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Jason Jarusinsky

The fifth and final wing to be released for the Hearthstone: Curse of Naxxramas expansion is the Frostwyrm Lair. If you have not seen our reviews of Hearthstone or any of the expansion wings to this point they can be found here.

Frostwyrm Lair is the reward for defeating the four wings of Naxxramas. Inside you will not only face off with the giant Frostwyrm Sapphiron, but also the mighty (and terrifying) Kel’Thuzad!! Defeating these final bosses will unlock multiple epic cards and the legendary card Kel’Thuzad!

First up is the previously mentioned Sapphiron. This fight is all about placement. World of Warcraft players will recognize this from the game mechanic that had to be used to keep your party members alive during the raid encounter. Here it keeps your minions immune to Sapphiron’s heroic power. The fight becomes simple once you figure that one. The reward for defeating this encounter is Echoing Ooze. This card has a lot of potential in decks that that focus on buffing (improving minions through spells) as this creature copies itself at the end of the turn and includes any temporary effects that were on it.

Once Sapphiron is defeated you will be able to face off with Kel’Thuzad himself. Be aware that he has two different phases and each has a different heroic ability. A key to this fight is getting through his ten points of armor as soon as possible as his second heroic ability costs eight mana. Two strategies that I have found successful have been using a fast deck like a hunter or a druid deck that helps build armor while still keeping up the pressure on Kel’Thuzad. The reward for is the Shade of Naxxramas (my favorite card in the entire expansionPlayers are also rewarded with the legendary card Kel’Thuzad. The potential to build around this one is vast, and I would not be surprised to see a lot of “deathrattle” themed decks in the near future. This will be a must own card in everyone’s collections as time goes on since he can help build some excellent strategies.

The final class battle is the Paladin who faces off with Kel’Thuzad. I have not defeated this challenge to this point, and have found the deck provided for this challenge is vastly underpowered. If you have found success with this please comment below as I am eager to see how everyone does it.

The Heroic modes of the final bosses will certainly challenge even the most veteran players. Once all heroic modes are defeated a special card back is rewarded (Enter it here). So you will see it displayed proudly by players who have defeated this vastly challenging task.

Overall I enjoyed the expansion a great deal. I found it to be fun for players of all skill levels, and the cards added certainly add a new flavor to the game. Personally I would have liked to have seen the normal mode be a bit more difficult, and the heroic modes toned down just a bit. But that is a minor criticism. I very much look forward to what the future of Hearthstone holds. What did you all think? Sound off below with any thoughts on the final challenges and the expansion as a whole.

Until next time have fun, and stay tuned to Engaged Family Gaming for more gaming reviews.

Echoing Ooze - Hearthstone curse of Naxxramas card
Echoing Ooze
Shade of Naxxramas - Hearthstone: Curse of Naxxramas Card
Shade of Naxxramas
Kel'Thuzad - Hearthstone: Curse of Naxxramas Card
Kel'Thuzad - Legendary
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The fourth wing to be released for Hearthstone: Curse of Naxxramas expansion is the Construct Quarter. If you have not seen our reviews of Hearthstone or any of the expansion wings to this point they can be found here.

The Construct Quarter is the last bastion of defense for Naxxramas before entry to Frostwyrm Lair can be earned. The most difficult bosses await a player as Kel’ Thuzad throws everything but the kitchen sink in your way! The final boss for this wing is Thaddius, and like the Military Quarter will challenge you in every way possible.

The bosses within the Construct Quarter will challenge a player to think their way out of trouble as opposed to just throwing powerful cards at them. The rewards for victory are also more powerful and plentiful. First up is Patchwerk who actually has no deck of cards, and is just a brutal force himself. The reward for victory is The Undertaker. Defeating Grobbulous next will reward you with the Mad Scientist. The next boss Gluth’s reward is Zombie Chow. World of Warcraft players may find humor in this reward as it harkens back to the Raid Boss fight. Finally defeating Thaddius rewards players with the Wailing Soul and two legendary cards Fuegen and Stalagg.

