Powering up and exploding onto the scene: Goblins vs Gnomes, Hearthstone’s first expansion, has been officially EXPLODING revealed today at BlizzCon!
Goblins vs Gnomes throws players smack dab in the middle of a rivalry between cunning goblin engineers and their eternally-tinkering gnome counterparts. These pint-size foes don’t always have the upper hand over the myriad mechanical contraptions they cook up, and the results can be . . . unpredictable.
Over 120 New Cards
The expansion brings a slew of brand-new cards that are ready to wreak a wealth of mechanized havoc on your opponent: Our own tinkerers and explosives aficionados have assembled over 120 new cards that will be sure to throw a wrench in your opponent’s gears—literally. Check out a few of the wild and wacky inventions that have been engineered for your collection below!
Meet the Mechs
The new expansion brings with it an all-new minion type—Mechs. Much like the Alarm-o-Bot and Harvest Golem, these quirky contraptions have been built to pack a creative spring-loaded punch to your game. Goblins vs Gnomes will introduce both neutral and class-specific Mechs, so prepare for things to get interesting*!
Big Trouble, Little Packages
Stirring up trouble this December for Windows®, Mac®, and iPad®, Goblins vs Gnomes cards will be available by purchasing Goblins vs Gnomes-specific card packs in the in-game shop with either gold or real money, whichever you prefer (same pricing as expert card packs). As with Curse of Naxxramas, Goblins vs Gnomes cards will be made available in your Arena picks as soon as the cards have been released; even if you haven’t added them to your personal collection!
Prepare (Your Kneecaps) for Battle!
We hope you enjoyed this early look at Hearthstone’s first expansion—Goblins vs Gnomes. Stay tuned for further details right here on our brand new Goblins vs Gnomes page here! Keep an eye out** for the expansion in December!
*We take no responsibility for damages if things get too “interesting”.
**Please wear safety goggles at all times when engaging with Goblins or Gnomes.
If you haven’t heard, the first expansion for Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft will feature the zany, brainy, delightfully surprising chaos that inevitably occurs whenever there’s a contest of wits between Azeroth’s most diminutive denizens: it’s Goblins vs Gnomes!
Hearthstone senior game designer Ben Brode, game director Eric Dodds, and senior producer Yong Woo took to the panel stage on Saturday to talk shop about Goblins vs Gnomes, and what we can expect when we get our mitts on the new expansion once it’s released.
Senior Game Designer Ben Brode
Ben kicked off the panel to discuss Hearthstone’s first year with some interesting stats, ranging from what are the ‘best’ and worst’ cards in Hearthstone, a bit of a post-mortem on Curse of Naxxramas (pun intended), and the role that randomness plays in games (including Hearthstone), which is what we’ll focus on here.
Randomness and You
Randomness has been the source of much ire in the Hearthstone community. Whether it’s seeing an opponent draw the perfect card at just the right moment to foil our plans, or Tinkmaster Overspark turning an opposing minion into a Devilsaur when we really need a chicken, randomness can be frustrating. We’ve all had a moment when we felt like we played masterfully, only to have victory snatched away by a single moment of bad luck. It’s easy to feel like the existence of any randomness in a game means that skill matters less.
Take a look at this graph, where games of pure luck where there is no skill required are on the left, and games that are purely skill-based with no random elements are on the right. Many players feel that Hearthstone, and all games for that matter, falls somewhere along this spectrum:
In reality, that graph is totally misleading because the relationship between luck and skill doesn’t work like that. Luck and skill are independent, and a given game can have different amounts of each. The real situation looks more like this:
Every game you can win or lose falls somewhere on a graph like this. Tic-tac-toe has no randomness, but it also requires almost no skill. There is no Tic-tac-toe world championship, because once you know “the strategy” every game ends in a tie. Some games that are extremely luck-based (like Monopoly) very rarely have moments where you can exercise your superior skill to win.
Chess is a classic example of a game that includes a lot of skill and no randomness. However, at the highest levels games like this often require massive amounts of memorization, since games often play out in the same way. Bobby Fischer, one of the greatest Chess players of all time, actually proposed randomizing the back row of pieces to help solve this problem with high-level Chess!
That leaves the games that feature both high randomness and high skill. Games like Poker . . . and Hearthstone! While any particular hand of Poker is random, the best players still win consistently, and Hearthstone is no different. Look at players like Kolento, who place highly in tournaments over and over again.
