I’ve just played a dozen or so games of Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft with the “Mean Streets of Gadgetzan” expansion cards shuffled in the mix. Blizzard’s BlizzCon 2016 press room had one-on-one matches featuring paladin vs. priest brawls. As priest is my favorite way to play and I generally suck with paladin, I played all the games using the priestly Anduin Wrynn. As expected, I enjoyed the new cards introduced by “Mean Streets of Gadgetzan,” but one stood out — Kazakus.
“Mean Streets of Gadgetzan” is the fourth expansion for Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. Blizzard announced the latest addition to its enormously successful online trading-card game (TCG) at BlizzCon 2016. The expansion adds 132 new cards to the mix, including several legendaries. The theme revolves around a shady corner of the Warcraft universe, with several cards poking fun at gangster themes. You’ll see cards like “Little Friend”, “Second-Rate Bruiser”, and “Small-Time Recruits”. Naturally, there will be a new game board (pictured below) as well.
Embedded below is an excellent cover of the opening theme for Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft by Alina Gingertail. It reminds me of Fredde Gredde’s stellar cover of the theme from The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. If you dig Alina’s cover then check out her YouTube page for more excellent music. She does acoustic versions of music found in videogames like Chrono Cross and The Witcher 3, as well as favorites from nerd television shows and movies. I’m particularly fond of her banjo version of “The Imperial March” from The Empire Strikes Back.
Anyway, please give Alina Gingertail’s Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft opening theme cover a listen and let me know what you think of it.
At BlizzCon 2015, I played five games of the new Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft adventure, “The League of Explorers.” Featuring an Indiana Jones-style theme, an early portion of the “The League of Explorers” was playable at the show. I was able to play as the rogue (twice) and shaman (thrice) characters in a collapsing-temple setting. The game was an exercise in survival; the goal was to exit the collapsing temple after a certain number of turns. In addition to the standard battle gameplay, there were a few twists in this level of “The League of Explorers” that added a different type of fun to Hearthstone.
In between rounds, you’ll have to make a number of choices. Some of them are a matter of strategy and some are a matter of luck. Here are some examples of the choices you’ll have to make in “The League of Explorers.”
- Gain a mana crystal or draw a card
- Take 5 damage or take a chance of receiving 0 or 10 damage
- Restore 10 health or draw 2 cards
- Get one turn closer to the exit and face a 7/7 golem or do nothing
Adding to the fun are a number of events that occur as you get closer to the exit. From what I played, these events happen on the same turn every game, so they can be played for and around. Here are some of the “League of Explorers” events I saw.
- A 0/4 boulder card appears on your side of the battlefield. It runs over all minions to its left.
- The temple ceiling collapses and clears the battlefield.
- After hearing, “Why’d it have to be bugs?”, a pair of 10/3 bugs appear as opponent minions.
Naturally, the most exciting part of any Hearthstone addition is the new cards. “The League of Explorers” adds 45 new cards in total. Here are some of the ones that I used.
- Everyfin is Awesome: This shaman card gives all minions on the battlefield +2/+2 and costs one less for every murloc on the battlefield
- Murloc Tinyfin: This is a scrub card, but the art is adorable. It’s a cute baby murloc with a sword.
- Sir Finley Mrrgglton: This is a fun 1-cost legendary card. It lets you change hero power, giving you a choice of three others.
- Elise Starseeker: This card shuffles a map into your deck. If everything pans out, it leads to an opportunity to play with a ridiculous amount of legendary cards. Sadly, it never panned out for me.
- Unearthed Raptor: This card lets you choose a friendly minion and copy its deathrattle effect.
- Huge Toad: I almost didn’t mention this card because the ugliness of the art scares me. It also has a deathrattle that deals 1 damage to a random enemy.
All told, I had lots of fun playing “The League of Explorers” for Hearthstone. I can see myself playing the adventure a few times, but I’m really excited about getting the new cards and figuring out how to incorporate them into my decks. Since my priest deck is the only that’s worth a damn, I’m wishing that “The League of Explorers” has some nifty priest cards. Get ready for an all-new, all-different Hearthstone exploration adventure when “The League of Explorers” hits on November 12, 2015.
Just when I was getting “barely” competent with “The Grand Tournament” cards in Hearthstone, Blizzard went ahead and announced “The League of Explorers” at BlizzCon 2015. “The League of Explorers” expansion adds a new adventure and 45 new cards. Available on November 12, 2015, the expansion should add more depth and diversity to an already deep and diverse game.
Here’s a clip from the official press release:
The League of Explorers introduces four intrepid adventurers — Elise Starseeker, Reno Jackson, Sir Finley Mrrgglton, and Brann Bronzebeard — and invites players to join their journey through a series of exotic destinations, some familiar and some new, to recover an artifact of immense power. These brave explorers will face many perils as they navigate through the Temple of Orsis, Uldaman, the Ruined City, and the Hall of Explorers in hopes of discovering lost artifacts that will lead them closer to the relic. Escaping giant boulders and emerging from all of the locations in one piece will reward adventurers with a combined total of 45 treasured new cards, bringing a slew of new tactics to the game.
