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Friday, December 19, 2014

Thursday, December 18, 2014

T'was A Twelve Win Arena!

I sat down to what I thought was going to be a quiet, boring and early night to play a little Hearthstone arena. I was only 33.3% (repeating of course) correct. With the holidays in full swing, I think I'll tell you what happened in poem form.

T'was a week before Christmas
When I drafted a deck
Of epic proportions,
I could tell it would wreck.
The options were top-tier,
The best for a mage.
I knew when I played it
That people would rage.

I crept through the house
To find someone to tell,
But they were asleep
And my friends were as well.
So I sat at my PC
And began to play.
Blew through two opponents,
This deck was OK!

I battled a priest that
Thoughtstole like a boss.
He had me out-valued,
The game was a loss.
I tried to keep calm
As I gained some more wins,
But this deck was so brutal
I started to grin.

On Argent Commander!
On MAX and Sunwalker!
On Yeti and Kodo,
And a lone Gilblin Stalker!
It wasn't just minions,
I had lots of spells.
Two Frostbolts, two Polys
And a Fireball as well!

Three pretty secrets
And a Mad Scientist.
I can tell you for certain
This deck will be missed!
So I relished the games
As I trampled each foe,
Playing calm and collected, 
Wins started to grow.

I took on a pally.
The game was big-league,
But when push came to shove,
Jaina died to fatigue.
Twice I saw Deathwing,
but I had a surprise.
Mad Scientist's deathrattle
pulled out Vaporize!

My final two matches
Were against old Garrosh.
One was so close
It was almost a loss.
I won the twelfth game
And I stared at the key.
So glowy, so showy,
And waiting for me!

I reached for the mouse
When I stopped with a thought.
The voice in my head said,
"Better take a screenshot!"
Then I opened my winnings
And shouted with glee,
"May you all draft a mage
And have great RNG!"

[UPDATE] I turned the poem into a video which you can see here.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Hearthstone: Trump Teachings

Hearthstone became an instant hit for Blizzard when it debuted, but it seems like even more people are flocking to the game with the release of Goblins vs Gnomes. Over the last few weeks I've had a number of friends finally jump into it for the first time that normally wouldn't even look at a card game otherwise.

While it's great to strategize and play alongside (or against) friends, there's a definite learning curve involved that new players need to pick up early before they get frustrated and give up. Thankfully, there are resources for fledgling Hearthstoners freely available online (and I've listed some of them on the Hearthstone page of this very blog).

One of these resources include a tutorial series of sorts by none other than Trump, where he explains different aspects of the game to improve your play. I feel that players new to card games should really watch these videos so they can get a grasp of the more important concepts - it's worth the time. What's more is that Trump even uses basic cards that anyone has access to, so players won't feel pressured or intimidated to "need" a bunch of rares, epics or legendaries to be successful.

New players, this one's for you.

Well Mekt! Spotlight & Gameplay

A friend of mine suggested I do a spotlight video of my pally mech deck, so here it is!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Owning GvG On a Budget!

Kripparian posted a new video today showing cheap and effective decks using the new Goblins vs Gnomes cards. People can complain that the decks are face/rush/zoo cancer, but these are excellent options for new or budget players.

Additionally, these decks are new in that over half the cards come from the GvG set. I've been checking out other popular streamers/youtubers, and the majority of them are playing the same old decks with 2-5 new cards swapped in. It's a "safe" option, but it's also rather boring.

I think Kripp put it nicely when he said players can either build cheap aggro out of the new cards or netdeck an expensive old control list. Both are pretty valid options right now making it a good time to be playing!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Well Mekt! Climbing the Ladder

So, that deck I posted yesterday is doing exceptionally well on ladder. Mechwarper is indeed ridiculous and I'd be surprised if a nerf doesn't come soon (reduced-cost mechs are OP).

I finally got to go against handlock today and admittedly got extremely lucky but was able to overcome double taunted giants (twice) and Jaraxxus. Likewise, control priest was a long game but I survived double Holy Nova, a (Thoughtstolen) Consecrate and other Anduin antics because Jeeves lets you replace your board.

I saw a good deal of deathrattle hunter and Classic/Naxx-era zoolock today as well, beating them too (though most of them were very close games). There's no doubt about it, mechs are the new cancer of Hearthstone... deal with it.

Well Mekt! (Paladin)

The new cards from Goblins vs Gnomes has made for an interesting meta on ladder so far. There's supposedly a resurgence in both handlock and control warrior, though I've run into far more priests, mages and rogues. I've barely seen hunter and it seems like shaman is dead again. Paladin has a number of great new cards now and actually seems playable (Muster For Battle and Quartermaster are both cool).

I wasn't fortunate enough to get most of the good pally cards though, so I started tinkering with the new mechs (see what I did there). After seeing all the low-cost mechs and the Mechwarper it was obvious that a swarm deck was worth a try.

My first choice for a mech-centric deck was warlock for card draw and burst damage. That might still be viable, but the class mech costs 4 and hard removal is expensive. Additionally, Jeeves can often cover card draw making the warlock's hero power a bit less useful.

