There has always been something just a bit tongue in cheek about Blizzard’s treatment of Hearthstone in comparison to its broodier older brother, World of Warcraft. Whilst the WoW: Shadowlands trailer is about as fun as sitting on the frozen throne without any pants on, the Descent of Dragons reveal turned glitz up to 11 with a colorful power ballad of a trailer. How do you announce an expansion about Dragons? With a Flash Gordon inspired, 80s synth track of course.
Enter the Dragon
With Hearthstone’s popularity going strong some 5 years after its release, we have to say that Blizzard is likely doing something very right.
Descent of Dragons (DoD) is the 17th Expansion/Adventure in the card game’s life, and continues the theme of drawing upon existing Warcraft lore to create an exciting new story for players to embark on. The League of Evil (yes, that is their real name) are going to resurrect Galakrond from his frozen grave in Dragonblight, Northrend likely for the purpose of… evil we guess?
For those who have read the fantastic Dawn of the Aspects by Richard A. Knaak, you may know a little more about Galakrond and the origin of Dragon Aspects and well, Dragons in general. In short, Galakrond was the original dragon, and by all means a big carnivorous b****** who went around consuming any dragon is his path. The Aspects (who were tantamount to dumb animals at the time) worked together and with the Titans to stop him.
The story itself is quite dark, and gives great insight into the Dragon Aspects, but doesn’t tell us much about big ugly himself. It will be the first time we see the Father of Dragons in a Blizzard game, and some may have been hoping for a more “lore accurate” grim and gritty representation of a character described as the “Prime Evil”.
Not that this is unusual; the trend of putting an upbeat swing on Warcraft lore has been in Hearthstone since the beginning, and really hit its stride with the One Night In Karazhan Adventure. Kicking off with a colorful number by the crazed Guardian Medivh, the constant heckling and jeering he throws your way couldn’t be further from the solemn, sober figure portrayed throughout Warcraft’s 25 year history. We quite enjoy it really, and the younger demographic of the game certainly seem to be on the same wavelength.
Great Balls of Fire!
But either way, we are happy that Blizz are (fire)breathing new life into dragons, who have always been a staple of the Hearthstone series. As with many expansions, DoD brings new gameplay features, including new cards, PVE quests with the League of Explorers and a brand new card mechanism “Invoke.”
When you log on to DoD for the first time, players will actually receive Galakrond for free. Placing him in your deck will not only give your hero a unique power for its class, but also power the dragon king with every Invoke card played, in a similar manner to the Cthulu (*C’thun) buffing strategy from the Whisper of the Old Gods expansion.
As well as the brand new cards, some of the old ones have received a coat of paint, with the Dragon Aspects getting quite considerable buffs in tune with the expansion. We will have to see how well these cards transition into the new meta, but as with most new expansions these cards look a little on the strong side right now. Though Blizzard have said one of the main goals of this expansion is to reduce the RNG and make the game have a solid build up structure.
Also announced, with somewhat less fanfare, is the new Battleground mode coming to the game, an eight player quasi auto chess mode which will completely change up gameplay.
The player can choose from 24 heroes, and proceed to build a warband capable of smashing the other player in the face. Like most auto chess games, gameplay will be split between a recruitment/building phase and the actual battle phase, with damage hitting the oponent once the warband is down.
We have to say, we are impressed that the mode will be packaged in with Hearthstone, free to play, from the 12th of November, the same day that Descent of Dragons goes into open beta. After the fiasco of last year’s Blizzcon, and all the negative publicity Blizz have sufferent in recent months, it’s no bad thing for some innovative features to be chucked into older games.
Descent of Dragons arives on the 10th of December 2019. What do you think of the latest expansion? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us here, and stay tuned for more catch ups from Blizzcon. And if you missed our recap of all the key announcements from Blizzard, you can find it here.