I’d fallen out with Hearthstone for a while.
As a player unable to spend money on it, every new expansion and adventure put me further behind the pack. The disparity between the selection of cards at my disposal and what other players have is a real put-off. The Dungeon Run, however, is just what I’ve been waiting for.
Casual and ranked, standard or wild, online play was a no-go area for me. I was starting to get destroyed by all kinds of different combinations I didn’t even know existed. This is by far part and parcel of a collectible card game, but Blizzard’s continued insistence that anyone can get all the cards “for free” left that sour mobile-gaming aftertaste in my mouth. Yes, I could log in every day and hope for a useful daily, and save up 100 gold at a time for a pack, but it quickly grows tiresome.
Every Blizzcon, I hoped for a Hearthstone announcement that would bring free-to-play players freedom to play the crazy combinations they’d never had the chance to. The introduction of Tavern Brawl was a start, although some brawls required you to build a deck from your own cards, and eventually they started to repeat. I’d often check Hearthpwn to see what I’d need in order to take down a brawl, only to find I didn’t have even half the cards. Then solo adventures — yippee! £16.99 for Karazahn please! Oh.
When last year’s Blizzcon came around, Ben Brode came out all excited to talk about Kobolds & Catacombs — it was customary by this point for me to tune out during Hearthstone’s segment of the opening ceremony. I focused on something else and let him chatter on in the background, but then my ears perked up when Brode boomed something about “introducing a brand new single-player mode”. That was the Dungeon Run.
When he got into it my first thought was, “and this costs…?”. But to my shock Brode proclaimed, “also, it’s completely free…you don’t need any cards to play”. No gold, no money, free. Sure it’s single player, but for a free-to-play player it opens up a new opportunity to try out the crazy combos everyone else takes for granted. There’s no cap either — you can do a run, and when finished you could start all over again.
What Brode described at Blizzcon is exactly what we got a month later: you pick any class, start with a 10-card deck, come up against eight random bosses in your dungeon run, and do it as many times as you want to.
The class I tend to choose is Mage, mainly because a full chaos run is hilarious. A chaos run is about adding random minions and spells to your hand almost every turn. You can pick two passive cards that activate at the start of every battle throughout your run, too — I’d recommend always getting double HP. Be careful of the passive that grants all of your minions stealth though; that’s tripped me up a few times due to some nasty boss hero powers. I recently cleared all eight bosses and was slightly annoyed to find I got absolutely nothing as a reward… except pride and accomplishment, of course (wahey!).
The choices you make after each boss give a real sense of deck building — it gives us free-to-play players a feeling of freedom that we’ve mostly missed out on so far. Be wary of hero powers that will destroy everything you’ve built; you’ve got to be lucky, think ahead, and pick well. These are all aspects of Hearthstone that free-to-play players have never really had the full ability to do — to have this same level of freedom against other players without throwing money at card packs would take an inordinate amount of time and planning.
I do wish there was some kind of reward for doing dungeon runs — perhaps a bit of gold or dust — but the opportunity it offers to free-to-play players is too good to refuse. If you don’t like spending money on packs and haven’t played Hearthstone for a while, it’s definitely time to jump back in and check out Dungeon Run.