You’re Probably Prepared: Curse of Naxxramas Released

The left hand side of this image lovingly dedicated to Richard Cobbett

As we enter the third year of the Valve-Blizzard-Riot war for all of the money, everywhere, ever, the latest offensive from the mega-juggernaut weather system has arrived. While the above picture is supposedly a marketing image, I choose to believe it’s a photograph of Mike Morhaime offering up this morsel to those who’d broken the Hearthstone habit. Curse of Naxxramas is the first expansion to the free-to-play, difficult-to-quit card game and went live last night, with the first of five “wings” free to all who step foot in it before September.

Each wing is a set of single-player boss encounters, based around the superb raid dungeon of the same name from World of Warcraft. The only wing available at launch is the Arachnid Quarter, featuring three encounters with rather predictably eight-legged foes. It’s free forever if you play before a yet-unconfirmed date in early September, but after that it’ll follow the same pricing as the rest of the wings, which are due to arrive weekly:

In an announcement post delivered with their usual mix of humour and self-parody, Blizzard outlined the details yesterday. Beating each wing will unlock a series of neutral cards, available to every class, while also unlocking a “class challenge” mode that provides cards specific to each of the nine deck types. There’s also a heroic mode, an harder version, that will reward a new card back and bragging rights if you manage to beat every single wing, though nothing individually. Reports (my friends) indicate (tell me) that it is “bastard hard.”

You’ll notice there’s no gold reward for beating wings, so Naxxramas cannot fund itself. However given the 7 day wait period between releases, some quick math indicates that performing any stocked daily challenges and then new ones every 24 hours will likely give you enough for another wing come next week. According to the Hearthstone Wiki a couple of successful Arena runs should also stock you up. While it would be difficult (or at least incredibly grindy) to pay for the whole thing using in-game rewards only, cutting it down to the two or three wing price won’t take much.

Just as well, really, since the bang-for-buck ratio is a bit low. Three Hearthstone matches, even extended ones against amusing AI opponents, isn’t going to take much longer than 45 minutes for the newest players. You’re really paying for the new cards with a very polished and interactive unlock interface. You can view the full list of what will be available here. Heroic modes seem to be the actually challenging play experience to go with it but the slow unlock progress and seeing people defeating every bit of it as early as last night make the full £18 feel wasteful. Then again, I’ve probably spent that on purely cosmetics for other games in my time, which is on the low end, so perhaps it’s moot.

Have you yet ventured into the necropolis, readers? As exciting as the raid (the answer is no)?


Top comments

  1. Turkey says:

    I don't really see Naxxramas as a curse. It's more of an opportunity to get together and celebrate the birth of Jesruxx Chrisruxxus.
  1. jasta85 says:

    Arachnid quarter was pretty easy, beat all 3 bosses and the 2 class challenges all on my first go. granted, I did watch a couple videos of people playing through those fights so I knew what the boss mechanics were ahead of time, but the AI can be pretty stupid at times, such as attacking me and ignoring my minions when I have lethal damage my following turn.

    Anyway, looking forward to the next area next week. I’ve been saving up gold ever since they announced this expansion so I’ve got enough to buy all the other wings at this point without having to drop cash.

    • Chalky says:

      Yeah, that’s kinda understandable though. They’re really just puzzles, once you know the answer it’s simple.

      I watched Trump playing the last boss on the hardest difficulty setting, it took him 3 attempts and that guy really knows his hearthstone. Once he realised the obvious trick though it was pretty trivial, and after having see him do it I’m sure I could do it first go.

  2. ahniwa says:

    I had a good time, but also swept through the content mostly on the first attempt (including Heroic). Still a lot of fun, and I’m looking forward to the other wings.

  3. Koozer says:

    I’m glad the first wing was free. Paying for this with real money would be a real rip-off. The way I see it you aren’t really buying fun, but instead a few cards gated behind battles. It was quite entertaining though, and I like the class challenges with prebuilt decks. (EDIT: aaaand that’s exactly what the rest of the article says. Bad Koozer for reading!) I wish they’d do more of that for the main game.

  4. Post-Internet Syndrome says:

    The normal mode was trivial to defeat, but the class challenges and heroic mode are much harder. I do agree though that the price is quite high for so little content. I’ve been saving up and plan to pay only with in-game gold.

    Also, I’ll take this opportunity to plug the forum thread: link to We’ve got a small community tournament coming up next week!

  5. Mhorhe says:

    I thought Blizz had learned its lesson with Diablo III.. normal mode Naxx was fairly trivial, I got it done in half an hour last night, and using my established decks too. 2nd and 3rd bosses were easy meat for a Zoo deck.

    Challenges were in a similar boat, fairly easy to squash.

    Heroic took a bit more, about 1-2 hours, most of which was spent on the last boss. Refused to look to the internet for help :-) figured the challenge was close to being done anyway.

    Where I disagree with the article is the “incredibly grindy” part of unlocking the full Naxx experience by ingame coinage only.

