Admittedly, I do mostly look at action oriented games here, but that doesn’t mean it’s all I play. In fact, today’s article is on a boss from Hearthstone, a free-to-play card video game based on World of Warcraft. I was introduced to it by a friend, Matt, who also suggested this article.
        In Hearthstone, you play as one of nine classes, each represented by a character from World of Warcraft. Each class has class-exclusive cards, such as the Mage’s Fireball or the Warlock’s Mortal Coil. Nearly all spells, cards that induce a certain effect, are class specific, while minions, creatures with attack power and health that act on your behalf, can be class specific or neutral, meaning any class can use them.
        This combination of exclusivity and common cards means the classes are both predictable to an extent, but also could have very different cards than you might expect to induce any number of strategies. In addition, one thing you can be absolutely sure of is the class’s hero power, an ability that they can use once per turn. These are generally useful but not overwhelming effects- for instance, the Mage can shoot a one damage fireball, perfect for destroying weak minions or finishing off damaged ones, but not great at actually hurting beefier targets.
        These hero powers, and the cards themselves, all cost Mana. As the game starts, both characters have one Mana, but each turn both sides gain one more, for a total of ten. The usual class powers always cost two, though there are exceptions based on various effects happening in the game and so forth. This means they get cheaper and cheaper to use over time, but as more powerful creatures are summoned and immense spells thrown around, also less useful overall.
        Getting down to minions themselves, their primary role is to damage other minions and the enemy hero. Both heroes have 30 health, and minions have various ways of protecting and harming this health. For instance, Taunt minions make it so they are the only entity other minions or the hero’s weapons, if they have any, can target. This means they have to be destroyed or the taunt removed before the hero can be attacked. Stealth does the opposite, making the minion impossible to target by any means, usually only lasting until they attack.
        Battlecry minions use an effect when laid on the board, Deathrattle minions do something when destroyed, and exactly what those effects are can change things drastically. Charge minions can attack the second you place them on the board, unlike the others that need a turn before use. And that’s not even getting into the effects of various spells the heroes can use, sometimes even to add Taunt to a minion, or a Deathrattle, or who knows what. The possibilities are numerous and impossible to really list.
        What can be listed though, are the bosses, and in particular today I’ll be focusing on the final boss of Curse of Naxxramus, Kel’Thuzad. The Curse of Naxxramus is a adventure, which in Hearthstone means a series of bosses to be found for exclusive cards. It does cost money, yes, but it’s in-game money that can be heard through playing. Getting onto the bosses themselves, they all stack the deck, no pun intended, in their favor.
        The very first one, Anub’Rekan, for instance, isn’t too different from your typical match, except that he uses the cards exclusively earned from this adventure, giving you a taste of the cards that will be thrown against you for the rest of your time here, and that he has a unique hero power of his own. This summons a one health, three attack spider minion to strike with.
        To put that in perspective, the Paladin class has a similar power, but they summon one health, one attack minions. This means Anub’Rekan can summon creatures that can damage you far more significantly early one, and ones that can hurt even your stronger minions, allowing him to crush your defenses with far greater ease than you could.
        He also has two unique cards. First is Deathcharger, a two attack three health minion with Charge, all for the low cost of one Mana. For the early game, this is a very, very efficient card. It can attack instantly, take quite a beating for early on, and does fair damage.
        The only drawback is that it has a penalty- its Deathrattle damages their owner for three damage when destroyed. Still, the benefits far outweigh this, since the creature is devastating in the early game, when that loss would be much less significant. A few of the Naxxramus bosses have Deathcharger, but the play can never unlock it.
        Secondly, Anub’Rekan will use Locust Swarm on occasion, a whopping seven mana card with an impressive effect. It does three damage to all enemy minions(yours) and restores three health to him, making it the rare combination of healthing and damaging, and it can easily wipe out your side of the board. This card is exclusive to him specifically, and don’t think he’s the only one with exclusive cards in some form or another. They also have more then usual maximum of two of these cards, but only of their exclusives.
