Hearthstone: Goblins vs Gnomes: Hands-on at BlizzCon 2014

Blizzard is ready to unleash 120 new cards onto Hearthstone next month. Shacknews went hands-on and what we saw has us raising a few eyebrows.

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Hearthstone has already become an incredibly complex card game. The meta game has evolved gradually with the addition of each new series of cards and each delicate adjustment. Now Blizzard is ready to blow the whole thing sky high with the upcoming Goblins vs. Gnomes expansion announced during BlizzCon. Shacknews had a chance to try out a handful of the 120 new cards during the event and can confirm that the game is about to change in a big way.

There were two sample decks available to try out: the Mage with a Goblin deck and the Priest with a Gnome deck, each offering a mixture of new and old cards. The first thing I noticed was the addition of the new 'Mech' class of cards. Similar to Murloc and Beast decks, a Mech deck can be insanely powerful when built with the right cards, especially since many of them are designed to play alongside one another.

These are some of the new cards I encountered during my time with Goblins vs. Gnomes:

  • Spider Tank (3 mana, 3/4) - This Mech minion has no additional effects, but with its relatively-high stats for such a low mana cost, expect this to become a staple in many decks. Only Priests will find no use for this card, since he gets the same line from Dark Cultist, who has the added benefit of a Deathrattle effect.
  • Annoy-o-Tron (2 mana, 1/2) - You'd better believe he'll live up to his name, because Annoy-o-Tron has the benefit of Taunt and Divine Shield. This makes him a substantial replacement for Argent Squire.
  • Goblin Blastmage (4 mana, 5/4) - A great example of how synergy will work with these new cards, the Mage-exclusive Goblin Blastmage has a Battlecry effect of dealing 4 damage split among enemy characters if a friendly Mech is in play. The key word here is enemy characters, taking away the random risk element associated with something like Mad Bomber. Its lower mana cost also effectively makes Booty Bay Bodyguard obsolete.
  • Velen's Chosen (3 mana) - This Priest-only spell card gives a minion +2/+4 stats and gives it Spell Damage +1. That's an insane boost and could be killer on even the lowest tier of minion. It could be an even harder card to deal with when combined with Holy Nova.
  • Blingtron 3000 (5 mana, 3/4) - This is an interesting Mech, in that its Battlecry equips both players with a random weapon. This now means that any class in the game could potentially wield a weapon, though the random factor may turn some players off. Combining this with Acidic Swamp Ooze seems like a no-brainer.
  • Piloted Sky Golem (6 mana, 6/4) - On their own, those stats have the potential to hurt. Now add in its Deathrattle effect that will summon a random 4-mana minion. Again, the random factor may be a turn-off, but those stats may be worth a roll of the dice. It may even call in a Chillwind Yeti, which would be a heck of a reward.
  • Enhance-o Mechano (4 mana, 3/2) - Because Zoo decks just aren't powerful enough, here comes a Mech to make them that much more difficult to deal with. This Mech will give all friendly minions either Taunt, Windfury, or Divine Shield. That's insanely scary and... yes, you might have already guessed it... this is going to be unbearably brutal when combined with Timber Wolf and Unleash the Hounds. Grab a helmet for this one.
  • Dr. Boom (7 mana, 7/7) - Now we're getting into some more ridiculous territory. The legendary-class Dr. Boom's stats are bonkers on their own, but he'll also summon in two 1/1 Boom Bots as a Battlecry effect. The Boom Bots each carry a Deathrattle effect that causes 1-4 damage to a random enemy (again, removing the risk element) character. Since there's two of them, a single Spellbreaker/Ironbeak Owl won't be enough to stop the pain and Polymorph/Hex may be best saved for the Doctor himself. In short, this one's going to hurt and you'll more than likely be seeing a lot of him when this expansion hits.
  • Sneed's Old Shredder (8 mana, 5/7) - Lastly, I came across this absolute beast. This legendary Mech carries the Deathrattle effect of summoning a random legendary minion. Silence or Polymorph/Hex will be essential when dealing with this monster, though his high defense makes him an unlikely kamikaze candidate. However, make no mistake about it. Shaman players are frothing at the idea of playing him alongside Baron Rivendare and Reincarnate. Start planning counter-measures now!

There are also some old favorites that will thrive in a Mech deck. Harvest Golem, for example, has been reclassified as a Mech and will benefit greatly from some of these new minions and spells.

Other staples, aside from the ones listed earlier, likewise stand to benefit greatly from these new cards. With many of the cards I saw carrying Deathrattle effects, this expansion should be a feast for Undertaker. Meanwhile, minions with Silence effects, like Spellbreaker, are going to become an absolute necessity to fend off some of these brutal Deathrattle cards. Exactly which minions and spells stand to benefit the most from this new expansion, however, is a conversation for a future date.

