League of Explorers

        Compared to the last two adventures in Hearthstone, League of Explorers is much less serious in tone. This could be partly because most of the characters introduced here are original to Hearthstone rather than World of Warcraft, but I think it is mainly because rather than fighting evil beings, acting as a hero, you are acting as an explorer unearthing ancient artifacts.
        Accordingly, this adventure is shorter, with four wings instead of five, and the first three are ruins where the artifacts are found. We’ll get to the fourth later. The titular League of Explorers is looking for the Staff of Origination, a relic left by the anicent Titans. First stop is the Temple of Orsis, where the Rod of the Sun lies. It is a third of the staff, but even that has its own powers. Reno Jackson of the League is looking for the artifact, and would have already found it, but… well, he just had to touch that lamp.
        Thus, the first boss is Zinaar, a genie Reno released from the lamp by touching it. Sadly, he isn’t the friendly sort of genie. However, he is still the wish granting kind, and thus on Zinaar’s turn he draws an extra card, and in exchange you get a Wish card. When played, they let you ‘Discover’ a new card. Discover is a new mechanic unveiled for this adventure, where, when the affect activates, you can pick one of three new cards to add to your hand.
        So, ‘Wish for Power’ lets you Discover a spell, Glory is a minion, Valor is a 4 Mana card of any sort, and lastly there is ‘Wish for More Wishes’, which, well, gives you two more wish cards. All of these are zero Mana, but the cards they give you are not. Still, the ability to pull extra cards from nowhere is very valuable, and this isn’t an exceptionally challenging bout. Oh, and if you are a Hunter, you can also get ‘Wish for Companionship’, which lets you add one of the Hunter’s three Animal Companions to your hand.
        Once the genie is out of the way, you move on to the Rod’s guardian, Sun Raider Phaerix. He is actually using the Rod, which appears on his side of the board as a 0/5 minion. As long as he has the Rod of the Sun, Phaerix is Immune, or basically impossible to harm by any means. Note that only destroying the Rod will remove this immunity, as it is generated by Phaerix’s Hero Power, which says “Whoever controls the Rod of the Sun is Immune.”
        Once you destroy the rod, it will switch control to you, making you Immune instead. Thus, your goal is to stop him from taking the Rod back and pummeling him while you have the chance. He also has a unique minion, Tol’vor Hoplite, which is a 5/2. It also has the affect of doing five damage to both heroes, which means if he is Immune and they die, you only take damage, and of course if you are Immune, only he will take damage.
        Beating him will secure you the Rod, but this wing has one more challenge for you- a dramatic escape! Literally, the next ‘boss’ is Temple Escape, where there is no opposing hero, and instead you must survive several turns of minions and affects. Every time it is the ‘boss’s’ turn, it will spawn something new to challenge you. On the first turn, you will face a Zombie Chow, a 2/3 minion with the affect that, when destroyed, the opposing hero gains five health. Not much of a challenge. After that, you are faced with a glowing pool, giving you two choices: Drink Deeply, letting you draw a card, or Wade Through, getting you a Mana Crystal.
        On turn two you’ll face an Oasis Snapjaw, a 2/7 minion. This thing has some staying power, certainly, and if you do not deal with these creatures quickly you may find yourself overwhelmed, especially since this turn takes you over a bed of spikes. You can ‘Swing Across’, which either makes you take ten damage or none, or play it safe and ‘Walk Across Gingerly’, taking only five.
        On turn three, you’ll come up against a Orsis Guard, a 7/5 with Divine Sheild, meaning the first attack on him will do nothing. To make matters worse, you will get a Rolling Boulder on your side of the field, which has 0/4 and destroys the minion to the left of it. This means you’ll have to play them right of the builder from now on, assuming you can’t get rid of it.
        For turn four, Reno will warn you that the ceiling will collapse next turn, and you’ll find yourself in front of a statue with a ruby. You can either ‘Investigate The Runes’, getting you two cards, or ‘Touch It’, taking the ruby and getting you ten health. Unfortunately, stealing it will anger the statue, spawning a powerful 10/10 minion! If you have a way to disable it, I highly suggest you do so.
        Once the enemy turn is over, the ceiling will indeed collapse, destroying everything on board. So the 10/10 isn’t too threatening in that light, but it could still do ten damage to you, along with whatever else is on the board, if left alone for that turn. Nothing else happens on the fifth turn.
