Now that all the wings of Blackrock Mountain have been released, and we’re back to playing arena and ranked games, it’s time to take a look back and see if this latest Hearthstone adventure was really worth it. I tend to have have a love/hate relationship with these mini-expansions because while they are enjoyable to play it’s difficult to judge their actual worth. This is mostly due to the fact that in each adventure players know exactly what cards they’re going to obtain for the set price. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that those cards need to be valued at $25 for the expansion to be worth it. Instead of simply judging Blackrock Mountain by its cards, let’s take a look at it as a whole.
Once a week, for five weeks, Blizzard released one wing for Blackrock Mountain that aligned itself to a specific dungeon in World of Warcraft. These included Blackrock Depths, Molten Core, Blackrock Spire, Blackwing Lair, and The Hidden Laboratory. Each of these wings had a total of five fights, except Blackwing Lair, which had an additional encounter. Individually priced, each wing is $6.99, but they can be purchased all at once for $24.99. The best part about each dungeon is that Hearthstone attempts to replicate the fight as it took place in World of Warcraft and does a pretty good job at it.
Although these fights are tailored to the nostalgia factor, none of them are relatively difficult on normal mode, but the difficulty skyrockets once heroic mode is enable. Because of the extreme difficulty of Heroic mode, and the fact that it doesn’t actually reward any more cards, I wouldn’t include it as part of Blackrock Mountain’s core gameplay. That being said, each wing has approximately an hour of gameplay value due to the ease of most missions, which ends up being around 5 hours for the entire adventure. I personally don’t find 5 hours to be a great value at that length, but some people do pay twice as much for shorter single-player experiences.
A UNIQUE EXPERIENCE
Each of the fights takes Hearthstone in a creative direction that hasn’t really been seen before. Compared to The Curse of Naxxramas, the fights in Blackrock Mountain follow the theme of the actual boss fights more closely and have a unique style of play instead of just giving the bosses overpowered abilities. Two of my favorite encounters were with Garr and Nefarian because they required more strategic play than many of the otherer fights. Gnarr begins each match with seven 0/5 Firesworn on the table. When a Firesworn is killed it does stacking damage to the player based on how many died that round, and Gnarr does one damage to all minions each round. This requires the player to either race for a turn 5 kill or stagger the damage on each Firesworn; letting them all die at once will result in a total of 51 damage.
The Nefarian fight is a bit more complicated and involves three different stages. First the player faces off against Nefarian who has 10 armor and 30 health. After his armor is depleted, Nefarian rises to the sky and summons Onyxia to fight for him. Nefarian will continuously shoot fireballs for direct damage, which increases by one each turn, while Onyxia battles the player. Once Onyxia is defeated, all the player’s minions are destroyed and Nefarian returns for one final showdown. Not only is this encounter difficult due to the blatant advantage that the computer has in terms of health, but also because killing Onyxia has to be timed perfectly or players won’t be able to recover after the board wipe. Overall, I feel that the fights in Blackrock Mountain were definitely entertaining, even if not all that difficult.
A huge determining factor when it comes to spending money on a card game is usually how good the cards are. In The Curse of Naxxramas there were so many useful, if not necessary, cards to be obtained throughout the adventure. None of the legendary cards were terrible and there were many new staples such as Sludge Belcher, Unstable Ghoul, Zombie Chow, and Dark Cultist. There was tons of value in Hearthstone’s first expansion, but I don’t think that’s the case with Blackrock Mountain.
There’s definitely a dragon and cost reduction for killing minions theme in Blackrock Mountain while The Curse of Naxxramas had a deathrattle theme. The problem with the dragon theme is that they synergize off each other and not enough of them are good enough to construct a deck around. Furthermore, limiting two of the best cards, Twilight Whelp and Dragon Consort, to specific classes was a terrible oversight. Dragon Consort is still a good stand-alone card because its ability does last until used and there are other decent dragon cards such as Hungry Dragon and Volcanic Drake, but the others simply don’t have great value.
The cost reduction cards, however, are all in a weird spot because of how situational they are. Most of them are only good if the player is already in control of the board and can choose how many things are going to die on a specific turn. Cards like Solemn Vigil and Dragon’s Breath only have decent value if two or more minions died that turn, and more likely than not they’re going to be used at an inefficient time. Taking a look at the legendary cards, the only one likely to see play at all is Emperor Thaurissan. His body isn’t quite worth the 6 mana cost, but if played with at least two cards in hand he gets his value back. The rest of the legendary cards are simply too situational, such as Rend Blackhand and Majordomo Executus, or are too expensive to not directly impact the board.
What Blackrock Mountain brings to Hearthstone is a memorable experience, but not much in terms of actual card value. Many of the cards obtained in the adventure are incredibly situational and most likely aren’t going to see much play. There was, however, a lot of thought and effort put into designing the boss encounters, and it also allows for some interesting deck constructions in the arena mode.
- Creative boss fights
- World of Warcraft nostalgia
- Players know what they’re getting
- Short campaign
- Questionable card value