My takeaway from this expansion so far is that it very much threatens to throw Hearthstone's balance for a major loop. Some of these cards are outrageously powerful on their own, but when combined with some of the cards already out there, they may just outright break the game. Keep in mind, this is just a small sample of what's coming. Blizzard has a total of 120 cards they're tossing out there, any of which has the potential to shatter the game's delicate balance in their own way.

Hearthstone fans will be approaching Goblins vs Gnomes with cautious optimism when it releases in December.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

From The Chatty

  • reply
    November 8, 2014 10:00 AM

    Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Hearthstone: Goblins vs Gnomes: Hands-on at BlizzCon 2014

    • reply
      November 8, 2014 10:00 AM

      I hope it's released earlier in December so the botters are still banned for it.

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      November 8, 2014 11:49 AM

      SELF HI-JACK

      Anyone else watching this Hearthstone panel breaking down some of the new cards and what works in Arena play? Fascinating stuff.

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      November 8, 2014 11:54 AM

      I'm so crafting Dr. Boom when the expansion hits. It's like they built an entire expansion off the idea of the Mad Bomber build that people goof around with.

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        November 8, 2014 11:56 AM

        Only without the possibility of it backfiring. It's nuts!

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          November 8, 2014 4:03 PM

          I am afraid to try and get back into the game. All I seem to read in the Chatty are posts complaining about bots ruining the game.

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            November 8, 2014 4:38 PM

            They banned them finally

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              November 8, 2014 7:01 PM

              Greg and I also spoke to some of the devs today. They emphatically said that bots will ve dealt with harshly and there will be permabans.

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                November 8, 2014 7:22 PM

                Do they plan on dealing with them more swiftly in the future or are they planning on waiting two months the next time botting becomes a real problem?

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        November 8, 2014 4:05 PM

        Ya definitely. I may try to build a deck with all bomber/explosive type cards for fun :)

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      November 8, 2014 5:36 PM

      Here are pictures of most of the cards: http://www.hearthpwn.com/news/675-blizzcon-2014-new-expansion-announced-goblins-vs

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        November 8, 2014 5:41 PM

        The only cards I like out of those are Bouncing Blade, Shrinkmeister, Upgraded Repair Bot, Spider Tank, Cogmaster, and Mechwarper. The rest are either too situational, too RNG dependent, or terrible.

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        November 8, 2014 7:08 PM

        I still find it weird/dumb when they're more interested in cramming attempts at humorous text onto cards instead of important rules information.

        Summon 2 1/1 Boom Bots. Warning: Bots may explode

        vs

        Summon 2 1/1 Boom Bots with Deathrattle: Deal 1-4 damage to a random enemy.

        It's no more text than fits on other cards (like Mimiron's Head) so it shouldn't be a templating issue.

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          November 8, 2014 7:25 PM

          It doesn't matter in a digital game because the players aren't responsible for generating the tokens

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            November 8, 2014 7:35 PM

            'it doesn't matter' in the sense that the tokens will definitely do the right thing, it certainly does matter in the sense that I can't read the card and actually know what it does. It's just weird. It'd be one thing if there wasn't room to describe the whole thing, it's another to use that space for a joke instead of useful rules text.

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              November 8, 2014 7:38 PM

              It's only an issue until you look it up online or play one game with it. Not that I'm a fan of jokes on the cards. I do like how the card text is usually clean and concise instead of a small paragraph.

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                November 8, 2014 7:42 PM

                This. The first time you see the card you'll know what the tokens do. I don't care about the jokes but I also don't need more detailed text. derelict is doing his "why isn't this more like magic" thing.

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                  November 8, 2014 7:48 PM

                  I'm reading a spoiler for new cards and I don't know exactly what they do because the card doesn't say what it does so they can have some joke flavor text. It's dumb.

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                    November 8, 2014 7:55 PM

                    ok I didn't see the Boom Bot card itself in the previous spoiler list so that makes more sense. It's a little weird they refer to it as a 1/1 Boom Bot on the card, which is why I assumed it was a token (or maybe it really is a token and I'm misinterpreting the spoiler). Normally they just refer to cards by name without stats then, like Mekigeneer Thermaplugg.

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                November 8, 2014 7:47 PM

                right, if it was going to take a paragraph of small text to explain I get eliding it, but this seems like they just chose to try to be funny over informative and that seems kinda dumb to me. There's no good reason to require people to look it up and memorize the rules text. Even after playing with it a few times you may very well still want to double check that you're remembering the damage range correctly, or the random minion vs random enemy minion, etc. In critical moments in big games you'll see pro Magic players still stop to read a card once in awhile just to be doubly sure they're seeing everything before acting. That everything is always spelled out in front of you is pretty nice in that regard.

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          November 8, 2014 9:12 PM

          I was thrown by that description, too, but the real description pops up whenever you mouse over the Bomb Bots.