        On turn six, you’ll face a 5/10 Anubisath Temple Guard and a 7/7 Obsidian Destroyer, the latter of which spawns a 1/1 Scarab with Taunt at the end of the enemy turn. You then have the choice of either ‘Taking a Shortcut’, which gets you one turn closer… but summons a 7/7 War Golem. ‘No Way!’ on the other hand, does nothing, which is probably the smarter option. If you choose the shortcut, however, you will skip turn 8 and what it summons entirely.
        As for what that is, you’ll be faced with a 0/9 Seething Statue, which does two damage to everything when the turn ends. Given what will be on the enemy side, this will harm you a lot more than it does them. In either case, the final turn will see the arrival of two Giant Insects, 10/3 minions. Do whatever you can to neutralize them, because otherwise they will very likely beat you. However, if you can survive that last turn, you will make it out and complete the escape level. You’ve successfully obtained the Rod of the Sun, but there’s someone watching all this from afar, and he knows what you’re doing…
        But there’s no time for such idle worries, because the next stop is Uldaman, where you’ll be assisted by Brann Bronzebeard. The first enemy is Cheiftain Scarvash, who leads a tribe of Troggs that live in Uldaman. This battle is fairly straightforward, except that his Hero Power changes every turn. First all your minions will cost 2 more than usual, and the next turn your spells will cost more instead. The idea is that you’re forced to play minions one turn and spells the next. He also has three unique minions, a four Mana 2/6 Chasing Trogg, five Mana 4/6 Earthen Pursuer, and a six Mana 6/6 Lumbering Golem.
        Once you beat him, however, next you’ll have another ‘escape’ boss where you have to survive ten turns. The difference here is that rather than playing with your own deck, you play as the Mine Cart, with unique cards and a different Hero Power. The enemy minions are the three mentioned above, two of which are summoned every turn. Which ones they are is entirely random. Sometimes a Debris minion is also summoned, a 0/3 with Taunt.
        As for your abilities, your new hero power is to Throw Rocks, which does three damage to a random enemy. All of your cards cost one Mana, but you only have two Mana maximum, which means you can only play two cards per turn. Your cards are Dynamite, which I suggest you reserve for the golems, Boom!, which does three damage to all enemies, Barrel Forward!, which lets you skip a turn, Spiked Decoy, a 3/6 minion that cannot attack, but has Taunt. Mechanical Parrot is another 3/6, which can attack but lacks Taunt. Consult Brann lets you draw three more cards, and Repairs restores ten health.
        All in all it’s a quick and fun battle, which, given everything is set up, doesn’t require any planning at all. Now that you and Brann have escaped the Troggs, you’ve made your way to the second piece of the staff, guarded by the stone giant Archaedas. This piece of the staff, while needed to complete it, doesn’t come into play in the fight. The giant is tough enough as it is.
        The battle revolves around the giant’s Hero Power, which summons a 0/2 Earthen Statue for both of you. Naturally, he also has a card to make them useful, Animate Earthen, which grants his minions, statues or not, 1/1 and Taunt. He also have several other cards that make them work, such as Dire Wolf Alpha, a 1/1 that grants one attack to any minions beside it. Since his power will quickly produce a lot of minions for both side, he may also use Reliquary Seeker, a 1/1 that becomes a 5/5 when you have six other minions on the field.
        The statues can also potentially leave you with no or very little space for minions, which is part of the reason Archaedas has Shattering Spree, which destroys all statues on the field, yours and his, and does one damage for each to a single target. Luckily for you, his minions often target your statues before they do yourself, and he often hits minions with Shattering Spree instead of you.
        With the giant beaten, the headpiece of the staff is yours, and the shadowy figure lurking remarks that his plan is falling into place. Now it is time to see the Ruined City and get the final piece. Sir Finley Mrrgglton is there to help as well, but as the first battle shows, he ran into a bit of trouble.
        The first battle is against Lord Slitherspear, and he and his Nagas seem to be planning to roast Sir Finley in a cauldron! The cauldron itself appears as a 0/5 Taunt at the start of the battle, and as long as it remains, Slitherspear will summon Hungry Naga minions to battle you. These start out as 1/1 minions, but they get hungrier every turn, and their attack rises by one.
