Going back to Hearthstone, I just finished the second adventure, Blackrock Mountain. Compared to Curse of Naxxramus, this adventure has a bit less of a central focus. You aren’t chasing down one villain and tearing through his ranks to stop him, this time. However, it does appear that way at first.
        As the adventure begins, the player, simply referred to as a hero or adventurer of some kind, is asked by Lord Victor Nefarius to help him with a problem. He has lawful claim to rule over Blackrock Mountain, but a powerful fire elemental named Ragnaros has taken over, and he wants Ragnaros gone. Simple enough. Oh, and he would also like you to know that those rumors of himself being a dragon are totally false. And even if they were, it’s not like it matters, right? You have a Ragnaros to fight!
        And so you do, and surprisingly quickly. Kel’Thuzad has five wings worth of minions for you to get through, but you face Ragnaros rather quickly, at the end of the second wing, and even then the fight is… admittedly, underwhelming. I personally found the fights with his two guardians to be more impressive, but there is a good reason for that.
        Garr, the first of the guardians, starts out with an entire board of 0/5 minions, and a Hero Power that damages everything on the board for one damage. These Firesworn will do damage to you when destroyed, by how many are killed in one turn. So, if all of them die at once, you get hit seven times, for seven damage, or 49 damage. This means you have to either destroy or otherwise remove this threat, or remove Garr, very quickly.
        The next enemy, Baron Geddon, has a different trick- if you do not use all of your Mana on a given turn, he will hit you for five damage. He also makes use of the Living Bomb spell, which makes the targeted minion explode next turn and do five damage to your side of the field. The only way to stop this is to destroy the minion first, which can be difficult, especially since a lot of the time he may not have a minion for you to run yours into. The Mana restriction also heavily influences what you can play on any given turn.
        After these two you face Majordomo Executus, who is rather underwhelming for a boss fight. His Hero Power is to summon a 1/3 minion, which can be useful of course, but due to the way his deck is set up, that is about all he can do for a very long time. You see, you can only have 30 cards in a deck. And Executus decided it would be a good idea to make ten of his, a third, Molten Giants. Now, Molten Giant can be a very good card when used properly, but here’s the thing. If you make your deck have ten of anything, it will severely limit what you can do if you can’t use them.
        And the giant cards are very hard to use, because they all have such a high mana cost that they cannot normally be played. They all have some bizarre rule needed to make them playable. In the case of Molten Giant, it costs 25 Mana to play, but this is reduced by how much damage you have taken in the game. Since you have a max amount of 30 health, once you are down to five, you can play a 8/8 Molten Giant for free.
        This can make for a great comeback, especially if your hand is full of them, but a good player can ruin any chance of this happening for Executus. For instance, if you get some especially strong minions on the board, you can do a lot of damage very quickly and knock him straight down to zero before he can summon any, or at least many of them. Of course, this is the boss battle, so there is a twist to this fight yet to come.
        Once Executus is beaten, he will awaken Ragnaros himself to do battle with you. Ragnaros will appear, replacing Executus as the enemy hero entirely. However, he won’t be much of a threat. While his Hero Power, which does eight damage to a random enemy, is powerful, it is not very useful unless the enemy in question has very few minions or very little health, because then you can further limit them with this. But given Executus would not have well prepared the board for Ragnaros’s arrival, odds are you will have plenty of minions and health.
        Even worse for poor Ragnaros, he only has eight health, tops, and eight armor, which meant I was able to take him out in two turns. You might think, since Executus died, that his means he can at least summon those Molten Giants due to the 30 damage taken before, but no. Eight is his maximum health. By the game’s logic, Ragnaros hasn’t lost any health, so the giants would be full price, and entirely unplayable because he simply doesn’t have enough health to lose. In short, while he does look intimidating, Ragnaros in reality is a pushover. At least, normally. I’m not touching Heroic mode any time soon.
        After that, it seems your quest is over, but… if that is the case, why are there three more wings to complete? Well, when you start wing three, you’ll find Nefarius greets you as your guide, as you have been doing, but he too is confused as to why you are on the mountain. When you beat the first enemy, he says that you did your job, and there is no reason to keep going. The second enemy, General Drakkisath, actually is also confused to see you and actually begs for you to explain why you are doing this, saying that he really liked you.
        When you defeat the boss for that wing, Nefarius realizes that you honestly intend to oppose him, and says that “You messed with the wrong dragon”. But why is the player doing this? Well, firstly, if you honestly think a guy named ‘Nefarius’ is doing nothing sinister, you need to get your eyes checked. Secondly, if one knows their lore, they know that Nefarius, or, to use his real name, Nefarian, is a black dragon, pretty much all of which have been corrupted and twisted into evil monsters by the Old Gods, and Nefarian in particular is one of the worst, definitely living up to his name.
