Hearthstone: The Curse of Naxxramas Review Part 1 | Fanboys Anonymous

Hearthstone: The Curse of Naxxramas Review Part 1

Posted by Eddie Siqueira Wednesday, July 23, 2014
At last! The first part of The Curse of Naxxramas expansion has arrived! I waited patiently for the exact release time (about 2 pm EST yesterday) and fought the lag to review every corner of the first wing: Arachnid Quarter!

Blizzard Hearthstone Curse of Naxxramas card game expansion

So, after the menacing trailer and promises and hopes of a great and difficult adventure, I immediately had a slight letdown: only three bosses. Well, all right, Blizzard had already announced that, and I remembered I would have to wait patiently for the next few weeks to have the whole dungeon available, three bosses per wing. Nuts.

Regardless, it's a nice change of scenery, as the game "table" is now in a darker room and has spooky jazz music attached to a new board. Behold the first boss: Anub'Rekhan!

Blizzard Hearthstone Curse of Naxxramas gameplay mage grand widow faerlina
The Worshipper is quite powerful.
Don't let them stack in Heroic!
I decided to enter with my numero uno mage deck, because between spells and minions, it's my most balanced. I disregarded the whole must-live-off-of-silence-minion-cards thing going around the interwebs that mystified the new deathrattle cards. I went in dry; such is the badass that I am, although I had one Ironbeak Owl (I always do).

Kel'Thuzad taunts you as the game goes on. The cards are dealt, and the first thing I see is a Nerubian Egg, which I foolishly destroyed with a Frostbolt only to have a 4/4 minion replace it. Duh. Apart from that mishap, Anub'Rekhan was pretty easy, and even a bit of a letdown. Bang! Deathwing up his arse. The only noteworthy phenomenon to mention was that he drew a class-specific card, the warlock's Mortal Coil, indicating that some strange deck acrobatics was to reveal itself.

Blizzard Hearthstone Curse of Naxxramas gameplay mage anub'rekhan win
Anub'Rekhan's final words.

Blizzard Hearthstone Curse of Naxxramas gameplay mage grand widow faerlina win
Pwn, the new fragrance by Deathwing.

The next opponent, Grand Widow Faerlina, I thought would be very difficult, but I was wrong. Well, almost. I won by a close thread, but I guess my deck wasn't tailored to fight Worshipper minions combined with her Hero Power. Once again, this boss pulled a class specific card, although it was a much more random one: the warrior's Rampage, which revealed this boss to be a warrior class. Shouldn't these bosses all be an undead class of sorts? Mortal Coil = makes sense. Rampage = dangerously random. Oh well. Deathwing made sure I wouldn't have to go for a second attempt at her. Begone, witch! On with the final boss.

Blizzard Hearthstone Curse of Naxxramas gameplay warrior maexxna
"Kill Ironbeak Owl, or remove it for another silence?"
The brain of a spider...
Maexxna was complicated. His or her (or its) Hero Power is as annoying as it is interesting: remove a random enemy minion back to the opponent's hand. You can see how something like the Mana Wyrm would be useless against it. Or him. Or her. Blah.

Needless to say, I had to fish out another deck. My mage was no good. But what about the warrior, with weapons and charge minions? How about a bit of luck and bad AI to top that? My next attempt at Maexxna was the good one: I had an Ironbeak Owl that I would lay down and silence one of those annoying Haunted Creepers (which spawn two 1/1 Spectral Spiders)… only to have Maexxna use its Hero Power on the Ironbeak Owl for me to silence another minion on the next turn. You can see where this is going. After numerous freebies with the Owl and Arathi Weaponsmiths (and Maexxna's reluctance to simply murder-death-kill those minions), it occurred to me that using Deathwing on Maexxna was useless, and that was my triumph card! It would clear any current minions, sure, but I would also lose the cards I had on hand. But with 6 cards left in my deck and an Arcanite Reaper somewhere in there, it was only a matter of time. I cleared Maexxna's minions until I got the weapon and ended it there. It wasn't easy but definitely not hard.

Blizzard Hearthstone Curse of Naxxramas class challenges druid rogue

So, I unlocked the class challenges: druid and rogue. I would concentrate on Heroic mode later on. Ok, not bad: I have a good druid deck. Rogue is not my forte, but I can put together a good deck. This is where it got a little weird; you have no control over the class challenge decks whatsoever. They appear to be preset. My druid began with a Nerubian Egg, Swipe, and Hogger, so legendary cards are available as well. I defeated Grand Widow Faerlina on the first attempt. Gotta craft a Hogger ASAP!

