Kobolds and Catacombs Isn’t Just A Great Hearthstone Expansion, It’s A Great New Game
Blizzard’s Hearthstone tends to delight and amaze fans with new mechanics and features with each expansion that drops for the digital CCG, offering lots of new cards to play with and an ever-shifting metagame that sometimes gets bogged down with aggro-Shamans or Jade Druids. Outside of the obvious player-vs-player competition, the ladder climbing, and the tavern brawling, the single-player content has been solid – usually thinking exercises that demand you to craft a specific deck from your collection to take down a choreographed fight with certain mechanics or hazards to play around.
Kobolds and Catacombs has changed the adventure game completely, offering a completely different play experience that requires no collection at all – or even much experience in the art of Hearthstone (though it doesn’t hurt!). Kobolds and Catacombs offers up the best single-player content that the game has ever seen, and it does it at zero cost to anyone. Seriously, I would absolutely recommend coming to try it out even if you’re not interested in playing Hearthstone at all. Why?
While the dungeon crawl experience – one that takes you through eight battles and an evolving deck – is much more like a classic role-playing experience than anything else. Sure, it’s all fueled by Hearthstone cards, but the notion of growing and evolving power, big choices and decisions to build out your options and strengths, and potent treasure acquisition all feel like you’re the sleepy adventurer being woken up to head out on a one-of-a-kind journey every time, and you never know what you’re going to run into.
You face one big boss (out of five possible) if you make it to the final battle of a run, and you always begin by battling a nasty rat, baby dragon, or bumbling burglar – but the meat between them is always throwing curveballs, especially when you run into unique encounters like seemingly indifferent AF Kay, The Trap Room, or the dwarf and his incredibly lethal – but sleepy – constructs. There are chronomancers, bards, deadly gnolls, and all kinds of other wacky and deadly encounters to explore along the way. The journey is similar to traditional RPG advancement and full of choice, akin to selecting a shiny new sword, a powerful mace, or a bag of magic dust after each battle.
Every time a foe is bested, you’re getting more health, your deck is growing, and you’re nabbing special cards that are far too powerful and wild for regular Hearthstone games. There is a considerable variance to each run and class specific foibles to think about, but they’re handled really, really well. You won’t always be able to replicate a certain build or template, but that’s all part of the fun. You have to discover the best way to win with what you have on deck, and in that way it almost feels like looting a room full of fallen orcs, spiders, and wraiths – you never know what you’re going to get, but you have to make the most of it to get past the next fight!
Because of the unique nature of this infinitely replayable roguelike dungeon crawl, I have to recommend it far outside the wheelhouse of card game and Warcraft enthusiasts. It’s something different, and it’s something special. While I enjoy each Hearthstone expansion for its own merits like decks and mechanics, this is such a different experience nestled elegantly within the framework of the game that it transcends everything they’ve done with single-player/adventure content before. The theme of the expansion is dungeon crawling, traps, and treasure, and you’ll find plenty of that in the Dungeon Run.
If you’ve strayed away from Hearthstone since release or have never picked up the game before, I can’t encourage you enough to come bring your game to come explore. Perhaps your journey will end in a dragon’s lair full of chests, or a beholder-y laser light show. Or maybe you’ll fight your way through a room of neverending traps, best an ornery Trogg, and show up at the tavern with your friends to tell the tale. It’s something to experience, and it’s not to be missed, and you don’t need to own a single Hearthstone card to come play it.