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The drunken battles of Hearthstone's upcoming adventure pack

Coren Direbrew is a real bastard.

Not at first though. Initially, the first boss in the recently announced upcoming Adventure pack for Hearthstone, Blackrock Mountain, is kind of a pushover.

Played with the normal difficulty, Direbrew isn't much of a challenge. That's because the dwarf's special ability, which activates automatically at the beginning of his turn, plays a card from both his deck and yours without any cost.

It's not a particularly powerful ability given that it only randomly gives Direbrew the edge and is just as likely to give you the edge.

But when you try taking him on in the heroic setting, things become drastically different.

Direbrew's ability shifts, now giving him two cards and you one every turn, and he starts the match with a 15 point armor bonus.

At one point, playing the demo against Direbrew with one of three pre-built decks, I started to wonder if it was actually possible to beat him.

Turns out it is, I did, but I suspect it was more about the luck of the draw then any innate talent I might have for Hearthstone.

Eric Dodds, Hearthstone's game director, said that really you're not fighting Coren Direbrew in the first boss battle, you're actually taking on the whole bar where he drinks, the Grim Guzzler.

He also pointed out that he's meant to be an easy introduction to the adventure, unless you play him in heroic mode.

While I wasn't able to check out all of the 31 new cards coming with Blackrock Mountain, there were a few included in the pre-built deck and they were a lot of fun to mess around with.


The Grim Patron for instance is a dwarf that costs five to summon and has a three defense and attack. But if he takes damage without dying, he summons another Patron. The new cards are also designed to make it possible for players to build a dragon-centric deck. I caught a glimpse of that with a couple of cards including the Blackwing Technician, a character that gains a plus one defense and attack if you have a dragon in your hand when you play her.

Ultimately, adventures are meant to both deliver a fun single-player experience and add a bit a variation to the multiplayer game with new cards, Dodds said.

Hearthstone's first adventure, Curse of Naxxramas, was enough of a hit to convince Blizzard to make a second adventure, but Dodds said they're not sure yet how often they might make new adventures for Hearthstone.

"We're still exploring the space right now," he said. "We liked how the first adventure worked out and we decided to do another."

While Blizzard remains tightlipped about how Hearthstone will evolve, Dodds was very clear about one thing: He doesn't see the Hearthstone approach making the leap to other Blizzard IP like Diablo or Starcraft.

"I can't see Hearthstone drifting into other territories," he said. "It's so rooted in Warcraft. We have absolutely no intention of drifting into another IP."

The developers also have their hands full right now bringing the game to smartphones.

Dodds said the game will make the leap in the "next couple of months" and that it is already making the rounds internally as developers test it out.

The good news is that when it hits it will use existing Hearthstone accounts and support crossplay, so platform won't matter when you're playing the game.

Dodds said he wasn't sure what impact the new platform will have on the game, but suspects it's going to allow fans of the title to play it even more now that they can carry Hearthstone around in their pocket.

"I certainly think it's going to let a bunch of players already on tablet and PC play the game all over the place," he said.

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