        However, if you want proof right in front of your eyes, the fourth wing, Blackwing Lair, gives you some. The first enemy is Razorgore the Untamed, who is watching over self-proclaimed corrupted eggs. His gimmick is that he summons a new egg every turn, and boosts the health of the one already there. When they reach four health, they hatch into Chromatic Drakes, powerful 7/3 minions. Of course, they have to get there first, which means all you have to do is keep them from reaching that four health in the first place.
        These eggs are created by mixing the blood of various kind of dragons to create a new breed with the powers of all of them, under Nefarian’s command. Thus far, he hasn’t been very successful. Note that even if they do hatch, their health is very low, and looking at the lore, they were quite short-lived mutants even if they hatched properly, and the only way they even reached adulthood is if Nefarian artificially aged them.
        The next foe, however, really shows how vile Nefarian is. Vaelastrasz the Corrupt is, as you might have guessed, a corrupted dragon that is forced to serve Nefarian’s will, his body acting even if his mind objects. He proves to be a difficult foe for most because his Hero Power causes both sides to draw two cards at the start of his turn. He himself has two of the Rogue card Gang Up, which adds three copies of a minion to his deck, so he will likely outlast you.
        Once you have ten cards in hand, the new cards drawn are destroyed. If you run out of cards, you take fatigue damage, starting at one and raising every time you draw again. And he forces you to do so twice. In addition, he has four of the unique card Burning Adrenaline, which does two damage to you for zero Mana. This naturally speeds up fatigue considerably.
        The way to beat him, at least for me, is to go Rogue, using Gang Up to help last longer as well, and make use of his own cards, which primarily rely on you having a large hand. Since I copied his cards, I can make use of the same benefit, especially since he doesn’t play cards as often as he could.
        Next would be Chromaggus, an experiment of Nefarian’s with the powers of all the dragon varieties, which shows up in battle has him forcing cards into your hands that give him beneficial effects, as well as having unique minions that grow stronger when you play spells, which you’ll need to do to get those cards out of your hair. However, he only has three of those minions, and if you can get rid of them, then he doesn’t have much going for him and you can remove the spells properly with little cost.
        Now that the experiment is out of the way, it is time to deal with the one who caused all this evil, Nefarian himself. He appears in his human guise at first, but the second his turn rolls around, he laughs and reveals his true form, that of… well, a dragon. Doing so immediately gets him 30 armor on top of his presumably full health, two more cards for his hand, and boosts his Mana up to a full ten crystals, meaning he can play absolutely anything in his deck. To top it all off, he has a new Hero Power, Wild Magic, which lets him copy a card from your class. So, if you are playing a Mage, for instance, he may suddenly pull out a Flamestrike to wipe out your board. It doesn’t matter if you personally have the card with you- he takes it from your class, not your actual deck.
        Luckily, what otherwise would be an insurmountable battle becomes easier by the fact that Ragnaros, not quite as dead as assumed, is here to help, adding in zero mana cards every turn, and powerful ones at that. The first of these is the spell DIE, INSECT!, which, identical to Ragnaros’s power, does eight damage to a random enemy. There there is Living Lava, a 6/6 Taunt, Son of the Flame, a 6/3 that does 6 damage to a target of your choice, and lastly Whirling Ash, a 4/5 minion with Windfury, so it can attack twice.
        All of these are obviously useful cards, and they cost you absolutely nothing! Meanwhile, Nefarian has no unique or overpowered cards of his own, except for Tail Swipe, a four Mana card that does four damage, which is, no matter how you look at it, pretty bad. Provided you can counter his onslaught of minions thanks to his higher Mana, he will quickly be reduced to whatever Wild Magic gets him, while you pile on your special Ragnaros cards.
        Provided you can survive the initial disadvantage, your special cards will win the day. So, while the fight is epic enough in its own right, especially since Ragnaros helps you, it may come off as a bit… underwhelming. But, surely now that you have beaten Nefarian, the quest is over, right…? Wrong! You have one wing left to complete, and Nefarian is back, albeit missing some skin and such.
        Before you face the revived dragon, however, you must get through three more enemies. First is the Omnitron Defense System, which summons unique robot minions, then Maloriak the bumbling alchemist, who switches the attack and health of every minion played. I do have to pause to mention that Maloriak was once a brilliant human scientist, until Nefarian kidnapped him and fused him with a dead dragonkin, giving him his current appearance. Even worse, it also reduced his intelligence considerably, which is the whole reason he was kidnapped in the first place. Even worse for poor Maloriak, Nefarian has absurd expectations.
        He wants nothing less than perfection from his experiments, and will dismiss anything he sees as a failure. For instance, he instantly dismisses Chromaggus as his ‘weakest minion’ even though he spent the entire previous fight bragging about his ‘greatest creation’. He also mocks the Defense System and Maloriak after their defeats. In fact, while he is annoyed at your progress, only two events actually seem to bother him on a personal level- his own defeat, for obvious reasons, and the next boss’s defeat.
