Originally published at: http://gamertime.co.uk/blackrock-mountain-a-hearthstone-adventure-review-part-one/
Blizzard fans everywhere rejoice, for there is a new Hearthstone Adventure available!
As many of you will be aware, Blizzard (World of Warcraft, Starcraft and Diablo Creators, for anyone unsure) branched out from their normal MMO style last year and released the tactical card game Hearthstone.
Many were skeptical and many believed the game would just end up being a rip off of Magic: The Gathering. However, the game destroyed all those beliefs immediately and became massively popular both within the Blizzard fan base and outside it.
I, for one, didn’t have great expectations and though I am a fan of World of Warcraft, I am have not completely sold my soul to it as most do. However, I was blown away after just a few games on the free game and was insanely hooked – more hooked than I’d ever been on an MMO at that point.
Marketed as ‘deceptively simple, insanely fun’, Hearthstone lived up to it’s name by being a beautiful fast-paced card game for everyone.Everything within the game stays true to Warcraft Lore, so fans of the franchise were instantly on board, the tutorial was thorough, so even simpletons like myself could learn how to play in just a few games, but it was also easy to become really good, really quickly. As levels developed, players moved on from practicing against ‘The Innkeeper’ and faced the battle ground of the Arena and Ranked Plays – where the claws came out and no mercy was shown.
Since then, many advanced players rapidly completed Ranked Play and needed more, so the first Adventure; Curse of Naxxramas was released, which offered players the chance to battle against bosses and play for new cards, more money and a completely new skill set.
Last week (April 3rd) saw the release of Hearthstone’s latest adventure; Blackrock Mountain. As ever, staying true to the original Warcraft Lore, Blackrock Mountain is based on the Blackrock Mountain zones within the MMO. It consists of 5 wings – each wing representative of a raid or dungeon from said Blackrock Mountain zone and a new wing is currently being released every week.
In a similar fashion to the set up for Naxxramas, the game features 17 bosses, 9 class challenges and a Heroic Mode for the experts. The main aim of this game is to defeat all the bosses, which means unlocking the Heroic Mode and 31 new collectible cards, which includes 5 Legendaries and 18 class cards (2 per class).
After defeating all the bosses in Normal Mode, players unlock 9 new class challenges, one for each class (the same as Naxxramas), where each player goes head to head with a specific boss, using only pre-made decks tailored to that class. Completing a class means 2 new copies of a new class specific card. However, there is no Heroic Mode for class challenges, so once this is completed that’s your lot.
The best thing about class challenges is the intriguing method of players using pre-determined decks. The decks are never fully revealed to the player, adding a new skill element to the game. In addition to this, each class deck has a reward card and a specific theme that demonstrates how the reward card can be used to great effect, another new element that means expert players will have to come up with new strategies in order to stay experts – their old tactics won’t work with an unknown deck, creating a more level playing field for everyone.
Should players complete all the bosses in the class challenges (which, undoubtedly, a lot will) there is the added option of playing the infamous Heroic Mode. This mode pits players against versions of the original adventure bosses and has been described, accurately, as; ‘ridiculously unfair and overpowered’.
After unlocking Heroic Mode by defeating all the bosses in normal mode, players can craft specific decks with the aim of defeating the boss, but it essentially takes a hell of a lot of skill and sheer card drawing luck in order for a player to win. And the prize is an anti climax too – for defeating all the bosses players will win a special card back for their trouble. Admittedly it will make for a rare back because of it’s difficulty to get and it would be a massive threat to other players should an opponent have it, it just doesn’t seem like it’s worth all that effort.
Unfortunately like most Blizzard ventures, it costs money for the new adventures. You can either pay for each wing separately, or buy all of them for a discount. It’s not massively expensive; £17.49 ($24.99) for all 5 wings or £4.99 ($6.99) for an individual wing. However, there is the alternative option to keep your money and pay for the wings with in game gold. That is expensive though – at 700 gold a wing, it’s honestly worth paying real money, otherwise you’ll be playing for a hell of a long time to pay for all 5 wings. Although, this option allows players who have worked hard in the original game a reward for their time and effort, so I think it’s still an excellent system to have in place.
Despite this, the new features and the Heroic Mode option really add a new level to the game, a game which I believed couldn’t be improved. Having said that, I am disappointed that it costs for the privilege to have a go, but I feel like for the price it is it’s worth it. You get a lot for your money and it really isn’t that pricey when it comes down to it.
Though the cards are massively varied, as always, and generally similar to the original cards, there are a few really great cards in there. However, the legendaries aren’t so great, from what I’ve witnessed so it’s not all great. I’d still say that the cards are new and it will make for more interesting games for people used to the original cards.
My favourite thing, though, is the pre-determined decks in class challenges. This new feature means a more even playing field and though I’m sure the players who have spent hours crafting the perfect decks will be a bit put out by it – for most players it creates the chance to build a completely new skill set and to learn the new cards. It offers a whole new level of intrigue to the game and since it’s not a mandatory feature for every game, I think it really adds a special something to already perfect game.
I’d highly recommend Hearthstone to anyone, any player of any level, of any age. It’s easy to get the hang of and easy to become an expert. It’s thoroughly addicting and part of a great community of players – something that is, unfortunately, not always the case within MMOs. It’s a wonderful game and the more adventures Blizzard create, the better it gets. I look forward to what comes next.