I have been playing Hearthstone since the first official season back in April 2014, so I have been there for every adventure and expansion Blizzard has released. Hearhtstone’s previous expansion left much to be desired. With the newest adventure, League of Explorers, Blizzard has given players the best Players vs. Environment content to date.
LoE came as a surprise to the Hearthstone community. In the past, Blizzard has announced an update and then forced players to wait a month or more to play it. With LoE, they gave players only a six day notice. I thought this short amount of time between announcement and release was a great change of pace that I hope they continue with.
The general premise of LoE is that you are helping four other adventurers recover the Staff of Origination. In each wing you help one adventurer. The wings are released on a weekly basis and in the first one you are tasked with helping Reno Jackson in the Temple of Orsis. In this adventure I feel the story really shines through in the narration and fights. For instance, in the second fight, you face Sun Raider Phaerix, who is the holder of the portion of the staff we are trying to retrieve. During the fight, whoever holds the staff is invincible. This inclusion of plot into an actual battle was an interesting dynamic that I thought was very well done. The battle itself was also fun due to the need of balance control of the staff and attacking Phaerix. The uniqueness of adventures is what makes them such a great experience in Hearthstone.
After defeating Phaerix, you face the best part of the first wing. In this fight, you are in a race against time to escape from the temple. There isn’t anybody that you have to defeat, you just have to live for 10 turns. This completely changes the strategy for the fight. It again also ties the story in beautifully. Feeling the rush of having to escape in time, the choices that need to be made to get out, and the inclusion of a huge rolling stone ball all made this so interesting and fun.
The other portion of LoE apart from the main story are class challenges. I haven’t been a fan of the majority of class challenges in past adventures, so I wasn’t expecting much from this one either. I played through the first two that came with this wing just to unlock the cards, and I won’t be going back to play them again like I will the main adventure. They were so bland I don’t even remember what classes I played as.
This adventure will release 45 new cards and a new mechanic called discover. Without going into too much detail, I don’t think discover will be a game changing mechanic. None of the new cards screamed “amazing” to me either; there wasn’t a reaction like I had to Emperor Thaurissan from the Blackrock Mountain adventure. Only time will tell which cards will be impactful, and I’m hoping that some make up for the pitiful Grand Tournament expansion.
Overall, I am pleased with the League of Explorers. If Blizzard can release three more wings as interesting and varied as the first, this will be hands down my favorite update to Hearthstone.