Why Does Hearthstone Have Adventures?

The biggest problem with the most recent adventure-based expansion for Hearthstone, Blackrock Mountain, is that it ultimately did very little to shake up the meta game at large.  Only one new deck really emerged from the expansion, that being the infamous Patron Warrior.  Even the highly-touted dragon synergy that the expansion introduced ended up amounting to very little at the time as there just wasn’t a wide enough variety of cards to make a dragon-focused deck viable.  In contrast, the following, more traditional expansion, The Grand Tournment, added a far wider range of possibilities by virtue of simply adding a whole lot of cards.  It even brought dragon decks to the forefront with just a few additional cards.  This all made me wonder why Hearthstone even has these adventure-based expansions like Curse of Naxxramas and Blackrock Mountain in the first place rather than just going for traditional expansions in the style of Goblins Vs. Gnomes and The Grand Tournament exclusively.  Why put all of this effort into designing all of these boss challenges that players will be done with fairly quickly and only release a fraction of the cards that a traditional expansion would include?  Isn’t that sort of practice just bad for both the players and the developers?  After giving it some thought, I realized that it’s actually quite the opposite.  Not only do Hearthstone adventures offer a great deal of satisfaction for players, but they also provide an invaluable service for the developers.

For the players, there is a great deal of satisfaction to be had in the guarantee for the cards you are going to get out your purchases, especially when it comes to the legendary cards.  While legendaries aren’t necessarily the strongest cards, there is an undeniable sense of gratification that comes with obtaining cards on that highest tier.  Sorting through booster packs is great when you stumble upon something special, but it often leaves you with uninteresting cards.  It’s possible to go through dozens of packs without finding a single legendary and those playing on a budget can go months without adding one to their collection.  For those players, adventures are a major step forward for their collection.  There is also the sense of completion that comes with having all of the cards in the set fairly quickly.  If there is any deck you want to build that calls for those cards, you’ll always know that you have them.  In that sense, adventures are the Hearthstone equivalent of starter decks.  There’s a much smaller card pool than a pack expansion overall, but you are sure to have the entire set.

Along with the cards, players also get to enjoy the unique challenge of the bosses.  While there is little incentive to revisit these bosses after you’ve beaten them, that short time spent with them forces players to examine the game closely in order to find a boss’ weakness.  Highly technical bosses like Garr and Vaelastrasz force players to think outside the box and develop new tactics for the game that they haven’t considered before.  They can also inspire players to attempt similar strategies in constructed play, finding new avenues existing within the game that they never realized before.  After taking on Vaelastrasz, players will likely be in the mood to play around with milling and fatigue-focused decks, especially those who hadn’t known of the concept before.

However, the ones who gain the most from the adventures are the developers.  I don’t just mean that in a financial sense as releasing packs that players have to continuously sort through would net them more sales than wings of an adventure that anyone can grind enough gold for in a week or so per wing.  What the developers truly gain from is the room to experiment with their unique boss fights.  Balance is much less of a concern in PvE than it is in PvP as there is only one side of the fight that really needs to be accounted for.  As such, the bosses can be equipped with all manner of conceptual mechanics.  For example, Chromaggus’ ability to force cards into your hand that work against you until played is a brilliant idea that might be worked into actual cards in later expansions.  Even if the idea never works out for any collectible cards, it doesn’t go completely to waste now that it’s incorporated into this one boss fight.  Adventures are a playground of experimentation where cutting edge ideas can be put into practice rather than be left to sit on the drawing board.

That previous point can be debated with the release of the Tavern Brawl game mode that runs a different challenge every week.  While Tavern Brawl has given Blizzard another avenue to experiment with new concepts, it doesn’t offer the developers quite the same level of freedom as boss fights do.  The brawls are still PvP and, while balance isn’t as important here, there still needs to be a level of equality in place.  You can argue that one deck plays to a brawl’s strengths more, but the developers still strive to keep that gap narrow.  As such, designing conceptual cards is exceedingly more difficult for a brawl than it is for an adventure.  It’s not surprising that only two brawls have introduced conceptual cards so far, those being the Showdown at Blackrock and the Banana Brawl.  Ironically, those are two of the least popular brawls in the series, whereas the most popular brawls are the ones that put an unusual twist on the existing game, such as Too Many Portals and Double Deathrattler.  Tavern Brawl simply isn’t as viable a testing ground for new ideas as boss fights are.

Another way Blizzard can only experiment in Adventures is to introduce cards that rely on one other, specific card.  Feugen and Stalagg each have the ability to summon the mighty Thaddius upon death, but only if the other has already died at some point.  Releasing cards like these in card packs would frustrate players who manage to find one of these extremely rare cards, but now has to find the other one to make either worthwhile.  It wouldn’t be impossible to get away with these cards in packs as several physical TCGs have built themselves around collecting specific cards already.  The Pokemon TCG is built largely around evolving specific Pokemon into other specific Pokemon, while Yu-Gi-Oh has plenty of fusion cards that are useless without their specified components.  However, by releasing these cards as a set in a single adventure, it makes things far more satisfying for the players.  While there may be a precedent with other games, that shouldn’t be an excuse to hold Hearthstone back in its own design.  Bundling these interaction cards together with adventures makes them much more enticing and makes collecting much more enjoyable for players.

Blackrock Mountain may not be the best example of an adventure given how niche many of its cards were, but it should simply serve as a lesson on how future adventures should be focused rather than a signal that the idea itself is flawed.  The key to successful adventure sets lies in focusing on general mechanics for most of the cards, as seen with the more fondly received Naxxramas, rather than attempting to establish new archetypes of their own.  They also need bosses that act as mind-bending puzzles and memorable encounters rather than exploitative tricks.  While I use my Naxxramas cards much more frequently than my Blackrock ones, I vividly remember almost every boss from Blackrock while only having fond memories of a few Naxxramas bosses.  Hopefully, the developers now have a full picture of what does and doesn’t work with adventures and will be able to consistent deliver excellent adventures from here on.

Ultimately, adventures truly are a boon to Hearthstone.  While cards come out slower because of them, they do come out smarter as a result.  The developers are given the freedom to experiment with cards in ways that they can’t anywhere else by testing experimental concepts in boss fights and introducing unique interactions.  Meanwhile, players are given a fulfilling, complete set of cards to add to their collection more easily than digging through card packs in the hopes of finding the cards they’re looking for.  Blizzard simply needs to look at what works best for adventures to improve their future releases and their value towards the game won’t need to be called into question again.

