Beating the Arachnids on a budget: A guide to Heroic Arachnid Quarter
After a long (long, long) wait, Curse of Naxxramas – the first content patch for Hearthstone – is out. Whatever was promised is here – 30 new unlockable cards, new single player modes, bosses, challenges, giant spiders and a very undead feel to it all.
Currently, the majority of the Hearthstone player base is grinding through the first wing of Naxxramas – the Arachnid quarter and its three bosses Anub’Rekhan, Grand Widow Faerlina and Maexxna. And while the normal mode is fairly easy to beat with any deck, the heroic version can get a bit tricky. This guide will give you some insights on how to fight the upgraded arachnids and their stronger hero powers and hero cards.
NOTE: The decklists below are taken from the normal mode boss fights but the differences on heroic should not be that drastic. Credit goes to reddit user djaeke for compiling them.
The fight in short:
- Removal is your best friend
- Taunters are you second best friend
- Don't over-populate the board or you'll die to his sweepers
- Try aggro Shaman, or Zoo, or Druid tokens
Anub’Rekhan is a fairly easy boss fight as he’s a fairly straightforward challenge. Compared to normal mode, heroic Anub’Rekhan is changed in two ways only – his hero power Skitter now spawns 4/4 Nerubians for 2 mana instead of 3/1 Nerubians for the same cost, and he’s life is up at 45 instead of 30.
Anub’Rekhan’s deck is very minion-based with a pinch of removal, making it somewhat similar to Zoo. He casts fat minions like Anub'Ar Ambusher, Abomination and Deathlord alongside some early drops such as Deathcharger, Haunted Creeper and Nerubian Egg and supports them with target and AoE removals (Shadowflame, Mortal Coil and Locust Swarm are all in his repertoire).
There are several ways to beat Anub'Rekhan. One is to go the heavy control route and stack on big removals and heavy taunt creatures. Think how you usually beat Zoo and apply the same strategy - you're likely to drop down very low in hit points but once you stabilize the game is yours as Anub'Rekhan lacks any late-game finishers.
Additionally, control decks benefit a lot from Anub'Rekhan's Deathlords. If you're lucky, you can get your finishers on the board for free. If you manage to dispose of the 2/8 body cost-efficiently (Warriors can do this easy with Execute) you're halfway through clearing this boss.
Another way to deal with Anub'Rekhan is match his playstyle and execute it better. Traditional Zoo works well enough, but I personally went for a budget Shaman deck which you can see on the right. It has all the removals to deal with Anub'Rekhan's threats and has ways to match his board presence. Basically, it does what Anub'Rekhan does, but better.
Oh, this deck also performs excellently on ladder, too. Shaman players should give it a go.
The fight in short:
- Empty your hand as quick as possible to counter Rain of Fire
- Establish board control and apply pressure or play high-health minions to soak Rain of Fire
- Kill the Worshippers!
- Try Zoo or Ramp Druid
Faerlina plays a tough control deck which will be the death of you if you bring the same playstyle to the fight. Rain of Fire dishes a lot of damage for just 1 mana and slow decks which often have big hand sizes (Mages, Warriors, Handlocks, Miracle) will not get out of this alive.
Apart from her hero power, one very difficult card to deal with is Worshipper. If the normal version is bearable, the heroic version can make the game for Faerlina, especially if she manages to keep it on the board for more than one turn or, god forbid, get more than one out. Yes, Worshipper's effects do stack so with two such minions on the board Faerlina will swing for 6; with three, she will hit for 9. Considering how even having 3 power is mighty strong, the Worshippers must be your primary target - you don't want to give Faerlina more removal than she needs.
Like with Anub'Rekhan, there are several ways to beat this boss. The obvious solution is to go for quick decks which allow you to empty your hand and apply pressure to her board (again - these Worshippers must die). Zoo is a nice choice because the deck will usually finish Faerlina before she stabilizes. Faerlina also doesn't run a lot of removals besides her hero power so as long as you play around her Hellfire and don't overcommit to the board you should be fine. What is not a good choice, however, are the so-called "cancer" decks, featuring 1-health minions - they might be quick but you'll run out of gas very soon.
Because Zoo hates my guts and never lets me start quick, however, I went for another good option - Druid. What makes Malfurion fantastic in this boss fight is the option to Innervate out big minions, which both thins out your hand and puts a fat creature on the board to soak Rain of Fire missiles. The class has decent removal against what Faerlina runs and you can even tech in a single Naturalize to counter an early Necroknight.
All staple Druid builds work, but I personally went for a very defensive, old school Watchers build (shown on the right) because I wanted to keep it as much on the budget as possible. Of course, FoN/Savage Roar combos and Ancient of Lore/War will do miracles but here they are omitted for the reason mentioned. Mulligan for Innervates, ramp up and enjoy nothing getting through your wall of defenders.
2x Acidic Swamp Ooze
The fight in short:
- Run good Battlecry and Charge minions and race Maexxna down; or
- Run lots of removals and cantrips and try to stabilize in late-game
- Try face Hunter, face Paladin, frost Mage, slow healing Paladin
As it becomes a final boss fight (for the wing at least), the Maexxna encounter will give you some trouble. The spide queen runs an irritating aggro deck which generates sick tempo through her free Web Wraps. If you somehow manage to keep a minion on the board, she will have a Necrotic Poison ready just because why not.
In order to soft-counter the Web Wraps, play cheap minions with immediate effect. This includes charge minions (Bluegill Warrior, Arcane Golem) and Battlecry minions (Mad Bomber, Abusive Sergeant, Voodoo Doctor). This way, you'll be able to re-trigger their effects multiple times, equalizing the tempo and making it for a fair playing field.
The early rounds against Maexxna are the hardest. She starts with two Haunted Creepers on the field and adds a third immediately. She dictates the game from early on (and very strongly so) and it will take some turns before you can stabilize and turn the fight around.
Going back to the pool of minions suitable for the Maexxna fight, it's not hard to see how decks like face Hunters and aggro Paladins can be very efficient, the former more so, in my own opinion. Even though Maexxna starts with more life and more minions on the board, it is not impossible to outrace her. She plays a lot of minions which make her board susceptible to Unleash the Hounds.
Additionally, most of Maexxna's minions are low-health ones, meaning a well-placed Explosive Trap wrecks her. Her only huge minion is Sea Giant and that falls dead to a Hunter's Mark. She will always bounce two minions at the start of the turn, whether that's smart or not, so you'll likely not lose any minions to trades, meaning you'll hit her again and again with your chargers. Get her down about 17-18 and finish her with Unleash/Timber Wolf/Kill Command burst.
Of course, you can go to the other extreme and scrap the aggro strategy for a control deck. GosuGamers user Bigodes us gives us his budget Rogue deck with lots of board control and life regen. I myself used a modified Frost Mage for one of my Maexxna clears, though it's not strictly a budget deck.