Hearthstone's New Add-On Makes A Great Game Greater

Mario Kart is a blast and the Destiny beta is everywhere, but the one multiplayer game that's made the most impact on me is Hearthstone, a video game about the power of zoos.

Really, Blizzard's digital card game is one of the best games of the year — it's addictive, accessible, and full of moments that seem designed just to get the endorphins rushing (like that gold smoke that pops up in the card-opening menu just when you're about to get a sweet new Legendary).

And now, thanks to Curse of Naxxramas--which launched this week and will continue expanding through August — Hearthstone's got a single-player mode. Blizzard's multiplayer game now has its very own campaign.

So what does that mean, exactly? For starters, don't expect a story — Hearthstone is still all about card battling, and unlike Blizzard's other big games, this one doesn't even bother with emotional moments or an intricate plot. The shtick is this: you're going to fight a bunch of spiders with cards. That's it.

Single-player in the world of Hearthstone means doing the same thing you do in multiplayer — casting spells and summoning minions to take down your opponent's spells and minions — but instead of playing against another person, you're playing against a computer.

Now what's cool about Naxxramas, which I've been playing around with this week, is that the AI opponents are totally overpowered. The first wing of Naxx includes three bosses, all of whom have rigged special powers (like a three-mana ability that sends your minions back to your hand) and crazy new cards. So instead of using the decks you might use to take on human-controlled mages, rogues, and priests, you've gotta come up with new strategies, most of which involve trying to control an insane number of ever-respawning spiders.

The whole thing is relatively easy at first, but once you defeat all three bosses on Normal mode, you get to beat them all again on Heroic mode, which is like Hearthstone on speed. Since Hearthstone is already digital crack, this is probably a dangerous combination of drugs that should not be consumed by anyone.

I won't spoil much about the bosses and the strategies you'll need to defeat them, because figuring it out on your own is part of the fun, but you've gotta put yourself in a totally different head-space than you'd use for standard battling or even Arena mode, and that in itself is enough of a reason to download Naxxramas and test it out. (Plus there's the whole "get a crapload of overpowered new cards" thing.)

If there's one complaint I have about Naxx — other than the lack of rewards in Heroic mode — it's that there's something a little bit off about the tone. The bosses are all deadly serious, threatening your life with hisses and insults, but the ever-present lich Kel'Thuzad — a tough boss in World of Warcraft — comes off more wise-cracking blogger than bone-chilling wizard. Some of his comments — "Sea Giant?? Maexxna. that is not on my approved card list!" — are hilarious, but also sort of... dissonant.

Still, this game is a blast. Over the next four weeks, Naxxramas will continue opening up new wings, and while the first section is totally free — you can get it now on your computer or iPad, no catch — the other four will be $US7/pop (or $US20 as a bundle). If you're into Hearthstone, I can't see why you wouldn't.


    You won't need to do much if any deck modelling for normal mode. My Hunter struggled a little with the first two and completely annihilated the third.

    The harder mode is insane though. Absolutely insane. I made it to turn 8 against boss one before my cards crumbled in my hands (my poor mouse).

    [edit] I've also found sacrificing late game monsters for removal against zoo-warlock makes the players chances a lot better. Seems to balance alright against other decks as well. Just have to coax Mage into flame strike when the time comes.

    Last edited 26/07/14 9:53 am

    I think they've done a great job with Naxx. The class challenges could have been tougher though, more puzzle-like, it would be good even if there was a heroic mode for them just for fun.

    I had a lot of fun with the heroic mode. It took me quite a few attempts for two of the bosses.

    Anub'Rekhan, the summon a 4/4 hero power guy, was probably the most difficult for me and I ended up using a feeze mage. I was up to turn 7 and hadn't drawn Alextrasa yet who was the star of the deck and was going to smash 30 health off of the boss. I saw an opportunity to wipe the boss's board with a Flamestrike so I did it, taking out his Deathlord. The deathrattle summoned my Alextrasa. without her battlecry. It was a mad rush then to chip away 45 health before I ran out of Ice Barriers and Ice Blocks. I ended up drawing into enough spells to finish him though, lucky I didn't go with my gut instinct and instant concede when Alexstrasa popped out.

    Also, I think it's worth mentioning that all of the new content can be acquired using the in-game currency as well. The article mentions only real money which may mislead some people. Each new wing will be available for 700 gold which isn't a huge amount, even casual players that just log in for their daily quests will be able to acquire that much soon enough. With a bit of dedication you could easily save 700 in a week - and I doubt these wings will actually open on a weekly basis.

    Last edited 26/07/14 11:22 am

    Yeah, normal is easy. The first two bosses I lost the first round, learning what they do. But the third I wiped out.

    Last edited 26/07/14 1:33 pm

    Beat the whole thing in about an 45 minutes. Lost once to the last heroic and once to poor draw on rogue challenge. I'm genuinely starting believe I'm seriously Dunning Kruger with this game, the other end of their scale that is, where you mistakenly assume everyone else is equally as knowledgeable/skilled as you. I just can't continue to believe that people think I'm being #hipster or 'joking' when I comment on how infinitely simple a game hearthstone is. Any critical thinking is purely down to basic math, and the only skill it hinges on is your ability to memorise decklists, which is impressive enough sure, but not very interesting. The rest is down to probability.

    I'm aware I'm a complete broken record at this point, but just as much as people can't believe I think 4-5 months? wait for what will add up to about 4 hours playtime at best okay content that's too short, I people can't believe people are actually so into the idea of hearthstone as competetive and naxx as 'great.'
    PS: Despite the fact the heroic modes are incredibly easy anyway, throwing horribly inbalanced odds in favour of the AI is hardly game design I'd want to promote. They should contact whoever made that bot that reached rank 4 instead.

      Your whole post was self-masturbatory garbage.

        self-masturbatory garbage

        New fav phrase for the week. That is up there with FIGJAM.

    my biggest disapointment with this game is it is on the battlenet platform, and i cannot add or play my family and friends scattered around the world. why they have server segregation in a game like this is beyond me. bloody stupid.

      Yer its a failure to the success of wow. The server infrastructure was built up from isolated regions which were never intended to cross communicate. There is a glimmer of hope as seen in Diablo 3 where we are dynamically assigned to local instance servers or remote based on who creates the game.

      Hopefully they can continue to improve their server tech and extend this capability to all games (past and present - fuck wow would be like a different game with local servers imo).

    Alexstrasza + frost mage = easy heroic bosses

      Yeah, not for the middle lady boss on Heroic though, she's tough

        Zoo beats her pretty easily too, keep that hand empty :)

    Seeing as this is Kotaku.au, shouldn't you change the prices to reflect the Australian cost of the wings/bundle? $8.99 for each or $24.99 for the bundle (excludes first wing as it's free).

    I've thoroughly been enjoying the expansion so far, the heroic challenges were great and really made me think when deck building about how to beat them.

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