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Hearthstone announced a new mode of gameplay at Blizzconn this year called Battlegrounds. I’m glad they announced something new, because while dungeon runs are still challenging and good for time killing, it wasn’t novel or interesting – you can only go so crazy in the powerlevel of the treasures.

Battlegrounds is an autochess clone. From a business perspective, it makes sense for Hearthstone to add a mode that is the same as the game that they are losing players too. I’ve tried playing autochess before, but the learning curve investment was just to steep. However, I watched a bunch of people stream Battlegrounds (trying to get an early access drop for it) and it seems pretty straightforward. In fact, I’ve watched so much Battlegrounds that I feel bored with the mode already. I’ll see what happens when the mode is launched live today, maybe it is different when you’re actually playing.

I’ve been playing a lot of dungeon run-type games in Hearthstone, but decided to take a break and go back to the traditional PVE. Still stuck on Blackrock Mountain, so decided to work on Lich King some more. The Hunter battle penalizes you if you have minions in your deck, so guess it’s time for spell hunter. Here’s my deck:

  • Arcane Shot
  • Bear Trap
  • Cat Trick
  • Explosive Trap
  • Grievous Bite x 2
  • Misdirection x 2
  • Quick Shot
  • Snipe
  • Animal Companion x 2
  • Deadly Shot x 2
  • Eaglehorn Bow
  • Powershot x 2
  • Flanking Strike x 2
  • Marked Shot x 2
  • Multi-Shot x 2
  • Wing Blast
  • Explosive Shot
  • Deathstalker Rexxar
  • Lesser Emerald Spellstone x 2
  • To My Side!
  • Unleash the Beast


This deck took a bit of finessing and adjustment. Most of the spells are AOE to take care of the small minions at the start of the game and then the Frostbourne phase. I had to play it through about 20 times to get the right matchup. Deathstalker Rexxar is almost mandatory for the Frostbourne phase (although the time I won, I had it in hand, but didn’t play it until right after Frostbourne was destroyed). One or two powered up spellstones are also critical as the 2/6 lost souls end up fighting your 4 3/3 wolfs instead of hitting face.

If you didn’t play DK Rexxar in the 2nd phase, you’ll need it in the third. The ability to create lifestealing zom-beasts is necessary to overcome the Lich King’s hero power. In my winning game, he ended up doing 10+ damage per turn! Here’s a screenshot as I was winning the game:

I’m not sure how you’re supposed to beat the Lich King as Hunter without the DK or the spellstones!

I’ve been stuck on the Knights of the Frozen Throne single player campaign for a long time. So long that the set is about to rotate out soon! And it’s not like I’m playing hard mode, I just need to finish the final boss battle against the Lich King.

The Lich King cheats. No matter what class you use, he summons a spell to give you a significant handicap. Originally I tried with Mage where the handicap is to start with 0 life. To handle that, I used a deck that cheated out a counterspell on turn one (this involved a lot of restarts). But even with that advantage, I was still not able to beat him.

So the Lich King stayed in slumber for awhile and I finally beat him now. This time I used a murloc deck with Shaman. Shaman’s handicap is that all his minions are 1/1 (but still cost the same). Not a big deal as murlocs typically start out with low stats anyways. Here’s my deck:

  • 2x Grimscale Oracle
  • 2x Murloc Tidecaller
  • 2x Bilefin Tidehunter
  • 2x Blowgill Sniper
  • Devolve
  • Ghost Light Angler
  • 2x Ice Fishing
  • Murloc Tidehunter
  • Primalfin Totem
  • Windfury
  • Coldlight Seer
  • Lightning Storm
  • 2x Murloc Warleader
  • Primalfin Lookout
  • 2x Call in the Finishers
  • Old Murk-Eye
  • Slitfin Spiritwalker
  • Bloodlust
  • 2x Everyfin is Awesome

Deck code: AAEBAfe5AgwzxQP1BOAF0AeTCdcP2A/2vQKRwQKGxALw8wIJ2wP+A+MFpwi/F4qtAuO7Aq28AovOAgA=

It still took a couple of tries for the combo pieces to land properly. I think this deck may only work with Shaman as the Call in the Finishers+Everyfin is Awesome combo is needed to amp up the damage on Lich King before he gets Frostmourne.

Well onto the other classes and Arthas…hopefully at some point.

I’ve been playing Star Trek Timelines for almost 2 and a half years now, and spent about $200 on the game (sunk cost). I still enjoy it from a collection/completist POV, and play through it every day because of that. The game itself isn’t very fun, but it strikes a balance between the collection and other aspects that other games couldn’t achieve for me (looking at Pokemon Go).

