I finally decided to give Blizzard some money. I haven't done so in WOW for some time now as I can easily fund my play with tokens bought via in game gold but now they have collected money from me for Hearthstone. They are going to get me one way or another, it seems. Hearthstone's payment scheme is set up such that it is far more efficient to spend money on adventures that come with both cards and a bunch of single player challenges and then spend in game gold on drafting and buying packs. I really wanted to get going with drafting as well as having all of the cards from adventures, so $25 got shipped off to Blizzard to purchase Blackrock Mountain.
Now that I have access to all the Blackrock Mountain bosses I have been grinding away at heroic modes. In theory these are wildly variable puzzles that usually require figuring out which cards can beat a particularly challenging layout and then getting enough luck to win. For many of the challenges that theory holds... but unfortunately a lot of the really challenging heroic modes are all solved the same way. There is a two card combo that beats most of the hard stuff, and it looks like this:
So you get a minion with high health, double its health a couple times, then turn your 2/48 minion into a 48/48 minion and win the game. Smash. This technique bypasses all kinds of difficult situations and lets you ignore multi stage fights by simply killing the boss in one turn instead of letting them go through their stages based on how much health they have left. This wouldn't be frustrating except that there are an awful lot of fights that depend on this single combo to beat them, so instead of a really tricky puzzle it just consists of using the combo deck over and over again because the AI doesn't have appropriate spells to deal with it and doesn't understand what is happening anyway.
The silly thing is that these spells are common but I don't own any of them so the encounters are nearly unwinnable for me. Eventually I will get them, but for the moment is isn't really a matter of strategy but simply a matter of finding these particular cards and then blowing the enemies out.
Many times I have tried a heroic boss a number of different ways and come up short, having no idea what I could do to beat them with the cards I have. Eventually I look up other people's ideas online and lo and behold, they are using cards I don't have to smash the encounter. The cards I don't have are usually the common ones oddly enough and while most of the time it is Inner Fire I also could really use a Crazed Alchemist or two to beat heroic Thaurissan. (Crazed Alchemist is also completely nuts vs. Razorgore, but I just beat that one without it.)
Overall the variety in the puzzles looks pretty big at first glance, but they do have the issue that most classes are completely hopeless at the puzzles. The main thing is that the bosses start with a ton of health and usually have some crazy aggressive start so you simply cannot rush them down. Doing 60 damage to an enemy with an aggressive deck isn't possible when you have 30 health and they are rushing you back and have some massive bonus stacked on top. The only way to beat most of the heroic modes is to stabilize, clear their threats, and eventually find a way to win, and it is almost universally priest or mage that is ideal for doing that. Mage for the fights where you aren't allowed to have minions, which is a common theme, and priest for everything else.
I don't know how feasible it would be to make a control oriented heroic mode that rewards rushing instead of controlling on the player's part. Vaelestrasz is the closest to that model because he tries to blow you up by running you out of deck but he just wasn't that hard. I put together a random deck with all the cheap junk I could click on and smashed him, so clearly it wasn't as hard as all that. I certainly didn't need to reload over and over like I did on some bosses to get the perfect draw to keep myself alive against their starting brutality like Loatheb!
There is a lot of fun to be had working your way through heroic modes. The general experience is good and I like it... but I do wish it wasn't quite so clear that there is one best way to beat a lot of the hardest encounters, particularly when those encounters are the endbosses and they have such interesting staged abilities. I hope the next adventure contains a lot more fights like Baron Geddon and Vaelestrasz because I felt like I had to do some really cool stuff to deal with their abilities that wasn't just limited to a formula I had already figured out.