Hearthstone is primarily a multiplayer game, where two players face each other, trying to deal enough damage to the opponent to successfully win. Online is where the fun is, though a few glorious additions to the game in the form of fights against the AI considerably increased the amount of hours one can spend in the game at a go. This were the “Adventures” – singleplayer content where the player faced off against the AI. This was both rewarding as well as interesting, since the adventures often had a short story of sorts built within them, which made players keep at it till they find a way to beat the adventure. Every mission successfully completed awarded two cards, which players could add to their decks. Since last year, however, Blizzard shut down adventures, and opted to release an additional expansion in its place in order to increase the variety in the meta. This was a controversial decision, and the backlash generated forced Blizzard back into action to make new adventures – free addons with every expansion since the Knights of the Frozen Throne.
The Knights of the Frozen Throne saw the player face off against the Lich King and his cronies – to gain quite a few card packs, as well as add young Arthas Menethil, the successor to the throne of Lordaeron, as a Paladin hero, to their collection. This is tougher than it sounds, because the Lich King’s minions are battle hardened, and have abilities to help them should the fight get tough. While ‘card packs’ do not sound as a good reward after clearing off waves after waves of tough AI bosses, it was one of the best possible singleplayer additions to the game, after a long time. This was followed by the Dungeon Run singleplayer mode in Kobolds and Catacombs, which allowed players to start with a deck of 10 cards, then keep expanding it with new perks and cards as the game progresses. This is necessary for survival, since with progress the bosses become tougher, requiring the fullest use of all available cards, perks, and of course, the special hero power of each class. The Witchwood saw Monster Hunt, which is the same as Dungeon Run, except that you start with only 4 heroes which have customized hero powers for the occasion. The addition in the Boomsday was called Puzzle Labs, which involves various types of puzzles – lethal, mirror, board clear and survival.
The puzzles revolve around four main objectives :
Lethal – Destroying the enemy hero by reducing their health to zero
Mirror – Match the enemy’s board – piece by piece
Board clear – Clear the entire board – including your own minions
Survival – Heal yourself to full health
The puzzles evolve from extremely simple ones to tedious ones which could not be solved unless you use your brains (and not let the undead eat it up), or simply look to the Internet for the solution.
The Puzzle Labs is not only a highly engrossing addition to the game, helping people bored of the instant aggro and OTK decks on ladder to face the AI and solve some interesting puzzles. However, being attractive and time-guzzling is not why it’s really interesting. There are several practical situations being mirrored in the puzzles that may pop up in game, which require some dexterity to solve (unless you’re Disguised Toast, then you’re pretty much allotted a free pass to hit the opponent’s face). This improves the hold of the casual players, helping them to push for higher ranks than they otherwise can. In today’s world, getting free time for hobbies is tough, and Hearthstone is a game that requires quite some time investment to learn (and of course, to farm cards). Learning to spend available time profitably for grinding ranks once you have a competitive deck is an important skill, and this is exactly what the Puzzle Labs seek to achieve. Imagine your opponent’s face when you demolish his board full of big minions, or pull off impossible combos and finish the game within a matter of minutes – the possibilities are endless.
The real part where the Puzzle Labs suck are the rewards – one card back for grinding through all the puzzles seem really petty – a few card packs, or even better, definite cards which can only be earned by completing the puzzles, would have made finishing the Puzzle Labs really worth your while. This is because while the Puzzle Labs become increasingly hard, it is nowhere as hard as the final fight with the Lich King in the Knights of the Frozen Throne adventure – which makes the Arthur hero a skin really worthy of the players who completed the adventure successfully.
Hearthstone puzzles have been around on social media, with popular pages related to Hearthstone posting puzzles often to have the players utilize their grey cells to work out a solution. It’s really good that Blizzard is officially addressing the community’s thirst for puzzles by adding a game mode for it, and while they’re at it, teach the players how to turn any situation in their favor.