Paladin seemed like a strong choice with Truesilver Champion for mid-range removal and Equality to answer game stoppers like Mal'Ganis. The hero power is often more relevant too for trading with Equality and getting extra juggles, so here's the current deck. I've recently swapped out Spider Tanks for Aldor Peacekeepers. They often make for great tempo plays early on and can help slow down huge threats later. Initially the deck included Abusive Sergeant, but I pitched them for Consecrate (mainly to combo Equality, but useful on its own too).

In any case, my success with this deck has been pretty good and it's ridiculously easy to play. On ladder, I've out-valued zoolock, outpaced rogue, and often rushed through secrets mage with little trouble. Facing control, it often depends on how good of an Equality you can get, but that's the way it goes.

Mulligan strategies are easy: ditch anything that costs 3+, though Harvest Golem can sometimes be kept. Play Mechwarper early if you think the opponent doesn't have an answer, otherwise Knife Juggler or Micro Machine is a threat on board that needs removed immediately (and will likely allow for Mechwarper to go unchallenged next turn).

I think Mechwarper's going to get nerfed soon because it's just dumb how good it is, especially since most mechs are already relatively well-costed (and there's tons of cheap ones). Overall, this deck feels about as cancerous as Face Hunter back when Buzzard and Hounds cost 2 mana each. I almost feel bad for playing it, but since it seems like shaman got the short end of the totem this expansion I guess it's back to cancer rush... until I get bored and finally make a mage deck (don't hold your breath though).

[EDIT: Name changed to "Well Mekt!" from "Stupid Robots"]

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Opening 40 Packs of Goblins vs Gnomes (For Real)

Things seem to be working on the NA servers (though EU has been experiencing a similar rough release) so I dump all my gold into buying packs.

Opening 200+ Packs of Goblins vs Gnomes...

... if Blizzard will let me, of course.

Which brings me to a more serious topic - when will Blizzard learn from their years of past launches/releases and finally roll out something correctly? Last week they dropped the GvG cards into the arena mix and everything looked like it was going fine. Now, if you're lucky enough to even login to BattleNet, you might not be able to play... let alone actually buy packs or get to the arena. I can overlook a slight hiccup and a small extended maintenance, but really Blizz, get your act together!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

K.T. Best Buds (or Kel'Thrallzad)

Like the majority of Hearthstone players (Hearthstoners?), I've spent the last few months enjoying the craziness that is deathrattle-based decks thanks to Curse of Naxxramas. Warlock can run it's own Zoo variant (or hybrid) and even priest has some good builds, but I find shaman to be the most fun.

Shaman has a great selection of removal (that isn't as reliant on combos like Auchenai + Circle) as well as minion buffs and minor card draw. Thrall's biggest weakness of course is a lack of self-heals, so it pays to play control to avoid getting too weak.

As you can imagine, the deck is chock-full of deathrattle minions. I've opted to go a little less aggressive in the early game by not including 1-drop deathrattles. The early game for this deck is mostly about keeping the opponent from overwhelming you while you build towards CrazyTown.

Undertakers aren't necessarily must-haves in the opening hand here, but are great if you have a strong followup on turns 2 and 3 (say Creeper and Harvest Golem). Another option is to use your hero power often in the early game and save up for a big Undertaker turn later. Of course this tactic is only advised if the opponent is playing a slow early game - board control almost always takes precedence.

You'll notice that the majority of class staples are missing from this deck. This was done to maximize the gimmick and see how shaman performs using other cards. Frankly it's a bit unoriginal to swap out 5-6 cards and call it a "new" shaman deck (though I'm also well-aware that deathrattle decks aren't original either). In any case, the deck performs reasonably well despite the absence of supposed "auto-include" class cards.

There's also no standalone 4-drops here, but I often find you'll be spending those turns clearing the opponent's board or shoring up your own with smaller minions and totem support.

The late game is an-all star cast of legendary deathrattles and K.T. their best buddy. If you don't have Cairne or Sylvanas, you can opt for other useful legends (Black Knight and Loatheb immediately come to mind) or large, value minions like Boulderfist or Sunwalker (which is wonderfully frustrating to your opponent alongside Kel'Thuzad).

Reincarnate allows you to make some ridiculous plays, especially if you can get Baron Rivendare to stick around. Take a look at this recent board against a Handlock (who prior had Twilight Drake, giants and a Watcher all with Argus/Sunfury buffs).

Warlocks are a decent matchup in general - mulligan as if you're fighting Zoo and if it's Handlock just save the removal to help bring down their upcoming giants. You can usually afford to play slower against Handlock and out-value them in the end. Priests can be a problem if they're running heavy on theft-based cards (Cabal, MC, Shadow Madness, etc.) alongside already efficient removal like SWD.

I don't clearly recall games versus Control Warrior, though I'd imagine Brawl being hit or miss depending on what you have on board. Miracle Rogue has the ability to cause trouble as well with board clear and Saps, though it's somewhat dependant on what they draw into.

I'm anxious to dive into Goblins vs Gnomes, but for now I'm relatively content with the absurdity of deathrattle.

