Hearthstone: Goblins vs Gnomes – Blizzard doubles down on RNG

Enhanco

Enhance-o mechano

Mana cost: 4
Attack: 3
Health: 2
Battlecry: Give your other minions Windfury, Taunt or Divine Shield. (At random)
I love this card. Obviously you need at least a couple of creatures on the board to extract decent value, but if you’ve got a full board (hello Zoo, Shaman and Token Druid) then the potential upside is huge. The Divine Shield enables really favourable trades, while Windfury can stack crucial bonus face damage. The only benefit that’s questionable is Taunt, but even then it’s unlikely to be bad. I expect this to get played a lot.

Repair Bot

Upgraded Repair Bot

Mana cost: 5
Attack: 5
Health: 5
Battlecry: Give a friendly mech +4 health.
This Priest-only minion’s stat spread put him on par with Loatheb, Stranglethorn Tiger and, erm, Elite Tauren Chieftain. The useability is questionable, though, when you consider Temple Enforcer is a 6/6 for 6 which can boost any friendly minion’s health by +3. And he doesn’t get used much.

Shrinkmeister

Shrinkmeister

Mana cost: 2
Attack: 3
Health: 2
Battlecry: give a minion -2 attack this turn.
I messed up badly when I first played this, thinking the text said +2 rather than -2, and the card worked like a slightly fatter Abusive Sergeant. The point, when used properly, is to enable favorable trades, a bit like a watered down Aldor Peacekeeper.

Sneed's old shredder

Sneed's Old Shredder

Mana cost: 8
Attack: 5
Health: 7
Deathrattle: Summon a random legendary minion.
This is the first of the new Legendary cards I encountered, and hoo boy even if you like RNG this is extreme. My first opponent who played it ended up getting Lorewalker Cho. Mistakes were made. The second one pulls a King Krush that immediately swings the game though. Obviously it’s the very definition of high risk, and hardly cheap at 8 mana… But imagine the Baron Rivendare synergy!

Blingtron 3000

Blingtron 3000

Mana cost: 5
Attack: 3
Health: 4
Battlecry: Equip a random weapon for each player.
Okay, I like the idea of this card—which is another Legendary—because it enables hero classes which don’t have weapons to equip them, but in practice I flat out hated using it. First time I dropped it, I got a Gladiator’s Longbow and my opponent got Assassin’s Blade. So I’d say we netted out there. The second time I got Light’s Justice and the other guy got Doomhammer, which he swiftly began wrecking my face with. At the Fireside Gathering Hearthstone panel Game Director Eric Dodds suggested combo-ing the Blingtron with an Acidic Swamp Ooze to destroy the enemy weapon. But that’s so situational I wince even thinking about it. Still, both weapons being golden is a nice touch. Shiny, shiny!

Flame Cannon

Flamecannon

Mana cost: 2
Deal 4 damage to a random enemy.
Yeah, seems like Blizzard really is over concealed Auctioneers being a thing. Now Mage’s have a cheap answer with this toasty spell.

Micro Machine

Micro Machine

Mana cost: 2
Attack: 1
Health: 2
At the start of each, turn add 1 attack.
Note: this mini mech also gets the attack boost at the start of your opponent’s turn, making it like a tiny Gruul, or a Mana Wrym on steroids. This is going to be one of those snowball cards your opponent has to kill with extreme prejudice.

Mekgineer

Mekgineer Thermaplugg

Mana cost: 9
Attack: 9
Health: 7
Whenever an enemy minion dies, summon a Leper Gnome.
This absolutely monstrous Legendary mech will help ensure Big Game Hunter remains a fixture in the meta. I actually never drew it, but when I saw it sitting in the guy sat next to me’s hand I was agog. Free Leper Gnomes everytime an opponent minion dies sounds, well, sick. That said, Illidan’s ability is easier to proc and most people hate him.

Boom Bot

Dr Boom

Dr. Boom

Mana cost: 7
Attack: 7
Health: 7
Battlecry: Summon two 1/1 Boom Bots.
Another Legendary that the Big Game Hunter will have in his sights, but I like this card quite a bit. The Boom Bot’s Deathrattle reads ‘deal 1-4 damage to a random enemy’. Note it doesn’t say they can’t attack, either. Should provide an interesting alternative to Baron Geddon, particularly for decks which can buff the bombs.

The fact the two decks are built almost entirely using Goblins vs Gnomes cards, combined with my unfamiliarity with them, meant the sense of mayhem was at the maximum throughout the matches I played, with board control swinging dramatically and suddenly. Under normal circumstances I tend to favour decks which have almost no RNG at all, but perhaps as with the Webspinner—which most people thought was trash before they tried it—the answer is to stop worrying and learn to love the RNG.

What I am absolutely certain about, though, is that this injection of new ideas is much needed. You only have to look at the largely predictable selection of decks which the pros have brought to the Hearthstone BlizzCon tournament to realise that this is a game which is going to require regular content drops—certainly more regular than Blizzard has been used to delivering in the past—in order to keep the fun flowing. Team 5 seem to understand that well though,

On stage at the Fireside Gather panel, Senior Designer Ben Brode made the point that Hearthstone is a game which blends luck and skill. The beauty of that, as he sees it, is that it encourages problem solving on the fly and generates amazing stories which players want to share. And I think he’s right. One of my favourite Hearthstone moments was using Thoughtsteal against a Paladin and getting Equality and Wild Pyromancer. The ‘sorry’ emote never felt more satisfying. The difference with pure skill games is that they favour players who can memorise exact openings and as a result games can play out similarly. Brode cited Chess to explain the point. Not because he wanted to suggest Hearthstone was better than Chess, of course, but more that the different games generate different types of pleasure. If the Enhance-o Mechano card can create more of those jaw-dropping WTF moments, then I can’t wait. And, unusually for a Blizzard release, I won’t have to for very long.