Goblins vs Gnomes Arrives At The Hearthstone Tavern

Lovely cards for my horribly mangled decks

Hearthstone‘s Goblins vs Gnomes expansion is finally out, meaning there are more than 120 new Warcrafty cards in the game with which to bolster your deck potential. Or, y’know, more cards which you think have bolstered your deck potential but it turns out you’ve accidentally done something which makes you explode yourself with the power of overthinking and hubris.

Here’s what Blizzard say:

Goblins vs Gnomes throws players in the middle of the epic rivalry between Azeroth’s audacious goblin engineers and their equally “adventurous” gnomish counterparts—and these pint-sized tinkerers are ready to stir up trouble. Their incredible inventions and mechanical monstrosities are marvelous to behold . . . but when Hearthstone players deploy them in a duel, the results can be quite unpredictable.

I uninstalled Hearthstone a few months back as I’d simply stopped playing. I still have it on my iPad as a “just in case”, but haven’t touched it on that device in even longer. However, it’s one of those games where I love hearing about it from other people who obsess over the meta or spend their idle moments dreaming up new card combinations and counter-combos. There’s something glorious about the combination of passion and incredibly niche vocabulary which makes the conversations largely impenetrable but a joy to spectate.

That said, I’ve decided to boot the game back up to see what the new cards have to offer – logging in to Hearthstone between launch and 19th December means you get gifted three Gnomes vs Goblins card packs. I’m particularly curious about the new minion type, Mechs. Wish me luck!

Here’s a sing-sing trailer that tells you absolutely nothing about any of that:

Further cards can be purchased for the same price as the original game’s Expert card packs via the in-game shop (for gold or real currency), earned via Arena runs and crafted using Arcane Dust.


  1. shinygerbil says:

    “I uninstalled Hearthstone a few months back as I’d simply stopped playing. I still have it on my iPad as a “just in case”, but haven’t touched it on that device in even longer.”

    That’s a similar situation to a lot of people I imagine. As polished and fun as Hearthstone is,the attention just wanders to more complex games I find. I’m actually awaiting the Android version, hoping it’ll rekindle the game for me a bit (and to give my newly-purchased Android tablet something to do besides mindlessly pawing at Godus every few hours.)

    • mortal_vombat says:

      i switched over to Hex a few months ago but this expansion did make me return at least for a while. I heard from a friend that GvG launched in Arena ahead of time so i played a few Arena runs and opened a few packs yesterday but i don’t think it’ll hold my attention for long. They didn’t make the game and more complex, just a little more random.

      • The Unnamed Council says:

        Yesterday (Dec 9th) Hex released their second set, Shattered Destiny. Coincidence that Blizzard followed suit (Hex had announced first)? I’d say yes, I can’t see how Hearthstone would already feel players wandering off to the more complex Hex.

        Hex: Shards of Fate is still in Beta, but it’s a welcome change to see some new cards. The PvE component appears to have been pushed into Q1 2015, though :(.

        • Moraven says:

          Shattered Destiny was supposed to come out this summer, August. It got delayed to December.

          GvG was announced at BlizzCon in early November.

      • Kitsunin says:

        I think Hearthstone has one massive advantage over many other online card games (Hex, Scrolls, Duel of Champions, online clients for games which exist physically, and others), that being the speed at which it plays, due to its simplicity. I enjoyed Scrolls for a while but eventually realized that I was finding it utterly tedious, same happened with many others. When I’m playing an online game without the flow of a table, I don’t want to wait for my opponent to take their move, I just want back and forth quickly, and I’ve realized this is so important. Hearthstone keeps things very fast because your choices are so simple you usually throw them down in a few seconds, therefore I enjoy it more than most.

        I’ve recently starting playing Infinity Wars, however, and found that it manages to mostly eliminate waiting without necessitating simplification at all. Its method being that each player plays their turn at the same time, meaning you’re always thinking and rarely waiting. I’m really loving it.

    • Xocrates says:

      I played hearthstone almost obsessively for a week when I got in the beta, and dropped it pretty much completely afterwards as in between being a MtG player who was starting to miss the depth, and the grind for more cards killed whatever lasting interested I might have in the game.

      Which, perhaps unsurprisingly, is not unlike my experience with the Heroes of the Storm alpha, so let’s hope Overwatch fares a bit better.

      That said, I do like how well Hearthstone games flow, which makes it very satisfying to play, I just find it lacks reasons to keep you playing.

      • tumbleworld says:

        Yeah, I enjoyed Hearthstone, but I just don’t have the sort of free time required for all the grinding required, so I haven’t even opened it in months now.

        • Koozer says:

          I avoid that by just doing arenas. Constructed is only there for finishing daily quests for more arena gold.

          • PhilBowles says:

            That does seem to be the way to play, but unless you’re interested in collecting for the sake of it the game is still ultimately shallow. As with most Blizzard games (and indeed most of their inspirations and imitators alike) grinding serves no purpose beyond giving you ‘gear’ (in this case cards) that improves the efficiency of your grinding until … what? Hearthstone does at least have an ‘end state’ when you’ve collected everything the game has to offer (though it lacks the social element that seems to prevent WoW diehards from realising how tedious, repetitive, and fundamentally pointless that game is). The game still offers rather set deck lists for each class that play in a rather stale and repetitive way.

