The Dalaran Heist is live! At least, in part. The first two wings of Hearthstone's newest solo-player content are available right now, while the remaining three will open one at a time for the next three weeks. Players were wondering why there was a delay in releasing the content, but now that we have had the yearly rotation change for over a month and the meta is settled, this is the perfect time to kick things up again with some new content. Here is a guide on everything you need to know to topple both the Dalaran Bank in Act I and the Violet Hold of Act II.
The first act is unlocked by default, while the remaining four are priced at either 700 gold each or can be purchased with real money. Players wondering if the adventure is worth buying should consider the following items that you receive:
- 15 Rise of Shadows Packs
- 1 Golden Classic Pack
- Zayle, Shadow Cloak Golden Legendary Card (From what we know, a similar card to Whizbang the Wonderful, but for eeeevvviiiiiilllllll decks)
- Two Card Backs
- The Great Dalaran Heist Solo Content Adventure, which is quite possibly the most enjoyable and polished solo-player content released to date.
Overall, it feels as though Blizzard has seen the success of games like Slay the Spire and sought to emulate some of its components. There is certainly a bit more of a rogue-like element that becomes present when selecting to play the chapters on Heroic, and with the Anomaly mode, making each run more challenging by reducing the predictability of the secondary effects. Ultimately though, RNG plays far too great a role in the adventure, as seen by the four Frost Lich Jaina's in my opening hand of my final boss fight, which I had no part in adding to my deck.
The first mission is themed around breaking into the Dalaran bank to loot its precious artifacts. There is a “Twist” mechanic that is unique to each chapter. In Chapter I the twist is titled “Coin-Filled Coffers,” which gives the opponent a 0/3 “Cache of Cash” minion on the board with a Deathrattle effect that gives each player two coins. As the first (and only) hero you will have access too is Rakanishu, a flame elemental that uses mage class cards, those coins come in quite handy since they can activate Arcane Anomaly, and count as cards that did not start in your deck, should you choose to add the “Open the Waygate” later on to your deck.
With the class chosen, you are asked to choose one of three hero powers. All are locked except for the default Fireblast mage power, but you are shown what the requirements are for unlocking the others. Burning Wit costs one mana and reduces the cost of a random card in your hand by (2), while Frostburn costs two mana and freezes a character, dealing 2 damage if already frozen. They are unlocked by summoning 25 elementals and freezing 25 minions respectively. These requirements will happen by simply playing the game, as your deck contains cards for both.
From there, you are presented with four deck choices, but can only access the first one at the start titled “Kindling Apprentice”. The other three are gated behind the same requirements, which is simply defeating the bosses in your subsequent playthroughs.
You begin your run against Marei Loom, the undead bank clerk who is clearly weighed down by the reality that she was brought back to life only to work in the finance industry. Defeating her will bring up our first choice for treasure. There are many treasures to choose from and each run provides randomized selections, so this will certainly spice things up in terms of replayability. As for what to take, it depends both on your playstyle and the type of deck you will build.
This second step comes after selecting a treasure, where like previous single-player content, you are given three sets of three cards to choose from with different themes to add to your deck. So far there seem to be themes of Elementals, Burn, Secrets, Mechs, Legendries, Summoning, Powered Up, Coldsnap and Big Spells. In my first run, I went with mechs and found the synergies to be useful and consistent, but was sometimes punished for attempting to create a board of minions.
Each subsequent opponent will have a unique passive or active hero power to deal with, so read carefully to understand what twist they have in store for you. As you work your way through, you will twice have the opportunity to go to a Tavern, where friendly-neighborhood Bartender Bob will give you the option to add one of his cards to your deck, remove one of yours (a minion, later an option to remove a spell).
As always, you are building up towards defeating an eighth and final boss, but final boss is different in each run. In my first run, I faced King Togwaggle, while in my second, it was Queen Wagtoggle, armed with a completely different deck and Hero Power.
Unfortunately, there is so much RNG that you simply need to try your best to create a balanced deck. Sometimes the opponent is designed with a deck that goes wide on the board or punishes you for attempting to do the same. Other times the opponent by seek to punish spells. There really is no way to tell ahead of time, so one needs to be patient is they find themselves crushed by an unlucky encounter.
By the end of my first run, the treasures granted a random Death Knight Hero power each game, and its cost was reduced to 1 while it could be used twice a turn. This meant that the final boss of my run went down on turn three to Uther’s four horsemen, because the AI did not deem is necessary to target those tokens of impending doom. Before that, the AI was again not on top of its game, as another opponent, Hesutu Stonewind, used his hero power to grant windfury to the “Cache of Cash” minion, which has zero attack, and was therefore useless as an action.
After Completing Chapter I:
A few things will happen around this time. Two more classes will unlock: Ol' Barkeye (Hunter) and Vessina (Shaman), each with their own hero powers to unlock through play, and Chapter II will become playable as well.
From there, you need to continue playing much in the same way as in Chapter I, with the only real notable change being that you have access to new decks, and there is a new Twist, titled “Imprisoned Minions” which at the start of each game forces a random minion from each deck to be “locked up” on the board. Once turns have passed equal to the Mana cost of the cart it will be able to attack or be attacked.
Otherwise, there is not much else to say regarding the second chapter. The wide variety of opponents offer distinct challenges, and again there are multiple final run bosses to contend with.
Regardless of how easily you defeat the first two chapters, or if you have trouble, the solo-player content has clearly been designed to invite many repeat plays to unlock the full potential of all the decks and hero powers. Despite all of Blizzard’s failed past attempts to create meaningful solo-player content that maintained player interest past the first day of its release, it seems they have finally hit the mark dead center.