The strongest footballer in the world, according to FIFA 14, would like it to make him a little quicker

Standing 5-foot-11 and weighing more than 220 pounds, Adebayo Akinfenwa has always been difficult to miss on the pitch. He has consistently scored goals in League One and League Two throughout his career, but last year he became a cult figure with an international following when he was rated the world’s strongest footballer in FIFA 14. He can bench press 400 pounds.

The 32-year-old striker, who scored 10 goals for League One’s Gillingham last season before moving to League Two side AFC Wilmbledon in June, was given a strength rating of 97 (out of 100) and an overall rating of 63 by EA Sports. But due to his considerable girth, his sprint speed rating was just a 53 and his acceleration was a 34, which is roughly equivalent to what Cristiano Ronaldo’s ratings would be if he were wrapped in duct tape and forced to run through quicksand while wearing potatoes as shoes.

So Akinfenwa has asked EA to bump him up a bit in the upcoming FIFA 15 game. From the Telegraph:

“I didn’t realise how big FIFAwas until last year. I’d always been one of the strongest players in the game, but officially in FIFA 14 I was the strongest in the world.

“If they say so, I must be. I like that.

“I’ve played as myself a few times and I’m very slow. I’ve asked FIFAto make me a little bit quicker, but you can’t have everything. I’ve always been big, my brothers are my size, we come from good stock.”

In an interview with the BBC last year, Akinfenwa said that his two brothers are bigger than him and if he doesn’t stay big, they’ll bully him. He also told the story of a how a police officer thought he was an NFL player.

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Thompson: When you go to Gothik the Harvester’s encounter in Naxxramas

So this expansion has delivered lots of new cards. I get the feeling some cards in Hearthstone are designed because they’re fun while others are designed to

be particularly competitive?

Brode: Definitely different goals for different cards. And you may look at a card and think — like Angry Chicken is a card that is definitely designed to be

fun. But if someone ever discovers a way to make that card competitive then that’s awesome too. And often we kind of put tools in the environment to allow

players to find both competitive decks and fun deck types. And sometimes those overlap, but we’re most concerned with making sure there are at least some fun


Thompson: Our game director, Eric Dodd, spent a lot of time working with Brode and the rest of the design team to really develop what he likes to call, and

what I love about the game itself, is real story moments. Opportunities for player stories to take centre stage. And there’s definitely cards in the

Naxxramas bunch of cards that do just that. They’re really going to change the way games play out, not just against AI but also other players. And they’re

going to find ways to use these that we haven’t even thought of yet. That’s as exciting for us to hear those stories as it was for them to experience them

first hand.

What aspects of developing Hearthstone and Naxxramas have really made you feel like you’re fully exploring the digital card game concept?

Brode: That is something I love to explore. There are a lot of very exciting things in that space. Obviously the Kel’Thuzad fight is one of the things — him

surprising you by not playing by the rules — any time we’re breaking the fourth wall of Hearthstone is pretty unique to being digital. Surprises in general

on that scale are unique to being digital. The Kel’Thuzad fight inspired us and there have been more discussions about ways to use the digital space going

forward, but we’re always looking at ways to lean into that and try new and exciting things that rely on that.

A card like the new Webspinner is exciting because it can put a card into your hand that you don’t even own.

Brode: Webspinner was a huge success, both in the way the game is played and the community response to it. So we’re very excited about the way that card

design turned out and we’ll be exploring those types of things in the future as well.

Thompson: When you go to Gothik the Harvester’s encounter in Naxxramas, and the way when a minion on his side dies a spiritual version of that minion lands

on your side of the board and causes you damage. The number of physical tokens that would take or how you would communicate that in a physical space is a lot

less interesting or compelling than saying “Hey, this thing spiritually manifests itself on your side of the board from the opponents side.” The art is

different, and just the general vibe starts to take on more of a “Wow, stuff is changing, rules are different and I need to pay more attention now.”

That’s really where the art team specifically, but design as well, really benefits greatly from being in a digital space. The communication with the player

is done in a very succinct, very minute, very easy level with the visual feedback you’re getting and making decisions based on it, and we don’t have to have

you read three lines of text to understand what just happened or what’s going to happen going forward. And that’s a very powerful tool and one we want to go

to whenever we can or at least as much as makes sense.

Blizzard has a certain polish to its art and execution across all its games. What would you say is distinctly Blizzard in the experience versus other digital

card games?

Thompson: It’s the unexpected surprises. We use a term a lot during the development of the game and continue to use it a lot going forward: delightful

surprise. Something you didn’t expect, or maybe you thought could be cool if, but not only does it happen but happens even more so. More over the top, more

funny, more charming, and that’s something we try to do wherever it makes sense. To play down an otherwise frustrating moment or to play up an otherwise

unmentionable moment and dress up the situation even more than you would think.

If you look at something like Brawl as a card, and you play that, the way that would be written textually on a physical card is very “yeah, OK, great, I’ll

just shuffle these randomly and pull one out and we’re done.” But the Blizzard way of doing that is to have these guys jump into a dog pile in the middle and

stars come out and dust is flying and you’re like “Oh my god, please let my card win, please let this happen for me” and you’re either greatly surprised and

happy or you’re “oh man, bummer”. But the experience was fun, and the experience engendered a story for later to tell your friends.

