or UI (totally different skillset for UI).

Live Content and Mercenaries are also under the same leadership structure, though Mercenaries has operated as a strike team. You can think of a strike team as a totally separate game team within a bigger game team.

A design team is comprised of all designers (and maybe one producer) while a strike team is comprised of all the disciplines you need to make a full project. Art/Design/Production/Eng etc.

The goal of a strike team is to get all members focused and integrated on one core goal (ship mercenaries). Outside of strike teams, a normal week might mean working on a few totally different projects.

UI is the third big design group. They touch every nearly every project in some way because Hearthstone is a very UI/UX focused game.

Initial Design

Works on card expansions, starting from scratch. The early stages of an expansion mean pitching an idea and getting it approved. From there, it means designing the core mechanics, deck archetypes, and individual cards.

Initial Design will create characters, write art descriptions, VO, and work alongside UI, FX, and engineering to uphold the expansion vision while managing scope.

The final product of an expansion for Initial Design is a complete set of around 170 cards. 135 for the expansion and 35 for a miniset that releases 2 months after the expansion ships. This all takes place in a 16-week cycle.

After the 16 weeks are up, the expansion lead will stick around to guide the expansion to completion and work on it part-time while the rest of the team moves to the next expansion. They will do things like direct VO and do PR towards release.

Final Design

Ultimately responsible for the cards we decide to ship to players. They take all design that is fun in theory and make sure it is fun in practice. Like Initial, the core function of this team is to design fun cards, mechanics, and archetypes.

In addition to that, Final is responsible for understanding what the experience will actually translate to after we inject these 170 cards into the meta. For that reason, the team is made up of world-class Hearthstone players and deckbuilders.

Final is usually referred to as the balance group because they are also in charge of final expansion balance and live-game card balance. While this is true, it's a small portion of the work required.

(Also, before Arena/Wild Roast me, those places are also taken care of by final. We just don't generally create new content specifically for those modes so I didn't list)


We're still figuring out the right pipeline for creating BG content. Right now, this team is a rotation of 1-3 designers who are working on 'major' .2 patches, 'minor' .4 hero patches, and live-balance updates.

We know there is appetite for more regular BG content and we're figuring out how to make that happen. Recently our team has been pushed to the brink with things like progression updates and mercenaries, but we plan on supporting BG further soon ™.


Historically, Systems has been 1-2 people. Currently, there is only one full-time systems designer but we've had people from Initial flex into systems work recently because of progression/achievements/rewards updates.

Systems are things like rewards, progression, matchmaking, new player experience, returning player experience, rank systems, achievements, cosmetics, etc.

Live Content

Going back in time, Live Content was originally responsible for Tavern Brawl and Fireside Gathering content. When every Tavern Brawl had to be new, there was a ton of work in just those two things.

Nowadays, Live Content runs duels, single-player, a huge chunk of the narrative/writing, and continues to own Tavern Brawl. They are the team chasing down what the big next thing could be while other teams are (mostly) focused on supporting what we've already built.


We split Mercenaries off as it's own project where designers on that team are solely focused on shipping that game mode. We did the same thing with Battlegrounds before folding that team into the larger design group post-ship.

Because Mercs is a new project, they have had a number of different designers at different stages. They started with 1 (as most teams do) and have ramped up many new designers as we get closer to ship. Excited to share the project when it's ready


UI touches almost all design projects on Hearthstone. On some game teams, UI is a support group. On Hearthstone, the UI team are key stakeholders in nearly all decisions we make. Due to this, UI tends to hire for design skillset first and art skillset second.

And finally, even though there are many different groups we still find time to talk and help each other every day. Many different skillsets, but still one team with the same end-goal. JOIN US NOW


Click 'Expand' to view more details

In February 2017, Dean Ayala explained how the design team breaks down:

Design team is around 15 people now. Live Content (Brawls, Firesides, Other Events), Initial Design (Card Designs, Mechanic Designs, Set Flavor and Theme), System Design (Ranked Systems, Tons of Other Systems), Final Design (Set Tuning, Card Design, Mechanic Design), and Mission Design (Mission Design, Card Design). We also have Ben that directs the ship and another sort of jack of all trades designer than works a lot on new player experience, matchmaking, and flavor things. That said, well all help each other out quite a bit and the real list of things each individual person does is more like 20 bullet points rather than 2. That's the general jist though.[15]

Ayala explains that the majority of Team 5 members work primarily in other areas:

There are many other people of various disciplines like art, engineering, production, community, QA, customer support, marketing, business, etc that make an equally large impact on the game.[15]
UI has the difficult task of trying to make everyone's ideas work on PC/Tablet/Phone in addition to a bunch of other additional art tasks they get pulled into.[16]


