Medivh gets funky
Blizzard has me in its clutches again with the Warcraft universe. I haven’t raided in earnest in World of Warcraft since Cataclysm, and here I am gearing up in Legion at level 110 with my Demon Hunter, playing Hearthstone and battling many of the same foes.
The thing about Blizzard is that it knows how to get back old players without alienating new ones, and One Night in Karazhan does that masterfully.
Hearthstone: One Night in Karazhan (Android, iOS, Mac, PC [reviewed])
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Released: August 11, 2016 to September 1, 2016
MSRP: $19.99 for all four wings
In case you haven’t been keeping up, One Night in Karazhan started off really strong with a chess battle that I still return to after its debut one month ago. However, several of the middle stages devolve this fresh feeling a bit by providing bosses with simple modifiers that make for more basic hero-to-hero encounters.
Take the Shade of Aran, which just adds +3 spell damage to both players (which makes for an easy one-shot with any caster deck), or Nightbane, who allows both sides to start each round with 10 mana. You’ll breeze through a few of these so fast you won’t even get a chance to reminisce about that time you beat Shade with your pick-up-group. They’re fun, but they don’t continue the spirit of previous adventures where a new concept is lurking at every turn — they’re mostly front-loaded in the first few wings.
That said, Blizzard has been picking some mighty nostalgic settings for the solo adventures, and Karazhan is one of the most iconic locations in Warcraft history. Not only was it a classic setting for many Burning Crusade players, but it’s about to be re-introduced to a whole new audience of WoW players with an upcoming Legion update. I love how Blizzard goes all-in on its works — it isn’t content with just leaving things alone with one-off creations. One Night in Karazhan manages to ramp up again though with Netherspite, featuring two portals that grant windfury (attack twice) or armor (only take one damage at a time) on each side of the playing field — before going out on a low note with another Prince Malchezaar fight.
The actual cards are game-changers — not so much in the sense like the last expansion where you can build entire decks around single additions (the “big” cards here, Medivh and the Arcane Giant, are disappointing), but worthwhile as a whole outside of the pitiful “Purify” Priest card. I really dig the Wicket Witchdoctor card that summons a random totem after casting a spell, as my favorite Shaman decks involve totem-crazy strategies already. There’s also a large supply of low-cost cards that provide useful abilities like taunts and drawing cards, allowing for a more interesting early game.
Regardless of its flaws I can recommend Hearthstone: One Night in Karazhan, and every other solo adventure to date for that matter. Even if Blizzard hasn’t innovated as much as it has in the past with Medivh and friends, it’s still one of the best card games on the market, and the miniature stories that each one entails manage to simultaneously capture the spirit of Warcraft in a patented lighthearted way.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]