Beginning in December, the popular TCG game from Blizzard, Hearthstone, will begin to debut new cards for what is being called the game’s first expansion (While Hearthstone fans referred to Naxxramas as an expansion, that summer release focused more on a solo adventure mode than a purchased booster package).
The expansion will increase the card pool by about 25%, and introduces a new Mech class of minion. Unlike the push for Deathrattle in Naxx, the focus for Goblins vs Gnomes appears to be on creating havoc and chaos on the board. Think Tinkmaster Overspark—Battlecries, Deathrattles, or Combos that tip the scale of the hand on the board significantly.
As with Curse of Naxxramas, Goblins vs Gnomes cards will be made available as Arena picks once the cards have been released, even if players haven’t added these collections to their personal decks. The major difference between the two classes will be that goblins will focus primarily on dealing direct damage and destroying minions, while gnomes will focus more on transforming minions into different creatures.
Unlike the Curse of Naxxramas, it is anticipated that these cards will be available in the Shop, and purchasable via in-game gold or real monies. The cards can be crafted with arcane dust, and will cost as much as the currently available expert card packs. There will be both class specific and general cards.
It was also announced that this expansion will bring with it an all-new Spectator Mode. The details on this update are slim at present, but embedded in Blizzard’s announcement page and touched upon at BlizzCon was the news that Battle.net friends will be able to jump into their contacts’ games. This change has interesting implications for professionally-matched games and future Hearthstone tournaments.
Goblins vs Gnomes will launch next month, but is playable right now for those in attendance at BlizzCon 2014. Initial impressions of the powerful cards are that the decks will challenge players. Available for demo at BlizzCon was the Goblin Fury Mage and the Gnome Mayhem Priest. The expansion comes with a new interactive board and a smattering of cards that focus on different engineering minutia from World of Warcraft. Exploding Sheep, Annoy-o-Trons, and other similar things will be featured as cards.
The new card rollout news has already been met dubiously in the Hearthstone forums and in online discussion communities. “This feels a bit overpowered,” is a comment that can be read over and over under Blizzard’s official announcement for the expansion. The initial consensus is that many of the cards that have been leaked so far appear to come with powerful riders. Perhaps too powerful.
Overall, however, the Hearthstone community enjoyed the Naxxramas solo adventure roll-out, and the general consensus is that any expansion is a good expansion. For players who have been with Hearthstone since its launch less than a year ago, these additions offer a much needed breath of fresh air to decks that have become stagnant and challengers who seem to have become too familiar.
Speaking to Polygon, Hearthstone production designer Jason Chayes said in a September interview that the Goblin vs Gnome cards may be rolled out in a single player adventure, like Naxxramas debut in July 2014. The rollout, which constitutes over 100 cards, could also release in spurts.
“We could imagine a future where we do a combination of [single-player] adventures like Naxxramas and expansions kind of intermixed to have different sorts of experiences going out over the course of a year.”
Chayes also told Polygon’s Phillip Kolar that he would like to expand on the current game types being offered within Hearthstone, while also building on the modes currently in the game. While there are talks at Blizzard of exploring options like these in the future, according to Chayes, there are no hard and fast developments. Hearthstone plans to continue promoting the modes that are currently available now.
Kolar also asked Chayes if Hearthstone was concerned that the trading card game could reach the same breaking point that has befallen other popular card games, like Magic: The Gathering. If this were to happen, Hearthstone cards could be so great in number that developers would have to limit the cards playable at certain times and in certain play modes. Chayes explains that while this is something his team has discussed, that issue seems to be a bridge that has as of yet to be crossed.
“We think we have a ways before we have to worry about something like that, because there’s a lot of design space to experiment with ideas…. But that could be something that we need to be thinking about for Hearthstone down the road.” Chayes went on to say that no matter what, the ultimate goal is to ensure that there is always a way for collectors to play with all of their cards in one play mode or another.