Curse of Naxxramas' initial wing launched on Tuesday, much to the delight of eager fans. The Arachnid Quarter features exactly what Warcraft veterans should expect, that being a lot of spiders. Anub'Rekhan, Grand Widow Faerlina and Maexxna serve as the first trials thrown at adventurers looking to fight their way to the nefarious lich Kel'thuzad. Today, we'll go over a bit about what these baddies do, and how best to crush them.
The Traitor King boasts a couple of unique mechanics that are worth making note of. His hero power Skitter allows him to summon a 3/1 Nerubian for two mana. On heroic mode, it's a 4/4 Nerubian for two, which is pretty brutal. Anub'Rekhan also has access to a unique card called Anub'ar Swarm, which can really just ruin your day if you don't expect it. It costs a whopping seven mana, but does three damage to all of your minions and heals Anub'Rekhan for three health. Definitely prepare yourself for that, come turn seven. Beyond that, this fight's not too difficult. Anub'Rekhan has access to the rogue specific Curse of Naxxramas card Anub'ar Ambusher, and while 5/5's nothing to scoff at, destroying it will force another random minion on the board back into his hand, assuming there's anything he has anything else in play. It doesn't permanently deal with the threat, but it does buy you time to develop your board in response. Also of note, expect a strange blend of warlock and mage spells, specifically Shadow Bolt, Mortal Coil and Frostbolt.
Grand Widow Faerlina
Faerlina's an interesting encounter, and is easily my favorite of the first wing. Her hero power, Rain of Fire, drops a random one damage missile on the board for each card in your hand. This immediately puts control and midrange decks at a disadvantage because of the lack of playable cards in the early rounds. The ability costs two mana in normal mode, and one in heroic. Everyone's favorite deck Zoo Warlock really shines here because it just constantly spews out board presence and seldom sits on a lot of cards. Faerlina does have Hellfire, but Zoo is fairly good at surviving random area of effect. If you fancy building your own deck for this fight, think cheap, durable creatures.
The Grand Widow's unique card is the Worshipper, a 1/4 for three mana that gives Faerlina one attack for the duration of the turn. She has more than two of these, and they do stack, which can get a little bit hairy. In the heroic version of the fight, the Worshipper is a 2/4 and gives a three attack bonus. While Anub'Rekhan has access to warlock and mage abilities, Faerlina makes use of the warrior card draw spell, Battle Rage. She runs a few higher HP minions, so Battle Rage is definitely something to watch for. Otherwise, the majority of her threat comes from Rain of Fire. The minions she brings with her aren't particularly problematic, although Nerubian Egg can be an issue if you drop too much area of effect.
Ahh, the Spider Queen. Kel'thuzad accurately sums her up when he points out that she's a giant spider. Maexxna's hero power, Web Wrap, costs three mana in normal mode and randomly puts one of your minions back into your hand. Harmless enough, right? Absolutely, until it comes time to do heroic mode. In heroic mode, Web Wrap costs zero mana, is automatically used at the start of each of her turns and puts two minions back into your hand. The first time you run into the second version of the ability, it's absolutely horrifying.
Normal mode is not very difficult at all. Maexxna's minions are, for the most part, not particularly threatening. Haunted Creeper has the potential for value, but it doesn't hit very hard. That's a common theme with her deck. Stoneskin Gargoyle, while possibly meaningful in the right decks, doesn't do a whole lot in this particular showdown. She does have a couple of curveballs, however. Maexxna's got some Sea Giants floating around, something Kel'thuzad is not pleased about. She's also got Anub'ar Ambusher, like Anub'Rekhan before her. Additionally, she has the shaman spell Reincarnate, along with the hunter minion Webspinner. Her unique spell is Necrotic Poison, a two mana Assassinate equivalent. It can be supremely annoying in conjunction with Web Wrap, making it that much more difficult to keep forces on the board.
In normal mode, keep throwing stuff on the board, hope she cycles your advantageous battlecry minions and go for the throat where possible. She has Acidic Swamp Ooze, so be on the lookout for that if you're playing a weapon class. If you can put down two or more minions per turn in the middle to later stages of the contest, you'll find yourself in a great spot to pull out a win.
Heroic is a whole other beast, and you'll need to have a very concentrated approach in order to take the Spider Queen down. Realistically, there are a couple of different ways to go about it, and all will require a bit of luck in your opening draw. I chose to make use of Alexstrasza, and her ability to bring an opponent down to 15 health as the heroic bosses all start with 45 health. The gameplan was to survive making use of battlecry minions such as Voodoo Doctor and Novice Engineer. Mirror Image was included because, once the images are bounced back to your hand, they cost zero mana to play. They're great for soaking up Maexxna's zero mana Web Wraps. Additionally, I threw in a bunch of spells because, once she gets down to 15 health, you'll need to have enough burn to take her out. My deck list can be seen on the right.
If this style doesn't appeal to you, or you simply don't have the legendary dragon, no worries. Hunter's a great discount alternative. Simply mulligan aggressively for Explosive Trap and Unleash the Hounds. Charge minions, and cards that summon two minions at once will also increase your chances of being successful, as they'll see immediate value. Maexxna starts the fight with two Haunted Creepers on the board, but they can easily be ignored initially because of their low damage.
The Arachnid Quarter is a lot of fun, and definitely sets the tone for what's to come in the next four wings of Curse of Naxxramas. If you found a solution you were fond of for dealing with heroic mode bosses, let us know what you did!