Team 5

The original 15 members of Team 5, being presented at Blizzcon 2013 by Eric Dodds and Ben Brode

"There were all these new platforms emerging that people were playing on. We loved those platforms as well. We wanted to figure out if we could make a team who could jump in and do those type of games. That was the impetus for starting up this group called Team 5." - Jason Chayes[17]

Team 5 was created in 2008 specifically for the development of Hearthstone,[18] with the intention of taking a different approach to game creation than that previously taken by Blizzard in developing its games, with 50+ person teams and multi-year development cycles.[3] Team 5 was created with the intention of working on a smaller scale but at the same level of quality.[3] The mandate for the team was to keep the team very small, and to "think of ways to develop a game that might be non-traditional within Blizzard's walls".[3] The smaller team required its members to be "old-school" "garage programmers" and able to "wear a lot of different hats", with far less specialization than that typically found in larger teams.[3]

The initial composition of the team included long-time Blizzard veterans and "new blood brought in specifically to help [Blizzard] create a type of game the developer had never done before: a card collecting game."[17]

Team 5 was created in 2008,[18] but for a long time was a very small group of less than 15 members, mostly focusing on prototyping.[19] Full development appears to have started spring 2012.[20] Team 5 was first announced along with Hearthstone itself at PAX East in March 2013, by which time it had grown to 15 members.

Team 5 was initially known as "Team Pegasus".[21]


  • While each team member has a specific focus, the designers "all work together on pretty much everything".[22] The design team is "very collaborative", with designers exchanging input and feedback across different areas, ensuring the whole team is "on the same page".[23]
  • Every Thursday the team holds "a big team playtest", to provide feedback on the latest card set, changes or game feature, with "the whole team" playing and providing input.[24]
  • With regard to iterative design, and ongoing management of the game, Mike Donais explains, "[The] Hearthstone [team] has a philosophy of not having specific rules in general. We just want to be open-minded, see what happens, learn from feedback and our mistakes, and so on. So we’re going to keep deciding as we go, and listening to people."[25]
  • Knowledge of Warcraft lore is a prerequisite for many or possibly any position on the team. Advertisements for positions such as associate game designer list "Extensive knowledge of the lore and setting of World of Warcraft" as a requirement alongside card design skills and a passion for games.[26]
  • The Hearthstone art team is made up of "generalists", meaning they each have 2 or 3 different things that they do very well.[27] The team members have a strong affinity for Hearthstone's "whimsical/charming" art style, and are proficient at creating assets that feel hand-painted.[28]
  • The success of Team 5 as a smaller development team appears to have led Blizzard to seek to emulate this success with the creation of more small teams. A Blizzard job listing for a Lead Producer stated, "With Hearthstone, Blizzard has revived its tradition of creating small and nimble game teams and we are following in those footsteps".[29] The job listing may have been related to Blizzard's then-unannounced team shooter Overwatch.[29]
  • By the time an expansion is released, Team 5 are "already working a lot on future expansions",[30] including "not only the next [expansion] but the one after that as well".[30] Former Game Director Ben Brode states that the team always have "3-ish expansions in development",[31] although it is likely this also includes adventures. According to Senior Producer Yong Woo, the developers are always "trying to get ahead of the curve".[30] In April 2018, shortly after the release of The Witchwood, Ben Brode stated that the next set had passed through final design, the stage in development during which Team 5 focuses on refining the balance and clarity of the set's new cards. The set after that was currently in the final design process, and the set after was in the initial design phase, during which Team 5 comes up with the ideas for the set's general theme and for the cards and their mechanics. All in all, there are usually at least three sets that Team 5 know about but which players don't yet know about.[32]
    • Later in 2018, the expansion development process was described as a full year cycle with different people working on it for about 16 weeks per team. First, the initial design team spend about 16 weeks nailing down the mechanics, art, and voice overs for the set before passing it onto final design, who refine and tweak the set's mechanics to "make an awesome set that's fair and fun, has cool themes, and all that stuff". At the same time, artists work on creating the card art and golden card animations. When final design starts finishing up, the team records all of the voice lines for the cards while the sound department engineer the various sound effects and the effects artists create the in-game visual effects and animations. At this point, when final design is done and animation is in progress, the engineering team spend time "cleaning up [...] whatever horrible things we've done in design" to ensure that cards function on a technical level and don't cause server or client crashes. The set then heads towards the very end of the cycle, at which point the PR team starts working on how best to market the set and reveal all of the various cards before it is finally released and becomes available to players.[33]
  • As a general timeline, Initial Design for a set takes about 4 months, Final Design takes another 4 months, then there's 4 more months after that for programming/VFX/VO/publishing/etc and release.[34]