Friday, November 21, 2014

So Many Free-To-Play MMOs - Why LotRO?

Old habits die hard. About a month ago, I started getting that itch to play an MMO again. I've been avoiding them for a while now (for reasons explained in older posts), but I keep hoping one day I'll find a title really worth playing.

I started doing research on some of the more popular free-to-play MMOs, narrowing down the list of potential playables based mostly on the number of limitations placed on absolutely free play.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Kripp Breaks Down Arena Matchups

Hearthstone guru Kripparian released a very informative video detailing arena matchups by class. Kripp lists what he considers the best card for each hero in arena (with explanations for those choices) and breaks down the typical strengths and weaknesses versus the other heroes. Anyone trying to get a better grasp on arena play should take heed of this great advice.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Goblins vs Gnomes Coming to Hearthstone

Today Blizzard unveiled the upcoming Hearthstone expansion, titled Goblins vs Gnomes. Unlike Curse of Naxxramas where you unlock wings and fight bosses to obtain cards (known as adventures), players can simply purchase packs of the new set in the shop with gold or real money.

Goblins vs Gnomes will contain over 120 new cards based around crazy mechanical contraptions. There's a new minion type (Mech) and a slew of ridiculous cards, both neutral and class-specific.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Why Mage Is Good In Arena

Kripparian's latest video demonstrates one reason mage is such a great arena choice.

Yes, that many Flamestrikes are excessive and actually not advised. What this does show though, is that Flamestrike in the basic/common slot for arena means it's fairly likely to appear at least once or twice (zero is rare but can happen) and has the potential to show up quite frequently.
Is this "too good" as a basic in arena?

It would be nice to simply make Flamestrike a rare, but that screws up the mage's basic card set. You'd have to shuffle things around and it would make a mess of players' collections.

Additionally, fixing one card to help balance arena can quickly bring on a number of other problems. You're going to have players crying foul towards other cards that are seemingly too strong when drafted more than twice, and a number of those complaints will be valid. A "slippery slope" scenario (say that five times fast) can arise where even more cards are changed or restrictions are placed on draft choices, which would take a lot of the unpredictability (and fun) out of arena.

As it stands, mage doesn't see all that much constructed play (though paladin is probably the least popular) so it's not the worst thing ever if they get to shine somewhere else. Just keep in mind that when you enter the arena against a mage and you're wondering how many Flamestrikes they have, it's probably correct to assume the answer is "Enough".

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Duplicate: Better Than "The Pros" Expected

When Curse of Naxxramas cards were being announced, there was some discussion over the mage secret Duplicate. A number of well-known players talked it down, saying it was ultimately "a bad card that seems good".

I've held the opposite opinion of Duplicate since I first saw it, and even hearing "the pros" bad mouth it never discouraged me from upholding that Duplicate was a strong card (particularly in arena). It can be situationally bad, but playing smart can usually net you a huge benefit with it.

The latest video from Kripparian shows his reversal of opinion on Duplicate with an example of a perfect situation for it.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

World Building is Serious Business

I've been spending a fair amount of time nearly each day helping to build the spawn city and other important locations for The Lazy Dog's "Magical Chaos" Minecraft server. It's intended to be a public server with a mix of survival and roleplay/quest/storyline elements based on the popular "Magic World 2" modpack from FTB (with several distinct changes).

While working on builds are fun and rewarding, we make sure to take breaks and just have a bit of fun. During a little downtime, a couple of our builders ended up making some avatars of a number of our teammates.

I thought these were pretty amusing caricatures. They remind me a lot of the 8-bit era, particularly the early Final Fantasy games. All of the team that's seen these little guys so far have gotten a kick out of them, so it's likely they'll be a fixture on the server officially somewhere. For now though, I should get back to work - there's places to build, quests to write and penguins to launch... ;~P

Friday, October 10, 2014

Dragon Age: Origins Currently Free

Be sure to claim your free copy of Dragon Age: Origins! It's available for a limited time simply by logging into EA's Origin and claiming it from the "On The House" section.

Note that you're not required to download it right away - just claiming it allows you to install and play the game later through Origin. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Doctor Meets Doctor - Hypixel Hyjinks

Last night a few of us Lazy Dogs went on Hypixel to enjoy some minigames. Wellxam was streaming (you can watch the VOD below) and we met up with someone who looked... familiar.

Monday, September 29, 2014

A Little Friendly Competition

JodyPlays released a Hearthstone episode featuring yours truly in a little friendly challenge.
I'm pleased that he sees me as a mentor when it comes to Hearthstone. I don't feel I'm nearly as good as he likes to make me out as, but it's nice to know I can help and provide useful advice.

In return, thanks go out to Jody for his initial call to have his viewers play along on the Fossils and Archeology public server (for Minecraft). Many of us are still close friends and we talk and play games online together pretty much everyday. It's a great community (now called The Lazy Dog) that's been growing a little each day, and it's all thanks to you Jody!

