Wednesday, 23 July 2014

The Curse of Naxxramas - Heroic Maexxna

Yesterday the spider wing opened and it was time to experience the first Hearthstone adventure. Adventure is a bit of a big word for a few AI opponents, but I'll give them a pass on that for the mean time. Overall I was pretty happy with the content they released. At the same time I'm not entirely convinced I'll buy the rest or ever play Hearthstone again. But I'll leave that for another day.

The bosses are certainly not ordinary matches. Anub'Rekhan's hero power puts a 3/1 into play, Grand Widow Faerlina's shoots one random missile at you or your minions for each card in your hand. At the same time they aren't hard. Ordinary decks I already had built took down all three.

Beating the bosses in the wing unlocked two class challenges - Druid and Rogue - as well as the heroic mode of each boss. The class challenges are played against a pre-selected boss with a deck built for the challenge. They are less "challenges" and more exposes for the new card. The Druid class challenge, for example, had a deck with Nerubian Eggs, Haunted Creepers and Poison Seeds. I got a very good draw and went off on turn five putting two 4/4s and three 2/2s into play opposite his lone 2/2.

The heroic boss fights are where the real game is. First of all they all have 45 life so it's a lot harder to just beat them up with a good draw. More importantly, they have cards and abilities that aren't remotely fair.

Looking over the three of them I decided to take on Maexxna first. She was the fight that had the greatest puzzle aspect to it. Her hero power costs 0 and returns two of your minions to your hand at random. She also starts with two Haunted Creepers in play.

Now it is fairly obvious that if you are going to have two minions return to your hand every turn you should play with lots of minions with Battlecry. I started with a Rogue deck to take advantage of Defias Cuthroat. I found this didn't work well because my token creatures kept getting returned to my hand, leaving me unable to reuse my battlecries, and eventually I got swarmed. Making matters worse was the fact that in addition to the small creatures, Maexxna also has King Krush, The Beast and at least two Sea Giants.

So I switched to warrior to get armor up to rebuild my effective life after the early rush. That way if I could stabilize I could get back above 8 health and not die to Krush. Plus, the warrior has Warsong Commander which seemed helpful. The warrior deck was better, but I still kept finding myself in a place where I had too many creatures in hand.

Finally I went with Mage. Mage meant I could have a ton of spells to kill minions in my deck. You can see the winning deck here.

The key to the battle is thinking of your minions more as hero powers than as things that can stay in play. Maexxna will always begin her turn with her hero power even when it is deeply unadvantageous to do so. So you can play an owl to silence a creature and Voodoo Doctor to gain 2 life knowing that you'll be able to spent three mana and do exactly the same thing next turn. Never put out a third minion unless your life depends on it.

The other thing to keep in mind is that you really need to save polymorph for Maexxna's big minions. Don't waste it on a Sludge Belcher.

This battle was very smooth and I won on my first try with this deck. It is quite draw-dependent, but all you really have to do is find an Owl, an Archer and a Doctor in the early going to maximize your use of the webs.

If I had to do it again I would cut Mirror Image and Kirin Tor Mage for sure.  The most obvious way to improve the deck if you have them is to add Big Game Hunter as another and a better way to deal with large creatures. I'd also consider adding Vaporize if I had it to fill in the missing slot. If you want to build the deck without the epics or even the rares rares you can fill up on creatures with Charge and probably do just fine.

I think this boss is definitely beatable with free spells and commons only.

No comments:

Post a Comment