        Aside from those, he can also use unique 2/2Slithering Archers, which deal one damage to a target when played, Slithering Guard, a 3/6 Taunt, and the spell Looming Presence, which gives him four Armor and draws two cards. Notably, several bosses use this card in Heroic mode, but in Normal Lord Slitherspear is the only one to use it.
        Once Sir Finley is saved, you can attack the boss normally, and his Hero Power changes to Enraged, which costs him two Mana and gives him two attack on that turn. Any Hungry Naga minions will remain, but they will not get any stronger from then on.
        In addition, now that he’s been saved, Sir Finley will add himself to your hand. He is a 1/3 Legendary minion, which means you can only have one of him in your deck, and when used he will let you Discover a new Hero Power. This obviously has huge ramifications on how you play and act. It is also, however, random, so it’s bit more of a gamble. You might really need or want a particular power, but there’s only a three out of eight chance you’ll get it, as he picks three different powers from the nine, yours not included.
        Anyway, after that particular fight, you come to a battle with Giantfin, a very, very large Murloc. Sir Finley laments that a conflict is inevitable, since the Murlocs won’t leave you be. Finley doesn’t exactly translate what Giantfin is saying to you, but he does respond, and judging from that, Giantfin said some very rude things that maybe should be left untranslated. Regardless, as you might expect, he uses a Murloc deck, with a Hero Power that draws him cards to match your hand if he ever has less than you.
        This works especially well for him because Murlocs are very cheap minions, so he can play lots of them in the late game, and thanks to cards like Grimscale Oracle, a 1/1 that gives other Murlocs one more attack, Murloc Tidecaller, which gains attack as Murlocks are summoned, these can become a threat very quickly. In addition, he also has zero Mana 1/1 Murloc Tinyfins, basically baby Murlocs, which, while adorable, will power up his Tidecallers and be strengthened by the Oracles, as well as many other Murlocs that power each other up.
        Unlike players, he carries quite a few more minions than he should, having a deck of fifty cards, and many more of these minions than he should, such as having fourteen Tinyfins. Compounding this, he has the boss card Mrgl Mrgl Nyah Nyah, which, while sounding silly, has the unsilly affect of bringing back three Murlocs that died previously, the Legendary Old Murk-Eye, which has Charge, so he can attack immediately, and is given one more attack for every Murloc on the board. Finally, he has the card Anyfin Can Happen, which summons seven Murlocs who died previously. Needless to say, I do not suggest bringing any Murlocs to this fight, unless you happen to run a Murloc deck yourself.
        After that battle, you face the final challenge, the holder of the last piece of the Staff of Origination. Lady Naz’jar uses the Pearl of the Tides at the start of her turn, which transforms all minions into a new one of a higher cost. So, if you played a zero cost minion, it will turn into a new one cost minion next turn, and so on. I don’t know what exactly happens to ten cost minions, but logically they would turn into other ten cost minions, or just remain the same.
        This, aside from meaning you should flood the board and destroy her minions before they can grow, means that you should never just damage a minion, because the new turn they will be something else with full health. Nor should you power them up or anything like that, because unless they need it to do something this turn, that buff will be lost the next turn.
        As you might expect, Lady Naz’jar will play mostly low cost minions, in the hopes of playing lots of them and getting them to grow into something massive. Several of her cards have healing Battlecrys, her six Mana 5/5 Frost Elemental can freeze one of your minions, which, again, will go away when it transforms, but that does make the current minion basically useless to you. She also has the nine Mana North Sea Kraken, which does four damage to any target of her choice. Who wins this battle is entirely determined by who can destroy the other’s minions and keep their own alive, so they can grow into massive forces that the other cannot hope to overwhelm.
        But now, the bosses have been beaten you have completed the Staff of Origination! …but not the adventure. One more wing awaits, and now that the staff is complete, the shadowy figure makes his move. Introducing himself as Rafaam, the Supreme Archaeologist, thanks them for completing his staff, and then shows them what it can do, throwing the museum into chaos as all of the various artifacts start coming to life and have to be subdued.
