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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

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


By on 4:31 AM

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 enemycharacters, taking away the random risk element associated with something like Mad Bomber. Its lower mana cost also effectively makes Booty Bay Bodyguardobsolete.
  • 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 brutalwhen 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 intwo 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 legendaryminion. 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 andReincarnate. 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.

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