Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft [official site] is in a bit of an interesting spot right now. It feels like a lot of its regular players are starting to, dare I say it, get bored of this arm of Blizzard’s money-printing machine. But today, as part Blizzard’s tenth annual Californian BlizzCon convention, the game saw Mean Streets of Gadgetzan – its fourth expansion – officially unveiled.
So that’s another 132 cards coming to Hearthstone, then. The theme of these is set amongst the three crime families of Gadgetzan – named the Grimy Goons, Jade Lotus and Kabal, because I know you’re interested. But what the expansion really does it open the door for 9 multi-class cards: the Kabal, for instance, can be played by Mage, Priest and Warlock classes. Three of these cards revealed were Kabal Courier, Lotus Agents and Grimestreet Informant, all rather weak minions for their cost but with the very interesting effect (and a potentially hugely powerful one) of giving players a choice between an extra card from the other classes in their respective crime family. In typical Blizzard fashion, here’s a fancy trailer:
Then there’s the Priest. Fans of the class were pretty cheesed off with the One Night in Karazhan adventure earlier this year, and Blizzard has clearly made a concentrated effort to cheer those guys up. Priests saw far more cards revealed today than any other class, and will shortly have some fantastic looking cards in their arsenal: a 1 mana potion which strips all enemy minions of 3 attack for that turn (you’ll be able to wipe most boards with that and Shadow Word Horror); another 1 mana potion that lets you nick a weak minion for that turn; a 3 mana 3/4 which buffs another card with +3 health; and a 5 mana 5/6 which lets you Discover a card from your opponents deck, which not only gives you another card but also lets you get a cheeky peek at their deck.
In simple terms, you’re probably going to want to look into building a Priest deck again. Failing that, Druid is getting a 10 mana 7/7 which either also gives out 10 armour or completely refreshes your mana crystals – with an initial cost of 10, however, I don’t think it warrants the kind of hysteria it’s currently receiving. A lot of attention is also being lavished on Kazakus, the Kabal legendary (each of the crime families gets one) who lets players craft their own spell from a list of options. Here's how that works:
Certain other standard deck archetypes also look like they’re being reinforced. Rogue, for instance, will get its own Counterfeit Coin spell – a perfect addition to the ‘Miracle’ decks (confession: this is one of my favourites) which rely on amassing powerful cards with the aid of the Gadgetzan Auctioneer, who draws every time a spell is cast.
Blizzard so far has announced 30-odd cards as part of a “What’s New” panel for Hearthstone. One major theme running through the set is a distinct lack of random elements – the Hearthstone community has largely rallied against too much randomness in the game over recent months, and some smarty Einsteins have accused this of stifling the game’s potential with the eSports crowd. It seems like Blizzard is listening, and that Mean Streets of Gadgetzan is their way of giving the masses what they’ve spent most of 2016 screaming out for. Or, for all we know, the remaining 100 cards we be entirely focused on occasionally summoning game-winning random effects and make us all long for the roulette wheel days of Piloted Shredders, Dr Boom and Yogg-Saron. Either way, it won’t take too long to find out: Mean Streets of Gadgetzan will be released in early December.