        This in turn causes your next two boss fights, first against the Skelesaurous Hex, a animated T-Rex skeleton. This boss uses almost entirely Beast minions, except for Arcane Golem, a three Mana 4/4 that gives the opponent, that is, you, an extra Mana crystal, and Wildwalker, a four Mana 4/4 that gives a Beast three more health. Its Hero Power is Ancient Power, which gives both heroes a random card that costs nothing, even if normally it would.
        The boss doesn’t do much with its Beast cards in that it doesn’t use any cards that work better with beasts or anything like that, except for Wildwalker. However, it does use two Secrets, affects that activate on the enemies turn, to great affect: Snake Trap, which summons three 1/1 snakes, and Bear Trap, which plays a 3/3 Taunt bear. It also will use Curse of Rafaam, which puts a card in your hand that will do two damage as long as it is in your hand, and costs two Mana to remove.
        More importantly is that it has four Legendary Beasts in its deck, such as King Mukla, a three Mana 5/5 that gives the opponent two Banana cards when played. These cost one Mana to use, and give a minion an extra 1/1. Next is The Beast, a six Mana 9/7 with the affect that, when beaten, the enemy gets a 3/3 minion called Finkle Einhorn, who was presumably eaten by it.
        While those two may have had some upsides to them, these last two Beasts assuredly do not. Next is the seven Mana Gahz’rilla, a giant multithreaded serpent monster with 6/9, and the power that whenever it takes damage its attack doubles. Lastly there is King Krush, a giant T-Rex 8/8 with Charge. Simple, blunt, and devastatingly effective. These Beasts may also be very hard to put down, as the boss has two Ancestral Spirit cards, which bring the monster they are applied to when they die. So you might have finally got rid of King Krush, only for it to come back and smack you right in the face.
        Regardless, while Skelesaurous Hex has powerful cards, it gives you free ones every turn, and basically just throws things at you and hopes you get crushed by them. The next boss, however… is much more dangerous to face. The second boss is The Steel Sentinel, an animated set of armor once worn by Lothar, a great hero. This boss excels in durability above all else.
        Its hero Power is that it can only take one damage from an attack. Even if your attack should do more, it only takes one damage. However, cards like Arcane Missile, which hits three separate times, gets around this. As for its cards, it primarily uses minions with Divine Shield or Taunt, but also has several Joust minions. Which such a minion is played, two cards are revealed from each deck. If yours is higher, nothing happens. If the enemy is higher, an additional affect occurs.
        Of particular note is the Master Jouster, a six Mana 5/6 which gains Divine Shield and Taunt if the Joust succeeds, and Tuskarr Jouster, a five Mana 5/5 which restores seven of the armor’s health if it’s successful. And given it takes one damage at a time, I don’t think I need to tell you how much of a agonizing pain this can be.
        It also has the Warrior card Bash, which does three damage and gives it three Armor, and two Armorsmiths, which give it one Armor when a friendly minion, including themselves, takes damage. And yes, the Armor also takes one damage. You don’t want this thing to build up Armor, ever, but it likely will, and the fact that it has lots of Taunt minions and Divine Shield minions means even attacking it at all is a pain.
        Even if you do get an advantage, it has a card to destroy it- Brawl, which destroys all but one randomly chosen minion. It also has several weapons, most notably Sword of Justice, which only does one damage but grants any minion played 1/1 in exchange for one less durability on the weapon, which, once again, you do not want the minions nor the boss to get any more durable, and Truesilver Champion, which has two uses and does four damage, but has the added affect that it heals the boss by two with every use.
        For this one boss, I feel I should give my readers some extra advice, because I personally had the most trouble here. Get a Zoolock deck. That’s a Warlock deck that focuses on summoning lots of minions and maintaining board control. Possessed Villager is a good card for this. It’s a one Mana 1/1 with the added affect that when killed, a 1/1 Shadowbeast comes out.
        Imp Gang Boss is also a good one because every time this three Mana 2/4 takes damage, a 1/1 Imp is spawned. Echoing Ooze, which makes a copy of itself at the end of the turn, is also good. I also used Elven Archer, which does one damage when played. This is great for removing Divine Shields. Just get lots of weak, easy to play minions. Warlock has quite a few of these, and thanks to his Hero Power, he can get more cards in his hand easily.
