Hearthstone Guide: Defeating The Crone

The opera house has plenty of unique new challenges for the One Night in Karazhan adventure with its grand finale being a battle with the Wizard of Oz homage, The Crone.  Much like the fight with Emperor Thaurissan in Blackrock Mountain, The Crone’s hero power can kill you in one shot and the only thing stopping it is the survival of a specific minion.  In this case, it’s Dorothee who will stand on your side of the board and offer buffs to your minions.  All minions to the left of Dorothee will gain charge and all to her right will gain taunt.  These effects will immediately make almost any deck incredibly powerful and this will be one of the easier bosses on normal difficulty.

One quick route to victory is to simply build a deck of all your best taunt minions, place them all to the left of Dorothee, and just go for the face.  Only trade when it’s absolutely necessary to protect Dorothee and be sure to have a range of minions rather than simply going for a zoo deck as that can leave you vulnerable to the Abominations that The Crone has.  Keep in mind that The Crone has plenty of buffs like Blessing of Kings and Power of the Wild, so be prepared for those types of bursts.  Also, remember to change your deck for the encounter to Wild as all cards are legal against the bosses.

On heroic difficulty, things get a lot trickier as The Crone not only has 50 health, but is also putting you on an eight-turn timer.  On turn eight, The Crone is guaranteed to draw Twisting Nether and will use it for a  guaranteed kill on Dorothee and, by extension, you.  I played several matches to test it and she topdecked the card every time without fail.  It’s possible to buy yourself an extra turn with Loatheb or Counterspell, but the fact remains that you need to be able to bring The Crone down fast.

One of your best bets for bringing down the wicked witch is to build a Warlock deck with a focus on strong stat lines for low costs.  Cards like Duskboar and Ancient Watcher are generally what you’re going to want to focus on.  What makes Warlock particularly potent is that it has minions like Flame Imp, Wrathguard, and Pit Lord that trade your health for powerful stats.  Since the crone is going to focus exclusively on attacking Dorothee, so your own health is irrelevant.  Warlock also has plenty of sticky minions like Imp Master and Possessed Villager that provide plenty of protection.

Another potent tactic is to play Priest and cast Inner Fire on Dorothee.  You’ll still need plenty of minions with strong stats to keep her safe, such as the neutral ones mentioned earlier.  You’ll also want card draw as your strategy will be built entirely around this one spell and you’ll struggle without it.  However, you do have unlimited attempts at the boss, so just keep trying until you get lucky.

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There are all the tactics you’ll need to turn The Crone into a green puddle.  Maybe you’ll catch her in a charitable mood and she’ll spend her buffs on your minions.  Seriously, the above image is just one of three separate occasions where she just gave me the match for no real reason.  Hearthstone A.I. is just the best.

Speculating Street Fighter V’s New Boss Character

The roster for Street Fighter V is nearing completion with only a couple more characters awaiting their reveals.  Karin, Zangief, and newcomer Laura were officially revealed recently, with Laura being accidentally leaked by Famitsu early.  Capcom has stated that there will be sixteen playable characters in Street Fighter V‘s initial roster and more will be added post-release in a League of Legends type of ongoing service.  They’ve also stated that, of the sixteen characters, eight will be series regulars, four will be veterans that have been out of the fight for some time, and four will be entirely new.  With the most recent reveals, we now know seven of the eight all-stars (Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li, Zangief, M. Bison (dictator), Vega (claw), and Cammy), three of the newcomers (Necalli, Rashid, and Laura), and all four of the returning veterans (Charlie Nash, Birdie, Rainbow Mika, and Karin).  This leaves only one all-star and one newcomer for the initial roster.  However, the remaining characters may already be known as all of these reveals line up well with a supposed leak that was originally released on the forums of popular Street Fighter fan-site Shoryuken.com.

The leak was posted three months ago and claimed that R. Mika, Zangief, Sim (supposedly referring to Dhalsim), Juri, Karin, Ken, Urien, Alex, Laura, Rashid, and Zen would be on Street Fighter V‘s roster before any of those characters had been confirmed.  Initially, I shrugged the leak off as it not only failed to mention Vega and Necalli, but it also contradicted with the number of characters that Capcom themselves claimed would be in the game.  Even when Rashid was revealed, I still wasn’t convinced and chalked it up as a lucky guess.  Dozens of fake leaks are released regularly and, while Rashid isn’t the most common name, it’s still possible that someone just got lucky.  However, now that Laura has also been revealed, it lines up too well to be called a mere coincidence.  Taking the Shoryuken leak as real, that makes Dhalsim the last veteran character (so much for my Necro prediction) and Zen as the last newcomer and is also referred to as the new boss character in the leak.  Unfortunately, it turns out that executive producer Yoshinori Ono really was playing a trick when he heavily hinted at Blanka being announced at the Brasil Game Show.

However, what about the three characters left over?  Unless the roster has changed mid-development or the stated number of characters was an outright lie, there isn’t enough room in the plan for Juri, Alex, and Urien to join the cast.  Well, the simple explanation is that these characters won’t be in the initial line-up, but rather are the first ones in line to be added post-release.  One of them may even be announced near launch as a free preorder bonus.  There is an event scheduled at New York Comic Con that would be the perfect place to reveal the all-American Alex.  I doubt anyone would be used as a preorder exclusive given that Capcom knows how much they’ve burned their fans with on-disc DLC in the past and they are in no position to garner more bad press for themselves.  After all, the only reason Street Fighter V is being developed at all right now is because Sony offered to help publish it.  More likely, preordering would get you a voucher for a specific character that would have to be unlocked with either grinding or microtransactions otherwise.  Then again, never underestimate a major game developer’s ability to dig its own grave.

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The one major mystery surrounding the roster is the identity of the supposed new boss, Zen.  With such an innocuous name, Zen’s playstyle, personality, and even gender are all anyone’s guess.  However, I think we may have already seen Zen and can deduce some of his abilities.  In Street Fighter IV,  Shadaloo enforcer and former boxing champ Balrog decides to go rouge in order to steal Shadaloo tech and sell it for his own gain.  In the end, all he walks away with is a mysterious child experimented on by SF4’s main antagonist,  Seth.  It’s my guess that this child is Zen and he will appear in Street Fighter V all grown up and in control of his latent powers.

Being raised by Balrog, Zen would likely be a boxer and the roster is still in need of one.  Having a boxer as the new boss would be an interesting twist, and he has his mysterious powers to differentiate him from Balrog and Dudley and make him stand out as a boss character.  Given that he was found in the same facility that created Seth, a creature made up of the best moves of all the other Street Fighter characters, the possibilities for his powers are essentially limitless.  He could mix up his pugilism with projectiles, spacing techniques, barriers, or who knows what.  Just having a straight-forward boxer wouldn’t be much of a boss, so Zen will definitely have some overwhelming abilities to put him on the level of Akuma and Gill.  Once again, I want to emphasize that this is all just wild speculation on my part and Zen could just as easily be an entirely new character unrelated to anyone or anything we’ve seen before.  Zen could very well be a space alien with three legs and shoots lasers from its eyes for all we really know.  Before you call that ridiculous, keep in mind that Street Fighter has never been shy about casually throwing around monster men like Blanka and Necro.  I just think Balrog’s ending from SF4 feels too much like foreshadowing of events we’ll see play out in SF5 to ignore.

Who do you think will be the new boss character for Street Fighter V?  Who do you want to have join the post-release roster first?  Do you have any lingering concerns as we approach the game’s release?  Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.

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.

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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)