Hearthstone Guide: Best Blackrock Mountain Cards

Blackrock

Blackrock Mountain has come and gone and many new cards have entered into the game.  Unfortunately, there hasn’t been much of a shift in the meta game from it and few of the new cards have seen much use.  Maybe players are just being stubborn and sticking to the decks that already worked, so we may see some more of these cards gain popularity over time.  Still, these cards have made noticeable splashes in their own right and are most worth looking into.  Also, for the sake of those playing on a budget, I’ve marked each entry on this list with the wing that the card comes in so you’ll know just how deep into the mountain you really need to worry about.

Volcanic_Lumberer

10. Volcanic Lumberer (Wing 3)

The whole idea of cards that cost less based on how many minions die on a turn proved to be far less useful than anyone expected.  However, the Volcanic Lumberer has a strong enough body at a fair enough cost to prove practical.  This one is really at it’s best in Arena mode where minions are always going to be trading into one another and the mana cost of this card is bound to be fairly cheap for what you’ll get out of it.  Even at 7 mana, it’s still a powerful minion that can lock the game in your favor.  While it can work in constructed as a follow-up to using Force of Nature to control the board, the old Combo Druid is still more viable and it can’t combo off Force of Nature if you’re using that to attack your opponent directly.

Resurrect

9. Resurrect (Wing 1)

This one is personal favorite of mine even if it is fairly gimmicky.  You do need to tailor your deck around it as you don’t want to summon measly minions with it.  However, if you can get something like an Injured Blademaster early on, it will give you a great lead.  It’s also finally given me a reason to run Sen’jin Shieldmasta again.  It’s a fun card, but we again have a clash with the old Priest decks that are still more viable.  It’s worth experimenting with, but it’s not going to shake up the meta any time soon.

Blackwing_Corruptor

8. Blackwing Corruptor (Wing 5)

People freaked out when this card was first revealed and, while it is good, it’s nowhere near as strong as was originally suspected.  You really need to focus your deck around dragons to get good use out of this guy and he’s useless in Arena as a result.  If you are running a dragon deck, he suddenly becomes a linchpin in controlling the board.  The big problem is that dragon decks just aren’t that strong right now.  Maybe the next expansion will change things, but there just aren’t enough good cards working with the concept right now.  However, if you want to try out some dragon decks right now, the Corruptor is a must-have.

Chromaggus

7. Chromaggus (Wing 4)

Chromaggus is a lot like Ysera.  Not too long ago, that would have been a massive compliment.  In the current meta, it just means that he’s okay.  If you’re already ahead, Chromaggus can easily seal the game for you.  If you’re behind, he’s far to slow to get you caught up.  Given how fast and aggressive the meta currently is in Hearthstone, there just aren’t many good opportunities to bring him out.  There’s also the fact that your opponent gets a chance to react and shut down his effect entirely, making him a step below Ysera.  He’s still a good card, but the time isn’t quite right for him.

Flamewaker

6. Flamewaker (Wing 2)

This has become a popular pick in Mage decks, but don’t overestimate it.  Flamewaker is a card designed for Mages focused on keeping control of the game and he’s not something to casually toss into any deck.  He’s especially bad in Arena where spells are rare and his effect will have little impact.  That said, you shouldn’t underestimate him either.  In spell-heavy decks, it can be pretty devastating with the amount of it can quickly dish out.  With the right build, he is definitely a valuable asset.  Just remember that spells are a valuable resource and that the random damage isn’t always reliable.

Dragon_Consort

5. Dragon Consort (Wing 3)

Now we’re getting into the really good cards.  While dragons haven’t taken off as much as we’d hoped, this is still an extremely powerful card.  Along with a solid stat line, the fact that its mana discount on your next dragon holds until you play that dragon almost guarantees that you’ll get good value out of this card.  Even if you only run one other dragon in your deck, you’ll get all the tempo you need.  Dragon Consort is certainly worth mixing into your Paladin decks.

Imp_Gang_Boss

4. Imp Gang Boss (Wing 2)

As I said at the beginning, the meta has been pretty stubborn lately and players have been sticking with the decks that were already working before.  Fortunately, that’s great news for new cards that work with old decks.  Enter the Imp Gang Boss, the new headliner for Zoolock.  With his ability to spawn imps whenever he takes a hit, your opponent will be hesitant against playing smaller minions and struggle endlessly to try and clear your board.  Whether you’re playing in constructed or the Arena, Imp Gang Boss is an offer you can’t refuse.

Quick_Shot

3. Quick Shot (Wing 1)

Again, if it worked before Blackrock, it’s only gotten more popular afterwards.  Face Hunter was already one of the strongest, if not the strongest, decks in the game.  Spells that deal 3 damage for 2 mana are always really good.  Put the two together and the already overwhelming number of Hunters on ladder has only increased.  Not only would 3 damage be good on its own, but it also gives you card draw if your hand is empty after casting it, making it the perfect tool for aggressive Hunters.  If there is one card from Blackrock that is going to need a nerf, it’s this.  It the meantime, please enjoy being a scumbag!

Grim_Patron

2. Grim Patron (Wing 1)

This is easily the best new Blackrock Warrior card to be added with this expansion.  Yeah, it isn’t Warrior specific, but it offers the class so much more than Axe Flinger or Revenge ever will.  Grim Patron Warrior (or Drunken Warrior as I like to call it) has taken off as one of the legendary decks that can easily be built with a free account like Face Hunter and Zoolock.  However, while those other budget decks can handle with a brain-dead approach and still win, Patron Warrior still demands a great deal of strategy and finesse to work despite my little nickname for it.  Play it recklessly and you’ll quickly throw away key resources.  While I still curse Blizzard whenever a Face Hunter crushes me despite making stupid plays, I audibly cheer anytime I lose to a Patron Warrior because their plays are intricate and worth losing to.  We need more clever decks that can be built on a budget.

Emperor_Thaurissan

1. Emperor Thaurissan (Wing 1)

Yeah, this wasn’t much of a surprise.  While Thaurissan isn’t quite as universally useful as I expected, being great in about 95% of all decks out there is still pretty good.  Not only does Thaurissan make a lot of good decks better, he enables all manner of combo decks that were once thought impossible.  Even if you aren’t going for a combo, Thaurissan is just an incredibly useful card in general as he makes every play easier to make.  The only decks that he doesn’t work in are the ones that aggressively dump their hands out onto the board as quickly as possible, but literally every other deck you can make will be made stronger with him.  The only downside is that he’s singlehandedly killed off my beloved Mill deck forever.  Yeah, filling your opponent’s hand to try and burn cards doesn’t work so well when everyone can make those cards really cheap really easily.  That aside, Thaurissan is easily the best card in all of Blackrock.