The two legendary rewards can potentially summon Thaddius himself for a player if the conditions are met. This has the chance to turn the tide of any game to a player’s favor.

The two class challenges that are unlocked within the Construct Quarter are Priest and Warrior. Defeating these challenges will unlock the Dark Cultist and Death’s Bite respectfully. I found these challenges to be the most difficult to date.

Much like the Military Quarter previously the Heroic bosses within the Construct Quarter pose a significantly enhanced challenge for players. Building a deck specifically to defeat these challenges is highly recommended.

Overall the Construct Quarter did not disappoint as the final wing within Naxxramas. Playing through certainly felt as if the fights were building to a crescendo. Veteran players will find many new challenges awaiting them and will put a player’s deck-building skills to the test. Did you find the Construct Quarter to be as challenging as I did? Do you have an idea of what may lie next in Frostwyrm Lair? Sound off below with any thoughts and comments! Until next time good luck as Frostwyrm Lair opens on August 19th!

Mad Scientist - Hearthstone: Curse of Naxxramas Card
Mad Scientist
Undertaker - Hearthstone: Curse of Naxxramas Card
Undertaker
Zombie Chow - Hearthstone: Curse of Naxxramas Card
Zombie Chow
Dark Cultist - Hearthstone: Curse of Naxxramas Card
Dark Cultist - Priest
Death's Bite - Hearthstone: Curse of Naxxramas Card
Death's Bite - Warrior
wailing soul - Hearthstone: Curse of Naxxramas Card
Wailing Soul
Feugen - Hearthstone: Curse of Naxxramas Card
Feugen - Legendary
Stalagg - Hearthstone: Curse of Naxxramas Card
Stalagg - Legendary
Thaddius- Hearthstone: Curse of Naxxramas Card
Thaddius - Legendary
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Hearthstone: Curse of Naxxramas

The third wing to be released for Hearthstone: Curse of Naxxramas expansion is the Military Quarrter. if you have not seen our reviews of Hearthstone or any of the expansion wings to this point they can be found here.

The Military Quarter, as is teased by the title, contains the generals in charge of training Kel’ Thuzad’s armies. The final boss(es) in the Military Quarter are The Four Horsemen. This wing will challenge you in ways you have never seen in Hearthstone!

The difficulty of the Military Quarter is again raised in comparison to the other two wings. Defeating these bosses will earn you some of the most powerful reward cards seen to this point. The three boss rewards are as follows; Instructor Razuvious grants Dancing Swords, Gothik the Harvester grants Spectral Knight, and finally The Four Horsemen grant Deathlord. All of these bosses on normal difficulty were beatable again by changing decks and cards to combat their specific abilities. This is very true for the Four Horsemen fight as you will start against an opponent with three minions already on the board.

Clearing the three bosses also unlock the legendary Baron Rivendare card which potentially brings entire new deck ideas to players based on his granted ability. I look forward to seeing how players utilize this card in particular.

The two class challenges that are unlocked within the Military Quarter are Warlock and Shaman. Defeating these challenges will unlock Voidcaller, and Reincarnate respectively. While these challenges were not as fun as the previous Hunter challenge they were enjoyable.

The greater challenge for the military wing again was heroic mode. Even in comparison to the Arachnid and Plague Quarters previously the difficulty has been increased. Even veteran players may find defeating these bosses to be a great challenge.

Overall the Military Quarter continues to build upon the success of its predecessors. Any worries I had previously about challenges for veteran players has now been totally dismissed. I eagerly await what challenges and flavor the Construct Quarter will bring when it releases on August 12th. Have you found the Military Quarter to be challenging? Have deck constructions that have worked in heroic mode? Sound off below and share your experiences! Until next time good luck and have fun!

