Here we are at last. We’ve talked about drawing cards, buffing and debuffing, and a how intelligent gnomes are. Now we’re going to talk about the odd gnomes out. The cards that feature gnomes, but where the mechanics are not prevalent enough to imply a common theme.
Let’s start with Leper Gnomes. Leper gnomes in hearthstone do direct damage to the enemy hero. This sets them apart from goblins, that do lots of damage, but tend to do it randomly, or have some form of blowback. Thermaplugg does not directly do damage to the enemy hero, but he summons the basic leper gnomes that do.
Transformation! I was surprised there were not more gnomes that did this because Tinkmaster Overspark is such an iconic gnome in Hearthstone. The theme of transformation seems to have shifted to Shaman. Since Gnomes can’t be shamans, it makes sense that this would not be something they continued.
Healing! Only a couple gnomes heal. In World of Warcraft, gnomes did not have a healing class for a long time. Seeing healing being under represented as a mechanic makes some sense. It would be interesting to see some first aid themed gnomes that heal, perhaps a Surgeon General “Doc” Cogspin someday.
And the rest! These final gnomes don’t have any kind of special condition that make them thematically consistent with gnomes. Hearthstone is a very random game. The only structure they stick to is based on class not race. Honestly, it surprised to see how strong some of the trends have been.
There are a few cards I want to single out in this last section:
The Knife Juggler. He is SUCH a Goblin. Deals damage to Random Enemies? Total Goblin. If he was a rogue exclusive card I could understand it. Class over race for balance, but he’s not. He is a neutral card.
Sergeant Sally is walking that same line with her AOE damage. I almost shoehorned her with the lepers because she does a straight forward damage to non-random targets.
Mind Control Tech is another I am surprised we don’t see more of. All three of those cards have long convoluted conditions about when and how their abilities work, so maybe that is another theme, or maybe not.
And that is it! we have covered every gnome minion card in the game as of “Knight of the Frozen Throne” After doing this I was surprised by something that Hearthstone is famous for but is larging missing from the gnome kit: Randomness. Not to say their is no randomness in gnome cards, but it less than in a lot of other aspects of the game. Frankly I’m almost relieved. Gnomes have a reputation for devices that malfunction and backfire. It’s part of why people don’t take them more seriously and I’m glad to see it largely ignored here. Gnomes in Hearthstone are reliable, the way it should be! (Let gobins own the ‘blowing themselves up’ shtick .)
With gnome story so light in Warcraft, we are challenged to look for the details we can tease out in other places. It can be a fun and unique challenge. The more I do it, the more I enjoy it. If you are interested in more I also have a post about inferred gnome lore from Warcraft 2.