G'Day Glitchaholics, I am Isentropic and today we venture into the skies above Northrend, and face off against the armies of the archlich, Kel’Thuzad, in Hearthstone - Curse of Naxxramas.
Curse of Naxxramas is the first single player, adventure expansion for the free to play, card game Hearthstone. Developed by the gaming, juggernaut, Blizzard Entertainment, Curse of Naxxramas is a five wing adventure, that pits the player against a series of bosses with interesting abilities and cards. The Naxxramas expansion is being released one wing at a time, with the first wing being free to unlock and play for the first month after release, with the remaining wings costing in game coins or money to unlock. The cost of each wing varies depending on the bundle selected, with the cheapest option being to purchase all of them at once. To Blizzards' credit, there is the option for players to purchase each wing using in game gold, therefore retaining the games free to play model, but due to my lack of control with in-game gold, I had nowhere near, the 700 gold per wing required.
With the Curse of Naxxramas releasing one wing per week during the launch event, I will only be covering the Arachnid and Plague Quarters in part one of this review. The first of the five wings, The Arachnid Quarter, sees the player face off against three interesting and drastically different bosses. Anub'Rekhan, a sort of oversized elephant beetle, is the first boss players face, and with his ability to raise 3/1 Nerubian minions and some cheeky charge and life steal cards I was shocked straight out of my standard play patterns early on in the battle. I recommend players tailor their decks to include a good supply of spells and abilities that can cause damage on use, otherwise you may find yourself being overwhelmed by his Nerubian minions early on.
Grand Widow Faerlina, and Maexxna are the final two bosses of the Arachnid Quarter, and while they both have very different approaches to combat I found that a well crafted rush deck was the best option for obtaining victory. Grand Widow Faerlina, uses a low cost hero ability that causes one damage for each card in your hand, so keeping the cards you are holding to a minimum is a must.b Maexxna's ability to return your minions from the playing field to your hand means it is a good idea to have multiple minions in play and not waste precious mana buffing minions that may never get a chance to attack.
On completion of the Arachnid Quarter on normal difficulty, players are awarded with 6 new standard cards and one new legendary card, and also gain access to the druid and rogue class challenges. The class challenges see players rematching against two of the Arachnid Quarter bosses using decks designed specifically to change the way the battle plays out. I really enjoyed the way the class challenges made me rethink how I approach the battle and I was over the moon when I scored this fourth round victory against Grand Widow Faerlina.
Heroic mode, unlocked after completing the normal difficulty, is for the hardcore Hearthstone players, and sees you facing off against the same three bosses, this time with the odds severely stacked in their favour. Be warned, heroic battles are intense, but nothing feels quite as sweet as a heroic victory. Players who defeat all of the bosses on Heroic difficulty from all five wings will be awarded the Curse of Naxxramas card back, but due the mental anguish I have experienced fighting these battles I won't be getting that card back any time soon.
The Plague Quarter is the second wing of the Curse of Naxxramas adventure and brings with it its own challenges and player rewards. Noth the Plaguebringer, is the first boss for this quarter and is extremely dangerous with his zero cost, passive hero power, that raises 1/1 skeletons every time one of your minions dies. I recommend using a deck with a good blend of damage spells and high life minions, otherwise you will find yourself drowning in a sea of skeletons before you know it.
The final two bosses of the Plague Quarter, Heigan the Unclean and Loatheb, are a litte bit of a let down on the difficulty front, but are great fun to adapt to in battle. Heigan the Unclean is dangerous with his low cost hero ability that causes 2 damage to your left most minion, but when using his Mindpocalypse spell often fed me powerful cards rather than improving his own situation.
Loatheb brings to battle a huge 75 life and a very dangerous hero power that deals three damage directly to your hero. While Loatheb sounds big in stats he very rarely uses his hero power in combat and his Deathbloom spell will become your best friend if used to your advantage. I jumped straight into these battles with my standard rogue rush deck and after only a couple of attempts made it through without the need for tweaking.
As with the first wing, on completion of the Plague Quarter normal difficulty, players are awarded with 6 new standard cards and one new legendary card, and also gain access to the hunter and mage class challenges. The hunter and mage class challenges are great fun but never really put me under pressure, but are well worth playing as some of the spell combinations have extremely entertaining outcomes. The heroic difficulty is again on offer after completion of the normal bosses and is just as hard as expected.
Overall no other game can really compare to the love, hate relationship I have developed with Hearthstone. This game can have me smashing my head against my keyboard in one battle then have me dancing around the room in the next. Curse of Naxxramas is a great addition to Hearthstone and with its low price versus the great challenges and rewards on offer it is a no brainer purchase in my book. The Arachnid and Plague Quarter wings are exactly what I wanted and expected with this expansion and have earned 8.5 out of 10 from me.
Available on PC, Mac and iPad.