Dancing Swords Hearthstone: Curse of Naxxramas card
Dancing Swords - Neutral
Spectral Knight Hearthstone: Curse of Naxxramas card
Spectral Knight - Neutral Card
Deathlord Hearthstone: Curse of Naxxramas card
Deathlord - Neutral Card
Baron Rivendare Hearthstone: Curse of Naxxramas card
Baron Rivendare - Neutral Legendary
Voidcaller Hearthstone: Curse of Naxxramas card
Voidcaller - Warlock Card
Reincarnate - Hearthstone: Curse of Naxxramas card
Reincarnate - Shaman Card

 

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The second wing to be released for Hearthstone: Curse of Naxxramas expansion is the Plague Quarter. We have covered Hearthstone, and the expansion before. All of our previous reviews from Engaged Family Gaming can be found here.

The Plague Quarter, much like the Arachnid Quarter before it, aptly describes what you will be encountering inside of it. Blizzard nailed the flavor in this quarter from slimes, to boss fights that actually disease you! The final boss in the Quarter is Loatheb a disease-infested creature whose mere presence has ill effects on you.

The Plague Quarter has amped up the difficulty a notch in comparison to the Arachnid Quarter from last week. The three bosses here and their reward cards are as follows:

Noth the Plaguebearer who grants Stoneskin Gargoyle, Heigan the Unclean who grants Unstable Ghoul, and as previously mentioned Loatheb who grants Sludgebelcher as well as a legendary Loatheb card (Take a look at the gallery below for images). I was able to defeat all of the bosses on normal difficulty with only a couple of losses. Pro Tip: Changing and switching custom decks to match the boss you are fighting becomes even more important in the Plague Quarter so do not be afraid to make multiple changes.)

The two class challenges for the Plague Quarter are Hunter and Mage. Defeating these challenge grant you access to Webspinner and Duplicate (Images in the gallery below). It took a couple of tries to get the hang of the Hunter challenge, however it has been the most enjoyable of the challenges I faced to this point. The class challenges have been the hidden gems of this expansion thus far. I have really enjoyed them so far!

Heroic mode bosses are again available to a player once the normal difficulty has been cleared. These are incredibly challenging experiences. Younger players will struggle, but this will definitely give them something to strive for.

Overall, I am very impressed with the jump in difficulty in the Plague Quarter. After the Arachnid Quarter I was a bit worried that true challenges for experienced players may not happen, however the Plague Quarter has alleviated those concerns. I am certainly looking forward to what the Military Quarter has in store for players when it releases August 5th. Sounds off in the comments and let us know what you think!

 

Unstable Ghoul Hearthstone Curse of Naxxramas Neutral card
Unstable Ghoul - Neutral Card
stoneskin gargoyle Neutral Card Hearthstone Curse of Naxxramas
Stoneskin Gargoyle - Neutral Card
Sludge Belcher HearthStone Curse of Naxxramas Neutral Card
Sludge Belcher - Neutral Card
Loatheb Legendary Neutral Card Hearthstone Curse of Naxxramas
Loatheb - Legendary Neutral Card
Webspinner Hunter Card Hearthstone Curse of Naxxramas
Webspinner - Hunter Card
duplicate mage card Hearthstone curse of naxxramus
Duplicate - Mage Card
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The first batch of content to be released for the Hearthstone: Curse of Naxxramas expansion is the Arachnid quarter. We have covered this title before, but in case this is your first trip to Engaged Family Gaming you can find our reviews here.

The Arachnid Quarter’s flavor is much of what you would expect from the name. You will not only encounter zombies and oozes, but also spiders. The final boss of the wing is Maexxna, a giant spider.

Experienced players with well tuned decks should not find the content to be that tough on normal difficulty. (I made it through without suffering a loss.) As you clear each boss you are rewarded with a new card that is themed after the Naxxramas zone. In the Arachnid wing you are able to unlock the following cards: Haunted Creeper, Nerub’ar Weblord, Nerubian Egg, and the legendary Maexxna (Card images in the gallery below!). All of these cards are neutral and can be utilized in any deck. Pro tip: I found it very useful to change decks for each boss in order to try and negate each boss’s hero power.

