Wednesday 22 November 2017

Hearthstone: The Curse of Naxxramas review - 'one game' always ends up lasting ten

Max Wallis

I never thought I’d enjoy a card game. Growing up they seemed archaic compared to bleeping handheld devices where you could catch Pokemon or save Zelda for the umpteenth time. Card games were static, imaginary: their beasts fixed on a 2D plane. But that’s changed.

4/5; Blizzard Entertainment; PC, iOS

The curse of Naxxramas is the expansion to Blizzard’s brilliant Hearthstone, a free collectible card game for PC, Mac and iOS that sees players battling it out as fantasy characters. There’s a choice of nine different classes ranging from Priest and Mage, to Warlock and Shaman. The main goal is simple: deplete the enemy player’s 30 life points before yours are obliterated. Each player has ten mana crystals which rise each turn and more powerful cards cost more mana.

Naxxramas adds 30 new cards to the mix and five themed wings to the game: Arachnid, Plague, Military, Construct and Frostwyrm Quarters, each one unlocked using 700 gold coins of in-game money, or for £4.99 each. Regardless, though, if you’re a keen player you will probably have amassed enough gold from the in-game quests to buy at least one or two wings. As for what’s in them? 14 bosses await, such as Patchwerk ‘sewn together from adventurers’ whose hero power can destroy an enemy minion at the price of four mana crystals, or Sapphiron who guards Kel’Thuzad’s lair and can destroy all non-frozen enemies instantly. The variation is welcome and challenging.

For a game that’s essentially a glorified table-top card game it’s remarkably exciting. Your minions explode when they die. The ‘table’ is interactive, and changes depending on who you’re battling. But it’s a game you don’t have to be a fanatic to enjoy. Twice my flatmates have peered over my shoulder and asked what I was playing. And invariably ‘one game’ ends up lasting ten.

Some will fault the pricing. But I don’t have a problem forking out the cash for this expansion considering I spent zilch on the base game. The new expansion delivers 30 cards and class challenges, where you have to defeat one of the 14 Naxxramas bosses using a certain class, which then unlocks more cards.

The joy of Hearthstone has always been about challenging yourself. Proving mastery over an unknown class. I think that excitement is still there in this expansion, but it’s refined. There’s a cruel enjoyment as you pummel the fourteen bosses, finally watching their character disc leap up into the air and shatter to smithereens.

Independent News Service

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