Published on August 18th, 2016 | by Peter Freeman0
The State of Hearthstone: One Night in Karazhan
There’s a strange thing going on in Hearthstone right now. There’s a new single player expansion releasing this week. It’s called One Night in Karazhan and like all the other single player expansions before it, it comes with a set of forty or so new cards. Yet unlike all of its previous siblings, One Night in Karazhan doesn’t look like it will shift the meta in any significant way. At the same time, it’s also the best single player experience that Blizzard has designed for Hearthstone thus far.
To explain that, we need to do a bit of digging into the meta in its current state. Right now, Priest is considered the worst class in the entire game by a wide margin. Up in the front are classes like Shaman (a far cry from where it used to be (link previous HS article here)) and Warrior. Both have been served fairly well in previous expansions to the point where Warrior, of all classes, has the most deck archetypes available now. The other classes all sit in the middle there, not exactly doing a whole lot different than they were before.
When a single player expansion would come out, there was the expectation that the cards would help create new decks. We saw this when Naxxramus came out, things faltered only slightly with the Blackwing expansion, and things really changed when League of Explorers arrived. League of Explorers especially did a lot to introduce new kinds of decks. Reno Jackson himself created an entire archetype for many classes. Many of the other cards helps improve previous deck types, and elevated some classes further up the chain.
Then there’s Karazhan. The expansion itself is only in its first week. Hearthstone expansions release with four “wings”, one each week. But we’ve already been given the entire list of cards to expect in the set. On the outset, none of them look game changing in the way that Reno did, or even Brann Bronzebeard. Instead this expansion looks to target a few deck types. Specifically, most of the cards seem to help the aggro (aggressive) deck types. Several cards are built to do damage and summon a minion. Others are built to give bonuses to decks that have several different types of cards, most of them low cost. Of all deck types, Zoo is the one that got the biggest bonus here. (Zoo is an aggressive deck type that summons a bunch of low cost cards very quickly to overwhelm your opponent)
Then, well, then there’s Priest. If you follow the Hearthstone scene you’ve probably heard about the card. The card that’s so bad, no one in their right mind understands how it can be used in the game. It’s a card so badly, that even Ben Brode himself (lead on the Hearthstone team) said the card will be removed from the Arena game mode. That card, is called Purify.
Purify is a card that requires two mana and makes you silence one of your own minions (remove all its effects, good or bad) in order to draw a card. So it requires you to do something negative in order to just draw a card. In contrast, Priest has a card called Power Word: Shield. It costs one mana, gives a minion plus two health, and gives you a card. So you can see why some people might be confused as to why this card exists. This is especially true given the state of Priest in Hearthstone now.
The outrage was so bad that Ben Brode had to come out and make a video about the card. His reasoning for including it in a pay to play set? “Sometimes people like to win with bad cards.” Not exactly what people wanted to hear, right?
The strangest thing about Karazhan is that, as a single player expansion, it’s extremely fun. The battles are unique in ways you wouldn’t expect. The humor is spot on, the music has been remixed into this fun party jazz, and it’s all around a good time. So it’s sad that the cards you get for it aren’t very fun. These are cards you can only get in this expansion, which you have to buy. You can buy each wing individually for seven hundred gold a piece, or for $20. Either way, there’s no way to get these cards in the wild, so to speak.
Of course, the future might not be full of such gloom and doom for much longer. Blizzcon is in three months and not only is it the tenth anniversary of the convention, it’s also the twenty-fifth anniversary of Blizzard’s creation. So there’s bound to be something special on the horizon for all its current games, Hearthstone included. Blizzard has also gotten pretty good at delivering new expansions every three to four months, alternating between single player expansions, and larger based expansions. So November seems like the perfect time to release another large expansion.
Fingers crossed! Right?