A pair of class challenges is unlocked as soon as players defeat all three bosses. In this quarter the two classes featured are Druid and Rogue. In these challenges the player is presented with a pre-built deck and asked to defeat one of the bosses again. The rewards for defeating the two class challenges come in the form of class cards. Poison Seeds for the Druid and Anub’ar Ambusher for the Rogue. (Card images are in the gallery below!) I found these challenges to be entertaining, because players are normally familiar with the cards in their own decks. However, in these challenges every draw is a surprise.

The three bosses are also available in a “Heroic Mode” after you complete them on normal difficulty. Players are again asked to defeat the same three bosses, but this time the bosses may start with more life, empowered hero abilities, or even minions on the board before the game starts. I found Maexxna the most challenging since I had to construct a deck specifically to combat her. Players do not earn new cards for winning these fights individually, but once all three bosses are defeated in Heroic Mode a new card back is unlocked for use. This is a cosmetic change, but it is a welcome one.

I am a longtime World of Warcraft player so I really enjoyed seeing some of the challenges I faced in the Naxxramas raid given new life in Hearthstone. I can’t wait to see what new challenges and new cards are on the way next week!

Nerubian egg - Hearthstone Curse of Naxxramas Card
Nerubian Egg
nerubar warlord - Hearthstone Curse of Naxxramas Card
Nerub'ar Warlord
maexxna - Hearthstone Curse of Naxxramas Card
Meaxxna (Legendary)
haunted creeper - Hearthstone Curse of Naxxramas Card
Haunted Creeper
anubar ambusher - Hearthstone Curse of Naxxramas Card
Anub'ar Ambusher (Rogue)
poison seeds- Hearthstone Curse of Naxxramas Card
Poison Seeds (Druid)
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Developed by Blizzard Entertainment

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft has finally received its first official expansion in the form of Hearthstone: Curse of Naxxramas. This is themed heavily after the Naxxramas raid zone that was featured several years ago in the World of Warcraft.

First off: if you are somehow unfamiliar with Hearthstone, then you should bring yourself up to speed by reading our review here. The Curse of Naxxramas expansion includes several new features including new cards, solo adventure content, and class-based challenges for the different decks.

It is important to note that before a player can access the new content all 9 classes have to be unlocked through the various practice fights. But, once they are unlocked you will be able to access the content if you have purchased it (the first quarter is currently available for free). These are significant challenges so it is recommended that players tweak their decks and learn the advanced strategies first, however, before taking the plunge.

The first quarter is available initially, but additional wings will become accessible in the future. Once opened these wings can become purchasable either by spending 700 in-game gold or by paying $20 to unlock them all.

The first quarter available in the expansion consists of three boss fights. Defeating each boss earns you you a new card. Defeating the third boss earns you a legendary card to add to your collection. This also unlocks two class challenges and the heroic mode of the quarter.

Class challenges pit a player against one of the classes using a random deck. For each class challenge that is defeated another card is unlocked. In heroic mode you fight the same 3 bosses on a much higher difficulty. In heroic mode is different in that your opponent starts with 45 life instead of 30. They also have a more powerful hero power. Last but not least in heroic mode your opponent can and will use cards from multiple classes. The deck is more than a little stacked against you in this mode (metaphorically speaking). Players will need to use trial and error will be needed to determine which deck is best suited for each boss.

Overall,I found the new content to be a solid addition to the game itself. There are other fun upgrades like a new game board to play on (and click!) and access to the new cards that are unlocked in the arena mode. The only drawback I encountered is that while playing solo adventure content in the expansion you do not earn gold for victories, and quests cannot be completed. Those are minor complaints though. The expansion is definitely a good thing.

Note: I will be sharing my thoughts about each of the different quarters of the solo adventure content in individual articles since they are being released separately.

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By: Jason Jarusinsky, collectible card game editor

Today we are focusing on a game I have been playing for the last eighteen years: Magic: The Gathering (M:TG). It is one of the biggest collectible card games on the market, so we wanted to provide an overview of the game, and what you can expect if you and your children start to play.

