I’ve been playing Hearthstone on-and-off for about a year now and aside from the effects of the launch of Naxxramas, the meta has largely remained the same since the digital TCG went live. Decks have been tweaked, sure, but there hasn’t been anything to cause a massive sea change in the way people play Hearthstone. I say I’ve played on-and-off because that stagnation has made the game a bit boring for me as of late. The 30 new cards and content added with the game’s first adventure mode, Curse of Naxxramas, pulled me back in for a bit, but it just wasn’t enough.
I’ve been awaiting the game’s first real expansion pack, Goblins vs. Gnome, which is set to add over 100 new cards to Hearthstone, with a sense of simultaneous dread and excitement. You see, Hearthstone is my first digital TCG, so I’ve never actually experienced for myself how these games can change massively over time with the addition of hundreds of new cards all making their way into the game at once. I’m pretty decent at Hearthstone, but I have no idea if that’s because I have a knack for the game or because it’s become easier to predict what players can do due to the stable metagame. Will I be able to adapt once Blizzard launches Goblins vs. Gnomes next week? I’m not sure. I’ve already felt overwhelmed by all the new cards that have been steadily revealed since the expansion was announced at BlizzCon, but I also can’t help but be excited for all the new possibilities.
With all the cards now revealed, there are two things I noticed in the set that I’m really hoping will work out once the expansion goes live: some snazzy new pirate themed cards (including one that goes great with my mainstay Rogue) and an emphasis on demon cards for Warlock.
I mainly play midrange/tempo Rogue (can’t stand the low interaction of Miracle), but I’ve tried numerous times to make pirate Rogue work to no avail. The available cards just aren’t strong enough. However, with cards like One-Eyed Cheat and Ship’s Cannon, I may be able to make it work.
Warlocks have enjoyed a lot of play in the meta, but not with the cards you’d expect. The prevalent decks are Handlock, which focuses on the use of giants, and Zoo, which is a myriad of random low cost cards that can be played aggressively. Demons, which you’d expect Warlocks to make great use of, aren’t really the strength of the class. Being unable to make demon Warlock really work has been even more frustrating than the disappointing state of pirate cards for me.
Naxxramas led to decks that make use of more of the Warlock’s demon cards, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say players can focus on these cards enough to make a truly viable demon deck. Again, this may change with Goblins vs. Gnomes, since Blizzard will be adding quite a few awesome demon cards, such as Floating Watcher, Imp-plosion, Mistress of Pain, Demonheart, and my personal favorite, Mal’Ganis. I’m even more excited to try these cards out than I am for the possibilities of pirate Rogue. Seriously, Mal’Ganis is insane. Why does Warlock get all the cool Legendary cards?
One other set of cards I’m really excited to experiment with are the new Spare Parts cards. These are neutral spell cards that affect minions on the board in various ways. The cards can’t be placed in their deck, but are instead added to your hand by some of the other new cards via effects like battlecry, deathrattle, and the like. These Spare Parts spell cards can really open up some interesting options for all the classes as they frequently feature powerful effects that may not be available to whatever class you’re playing at the moment. For example, Spare Parts cards such as Reversing Switch and Finicky Cloakfield allow you to swap a minion’s attack and health or conceal a minion in stealth. The one caveat is that the Spare Part added to your hand is randomly selected from the available pool, so there’s definitely a bit of RNG there to deal with. Personally, I try to avoid as much RNG as possible, but I can see these cards being fun if nothing else.
My one real fear with Goblins vs. Gnomes is that we may be seeing a bit of power creep in the game. From what I understand, this is an issue common to TCGs. As new expansion packs are released, many of the new cards are often straight up more powerful than older cards at the same mana cost, replacing those cards altogether. Over time, this can cause balance issues that affect the overall health of the game.
I’m not going to cry doom on Hearthstone just yet, especially since the expansion hasn’t even launched, but there are definitely some cards in GvG that are strictly superior to existing cards at the same value. A simple example would be the new card Gilbin Stalker. This card is a two-mana card with two attack and three health, same as the River Crocolisk. Unlike the River Crocolisk, however, the Gilbin Stalker comes with Stealth in trade for losing the Beast tag. For everyone but perhaps Hunters, this thing is a straight upgrade. And yes, I realize River Crocolisk isn’t a commonly played two drop at higher levels of play, but it’s worth noting nonetheless.
What are your feelings on Goblins vs. Gnomes? What are you most excited for or worried about from the upcoming batch of cards? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!
Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined MMORPG.com as the site's Community Manager. Follow him on Twitter @eMikeB