Because I’ve been playing for so long, I am at a point where progress is minimal. I don’t have a complete collection, but I have a large collection that one could reasonable achieve without being a whale on the game. The gameplay every day is more maintenance than anything else, continuing to climb really tall mountains.

In a way, it’s a lot like Hearthstone, where there is a continual maintenance to complete quests -> farm gold -> save for expansions. Farming is easy, especially because you can complete quests by playing “friends”. However, it ends up being a drag because the rewards are minimal compared to the effort required.

I actually pulled back on Hearthstone this month. I stopped trying to maximize my quest/gold farming and maybe I will just focus on getting the season card back for the next little while (I did the same thing when the Goblin vs Gnomes expansion came out). I’m also trying to compress my STT gameplay into shorter bursts because I picked up a new game to play now – Disney Heroes: Battle Mode.

Compared to Kobolds & Catacombs’ Dungeon Runs, I completed Monster Hunt pretty quickly. In part, it’s because I understand the game mechanic pretty well now (lots of practice) but I also think that this solo adventure was easier. Maybe they made it easier so you would spend less time in this mode, and more playing multiplayer!

In any case, it was still fun. Mostly because each hero had unique powers that you don’t get in the normal game. I think the key to completing this adventure is to build up the various hero power skills. I completed the Houndmaster with 3/3 Wolfs, Cannoneer with 3 DMG canons. Grabbing bundles that complement those powers are also useful – although for the Cannoneer, I went all-in on canons one time (with Lowly Squire) only to find that that strategy doesn’t work against the final boss. Some of the treasures are also extremely powerful. The Time-Tinker boss fight is a mirror match, but if you have the treasure which casts the first spell twice, that can be the difference.

I beat Hagatha on my second attempt, but I think there was a lot of RNG involved. Picking strong treasures is important (+2 heal every round), and I went through my heroes pretty quickly. Tess was last, and her treasure was the half-cost/double hero power, and I just had too much value. The cards and heroes are so varied that I think it is tough to beat this one with a formula.

Well I guess I can sit around until August until the next expansion comes out (still can’t beat Lich King though!)

Being a game centered around IAP, the new single-player modes in the last two Hearthstone expansions (Dungeon Run and Monster Hunt) don’t seem to make a lot of sense. You can play those modes indefinitely without a need to pay. So why did Blizzard add these modes to the game?

Well I had a think about it, and the reason is most likely to allow us to try all sorts of cards from the expansion that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to play (unless they came up on the weekly Tavern Brawl). Letting us play with those cards would help us discover cool and powerful cards from the set (if you’re not already aware of them), which should incite us to either buy packs to get those cards (fool’s errand) or use dust to craft them. Eventually we’ll run out of dust though, so it seems like there should be a way to buy dust (aside from packs?)

In terms of TCG/CCGs, I’m a Johnny-type. So I play Hearthstone for two reasons:

  1. To finish quests, get gold, and collect the cards
  2. Johnny-mode – to win in weird circumstances

That’s why for me, I like playing the Heroic mode and the Dungeon mode. However, one thing that is holding me back is that it takes a long time to play Heroic (lots of deck tweaking).

It would be great if the Hearthstone single player modes can be played offline. I’m happy to spend my time on a plane clicking and playing by myself. But it’s too bad that it still requires a network connection to play (I understand why they would want a network connection…)

I’m about four months too late (The Witchwood is about to be released), but I’m nearing the completion of the “single player mode” for Kobolds and Catacombs. Unlike past adventures and expansions, you don’t have to play any heroic bosses, but rather there is a unique single player mode in KnC. In this mode, you have a rogue-like experience where you start with a few cards in your deck, then build up your deck as you beat the bosses. You also get special treasures until finally you face off on boss #8. The goal is to beat the (random) bosses with all 9 classes.

I’m not there yet, but I only have 2 more classes left (Druid & Priest, although not tackling them in any specific order). I enjoy this mode and actually played a lot of it when this expansion came out. It took awhile before I mastered the mechanic and started clearing the classes, and there is still no perfect/repeatable solution (hence no blogs on each individual class). There’s a lot of RNG involved in getting the right treasures to build a deck that has OP combos – and then some more RNG to pull it off against the final boss.

Overall though, I find it much more fun than fighting heroic bosses. One reason is because the challenge is in piloting the deck, not in creating the deck. There’s a lot of back and forth that you have to do to tweak a deck to fight the heroic bosses and that takes away from gameplay. With this dungeon mode, you just keep making choices and playing!