History of the game

M:TG was released in 1993 by Wizards of the Coast with the first set called Alpha. When the game first released in order to help spread the word about the game the developers and publishers literally gave away product to players in order to get them started. It did not take long for that to happen. With subsequent releases aptly named Beta and Unlimited and the first expansion set called Arabian Nights the game caught on and caught on big. It has changed over time, but it has always revolved around the idea of an ever expanding game based on the release of expansion sets.

Sets are released in what are known as “blocks”. A block consists of three sets that are released over a period of a year. This has been tweaked here and there, but it is always more or less the same. In addition, there is a “Core set” that is released each summer. This set is comprised of basic cards that give players a solid starting point to learn the game each year.

What is this game all about?

As you sit down to play you take on the roll of a powerful wizard called a “Planeswalker” standing on a hill facing your enemy. Your deck of cards represents the creatures you will summon, the spells you will cast, and the mana you will use to do battle. This battle is represented by each player taking turns playing cards from their hand and attempting to take their opponents life total from twenty to zero.

Why is this game so great?

First, the game is deep. There are always interesting decisions to be made. The process of building a deck using all of the cards available is a meta-game in itself.

Second, the designers do a fantastic job of creating new and exciting cards to keep players enthralled with the game year after year. This is one of the main reasons I feel the game has remained so popular, and even has a Pro Tour for the most skilled players to compete in.

This is a very high level overview, but I hope you have found it useful.We’re going to talk about Magic: the Gathering a lot as time goes on so come on back to learn more.

If you have any questions at all please feel free to reach me at CCG@engagedfamilygaming.com. In future articles I will delve deeper into the formats of play, and what to expect at your first tournament if you so inclined that is the right gaming level for you!

Stay Frosty Friends,

Jason

 

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By: Jason Jarusinsky, Collectible Card Game Editor

Last week I talked about how to organize a collection of cards for whatever collectible card game your family plays. I touched on it briefly, but I think it is valuable to talk about the different rarity levels for cards and to explain what they mean.

The vast majority of games on the market today include four different rarity levels. They are: common, uncommon, rare, and ultra-rare (also known as mythic rare, or chase rare depending on the game).

Commons

The name says it all here. These will be the most readily available cards for use. Generally speaking, 70-75% of the cards in a booster pack will be common. This is the main block of cards that beginners are encouraged to build from. The fact that they are so numerous also means that their value is low. This isn’t to say that they are garbage, but they are the cards you will want to pile in a shoebox. If you buy a lot of booster packs you will end up with a TON.

Uncommons

Uncommon is the next rarity level up and are the next most common grouping of cards. Only 20-25% of that same booster pack will be uncommon. In most cases these cards are still very readily available; however will be more expensive that commons in almost all cases. A beginner can find uncommon cards to fill out their deck with relative ease even if you purchase a few at a local card shop.

Rares

Rare cards are some of the more scarce type of cards that can be found in every booster pack. Typically only one card per pack is rare. These can be much more expensive than more common cards and you won’t have a lot of them at first until you buy more booster packs. Don’t be discouraged though, because all games are playable without them. When you child gets older you can teach them about how to trade cards to get what they might be missing from their collection.

Ultra- Rares

Ultra-Rare, Mythic Rare, and/or Chase Rare cards are the rarest variety of cards that you and your child will find. Most importantly, there is no guarantee that you will ever open one in a booster pack. Instead, the odds range from one in five packs to one in ten packs depending on the game. This has the effect of driving the value of these cards up significantly.

I hope this helps bring the types of cards you own into greater focus and as always if you have any questions or would like more information please email me at CCG@engagedfamilygaming.com and I will be happy to help.

Stay Frosty Friends!

Jason

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By: Jason Jarusinsky, staff writer

It is easy to start playing a collectible card game (CCG) and get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of cards that come into your house. This, unfortunately, prevents a lot of parents from working with their children to properly care for their cards, or worse, discourage them from playing at all. The good news is that organizing and caring for cards is a simple process, and once you teach these methods to your children it will be easy for them to continue it. This means less mess for you and more fun for them! We call that a victory!