Games in this high-randomness, high-skill category have two really cool attributes. First, you are constantly presented with novel situations. If every game of Hearthstone was like the last, it would be easy to memorize a game plan and just execute it over and over again. Instead, randomness makes it necessary be quick thinking and solve new problems in every game. A Hearthstone game is more than one turn, and to win consistently, a player must act and react to changing circumstances turn after turn to make the most of what is happening in a match and set up a victory. In this case, randomness actually increases the amount of skill required to perform well, precisely because it can throw a wrench in our plans and forces us to think on our feet.
The second great thing about this type of game is the frequency of awesome player stories. When you need one specific minion to win a Brawl or you lose, and BOOM: It all goes down exactly right—your Armorsmith survives and you manage to turn the game around with an incredible play! That’s a great story! Randomness increases the excitement and frequency of these memorable events.
This combination of novel scenarios and crazy player stories is a huge part of what makes Hearthstone a TON of fun.
Game Director Eric Dodds
Game Director Eric Dodds then took to the stage to talk about the new Hearthstone expansion: Goblins vs Gnomes!
A Hearthstone Expansion!?
That’s right! An expansion! Over 120 cards packed with Goblin and Gnomish awesomeness. Need something blown up . . . or transmogrified . . . or flattened by a gigantic, ridiculous, smoke-spewing engine of destruction? You need look no further, the mayhem has arrived!
Sounds Great! But Why Goblins vs Gnomes?
There was definitely some discussion before the Hearthstone team settled on Goblins vs Gnomes for the first expansion. First, the team looked at where Hearthstone had already been. The first Hearthstone Adventure, The Curse of Naxxramas, took place in Kel’thuzad’s dread, dank, and dark necropolis: Naxxramas. The team injected Naxxramas with a healthy dose of snarky fun using a Grobbulus-sized syringe, but at its heart, Naxxramas is still a pretty serious place about creepy undead stuff with a doom-and-gloom theme.
The team wanted to do something very different for the first Hearthstone expansion. Something more light-hearted, colorful, and a little zany. And, as always, it had to be FUN! Goblins and Gnomes are famous for their wonderful inventions, and they also have a unique way of inspiring passion! Some people love them and all that they do. Some people would rather see them all zapped by their own creations. Whether these diminutive demolitionists are your favorite thing and you play them every chance you get, or the pint-sized puntables are your first target for total annihilation, Goblins vs Gnomes has something for everyone! Goblins vs Gnomes cards are packed with crazy creations that will expand player deck options in huge, delightfully surprising ways.
Of course the REAL reason we went with Goblins vs. Gnomes is the song:
Goblins are known for their business acumen and their love of big explosions, and definitely not in that order. At the heart of Goblin engineering lies a deep, overwhelming desire to see things explode. Sure, ideally that means the enemy, but that’s not what you’d call a strict requirement. As long as someone is getting blown up, then your average Goblin will be happy.
Conversely, what Gnomes do, they do FOR SCIENCE! While Gnomish inventions are less likely to leave smoking craters, they are significantly more likely to turn innocent bystanders into poultry. In fact, it seems like a lot of Gnomish engineering is a combination of the wackiest technology imaginable and a hefty dose of ‘turning-things-into-other-things probably-by-accident.’ Odds are, rather than blowing something up, a Gnomish invention will usually just leave the unfortunate target wishing they’d been blown up.
While they’re often at odds, Goblins and Gnomes combined their engineering know-how to crank out a brand new board for Hearthstone: Goblins vs Gnomes. While the technology has proven too disastrously unstable to allow operation at BlizzCon, you can be sure that when Gnomes vs Goblins arrives, the devices scattered around the edges of this board will be working spectacularly in ways that probably bear absolutely no resemblance whatsoever to what was originally intended.
While Goblins and Gnomes are at the heart of this particular contest, the real stars of the show are the crazed mechanical creations that they’ve built. Goblins vs Gnomes brings with it a new mechanical minion type: Mechs. Many of the new cards are Mechs, or interact with Mechs in interesting ways. Each class also has its own Mech-based cards that help ensure that making a deck featuring Mechs prominently will be viable, and that they’ll fit well even in non-Mech focused decks. Some old favorites that clearly have been Mechs all along now have a shiny Mech type bolted onto their cards as well. Finally, and possibly most importantly: GIANT ROBOTS!
Of course, not all Mechs are automatons. Some Mechs have pilots, and when the Mech is destroyed, the pilot hits the big shiny red eject button, parachutes onto the field, and carries on the fight! Usually that’s a lower cost minion than the original Mech, but Sneed left his old shredder behind when he was defeated in the Deadmines, and only a Legendary minion could possibly master those controls. Of course, which Legendary minion was in the cockpit varies wildly. It could be Lorewalker Cho . . . or it could be Ragnaros! Sure, Rags might have some trouble scrunching down into the pilot’s seat, but don’t overthink it. All things are possible WITH SCIENCE!