        Said next boss is a black dragon, one of Nefarian’s kin, who happens to be blind. That, like everything else, is also Nefarian’s fault, but this time at least he was doing it with good intent: the potion was supposed to give Atramedes super sight, but instead left him with none. Of course, it seems he can play card games just fine, and it translates into him being able to locate you through sound, which gives him a weapon that powers up every time you play a card- that is, do something to help him figure out where you are. Luckily, you have three Reverberating Gong cards, which would make him lose track of your position, and thus destroy his ‘weapon’.
        When you defeat Atramedes, Nefarian bitterly states that “You killed a blind dragon. You should be ashamed.” Of course, he could just be trying to guilt trip you, but for all that he dismisses imperfections, Nefarian does care about his kin. But more on that in a moment.
        Finally, we arrive at Nefarian once more, to finish him once and for all. Unlikely last time, where Nefarian brought his full power in from the start, this will be a far longer and more dangerous battle, and there is no Ragnaros to save you. Luckily, he doesn’t have the exact same advantages. He only has ten armor, not thirty, and rather than stealing your cards, he instead summons two 2/1 Bone Constructs to aid him. He also still has the Tail Swipe card, but I never saw him use it, and new card, LAVA!, which does two damage to all minions.
        As for his cards, he has many of the Blackrock cards used by others before him, but he definitely puts them to effective use. Twilight Whelp, a 2/1, gains two extra health when you play it with a dragon in hand, which he will definitely have, as almost all of his cards are dragons. Blackwing Technician gets a 1/1 bonus for the same reason. He also has a Nerubian Egg, which creates a 4/4 Nerubian when destroyed, and a Dragon Egg, which makes 2/1 Whelps when damaged, which goes great with his LAVA! card.
        What also goes great with this is his Volcanic Drace, a 6/4 minion that gets cheaper for every minion destroyed on a given turn. Dragon’s Breath, a Mage spell, also gets cheaper in the same way, and does four damage to a target of his choice. If he needs something a bit stronger, he can also summon the card Chromaggus, which, aside from being a powerful 6/8, gives him a extra copy of anything he draws, which in turn helps out his Twilight Drake, normally a 4/1, but has the power of gaining health for everything in your hand.
        Lastly, he also has a few spells to help him from the Warlock class- Power Overwhelming, which gives a minion +4/4… then they die when the turn ends. Great for things about to die anyway. Working with that is Shadowflame, which destroys a friendly minion and does their attack damage to the enemy minions. And finally he has Soulfire, which does four damage while discarding a random card, which, as established, he is likely to have plenty of.
        So, does that cover everything? Heck no. See, he has that ten armor you have to get through, and, like Kel’Thuzad, he has a second phase you need to get through. Unlike Kel’Thuzad, this new phase basically pits you against an entirely new boss. As soon as his armor is broken, he will lift over the board and float there, while unveiling his ‘ultimate creation’, his reanimated sister Onyxia.
        Onyxia has 15 health, a two damage claw that she can use for six turns, and an automatic Hero Power where Nefarian shoots fireballs down at you, from above, as he constantly points out. At first he will only shoot one fireball, but the number grows as the match goes on. At turn seven, he will shoot twenty at once, almost certainly spelling doom, so you’d best take out Onyxia fast.
        Speaking of her, however, I should point out Onyxia does not speak, but simply growls at you, and she looks very different from her normal card art, with glowing eyes and visible bones, similar to Nefarian himself at this point. And from what I can see in the game, she is very arrogant and haughty. When you summon her, she roars out, “You dare challenge the daughter of Deathwing!?” She is clearly very proud of herself and her family, and judging from how Nefarian talks, so is he. And yes, if you summon Deathwing he will react, with a surprised “D-Daddy?” But getting back on track, here Onyxia just… growls. Which suggests, much as how Nefarian didn’t come back whole, neither did she, but she came back without her intelligence.
        And remember, Nefarian despises imperfection from anyone, likely including himself. He seems to have brought his sister back simply out of familial love, but instead she came back as a mindless beast. The fact that she is using her in battle at all shows this, and he probably hates every second of it, and is funneling that straight into how much he utterly despises you.
        When you defeat Onyxia, he is clearly at his wit’s end, and states “I have tried to be an accommodating host, but you simply WILL NOT DIE. Time to throw all pretense aside and just KILL YOU!” He then lets out a blast of fire that destroys all your minions, and from there the fight proceeds as it had in the beginning, but now you are wearing down his health instead of his armor.
        Of course, whatever advantage you had on the board before is gone, and he can use his Hero Power to summon two weak but very much present minions. For this reason, having a few Taunt minions ready to throw out can be invaluable, especially since by now you are most likely quite low on health.
        Direct damage spells like Fireball would also be useful in that situation, as they were for me, because if I didn’t finish him on that turn, he would defeat me the next. All in all, this is a battle of attrition. First you must destroy his armor, then fight his 15 health sister, then finally finish him off… all while dishing out damage to you.
        And that about wraps up Nefarian. One of the toughest battles, if not the toughest, I’ve faced in Hearthstone thus far. And I loved every bit of it. It was a challenge I can proudly say I accomplished! …Just don’t ask me about Heroic mode…


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