Friday, September 26, 2014

MinecraftShorts: Neighbor

If you enjoy funny Minecraft animations, you should definitely check out Element Animation. Recently, they made light of some big Minecraft news...
I've yet to talk about Microsoft's purchase of Mojang and Notch's immediate departure for two reasons. First, I was pretty surprised when I heard about it and have been trying to collect my thoughts. Second, we'll not know for sure how things will turn out until Microsoft makes any announcements or changes - anything else is pure speculation. That said, I'd still like to voice my opinion at some point and will likely give it more attention in a future post.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

R.I.P. Leeroy Jenkins

A recent Hearthstone patch made changes to both Starving Buzzard and Leeroy Jenkins, removing many of the crazy combos for both cards. To honor the memory of what was, here's a video showcasing Leeroy's best moments.
I find it odd that it took this long to "nerf" Leeroy honestly. The explanation given for the change was pointing most of the blame on hunters with Leeroy + Unleash the Hounds... which was far more broken months ago when UTH was only 2 mana. The wombo combos seen in the video above have been available mostly since the beginning (except for the one using the new shaman card from Naxx of course).

As for other decks that made extensive use of Leeroy, Miracle Rogue was probably most affected by the cost increase. Leeroy + Shadowstep x2 costs 11 mana now, eliminating the combo (short of tryharding with Pint-Sized Summoner... I suppose). Considering that Loatheb and Sludge Belcher are so prevalent (and so good), pulling off lethal burst for Miracle Rogue was already getting tougher. On the bright side, perhaps we'll see some new rogue builds and maybe even a viable Miracle variant.

When it comes to Starving Buzzard, I don't agree with such a harsh change to that one card. Hunter was getting out of hand, but this doesn't seem like the right way to fix things. One of the biggest issues with buzzard allowing players to draw so many cards was the amount of cheap/free answers playable in the same turn from those newly-drawn cards. When you can Buzzard + Unleash and still be able to play another cheap beast or two and any number of Hunter's Marks on top of that, there's a problem. I think a more reasonable change would've been 4-mana Buzzard (with a slight stat increase) and 1-mana Hunter's Mark.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Friday, September 5, 2014

Mickin's Miracles Rank 1 Legend

Congratulations to MickinX - one of the most informative Hearthstone streamers around - for making it to Rank 1 Legend (NA) last night on stream! This is wonderful news because he's been away from streaming for months now and about a week ago he decided to try streaming again for 90 days to see if it's worth making a more serious go of it. Perhaps this win will help to get him more visibility.

He's been playing a Miracle Rogue variant that drops Conceal, teching in Loatheb and a Southsea Deckhand for the meta. As you can see, it works pretty well! Here's a link to the decklist - there will be more info on the deck page soon.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Deathrattle & Faceroll Warlock

I've neglected Hearthstone ladder for so long. Between recording the Curse of Naxxramas series, learning other games and scrambling to get a new PC after the old warhorse finally died, I haven't had much time otherwise. Things seemed to have settled down a bit though, and this week I had the time to see what constructed looks like.

I heard about the resurgence of hunter now that Mad Scientist is out, and even played it a bit in casual to see how it handles. It's pretty gross, but it also meant the meta would be shifting to beat it. I played priest for a couple of days, running Zombie Chow for early removal then pulling the "Auchenai surprise", but priest just doesn't feel consistent enough to me. It's still very reliant on getting the right cards at the right time to even make it work, and if you like that playstyle Miracle Rogue just seems better at combo.

I've really been wanting to see how Undertaker handles, and settled on a deathrattle-loaded warlock deck for several reasons. I wanted to pack the deck with small deathrattlers to maximize the Undertaker, and the hero power compliments that nicely (we're all familiar with zoo I'm sure). I also wanted some early protection and Voidwalker fits the bill. With a nearly empty hand after the first couple turns, Soulfire is amazing spot removal. Additionally, Void Terror and Power Overwhelming are just nuts in a deathrattle deck.

The difference between this deck and zoo though is fairly large. Zoo struggles significantly more to bounce back when AoE removal hits the table. With so many deathrattles, opponents have to play their board clear very carefully and in most cases will find it hard to get the perfect time to do so. Zoo can also run out of gas against good control decks, while this build has a more solid lategame.

It also feels surprisingly strong in the meta right now too. With all the taunts (especially Unstable Ghoul), hunters will have a hard time getting a good Unleash the Hounds off. Additionally, decks designed to beat hunter aren't doing too hot against this either. I typically win against druids and control warriors (which brings a smile to my face). Things get a little more dicey against priest, as they have a lot of tools to wreck you with... though thankfully Mass Dispel hasn't been teched against me yet.

The last few days have been pretty good though. I went up seven ranks or so with a couple hours of play, so I'm happy. Best of all the deck is incredibly fun and often pretty trollish. If you get Undertaker and some small deathrattles in the starting hand, you can usually play very aggressively. Otherwise, Voidwalker and some of the other early minions make the deck appear to be more like typical zoo, which can be great for confusing opponents.