Well the last blog I made was the recap for May, and now it is June. I guess I didn’t blog at all in June.

It wasn’t all that busy, but I didn’t do anything noteworthy like travel though (so no chance to watch movies or anything). I did play some Hearthstone so is it surprising that I didn’t blog about it this month? Maybe I got stuck on a boss and couldn’t blog my progress? Nah, it was because I wasn’t playing PvE at all. Blizzard changed its rules and you can now finish quests against “friends” so I basically spent time to complete all my quests. I’m glad there’s a new way to accumulate gold but it’s still very difficult to get Epics and Legendaries.

June saw the wrap up of existing extra curricular programs and the school year. We started transitioning to summer schedule and new programs. My mom was in Vancouver for a family reunion for two weeks and we started skating again (once summer started??). We also started planning for a couple of vacations in the summer and later this year.

There was a lot of rain in June, which was unexpected and not normal. Lots of summer thunderstorms and just general overcast and cloudy weather. The temperature was warm enough for shorts for a couple of days, but it was back to long sleeves and long pants by the end of the month!

After a few easy battles, Chromaggus took awhile longer. He has a solid dragon-based deck, but that in itself is not OP. He also starts with 60 health, which is a bit unfair, but there seems to be a bug where he always plays Alexstrasza when you are below 15 and actually heals you! What’s unfair is that every turn he adds a card into your hand that benefits him, either his spells/minions cost 3 less, or heals him for 6, or deals you 3 damage, or gives him double of each card he draws. These cards take 3 mana to get rid of so in essence you are always 3 mana behind against a strong deck.

It took me many battles (~50) but I finally beat him with a mill deck. It is by no means better than Chromaggus so it requires some luck to play into the right conditions to win. Here’s the decklist:

  • Earthen Scales
  • Jade Idol
  • 2x Mistress of Mixtures
  • 2x Naturalize
  • 2x Zombie Chow
  • 2x Stubborn Gastropod
  • 2x Youthful Brewmaster
  • Brann Bronzebeard
  • 2x Coldlight Oracle
  • 2x Dancing Swords
  • 2x Deathlord
  • 2x Emperor Cobra
  • 2x Feral Rage
  • 2x Goblin Sapper
  • 2x Grove Tender
  • 2x Poison Seeds
  • Deathwing

In the early game, play the Zombie Chows, Mistresses, and Gastropods to take out the low level minions. Then start milling. Earthen Scales (with Goblin Sapper) and the Feral Rages are to heal 25 (plus whatever you get from Alex). Poison Seeds and Deathwing are the only board clears, and I found I needed all of them because I couldn’t catch up to the strong dragon board. The timing of Deathwing is also important as it allows you to get rid of all of his hero power cards in one go. In my winning game, I got it at the end (he was in fatigue) and I had been holding several double/healing cards since his hand was stuck at 10 cards – it ended up killing Alex and Ysera (Onyxia was done in by poison seeds). Finally, the one Jade Idol is to help you grow your deck and prevent milling yourself.

If you can survive his deck, then it’s an easy win!

This was another fun matchup that I beat without much difficulty. In this battle, you’re basically fighting against a super-mill deck, except the boss has an advantage where his mana ramps up at double your pace. He makes you draw 4 cards per round, so you need to dump as many cards out of your hand as possible. This made combo Rogue a natural opponent. Here’s my deck:

  • 2x Backstab
  • 2x Counterfeit Coin
  • 2x Shadowstep
  • 2x Target Dummy
  • 2x Arcane Anomaly
  • 2x Pit Snake
  • 2x Zombie Chow
  • 2x Defias Ringleader
  • 2x Gang Up
  • 2x Jade Shuriken
  • 2x Jade Swarmer
  • 2x Sap
  • Beneath the Grounds
  • 2x Assassinate
  • 2x Vanish
  • Clockwork Giant

I beat him in my first or second attempt, so the deck is not optimized at all!

This boss was fun and not like the previous one that took me many months. Razorgore the Untamed has a bunch of 0/3 eggs and a free hero power that gives every egg one more health while spawning a new egg. If any egg reaches 5 health, it’ll turn into a 7/7 minion. The key to this match is not let those egg hatch!