        Anub’Rekan, despite these advantages, isn’t very hard, but he gives a very good taste of what is to come. All of the future bosses have these same sort of advantages, and they only get harder. So, with that in mind, let’s talk about the final boss. Kel’Thuzad is a powerful sorcerer and lich, the ruler of Naxxramus, a giant floating fortress he converted into a potent war machine.
        In fact, the adventure is split into sections that showcase this. First is the Arachnid Quarter, with the lich’s poison makers and spider hordes, then the Plauge Quarter, where his special undead plague is refined and produced, then the Military Quarter, fairly obvious what that’s for, then the Construct Quarter, where reanimated monstrosities are created. Lastly there is Frostwrym Lair, where Kel’Thuzad and his guard dragon await anyone foolish enough to defy him.
        Before you actually get that far though, you will have plenty of time to get to know the fellow. He remarks on every boss you face, occasionally speaking on the behalf of the ones who cannot speak, such as hammily reminding you that Maexxna is a “GIANT SPIDER!” Every time you defeat one of his minions, he will have some remark. With Anub’Rekan’s defeat, he states “NO! I mean… irrelevant. You’ll never get past the grand widow.”
        The Grand Widow being the next boss, of course. The bosses themselves, when they do speak of their master, almost all speak of him with admiration, praise, and devout loyalty. Said Grand Widow Faerlina actually states that Kel’Thuzad will avenge her defeat, and judging from how the lich reacts, she’d be right in that he does personally have some care for his subjects. Even if he dismisses their deaths at first, he is clearly hiding how he feels to try and belittle your victory. As you go on, his boasts become more directly threatening, his boasts in battle more gleeful, and his anger at your victory all the more wrathful.
        It kind of gives the impression that they’re all one big happy undead family of sorts, and that you’re barging into their home. In fact, Kel’Thuzad does say this in that he only ever refers to as “Interloper”, that is, a person who interferes in the business of others, who barges in unwelcome and unwanted, an intruder. In fact, aside from the cards you get, what is the victory screen you see for beating the Curse of Naxxramus? This is.(picture) You barged into an old man’s home and beat up him and his cat. Are you happy with yourself?
        Well, I was. Why? Because for all that they’re one big family, they’re one big evil family. They’re creating poisons, undead monsters, twisting people to their will either through coercion or simply turning them into undead with no choice in the matter, if you want to know what I think their greatest sin is, look no further than the boss Thaddius.
        Hearthstone doesn’t specifically say what this construct was made from, but it does say that “Thaddius is the result of the most horrible and evil experiments in the Construct Quarter.” Well, I did a bit of digging and found out exactly what those things were. Specificly, the lich’s forces had gathered up women and children, then slew them, gathering the souls of these innocent people, barring them from the afterlife, and then merged them all together in one body to produce the unholy abomination that is Thaddius. The monster has no choice but to obey Kel’thuzad, and is will aware of its inability to free itself. It even thanks you for destroying it.
        With the destruction of his greatest creation, Kel’thuzad has finally decided enough is enough, and you move onto the final section of the adventure. After dealing with his giant undead ice dragon, Shapphiron, you finally face the lich himself. He starts off with the usual 30 health, but he also has ten armor on top of that that you have to get through to actually harm him.
        His hero power is Frost Blast, which shoots out a magic ice blast that does two damage to your hero, and freezes them. A frozen character cannot attack. Heroes cannot do so normally anyway, but they can if they are holding weapons. This basically means that your hero will never be able to attack him, because they thaw out the turn after they are frozen- but then he hits them again. In addition, this costs him no Mana, and simply happens automatically, meaning you’ll be bombarded every turn.
        This means that using a Warrior deck, unless you are entirely avoiding weapons, will be hampered somewhat. He actually plays no special cards to give him an edge, but like the other bosses he uses exclusive Naxxramus cards and spells drawn from other classes. Another odditiy is that if you are playing Hunter and use the Animal Compainion card, instead of the usual creatures, the card instead summons Mr. Bigglesworth, which the card helpfully explains “This is Kel’Thuzad’s kitty.”