I run only one Void Terror - I think two is overdoing it because you'll not always have the right place to play it. There are times even one can feel like a dead card, but it's definitely strong enough to run a single. Kel'Thuzad and Baron Rivendare are also really greedy choices, but K.T. can turn a close late-game to a sure win. I've made no changes to the deck yet since I built it (and honestly it didn't feel that hard to put together), so we'll see how revisions go. I don't have Cairne, otherwise he'd be in here too.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Corruption in Gaming Journalism = Great Life Lesson

I've been nose-deep in Curse of Naxxramas and haven't had much time to stay on top of gaming news, so the video I'm about to post was my heads up. Supposedly there's a lot of stuff going down over at Kotaku concerning corruption of their journalism.

Not to knock Kotaku, but it should come as no surprise if there's a deep level of corruption in a major gaming journalism site. These websites have pretty much taken over where printed magazines used to be, and as a veteran gamer I can tell you the majority of those were propaganda pieces meant to entice you into buying games that in reality were utter trash.

In any event, I'd like to present Boogie2988's (you may have seen him as 'Francis') video about this - not because it goes into great detail of the story so much as his opinion on the subject. What he has to say about journalism - gaming or otherwise - as well as life in general is great advice worth sharing.

Curse of Naxxramas Ep39 - Heroic Kel'Thuzad

This is it, the final boss of Naxxramas awaits!
Heroic Kel'Thuzad is by far the toughest boss of the adventure (and rightfully so). He packs a ton of removal (both mass and single-target), has 65 health including armor, two ridiculous hero powers... and he cheats! The first hero power does 3 damage and freezes your hero (zero mana), and once you knock off his armor he immediately begins his turn. At that point the hero power changes to stealing a random enemy minion permanently for 8 mana and he summons two 5/5 taunts!

After battling him with numerous deck ideas (and fighting to connect to servers), I finally found what worked for me. It's based around buffing minions to crazy size and pounding the lich's face in with a huge amount of card draw to dig for the combinations... a "Miracle Priest" of sorts. While it was frustrating trying to record an episode of the winning game, I felt the challenge was indeed worthy of a true heroic end boss. In some ways, I almost wish some of the other bosses were a bit tougher to get you ready for heroic Kel'Thuzad... but it's probably for the best that wish goes ungranted.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Curse of Naxxramas Ep38 - Heroic Sapphiron

Just one slight change can make all the difference between normal and heroic mode.
Heroic Sapphiron gets a small boost to health (as per all heroic bosses), but the real clincher here is that you do not get a Frozen Champion. That means at the start of each of Sapphiron's turns, all your minions will die. How does one combat a foe like this? I went with weapons and charge minions!

Warrior is a great choice due to the sheer number of weapons available and a respectable charge minion, though mage might also be a good class (assuming you have both Pyroblasts). The deck I played really felt reversed as my minions became removal and my weapons were used for face damage, but it worked pretty well.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Curse of Naxxramas Ep37 - Paladin Challenge

Uther vs. Kel'Thuzad!
This paladin deck isn't what I'd call the best ever. It's running Echoing Oozes without Sword of Justice and there's no Consecrations. Your chances at winning depend largely on your draws and if you can make good use of your buffs and Divine Favors.

Old K.T. tends to go through his opening hand fairly quickly, making Divine Favor useless early on. That's fine though because he's also running Acolytes of Pain which will inevitably load his hand back up. If you can hold out until then, you should have enough for a second (or third) push to finish him off.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Curse of Naxxramas Ep36 - Kel'Thuzad

The final boss of normal mode is one of the most entertaining yet.
I went priest again and had no problems defeating him, though a number of other strategies will work. I wouldn't play a weapon-heavy deck though, he runs Skeletal Smiths and starts off with a hero power that does 2 damage and freezes you (for zero mana).

Things get really interesting when he goes into phase two (yes, this boss has phases), which seems to happen at a certain health. The hero power becomes a no-strings-attached Shadow Madness for 8 mana, meaning you don't want to play a lone, powerful minion. Flooding the board isn't wise either because Kel'Thuzad packs Twisting Nether, so don't overextend.

Make sure to engage Kel'Thuzad in some conversation when you play. He has a response for each emote and seems to have a different match intro for every hero.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Curse of Naxxramas Ep35 - Sapphiron

It's time to face the Frostwyrm Lair!
I decided to try higher quality video. It took longer to render and upload, but it seems worth it.

As for Sapphiron, priest does the job again with Lightwell and Deathlord being the workhorses. Slow and steady wins the race against this boss - just keep healing and only play what you really need to... just make sure not to overfill your hand.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Curse of Naxxramas Ep34 - Heroic Thaddius

I tried to get fancy, and it didn't turn out like I planned.
Even though it took me a while to beat Thaddius, it's not too difficult if you stick to what works. Priest is capable of doing the job and I understand that warlock is also a great choice (mulligan aggressively for Corruption and Soulfire in the opening hand). Once you take care of his opener, the rest of the battle is just like the normal mode.

