We knew it was coming. Blizzard were teasing us that the next (or according to their definition, the first) expansion for Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft was close by and that it would contain a wealth of new cards. At BlizzCon it was finally, officially unveiled. The first expansion set of cards for Hearthstone is called Goblins vs Gnomes and it's set to arrive in December.
Now you're probably wondering what Curse of Naxxramas is if it's not an expansion... Well, this is where Blizzard's terminology comes into play. Naxxramas was an adventure, or in layman's terms, an expansion focused on solo player content. There you battled against computer-controlled bosses in order to unlock a series of predetermined cards.
That takes us to Goblins vs Gnomes - a new card set that comes in booster packs - much like you'd expect it to work in other collectible card games like say Magic: The Gathering. This means approximately 120 new cards compared to the 30 found in Naxxramas. These new cards can be found in booster packs or through crafting.
What kind of cards will Goblins vs Gnomes offer then? Blizzard have revealed 30 odd cards thus far, and if you're not a fan of effects that include the word "random" you're likely not going to be a fan of the ones revealed up until now. Because from what has been revealed so far there will be a large number of random effects.
It's all inline with the theme of the expansion. If you've played World of Warcraft you will know that both goblins and gnomes are keen on engineering, explosives and transmogrification, and their machines rarely work as intended.
But as the Hearthstone team's Ben Brode proclaimed (with his booming voice) from one of BlizzCon's stages - the development team enjoys random effects - even if datamining on the Reddit Hearthstone community reveals that it is one of the most criticised elements of the game. Paradoxically it's also a very popular feature - opinions on random effects clearly split the player-base.
How can this be? Well, they add an element of excitement and unpredictability - and they are often the source of many of Hearthstone's most popular water cooler stories. Such as Trump's insane comeback in this game, where his only chance of winning was that his opponent hit one specific card with his Ragnaros.
If you look closer at the 30-odd cards revealed thus far you can see that many look very strong, and that even more can add a lovely element of chaos to the game. Boom Bot deals 1-4 damage to a random opponent card as it dies. The Legendary card Dr. Boom brings two Boom Bots along when he hits the board. Blingtron 3000 (another legendary) equips both players with a temporary weapon (made out of gold, naturally) when he hits the board - regardless of whether the player classes normally can equip weapons.
Bomb Lobber deals four damage to a random enemy minion as a Battlecry, while Madder Bomber deals 6 damage to any random minions (so this card could easily backfire). The Gnomish Experimenter let's you draw a card, but if it's a minion it turns into a Chicken (1/1).
My favourites are the so called "Piloted" cards (Piloted Shredder, Piloted Sky Golem and Sneed's Old Shredder revealed so far). If you played World of Warcraft you will no doubt have run into the Goblin Shredder machines - basically giant walking foresting machines - naturally they can also be used for combat. These mechanical beasts require a pilot and this concept has been applied so that when your Piloted Shredder dies, it brings up a random minion (2 mana) - the pilot - who used his catapult chair to eject himself onto the board. The Sky Goblin's Deathrattle lands a pilot with 4 mana, while Sneed's Old Shredder spits out a random legendary as pilot. That's right, Ragnaros could be piloting that Shredder...
There aren't any new mechanics. We've only seen Battecries, Deathrattles, and other well-established mechanics. And while the developers don't want to rule out new mechanics in the future, there will be no new mechanics in Goblins vs Gnomes. This is simply because they don't want to add more complexity to the experience at this point.
There is, however, a new minion class - Mechs. Many of the new minions belong to this class (and a few old minions, such as Harvest Golem, have now been filed under Mechs). And naturally there are other cards that take advantage of this. Mechwarper cuts mana costs for all your Mech cards by 1, while Cogmaster (1/2) gets an additional +2 attack as long as you have a Mech on the board.
It is yet to be revealed how this new card set will work with the Arena, but it won't be long now until all the cards and secrets of Gnomes vs Goblins will be laid bare. And then there's the Android version that is also set for release in December (which is likely to fuel this writer's addiction even further).