The decision to take an interest in storing and displaying your child’s cards is an important one. You see, playing a collectible card game (CCG) involves playing with other people’s cards. By teaching your children how to respect their own cards you will help them learn to respect everyone else’s.

It may seem overwhelming when you think about it. But, overseeing a growing collection can be a fun collaborative process that the whole family can participate in.

It may start with storing everything in something as simple as a shoebox. But, you will eventually outgrow it. The following are a few items that you can purchase that will help take the next step.

3-Ring Binders – Make sure to get hard sided binders. The floppy ones won’t protect the cards as well.

9 Card Pages – These are clear pages that you can slip more valuable cards into so they are protected, but still visible.

Trading Card Boxes – These are cheap, functional boxes that can be used to store bulk cards. It keeps them safe and allows them to be stacked neatly on shelves. (Many of them are plain white so your kids can decorate them with stickers or other drawings!)

Having these tools on hand makes organizing (and protecting) your child’s collection a snap.

There are a number of different philosophies regarding sorting cards, but one of the easiest is to divide the cards into piles by rarity to start with. Some games make this easy by having a colored symbol on the card to represent rarity; others use letters such as “C”(common), “UC” (uncommon), and “R” (rare) right on the card face.

Start by going through all of the cards with your children and piling them up by rarity. This is a great chance to talk about the cards with them. What are their favorites? Why? What do they think of the art? Etc.

Once the cards are sorted into piles you can then put them away. What I will typically do with the rare/and valuable cards is separate them by color or category that makes sense for the game, and insert them into the 9 pocket pages inside my binders. I will then put the less valuable cards in bulk into my boxes. This way I can still access them when I need them, but they aren’t sitting in piles that are just asking to be knocked over. One thing I find useful is to write a description on the card boxes so I know what cards are inside. This helps later when you need to search for particular cards.

Of course these are basic tips and ideas on how to make this process easy and fun for everyone involved. If you are interested in more ideas let me know via email (CCG@engagedfamilygaming.com) and I will be happy to help.

Stay Frosty Friends,

Jason Jarusinsky

 

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By: Jason Jarusinsky, CCG Editor

You may be looking at the title of this column and asking yourself, “What on Earth is a CCG?” We get that question a lot here at Engaged Family Gaming. These games can be a money pit for kids and parents who don’t now how they work. So, we decided to put a regular column in place. 

I will be taking some time to break down the basics, and make the process of getting started much less daunting. 

A collectible card game, or “CCG,” is a game that consists of building a deck of specialized playing cards. These cards are “collected” by purchasing pre-made “starter decks” and blind “booster packs.” The decks will usually include a predetermined number of cards that will vary depending on the specific game. The win condition will vary from game to game, but the goal is usually to deplete your opponent’s life total. For example, in Magic: the Gathering each player begins play with 20 life points. The most basic form of victory is to reduce an opponent’s life total to zero.

There are a lot of different collectible card games (CCGs) out there so it is easy to get bogged down. The best way to get started is to decide on one game you and your family would like to learn and concentrate specifically on that game. Some games are targeted towards different age groups so you will want to keep that in mind when shopping. For example, Pokemon is targeted at a young audiences while Magic: The Gathering is targeted towards a more mature audience. 

Once you have decided on a game, buying cards to start is pretty easy. They can be obtained in a variety of places and are often clearly marked “Starter or Beginner”. Normally they come in simplified versions of the game with everything you need to play, including instructions.

At that point, all you have left to do is sit down with family and friends, read the rules and play through a few hands to get the overall hang of the game. You might even be able to find instructional videos online depending on what game you choose. Most games I have played can be learned within an evening. In almost every case the game takes a few hours to learn, and then the next several years trying to master all the nuances that are contained within. This is one of the greatest lures of collectible card games (CCGs). They are often easy to learn, but challenging to master.

In future articles I will delve into many different games and what you can expect if your child runs up to you at a store holding a few packs with longing in their eyes! As always if you have any questions you can reach me at CCG@engagedfamilygaming.com and will be happy to help you further.

Stay Frosty Friends!

Jason Jarusinsky

 

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