Got A Spare?
Goblins and Gnomes love tinkering. A thing isn’t good until it’s been bettered with a few engineering “improvements”. That love of tinkering is reflected in Goblins vs Gnomes with Spare Parts cards. These 1 mana spells are acquired in a variety of ways, and playing those cards lets players improve an existing minion just a little bit, or maybe inconvenience their opponent at a critical moment. While they can’t be added directly to a deck, a random Spare Part can often be acquired when certain minions join the fray, or are dismantled, leaving useful bits and bobs in the crater where they used to stand.
Of course, other cards will also be added that aren’t Mechs, Goblins, or Gnomes. To give you a taste of what we mean, we submit the Warrior’s Bouncing Blade spell in the “Only a Goblin would think this is a good idea” category:
The Best Deals Anywhere!
So how do you bolt Goblins vs Gnomes fun onto your collection? You’ll be able to get Goblins vs Gnomes packs for the same cost (in either gold or real money) as the existing Expert Hearthstone packs. If you’re already sitting on a hefty stockpile of dust, then you’re in luck! You can also craft Goblins vs Gnomes cards for the same dust costs—based on rarity—as the current cards. Just wait until you see what happens when you open a Goblins vs Gnome pack!
Senior Producer Yong Woo
On the subject of seeing, Yong Woo took to the stage to talk about another exciting feature that will be arriving alongside Goblins vs. Gnomes. . .
It’s Better With Friends
One of the things that we realized early on while working on Hearthstone is that it’s a game that is just as much fun to watch as it is to play! Whenever one of us is in a really good game, the whole team will gather around to watch, talk about Hearthstone, and chat about cards and deck concepts.
It’s a really great experience, and it’s one of our favorite ways to play Hearthstone: surrounded by friends. It’s also the reason why we’re so excited when Fireside Gatherings bring players together to play face-to-face and hang out. Of course, sometimes your friends can’t be in the same room. Sometimes they’re not even on the same continent! That’s one of the things we love about the Blizzard community: we’re always making friends from around the world.
With that in mind, we’ve been working hard on another feature. It might be the number one most requested feature since the release of Hearthstone. . .
That’s right! We’ve been working to make Spectator Mode a reality. You will soon be able to watch your friend’s games as if they were sitting right next to you when the explosives start flying in Goblins vs Gnomes!
Sounds Great! But How Does It Work?
After Goblins vs Gnomes comes out, when you bring up your Friends list, you’ll see a new Spectate button next to your friends who are playing games. We wanted to make using Spectator Mode as easy as walking behind your friend’s computer, so watching their game is as simple as clicking the Spectate button!
Once you’re watching your friend’s game, it’s almost as though you’re sitting in front of their computer. You can watch them hover over their cards and minions as they ponder their next move. You can see them point their targeting arrow and follow along with their thought process. You can even see the emotes the players are using. It really feels as though you’re playing the game, but there’s a Spectator Mode indicator on the bottom-left corner to remind you that you’re just watching, so no matter how badly you might want you, you can’t take over when your friend misses lethal!
On the other hand, as a spectator, you have full control over what you’re looking at. As the game progresses, you can hover over cards and minions to get full card text and the details on buffs, and you can also check out the history to see what happened before you started watching!
We Love An Audience!
When someone is spectating your game, you’ll see an indicator on the bottom left to let you know that you’ve got company. It will show you how many of your friends are watching, and who they are. And of course, if you’d rather not have spectators, you can set Spectator Mode to invitation only, and even ‘kick’ unwanted spectators from your game.
We’ve received a lot of requests for a good way to cast a match between two players without having to stitch together multiple streams, so we also wanted Spectator Mode to be useful for casting tournaments. So, Spectator Mode will support spectating two players at the same time. You’ll be able to view both players’ hands, and casters will be able to keep tabs on both players from within a single Hearthstone client.
That’s All. . . For Now!
That’s all these Hearthstone heroes had for us at BlizzCon, but you can be sure that there’s more exciting Goblins vs. Gnomes gnews coming before its release this December, so keep your goggles soot-free and keep those transmitters pointed in this direction to stay tuned!
