‘The Witchwood’ is the spookiest ‘Hearthstone’ expansion yet

It isn’t even close to Halloween this year, but that hasn’t stopped Blizzard from injecting Hearthstone with a hefty dose of spookiness. Available in April for $50, the expansion Hearthstone: The Witchwood introduces well over 100 cards, along with a single-player mode that is free to everyone.

The expansion’s teaser trailer sets the mood, with creepy Victorian architecture of Gilneas and a tune similar to Macbeth‘s classic “Song of the Witches.” Villagers carrying torches look around in fear at the evil rats, trees, ghosts, and werewolves ready to rip them limb from limb.

In the free “Monster Hunter” single-player experience, you’ll explore the mysterious Witchwood in order to destroy the evil force causing the area to fall into darkness. You’ll choose from one of four heroes — all provided for you — and fight through eight battles before going up against the final boss. You’ll earn loot with each battle won, which can be chosen from three possible “buckets,” and other cards will be added at certain points to improve your hero’s abilities.

Two new “keywords” are also being added with The Witchwood, giving you new tools for taking down your opponent. “Rush” cards can attack other minions as soon as they’re played or summoned, but they can’t attack other heroes until after they’ve waited the traditional one turn. “Echo” cards, meanwhile, add copies of themselves to your hand, which disappear at the end of your turn.

Certain new minions will also give your hero a big boost, but only if you’re willing to structure your deck a certain way. If your deck is made up entirely of cards that cost an even or odd amount of mana — depending on the minion — your hero power will cost fewer points or receive another boost. In the hands of an experienced player, the new minions have the chance to completely change the course of a game.

There will be 135 different cards coming with The Witchwood, and if you pre-purchase the expansion, you’ll get 20 bonus packs of cards as well as the “In a Dark Wood” card back. It’s one of the better card backs Blizzard has made, with vines swirling around the Hearthstone symbol.

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