Of note, there is another trick I was not aware of: killing off his Stalag or Fuegen counts towards your summoning of Thaddius if you play them yourself. Note that his have no deathrattle because he already IS Thaddius. Still, it feels odd to kill Thaddius using Thaddius... I'm sure that will cause some kind of hole in the space/time continuum, perhaps opening a portal to an alternate reality. Wait, isn't that the plot behind the next WoW expansion? Now we know how it really happened!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Curse of Naxxramas Ep33 - Heroic Gluth

Rexxar shows Gluth who the top dog is around here...
A number of rushdown strategies are effective against Gluth, but don't expect a basic zoo deck to win. Gluth's hero power turns all YOUR minions to one health (not his), so things that only have one health aren't affected. Oozes are key to survival because his weapon in heroic mode is ridiculous. If you can find a way to efficiently kill his Zombie Chows, you'll regain all the health you lost during the first few turns - I suggest Explosive Trap or Consecration after weakening them a bit.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Curse of Naxxramas Ep32 - Heroic Grobbulus

This might be the toughest boss of Naxx to date.
Heroic Grobbulus has a great AoE hero power (better than Consecration and it's free), truly annoying minions and the best single-target buff in the game (+4/+4 and taunt for 3 mana). His big weakness however is that he lacks single-target removal. This looks like a job for... Gimmick Priest!!!

Lightwells and Deathlords will be your go-to minions as you buff them to ridiculous size and keep them healed. You'll eventually mire through his taunts and hit for massive damage.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Curse of Naxxramas Ep31 - Heroic Patchwerk

If you can't outrace Patchwerk, just slow him down.
Using a combination of oozes, freezes and bad-for-your-opponent deathrattles, you can get just enough damage to finish Patchwerk off before he chops you into pieces. Astute players will notice that Patchwerk's AI is set to kill deathrattle minions with his hero power, mimicking a mechanic of the WoW raid.

Also, there's a few other cool things you can do against Patchwerk (no pun intended). As a priest, ooze + Mind Vision means you get his uber weapon and any cards that force your opponent to draw will fatigue him for damage!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Curse of Naxxramas Ep30 - Priest Challenge

Anduin vs. Thaddius is easy mode compared to the last challenge.
This was about par for class challenges so far - not too difficult if you take a moment to think out your plays. As per the last fight against Thaddius, priest is more than capable of making his hero power negligible as well as healing through the lightning spells.

Curse of Naxxramas Ep29 - Warrior Challenge

Garrosh vs. Grobbulus is a clunky matchup.
I felt this "challenge" was really more about getting the right cards at the right time than anything. I see what they were trying to do, but it doesn't seem to flow as well as the other class challenges. I'm just glad I'm done with it.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Curse of Naxxramas Ep28 - Thaddius

The final boss for the Construct Quarter isn't too tough, shockingly.
His hero power is basically a mass Crazed Alchemist for zero, and I immediately thought of the potential abuse that priest could have with that. While not a hard fight (at least in normal mode), Thaddius had the right cards for the theme.

Curse of Naxxramas Ep27 - Gluth

It's a dog-eat-dog world out there as I take on Gluth using Rexxar.
Gluth makes sure your minions won't stay out long because his hero power is basically Equality. He has a weapon that starts out very weak but gets buffed by deathrattles, which are packed into his deck. I ran hunter against him without too much trouble, but I feel a number of rush decks might fare just as well, especially if they include oozes.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Curse of Naxxramas Ep26 - Grobbulus

Grobbulus has a nasty set of cards.
This boss specializes in making a swarm of minions and can eventually buff them to incredible size. Additionally, his hero power is an AoE that can net him a 2/2. I found that a hunter deck digging for Unleash the Hounds is a good way to go. Scavening Hyena was an MVP as well because it seems that Grobbulus doesn't have much for single-target removal (thank goodness).

Curse of Naxxramas Ep25 - Patchwerk

The first boss of the Construct Quarter is definitely different.
Due to his recurring weapon, you're on a 6-turn clock. He has no minions, spells or even cards for that matter, so removal is a waste. His hero power can easily take care of slower decks, so I suggest rushing him down - zoo warlock does the job.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Curse of Naxxramas Ep24 - Heroic Four Horsemen

I prepare a deck specifically designed to beat the Four Horsemen!
The idea here is to capitalize on what we know about this boss. Baron Rivendare only has three minions, all of which he starts the game with and have a special ability to keep him alive. He has a ton of targeted removal, some minor AoE, and a couple of weapons.

Silencing, stealing or killing his minions can quickly spell doom for Rivendare. Minions that can't be targeted by his removal become huge threats, and deathrattle minions help to ensure he spends extra to clear your board. I didn't try it, but stealth minions might also be a good option as they're likely to dodge his removal until they get at least one good swing in.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Curse of Naxxramas Ep23 - Heroic Gothik

Heroic Gothik's not the hardest of the Military Quarter if you plan ahead.
Keep in mind that he'll use his hero power (1 mana, gain a mana crystal and draw a card) even when he's out of cards... the guy's not too bright. If you build a deck designed to outlast a fatigue battle, you'll do well. Also, he's extremely liberal with removal spells so bait them out with weaker minions before committing something important. Late game taunts are invaluable as he'll eventually run out of gas and has no direct damage to heroes.