This match was easy due to the poisonous mechanic, which meant that I could kill any egg with a single hit. The swap health/attack mechanic is also useful. I made two different decks for this, both with poisonous minions. The first was a Paladin deck with silver hand synergy, and the second was a Mill Rogue. I ended up playing the Mill Rogue because I never really play that hero. Here’s my deck:

  • 2x Shadowstep
  • 2x Pit Snake
  • 2x Zombie Chow
  • 2x Crazed Alchemist
  • 2x Gang Up
  • 2x Sap
  • 2x Stubborn Gastropod
  • 2x Coldlight Oracle
  • 2x Emperor Cobra
  • 2x Giant Wasp
  • 2x Kooky Chemist
  • 2x Assassinate
  • 2x Dark Iron Skulker
  • 2x Shadowcaster
  • 2x Vanish

I beat the boss with this deck on the first couple of tries. I didn’t really have to hit face much, and even used some of the poisonous minions on the larger enemy minions. I didn’t mill Razorgore to death, but he did use up his entire deck by the end of the match. I hope more bosses are like this – strong, but beatable without luck.

I was stuck on this heroic battle for many months before finally beating him recently. It took so long, that Blizzard released three expansions during that time (OiNK, MSG, JtU)! I found this challenging because the opponent deck was well balanced. He had a hero power that pumped out several decent (2 or 3 2/2) or one strong (5/4 or 8/8) minion per turn. He played a dragon deck that had strong synergies, utilizing dragon cards from multiple classes. And he also had strong direct damage spells.

I tried a variety of approaches – control warrior, mill rogue, beast/taunt druid, patron – but didn’t make any headway. I had the modest success with a modified freeze mage that could last 10+ turns through AOE board clears (spells, exploding sheep, abominations). The win condition in that deck was Alexstrasza, but unfortunately Rend has a kill legendary card. I tried to counter that with the Duplicate mage secret, but I never got to a point where I pulled off the combo successfully.

Finally I got fed up and looked on the Internet to see how others were approaching this battle. There seemed to be 2 approaches. The first was to use Hunter’s exploding trap to clear the early board, and then go face. I didn’t see how this deck would be successful since Rend would just through up more taunts and strong minions. The second was to use Deathlord and then double his health. I thought this might be easier, so tried the deck out.

After about 20 tries, I finally got into the right sequence to win the battle. Here’s my decklist:

  • 2x Binding Heal
  • 2x Inner Fire
  • 2x Light of the Naaru
  • 2x Mistress of Mixtures
  • 2x Northshire Cleric
  • 2x Power Word: Glory
  • 2x Power Word: Shield
  • 2x Zombie Chow
  • 2x Divine Spirit
  • 2x Lightwell
  • 2x Deathlord
  • 2x Shadow Word: Death
  • Velen’s Chosen
  • Cyclopian Horror
  • 2x Excavated Evil
  • 2x Holy Nova
  • Entomb

The key to this deck is to play the taunts around turn 5 or 6 so that you can play at least one Divine Spirit (and hopefully Power Word: Shield or Inner Fire). In order to be successful, you have to clear/trade the first wave so Zombie Chow, Mistress of Mixtures and Cleric are very important.

In my winning game, I ended up beefing up my Cyclopian Horror with 2x Divine Spirit, Velen’s Chosen and an Inner Fire – so he was around a 10/40. At the same time, I had a Light of the Naaru going so it was an easy win once I was able to snowball the Horror.

I think I was lucky and the battle is still severely weighted towards the boss. But at least now I can move on to the next challenge!

Drakkisath’s hero power is to make every card cost 1 mana, and to cap your mana at 1 and his at 2. That means, he can play 2 cards every turn, and you can play one. I experimented with a variety of ways to increase my mana or decrease the cost of cards past 1, but they don’t work. Basically, you just try and throw down the most and biggest (legendary) minions you have. Here’s my Druid deck (for the taunts):

  • Poison Seeds
  • Big Game Hunter x 2
  • Psych-o-Tron x 2
  • Sludge Belcher x 2
  • Cairne Bloodhoof
  • Dark Arakkoa x 2
  • Illidan Stormrage
  • Moonglade Portal x 2
  • Reno Jackson
  • Sylvanas Windrunner
  • Chromaggus
  • Ironbark Protector x 2
  • Kel’Thuzad
  • Ragnaros the Firelord
  • Sneed’s Old Shredder
  • Alexstrasza
  • Arch-Tief Rafaam
  • North Sea Kraken x 2
  • Volcanic Lumberer x 2
  • C’Thun
  • Deathwing
  • N’Zoth, the Corruptor

I don’t think there is another way to win this match, it’s a bit of sheer luck. In my winning game:

  • He used Twisting Nether on a single minion on turn one (I forgot who it was, but it wasn’t a useful one)
  • He returned my Deathwing to my hand so I was able to cast it twice
  • I got a Sylvanas from my Moonglade Portal near the beginning of the game
  • He had a couple of turns where he only played a single card (spell). I guess he had multiple flame strikes or something?
  • Was able to keep my health up so I didn’t have to deal with the 9/9s

I think this boss is really about how many Legendaries you have.