Interestingly, many of the very best cards in Blackrock come in the very first wing and the remaining great ones are just two more wings in.  While it is in your interest to pick up the full adventure, you can easily get by with just the first one or two wings.  It’s certainly convenient for those of us playing on a budget, but it also highlights how little impact this expansion has ultimately had.  Are there any cards you feel deserve a mention?  Let us know what your thoughts on Blackrock Mountain and all of the cards it introduced in the comments below.

Hearthstone Blackrock Mountain Guide: Defeating Vaelastrasz

Vaelastrasz

Sorry for doing these a little out of order, but the last few bosses haven’t done much to peak my interest.  Even the first boss of this week, Razorgore, was nothing special.  Fortunately, the rest of the wing provided some of the most interesting challenges we’ve had yet, starting with Vaelastrasz the Corrupt.  He actually offers a great spin on one of my favorite deck types: the mill.  In Hearthstone, you can only have a maximum of ten cards in your hand at a time.  If you draw while at that maximum, any cards you draw will be discarded.  Also, once your deck runs out, you’ll start taking fatigue damage with every draw. Milling is all about flooding the opponent’s hand to burn vital cards with fatigue damage as a means to finish off the enemy hero.  Vaelastrasz makes both you and himself vulnerable to milling with his hero power that automatically draws cards for both players on every turn.

On normal mode, Vaelastrasz will cause both players to draw two cards at the start of each of his turns.  Naturally, he runs Twilight Drake, Clockwork Giant, and Goblin Sapper to take advantage of these loaded hands.  He also has the spell Naturalize that will destroy one of your minions and force you to draw even more cards.  He’ll also focus down individual minions with other removal spells like Corruption, Imp-losion, and Dragon’s Breath.  He’ll also fill up his own deck with Gang Up, making it more likely that you’ll hit fatigue first.  Finally, Vaelastrasz’ exclusive card is Burning Adrenaline, a zero-mana spell that deals 2 damage directly to your hero.  While he could easily dump these to avoid burning cards on draw, he prefers to hold onto them until he can set up for a lethal blow.  If you see him casting this spell, it probably means that you’ve already lost.  Without the right deck, defeating him will be extremely difficult.  However, he’ll be easy prey if you simply fight fire with fire.

Hearthstone Screenshot 04-25-15 21.46.19

Your best option is to give him a taste of his own medicine with a Mill Druid.  This will let you use Naturalize yourself and burn through Vaelastrasz’ deck.  Another vital spell is Innervate as it will give you more mana for a turn and make it easier to dump your hand.  The last must-have spell is Savage Roar which will provide you with the final punch needed to win.  The rest of your deck should be composed of cheap minions that you can play quickly and flood the board with.  Argent Squire, Annoy-o-Tron, Haunted Creeper, and even zero mana minions like Wisp and Target Dummy will give you the edge in this fight.  Even Nerubian Egg will a great asset as Vaelastrasz will waste his own removal spells to hatch these eggs for you.  This is because Vaelastrasz is actually a friendly dragon that was captured and corrupted by Nefarian and is trying to help you in this fight and isn’t the result of bad AI design in any way whatsoever.  That said, you should still keep Dire Wolf Alpha and/or Sunfury Protector on hand so you can crack the eggs yourself.

The costliest minion you have in your deck is Big Game Hunter as it will give you another way to clear Clockwork Giants.  Dancing Swords can be good as it’s a strong, cheap body that forces your opponent to draw, but it’s not likely to last given the amount of removal cards that you’ll be up against.  Your ultimate goal is to flood the board with minions and then buff them with Savage Roar.  Hang on to charge minions like Stonetusk Boar and/0r Bluegill Warrior to add to your final attack.  While Rogue is also a popular class for milling, it doesn’t have way to burst the opponent from this setup.  Build a deck with the principles I’ve described and the Flamewaker card will be yours in no time.

On heroic mode, Vaelastrasz’ power will draw three cards for each player at the start of his turn and he will gain a mana crystal.  He’ll also start with 15 armor on top of his 30 health.  Fortunately, the same tactic I listed above will work just as well in heroic mode as it did in normal mode.  Even on a budget, this fight can easily be won.  Vaelastrasz is one of the most interesting bosses we’ve had both mechanically and thematically, but he’s also one of the easiest.  Keep checking in for more Hearthstone guides coming soon.

(Vaelastrasz art by BlackMysticA)

Hearthstone Blackrock Mountain Guide: Defeating Highlord Omokk

Omokk

With Ragnaros defeated, it’s time to turn our attention to the dragon Nefarian and his minions, starting with Highlord Omokk at the gates of Blackrock Spire.  This ogre wields formidable power, but it’s easy to outsmart him  once you know his weakness.

Naturally, Omokk runs every ogre card under the sun in his deck.  Boulderfist Ogre, Dunemaul Shaman, Ogre Ninja, and even Mogor the Ogre all stand ready to crush you and your minions.  Ogres aren’t his only minions as he also has Elven Archer to ping down your minions, Abusive Sergent to buff his ogres, and Cruel Taskmaster to do both.  There is also the Charge spell that allows those burly minions to attack immediately.  Omokk’s hero power further adds to this sense of crushing power as he can easily destroy a random damaged enemy minion for only 1 mana.  Finally, his exclusive card, Time for Smash, deals 5 damage to a random enemy and gives him 5 armor for only 4 mana.  He also has the uncollectable Flameheart spell for more armor and card draw.  Omokk is an intimidating foe, but ogres tend to be pretty clumsy in Hearthstone and his forces can be toppled with a simple trick.

