Ragnaros the Firelord is the most iconic card in Hearthstone because 1) it feels badass whenever you slam him on the board*, and 2) he epitomises the RNG that some players claim to hate, but makes for some of the game’s most memorable moments. There’s probably nothing in the game quite so sweet as winning thanks to a lucky 1-in-8 shot from ‘Sniper Rag’, but there are also times when his aim is so bad it’s like he wants you to rage dust him.
Señor del Fuego is about to become an even bigger part of Hearthstone, because he’s going to be one of the 17 bosses in the next single-player adventure, Blackrock Mountain, which is out in April. The expansion, which data-miners found evidence of in a patch last week, follows the same release structure as Curse of Naxxramas. There will be 31 new cards to unlock by completing a series of boss battles and class challenges against the AI, arranged across five wings which will be unlocked weekly over the course of a month. Blackrock Mountain will also feature a brand new, and suitably fiery, board.
In addition to Rag and his fire elemental chums, inside the molten core of the mountain you’ll also face Dark Iron Dwarves and various dragons, including Nefarian, the eldest son of Deathwing, who’s vying for control with Rag and whose bidding you'll initially be doing. Bring your best flame retardant trousers feels very much like the message here. Week one will be Blackrock Depths, where you’ll face the Grim Guzzler, The Arena and the Dark Iron Emperor, whilst week two will be the Molten Core itself, where you’ll meet Rag for the first time.
Blackrock Mountain was announced on-stage at PAX East by game director Eric Dodds. “[Ragnaros] has the same goal that a lot of epic villains do, and that’s to takeover the world” he said. Dodds also teased a handful of the new cards (artwork at the bottom).
- Dark Iron Skulker, Rogue class card, 4/3 for 5 mana, “Battlecry: Deal 2 damage to all undamaged minions.”
- Grim Patron, 3/3 for 5 Mana, “Whenever this minion survives damage, summon another Grim Patron.”
- Blackwing Technician, 2/4 for 3 Mana, “If you’re holding a dragon gain +1/+1.”
- Hungry Dragon, 5/6 for 4 Mana, “Battlecry: Summon a random 1-cost minion for your opponent.”
- Rend Blackhand, 8/4 for 7 Mana, “Battlecry: If you’re holding a Dragon, destroy a legendary minion.”
Some very interesting mechanics there. The Skulker is an amazing anti-aggro tech card for Rogue players, and it's also cool to see the Dragon 'tribe' getting some attention. I expect Brian Kibler will be delighted.
Blackrock Mountain’s wings will cost 700 in-game gold or $6.99 each, with the entire adventure available at a discounted $24.99. Full breakdown here. Unlike Curse of Naxxramas, it doesn't appear that the first wing will be available to sample for free. Pre-orders (which are only being taken for actual money) will begin from March 19, and will snag you another bonus card back in addition to the Raging Ragnaros one already up for grabs for reaching rank 20 on the ladder in March.
Hopefully Blackrock Mountain won’t see a repeat of the somewhat chaotic launch which Curse of Naxxramas had, which saw slammed servers lead to long waits to get in and some players getting locked out for months by payment problems. Team 5 are smart cookies though, so I’d expect a smoother rollout this time. After the substantial injection of cards from Goblins vs Gnomes in December, it’s great to see another set arriving so soon after.
*Until your opponent plays Faceless Manipulator followed by Big Game Hunter. Then, not so much.