So, have you heard the news? Blizzard has just announced Hearthstone‘s (Free) next expansion, Mean Streets of Gadgetzan, and we’ve been getting some fun new details about it here at BlizzCon 2016. A quick recap, first. Mean Streets of Gadgetzan is bringing 132 new cards to the game and is giving us a new take on WOW‘s Gadgetzan, one that, as the developers have described it, has back alleys which have their own back alleys. In those back alleys, three main crime families, the Grimy Goons, Jade Lotus, and The Kabal, rule the underworld of Gadgetzan. This is a new direction for the game in terms of theme since we’ve moved away from tournaments, Old Gods, and crazy partying and have landed straight in the middle of a turf war between some very dangerous people. If you were hoping for a change of scenery after the latest adventures and expansions, the developers have definitely delivered. I mean, there’s a Legendary ninja Murloc assasin, what more could any human ask for?
A few quick words about the art direction. As the developers talked about during the presentation, establishing the mood was tricky, so they decided to have the whole expansion take place at night. You can see the whole night thing going on in all the expansion’s cards. As for the families, the Grimy Goons are street level mobsters, so they’ll remind you of your stereotypical early 20th-century gangsters. Jade Lotus are full on Pandaria, so you’ll see a lot of lanterns and images like that, while The Kabal are addicted to using corrupted mana potions, so you’ll see a lot of reddish tattoos on them drawn with actual corrupt mana.
And now on to the cards and new mechanics, and there are quite a few interesting new ideas in Mean Streets fo Gadgetzan. The major new mechanic that’s going to define this expansion is Tri-Class Cards. The way they work in the lore of the expansion is that each of the crime families is an alliance between three classes: the Goons consist of Hunter, Paladin, and Warrior, the Jade Lotus consist of Rogue, Shaman, and Druid, and The Kabal is all about Mage, Priest, and Warlock. Each family has 3 Tri-Class cards, and those cards can only be used by the three classes working for that family. These cards will really make you play classes differently because a Tri-Class card like Kabal Courier lets you discover a Mage, Priest, or Warlock card. And more importantly, the developers have assured us that you’ll get one of each class to pick each time, so you are guaranteed to have the ability to mix classes.
I’m quite excited about being able to mix class cards through the controlled-RNG of Discover. You’ll now be able to give Druids a weapon if you play a card like Lotus Agents, which let’s you discover a Druid, Rogue, or Shaman card. Speaking of Discover and class-mixing, there’s also the Drakonid Operative, which for the first time lets you discover a card from your opponent’s deck. So not only are you getting to pick one of your opponent’s deck cards, you also get to see three cards from his deck.
There were some other promising cards revealed today, although take any evaluation with a ton of salt since we’ve only seen a few cards so far. There’s the 1-mana Priest spell, Potion of Madness, which steals an enemy minion with 2 or less Attack. This cheap spell can help you punish Aggro decks during the early turns. The very impressive, but perhaps too slow, Druid Legendary, Kun the Forgotten King, is a great Choose One card that lets you gain 10 armor or refresh your Mana Crystals (or both). If you can get him cheap enough to play early on, he can be great help, and you can play him for free if you have him refresh your crystals.
If you like Taunt, there’s the Second-Rate Bruiser that costs less if your opponent has at least three minions, an obvious attempt to help against Aggro decks that like to flood the board early. I also like the Paladin 3-Mana spell Small-Time Recruits that draws three 1-cost minions from your deck, which should encourage players to start messing about with 1-cost minions more. Everyone will, of course, love the Murloc Legendary, Finja, the Flying Star, which comes in with Stealth and every time he kills a minion, he summons 2 murlocs from your deck. This card should make bringing expensive Murlocs in your deck an easier choice. And for all the Pirate Lovers out there, there’s the 1-cost Patches the Pirate Legendary that pops onto the board when you play a Pirate and has Charge. Imagine using Gang Up on him and then buffing him up.
Finally, the last card I’ll talk about the Legendary Kazakus and his really cool new mechanic. He’s a 4-mana 3/3 card that lets you create a spell if you have a deck with no duplicates. The spell making part is three Discovers in a row, and it’s actually pretty cool. First, you pick whether the spell is going to be 1, 5, or 10 mana, then you pick two different effects through two Discovers, and voila, you have a custom spell. There are many different spells you can mix and match, and the ability to pick their mana will make them very useful; you can play one early in the match, you can curve out well, or you can go for late match shenanigans. Unlike Arch-Thief Rafaam, which also Discovers a spell, Kazakus is much cheaper to play and the spells can be cheaper too, so I expect to see him played more.
So, that’s the first taste of the new expansion. We haven’t actually played with the new cards yet (we’re about to do that), so I’ll let you know how the new mechanics actually feel like in practice. Overall, I think Blizzard is trying to bring in new mechanics and new ideas to break the very predictable pace of the current Hearthstone meta, and it looks like this expansion should do that. I want to see crazy decks in the game, and I can already see some crazy deck-building potential in some of these cards.