  • Team 5 and other Blizzard employees do not receive a full complement of cards for their personal use, but must purchase packs or otherwise collect their cards like other players.[35] However, employees do receive some of their bonus money in "Blizzard bucks", which can be spent on products such as card packs.[35]
  • Some members of the game's design team play exclusively free to play.[36] Others have free to play accounts they play in addition to their main accounts.[36]
  • Team 5 communicate and collaborate using a variety of media, including meetings, calls, emails, and even internal wiki documents.[37]
  • The team sometimes hold PechaKuchas, fast-paced slide presentations intended to help the developers get to know each other a little better.[24] Ben Brode explains, "Somebody gets up and does a 15 or 20 minute presentation about their life, or where they came from, show some baby pictures and tell some stories; it's super fun and brings the whole team closer together."[24]



See also[]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Designer Insights: Live Stream Q&A. (2017-01-13). 
  2. Taken from the amount of Credits cards representing current employees
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Building the Fire (Official video) (2013-03-22)
  4. Ben Brode on Twitter. (2014-06-06). 
  5. Game Industry.biz - Blizzard building "more experimental" titles with Hearthstone (2013-03-25)
  6. Polygon.com - Blizzard's Rob Pardo on Hearthstone, a 'stepping stone' to more experimental games (2013-03-24)
  7. Edge-online - Hearthstone: Heroes Of Warcraft - Blizzard tips its hand on its first free-to-play game (2013-05-24)
  8. Ben Brode (2013-11-12). Twitter / bbrode
  9. Banter with the Blues - February 13 (Zeriyah). (2015-02-13). 
  10. Credits (list)
  11. Official forums - Designer Insights with Ben Brode: Content Updates. (2016-01-13). 
  12. Ben Brode on reddit. (2016-09-05). 
  13. Ben Brode on Twitter. (2016-09-07). 
  14. Dean Ayala Details the Different Groups of the Hearthstone Dev Team, Confirms More Battlegrounds Content in the Future. (2021-04-12). 
  15. 15.0 15.1 Dean Ayala Talks About the Nerfs, Jade Concerns, and the Different Hearthstone Design Teams. (2017-02-14). 
  16. Iksar Discusses The Size Of Hearthstone's Balance, Design Teams. (2017-02-15). 
  17. 17.0 17.1 Polygon.com - THE THREE LIVES OF BLIZZARD ENTERTAINMENT. (2014-10-03). 
  18. 18.0 18.1 Ben Brode on Twitter. (2014-10-03). 
  19. Ben Brode on Twitter. (2014-06-08). 
  20. Mark Serrels, Kotaku.com (2014-05-04). Pens, Paper And Envelopes: The Making Of Hearthstone
  21. How Blizzard's Warcraft Brought Hearthstone to Life - GDC 2015. (2015-03-04). 
  22. Mike Donais on reddit. (2015-12). 
  23. Designer Insights: Live Stream Q&A. (2017-01-13). 
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 Designer Insights: Live Stream Q&A. (2017-01-13). 
  26. Associate Game Designer job listing. Retrieved on 2016-06-06.
  27. Ben Thompson on Twitter. (2016-04-02). 
  28. Ben Thompson on Twitter. (2016-04-02). 
  29. 29.0 29.1 Robert Purchese (Eurogamer) (2014-04-09). Is Overwatch Blizzard's new small-team game?
  30. 30.0 30.1 30.2 Yong Woo, live on stream. (2014-12-13). 
  31. Ben Brode on Twitter. (2016-09-7). 
  32. Ars Technica (2018-04-18). Blizzard's Ben Brode Answers Unsolved Hearthstone Mysteries. YouTube. Retrieved on 2018-04-20.
  33. Skiffington (2018-11-07). Interview With Hearthstone Game Designers Liv Breeden & Peter Whalen At BlizzCon: Discussing Rastakhan's Rumble!. Hearthstone Top Decks. Retrieved on 2018-11-12.
  34. Chadd Nervig on Twitter. (2020-08-01). 
  35. 35.0 35.1 Yong Woo, live on stream. (2014-12-13). 
  36. 36.0 36.1 Yong Woo on Twitter. (2015-08-20). 
  37. Yong Woo on Twitter. (2016-02-18). 
  38. Ben Brode on Twitter. (2014-03-05). 
  39. Ben Brode on Twitter. (2014-10-03).