        The cat has one health and one attack, so he isn’t entirely useless, but he is far less usual than the usual summons would have been, and oddly, even if you give the cat Taunt, Kel’Thuzad’s minions will never attack him, bending the game’s rules. Of course, if you worked for an evil lich, you wouldn’t hurt his cat either, right? In truth, the reason for this is that the cat has an unlisted Stealth effect, which the developers say is “Very much intended”.
        Moving onto Kel’Thuzad’s spells, he will use the Shaman’s one Mana Frost Shock, does one damage and freezes a target, the Mage’s two Mana Frost Bolt, which does three damage and the same, Warlock’s three Mana Shadow Bolt, which does four damage to a target, the Priest’s Shadow Madness, which lets him take control of a minion with three or less attack, Mage’s four Mana Cone of Cold, which freezes a minion and the ones next to them and does one damage to all of them, six Mana Blizzard, which does two damage to all of your minions and freezes them, and lastly the Warlock’s eight Mana Twisting Nether, which destroys everything on the board, his included.
        Getting into his minions, I don’t think I will cover all of them- by this point you’ll have seen most of them before- but I will talk about how he uses them. All of his minions act as shields and as heavy hitters. For instance, Zombie Chow is a one Mana monster with good stats for the cost, but heals the enemy when destroyed. This works in Kel’Thuzad’s favor, however, in that it can hamper you while alive, and its power and Deathrattle mean that you simply cannot ignore it. You’re being hit every turn, so the healing my very well be crucial to keeping you in the game.
        Similarly, all of his minions have some ability that means they cannot be ignored and must be attacked before the boss himself. Shade of Naxxramus powers up every turn, Frost Elemental is powerful and freezes, and so on. The worst though are his two Taunts- Abomination, A 4/4 minion that does two damage to everything on the field when destroyed, capable of wiping out your forces, and even worse is Sludge Belcher, with three attack and five health. He’ll last longer even if he doesn’t hit as hard, and his Deathrattle summons a 1/2 Slime with Taunt, meaning even in death you still cannot focus on the boss, forcing you to waste another attack.
        All of this produces powerful minions that cannot be ignored, by design or by their power, keeping Kel’Thuzad from taking as much damage as he would otherwise, and allowing him to continue pummeling you with Frost Blast until you keel over. It is a good strategy, but don’t think that is all you have to deal with. No, this is all just part of phase one.
        As soon as you break his armor, he will change his hero power and summon two new minions, free of cost. And no, this is not after your turn ends. He forcefully ends your turn immediately after you break his armor, even if you still have valid moves. His two minions are 3/3 Guardians of the Icecrown with Taunt. They can’t attack on the turn they appear, giving you one turn to deal with them before they become active and get back to tearing away Kel’Thuzad’s health.
        Hampering this is the lich’s new hero power, Chains. Unlike Frost Blast, this one has to be manually activated by Kel’Thuzad, and it does have a cost- specifically a enormous eight Mana, but the effect is devastating. He can take control of one of your minions for the duration of his turn, allowing him to attack you with it. The silver lining is that he takes a random minion.
        He could take your heavy hitter or your weaker support, so it may be best to flood the board with your minions so he is less likely to take your best hope and turn it against you. Plus, due to the high cost, he rarely uses the power anyway, so rarely I only saw him do it once, since there is often better moves he could make. Still, that’s a small comfort when he does use it on you.
        Plus, even if he does, he only takes the minion for his turn, then you get it back, and having the power means he isn’t spamming ice blasts at you, so depending on the situation it could very well be a blessing in disguise. Aside from his new power and the two minions, which hopefully won’t last long, the battle continues as it had before, minus the Frost Blast, so in a way, you’re past the worst of it, and you can continue to actually harming Kel’Thuzad, and hopefully defeating him. Good luck, players, and enjoy.

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