Obviously, building a deck of tanky minions with Priest, Druid, or Warrior is never going to work as Omokk’s power will wipe your heavy-hitters in a flash.  However, an aggressive Warlock deck with a focus on deathrattle and low-mana cost is an excellent way to overwhelm him.  Nerubian Egg, Haunted Creeper, and Loot Hoarder will all work wonders against him.  Add onto that cards that play to filling the board like Knife Juggler and Implosion and you’ll easily keep control of the game.  His hero power will be rendered meaningless as most of your minions will either never be in a damaged state or will benefit you from dying.  He also lacks any types of AoE effects that could wipe your swarm of small creatures.  Many ogres will end up attacking the wrong target, making your swarm of minions a powerful defense.  That said, you should still pack a few cheap taunts like Voidwalker and Annoy-o-tron to protect yourself.  Follow this trick and the Core Rager card should be yours in no time.

Hearthstone Screenshot 04-19-15 00.57.31

The same tactic can work on heroic as the fight is mostly the same.  Omokk’s hero power has been upgraded to be an autocast and can destroy any random minion on your side of the board.  As such, you should never play a single minion on its own save for Nerubian Egg, which you should try to get in you opening hand above all else.  If you can’t get an egg to start off, tap on turn 2 and wait until turn 3 to dump as many minions as you can at once.  Also, Omokk starts with 15 armor on top of his 30 health to make for a lengthy fight.  Don’t forget that he also has those armor-granting spells at his disposal.  As such, you will need to add some survivability to your deck with Antique Healbot and Jaraxxas to outlast this durable adversary.  Be wary of your health as those ogres will get at you more often than you’d expect.  You’ll also need the ability to burst him down once you’ve set up your swarm.  Combining Power Overwhelming with Shadowflame is an excellent way to keep the pressure on in the face of his ogre army.  It will take plenty of time and luck to bring him down, but clever plays will knock this brute down.

With Omokk toppled, the next stop will be General Drakkisath.  Like Omokk, he can be fearsome, but there is one simple trick to defeating him.  Check back next time to find out how.

Hearthstone Blackrock Mountain Guide: Defeating Ragnaros

Ragnaros

Now that his lieutenants, Garr and Baron Geddon, are over and done with, it’s time to take on Ragnaros the Firelord himself.  However, there actually is one more servant to get through as Ragnaros is preceded by his most trusted subject, Majordomo Executus.  You’ll have to take down both of these fearsome opponents in a single match as Ragnaros will take control of the game immediately after Executus falls.  There’s no class challenge for this boss, but the normal and heroic challenges will still put you to the test.

For the normal challenge, Executus will start things off with the standard 30 health and a hero power that summons a 1/3 Flamewaker Acolyte for 2 mana.  His line-up of minions includes Flame Imp, Flamewaker, Core Rager, Fire Elemental, Magma Rager, Core Hound, and Fireguard Destroyer.  Magma Rager is generally considered one of the weakest cards in the game, but you should still be cautious as striking it down with a Druid or Rogue hero power could set you up for his trump card (although you can still get away with it).  Executus has a whooping seven Molten Giants in his deck.  Molten Giant is an 8/8 that costs 20 mana, but its cost goes down by one for each point of damage that the hero playing it has taken.  Once Executus goes below 20 health, you’ll need to be on the look-out for these massive brutes.  Knock him down to around 10 or less health and he’ll be able to flood the board with giants in a single turn and your odds of surviving from there are slim.  With how many copies he’s running, you should always assume that he has at least one or two copies in his hand at any point in the game.  You’ll have to be extremely careful in how much damage you deal to him at a time.  Get him down to around 15 health, maybe more, and set up your board to finish him off in a single turn.  He doesn’t have any taunt minions, but he will control the board with spells like Fireball, Lava Burst, and Lava Shock.

Once Executus goes down, Ragnaros will immediately step in to take his place.  He uses the same cards, but his health and hero power will change.  On normal, he’ll start with only 8 health and 8 armor.  If you were able to prevent the giants from coming out, they’ll be useless to him now.  His new hero power will deal 8 damage to a random enemy for only 2 mana.  If you don’t maintain a strong board presence with plenty of minions, he’ll easily crush you and everything you have.

Hearthstone Screenshot 04-15-15 21.07.33

The key to beating both of them is to use a control deck with a focus on late-game punch.  Any class will work so long as you design your deck to focus on bringing down their early minions while filling up the board with your own minions that can burst the bosses down.  Minions with strong stat lines, damaging spells, and weapons will give you all the tools you need.  This battle is mainly a test of your ability to control the board and knowing when to go for the face.  Prove your wits and earn the Imp Gang Boss and Majordomo Executus cards for your collection.

In the heroic challenge, Executus will start with 30 health and 15 armor and his Flamewaker Acolytes will have a 3/3 stat line.  Ragnaros’ hero power will fire two shots of 8 damage and he’ll have 30 health and 30 armor.  All told, you’ll need to deal 105 damage to take out both bosses.  The deck will be exactly the same, there are just much fiercer powers to play around and there is a lot more damage you’ll have to deal.  Board control is still vital in this challenge, but it’s going to take a more tailored deck to challenge.  The most reliable class is Paladin as his hero power will help you last against Ragnaros’ power.  This deck focused on divine shield takes board presence and minion survival to the extreme and it works.  Move to flood the board as quickly as you can while saving Equality and Aldor Peacekeeper for when you can get the most out of them.

That does it for the Molten Core wing.  Next up is the Blackrock Spire with Highlord Omokk, General Drakkisath, and Rend Blackhand.  This is where we’ll really start to see how well dragon decks will do in practice with plenty of new cards to support the concept.  Here’s to new challenges and new possibilities in the meta game.

Hearthstone Blackrock Mountain Guide: Defeating Baron Geddon

Geddon

With Garr out of the way, it’s time to take on Ragnaros’ right-hand fire elemental: Baron Geddon.  Geddon is especially tricky with his hero power, Ignite Magma, which deals 5 damage to you at the start of every turn for no mana cost, but will only activate if you have any unspent mana left over from your last turn.  If you aren’t making the full use of your mana with each turn, Geddon will be able to rush you down with ease.  Like Garr, Geddon has a class challenge along with his normal and heroic challenges.  You’ll learn how to take down all three versions of this fearsome opponent.

You’re best bet at taking on Geddon’s normal challenge will be a Mage deck with a focus on mechs.  You’re main focus will be to generate spare part cards that can help you spend every mana crystal each turn.  Cheap minions like Clockwork Gnome, Mechwarper, and Tinkertown Technician will work wonders in this fight.  Having around four to six minions costing 1 mana should be good for giving you a play on every turn, but don’t worry to much about trying to get a 1 drop in your opening hand.  However, don’t forget to throw a few higher cost cards into the deck for the mid-game.  Azure Drake and Loatheb are easily the best picks in this regard.  Finally, you’ll want a fair share of damage-dealing spells like Frostbolt and Fireball to deal with enemy minions, finish off Geddon, and possibly kill your own minions if the need arises.  We’ll get to that last part soon.

