All you need to know about the new Hearthstone expansion “The Grand Tournament”
Whenever Blizzard releases an expansion for any of its eSports titles – WOW, Starcraft 2, HotS and, yes, Hearthstone – one has to marvel at the developer’s meticulous attention to detail. Every Blizzard expansion – and game come to think of it – rolls off the assembly line balanced to the hilt. Given that the addition of new units/powers/heroes in an eSports game can completely change strategic dynamic, the Blizzard’s additions look mind-boggling brave on top of everything else.
The Grand Tournament, Blizzard’s latest expansion for its virtual card battle game Hearthstone, throws something of a curveball at players. Here are 132 cards whose primary purpose seems to be to shake things up while maintaining the level playing field necessary to make the game accessible to all. It’s a hard ask for any developer of any strategy game – especially one so invested in the eSports space.
There’s also the fact to consider that a large number of the cards in The Grand Tournament are absolutely bonkers. In a recent interview with TrustedReviews, Hearthstone’s Senior Designer Mike Donais said that the team behind the new expansion still found some of the new cards ‘scary’ and that debate had raged about whether or not to tinker some more with them. However, Blizzard eventually decided to release them into the wild in their non-nerfed form to see how players experimented with them.
This could be a good or a bad thing. As with the game’s last expansion, Goblins vs Gnomes – and indeed, with the Classic set – there’s every possibility that some new cards could end up gathering dust or being disenchanted for crafting dust when they land in a player’s collection. It’s likely that over the coming months, though, that the massive player base (Blizzard puts Hearthstone’s numbers at around 30m) will sort the wheat from the chaff.
Before delving into the nitty-gritty of certain cards and how they’ll be best used or effect established strategies, it’s worth noting the two biggest new features The Grand Tournament expansion brings two the table: ‘Inspire’ and ‘Joust’. Minions with the Inspire power trigger abilities every time a player uses their Hero’s power. For example, if you put a Kodorider (a 6-cost, 3/5 minion) in play, every time you use your Hero power, it summons a 3/5 minion.
Additionally, Inspire can act the same as a Taunt, especially if you put other cards in play like Maiden of the Lake (a 2/6 minion that reduces the Hero costs 1 mana), Garrison Commander (which allows players to use their Hero power twice in one turn) and Coldarra Drake (which allows players to use their Hero power any number of times – although only if they’re Mage class). Opposing minions aren’t forced to attack an Inspire minion the same way they have to attack a Taunt. However, the benefit of using a lot of the Inspire cards is so high, opponents will usually work to take them out of play as quickly as possible.