The hell with the sword and the pen. The card is mightiest.

The popular digital card game Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft just got the first part of its first add-on, Curse of Naxxramas, today. The new content gives players new challenges and, more important, new cards.

GamesBeat has put together this little guide to help you get through the Arachnid Quarter, the first (and right now, free) part of Naxxramas (even as players are reporting bugs with one of the fights).

Guide index

Before entering

If you’re new to Hearthstone, you probably won’t want to start with Naxxramas. Even on the normal difficulty mode, its computer opponents have some nasty cards and tricks. You’re unlikely to beat them with the premade class decks that Hearthstone starts you with. Instead, play with the Practice, Arena, Casual, and Ranked modes, learn how to play, and get new cards.

After that, you’re going to want to make some stronger decks. Specifically, two of the three bosses in the Arachnid Quarter are susceptible to fast, aggressive decks (called agro decks by fans). These rely on cheap minions that can destroy your opponent before they can get to their powerful cards that, because of their cost, come out later in a match. You can find some decent builds for agro decks on Hearthstone community sites like HearthPwn if you need one.

You'll want to get some minions on the board before you get overwhelmed by the computer's Hero Power.

Above: You’ll want to get some minions on the board before you get overwhelmed by the computer’s Hero Power.

Image Credit: GamesBeat

Watch out for the enemy Hero Powers

Skitter: Summon a 3/1 Nerubian.

Anub can summon a 3 attack/1 health card for only 2 mana at any time. That’s an insanely good value. By comparison, the Paladin Hero Power summons a mere 1/1 minion.

You should deal with these Nerubians as quickly as you can. These spider-creatures may not seem too strong, but they can quickly overtake a game and give Anub early board control. Make sure you’re using a deck with plenty of area-of-effect spells. Luckily, the Nerbuians only have 1 health, so they’ll fall to a lot of spells.

Grand Widow Faerlina
Rain of Fire: Fire a missile for each card in your opponent’s hand.

For 2 mana, Faerlina can shoot a missile for each card in your hand. Each randomly targets one of your minions or your hero. This move is devastating if you’re trying to get early board control and have a lot of cards in your hand.

The best way to negate this nasty Hero Power is to play a fast, aggressive deck (such as a Warlock “Zoo”-style deck, which focuses on lots of low-mana-cost minions). You’ll need something that’ll let you play a lot of cards early and put pressure the grand widow as soon as you can. As long as you only have a card or two in your hand at any time, you’ll be mostly safe from Faerlina’s missiles.

Web Wrap:
Return a random enemy minion to your opponent’s hand.

Web Wrap can seriously hurt your late game, since it can remove a strong minion from the playing field for just 3 mana. However, you can negate this power pretty easily. For one, you could play an aggressive deck that relies on cheaper and more plentiful minions. In fact, the quick deck you just used to beat Faerlina should work fine here.

If you want to use a slower deck that focuses on controlling the board (that means keeping your minions alive and killing the enemy’s forces), then just make sure you have a lot of minions on the board before you play an expensive, late-game card. That way, even if Maexxna uses his Hero Power, he may not send your best minion back to your hand.

You'll want AOE spells like Consecration against this enemy.

Above: You’ll want area-of-effect spells like the Paladin’s Consecration, which does 2 damage against all enemies, in this fight.

Image Credit: GamesBeat

Beware of Deathrattles

Deathrattle is an ability that only triggers after a card dies. While we already had plenty of these in Hearthstone, Naxxramus adds many more. You need to be aware of what each one does.

Some will replace a destroyed card with a new minion, sometimes one that was more powerful than one the came before. For example, the Nerubian Egg is a 0/2 minion that will spawn a 4/4 one when it dies. Don’t go killing your enemy’s minions without thinking. Sometimes, you’ll be better off leaving the weaker card on the board.

However, some enemy Deathrattles are actually beneficial to you. Some will give you a card when you trigger them, like Dancing Swords. The Deathlord’s Deathrattle actually puts one of your minions from your deck straight onto the battlefield. Take note of which Deathrattles you can use to your advantage.

It may take you a few tries against a boss to really see how all of these new cards can change your strategy. Be patient, think, and eventually you’ll prevail.

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