Welcome to the FIRE FEST-E.V.I.L.!
The League of E.V.I.L. has crashed the floating city of Dalaran into Blackrock Mountain, meaning there is an all new solo adventure in this week’s Tavern Brawl! Play as Dr. Boom, Hagatha, Lazul, or Togwaggle and take down 8 Blackrock bosses in this limited-time-only dungeon-run-style event. For the first time ever, Hearthstone will track your speed and reward you based on how quickly you can defeat 8 bosses. If you can beat all 8 bosses in under 1 hour, you’ll receive a golden Bronze Herald, and completing the run in under 40 minutes will get you a golden Recurring Villain.
Hearthstone begins timing you after the initial mulligan and times you continuously until you defeat the final boss, Ragnaros the Firelord. That means even your card and treasure choices will need to be quick if you want to get a fast time! Rather than give a comprehensive guide detailing the strengths and weaknesses of every class, I will guide you through the fastest and most powerful strategy, aggro warrior. I will highlight the strongest strategies, card choices, and treasures; describe my approach to each of the 8 bosses; and give some tips for the TRULY speedy. If 40 minutes was easy for you, here is an appropriately E.V.I.L challenge for you: do it in 15!
Key Strategies, Tips, and Cards
For this run I will focus on strategies you can use as Dr. Boom, as I have found him to be the most reliable, most powerful, and fastest hero. Dr. Boom’s hero power, which shuffles 2 bombs for 1 mana, is extremely effective for killing bosses early, and warrior is offered consistently strong card choices. However, every class is viable (even for a speedrun) and many of the general tips and strategies are the same across all heroes.
As Dr. Boom, you will need to create a deck that operates partially using a burn plan and partially using an aggressive minion-based beatdown. Due to the extreme power of Dr. Boom’s hero power, it is nearly always better to prioritize hero powering over playing a 1 or even a 2 cost minion. However, exactly how far you commit to either plan will be determined primarily by your first choice of treasure.
Robes of Gaudiness is massively overpowered. Always choose this treasure if it is offered to you in your first choice of treasures, as it will allow you to build an aggressive deck that plays big minions early and destroys bosses by around turn 4. Robes of Gaudiness makes your cards cost half their normal price, but it also rounds down, meaning 1 cost minions become free, 3 cost minions cost 1, 5 cost minions cost 2, etc. Avoid the trap of drafting expensive cards like King Mosh just because they receive a big discount. Instead, focus on drafting powerful 3 and 5 cost minions like Augmented Elekk and Leeroy Jenkins as well as any cards that can help your goal of developing a powerful early board.
Hand of Rafaam is also massively overpowered. The treasure adds 2 curses to your opponent’s hand, dealing 2 damage every turn unless they spend 2 mana to remove each curse from their hand. Bosses in Blackrock have very low health totals compared to bosses in dungeon runs, meaning the curse damage is far more relevant, and the bosses will usually let you develop your minions uncontested while they pay to remove curses from their hand. Additionally, Hand of Rafaam is extremely powerful as a stacked effect, making any run with 2 or 3 Hands chosen an easy victory. With Hand of Rafaam as your first choice of treasure, you can afford to focus more of your turns on shuffling bombs or even force your opponent to draw bombs using Coldlight Oracle. Focus on drafting cards that help your bomb plan like Augmented Elekk and Coldlight Oracle, charge minions like Leeroy Jenkins and Korkron Elite, and strong early game minions.
Receiving neither of these treasures as your first pick will slow you down significantly, but you can still defeat all 8 bosses with a great time. When choosing any other treasure, consider the following: any non-passive treasure reduces your deck’s consistency compared to a passive, any non-passive treasure above 4 mana is likely too slow to be particularly powerful, and anything that helps you win early is stronger than anything that helps you play a slower game plan. These all point to the strongest choices being passive treasures such as Dr. Boom’s Remote and Small Backpacks (note, however, that Robe of the Magi does not make your bombs deal more damage and as a result is a terrible choice). Again, try to draft minions you can play for early aggression, but draft cheaper cards than you would while playing Robes and draft more proactively than you would while playing Hand of Rafaam. For example, a Hand of Rafaam deck may pick Coldlight Oracles to accelerate their bomb plan, whereas a Dr. Boom’s Remote deck may choose pirates to fight on board in the early turns. Regardless, you should still weave in hero powers whenever possible, ideally “curving out” by using 1 mana to hero power and your remaining mana each turn for minions.