Geddon’s deck will try to overwhelm you early on with Flame Imp and Imp Gang Boss.  He also has Fire Elemental, Fireguard Destroyer, and Druid of the Flame (which he will always make a 5/2 because the AI is silly like that) to carry him through the mid-game.  He’ll hold control of the board with damaging spells like Lava Shock, Lava Burst, and Hellfire.  It’s a decent deck, but none of that is especially intimidating.  The worst thing you have to look out for is Geddon’s one-of-a-kind spell.

The biggest threat in Geddon’s deck is a special spell that only he can use called Living Bomb.  This puts a curse on one of your minions that sets it to self-destruct at the end of your following turn and deal 5 damage to you and all of your minions.  It costs him 4 mana, so keep an eye out for it around turn four.  Stopping that blast from going off is going to be a top priority and Geddon has no shortage of this spell so you’ll always have to be ready for it.  The best way to counter it is using Youthful Brewmaster or Ancient Brewmaster to return the afflicted minion to the hand.  Once returned to the hand, the minion will revert to its original state and the Living Bomb curse will be gone for good.  Alternatively, you can run your afflicted minion into one of Geddon’s tougher subordinates and sacrifice it.  The explosion won’t go off if the minion dies to anything other than the specific trigger caused by the spell itself.  Unfortunately, he knows better than to play his tougher minions after using Living Bomb, so there usually won’t be a good target to sacrifice your cursed minion to.  This brings us back to using your spells to kill your own minions.  It may seem wasteful to spend your spells on your own minions, but the Living Bomb will often cost you much more.  If the afflicted minion is the only one you have on the board and your health is still fairly high, it may be better to just let it go off.

Hearthstone Screenshot 04-11-15 19.30.49

While fighting Geddon, you’ll mostly want to focus on attacking him directly.  No matter how well you build a mana curve for your deck, there will always come a point where Geddon’s hero power is going to fire off.  Your goal is to kill Geddon faster than he do any serious damage to you.  Of course, you should keep an eye on the board and make sure Geddon’s minions can’t overwhelm you.  Also, don’t spend your spells to damage Geddon’s face unless you’re able to kill him right then and there or if you just really need to spend some extra mana.  With Geddon’s own Flame Imps dealing extra damage to him, it shouldn’t be to hard to rush him down.  Just remember that he has Hellfire for AoE, so try to avoid flooding the board if you can.  Take him down to acquire Blackwing Technician, the very first dragon-synergy card.

I hope you like math, because the Shaman class challenge is going to have you counting mana crystals like you’ve never counted before.  Now you have to take on Geddon armed with a deck focused on the overload mechanic.  Overload basically splits the mana cost of a card over two turns.  These cards are cheap to play immediately, but will lock up some of your mana crystals on your next turn.  With every play, you’ll have to consider not only how much mana you can spend this turn, but also on the next turn.  Take your time and plot out how much you can afford to spend each turn and try to use the overload effect to your advantage.  Just be careful that you don’t lock up all of your crystals for your next turn or you’ll be left unable to counter Geddon’s plays.  This challenge will also let you play around with the new Lava Shock spell, but don’t use it unless you know you can spend all of those unlocked crystals.  Defeat Geddon to make Lava Shock a permanent part of your own collection.

Finally, we have Geddon’s heroic challenge and it is the craziest one yet.  First, Ignite Mana now deals 10 damage instead of 5.  Second, the Living Bomb spell has also been doubled to 10 damage.  Third, Geddon effectively has 100 health for an absurdly tanky opponent.  Obviously, this is not going to be an easy fight on the best of days and it’s not something that can be accomplished without a wide collection of cards.

This Mage deck focusing on Molten Giants and survival will take some risks, but it should give you the edge you need to bring down this massive adversary.  Dealing heavy damage with the Molten Giants is key to bringing down Geddon’s gigantic health bar.  Echo of Medivh is certainly helpful in multiplying your damage output, but it isn’t required.  I was able to one-shot Geddon with a version of this deck that didn’t have any copies of Echo of Medivh.  It was as down to the wire as you can get, but it worked.  I also cut one Unstable Portal, one Ice Block, and one Ethereal Archanist, replacing them with an additional Duplicate, two Ice Barriers, and two Ancient Brewmasters.  The Brewmasters are fairly key cards for this challenge having them bounce each other to your hand is the only way you’re going to burn through your extra mana crystals in the late game.

Survival is going to be key for this fight.  With this deck, you’re going to take one hit at the start guaranteed and it’s a price you’ll have to pay to get your giants out.  That said, don’t let Geddon strike you when you can avoid it.  Antique Healbot and at least one Ice Block are going to be key to keeping you alive, while Mad Scientist will help you track down your life-saving secrets.  Frost Nova, Blizzard, and Flamestrike will give you a massive edge in controlling the board.  None of Geddon’s minions are especially tough, so using these spells at the proper time will leave him helpless.  Finally, throw in Acolyte of Pain and Arcane Intellect for card draw.  The one thing you need to be cautious of is Duplicate making copies of your Acolytes.  Not only are they weak, the excessive card draw will make fatigue a major threat.  I had the misfortune of having this happen to me twice on my run and, while it didn’t lose me the game, it certainly did more harm than good.  Try to avoid it, but compromise when you have to spend mana.

With that, you should be set to take on all of Baron Geddon’s challenges.  Be sure to check back later for the final boss of the Molten Core with Majordomo Executus and Ragnaros the Firelord himself.

Hearthstone Blackrock Mountain Guide: Defeating Garr

Garr

Rather than try and cram an entire wing into a single article, I’ve decided to tackle each boss in this week’s wing individually.  This will allow me to go into much greater detail on each of the bosses, but feel free to let me know if you preferred having all of the bosses covered in a single article in the comments below.  In the meantime, let’s get into the first boss of the new Molten Core wing for Hearthstone‘s Blackrock Mountain and go over the basic tactics that will earn you victory regardless of what cards you have in your collection.