Omokk’s hero power is the ability to destroy one of your minions for 0 mana each turn. The effect is random so I thought there were a couple of ways to win:

  • Summon many minions every turn – this is difficult to do
  • Play with no minions – this is doable, but there isn’t enough damage to kill minions and knock off 45 health (plus he gains a bunch of armor through his cards
  • Gain a lot of value through Deathrattles

I tried building a deck using deathrattles but couldn’t find enough minions that had enough value. Instead, I relied on a combined strategy: Warlock damage to destroy minions, health gain, and Rivendare+N’Zoth+Dreadsteed win condition. Basically, stall long enough so that I could amass a board of Dreadsteeds. Here’s the deck list:

  • Forbidden Ritual
  • Sacrificial Pact
  • Bloodsail Corsair x 2
  • Corruption x 2
  • Power Overwhelming x 2
  • Curse of Rafaam x 2
  • Darkbomb x 2
  • Nerubian Egg x 2
  • Demonwrath
  • Drain Life x 2
  • Shadow Bolt x 2
  • Baron Rivendare
  • Dreadsteed x 2
  • Hellfire x 2
  • Antique Healbot x 2
  • Doomguard
  • Siphon Soul
  • N’Zoth, the Corruptor

I defeated Omokk on my second try with this deck. It was close, and I didn’t get my win condition out until Omokk had very few cards in his deck. I was holding onto Rivendare and 1 Dreadsteed for a long time, but couldn’t find the right time to multiply them. Once I did, I was able to play N’Zoth to fill my board. I didn’t draw my second Dreadsteed until the second last card (every card in the deck ended up being useful), but by then Omokk was out of cards and was clearly going to succumb to fatigue.

Back from a hiatus of more than half a year, I faced off against Ragnaros again. I stopped previously because I couldn’t think of a good strategy to defeat this boss as he had 2 forms. The first form (Majordomo) summoned a 3/3 each turn (along with some fire-themed minions and spells) – which was manageable. The second form (Ragnaros) played the remainder of the deck/board but his hero power did 8 damage to two targets each turn! I couldn’t figure out how to handle his hero power.

I didn’t have a fresh idea on how to tackle the boss, but just wanted to play some PvE. I took one of my existing decks, which turned out to be the “Shields Up!” recipe, and tried it. It actually worked really well and I got to Ragnaros on my first try. I tweaked it a bit for the boss and won with it on my 3rd or 4th try. Here’s the deck list:

  • Argent Squire x 2
  • Hand of Protection
  • Selfless Hero x 2
  • Argent Protector x 2
  • Equality x 2
  • Huge Toad x 2
  • Loot Hoarder x 2
  • Twisted Worgen x 2
  • Argent Horserider
  • Scarlet Crusader x 2
  • Seal of Champions x 2
  • Steward of Darkshire
  • Blessing of Kings x 2
  • Consecration
  • Dragonkin Sorcerer
  • Blessed Champion
  • Stand Against Darkness
  • Ivory Knight
  • Ragnaros the Firelord (fighting himself)
  • Tirion Fordring

There is a single win condition in this deck – buff up Tirion so that he can kill Ragnaros in one or two turns. In the game I won, I had a 32/5 Tirion. I tried adding a second win condition in Dragonkin Sorcerer in the event that Tirion died, but he wasn’t effective (and in hindsight, it’s not worth it to split resources across two minions).

Divine Shields are also useful in the early game to kill the 3/3 minions and to protect Tirion against larger minions and Ragnaros. Silver Knight recruits are useful in absorbing damage; and Stand Against Darkness was added specifically for this purpose.

In my final game, I was a bit lucky (as always). I finally gained control of the board, had Tirion out, and got Majordomo down to 1HP. On the boss’ turn, he threw out 5 8/8 Molten Giants!

I had Equality in hand and luckily top decked Consecration. That saved the game for me!

