Yesterday we began to explore the archaeology within the popular online card game Hearthstone: League of Explorers, with the first adventure in the expansion, the Temple of Osris. Today the adventure continues with Uldaman.
For those readers who have played World of Warcraft (WoW), Uldaman should resonate. Often abbreviated by players as “Uld”, this was a mid-level instance (a group “dungeon” for players leveled in their 30s or 40s) created by the mythical Titan race, and excavated by Dwarven archaeologists. In the WoW, Uldaman is populated by troggs, a race of humanoids with limited cognitive abilities when compared to other humanoid races in Azeroth. Uldaman and its lore have been transferred into Hearthstone: League of Explorers, which includes troggs throughout, and a trogg boss, Chieftan Scarvash, who is himself new to the lore of Azeroth.
We of course begin with a loading screen, excavating evil, which recalls one of the cards earned in this expansion. We are digging down, down, and nothing good will come of it. Immediately, though, we learn that Uldaman has been claimed by troggs. They live here; it’s their home. Note that the card table in Uldaman is identical to that of the previous Temple of Osris.
It is here that we also meet legendary explorer and founder of the Explorers’ Legue, Brann Bronzebeard. Predictably dressed in khakis and fedora, his colonial attitude recalls that of a 19th-century British explorer encountering “savages” whose purpose (to him anyway) is in barring his way to taking their cultural heritage.
Scarvash’s stone axe and “limited” intelligence proves no match for Brann’s blunderbus. Brann even manages to draw some archaeological conclusions in between bouts of slaughtering the locals.
Defeating Scarvash results in the reward cards of Tunel Trogg (minion) and Ethereal Conjurer (strong minion). It’s perhaps disturbing that as a result of Colonial-era archaeology, that you receive as a reward the card of the inhabitants you killed.
The second third of the Uldaman mission takes place on a mine cart (a la Temple of Doom) where we avoid troggs by killing them with bombs. As you do. Rewards for a successful escape include cards for Tomb Spider (beast minion and threat to real-world archaeologists) and Unearthed Raptor (minion), which is an ambulatory dinosaur skeleton and not archaeological at all. But I digress.
The final third of Uldaman finds us in a boss fight with Archaedas, guardian of the Titans. He perpetuates the myth of the ancient/magic protector of a tomb/vault, and uses the archaic term for Titans, “makers”. Brann takes a moment to reflect on all of the Titan knowledge he’s about to lose by killing the only being around who has this data at the ready.
Dispatching Archaedas (did you notice “archae” in the name? I bet you did…) yields not only the headpiece to the Staff of Origination (much like finding the rod and headpiece in Raiders of the Lost Ark but without the Nazis), but also reward cards for Fierce Monkey (beast) and Reliquary Seeker (minion). Completing Uldaman on “normal” also grants the legendary cards, Brann Bronzebeard himself, and Excavating Evil.
Class challenges are then unlocked for Druids and Paladins, which have their own rewards, as does “heroic” mode.
While the Temple of Osris hearkened back to nearly every single trope contemporary players have come to expect in archaeologists in games, Uldaman raised the darker side that comes with a Colonial approach to archaeology. Granted, one could argue that Brann was only reclaiming what was his by the fact that Dwarven archaeologists had the digging rights and that the troggs were squatters, but the history is that of the Titans, which belongs to Azeroth as a whole.
It’s time to hide the artifacts prior to heading to the next wing, The Ruined City.
-Andrew Reinhard, Archaeogaming
(All images are screengrabs from my playthrough and are hereby employed as fair use for the purposes of scholarship and research. Hearthstone, Hearthstone: League of Explorers, and World of Warcraft are properties of Blizzard Entertainment.)