The Molten Core pits you against Ragnaros the Firelord and his three most powerful lieutenants, starting with the obsidian elemental Garr.  His ability will deal 1 damage to all minions for only one mana and this ability will automatically activate at the start of each of Garr’s turns.  It may not seem like much, but the real threat is what he’ll have on the board.  Right at the start, Garr will have a full board of seven 0/5 Firesworn minions, each with a deathrattle ability that will deal damage to your hero for every Firesworn that dies on that turn.  You’ll need to quickly take out the Firesworn one by one in order to minimize the amount of damage they do.  If Garr is able to blow up even four or five of his own Firesworn in one go, it will be a massive blow against you.  Even if he can’t get you on the first round, he has a spell called Rock Out that will summon three new Firesworn to the board.  He also has plenty of powerful minions like Fire Elemental, Fireguard Destroyer, and Madder Bomber to finish you off, so you’re going to need plenty of survivability.

Your best bet is going to be an aggressive Warrior deck with a focus on charge and enrage.  Priest can also be very viable, but we’ll get to him later.  For Warrior, you’ll first want to put some fast plays in your deck that can eliminate the Firesworn on cue.  Your best card for this job is definitely the Fiery War Axe as it can guarantee that two of the Firespawn will go down alone without Garr’s interference.  Charge minions like Bluegill Warrior and Wolfrider will only be able to get in one hit, but it’s still worth it to use them in this fight just to keep those Firesworn under control.

The rest of your deck should take advantage of Garr’s hero power.  He has to cast it at the start of every turn, so minions that profit from taking damage are a must for this boss.  Minions like Acolyte of Pain and Amani Berserker will give you a strong edge in the fight, but one of the best minions to have is Armorsmith.  Her ability to generate armor for you whenever a friendly minion takes damage will give you all of the endurance you’ll need for this fight.  Gurubashi Berserker may seem great here, but he’ll prove too slow to keep the board under control.  The more reliable option will be that Grim Patron you just picked up in Blackrock Spire.  Ironbeak Owl can also be useful as a silence tool, but keep in mind that a silenced Firesworn will still count as a Firesworn.  It won’t have a deathrattle of its own, but it will still multiply the effects of its kin.  One last minion to consider is the Lil’ Exorcist from Goblins vs Gnomes.  With the amount of Firesworn you’ll be facing, her battlecry granting her extra attack and health for every enemy deathrattle on the board can result in a huge minion at a low cost.  Toss in a few spells like Execute, Battle Rage, and Rampage and you’ll be set to bring down Garr and  claim your Druid of the Flame card.

The Warrior class challenge against Garr will play out much like the tactics I listed above.  The only thing you should be wary of is that you’ll be stuck with about four copies of Axe Flinger and it is too slow to keep control of the board.  Save the Flingers after you’ve seized control of the game and they can help finish off Garr.  Play them too quickly and they’ll only make a dent while you get burned.  Win here and the Axe Flinger will be added to your personal collection.

Hearthstone Screenshot 04-09-15 17.10.22

Finally, there’s Garr’s heroic challenge.  He’ll start with 45 health and his Firesworn will now deal three times as much damage with their deathrattles.  There’s no doubt that he can now kill you with ease, but it is possible to bring him down on a budget with a fine Priest deck I found.  If you don’t have the exact cards for the build, here are the basics to keep in mind.  Your best chance is to get Mass Dispel early and use it to silence the full group of Firesworn.  Once silenced, they’ll pose no threat and actually be a big help to you as Garr can’t play any more minions with his board full.  Just hang onto a Circle of Healing to keep the Firesworn alive and a Silence or Ironbeak Owl in case Garr uses Mark of the Wild to buff one of his guys.  From there, just smack Garr around and you’ll have the fight in the bag.

Even if you can’t draw the Mass Dispel, this deck has plenty of options to turn the fight in your favor.  Mind Control Tech and Cabal Shadow Priest will let you give Garr a taste of his own medicine by stealing his minions from him.  It’s fun, but it won’t be enough to win you the game on it’s own.  It’s mainly to buy you time and seize control of the board.  Light of the Naaru and Earthen Ring Farseer should be reserved to keep you alive rather than preserve your minions.  Your guys can wait for the Circle of Healing to be healed; you generally need it more in this fight.  Finally, Northshire Cleric, Acolyte of Pain, and Power Word: Shield will help you with cycling through cards while Nerubian and Lil’ Exorcist will be your main damage-dealers.  If you can’t build the exact deck, Injured Blademaster can be a suitable substitute for most cards.  However, you will need to build most of the deck in order to stand a chance.  Heroic mode is not for the faint of heart, but it will wait around if you need to stock up your collection.

Molten Core is only just beginning.  Stay tuned for the detailed guide for taking down Baron Geddon next time.  Once again, let me know what you think of breaking up these guides into individual bosses.  If there’s a demand to pool the entire wings into single articles, I’ll cover all of the remaining challenges for Molten Core in the next one.  Until then, good luck with completing your collection.

Hearthstone Guide: Bosses of Blackrock Depths

Blackrock

The first wing of the Blackrock Mountain adventure for Hearthstone has arrived.  Blackrock Depths has three new bosses, two new class challenges, and plenty of new cards to collect.  This guide will take you through all the challenges and how to dominate them.  Once you own a wing, you’ll be able to fight the bosses within as many times as you like and the cards are as good as yours.  However, there can be a lot of trial and error involved.  Now you can breeze through them with surefire tactics that will get all of the new cards into your collection immediately.

First stop is the Grim Guzzler for a bar fight with Coren Direbrew and his crew of Dark Iron Dwarves.  Be careful as it looks like everything from Succubus to Venture Co. Mercenary has stopped in for a drink.  Coren’s hero power is Pile On and will automatically use it to summon a random minion from the deck to the board both for himself and for you.  You can easily use this to your advantage by loading your deck with the biggest minions you own and damage-dealing spells to control the board.  Druid is easily your best option at building a powerful deck.  Massive minions like Boulderfist Ogre, Force Tank MAX, and Ironbark Protector will rule the board once summoned, but you should also keep a couple Chillwind Yetis that can be played on their own once drawn.  Anything smaller will just put you behind.  Damaging spells like Wrath, Starfire and Starfall will help you bring down Coren’s buddies, but you should also run Innervate and Wild Growth to keep your mana high and prevent your hand from filling up with costly minions you can’t play.  The one thing you want to cautious about is that Coren has the Brawl spell, which kills all but one minion on the board, and his exclusive Dark Iron Bouncer automatically wins this otherwise random outcome.  Be careful against flooding the board and losing too many minions to Brawl.  Follow these guidelines and the Grim Patron card will be yours.

