One of the most anticipated announcements at BlizzCon 2017 was the reveal of the new Hearthstone expansion, and at the event in Anaheim we found out that, after exploring the Un'Goro crater and fighting The Lich King's Death Knights, the new expansion will whisk players away for some classic dungeon crawling with Kobolds and Catacombs.
The new set will once again have 135 new collectible cards, including some pretty exciting new ideas, the biggest of which are legendary weapons, one for each class. Similarly to previous expansions this year, these will make collecting all new legendaries more expensive, however, it'll also add some flashy action and more impact to the gameplay. A good example is Mage's legendary loot Aluneth, which gives the player three extra cards every turn. It's a 0/3 weapon so you can't get rid of it, making overdraw and fatigue a serious threat unless you can't kill the opponent quickly.
During our interview with Hearthstone's production director Jason Chayes and developer Steve Shimizu, we were assured that the crazy effects of many of the new cards aren't meant to overturn everything in the meta, but to create unforgettable situations and give players chance to build as many new deck types as possible.
The new keyword in the expansion is Recruit, which basically shortens the "summon a minion to the battlefield" phrase. New cards featuring this didn't seem too spectacular but can open some interesting opportunities to bypass negative battlecries and get big minions on the board early, similarly to so-called Big Priest and Big Druid decks. We were more excited about the new Spellstone cards, however, something we've never seen before in Hearthstone. These can be upgraded in-hand by doing certain things like attaining armour with Warrior or get overloaded with Shaman.
Like Knights of the Frozen Throne, there will be a major slice of single-player content included. According to Chayes, they wanted to do something completely new and that resulted in a PvE game mode named Dungeon Run. Instead of just completing wings in a linear fashion, Dungeon Run tasks the players with taking on eight bosses, one after another, with one deck. The deck starts with only 12 cards and every win awards you one insanely powerful piece of loot (not the same as collectible cards) and three new cards. Boss encounters get progressively harder and it's a big challenge to pick cards that will help you the most. The devs promised 48 different encounters too, so every run should be fresh.
We got to try a demo of Dungeon Run at BlizzCon and it did seem fun. We had a choice from three classes (Mage, Warrior, and Priest) and every run was pretty unique even though the demo only had a handful of enemies. It was also quite difficult, and getting a successful run with every class is going to be a real challenge. That, by the way, awards the player with a special card back, but Chayes and Shimizu didn't want yet to reveal what other rewards in the form of cards and packs are coming to the mode.
The developers did let us know that there will be at least two free legendary cards for all the players. When the expansion launches in December everyone will get a random legendary weapon card and on November 6, everyone who logs into the game gets an awesome new legendary card and bandit leader called Marin the Fox. Best of all it will be playable immediately on the same day. It's a great way to introduce the expansion and we really hope Blizzard will release more single cards in the future. Marin also seems like a very fun card; it summons a treasure chest but on the opponent's side, so in order to get what is inside you'll need to break it. The "fantastic treasures" are completely bonkers so we wouldn't be surprised if Marin was soon in every single control deck.
All in all Kobolds and Catacombs seems a solid expansion. The feeling of D&D adventure and familiar WoW dungeon looting is heavily present so fans of the universe will definitely be happy about the theme. Having said that, we're still not completely convinced and want to see more, but then again, the epic nature of the Knights of the Frozen Throne isn't easily equaled. Still, the expansion has some really cool concepts and we look forward to experiencing the Dungeon Run content and trying out legendary weapons and spell stones. Let the questing begin!