The rogue, however, was difficult because it's versus Maexxna, and damn that Hero Power! I had none of the classic cheap rogue spells we so love and hate (which actually gives you more deck space due to the constant return of your minions to your hand; battlecries and charges are super valuable). That made me have to battle three more times until I beat Maexxna. I don't know if I got lucky or if the AI is really that stupid: Tinkmaster Overspark was returned to me twice, and I turned one of his minions into a Squirrel and one of my lesser minions into a Devilsaur. Yes, Maexxna had minions to off Overspark in those turns. The Hero Power is used almost instantaneously in the beginning of each turn, which makes the boss predictable and strategy free, so I used that to my advantage. Now, Heroic is where the fun begins.

Blizzard Hearthstone Curse of Naxxramas gameplay warrior anub'rekhan heroic
Anub'Rekhan, not so noob now.
The bosses now have 45 health. A significant increase, but that's not all: their Hero Powers are stronger. Anub'Rekhan summons a 4/4 Nerubian rather than a 3/1, Widow Faerlina has 2/5 Worshipper minions rather than 1/4, and Maexxna had a zero-cost Hero Power that return two! random minions back to your hand. So how hard was Heroic?

I defeated Anub'Rekhan in one try. Then, I defeated Grand Widow Faerlina in one try, always with my warrior. Then, shit hit the fan. It took me around 10 entire tries to nail Maexxna to the 8-limbed star cross. I tried a customed mage deck, thinking freeze spells and others would clear out the minions until Archmage Antonidas or Deathwing or something showed up. Naught. I tried my warrior. Charge! Poof. I tried my priest deck, figuring healing would help, but that was as useless as the warrior's Armor Up!

Maexxna's problem is the constant flurry of Haunted Creepers coupled with Shade of Naxxramas. A good amount of minions at all times helps counter the annoying Hero Power, which now returns two units to your hand. How to defeat Maexxna in Heroic mode?

Blizzard Hearthstone Curse of Naxxramas gameplay paladin versus heroic maexxna deck
The holy deck
Paladin! Low-cost healing and silencing minions are a plus. If you have a Mind Control Tech, or better yet, two of them, use them! Maexxna will have four minions by turn three and will return your minions to your hand no matter what, so when bigger creatures make an appearance, such as Anub'ar Ambusher and Spectral Knight you can take them away and have them in your hand for your own pleasure. Couple a few spells and charge minions as well, such as Blessing of Might and Blessing of Wisdom (to 'curse' one of Maexxna's minions with, drawing you a card whenever it attacks). Don't disregard one important factor: time! Turns will go by with this cat-and-mouse bonanza, and although I had a good amount of control over the board, I only beat Maexxna with one health left and no cards in my deck. There's a picture to prove it, too! I had to face a Sea Giant, King Krush and others before I laid the octo-legged bastard to sleep.

The reason a Paladin is so handy is that you can summon Silver-Hand Recruits and place them on the board, leaving you with more of a chance to keep stronger units on the board when the Hero Power puts back two random minions. Try to balance destroying Maexxna's units along with dealing damage to the enemy hero, eventually wearing it down. You will never truly dominate the game due to its Hero Power unless you alter between targeting minions and Maexxna as well as an occasional heal. I'm putting a picture of my deck for you guys to see. Good? Or just lucky? You decide!

Blizzard Hearthstone Curse of Naxxramas gameplay paladin versus heroic maexxna win
The near-sexual thrill of seeing this was worth the attempts
I'm sure to find a way to beat the last Heroic boss with a mage, I just have to find the right combos. A rogue can also heavily benefit from the minion returns, such as with the SI:7 Agent and its combo. I never bought any cards apart from in-game gold, so maybe I'm missing a few.

Now that I've walked you through, I'll give you the lowdown:

This is a great addition to an already awesome and addictive game. I'm holding back on the score I'll give to this expansion because it's been partially released. So far, I can say that, despite finishing the Arachnid Quarter with some ease (apart from the final Heroic boss), it was entertaining and interesting to have certain new cards available as I progressed. I just hope there are varied challenges in the next part. The class challenges didn't really do it for me either. The only thing I ask is for a more difficult challenge (I'm not even that good, never made it past Rank 14, two stars). Oh well, see you guys in the Plague Quarter!

Did you guys manage to defeat all bosses in Heroic mode? Comment and share your plights and triumphs for Stormwind!

Blizzard Hearthstone Curse of Naxxramas all challenges complete
Hmm, no medals, no awards, no cake?

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