"Hearthstone," Blizzard Entertainment's addictive free-to-play online card game, introduced an Adventure Mode on Tuesday, letting players battle the iconic bosses of Naxxramas in card form. Naxxramas and its raid have been a favorite part of "World of Warcraft" since the classic era, having been revitalized during 'Wrath of the Lich King.'
Much like the floating necropolis, Curse of Naxxramas is divided into wings, with the first four corresponding with a quarter from the raid: the Arachnid Quarter, the Plague Quarter, the Military Quarter, the Construct Quarter, and finally Frostwyrm Lair. So many eager players took advantage of the introductory free wing (which is to remain free through the month of August at least) that the servers were slow for much of the day yesterday, but once players got into the game, disappointment was a common reaction.
Dissatisfied players fell mostly into two camps: those who thought the game was too easy, and those who felt it was too difficult. Anyone who knows gamers might not be surprised by this dichotomy, but what most seemed to agree on was that there was not enough content or replayability to justify the $6.99 price tag ($19.99 for the remaining four as a bundle), especially since there are only 30 new cards.
For the overachieving player–one who either has solid decks or uses someone else's builds–the bosses were reportedly easy to beat with the right deck. For the casual player, facing Grand Widow Faerlina's “Rain of Fire (2): Fire a missile for each card in your opponent’s hand” is intimidating enough until you realize that her deck has more than two cards of a type and she always gets the “coin” card. Suddenly, the reward of an alternate card back may not seem worth the trouble.
When you add together the lackluster rewards and the fact that daily quests can't be completed in adventure mode, many players feel their $20 could better be spent buying Steam games with much higher replay value.
Worth the cost or not the new cards that players earn as rewards for beating the bosses have a unique feel to them. They are sure to inject a little life... or undeath into the current PVP play, as players add these earned cards into their existing decks. These new cards also feature in the “class challenges” that were added as part of Adventure Mode. While some feel that playing with premade decks takes a lot of the fun out of the game, others enjoy seeing how the new cards can work in a deck.
The important verdict, though, will be revealed next week by how many players log in for wing number two. Wherever you fall in the spectrum of Hearthstone player, it's probably best to take advantage of the free preview before spending money on the Adventure Mode.