    Ever since Naxx was announced I simply stopped buying packs and playing Arena. Half an hour of HS per day, maybe 1 hour a weekend, was something I would have enjoyed doing anyhow. By the time they announced the gold price tag I had accumulated about 3500 gold, and since then I’ve spent, conservatively, over 1000 gold more.

    It’s nowhere near incredibly grindy, but actually pretty doable.

    • Chrysomore says:

      Compared to the months-long fuckfests they’ve done in WoW, an hour a day for a week is practically NOTHING in Blizzard terms, or even F2P in general.

    • MisterFurious says:

      Were I disagree with the article is the statement that Hearthstone is hard to quit. I found it quite easy.

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      Ben Barrett says:

      I mean to go from the (for example) 5 gold I have now to buying each wing the week it comes out. You’d need to play a lot of constructed each day to win the gold necessary. If we had time machines then yes, it wouldn’t be very grindy at all :P

      • Mhorhe says:

        That’s true but then..why would you leave yourself with 5 gold if you intended to buy Naxx, within the release time frame of each wing, with gold? :D

        That being said, a week of play will net you, at the minimum conservative, only 40 gold quests and playing only to finish each daily quest, upwards of 300 gold (40×7 + however many triple wins you get).

        Which means you can unlock each wing, starting from zero, in about 2 weeks….

        And that’s not counting any possible 60 or 100 gold quests, or the maximum 100 gold per day from triple wins, or Arena..

        Yeah. I’m gonna go ahead and say it’s doable even from 5 gold :)

  6. Chrysomore says:

    It’s actually not bad, for a first try, and it’s certainly nice to see Blizzard try gating based on something engaging, rather than their usual mindless, unrelenting grind. That said, they are going to have to ramp up the challenges considerably if they want this to be an ongoing source of fun instead of yet another pointless chore on the way to the real content; apart from the last heroic, this whole pack is a cakewalk..

  7. Zamn10210 says:

    It’s worth pointing out that unless you never spend money in Hearthstone, you should buy this with real money. £14 for the four wings would buy you 15 packs. 2800 gold is the cost of 28 packs.

    If bought this with gold then subsequently spent real money on packs or arena entries you’d be getting a very bad deal.

    • Koozer says:

      On the other hand, you receive 11 cards for each wing, so 44 cards for 4 wings, which is about 9 packs worth.

    • Benkyo says:

      I thought never spending any money on Hearthstone was the default, rather than the exception?

    • Mhorhe says:

      As Koozer says, the difference is fairly small. 24 packs vs 28, ignoring everything else.

      It comes down to the amount of cash you want to invest in HS.

    • Zamn10210 says:

      The fact that Naxxramas includes cards doesn’t actually make any difference. The cards from Naxx are unique and not available from packs. They’re a part of the Naxx content.

      It doesn’t come down to how much you want to invest in Hearthstone, but whether you want to spend it all. If you’re going to spend real money, Naxx is much better value than packs or arena entries.

  8. Wulfram says:

    It’s OK. Wouldn’t spend real money on it. But then I don’t spend real money on much.

  9. Rizlar says:

    Terrible accents.

  10. Hydraulic Meerkat says:

    Found it pretty simple as these card games go, and suspected from the beginning Blizzard’s take on free to play would have these sorts of things. With all the raids the game has they can churn out these pale reflections at 22 bucks a pop for years.

  11. Stephen Roberts says:

    My friend plays this game, tried to get me into it. He has smashed it, seems to have all the experience and not really much to show for it. It seems incredibly luck-based. I’m sure there’s some skill involved in winning matches, but there are just such a massive wealth of cards that gut and sever without a warning.

    Also, it just reminds me of WoW but without any of the good feeling about playing WoW. It’s like looking at the box art for WoW. Hugging the case, curling up in a foetal position on the floor and rocking back and forth. Not quite unlike how I used to play WoW.

  12. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    I dunno, Hearthstone hasn’t captivated me, really. Scrolls (which I’ve been disappointed by in the past) is actually a more fun game in my opinion. And that doesn’t really grab me because of its various flaws (well, it’s still in development). I guess I’ll have a go at it every once in a while.

  13. Turkey says:

    I don’t really see Naxxramas as a curse. It’s more of an opportunity to get together and celebrate the birth of Jesruxx Chrisruxxus.

  14. Gothnak says:

    I quite enjoyed it but it was VERY short.

    Like most others here, i breezed through the normal mode and the 2 challenges. The heroic one with the 4/4 for 2 mana was a bit brutal but the other heroic modes were dispatched pretty quickly. The most fun one was the one which returned two creatures to your hand for 0 mana every turn. Make a specific deck for that and it was a lot of fun to mess around with it.

  15. strangeloup says:

    Didn’t seem to be mentioned in the article — and I suspect it won’t be an issue for most — but you need all the basic decks unlocked in order to play Naxx. I’ve not had Hearthstone for very long and haven’t been playing a great deal, so I need to complete those to get the first wing free.