Heroes of the Storm PAX Feature Trailer
A Note About the Alpha
We do not have a date for the Heroes Beta yet. We're still working hard to test and level up our technology to be sure we can continue to expand the playerbase without encountering major issues. On that note, we’ve been adding players to the Tech Alpha on a weekly basis, and if you’d like to sign up to be invited, make sure you’ve opted in to Heroes testing on your Battle.net account’s Beta Profile Settings.
That said, there are no keys! Be wary of phishing attempts and anyone offering to give you Heroes of the Storm access. The only way to be sure you’ve received a legitimate invitation is to check your Battle.net account for a Heroes of the Storm game license.
What's Cool About Heroes of the Storm?
Dustin went on to give the audience an introduction to Heroes of the Storm by describing a few of the game’s aspects that we think make it very fun to play.
We have many incredible heroes we can draw from that you've come to know and love in our other game universes. There’s rich lore and history behind our characters, and we think it's awesome to see them all interacting and doing battle with each other. Because this game represents a collision of all our universes, we can introduce heroes from any of our other games, past, present, and future.
Original Hero Design
We're trying to be creative with the types of heroes we bring into the game. We want them to be able to interact with the battlegrounds in very unique ways, and play like nothing you’ve seen before in our other titles. Abathur was among the first of these very different heroes. He can’t really get into the fight himself, but instead sits behind the lines of battle and infests his allies to help them out from the sidelines.
Battlegrounds are more than just maps. Each is designed to be different from the others, with unique objectives and focal points that can change your strategies and swing the tide of the game in your favor.
As an example, let's take a look at Blackheart's Bay:
We currently have four Battlegrounds in the Tech Alpha, and have plans to add many more in the future so that you can change up how you play, as well as use different strategies to succeed from one game to the next.
Following Dustin’s overview, Phill picked up the mic for a peek into what the Heroes of the Storm Art Team has been up to lately.
When we started to really ramp up Heroes development we were initially focused on standing up art and models for as many of our heroes as we could. While we managed to get a lot of heroes into the game, we wanted to continue iterating on them until each one really lived up to the fantasy behind their character.
We've put a lot of work into improving the appearances of our heroes and skins since we first revealed Heroes of the Storm at BlizzCon last year, and have put a lot of time into adding more details to their faces and character models over the last few months.
Kaeo Milker then took the stage to show off some of the new skins that we'll be releasing in the future.
Skins are an exciting way for us to really dig into the lore and flavor of each hero, and we always have a lot of fun coming up with our next great idea. Through skins, we can show off looks we’ve come to love. We can also explore a variety of different appearances for each hero, including looks that cross into our other game universes.
Heroes of the Storm has a rather lighthearted nature, which allows us to add in humorous skins as well, such as Stitches in a bikini, or Abathur in pajamas. That's right -- Pajamathur is no longer just an April Fool's joke, and will be added to the game!
In addition to all of the skins we have available in the shop, we’ve also got a ton of skin variations that you can unlock for free, simply by playing with a particular hero frequently. Skin variations not only work for your base hero skin, but once unlocked, they’ll work for all future skins you buy for that hero, as well.
We didn’t want to stop with variations, though, so we decided to create what we’re calling “Ultimate Skins.” Ultimate skins are the complete realization of the fantasy for each hero in the Nexus, and are free to unlock, just like skin variations. We want you have a lot of freedom in how you can show off your favorite heroes in-game, and feel that all the skins we have to offer help accomplish this for players who want to really dig deep into a specific hero.
New Heroes - We've just announced that Brightwing, Zagara, Murky, and LiLi are our newest Heroes!
As we mentioned previously, we’re working hard to create heroes that feel and play very differently than anything we've done in the past, and we have a few examples for you today:
Once the presentation wrapped up, Dustin fielded questions from the live audience. Read on to get the full Q&A Session breakdown.
Q: Is there any opportunity to see Heroes on other platforms, such as mobile or console?
A: We haven’t really worked on that and it could be a lot of work considering we’d have to take controls into account. At one point Kaeo did manage to hook up an Xbox controller to his home computer and play using that.
Q: Balance aside, which hero would you like to see in the game?
A: The hardest heroes for us to do are the really huge ones. We’ve talked about Deathwing as a hero we’d really like to put in, but he’d have to be very big. We’ve found heroes like this to be really challenging to make so far.
Q: Do you think you’ll eventually run out of existing Blizzard characters to use as heroes?
A: Our library of Blizzard characters is pretty massive. We’ve got a very long list of potential heroes that we’d like to implement, and we do want to add many more heroes to the game than are present right now. We’re ready to do more. There may be a few heroes who you might not entirely familiar with if you haven’t played the game they’re from (Stitches from World of Warcraft, for example,) but we can dip into all of our universes to continually create new heroes.