Hearthstone Screenshot 04-02-15 21.48.26

Your next challenge is the Dark Iron Arena with High Justice Grimstone.  His hero power, Jeering Crowd, summons a 1/1 with taunt for only 1 mana and his deck is filled entirely with legendary minions.  That sounds scary, but legendaries are generally slow and he’ll often be stuck without a play for the first few turns.  An aggressive Hunter deck with low cost minions like Knife Juggler and Abusive Sergeant should kill him faster than he can bring out his nastiest fighters.  Spells like Freezing Trap and Deadly Shot will help you keep up if he does manage to bring out anything troublesome.  It’s a fun encounter, but not especially difficult.  The Rogue’s new Gang Up spell awaits you at the end of the arena.

The last boss fight with the Dark Iron Emperor is undoubtedly the most intimidating.  Emperor Thaurissan’s hero power deals 30 damage for only 2 mana, meaning he can kill you in one turn with ease.  Fortunately, he starts the battle with Moira Bronzebeard on his side of the board and she prevents him from using his hero power and cannot attack minions unless they have taunt.  Obviously, you need to keep her alive to stop Thaurissan from instantly destroying you.  As a result, your deck shouldn’t contain any AoE or strong taunt minions that could kill her.  Small taunts like Annoy-o-Tron and Mirror Image can be useful, but anything bigger is too risky.  Your biggest concern is Thaurissan’s own AoE effects with cards like Unstable Ghoul, Death’s Bite, and Abomination.  Silence and freezing effects combined with a cast of mostly small, aggressive minions in a Mage deck will make for a strong build for bringing the emperor down.  Thaurissan is armed with many cheap imps to flood the board, so you’ll need to keep up with his early game without risking Moira going down.  Your prizes will be the Priest’s Resurrect and Emperor Thaurissan’s legendary card.

Starting off the class challenges is the Hunter challenge against Coren.  Coren still has the same deck as the boss fight, but your deck will be premade for you with an emphasis on beasts.  I wish I could give you strategy for this one, but it mostly comes down to the luck of the draw with the Pile On effect.  The best advice I can give you is to hang onto spells and cheap minions with your opening hand.  Hanging on to the Houndmaster in your starting hand may be a good idea as well as its battlecry won’t trigger if it’s summoned from the deck.  It will probably take you a couple of attempts, but intelligent plays will get you through.  The fearsome Quick Shot spell waits at the end of the brawl.

Hearthstone Screenshot 04-02-15 21.38.28

The Mage class challenge pits you against Grimstone armed only with a deck of thirty Unstable Portal spells.  The 2-mana spell will put a random minion card into your hand with a 3 mana discount included and it could be any collectible minion in the entire game.  This challenge is even more unpredictable and your success will be based entirely around the cards you get.  Strategy is essentially impossible and you’ll just have to make the most of what you get.  This challenge is definitely a joke, but at least it can only delay your journey to getting new cards.  Keep at it and you’ll win the Dragon’s Breath spell for Mage and complete your collection for this wing.

Finally, we have the heroic challenges.  There are no cards to earn with the heroic challenges, just an exclusive card back once you’ve beaten everyone in Blackrock Mountain.  These are intended as an extra challenge for expert players and can be skipped without concern.  Each of these will be extremely difficult, even with optimized decks.  Coren will start the battle with 15 armor and his hero power summons two minions from his deck and only one for you.  It’s very easy for the game to spiral out of control with the number of large minions that he’ll call in.  Your best bet is to build a Mage deck with the same large minions you brought to the boss fight and a variety of spells with freezing effects.  Spells like Frost Nova and Blizzard will let you seize control of the tempo of the game.  You’ll probably need a few legendaries to really stand a chance and it may take you  a few attempts, but he can go down fairly easily.

Grimstone’s heroic challenge is where things get insane.  Not only does he start with 15 armor and his hero power is now free, he also starts the match with 4 mana on his first turn.  Sadly, for those of you playing on a budget, there’s no way of getting through this one without a few epics and legendaries of your own to keep up with his incredibly powerful plays.  Again, the Heroic challenges are meant more for seasoned players than those just starting out.  Freeze Mage, a popular deck utilizing cards like Frost Nova, Doomsayer, and Mirror Entity, is a pretty strong method of taking on the legends of the arena.  Legendaries like Alexstrasza and Archmage Antonidas are going to be important for dealing the final blow.

Finally, Thaurissan’s heroic challenge starts him with 15 armor (seems to be a theme with these dwarves) and Moira is a 3/1 instead of a 1/3.  Again, AoE is unusable as protecting Moira is top-priority.  Your best bet will probably be a Priest deck armed with Crazed Alchemist that can buff and heal Moira.  However, Alexstrasza may be needed for this strategy to get Thaurissan’s health low enough to beat him.

That wraps it up for this wing of Blackrock Mountain.  Let us know what your favorite encounters and cards were for this set and what you’re looking forward to in the next wing.

Blackrock Mountain Cards Preview #5

Blackrock

This is the grand finale of cards that will be added in Hearthstone‘s Blackrock Mountain adventure.  This will cover all of the remaining class cards, including both Paladin cards.  Also, be sure to check on all of the previous articles on Blackrock to get completely caught up on all of the cards: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4; Part 5.

DragonConsort

If you’re looking for a class to run dragons with, Dragon Consort just helped you make a decision.  This Paladin minion is good just as a 5/5 dragon for 5 mana, but the battlecry makes this card pretty crazy.  Note that the card doesn’t specify the turn it’s played, so that 2 mana discount will stick around until you spend it on a dragon with it.  If anything in this expansion is going to make dragon decks a thing, it’s this card.

SolemnVigil

Paladin has been needing some more card draw options and Solemn Vigil does a pretty good job.  On its own, it’s just a worse Arcane Intellect, but no class is better at expendable minions than Paladin and getting the cost of this card down won’t be hard.  Run this alongside Muster for Battle, Haunted Creeper, and other good token cards and you’ve got a pretty strong deck.

Demonwrath

Whether Demonwrath is a better or worse version of Hellfire is going to depend on the deck you run it in.  If you’re running a demon deck, it’s great as a cheap area-of-effect spell that can give you a big lead.  It also works with non-demon deathrattle minions like Nerubian Egg and Loothoarder.  It may not be a good pick for arena, but there are definitely plays to be made with it in constructed.