This week’s Hearthstone Tavern Brawl is “Miniature Warfare” which means that all minions are 1/1 and cost only 1 mana. This isn’t the first time this brawl has occurred, but I put together a deck to satisfy some quests and it turned out to be pretty fun (and decently successful). Here’s the Shaman deck list:

  • Runic Egg
  • Spirit Claws
  • Tentacle of N’Zoth
  • Loot Hoarder
  • Maelstrom Portal x 2
  • Unstable Ghoul x 2
  • Hex
  • Ironbeak Owl
  • Lightning Storm x 2
  • Mana Tide Totem
  • Cult Master
  • Elise Starseeker
  • Bloodlust
  • Loatheb
  • Prince Malchezaar
  • Psych-o-Tron
  • Sludge Belcher
  • Stormpike Commando x 2
  • Illidan Stormrage
  • Sylvanas Windrunner
  • Stormwind Champion
  • Chromaggus
  • Kel’Thuzad
  • Ragnaros the Firelord
  • Alexstrasza
  • N’Zoth, the Corruptor

I think this deck works because it has a little bit of everything. Card draw, defense (AOE, Loatheb, taunts, removals like Hex and Ironbeak, and one-offs like Stormpike Commando and Sylvanas), snowballing win conditions (Illidan, Bloodlust), and lots of high value cards (legendaries + Prince Malchezaar).

Too bad I have to get rid of this deck and build a Warrior+Battlecry deck for some new quests.

April was a non-typical month in many ways. First, I spent half of it away from home on two trips. The first was a multiple-family trip to Orlando to visit Disney World. We had 3 families and 6 kids in total under 4 so there was a lot of running around and crying at various points of the trip. We were there for a little over a week and visited all 4 of the Disney theme parks. Immediately the day after I came back, I was on another plan to Korea for a work trip. This one was short, only 4 nights, but I still had to spend a lot of time on the plane doing the cross-Pacific travel. Luckily, I had some buffer room at the beginning of the month and at the end of the month to be at home and have some normalcy.

The second reason that April was weird was that it was actually very cold. Unless it snows a lot in May, April will be the snowiest month this winter! The temperatures were under seasonal every day except the week that I was in Korea – there were even days, when we were in Orlando, where the high was below zero (thankfully, we were in +30°C…maybe that’s too hot though)!

I continued playing Star Trek Timelines this month and have a nice crew of max level characters now. I’m actually running out of things to do every day in that game because in building up my crew, I have a big stash of unused equipment so future characters don’t require too much grinding (until they are high level). This month also saw the release of Hearthstone’s Whispers of The Old Gods expansion and standard format. I opened about 25 packs so far and only have 1 legendary (+ the free C’Thun). C’Thun decks are pretty fun at the moment, but that might be a novelty factor.

I have mixed feelings about this battle because it was both hard and easy. It was easy in the sense that Baron Geddon was not overpowered and cheap – you could play around it. But it was hard because you had to play strategically in order to win. There were 4 things working against you:

  1. He had 100 hp (50 health, 50 armor) compared to your 30.
  2. If you don’t use up all your mana each turn, then he will do 10 damage to you
  3. He summoned reasonable but many minions, so you needed board presence and to trade effectively
  4. He has a spell which will do 10 damage to all your minions and your hero if the targeted minion doesn’t die before his next turn. The spell is always on your own minion. Oh, and he has more than 2 copies in his deck.

The last one was most annoying because sometimes you didn’t have any enemies to trade into, so I based my deck around countering that spell (silences and returning minions to hand). The remainder of the deck was built on cheap cards & drawing cards so that I would have cards to play (and would not take 10 damage). Here’s my Shaman deck:

  • Earth Shock x 2
  • Clockwork Gnome x 2
  • Dust Devil x 2
  • Zombie Chow
  • Ancestral Knowledge x 2
  • Ironbeak Owl x 2
  • Totem Golem x 2
  • Vitality Totem
  • Whirling Zap-o-matic x 2
  • Youthful Brewmaster x 2
  • Feral Spirit
  • Hex
  • Lightning Storm
  • Harvest Golem x 2
  • Mana Tide Totem
  • Ancient Brewmaster x 2
  • Spellbreaker x 2
  • Bloodlust
  • Chromaggus

I had to play a couple of games (~10?) before I won, but it was challenging and fun. In my winning game, I had to do some weird stuff: I had to use Bloodlust to clear his board, had to Hex my own minion to prevent my board from being cleared, and played roulette with my Brewmasters. That eventually allowed me to win because at that point I had board control and was able to do 10+ damage a turn. I had to keep rotating my Brewmasters because the AI would target it with the 10 dmg spell (at 5 attack, it was the most dangerous minion), and because I ended up with too many 0/x totems on the board (although I had Vitality Totem out for a long time, which almost healed me to full health), so I couldn’t do damage fast enough. I had to swap those into my hand for Windfury minions.

