Blizzard?s super-popular card battling game Hearthstone received it?s first significant content boost this week with the release of the Curse of Naxxramas adventure. Due to be released in sections dubbed wings over the next few weeks, this first additional PvE adventure pack features a number of new cards themed around the legendary World of Warcraft raid dungeon, filled with spidery minions and new legendary cards to uncover. The initial wing, the Arachnid Quarter, is free for the month of the event. Subsequent wings can be purchased upon release for 700 in-game gold, or $6.99.
I played through the Arachnid Quarter wing late last night, which features three bosses to defeat, consisting of Anub?Rekhan, Grand Widow Faerlina, and Maexxna. Defeating each boss will net you new cards–2x Haunted Creeper, 2x Nerub?ar Weblord, and 2x Nerubian Egg. For completing the wing you?ll unlock the legendary card of Maexxna. The bosses feature a number of unique cards not yet available, and most put a strong emphasis on low-level swarms of minions that rush to the battlefield quickly. Once you?ve defeated all three bosses, you?ll unlock two class challenges, Druid and Rogue. Other class challenges are locked behind the additional wings, so you?ll need to wait a few weeks for those.
Defeating the class challenges will unlock class specific cards. You?ll get 2x Poison Seeds for Druids, and 2x Anub?ar Ambusher for Rogue decks. I found Poison Seeds to be an interesting addition, allowing you to wipe all minions and replace them with 2/2 Treants, which could certainly be fun for low-level rush decks. The Anub?ar Ambusher for Rogues looks a little less appealing at first glance, but with a 4 casting cost for a 5/5 minion, it could certainly be shoehorned into a deck or two. The deathrattle effect for the Anub?ar Ambusher sounds like a negative, as it forces a friendly minion from the field back into your hand, but it could also serve as a way of negating pesky negative effects like silence.
Outside of the class challenges, you?ll also gain access to heroic versions of the three bosses once you?ve completed a normal run. The heroic versions can provide a pretty solid challenge here, as I have yet to actually defeat them. Each boss comes equipped with more health and more aggressive AI. I?ve seen some zoo decks that seem to be pretty effective, but if you don?t have access to a lot of high value epic or legendary cards, you?ll likely have some difficulty knocking out heroic mode right away. Which is perfectly fine by me, having some actual challenge from the PvE side of Hearthstone is fun, and breaks up the monotony of facing down player created decks a bit.
I?m definitely looking forward to unlocking and playing through the additional wings of Curse of Naxxramas in weeks to come. Having new cards to slot into existing decks is certainly a plus, and additional PvE content for the game is just an additional bonus. The cost of entry seems on point here, and I love that I can opt to just spend gold instead of actual money for each wing, and that the gold cost isn?t ridiculously excessive. Blizzard certainly seems to have a pretty good handle on how this Free to Play model should work without gouging its fanbase. So definitely jump back into Hearthstone at some point between now and early September, if for no other reason than to take advantage of the free content offered via the Arachnid Quarter.