Curse of Naxxramas Ep22 - Heroic Razuvious

This guy is a real pain. Make sure to watch the epic troll at 8:30!
To beat Razuvious, you musn't let him hit you with his weapon. Thankfully, he only has two of them but his RNG is amazing (I'm certain he's being used to test the new topdeck ability coming in the "Elite Skills Update"). Additionally, his hero power is ridiculous and can decimate your board (or health) quickly. I suggest a variant of Zeto's Anti-Noth Priest deck, adding in tons of taunt and Acidic Swamp Oozes to keep that sword as far away from your face as possible!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Curse of Naxxramas Ep21 - Warlock Challenge

Gul'dan v. The Four Horsemen finishes up the Military Quarter's class challenges.
Again, not a difficult game by any means. Void Callers can be nice to keep minions on the board, which is handy against the Horsemen's vast array of removal.

Curse of Naxxramas Ep20 - Shaman Challenge

Thrall v. Gothik, not too tough.
Not a lot to say here. Trade when you can and buff the guys he gives you with Flametongue Totem.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Curse of Naxxramas Ep19 - Baron Rivendare/Four Horsemen

The final boss for normal Military Quarter is actually a bit of a challenge.
Removing his starting minions is the only way you're going to win. He lacks any other minions (from what I saw) but makes up for it with tons of removal. I think a number of decks are viable, but you must have a way to efficiently remove the minions (which are 1/7) and still provide threats that can end the game. I'd think that silencing all the horsemen would remove his immunity, making things pretty easy...

Quest Design by Extra Credits

A few months ago I happened upon a cool YouTube channel that focuses on game design called Extra Credits. I haven't gotten around to watching every episode I'm interested in yet, but today I saw a couple of videos discussing quest design, particularly those in MMOs, and would like to share them with you.

This is exactly what I've been talking about in terms of MMOs lacking innovative quests. Thankfully, Extra Credits provides some ideas towards improving the experience and points out a few titles that are at least attempting to do the same. 

I played LotRO a few years back when it first went free-to-play (well I played a bit in beta too, but not much), and at the time it felt like there was a considerable gap between the free and paying players. I'm not sure if that's changed any, and I might have to revisit it at some point to be sure.

While I've heard complaints about The Secret World, the sheer fact that they're trying some new approaches to questing sounds like enough to at least look a bit deeper into what they offer.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Curse of Naxxramas Ep18 - Gothik the Harvester

The second boss of the Military Quarter likes giving you things you don't really want.
Trading with Gothik's minions is a lose-lose situation. You get a 0/X minion that deals 1 damage to you each turn. While that's less damage than the original minion was going to hit you for, it's still annoying. You can mitigate this to some extent by buffing the spectral minions (making them useful) or finding a way to clear them from your board (i.e. Hellfire).

Smart Robots!

If you haven't seen the changes coming to Minecraft in 1.8, you're in for a real treat. New mobs (both animals and monsters), super-customizable banners, red sandstone, armor stands and a number of other goodies are on the way!

In the case of armor stands, there are several mods that have already covered this (Bibliocraft being one the most popular)... but these new stands have some added functionality. They're entities and can ride minecarts, be tossed around by slime blocks and all that fun stuff. They can also be posed and altered via command blocks. With some time and creativity, Wubbi of ZipKrowd came up with a "smart" robot capable of cleaning up an area. Take a look.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Curse of Naxxramas Ep17 - Instructor Razuvious

The Military Quarter is open!
As usual, the first battles against the wing's bosses are fairly easy. Watch out for his weapon - it's a lot of damage if he connects with your face! Cheap taunts with 4+ health are advised so his hero power won't easily remove them.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Curse of Naxxramas Ep16 - Heroic Loatheb

Last boss of Heroic Plague Quarter, we'll see how things handle for the next wing's release...
It seems that Unleash the Hounds ends up as the quickest route to victory here. Let him fill the board (hopefully with several Spores), then Unleash for a one turn kill.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Curse of Naxxramas Ep15 - Heroic Heigan

Second boss of the Plague Quarter (Heroic) isn't as bad as Noth, but still annoying!
Interestingly, the same deck to beat Noth can likely beat Heigan as well. His hero power punishes anything but the largest minions, and his rushdown can quickly overwhelm you. Playing big minions that you can keep healthy is a solid strategy for bringing Heigan down.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Curse of Naxxramas Ep14 - Heroic Noth

We begin the Heroic Mode of the Plague Quarter with a rough start...
That hero power combined with Plague makes for the toughest matchup to date. You cannot trade against Noth, so you must have removal. Thankfully his early game is a bit slow, allowing you to hopefully establish a strong start.

The go-to class here is priest, due to all the healing potential for keeping your minions alive. It's still a hard fight though.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Curse of Naxxramas Ep13 - Mage Challenge

Jaina takes on Heigan in the Mage Challenge!
This felt almost too easy. You're given a pretty strong deck to beat Heigan with. Just make good use of Duplicate and your deathrattle minions, and you'll have this won in no time.