Highlord Omokk, the first boss, has a 1 mana execute hero power, only 15 health, and a small deck. Prioritizing shuffling bombs is usually the fastest way to defeat this boss. Use your hero power on turns 1 and 2 (ideally alongside N’zoth’s First Mate on 2) and play a 3 cost minion on 3. Also note that killing Omokk’s loot hoarders is often a strong play as it can draw into bombs. As this boss ideally dies by turn 4, Boombox is too slow of a card to play and should not be kept in the mulligan. In fact, this is true of Boombox against nearly every boss.
The second boss, Baron Geddon, has a 0 mana hero power that deals 5 damage to your hero if you have any unspent mana. Fortunately, Dr. Boom’s hero power makes it easy to use all of your mana. Play aggressively, as Baron Geddon will generally damage himself by playing Flame Imps early. You may choose to play Vicious Scraphound on turn 2, but otherwise mulligan similarly to how you mulliganed for Omokk.
Omnotron Defense System has hero powers that make progressively more powerful mechs, although you are unlikely to see past the second mech if you play aggressively. You may want to kill the mech summoned on turn 2, which grants +2 spell power to both players, because Omnotron can use spells like arcane missiles to clear your board and take control of the early game. Otherwise, most of Omnotron’s early turns are low-impact, allowing you to shuffle bombs and develop minions to win before anything gets too scary.
The fourth boss, Garr, is the trickiest, because defeating Garr requires a little bit of thought about how to clear the board. Additionally, Garr runs Volcanic Lumberer which can cause huge problems if played early. Garr starts with a board full of 0/5s which have a deathrattle that deals damage based on the number of them that have died that turn and a hero power that damages all minions for 1. The best way to avoid getting burned (and to avoid volcanic lumberer) is to damage these 0/5s to different health totals so that they die on different turns. For this boss, put more focus on developing early minions or weapons, but remember that your minions will take damage every turn. A strong curve is turn 2 Scraphound into turn 3 Rampage, as these cards will gain you a lot of armor while letting you put damage into Garr’s 0/5s. Try to push damage for lethal starting around turn 4 or 5 and shuffle bombs whenever possible.
Atramedes has a hero power that grants a weapon which is buffed every time you play a card, and you start the game with three copies of a card that destroys this weapon. There are a few things to note here which work in your favor: Atramedes will often trade for no good reason, the weapon costs mana to create, and three weapon destruction cards should always be more than enough. Play this match aggressively, without worrying too much about buffing the weapon, and remove the weapon when you have spare mana or if it gets large enough to significantly threaten your health. Atramedes will not usually contest the board strongly, so developing strong minions like Augmented Elekk is key to winning the matchup.
Nefarian, boss 6, has another automatic hero power that gives a random spell. These spells will almost never be relevant if you play aggressively, so this boss is essentially wasting mana every turn. Play aggressively and you should have no problem.
Boss number 7, Vaelastrasz, automatically draws 2 cards for both players every turn and plays some aggressive cards like Flame Imp and Implosion. Play proactive minions to make sure you do not fall behind on board, and shuffle as many bombs as possible. Some bombs will be burned by overdraws, but this should not be an issue as you can always shuffle more into the deck.
