Saturday, May 2, 2015

Blackrock Mountain Review

Throughout the month of April, Blizzard has been releasing the latest Hearthstone expansion Blackrock Mountain, giving access to a new wing each week. The final wing released on Thursday, and after finishing all of the content (minus the Heroic difficulty), I wanted to take some time to share my thoughts on this expansion, just like I did with the Curse of Naxxramas back in August of last year.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Hearthstone Adventure expansions, Blackrock Mountain is much more than simply a new set of cards for the game. True, it does add 31 new cards to the game, including two for each of the heroes. But instead of requiring you to buy booster packs, the player instead earns them by completing a series of AI battles and special class challenges themed around the Blackrock Mountain zone from World of Warcraft.

Like the previous adventure, I really enjoyed playing through the multiple boss encounters within each wing. Assuming you have access to most of the previous cards, the majority of these battles should prove to be more entertaining and interesting, rather than difficult. In fact, other than the boss battle against Nefarion (who you defeat during the 4th wing only to have to do so again at the end of the 5th), I was able to defeat them on my first or second try. But what makes these encounters so fun is the variety of effects that these bosses bring to bear - from summoning a random minion from each deck every turn, to punishing you for having unspent mana at the end of your turn, to giving you the ability to play any card you draw for a single mana, but only one card total per turn. The special class challenges revisit these same bosses, but present you with a unique deck (and in some cases, ones that are impossible in the actual game, like one containing 30 copies of the same card). Indeed, there's enough here to be worth replaying several times, if only to see what happens if you try something different.

The cards themselves range from excellent to mediocre, and this time seem to be intentionally focused on creating new archetypes among the different heroes rather than just giving you better neutral minions available to all classes. I would argue that the overall quality is a bit lower than in Curse of Naxxramas, but still well worth investing in for those who want to be competitive on the ladder. Interestingly enough, while the expansion is definitely themed around Dragons, those are not the cards that seem to be having the greatest impact in the metagame.

The expansion definitely is in keeping with the high values of Hearthstone, with a brand new beautifully rendered battleground, lots of great card art and sound effects, and a fun storyline that plays out as you battle through Blackrock Mountain. The same zany humor is carried throughout, helping to break up what otherwise might seem overly dramatic.

Overall I very much enjoyed the expansion and definitely recommend you pick it up.

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