            Having said all that, having lost all interest in Hearthstone when the first batch of ‘random stuff’ cards was previewed, the full set list does add some more sensible, non-random additions to the game’s card pool that have prompted me to start playing for packs again (since yesterday evening, so how long that will last I don’t know).

  2. Caelyn Ellis says:

    I tried out Hearthstone, but quickly dropped it as it seemed too focussed on deck-building and the luck of the draw over in-game decision-making. Nice game, but not enough for someone who has been playing CCGs for far too long. I recently started playing again as a gentle, before-bed diversion and it fills that niche quite nicely. Unfortunately, I’ve reached the point where I really need to spend money (or do a heck of a lot of playing with deck I’m quite bored of playing) to keep it fun and I’m not really willing to do either.

    • Horg says:

      ”the luck of the draw”

      From a mathematical perspective, Hearthstone is far more at the mercy of RNG than just about any other CCG on the market. Other CCGs use a larger starting hand. much larger deck size limit and usually have a duplicate restriction of 3 as this allows for higher probability of normal resource curve distribution on the shuffle. Hearthstone, with its smaller numbers, is more prone to extremes of distribution. Decks relying on specific combos are generally avoided as you are very unlikely to actually draw everything you need before you win or lose. Hearthstone gives you far too many games that are lost on the drew as you are given nothing to play for several turns. It’s all done in the name of fast game turn over and accessibility, so I doubt Blizzard will ever change the numbers that matter.

      • Moraven says:

        The Miracle decks have been the strongest since you can draw everything. New cards and slight changes have made these less powerful.

      • Edgewise says:

        I completely disagree. I strongly feel that Hearthstone RNG is significantly less severe than it is for MtG. The main reason is that HS doesn’t use lands. The vastly simplifications here make it a lot harder to get mana screwed. With MtG, my main complaint is that you can get screwed on mana (either too many lands or not enough) even if you stock your deck with a supposedly-ideal number of lands.

        Reducing the number of cards and multiples has zero effect on RNG. The main reason the deck is smaller: fewer turns, typically. Since the deck is proportionally smaller, your chance of seeing a given card in a given game is roughly the same as with MtG. Your contention that decks cannot rely on combos is belied by the fact that many successful decks do rely on combos. If your deck relies on a single combo, it’s going to be very unreliable whether you’re playing HS or MtG. If you have a couple possible combos, chances are extremely strong that one or more will show up.

        Hand size is also largely unimportant. The key factor is that you select a card every turn. Again, since there are fewer turns, having a proportionally smaller hand doesn’t have any significant impact.

        • bravekarma says:

          While you are absolutely right about lands and mana, it simply isn’t true that by having the same proportion of combo cards you have the chance of getting a combo. More cards you have with the same proportion, bigger the probability that you’ll have at least one of those cards.

          Also, having more cards in your initial hand is again better, but as you said you regularly draw 1 card so in that case the advantage is with the smaller deck. However if you are running a combo deck in MtG, you ideally have lots of draw cards, scrying cards, search your library cards etc, which are not all possible in Hearthstone. (or is it? I dunno.)

        • Horg says:

          ”Reducing the number of cards and multiples has zero effect on RNG.”

          You are wrong about that, which is sort of shocking as it’s GCSE level statistics. It is a mathematical fact that you will see random distribution more frequently approach the mean distribution the larger your sample size is. That is not to say that large samples never get extremes of distribution, it just happens less frequently. It’s why any scientific study worth a damn will get as big of a sample size as possible to show accurate distribution of variables.

          ”Hand size is also largely unimportant.”

          I should hope that everyone can see why this is crap without me needing to explain it, but I have time so might as well. With a starting hand of 4 your options are limited to 4 cards + draw. With a starting hand of 6 you are limited to 6 cards + draw. By increasing the starting hand size by 2, you now have 50% more potential plays, and a much lower chance of the game giving you a bad RNG draw with no plays whatsoever.

          I hope you can now understand my point. ALL CCGs are in some way dependent on RNG. Hearthstone is more dependent than others because it is a victim of small number syndrome in a genre that revolves around probability.

        • PhilBowles says:

          If anything, mana flooding is a more unbalancing problem – RNG-wise – in Magic than mana screw. Mana screw can happen, but is comparatively uncommon; either getting nothing but lands, or nothing at a high point on the mana curve late in the game, is much more likely (and can be mitigated by card choices).

          Both can also occur in Hearthstone, and the small hand sizes make it more likely. No, you’ll never have a situation when you aren’t getting mana, but bad hands very often result in nothing you can use early, and since the vast majority of spells target minions in play (either your own or your opponent’s), spell-heavy hands are often at the mercy of whatever your opponent plays at a given point. It also seems very rare to have situations where you can maximise use of your late-game mana, and only a couple of classes have ready access to card draw beyond a couple of neutral cantrip creatures (as the game still hasn’t implemented neutral spells other than the new, random Spare Parts).