        Okay. Now that the animated armor has been pounded into a heap of lifeless metal and purified so it will never terrorize the world again, we finally move on to Rafaam himself, so we can take vengeance on the one who dared to force the player to face such horrors! …Oh, and he’s stealing the explorer’s stuff, that’s terrible too. You finally move onto the face him, and, in the ultimate act of thievery, he steals your very deck to use against you, and the explorers give you a spare deck to use against him.
        For this once again I much recommend you make a new deck just for this fight, now with the intent that he steals a very, very bad one that makes it easier for you to win. He can migrate this somewhat with his Hero Power, Unstable Portal, which, like the card of the same name, summons a new random minion to his hands that costs three less than normal. However, regardless of what he gets, it shouldn’t have too tremendous of an impact.
        As for your new deck, it has one unique card, Rare Spear, a one attack two durability weapon that gains 1/1 for every rare card Rafaam plays. So you may want to give him useless rare cards specifically, such as Dragon Egg, which can do nothing on its own. The deck has cards from several classes, but I don’t see any particular theme to it. However, it has several cards for removing enemy weapons and Secrets, though I still suggest giving Rafaam none if at all possible. In any case, I don’t believe this match is a very hard one, especially not when compared to The Steel Sentinel.
        Beaten, Rafaam faces you with his own deck, and the power of the Staff of Origination. Much like the battle with Phaerix, Rafaam is Immune thanks to the staff, but unlike that battle, he stays Immune. He is charging up the staff for three turns to summon a powerful minion, and once he does so he will be vulnerable for your next turn. That is when you strike.
        As for yourself, you have a different Hero Power for this fight, Rummage, which has one of the explorers give you an artifact as a zero cost card to use. Most of these affect the entire board in some way, such as Shard of Sulfuras, which does five damage to everything on the board. In any case, they will be very helpful, and you should probably be getting one every turn, especially since using this Hero Power costs nothing. Once they run out of artifacts, Reno will give you a 1/1 Boom Bot every time, which does 1-4 damage to a random enemy when destroyed.
        As for Rafaam’s deck, as you might expect he has a few cards that center around thievery, such as Entomb, a 6 Mana Priest card that steals an enemy’s minion and adds it to your deck. He also has Burgle, which gives him two cards from your class, two Unstable Portals, and a Curse of Rafaam. I’d be disappointed if he didn’t have that one, really.
        He has exactly one Secret, Explosive Trap, which does two damage to you and your minions, and one odd card, Dark Cultist, which is a three Mana 3/4 that gives a friendly minion three more health when killed. It is odd because the rest of Rafaam’s normal cards come from this adventure specifically, so by now you’d know what to expect.
        Lastly, he has three unique artifacts as cards, two copies of each. All of them are ten Mana, so if he uses it that’s his turn. Lantern of Power, which grants a minion an additional 10/10, Mirror of Doom, which fills his entire side of the board with 3/3 Mummies, and Timepiece of Horror, which does ten damage to random enemies, like a considerably bigger Arcane Missile.
        Lastly, there is his Hero Power to discuss. As I said, every three turns he will be vulnerable and can summon a powerful minion. Specifically he will summon one of the previous bosses at random as a 5/5 minion with a unique ability. Zanaar gives him a wish card, Pharix adds a Blessing of the Sun card to his hand, which lets him make one minion Immune, Scarvash makes all of your cards cost one more, Archaedas transforms one of your minions into a 0/2 statue, Slitherspear summons a 1/1 Hungry Naga at the end of Rafaam’s turn, one for every minion you have, Giantfin gives Rafaam as many cards as you have, Naz’jar replaces all minions, aside from herself, with different ones of the same cost, Skelesaurous Hex gives both players a zero Mana card, and finally Steel Sentinel, which itself can only take one damage per attack.
        Your best bet, unless one of these new minions is an obvious and immediate threat, is to attack Rafaam as soon as his immunity is gone. After all, none of them are Taunts and you’ll have an entire three turns to deal with whatever he summoned up, so do as much damage as you can when you can, and you’ll be sure to bring him down and reclaim the staff.
        And that, my readers, is the end of League of Explorers. I hope you have enjoyed reading, that it perhaps made you more interested in playing, and that it is as much fun for you as it was for me… except for that damned Steel Sentinel. I really hope I could have helped with that because no one deserves the migraine that thing gave me. Anyway, until next time, dear readers.

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