For many Hearthstone players, “The League of Explorers” will make the game even more fun and addictive. Completionists love when new cards come out and will stop at nothing to acquire them. Advanced and competitive players will enjoy finding new ways to tweak their decks and crafting new strategies. As for me — a habitual Hearthstone player that stubbornly refuses to spend money on the game — I foresee a frustrating month where everyone I play has the new cards and I don’t. I’m excited to see, learn about, and (very slowly) acquire the new cards, but I’m also prepared to hate them while everyone else has them I don’t. I’m bratty that way.
I’ll be getting some hands-on time with the game and will write about my experience with “The League of Explorers” for Hearthstone in a followup story. For now, enjoy some artwork from “The League of Explorers.”
Edit: Hands-on preview is live here!
Ah, Hearthstone Heroes of Warcraft…. I have such a love/hate relationship with this game. In many ways, it feels like being in a broken relationship. There are times when I love Hearthstone — when playing it leaves me utterly fulfilled and satisfied. There are times when I hate Hearthstone — when playing it pisses me the f*ck off. And like being in a broken relationship, a lot of it is my fault and I knew exactly what I was getting into.
While I messed around with Hearthstone during the beta period, I only really got into it last year. My friend Marcus and I were goofing around with the game when we had downtime during Blizzcon 2014. We had a lot of fun and it kind of steamrolled from there. Hearthstone is pretty much a daily habit for me, while Marcus…he actually plays on the pro circuit now (follow him on Twitter, please).
What I love about Hearthstone is its marvelous blend of complexity and simplicity. It’s just an extremely well executed card game. It’s easy to get into and difficult to master. It’s also extremely addictive and I tend to gravitate towards addictive things. Hearthstone has kept me completely entertained for dozens, if not hundreds, of hours.
What I hate about Hearthstone is that it’s blatantly pay-to-win. Out of sheer stubbornness, I refuse to buy card packs. This leaves me at a severe disadvantage in many games. As you can imagine, my card collection is modest, ergo it absolutely sucks going against players with stacked decks. I’ll think I’m in the middle of a good game when all of the sudden some trust-fund kid busts out five legendary cards in a row. Hearthstone has angered and frustrated me for dozens, if not hundreds, of hours.
With the release of The Grand Tournament expansion, the pay-to-win aspect of the game has become even more pronounced. The first couple of days after the expansion was released, I played several players that had tons of new cards. It’s safe to assume that most of those players spent money to get those cards and didn’t grind 24/7 for freebies. It was frustrating coming across new cards — especially new legendaries — that I had no counters for. It made me feel helpless, which isn’t a feeling that I want to have while playing a game.
Like many people in dead-end relationships, I’m not going to do anything to change my situation. I’m going to stick to playing Hearthstone as a free-to-play guy. Yeah, it’s going to suck and be frustrating a lot of the time, but there will also be moments when the game gives me sheer joy. Or perhaps I should seek out a Hearthstone therapist. If you know a good one, please let me know.
Blizzard has announced that Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is now available for Android and iOS phones. The collectible card game (CCG) was initially released for Mac OS and Windows PCs, which was followed shortly by an iPad release. In late 2014, Hearthstone came to Android tablets. Today’s release gives Blizzard an even bigger reach with Hearthstone, hitting millions of people that play games on their phones (or as they say in England, mo-biles). You can download the game through the Apple App Store, Google Play, and the Amazon App Store.
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft was one of my favorite games of 2014 and is still something I’ve played most days this year. It’s easy to learn and incredibly addictive, while offering numerous gameplay styles. I’ve spent hundreds of hours playing it on my iPad and MacBook. I’m positive that I’ll spend hundreds of hours in 2015 playing it on my iPhone 6 Plus. It’s great fun and I hope that several of you RPadholics download the game on your phone, so that we can play against each other. Maybe we’ll get a tournament or something going and I’ll send a prize to the winner. Yeah! Let’s bring back the RPadTV Invitationals!
Having said all the praise for Hearthstone, the game can be frustrating. There’s certainly a pay-to-win element to it, in that players that sink lots of money into the game will have access to better cards. As a free player, it’s annoying when I run up against a guy or gal with multiple legendary cards in his or her deck. Blizzard is an amazing videogame company — easily one of the best in the history of the business — but the matchmaking in Hearthstone can suck. While I hope that all of you guys and dolls play the game, please be prepared to run into some trust-fund kid that will beat the pants off of you, simply because he bought his way into a killer deck.
Now that Hearthstone is available for phones, will any of you be giving it a shot? Please let me know in the comments section. Do it for the RPadTV Invitational!