Hearthstone: Hangin’ with kobolds

Can we acknowledge up front that out of all of the game teams over at Blizzard, it’s the Hearthstone folks that seem to have the most fun? I mean, they had the best BlizzCon presentation, all of these weird and funny songs, and commercials like the Lich King ice cream and this hilarious D&D parody. There simply seems to be a sense of humor and enjoyment swirling about that group, and if I worked there, that’s the team I’d want to join. Not that I’m a great card player or anything.

Anyway, last week Hearthstone released its Kobolds and Catacombs expansion, which is… I guess the first time I’ve been playing during an expansion release? I think so. It’s been an odd year for me, I’m rolling with it. It’s a great expansion to jump on board as a solo-happy person, since it adds a new single-player mode called dungeon run to the mix (on top of new cards, card types, legendary weapons, etc.).

Let’s talk about dungeon run, because it’s a bizarre duck. Up front, there seems to be no reason to play it. There’s no reward for beating a dungeon in and of itself, unless you beat all eight bosses nine times with the nine classes, and even that’s just a card back. But now we’re seeing a lot of daily quests come into the game to promote the dungeon run, and since these have been paying out in card packs, well, now there’s a reason beyond the experience itself to do it.

Dungeon run takes players though a series of eight boss fights, going from ridiculously easy to ridiculously overpowered. Kind of like that old Nintendo chestnut, Punch-Out!! The twist here is that normal rules and balance is sort of thrown out the window; players build decks with batches of cards, but they also get to choose “treasures” that are huge advantages that change the rules. For example, I love getting an extra mana crystal with all of my games, since that lets me play a two-crystal card on turn one consistently. I also got “The Candle” card once that would fry a bunch of low-health mobs and then be shuffled back into the deck to be used over and over again.

A run turns into seeing how far you can go. The best I’ve gotten is through five bosses, dying on the sixth. Enemies also have a disregard for the normal rules, so seeing seven pyroblasts coming at me wasn’t too unusual in this mode. It’s just kind of crazy and different, and I find it a nice change of pace from the normal 1v1 matches against opponents. Plus, it’s a great way for me to level up classes that I haven’t even gotten to 10 yet without putting myself through PvP grinds.

As for the cards themselves, I’m still exploring it. I don’t even have a favorite deck yet; I keep building new decks to meet specific daily challenges (like casting 40 spells), but sooner or later I’ll use all of my gold to buy up a bunch of packs and see what I get.

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