Have you read our weekly What We Played articles? There’s no doubt that some of you skip the bits where we say what we played and just pop in your own entries in the comments section, which means you might have missed that I tend to dip in and out of Hearthstone’s Tavern Brawl quite a bit. This probably upsets Dom quite a bit as well.
The Tavern Brawl is the part of the game that involves the least interaction with other players and introduces unique rules that end up breaking the game in fun ways. Solo Adventures also do this a bit too, but now Blizzard have added a new mode to the game that seems tailor made for me. Dungeon Run had me hooked the very first time I played it, and what’s more, it’s entirely free and requires no financial commitment.
So what is the Dungeon Run? I’ve tried to come up with many ways to describe it, but perhaps the simplest way is to say it’s Hearthstone with you building up to beat the Dungeon Boss. You do this by raiding the dungeon, defeating bosses, collecting loot in the form of new cards, and treasure that utterly breaks the game.
Naturally the first few games in each Dungeon Run are relatively simple and light games with the odds heavily stacked in the players’ favour. However, just like most dungeons in fantasy RPGs, more powerful foes dwell within them the deeper you go.
This is what makes Dungeon Runs so much of a challenge and indeed what makes them fun. Since the bosses are selected from a pool, depending on which treasure you obtained and the composition of your deck, you’re either up for an easier run or an absolute struggle. Like most Rogue-Lites, this does occasionally land you with a painfully unfair run, but there are also moments where you can feel like a genius.
Unlike a Rogue-Lite, it has a more arcade game feel to it. When you eventually lose, you can restart from the beginning, but there’s no sense of overarching progression, it instead feels like you’ve just inserted a coin and pressed the start button to have another go. Occasionally I found myself in unwinnable situations that are frustrating ways to end a good run, but on the odd occasion there are narrow victories that feel wonderfully satisfying.
My sole fully successful run I had was as a Warlock. I’d picked up a treasure that reduced all minions that cost above 5 mana to costing just 5 mana and then had a choice which included 2 Molten Giants as a card choice. Since they cost less per damage taken, I wondered if that synergy carried over, even when their overall cost reduced to 5, and in a gloriously game balance breaking moment, it did. I later had the opportunity to take a spell card that replaced all minions in my hand with one in play, so naturally a hand of Molten Giants for free was inevitable.
This new mode even gives you some cards from the new Kobolds & Catacombs set to play around with. Having seen a majority of the new set’s cards, I do like what it’s doing a lot and it’s well worth looking into if Hearthstone as a TCG excites you, but with the new Dungeon Run there’s no real obligation to do so. If you just want a fun game to play where there’s just you and the AI, Hearthstone now properly caters to this desire.
In creating the Dungeon Run, Blizzard’s masterstroke may be that it not only caters for new and existing players, but also those sceptical about the business practice of free-to-play games with microtransactions. It’s different enough and has the lowest possible barrier of entry – free. As such, there’s really no excuse, outside of not owning a PC or mobile phone, not to at least give the Hearthstone Dungeon Run a try.