FireguardDestroyer

FINALLY!  A 4 mana 3/6 minion for someone other than Mage!  That stat line alone makes this one of the best cards in the expansion.  Water Elemental was the only card to have such a strong body to it from the start and it’s about time another class got to use a minion this tough.  Actually, this is a 4 mana 4/6 in the worst case scenario and a 7/6 at best.  There is that overload to consider, but that’s a small price to pay for such a powerful body.  With Lava Shock entering the game, that overload is even less concerning.  Fireguard Destroyer is definitely worth running.

Revenge

BLIZZARD, PLEASE, LEAVE WARRIOR ALONE!  I fell in love with Control Warrior recently, but Goblins vs Gnomes made the class significantly weaker.  In constructed, aggro decks became far to fast for Warriors to keep up with.  In arena, every new Warrior card save for Shieldmaiden was bad for the mode’s board control meta.  Between Axe Flinger and this worse version of Whirlwind, Warrior is only going to become even weaker with Blackrock.  Revenge is far too situational and Warrior already has enough AoE options that there’s no point to trying to fit it into your deck.  At this point, Warrior would be better off not getting new cards at all.

TwilightWhelp

LOOK AT THIS ADORABLE LITTLE GUY!  I don’t care if he’s arguably a worse version of Zombie Chow, he’s just so cute!  In all seriousness, this card probably isn’t going to see much play as Zombie Chow already gives Priest a 1 mana 2/3 that doesn’t demand a lot of dragons and can synergize with Auchenai Soulpriest in the late game.   While he may not have the downside of healing your opponent when you don’t have Auchenai, it’s still a worst topdeck than the zombie and just about any other card in the game.  On the plus side, I promise not to abuse caps lock for the rest of this article.

VolcanicLumberer

On the one hand, Volcanic Lumberer is a worse Ironbark Protector on its own.  However, cards like Force of Nature and archetypes like Token Druid can make it very easy to cheaply summon.  Even with that, it’s still a fairly situational card and may not be practical even in decks built around it.  It has potential, but we’ll need to see how it plays out in practice to see how viable it really is.

That does it for the Blackrock previews.  Keep an eye out for boss guides to hit once the adventure releases this week.

Blackrock Mountain Cards Preview #4

Cards

With Blackrock Mountain releasing its first wing this week, Blizzard has revealed all of the cards that will be added into Hearthstone with the new adventure.  I’ll go over seven of the new cards that have been revealed in this article with the remaining seven covered in one last article.  We’ll look at the three remaining legendaries and some of the first cards that will be released with the expansion.  Some look like guaranteed mainstays in the new meta game, while others make for better comic relief than competitive cards.  Either way, fun times abound.

Emperor_Thaurissan

First up is Emperor Thaurissan, the first legendary that we’ll get and easily the best.  His stat line may be a little undervalued for the cost, but his ability to reduce the mana costs of the cards in your hand makes up for it.  Since it triggers at the end of your turn, you’re guaranteed to get some value out of him.  There’s also the fact that there aren’t too many great turn 6 plays in the game already.  I have no doubts that Thaurissan will enjoy the same kind of popularity as Naxxramas‘ Loatheb as there simply isn’t a deck that he’s bad in.

Majordomo_Executus

This guy is hilarious, but also extremely impractical.  When Majordomo Executus dies, your hero will be replaced with Ragnaros the Firelord and your hero power will now deal 8 damage to a random enemy.  It sounds awesome, but then you realize that Ragnaros only has 8 health and this transformation leaves you extremely vulnerable.  It could act as a heal if you’re desperately low on health, but it will only get you so much and you can’t heal higher than 8 afterwards.  This could have some potential in Warrior with the aid of armor for added surviability, but will most certainly be relegated to joke card in all other scenarios.

Chromaggus

Chromaggus straddles the line between being good and being goofy.  On the one hand, his stat line isn’t great and his effect has a good deal of randomness to it.  On the other hand, the simple virtue of having more cards in your hand than your opponent is a major advantage.  In control-focused decks, he could be viable as a late-game asset that keeps your resources plentiful.  However, he may not be practical enough for many decks.

Gang_Up

The new Rogue spell, Gang Up, certainly isn’t a card that many competitive decks can fit in.  Getting three minions of your choice from what’s currently on the board sounds nice, but you still need to draw into them afterward and this can cost you a great deal of tempo.  However, it will be great in a certain type of joke deck called Mill Rogue.  Mill is the tactic of intentionally filling your opponents hand inorder to burn their most important cards and to kill your opponent with fatigue damage once their deck runs out.  One weakness of the deck is that you tend to burn yourself out as quickly as your opponent, so a card that increases the size of your deck would certainly be useful.  It’s not a great card, but I’m definitely glad to have it.

Resurrect

Randomness is a factor in the Priest’s Resurrect spell, but it may still be viable at a competitive level.  Odds are fairly good that you’ll get at least a 2 mana minion and that will be decent value.  If you get anything bigger, then this card is incredible.  The biggest problem is that the odds will depend on the minions that your opponent is using and high aggression with smaller minions is very popular at the moment.  It’s a good card, but now might not be the best time for it.  Oh, and speaking of aggro…

UPDATE: I JUST noticed that the card specifies friendly minions, so my problem with getting a bad minion from your opponent is not actually an issue.  This card is 100% awesome.

Quick_Shot

Raise your hand if you hate face-damage Hunters!  Quick Shot is strong just as a 3 damage spell for 2 mana, but the added effect of card draw when your hand is empty makes this insane as a late-game topdeck.  Your best hope is to try and bait your opponent into spending it in the early game where it will still get good value but won’t lock down a win.  Otherwise, the nightmare of your opponent drawing into lethal has just gotten worse.  Hunter is currently incredibly strong and this card is only going to make them more powerful than ever before.

Druid_of_the_Flame

Finally, we have Druid of the Flame, a 3 mana 2/5 for Druid.  You have option of making it a 5/2, but you’re never going to.  It’s okay, but pretty bland for a class exclusive minion.  It is worth noting that transformation is immune to silence, so whichever buff you pick will stick.  Also, both forms count as beasts, so this may encourage players to use Druid of the Fang more.  It’s not going to set the world on fire, but it can be viable in most decks.

There are only seven more cards to cover and they’ll be here soon.  Until then, let us know which cards you’re most excited to play with.