The AI also spent a couple of turns doing nothing, which I later found out was because he had 2 Molten Giants in his hand but his health was too high. In the end, I played to fatigue and won a fulfilling match.

This duel was pretty easy because Garr’s hero power basically triggers Grim Patron. The twist is that Garr has minions that you have to kill across different turns otherwise it will do a lot of damage to you. Here’s my Warrior deck:

  • Inner Rage x 2
  • Execute x 2
  • Warbot
  • Zombie Chow x 2
  • Fiery War Axe
  • Battle Rage
  • Slam
  • Armorsmith x 2
  • Crazed Alchemist x 2
  • Cruel Taskmaster x 2
  • Nerubian Egg x 2
  • Bash x 2
  • Acolyte of Pain x 2
  • Deathlord x 2
  • Frothing Berserker x 2
  • Raging Worgen
  • Axe Flinger
  • Grim Patron
  • Shieldmaiden

Grim Patron wasn’t actually needed but the win condition is definitely pumping up Frothing Berserker. In the early game, you need some direct damage and cheap minions to stage out the kills. I also needed both Armorsmiths and both Bashes to get enough health to survive until I won. This matchup is actually fun because it requires strategy to kill the enemy minions at the right time, and the opponent is not overpowered.

I had a lot of trouble with the Dark Iron Arena because I couldn’t think of a good way to tackle this boss. His ability is to summon a (free) 1/1 taunt, but he also starts with 3 extra mana and has a deck that consists only of legendary minions. Basically you have to contend with at least 2 new minions per round (one taunt and one legendary).

My first attempt was with a secret Hunter but I quickly switched away from that. My next try was an Animated Armor Freeze Mage, which had moderate success. I basically had to draw/play Animated Armor on turn 4 and then slowly chip away. I could never do enough damage to win though. Finally I switched over to Rogue (I guess Oil Rogue) because I could reliably remove the taunt with my weapon. Here’s my deck:

  • Cold Blood x 2
  • Deadly Poison x 2
  • Buccaneer x 2
  • Pit Snake x 2
  • Betrayal x 2
  • Blade Flurry x 2
  • Eviscerate x 2
  • Sap x 2
  • Beneath the Grounds
  • Fan of Knives x 2
  • Emperor Cobra x 2
  • Tinker’s Sharpsword Oil x 2
  • Assassinate x 2
  • Antique Healbot x 2
  • Vanish x 2
  • Sprint

It still took many tries (under 15) but I was lucky on my winning game. The AI played Millhouse Manastorm and I was able to play a bunch of cards (Sprint, Beneath the Grounds) and buff my Buccaneer. Then I was lucky that the AI drew 2 Nerubians in a row to give me a strong board presence. I was able to remove board presence with Pit Snake/Emperor Cobra, and had their Tinkmaster Overspark heal my last remaining Nerubian into a 5/5 (which was then buffed by Tinker’s Oil). Alexstrasza healed me for a couple of HP and I was able to achieve lethal with my Oil’d weapon + 2 Deadly Poisons and a Vanish.

When Hearthstone formats were announced, I went ahead and spent all my gold on GvG packs. I’m sure that a lot of people will think that that is a bad idea, but I’m a collector so I wanted to roll the RNG dice and get as many epic and legendary cards as I could using gold. I’ve done that for a few weeks and TBH, the results are a bit underwhelming. I’ve only opened 1 legendary (Sneed’s) and a 3 Epics (I did fill out my collection a bit more so I have 2 copies of each common and 78% of rares).

Now that Whispers of the Old Gods has been announced, and I’m starting to read about the upcoming cards, it’s becoming very difficult to spend my gold on GvG packs. I will probably just save gold for a month and then buy a bunch of packs from the new expansion.

But this puts TGT in a weird spot. I’m not going to spend gold on it for the next few months (since I’ll concentrate on the new set) and I’m not sure when I’ll get back to it. My stats are actually not that far away from GvG (I have 58% of TGT vs 61% of GvG); mostly because I stopped farming for gold at some point in GvG’s release cycle (before TGT came out) and only played enough to get the monthly card back. Maybe I’ll buy a few more cards for TGT (although it’s going to be deprecated like GvG not too far in the future) when I start getting a lot of repeats in Whispers of the Old Gods packs.