        • MisterFurious says:

          Being able to have up to four copies of a card in your deck really lets you fine tune your decks consistency. Also, Magic has tutors which Hearthstone is sorely lacking in. I quit Hearthstone because I felt like it was impossible to build a consistent deck and my wins and loses were more determined by who drew their cards in a better order.

    • timzania says:

      It kinda depends on your deck, but my opinion is that Hearthstone has more in-game decision making than there appears to be at first. RNG will screw you sometimes, since individual matches are meant to be brief and trivial, but you win more games over the long run/move up the ladder if you are making solid plays.

      • Lamb Chop says:

        There’s a ton of decision-making and anticipation where you’re saving resources for later cards, balancing tempo, mana efficiency, hero life totals, and potential future damage. You’re at the mercy of RNG, but within each frame there’s a ton of potential to squeeze out little advantages. If there weren’t, you wouldn’t see people consistently outperforming others who have copycatted the same deck. What makes it seem worse is that a lot of times those margins are invisible…you think you lost cause she top decked a ragnaros, but you still could’ve won if you hadn’t burned an execute three turns earlier on a slightly lower priority minion, and the skill in the game comes from even being able to see that was a mistake in the first place. It’s not as deep as some games, but those decisions remain interesting because you have to make them at pace.

        • timzania says:

          Exactly, and I think new players mostly just play whatever they draw, then bash their minions against the other minions/hero and repeat until GG. But this isn’t surprising, since the game is designed to be easy to get into, and I think this is how Blizzard intends for newbies to play. That design decision leads to a certain overblown reputation for simplicity, and apparently also a certain degree of commercial success.

        • PhilBowles says:

          There is of course some decision-making, but the lack of such features as instants (in MtG terms) or activated abilities, and the simple issue of the decks’ small size (and so fewer options to play at any given point on the mana curve) and small hand size/limited card draw (and so fewer cards to choose between at any given time) are all strongly limiting factors. Nor, of course, do you make decisions about blocking or whether to hold back creatures (unless an enemy minion has taunt). Tempo and mana efficiency are decisions made mainly in deck construction; once in game the former is entirely at the mercy of your random draws.

          From my experience to date, as in Magic the best play regarding life totals is ‘allow as much damage as you can without dying’. This is even more true in Hearthstone since it’s so much easier to predict how much damage you can expect to take next turn (yes, I have been blindsided by 10 damage to the face a turn before I’d have otherwise won on occasion, but Hearthstone has very few ‘damage from nowhere’ effects and most of the ones that exist are readily-anticipated), and the combat mechanics mean that this is also usually the best way to deal damage while maximising your board presence: you can attack an enemy minion and trade, or attack an enemy hero and trade when the same enemy minion attacks yours.

    • PhilBowles says:

      “I tried out Hearthstone, but quickly dropped it as it seemed too focussed on deck-building and the luck of the draw over in-game decision-making”. People seem to be dropping Legacy in Magic for basically the same reason; it’s pretty much all about combo decks that always do the same thing, rushing to reach their combo regardless of what the opponent’s doing and so with very little opportunity for in-game decision-making or direct interaction beyond dropping the appropriate hosers brought in from the sideboard.

      One issue I have with Hearthstone is that while, yes, a lot of the focus is on deck-building, deck-building in Hearthstone is a very tedious exercise. Partly this is an interface issue as you scroll through page after page looking for the next card to add (unless you know all the cards you could need well enough to search). But beyond that, the 2-per-card limit, 30-card deck limit, and the game’s binary division of its world into ‘minions’ and ‘spells’ just doesn’t make deck construction interesting, especially when you’re more or less obliged to build 9 different decks (by class-specific daily quests if nothing else) all of which end up being built along similar lines, and within very limited archetypes. Being able to now make mech and (possibly even viable) pirate decks doesn’t make the process of going through the folder and picking out all the cards of that creature type that interact with one another any more interesting than doing it with Murlocs or Beasts ever was.

  3. BooleanBob says:

    A SingSing trailer? Oh my gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawd.

  4. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    Hearthstone is okay, but not more. Too grindy for my taste, especially (and it’s cheaper to buy magic cards than to buy Hearthstone cards). And since you can only make gold by playing against other people arena is the best way.. which costs gold to begin with and isn’t as fun as being able to field a properly built deck.

    A big, resounding meh. It’d be a lot more fun if cards were easier to get buta s it is it combines casual cardgameplay with a grindy way of getting to the good bit.

  5. gbrading says:

    Hearthstone is the game I played most in 2014, and for that reason without a doubt it’s my Game of the Year. I’ve had many frustrating matches with it but also some fantastic ones. I know there’s a lot of RNG but so long as someone hasn’t got a ridiculous super-legendary deck then it’s usually still winnable with enough planning. I’m interested to see how this expansion changes the game and which decks emerge from it.