Brode: The other thing I think that makes Hearthstone uniquely Blizzard is its ability to take a game and make it both easy to learn and really hard to

master. I think there’s a lot of games that are hard to master but maybe not very easy to learn. With Hearthstone we’ve seen people who are not traditionally

gamers come in to play it and they love it and then we also have this really high level of play that’s happening at the e-sports level.

In my games I’ve occasionally bumped into players who have reached the Legend rank, but I haven’t felt entirely out of my league even though I pretty well

am. Was I lucky or is that designed too?

Brode: One of the things that we tried really hard to preserve in the concept of Hearthstone is the little victories. It’s something that makes Hearthstone

fun even when you’re going to lose to someone much better than you. Because you at least get to play your awesome cards and destroy some of their minions and

play the game. So those moments throughout the game, even when you lose, hopefully you’ll at least do some powerful things and you really did something. It’s

something we’ve always tried with our card designs and we’ve tried to preserve that feeling that is important to Hearthstone, the feeling that the game is


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Best known for blockbuster hits including World of Warcraft?

You certainly made it clear that the final boss wasn’t going to play by the rules.

Brode: Something I wanted to try with Kel’Thuzad was breaking the rules a little more. I mean, already the bosses of Naxxramas break the rules. They have

hero powers that are just not fair. They’re playing with more than two copies of some cards in their decks and they’re playing with cards from multiple

classes. With Kel’Thuzad I thought “What if we just ramp this up even more? What if he doesn’t even play within the space of Hearthstone? What if he takes

over your turn while you’re playing it?” I think that all helped to make Kel’Thuzad have that next level of uniqueness.

In some ways the solo adventures felt less like Hearthstone the ‘card game’ and more like Hearthstone the series of chess puzzles.

Thompson: For sure, that was a big part of all of these encounters in Naxx. The opportunity to not just get you some new content in an exciting way, but so

you felt like you’d earned it. Not just buying the wing, getting your cards, and moving onto the game. But, you know, really earning them. Something you feel

like you came by in an adventuresome way.

At the same time, also just doing so in such a way that you got to play smartly and come up with good ideas or clever tricks and play against the bosses’

jerkiness. And while doing so, maybe learn to play certain cards you wouldn’t normally put into a deck or to approach a class in a new way or maybe play a

class you wouldn’t normally play at all. That’s where the class challenges came in. We really wanted you to discover new parts of Hearthstone that maybe you

knew about and maybe you were aware of but you’d never really had the opportunity or the excuse to play with.

“Players will encounter an epic cast of legendary characters and a huge amount of content to explore in Warlords of Draenor,” said Mike Morhaime, CEO and

cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. “The countdown to the arrival of one of the greatest threats in Warcraft history has begun. We can’t wait to send

everyone through the Dark Portal this November.”

??Corresponding World of Warcraft expansions required.

About Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.

Best known for blockbuster hits including World of Warcraft? and the Warcraft?, StarCraft?, and Diablo? franchises, Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.

(, a division of Activision Blizzard (ATVI), is a premier developer and publisher of entertainment software renowned for creating some of

the industry’s most critically acclaimed games. Blizzard Entertainment’s track record includes eighteen #1 games* and multiple Game of the Year awards. The

company’s online-gaming service,, is one of the largest in the world, with millions of active players.

*Based on internal company records and reports from key distribution partners.

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Thompson: That was a big part of the Naxxramas experience as a whole for us

Blizzard, makers of wildly successful video games World of Warcraft, Starcraft, and Diablo, shifted speeds earlier this year when it released its own free-

to-play digital card game, Hearthstone. Based on the lore of its Warcraft universe, the game is available on Windows, Mac, and iPad.

Last week saw Blizzard wrap up the launch of Curse of Naxxramas, an elaborate solo adventure expansion for Hearthstone giving players a chance to step away

from the standard multiplayer focus and into a themed series of battles to test their skills and reward the successful with powerful new cards.

As the launch event drew to a close, CNET had the chance to speak to Hearthstone Senior Game Designer Ben Brode and Lead Artist Ben Thompson, about both the

experiences found in the expansion and the wider effort to build a card game that takes full advantage of what you can do when you’ve created a truly digital

deck of cards.

All of Naxxramas is now open, so how does it feel to have it fully released? What’s been the reaction so far?

Brode: It feels awesome. I’ve been really happy with the reaction. I’ve just had some feedback today about the way people enjoyed the Kel’Thuzad fight [the

final boss battle of the expansion], in particular, and we put a lot of time and care into that to really bring him to life. You’ve spent the whole of

Naxxramas listening to him taunt you over and over again and you finally get to take the fight to him and hear him taunt you for the last time. People seemed

to enjoy it and that was really gratifying to put a cap at the end of this long release event.

I was beaten soundly by Kel’Thuzad on my first few attempts and it showed that he had plenty of variety in his victory taunts as well.

It really meant we had an opportunity to reinvent Naxx from a different perspective, in this case, the perspective of Hearthstone. To make it more friendly

and approachable, while at the same time taunting. Kel’Thuzad, instead of him being a super villain, making him more of a super jerk.

“We will never be slaves! But we will be conquerors…”

The pit lord Mannoroth is dead.

Gul’dan and his followers are in chains.

In one night, Grommash Hellscream exposed and thwarted the forces that meant to subjugate the orcs. In one night, Hellscream proved himself a worthy warchief

to the Iron Horde and set his people on a violent collision course with another world in another time.

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