Hearthstone: Curse of Naxxramas

To Pay, or Not to Pay?
Blizzard | iOS | July 22, 2014

I love Hearthstone. I play it almost every day. When I don’t; I ensure I never have three daily quests pending at the end of a night. When Curse of the Naxxramas was announced I was excited for the opportunity to earn an additional 30 cards and engage in a campaign battle against a ruthless, cutthroat AI opponent. What I received instead was an empty feeling Naxxramas Cardsas I defeated the bosses in a single sitting and a question of what to do during the next release.

The first wing of five, released for free. Gamers who play within the first month will never have to pay for the initial adventure, which is brilliant fan service by Blizzard. The remaining four wings will release one a week. Pricing will vary depending on whether the player uses in-game gold or real-world currency. Which can lead to a difficult personal choice.

The Bosses

The three bosses within the first wing have an assorted deck of new cards players can earn, old favorites and a unique special ability. The ability is purposely unbalanced. One enemy summons a 3/1 solider for only 2 mana; for the same cost the Paladin receives a 1/1. Another ability sends a random player minion back to their deck (which can be a blessing with a battlecry deck).

In these battles, players can use any deck they constructed. Defeating a boss will yield a new card (2 copies for your deck), with the final boss providing a legendary card. The bosses can be challenged in normal or hard. There is no reward, except for personal-glory, to defeat the bosses in hard.

The Challenges

Each wing will release deck specific challenges for the player. Instead of competing with their own deck the player is saddled with a deck the designers constructed. This is obviously a lop-sided fight where the boss’s ability will be a large Hearthstone Poisonhindrance.

Winning these challenges will yield players with a class specific card to use in standard play.

The Gameplay

There are no consequences to losing, except for the loss of time. This allows players to challenge bosses until they secure victory and earn the additional cards. This system emphasizes a lucky draw and will dictate how difficult the battle is for the player, more so than a cunning opponent who makes the best of any situation.

Anecdotally, my Hunter deck (which I have only cracked rank 10) was able to defeat all the bosses on the first try. I did have to do the Druid challenge twice but went from having no momentum to destroying the boss on turn five.

There is no point to continue fighting the AI once all of the cards released that week are earned. Players don’t earn gold, credit towards daily quests or anything else. This makes the DLC far less engaging and more of a conduit to expand the player’s deck than an experience on its own merits.

The Price

Each wing will cost 700 gold or, at best pricing, $20 for all four. I am thrilled that Blizzard is continuing the trend of Hearthstone being a free to play game. With each wing spaced by a week, it is realistic for players to bank 700 gold each between releases and still be on the cutting edge without spending real world currency. Blizzard is extremely generous to fans.

Hearthstone Pricing

However, $20 purchases 15 packs of cards in the shop. 2,800 gold (700 x 4 wings) purchases 28 packs. Players who choose to use gold (again, standup act of Blizzard to allow this option) are essentially throwing away 13 packs of cards. This might not matter if you already have a full deck of every card available, but this does feel like paying double with in-game currency.

The Verdict

Hearthstone CardsOn its own, I would give Curse of the Naxxramas a 3.0/10. The entertainment value for the campaign is low and there is no replay value. But this expansion is part of a much greater whole, a brilliant amazing game. The change in the meta-game and arena rankings associated with these 30 cards is immeasurable. Already I have seen players figuring out the best way to hatch their Nerubian Eggs.

If you don’t like Hearthstone, this won’t win you over. If you enjoy Hearthstone than you will be envious of players who expanded their arsenal of weapons and want to follow suit by conquering each wing as it’s released.

Level Up, Friends!