While most people’s first experience with Blizzard was through Diablo or World of Warcraft, mine was through Hearthstone. Blizzard and Hearthstone have come a long way since its debut in 2014 and things have mostly changed for the better across multiple expansions each year and loads of quality of life improvements. Hearthstone expansions used to be either card based or adventure based but things changed with the Journey to Un’Goro release that saw Blizzard only do card based expansions while still doing some single player content. The Boomsday Project arrived in two parts beginning early last month with the cards and at the end of the month with The Puzzle Lab.
This expansion’s new cards come under a few new mechanics or flavour text. The Magnetic mechanic is by far the weakest of the new ones and it lets you use magnetic minions to fuse with other mechs to create super powerful ones. This mechanic feels a bit tacked on and doesn’t really suit the game’s other well thought out ones. The Omega cards on the other hand are nice because while they have below average stats normally, playing them when you have 10 mana will grant you a lovely bonus. The most interesting mechanic of the expansion is Projects. These cards let you and your opponent gain a bonus in some form.
The biggest task for developers of collectible card games isn’t pumping out new content for old players but to allow the game evolve and be welcoming to new players. Hearthstone has slowly been improving by retiring certain cards and expansions from Standard play. When Hearthstone originally launched, there was no Standard or Wild. That was already a step in the right direction but Blizzard make things better by putting some cards into the Hall of Fame from the original Classic Set. It has been a month since the expansion launched and little over a week since The Puzzle Lab launched and for the first time in a few expansions, the meta online is actually interesting. Even similar decks have some interesting new additions from The Boomsday Project and things still feel fresh after more than 4 years of Hearthstone.
Just like Dungeon Run, The Puzzle Lab is a solo experience but is probably one of the best things Blizzard has done for new and returning players in Hearthstone in a long time. Unlike other quests or solo content that requires you to defeat enemies, The Puzzle Lab is full of various levels of increasing difficulties split up into multiple categories. The Mirror challenge set has you using a few cards in your turn to create a board state that has both sides perfect mirrors of each other. The Board Clear one gives you a set of cards to allow you to clear the board through any means necessary. The Survival set has you trying to restore your health to survive a near lethal attack while the Lethal set has you trying to take down your opponent in a single turn with the cards available to you. While the only downside here is the lack of replay value, these puzzles are brilliantly designed and longtime Hearthstone players will find tons of enjoyment here.
Over the last few months, Blizzard has also improved the mobile client quite a bit. It now has iPhone X support and can even download data in the background when patches are pushed live. I’m pretty surprised that Blizzard still hasn’t supported split view on newer iPads considering how popular the combination of playing Hearthstone while watching something is on PC. In a perfect world, you would be able to watch YouTube or Twitch in split view while playing Hearthstone but Blizzard doesn’t seem to have any intention of adding this.
Overall, this expansion is great for longtime players and newcomers. While the new card sets still have the issue of requiring a big time and money commitment from players to find a viable deck for ranked mode, The Puzzle Lab which is free for everyone makes up for a lot of shortcomings. Blizzard has also been giving away free packs for logging in during certain weeks which is always good for newer players. If you’ve been playing Hearthstone on and off for a while, this is the expansion to come back to the game for. Newcomers might find things still a bit too daunting but sticking with the game for a few months will be worth it just for the single player content available now and the occasional Arena run.