Blizzard’s Dave Kosak and Dean Ayala on Tombs of Terror’s Plague Lords
Hearthstone’s brand-new single-player adventure, Tombs of Terror, is now available. Chapter 1 and 2 of Tombs of Terror are both playable with Chapter1 being free and Chapter 2 costing 700 in-game gold or $9.50 AUD. Like the Dalaran Heist that came before it, Tombs of Terror is a multi-chapter PvE experience that tells a story. This time around, Blizzard is telling the story of the League of Explorers as they attempt to stop the Plague Lords.
Hearthstone players will be familiar with the Plague cards introduced in Saviors of Uldum; the game’s most recent expansion. There are five Plague cards in Saviors of Uldum and in turn, the five chapters of Tombs of Terror have bosses based on those cards.
In the first two chapters, you’ll be fighting against the Plague Lord or Murlocs and the Plague Lord of Madness, respectively. Speaking to Blizzard’s Dave Kosak and Dean Ayala about the Plague Lords, I learned a lot.
Kosak told me that the idea for the Plague Lords being included in Tombs of Terror was pretty natural. “We said we certainly wanted to have the League of Explorers and that this was a great setting for them.” Adding, “We wanted people to do something that would be a big, world-ending event that the League would have to tackle and since it was an Egyptian theme, we thought about the plagues.”
The idea of creating these Plague Lords was a simple one, but Kosak explained that the team wondered how a person fights a plague. Thus, the idea of these physical manifestations of each plague was born. When you play Tombs of Terror, you can see that the designs of the Plague Lords are really fun and over-the-top. Kosak said, “What’s fun about being a designer is you can just sort of write something weird like a giant swarm of Murlocs forming a creature and then let the artist mess with it.”
The art-style for Hearthstone is pretty recognisable and the artists have really nailed the Plague Lords’ look in this single-player adventure. And it’s not just the Plague Lords that the Plague cards in Saviors of Uldum inspired. Each chapter has a specific twist based on the Plague Lord of that chapter.
In Chapter 1, both players’ decks have been invaded by Murlocs. Every time you draw a card, there’s a chance you’ll draw a Surprise! Murlocs! card. If you do, you’ll summon a random number of Murlocs. In Chapter 2, because of the Plague Lord of Madness, at the end of each player’s turn, their right-most minion will attack a random enemy.
These random events can have far-reaching consequences on your games and even on the fights against the Plague Lords themselves. For instance, the Plague Lords of Murlocs is initially invulnerable to attacks and can only be damaged whenever a Murloc dies. By taking advantage of the additional Murlocs in play, you can wipe his health.
As for the Plague Lord of Madness. They rotate minions counter-clockwise and give them +1/+1 when a minion changes sides. This is in addition to the right-most minion attacking a random enemy. The strategy required to get powerful minions into the right-most spot without losing them to the Plague Lords is tough. It certainly makes winning feel even better.
An interesting feature of the Plague Lords in Tombs of Terror is that they each have a massive health pool that’s persistent across your runs. When you first battle the Plague Lords, they’ll have a massive amount of health. If you manage to defeat them in one go, then give yourself a pat on the back. If not, don’t worry. Whatever health you’ve removed will still be gone when you face the Plague Lord the next time.
Kosak said the reason why the Plague Lords have these health pools is so that players who are still learning Hearthstone can get to the boss of a chapter, deal some damage and chip away at it. “You’ll eventually bring it down and that’s nice, you can have some partial progression as you play,” he added.
The alignment of the League of Explorer’s, the Egyptian theme for Saviors of Uldum and the Plague Lords of the Tombs of Terror really comes together to deliver a great single-player experience. As Kosak puts it, “We had a lot of ideas utilising what the embodiment of the plague would look like so that hopefully you can punch it in the face.”
When you play Tombs of Terror, you’ll certainly be punching Plagues in their faces.