I got stuck on Dark Iron Arena so I skipped over that and tried Emperor Thaurissan first. His hero power is pretty tame, it just does 30 damage to a target of his choosing – i.e., instant death. Lucky for us, his wife is there to prevent him from using his hero power. The tradeoff is that his wife is 3/1 and will attack you every turn (along with whatever other minions the Emperor plays).

My first approach to this deck was to use a face hunter deck to try and do as much damage as quick as possible. I handled the wife with a Crazed Alchemist and Abusive Sergeant if available (thereby turning her into a 1/5). However after playing this a couple of times, it didn’t work out – I typically was only able to get rid of his armor before I died.

Next I switched over to Priest. Along with the Alchemist trick, I could heal her, give her more health, and use Power Word: Glory to offset the damage. Here’s my deck:

  • Circle of Healing
  • Silence x 2
  • Light of the Naaru
  • Power Word: Glory x 2
  • Power Word: Shield x 2
  • Abusive Sergeant
  • Northshire Cleric
  • Divine Spirit x 2
  • Acidic Swamp Ooze x 2
  • Crazed Alchemist x 2
  • Ironbeak Owl x 2
  • Museum Curator x 2
  • Velen’s Chosen x 2
  • Eydis Darkbane
  • Dragonkin Sorcerer x 2
  • Holy Champion
  • Lightspawn x 2
  • Holy Fire x 2

I ended up winning on the first try, and it wasn’t difficult at all. Moira was a 1/5 Power Word Glory’d, healing me for 3 health each turn. I also had my Holy Champion out which achieved was 31/3 at lethal (I killed Moira too for good measure).

Now that the Naxxramas heroes are done, it’s on to the Blackrock Mountain heroes! The Grim Guzzler is the first duel and his hero power is to summon 2 of his minions (and one of yours) onto the battlefield for free. It ends up being a slugfest because powerful minions are on the board from the firs turn – you just have to make sure that yours are better than his.

I went with Druid because I needed a lot of taunts (seeing as he gets 2x the minions). I put a bunch of hefty minions and then a bunch of spells (hoping that I would draw spells and my minions would get randomly pulled onto the battlefield). Here’s my deck:

  • Innervate x 2
  • Naturalize x 2
  • Mark of the Wild x 2
  • Wild Growth x 2
  • Annoy-o-Tron
  • Anodized Robo Cub x 2
  • Healing Touch x 2
  • Mark of Nature x 2
  • Poison Seeds x 2
  • Abomination x 2
  • Sludge Belcher x 2
  • Cairne Bloodhoof x 2
  • Force-Tank MAX x 2
  • Ironbark Protector x 2
  • Kel’Thuzad
  • Volcanic Lumberer x 2
  • Deathwing

You’re at the mercy of RNG on this one, but I beat him within 5 tries (I was a close a couple of times). Nothing noteworthy (or overly lucky) about this match; just glad that it didn’t take me too many tries.

I’m kind of disillusioned by Hearthstone because while I enjoy collecting and making fun decks; high level (ranked) play ends up being the same decks over and over again. Even if you don’t get to higher ranks (which I am surely not), a lot of people look for deck lists on the internet and just copy those “optimized” versions. That takes a lot of fun out of the game because the duel is so structured.

I’ve thought how championship play must be kind of straightforward because everyone knows what decks everyone is bringing; and what’s in the deck. But I guess the difference between professional and amateur is that the professionals are able to play out the entire game in their head before they actually run the play (kind of what you would do in chess). It just feels constrained when there is no randomness or surprise within a deck, but again it’s not like a chessboard has secret pieces that your opponent doesn’t know about.

In any case, I just play for fun and having every opponent use some sort of optimized hero archetype is frustrating. That’s why I’m happy to see the Hearthstone formats change. There was a ton of knee-jerk complaining about the change, but I think it makes the game much more healthier. If you play Standard, you’ll have to rethink all the archetypes and build new decks and card synergies to make up for retired cards. No doubt, the meta will devolve back into netdecks, but at least there’s going to be a period where people are just trying stuff out.

Wild will also be … Wild! I’m a collector so I’m spending all my F2P gold on GvG packs now before they go “out-of-print”. I’m a bit bummed that I won’t be able to get cards to complete my collection without crafting them (which given my Epic and Legendary pull rate, might not be that much harder to do) but I’m excited about how crazy that format will be in a couple of years. It’ll be like Tavern Brawl every day.

Also, if it’s not obvious, I’m a Johnny player type, although I need to win in order to fuel my collecting (so Spike by necessity).