The League of Explorers Announced for Hearthstone, Launching Next Week

With how much The Grand Tournament expansion resembled the Argent Tournament event from World of Warcraft, everyone was expecting the next Hearthstone adventure to be based on Icecrown Citadel and the battle against Lich King Arthas.  Instead, players will be joining up with the famous Brann Bronzebeard and his Explorer’s League to trek through the untamed wilds of Azeroth in search of ancient treasures.  The League of Explorers promises a wide variety of PvE challenges as players journey to various exotic locations with the titular explorers coaching them all the way.

For the explorers, there is obviously the prestigious dwarf Brann Bronzebeard of the regal Bronzebeard brothers.  Brann is one of Azeroth’s greatest explorers and archaeologists and has done his fair share to save the world in various major events in World of Warcraft.  Joining him on this new quest are three new explorers being introduced with the expansion.  There’s the genius night elf Elise Starseeker, the brash human Reno Jackson, and the dignified murloc Sir Finley Mrrgglton.  Of course, these renowned adventures will be joining your collection of cards as new legendaries, such as Elise Starseeker being a 4 mana 3/5 that adds the Map to the Golden Monkey card to your deck.  Map to the Golden Monkey is a 2 mana spell that draws a card and adds the Golden Monkey to your deck.  Once you finally get the Golden Monkey, it is a 4 mana 6/6 with taunt and the most insane battlecry in the game to date: Replace the cards in your hand and deck with random legendary cards.  While the randomness might not make it a competitive card at the highest levels, especially for any combo deck, it’s certainly not a bad card and will be a must-have for any joke deck.

There are plenty of other cards to obtain in the new adventure, such as the new Hunter spell Explorer’s Hat.  For 2 mana, you can give a minion +1/+1 and a deathrattle effect that adds another Explorer’s Hat to your hand.  It sounds like a great deal, but that 2 mana can be a serious toll on your tempo given how little impact it makes on the board.  It will certainly be a good card for control decks, but it looks too slow to improve aggro decks.  The expansion will also add a new keyword into the game called ‘discover’, which generates three random cards following a certain condition and lets you select one to add to your hand.  For example, the Jeweled Scarab is a 1/1 beast for 2 mana that discovers a 3 mana card.  These cards aren’t taken from your deck, but can be any neutral card or any minion or spell from your class.

There are plenty more cards being spotted at demonstrations during Blizzcon, such as Brann himself being a 3 mana 2/4 that causes your battlecries to trigger twice and a new Paladin secret called Sacred Trial that destroys a minion played by your opponent if they already have three or more minions on the board.  Amazingly, The League of Explorers is right around the corner with the first wing releasing next Thursday.  What are your thoughts on Hearthstone‘s latest adventure?  Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.

Blackrock Mountain Adventure Revealed for Hearthstone

Blackrock Mountain

Blizzard’s PAX East panel had plenty of major announcements for their free-to-play games, but the biggest announcement was certainly for Hearthstone.  Along with showing off the new interface that will be used when the game is officially brought to smart phones, there was also the reveal of a new PvE adventure.  Blackrock Mountain will task players with fighting seventeen bosses across five wings with 31 new cards to earn as rewards.  For an active volcano, Blackrock has a surprisingly large population filled with Dark Iron dwarves, Blackrock Orcs, fire elementals, and dragons, and you’re going to have to go through all of them if you want your cards.  For example, the first boss fight takes you to the Grim Guzzler tavern for a bar fight with Dark Iron dwarf Coren Direbrew with his ability to automatically summon a random minion from the deck for both himself and for you at the start of each of his turns.  Expect plenty of unique and mindbending hero powers like that to test your tactics in the upcoming boss fights.

Five of the new collectible cards were revealed for the expansion, such as the Rogue exclusive Dark Iron Skulker that is a 4/3 for 5 mana that deals 2 damage to all undamaged enemy minions when played.  It functions like a boardwide version of the Backstab spell that can instantly clear a Zoolock swarm.  However, tougher minions will be able to shrug it off and proper timing will be vital to garner a devastating effect.  The class neutral Grim Patron, most likely the reward for beating Direbrew, is the embodiment of a bar brawl with the ability to summon a buddy every time he takes damage without dying.  Those duplicate Patrons will have the same effect, offering an ability to flood the board with just one card.  The downside is that he is a 3/3 for 5 mana, so actually getting a swarm of drunken dwarves going is easier said than done.

The biggest addition with the new cards is the introduction of dragon synergy.  Dragon-type minions have always been in the game, but there haven’t been any cards that take advantage of that like there are with beast, demon, and mech minions.  Blackrock will fix that with cards like the Blackwing Technician, a 2/4 for 3 mana that gains +1/+1 if you play it while holding a dragon in your hand.  Given that most dragons have high mana costs, this card will give you a benefit to drawing one of them early with an very powerful stat line.  At the same time, it also gives your opponent a clue to what cards your holding onto and what plays you might have planned down the line.  There is also the legendary Rend Blackhand, who has a terrible 8/4 for 7 mana stat line, but can instantly destroy another legendary minion when played if you have a dragon in your hand.  It’s certainly a situational card, but it can offer some incredible plays in just the right setup.  Of course, there will be new dragon cards as well, like the Hungry Dragon that has an insane 5/6 for 4 mana stat line, but creates a random 1 mana minion for your opponent.  Depending on what minion is summoned and what your opponent has available, this could either be devastating or a worse Lost Tallstrider.

Along with new cards comes a new game board to play on.  The Blackrock Mountain board will be used as the backdrop for all of the boss fights and will be added into the rotation of boards used in online matches.  The new board is very thematic of the Dark Iron dwarves with flowing magma and blacksmithing materials to play around with while waiting for your opponent to finish their turn.  Heroic missions also return for more difficult versions of the bosses and an exclusive Nefarian cardback waiting as your reward for beating them all.

Like Curse of Naxxramas, Blackrock Mountain will be priced at $24.99 in total or $6.99 for each individual wing.  Wings can also be purchased with 700 gold.  Blackrock will be open to preorders on March 19th and preordering will get you the exclusive Molten Core cardback.  If you want to save some cash and are willing to give up on that exclusive cardback, the first wing will likely be free for a limited time as was done when Curse of Naxxramas was first released.  Blizzard hasn’t officially confirmed or denied that they will be repeating this practice, but that might be to encourage preorders.  Blackrock Mountain is scheduled for release next month.  You can check out the expansion’s official website here.