When a salty player complains about being beaten by a lucky top deck or a one-in-eight Ragnaros shot, the insult they tend to throw around is: ‘Ugh, more like RNGstone’. RNG meaning random number generation. The suggestion being that winning at Hearthstone is mostly do with luck, and little to do with skill. (Which doesn’t explain why the best players are able to win much more consistently, of course.) So, given the seeming dislike of RNG, you might expect Blizzard to be steering clear of it with the first standalone card expansion.
Instead, they’ve done the exact opposite, and doubled-down on randomness, chaos, and—at least so Blizzard hope—fun. I played four games here today at BlizzCon using new cards that will be included in the Goblins vs Gnomes expansion released this December. Of those, I lost three, only winning the one in which I was pitted against a girl who was so young that her dad had to help with key decisions. The salt is real. But I also had a lot of laughs as the new cards brought havoc to the board.
There are two decks available to select on the show floor, dubbed the ‘Goblin Fury’ Mage and the ‘Gnome Mayhem’ Priest. The matches were played on a new board, which is surrounded by gizmos and widgets. The interactive clickable bits aren’t switched on yet, sadly, but in keeping with the theme should be suitably wacky.
I blame my poor performance on the fact I was desperately noting down the details of all the cards as I played, which ended up in multiple ropings. Below are the details of the cards that I and my opponents drew, with some initial thoughts on them. (You can see a gallery of all them revealed so far here.)
Piloted Sky Golem
Mana cost: 6
Deathrattle: Summon a random 4-cost minion.
One of seemingly several new cards which feature a random pilot who pops out when the card is destroyed. Pleasingly, the new minion actually parachutes onto the board.
Mana cost: 4
Deathrattle: Summon a random 2-cost minion.
The little brother of the Sky Golem, essentially. Both are sticky minions, which echoes the Naxxramas theme of having more creatures out on the board battling for control.
Mana cost: 1
Has +2 attack while you have a mech.
Mechs are the new minion type in Goblins vs Gnomes, and there are a number of cards designed to buff them or enable their use. Playing this is probably going to be the Mech equivalent of running Undertaker in a Deathrattle deck.
Mana cost: 5
Battlecry: Deal 6 damage randomly split between all other characters.
Troll decks are obviously going to be an even bigger thing post-Goblins vs Gnomes (which will please Randuin Wrynn-creator Noxious if no-one else), so it makes sense to raise the ante on mad bombing with this even riskier version that leaves a meatier body on the board.
Mana cost: 3
Dark Cultist, the Priest Card introduced by Naxx, was previously the only 3/4 in the game. The Spider Tank now also fills that stat profile, and although it doesn’t have the benefit of the Deathrattle buff, its stats still pass the ‘vanilla test’ of value. Plus as another mech, should prove a staple in themed decks.
Mana cost: 5
Battlecry: Deal 4 damage to a random enemy minion.
Or in other words: a slightly more sane bomber. The 4 damage could prove handy against Gadgetzan Auctioneers, making this another piece of nice anti-Miracle tech.
Mana cost: 2
Your mechs cost (1) less.
Another card designed to enable mech-themed decks. In practice the one mana cost saving actually proved substantial in terms of being able to flood the board.
Mana cost: 4
Battlecry: If you control a mech, deal 4 damage randomly split among enemy characters.
This is a Mage class card, and each hero type will have an injection of new cards that synergise with Goblins vs Gnomes set. The animation when the Blastmage’s Battlecry goes off is a lot like Paladin’s Avenging Wrath.
Mana cost: 2
Add a random minion to your hand. It costs (3) less.
There are a number of cards, like this cheap new Mage spell, which draw or play completely random minions. Blizzard has clearly reacted to how much people ended up liking Webspinner, and gone a step further. When I played this, RNGesus served me up a Patient Assassin (one of the least-loved cards in the game), which I was able to play for free and created quite a problem for my 10 year-old opponent.