Hearthstone has a new game mode, and it's taking over my life. Dungeon Run, which was released as a free addition to the new Kobolds & Catacombs set, gives players something they've never really had before: a compelling single player experience.
You begin a Dungeon Run by picking a class, each of which has its own pre-made skeleton deck, then head into battle against a set of AI adversaries. Along the way you augment your deck with a few super-charged "treasures"—which take the form of OP cards or passive abilities—and packages of regular cards themed around different synergies, which you pick depending on how your deck develops over the course of the run.
As a long-time Hearthstone addict, I'm finding the change of pace refreshing. The infinite turn-timer allows for a far more relaxing experience than other modes, which are frequently high pressure. And, unlike ladder opponents, the pre-programmed adversaries are polite enough to never slow-roll or emote you.
The cardback you earn for clearing the dungeon with all nine classes is a nice little reward to work towards—and if you want to take things really seriously, Twitch's streaming challenge offers the chance to compete against other players for big money.
There's just one problem—the final bosses are all bullshit.
They might serve up different flavours, but it's bullshit all the same. To elaborate, each of the five bosses has 70 health, starts with three mana, and possesses an absurdly overpowered hero power. Depending on which boss you face, how good your deck is, and whether the luck of the draw goes your way, these encounters can range in difficulty from very hard to screen-smashingly impossible.
But I'm here to help. I've put together the definitive ranking of all the dungeon bosses' and their relative levels of bullshittery, so that when you head into that final battle, you will at least do so ready for the bucket that's about to be dumped on you. And so the bullshit rundown begins with...
5. Azari the Devourer
Picture the scene: you've drafted an absolute dream of a control Warlock deck. You've got everything: loads of high cost demons, plenty of ways to cheat them into play, and a strong enough early game to help you survive long enough to abuse your sick synergies. Every foe up until the boss was an absolute cakewalk. You are convinced—convinced!—that this run is as good as won.
Haha, well, no actually, because Azari the Devourer's the final boss and he's gonna ruin your life now. First thing to point out—Azari's hero power costs zero and removes two cards from your deck. By turn nine at the very latest, your deck simply doesn't exist any more and you are taking escalating damage every turn from fatigue. So those late game strategies you were planning—yeah, nah, not gonna happen. Second point: his deck is insanely aggressive, with plenty of early-game cards carrying ridiculous stats in exchange for costing health to play (a drawback which doesn't matter, because he has 70 health).
Okay, I'm exaggerating somewhat. In truth, Azari is fairly manageable—at least, as dungeon bosses go. Sure, your deck being reduced to to nothing sounds scary, but really that's only relevant if your win conditions all come in the late-game. The key to winning this fight is to get board control quickly, and finish things off by doming Azari before his hero power catches up with you.
4. Xol the Unscathed
Xol plays a quest Warlock deck designed to discard enough cards to activate the "Lakkari Sacrifice" quest, and claim the reward card "Nether Portal". This card is Xol's scary late-game win condition, as once played it will generate two 3/2 Flame Imps every turn, an army which can be very difficult to hold off since there's no way to remove the effect. Xol puts on a lot of early pressure, so if you can't counteract her aggression that quest reward will run you over once it gets into play.
None of the above is even where the bullshit lies. For that, we must turn our attention to Xol's hero power, which passively activates at the end of every turn and adds one of five "Beam" cards to her hand. This means that Xol very quickly accumulates a diverse and colourful array of ways to F you up. Two particularly punishing examples are "Beam of Confusion", which grants Xol control of one of your minions at random, and "Beam of Fire", which deals 2 damage to all of your minions.
The best way to beat Xol is to make a note of which beams she gets and attempt to play around them accordingly. You'll know which one she gets depending on her emote when her hero power goes off. If she says "Flame", for example, she'll be getting "Beam of Fire". So you'll be wanting to trade off those low health minions pronto.
3. Vustrasz the Ancient
Vustrasz the Ancients starts with five copies of "Master Chest" on his side of the board, which is a 0/8 chest that awards the player a lovely overpowered treasure card when they kill it. So far, so not bullshit. Don't worry though, the bullshit is coming. Vustrasz's hero power costs zero mana and reads "Deal one damage to all enemies for each missing Master Chest". Ah. So you can't kill the chests and gain the rewards, because doing so will make it impossible for you to maintain any presence on the board and actually chip away at those 70 points of life. Bummer.
Vustrasz will exacerbate the situation by continually buffing up his chests' stats, making them harder and harder to ignore, so you eventually do have to get rid of some of them, thus making his hero power even more difficult to deal with. I asked Hearthstone professional George "Boarcontrol" Webb, who has been streaming a lot of dungeon runs, about the dangers of this boss. Boar told me "If he ends up killing multiple chests, you're screwed."
George was also nice enough to give me some tips for how to beat this boss, saying "You can fatigue him with control, or SMOrc". SMOrc, of course, being Twitch vernacular for rushing down your opponent really damn quickly. So those are the options: grind out the win slowly, or attempt to catch Vustrasz out with a balls-to-the-wall offense.
2. The Darkness
Only bad things are called "The Darkness". And this dungeon boss is, somehow, even more irritating than his glam metal namesake. The Darkness possesses the most obviously ridiculous hero power of any of all of the bosses, summoning a 5/5 minion for free every single turn. Perhaps in some belated recognition of how unfair this was, the kind people at Blizzard grant the player unfortunate enough to have queued into this boss three "Luminous Candle" spells, each of which will dispel all of the hero-power generated 5/5s when casted. But what makes the Darkness' bullshit particularly egregious is the way his deck is built, seemingly to consist only of efficient removal spells and ways to draw more efficient removal spells, which makes playing against him a supremely frustrating experience.
The cycle usually goes something like this: he kills all your minions, summons a 5/5, then draws a bunch of cards. You keep going for a bit, playing your minions and using the candles to sustain you, but inevitably you run out of cards, and candles. Before long, your hopes of a successful run come to a soul-crushing end.
The easiest (perhaps only) way to beat this boss is to pick the "Cloak of Invisibility" passive treasure if you're offered it. This treasure grants all of your minions permanent stealth, and renders The Darkness' targeted removal useless. If you're not lucky enough to get that in your draft, though, you're not in for a fun time.
1 . King Togwaggle
I've been Togwaggled so many times now it's becoming a joke. King Togwaggle's stupid face is staring at me everytime I close my eyes. Togwaggle's in my dreams too. I keep getting this same one, where it's just me and Togwaggle in a fluorescently lit padded room, and he's holding this big jangling pouch of coins and saying "Do you want the money?" and I'm saying, "Yes, I do! I do want the money!" But every time I reach out to grasp the pouch, Togwaggle pulls it back and throws himself into his chair, his belly rippling disgustingly as he cackles and splutters.
The reason I am so traumatised is because Togwaggle is complete bullshit. He probably isn't even that much harder to beat than The Darkness, but wins our bullshit ranking due to the sheer amount of infuriating randomness generated by his hero power, which costs three mana and adds a random treasure card to his hand.
These treasures vary in quality wildly, but the ones at the top end are almost impossible to contend with. "Dr Boom's Boombox", for example, costs four mana and summons seven boombots. "Wand of Disintegration", which costs three mana, silences and destroys all of your minions. Any advantage you gain against Togwaggle can be snatched away in an excruciating instant.
Basically—Togwaggle gets to decide whether you win or not, and you don't really have any say in the matter. If that isn't peak bullshit, I don't know what is.