Finally, the boss that rules them all, Ragnaros the Firelord! Ragnaros starts with a weapon that grants him a powerful 8 damage hero power when it breaks. He has a tendency to swing his 2 attack weapon into minions that aren’t going to die, so setting up minions like Augmented Elekk or Clockwork Goblin for him to trade into will usually result in some extra damage. If necessary, clean up his Magma Ragers using small minions like N’Zoth’s First Mate or spells like Improve Morale while you set up minions or burst him using weapons and charge minions. If the game runs long enough that Ragnaros gets his upgraded hero power, Boombox is a strong counter play which can also set up lethal using brawl on the following turn. If all else fails, keep shuffling bombs, as they can sometimes give you a surprise lethal!
Blackrock Crash Week 1 Speedrunning
So you’ve completed the run in under 40 minutes, unlocking some free golden cards. But how fast CAN you go? I’ve personally managed 15 minutes and 27 seconds, but https://twitter.com/geyuan6_hs has posted proof of a 13 minute 16 second run (as King Togwaggle)! For this section I will assume you are already using most or all of the above tips.
The easiest, but perhaps least fun, way to ensure a fast run is to concede on boss 2 if you are not offered either Robes of Gaudiness or Hand of Rafaam after defeating boss 1. Each of these treasures will usually save several minutes compared to the next best option.
The next time saver I use is click-spamming. In Hearthstone, animations can be sped up significantly by clicking on the card or hero power icon that appears when your opponent makes an action. Entire enemy turns can be sped up significantly by placing the cursor on the left side of the board where these cards will appear and spamming clicks. Unfortunately, bomb animations cannot be skipped.
Total animation time can also be reduced by reducing the amount of unnecessary cards played and attacks made. It can sometimes help to think several turns ahead when determining which cards and attacks are really necessary. For example, I will generally skip playing Improve Morale unless I am setting up a Rampage or I believe that having a lackey in hand is very likely to benefit my gameplan. Additionally, if I have a 1 attack weapon and my opponent is at 5 health, I will generally choose not to attack as my opponent will still die to 1 bomb draw or die to my minions next turn regardless of the weapon swing.
My next speedrunning tip – admittedly an extremely obvious tip – is to play very quickly. However, this goes beyond making quick actions in game, as the timer used to determine your speed is a real world timer. While your general strategy does not need to differ from what is described in the first section of this article, if you are attempting a speedrun you need to quickly identify your choices of treasures and cards. You can save time if you are able to quickly identify key cards like Robes of Gaudiness, Hand of Rafaam, and Augmented Elekk. Gotta go fast!
Finally, it’s worth acknowledging that much of this speedrun will be out of your control. The most significant time-wasters that cannot be controlled are treasure randomness, bomb randomness, and lag or loading times. While these are out of your hands, there are a few things you can do to try to minimize the impact that bad luck can have on your speed.
While an ideal run’s treasure choices look something like Robes followed by 2 copies of Hand, this is an extremely unlikely outcome and you can still get a great time even if you need to pick a treasure like Wondrous Wand or Dr. Boom’s Remote. In this case, it is worth considering your general gameplan, the deck you’ve drafted so far, and the remaining bosses. For example, Wondrous Wand is unlikely to be valuable against Vaelastrasz (due to his hero power filling your hand) or Ragnaros (because the fight nearly always ends around turn 4 anyway). However, it can be a strong choice if you have already drafted some high cost cards or strong charge minions and you want the potential to highroll your opponents.
Bomb randomness (that is, whether or not your opponent will actually draw the bombs you are shuffling into their deck) is also out of your control. What you can control is when you choose to shuffle vs. when you choose to play other cards. As mentioned in the Key Strategies section, cards like Augmented Elekk and Coldlight Oracle are extremely powerful because they will often force an early bomb lethal and they therefore drastically increase your deck’s speed and consistency.
Finally, in game lag or high loading times will also decrease your speed. Generally, this will be dependent on your internet connection, but if you have significant lag issues you may also save time by decreasing the graphics quality in the options menu.
Now, you have some scheming to do! Do you have what it takes to be the EVILest – or at least the speediest – villain at Blackrock Mountain?
PS: You can watch my 15:27 run in its entirety here. There’s still room for tons of improvement! https://www.twitch.tv/videos/451161388