Curse of Naxxramas Ep12 - Hunter Challenge

The Hunter Challenge is... different.
This is actually a pretty easy challenge, especially if you happen into a Starving Buzzard. Also, take some time to count up damage options - you can get amazing amounts of damage if Loatheb has multiple Spores in play.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Curse of Naxxramas Ep11 - Loatheb

Final boss of the Plague Quarter for Normal Mode!
Loatheb has a huge life total, but fear not! His own minions will be his undoing, assuming you can take advantage of killing off the Spores while you have some minions in play. He's not as tough as he looks.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Curse of Naxxramas Ep10 - Heigan the Unclean

Time to fight the second boss of the Plague Quarter!
Heigan plays similarly to a Zoo Warlock, so any decks designed to beat that should handle him easily. I suggest a few beefy minions (4+ health) or divine shields for "tanking" his hero power and a little AoE to clear his board.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Curse of Naxxramas Ep9 - Noth the Plaguebringer

The Plague Quarter is open, time to fight Noth!
I like the idea of a passive hero power for some bosses, and this was certainly an interesting one! Between the power and his spells, I'd stay away from using swarm/rushdown decks unless you can defeat him before turn 6.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Arena Shenanigans: Game 7

Can this mage finally stop my arena run?
I was hoping to have the beginning of the next Naxxramas wing today, but it opens pretty late tonight - thus the arena episode today.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Curse of Naxxramas Ep8 - Heroic Maexxna

I take on the final boss of the Arachnid Quarter... and fail a number of times!
My final strategy involved lots of cheap minions with Battlecry, silence and AoE spells. There are a number of classes that can work for the boss, but abusing battlecry minions seems to be a key component for victory.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Arena Shenanigans: Game 6

Can I defeat this druid and keep the arena going?

Curse of Naxxramas Ep7 - Heroic Faerlina

Will I triumph over Heroic Faerlina? She was the toughest boss of Normal Mode (at least for me) and the idea of having to battle her in Heroic has been haunting me ever since.
I stick with what worked last time (Warlock Zoo) and dive into battle! As expected, her health is also increased to 45 and her hero power only costs 1 mana! I suggest rushing her down quickly before she stalls the game with Hellfire and starts summoning improved Worshipers.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Curse of Naxxramas Ep6 - Heroic Anub'Rekhan

I begin Heroic Mode for the Arachnid Quarter!
I was able to use the same deck as for Normal Mode, but it is a tougher fight. Boss health increases to 45 and its hero power summons a 4/4 for 2 mana! I suggest a lot of cheap taunts because Anub'Rekhan likes to go face. Also, try to kill the Deathlords ASAP to make use of their deathrattle effect.

MMORPG Exercise -- Players Know Too Much!!

I talked at length in a recent post about players having too much information in MMORPGs to the point that the "RPG" element is mostly gone.

YouTuber Corpsealot posted this recently, which demonstrates exactly what I'm talking about.

It could be argued that you should (or shouldn't) know your own health and spell/ability damage, but even that would be far less information that what most MMOs provide now.

Sadly, I doubt we'll ever see things go this way. Major developers simply won't take the risk, and producing an MMO is likely beyond the resources of an indie team.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Curse of Naxxramas Ep5 - Rogue Challenge

Time to finish up the Class Challenges for the first wing!
I had a bit of a convoluted game, due partially to my opening hand and some odd plays on my part later on. My suggestion for beating this challenge is to flood the board and bounce/replay Defender of Argus when possible.

Curse of Naxxramas Ep4 - Druid Challenge

Time to work on the Class Challenges!
Since you're given a preconstructed deck, it seems the Class Challenges test your skill at adapting quickly. Those used to Arena mode should take to them fairly well.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Curse of Naxxramas Ep3 - Maexxna

It's time to take on the giant spider Maexxna and finish the Arachnid Quarter (Normal Mode).
While I had excellent luck with my shaman, I feel a number of decks could take care of Maexxna fairly well. Minions with charge, divine shield or positive battlecries help to negate Maexxna's hero power. The biggest threat seems to be the Sea Giants - negate them and you'll do fine!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Curse of Naxxramas Ep2 - Grand Widow Faerlina

The server lag from yesterday is pretty much gone, and I continue onwards into the Arachnid Quarter.

It seems you'll need a specific type of deck to defeat Grand Widow Faerlina - one that can empty its hand quickly while still providing constant threats. I'd recommend Warlock Zoo or Rushdown Pally.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Curse of Naxxramas Ep1 - Anub'Rekhan

Thought I'd record my first experience with "Curse of Naxxramas". I rather enjoyed the game and will likely turn this into a series as well.

MEGA Gargantua!

Cubehamster turns crazy up to 11 with the Mega Gargantua! This giant walking vehicle easily seats three players and includes walkways for accessing and launching its vast armament of TNT-based weaponry!
If you're interested in a detailed explanation of this behemoth, you can watch the video linked here.

Kripp Reviews All Naxx Cards

Hearthstone guru Kripparian gives his thoughts on all the cards coming in the "Curse of Naxxramas" expansion. This should go without saying, but the video is full of spoilers. If you're interested in seeing what's new or would like good information on a card's effectiveness, this video is worth a watch!