In anticipation of the Goblins vs. Gnomes update for Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft in December, Tom Ffiske takes a look at what the new cards and gameplay features have to offer.
At this year’s Blizzcon, Blizzard Entertainment unveiled the new software update for Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft – Goblins vs. Gnomes. It is the first official expansion to the online card playing game, adding 120 new cards to sling against your worthy opponents. At the same time, the company hosted the long-awaited Hearthstone World Tournament Finals, where Firebat won the cup and claimed his new title as World Champion.
Hearthstone’s gameplay has always centred on casual play. It was meant to be an online trading card game (without any official mode of trading) to capitalise on the market’s propensity towards ‘free-to-play’ games, with great financial success. Many of the cards are not designed for secure, reliable and effective ways to play, relying on randomly generated numbers (RNG) to execute its active effects. The ‘Mad Bomber’ launches three barrels, which deal one damage to any character on the board, regardless of allegiance. Cards like these scatter across the card pool because Blizzard’s design philosophy was not to produce the perfect competitive card game, but a fun game to play with friends.
In a way, Blizzcon demonstrates the hypocritical stance that Blizzard Entertainment holds on Hearthstone’s competitive scene. They host a competitive championship league where elite players compete against one another for $100,000 in prize money, while also releasing an update that enhances the RNG-centric nature of the meta-game, which cannot be used for competitive gameplay. The ‘Madder Bomber’, an update on the ‘Mad Bomber’, now deals six randomly-allocated points of damage across the board, regardless of allegiance. Many of the cards unveiled from Blizzcon centre on this random theme, and it is hard to picture many of them being used for competitive play.
But on the other hand, Blizzard has included several cards that would be useful for the elite players. The addition of a ‘Spectator Mode’ would enable casters and players to more easily stream and analyse the opponent’s plays for future improvement. The ‘Annoy-o-Tron’, which can block two attempts of attacks thanks to its ‘Taunt’ and ‘Divine Shield’ stats, would be useful for Mech-themed decks in the future. As to whether mech decks are viable, however, is up for debate. Too many of them rely on random scenarios – such as what spare parts you get when a ‘Clockwork Gnome’ dies – which cannot be relied upon for professional play. Only time will tell, but casters like Kripp and Trump are dubious about the application of these new cards.
Will the Goblins vs Gnomes update shatter the competitive scene? Not likely, but very few of the cards will augment the already rigid structure of competitive decks constantly at play in the meta-game. The update shall pass, and few changes will be made; but for those of us who like to casually play games with our friends or roommates, then the update offers fun cards to use and laugh about.
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