With bangs, whistles and connection problems on opening night, Curse of Naxxramas, the first expansion for the wildly successful F2P card game Hearthstone finally got released. The Necropolis opened the first of its wings, the Arachnid one, and the good news is that if you unlock it now, you get it for free. If you wait too much, it will cost as much as the other 4 which will come out during the next 4 weeks: 700 gold or a few Euros real money.
Within it, you will find 3 play types, 3 bosses and 4 types of unlockable cards (one for each boss + one legendary for beating all 3). Firstly, let’s talk about the most straightforward one, Class Challenge. Each week, 2 class challenges will unlock (this week, it’s Druid and Rogue). In each case, you will have to take on a boss of that week’s wing with a deck not of your choosing. If you win, you will unlock the new class cards for the one you are playing. If you play your cards well, this really isn’t much of a challenge. The two class cards are:
Let’s move on to the raid itself, where things get interesting.
The first boss, Anub’Rekhan, one of Anub’Arak’s distant cousins twice removed, or something, is a giant ass spider with the ability to summon a 3/1 Nerubian. It is a pretty weak ability all things considered, however it can spiral out of control if you ignore board control. Among his minions, we find spiders, gargoyles and a couple of taunts, nothing really that impressive (although the 2/8 Deathlord can be annoying). As for spells, he has Frostbolt, Mortal Coil and Shadowflame, not to mention his own unique spell, Locust Swarm.
As reward for defeating him, you receive
The next boss which comes your way is Grand Widow Faerlina, with the ability to randomly fire missiles at you and your minions, depending on how many cards you have in hand.
Her cards point to a type of Warrior/Warlock hybrid, combining unique minions which give her attack power each round, Hellfire and Rampage. The trick for this one is to empty your hand as fast as possible, or else it will turn out extremely painful for you. For your troubles, after defeating her you receive
The last boss of this wing is the mighty spider Maexxna, with the ability to return one of your minions to your hand. A pretty annoying ability, late game, however useful when you’re playing minions with Battlecries. This boss has a deck packed with minions, and a spell which can destroy a minion for 2 mana. Board control is recommended.
After defeating this last boss, you get 2 cards:
Now that we’ve finished exploring Normal Mode, let’s talk a bit about Heroic. It’s hard. Really hard. It’s not the kind of place to come unprepared (Illidain told you so). I mean, just look at these boss abilities:
Clearly for each of these bosses a strategy must be followed. You can’t just bring your plain old Zoolock into this and expect to succeed on your first try. By the way, the Grand Widow’s minion which gave her 1 power attack per turn in Normal? It gives her 3 now. To survive that, you will need to freeze her, or else the power will stack and in a few turns you will die.
In any case, each boss is hard and the Blizzard dev team wasn’t kidding when they said that the Heroic mode will be quite challenging.
So, let’s draw a line and sum up what we have in the first week. We have 6 new unlockable cards(most of them good or above), 3 decent bosses on Normal and very hard on Heroic, a Class Challenge mode which feels a bit like Arena when it comes to the chosen decks and 4 more wings to look forward to.
I would call this expansion a success. Heroic mode gives provides players with a huge challenge to overcome, which requires multiple tries and multiple tweaks to make the deck work (in some cases, even abandoning the deck idea and grabbing hold of a new one). The short lines of dialogue which describe each boss provide the player with a little humor to offset the possible frustration felt following multiple failures to beat a boss. The new Naxxramas board looks fitting and provides multiple interactive parts.
It’s already started to freshen the atmosphere and give rise to new combos or play options. I can only imagine how awesome it will be when all cards will be available. Until then, keep raiding, Hearthstoneers! Cheers!