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Game Review: ‘Hearthstone: Goblins Vs. Gnomes’

Style: 1 or 2-Player Strategy

Developer: Blizzard

Publisher: Blizzard

Release Date: 12/8/2014

ESRB: T

Headline: An Excellent Expansion To Blizzard Card Strategy Classic

Goblins vs Gnomes is Hearthstone’s first real expansion, though the single-player Naxxramas adventure provided a taste of what adding cards to the roster can do. With over 120 new cards to play with, the expansion embraces the chaotic nature of goblins and the tinkering tactics of gnomes, along with adding some flavorful new legendaries.Whether you’re crushing the competition under the weight of an enormous Gahz’rilla or assembling V-07-TR-0N from assorted mech pieces, you’re probably going to be having a lot of fun. Many of the elements in this expansion embrace random effects, but don’t detract from the skill-based elements of the game. Goblins vs Gnomes is all about controlling the chaos you’re dealt.

With mechs as the new minion type, players are rushing to tinker with decks based on these mechanical monsters. Pirate-based decks have a new set of options to make them more viable. Each class has new toys to play with to take advantage of our new mechanized infantry, but some of the most interesting gameplay is happening with a new set of cards embracing randomness.

Piloted mech cards that shoot out everything from a random 2-cost minion to a random legendary create new situations that force players to adapt on the fly. This creates a lot of questions, because the difference between popping out a Dire Wolf Alpha or a Doomsayer can drastically change the layout of any board. Other cards, like the Mage’s Unstable Portal, can draw in any minion at a reduced price, leading to a lot of potential value – but you never know exactly what’s going to come through.

While it’s easy to dismiss these new cards as just random fun, count on highly skilled players taking advantage of them to get great cards on the table for cheap, even if they’re not sure what those cards are. Controlling the chaos and getting the most out of the random cards is crucial toward creating consistent wins. Spare parts, a new type of random 1-cost spell, are provided by many of the gnomes and mechs in the expansion as well.

Another new mechanic is an assortment of ogre minions that are powerful for their casting cost, but rather dim-witted when it comes to obeying commands. These minions have a 50 percent chance to attack the wrong enemy when you issue an attack order, an ability that seems like a pure drawback in exchange for their powerful frames. In practice, this disadvantage can be a subtle boon in the right situation, as your sometimes-confused ogres can use the ability to bypass opposing minions with taunt and even hit otherwise untouchable stealthed minions.

All of the new cards are legal in casual and competitive constructed play, and appear in Arena as well. They can be crafted with dust in the same fashion as all cards in the normal set, for both standard and golden versions at the same pricing as the original set. The first expansion set for Hearthstone is a major step forward for the already accessible and fun game, and I hope to see even more variety as we move past Goblins vs Gnomes into the future of the digital card game.

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