By Chris Woods
Hey all! There have been a significant number of questions about the PvE experience, so I thought I’d take you through a dungeon run. I picked out The Kraken, because it shows off a lot of what dungeons are about, without getting into the crazier mechanics we start revealing later on.
The Kraken is a dungeon that is available to both the Ardent and the Underworld, but plays out very differently depending on which faction you are. I’m sort of a paladin at heart, and the humans are the storybook good guys, so I’m running a human warrior, which makes me Ardent. That gives me the following background to my quest:
“The Human city of Portsmeare has been besieged by a mythic Kraken, with many tall fishing vessels lost and many hardy seamen dragged to the briny depths.
The Mayor of Portsmeare has called a ban on fishing and dry docked the city’s fleet. Luckily good king Gabriel has sent provisions for the small town and will continue to do so until the beast leaves the area to find more fertile hunting grounds.
This was all well and good, but the Kraken has allied with a coven of Sea Hags, and these foul creatures have raised a vile island off the coast of Portsmeare. From this island their evil magic has entranced the good mayor and forced him to do their bidding.”
The motivation to go to a dungeon changes depending on your faction, and sometimes even changes for specific races. This can result in a single dungeon playing out wildly differently depending on your character.
Immediately upon reaching the Fishing Village, I am attacked by the entire town! They’re under control of the Sea Hags, and have been given orders to kill strangers on sight. This puts me in an uncomfortable position of a human fighting against other humans. We launch into a card game, and I notice the computer starts with this guy in play:
(Note: this card is for the AI’s deck in this dungeon. This cannot be obtained by a player)
An 0/1 isn’t hard for me to deal with, and the AI getting +1/+1 to all his guys seems pretty bad for us, but that flavor text has me wondering. I’m a human, and killing the mayor of a human town is probably wrong. No doubt I could argue self-defense, but I’m going to try to play around the Mayor and see if I can keep him alive through the game.
I figure it’s okay to try the hard route this time. I get three game losses in a dungeon before I’m kicked out and have to try again from scratch. I haven’t used any yet, so I go for the perfect game and let the AI have his Mayor.
Fortunately, I get away with it and beat down the opposing champion, a Sea Hag Coven, without killing Mayor Galway in the process. This is going to pay out for me later, but I don’t want to spoil the entire dungeon! For now, let’s just move forward.
I head down to the docks and negotiate a ship to the Sea Hags Island so I can confront them before they cause any more problems. This turns out to be easy, since I was so delicate with how I handled the town, and a captain offers to drop me on the beach, warning me that a Kraken has been hunting in this area.
This immediately becomes apparent, since the ship is attacked as it nears the beach. I’m forced to defend it or drown. I enter another battle, this time against a few tentacles that can grab my troops and throw them overboard! I’m going to want to be careful, because in this specific encounter if one of my troops gets grabbed and pulled into the briny deep, they will be gone from my deck for the rest of the dungeon! (Now, before you panic, let me make it clear that not every encounter works this way, normally when your troops die, you will get them back for the next encounter, but we will throw these curveballs at you from time to time to give the dungeon challenges variety and a sense of real danger.)
At this point the game lets me know that the more of the Kraken’s tentacles I can wound, the weaker the beast will be once I finally face him. So, if I explore the island I run a higher risk of racking up losses, but the final conflict will be a bit easier.
After a careful battle I’m only short 1 troop from my deck. I’ll get him back once I leave the dungeon, but for the time being I’m going to be playing a 59 card deck that’s short a Protectorate Clergyman. I land on the beach only a little worse for wear.
I’ll let you explore the rest of the dungeon, so let me finish up by talking about how I’m navigating it. When I enter a dungeon I’m provided with a map, but I’m only shown the node I’m at and the paths leading from it. Some paths have special conditions associated with them, and I won’t see them appear until I fulfill those states. Others may only be available to certain classes or factions, and it can get even crazier from there!
The dungeons of HEX are as wild and varied as one can imagine. We’ve already talked about an Orc Arena, The Junkyard Dogs, and now Kraken’s Gold. In a few days our lead writer, Michael Kirchhoff, is going to tell you about a dwarf super-villain bent on the destruction of the universe!
Aside from being simply monstrous in size, The Kraken is also a serious threat to your opponent’s troops. As you amass more of these…
…your opponent’s troops will start getting pulled away from their original summoner. What The Kraken takes becomes yours, and what the tentacles don’t grab at least keep the opposing champion and its troops busy.
Speaking taking things that don’t belong to you, the Midnight Shepherd is capable of raising the dead out of either yours or your opponent’s graveyard. The Shepherd requires a hefty threshold to start bringing back fallen comrades and foes, but the activation cost and the loss of a threshold is a small price to pay for a powerful troop’s second appearance.