Q: Will there be more high-risk, high-reward Talents added to the game?
A: We’re constantly talking about Talents -- what to add, and what to change. For example, Zagara’s talents are kind of insane right now. One idea, which Matt Cooper proposed, was to double the range of her Baneling ability, and I really hope that one will stick around. We’re continuing to evolve the Talent system to add more customization, more options, and more ways for you to play your favorite heroes how you’d like.
Q: Originally Heroes was going to be part of the StarCraft II Arcade. Is Heroes still based off the StarCraft II Editor, or has it changed?
A: Yes, it’s still based on the StarCraft II Editor, but it has changed a bit. We want to get to a place where we can make the map editor available for Heroes, as well.
Q: With regard to new characters, are there any hopes for seeing heroes from older blizzard games?
A: You mean like Rock N’ Roll Racing, or the Lost Vikings? Yes, we’d definitely love to look into creating Heroes from our older titles. I can’t make any promises right now, but we will certainly work on it.
Q: With so many unique characters and ways to play, how do you balance the game?
A: We get this question a lot. It’s going to be a lot of work for us, but we have a team of balance guys working on this night and day, and we’re pretty confident at the moment. We’re not afraid to admit when we’re wrong, see what the community has to say, and make changes. The editor also lets us make changes on a hero by hero basis. For example, the way Sgt. Hammer roots herself basically attracts skillshots from her enemies. If we need to fix something about that, we can adjust her talents to give her more survivability while she’s sieged up.
There's more to come as Blizzard storms Pax East 2014, so stay tuned for updates today, and all weekend long!
Hearthstone’s highly anticipated single player Adventure Mode has been officially announced today at PAX East: Curse of Naxxramas, A Hearthstone Adventure!
The Curse Comes!
The ancient necropolis Naxxramas, a base of operations for the powerful lich Kel’Thuzad and his plague-bearing undead host, comes to Hearthstone in a single player PvE Adventure that anyone can undertake! Progress through one of the five unique wings of the dungeon and gain new cards for your Hearthstone collection by defeating the iconic bosses that you’ll face along the way – the oversized arachnid Maexxna, the fungal horror Loatheb and the shambling abomination Patchwerk are just a few of the horrors that await your challenge. Each boss has their own unique cards and Hero Powers at their disposal to challenge even the most seasoned of card-slinging adventurers!
Progressing through Curse of Naxxramas and overcoming the challenges that lurk within will reward you with all new Hearthstone cards! Once you earn these cards, you can start playing with them in your decks right away. A total of 30 new cards will be added with Curse of Naxxramas - Check out a few of the shambling creatures of the undead that are just dying to be a part of your collection below!
Peer Into the Plague Quarter
One of the bosses you’ll be pitted against within the Plague Quarter is the devious plague cauldron master Heigan the Unclean! His Eruption spell will put your minion’s dancing skills to the test, and Mindpocalypse will make you think you’ve got the upper hand! Speaking of hands, Heigan definitely never washes his. Gross.
Defeating Heigan will net you a brand new card to add to your collection, and the completion of each wing will reward you with a guaranteed new Legendary card!
All New Game Board!
Curse of Naxxramas will have its own unique game board Hearthstone players battle on while they are in the adventure, complete with brand new interactive corners! What could possibly lurk within that quivering mass of eggs? Do you really want to find out?
Test Your Might with Class Challenges!
On top of all of that, nine unique Class Challenges lie in wait within Curse of Naxxramas. These challenges put a difficult twist on existing encounters within the adventure and will put your Hearthstone skills with a specific class to the test! If you’re able to overcome the Class Challenges that face you, you’ll be rewarded with new class-specific cards to add to your collection.
Make Tracks to Naxx!
Curse of Naxxramas will open its gates to challenge Hearthstone players over the course of 5 weeks, opening wing by wing. The first wing of Curse of Naxxramas, The Arachnid Quarter, will be available free for all Hearthstone players. If players wish to venture further into Naxxramas to collect all of the new cards for their collection, each wing besides the Arachnid Quarter can be purchased with in-game gold OR real money. As each wing is released, the cards available in each wing will also show up in your Arena picks, even if you have not earned them for your personal collection yet!
Beware the Necropolis!
We hope you enjoyed this first look into Curse of Naxxramas, A Hearthstone Adventure. Curse of Naxxramas is planned to release simultaneously for PC, Mac and iPad. A release date will be announced at a later time.