Hearthstone’s newest adventure, One Night in Karazhan, launches on August 11. It comes out in weekly wings over a month, eventually giving players access to 45 new cards. One of these cards, however, is infuriating many of the digital card game’s fans.
You need to know a few things to understand why this card is so bad. First off, many consider Priest the weakest class in Hearthstone right now in both the Standard and Arena formats. Many fans hoped that Blizzard would give the class some powerful cards to help make it a more viable option. It’s getting three in Karazhan. The other two look like they are possibly decent-to-good.
Purify is garbage.
For 2 mana, you can silence one of your own minions and draw a card. Silencing is usually a decent ability. It can take away powerful effects on opponents minions. However, Purify only silences your own cards. Now, sometimes, that is helpful. Maybe the other player has made one of your minions weaker with a spell. Maybe your card actually has a negative effect, and silencing it can make it better.
Those are circumstantial possibilities. Hearthstone has a lot of cards that are great on their own. Putting a card in your deck that can maybe help sometimes is a waste. And even if it does make a minion better, it won’t by much. Let’s look at the Ancient Watcher.
For 2 mana, it’s a 4/5 minion. Those are great stats, but the Ancient Watcher can’t attack, so it’s useless unless you silence it or do some other trickery like give it Taunt. OK, so let’s say you use Purify. Now it can attack! But you’ve also spent 4 mana now. You know what else is a 4 mana card that has 4/5 stats?
So, instead of hoping that you have both an Ancient Watcher and Purify in your hand and wasting two or more valuable slots in your 30 card deck, you could just use a Chillwind Yeti and automatically have the same value. This is true for a lot of possible synergies. You can make some cards better by silencing them, but you have to spend another 2 mana to do it. This rarely makes it worth it.
Also, Priest already has a card that can silence his own minions. It’s called Silence.
It costs 0 mana and can silence minions on both sides. So, it’s cheaper, and it’s more versatile. The only negative difference is that you don’t draw a card. If you really want to draw a card for 2 mana, you have better options.
Why it’s a bigger problem than it seems
OK, so what? Blizzard made a bad card. Hearthstone and other titles like it always have bad cards. You can’t have good ones unless you have negative examples to compare them with. The problem is that Blizzard did this to the Priest. Like I said earlier, Priests are in a sad state right now, suffering one of the lowest win-rates of all the classes. They just don’t have the tools to compete against the best decks, many of which are fast-paced, aggressive, and use a lot of minions. The Priest playstyle is slow and revolves around healing and spells, but those tools rarely work against the sheer force of decks that can flood the board with a lot minions.
That’s the ultimate problem with Purify: the message it sends from Blizzard. The one thing you constantly heard from Hearthstone fans before the announcement of Karazhan was that Priest needed help in the next adventure. Instead, it gets the worst card introduced in the set. A situational spell that you can’t play on curve (meaning that even though it costs 2 mana, you’ll rarely get to play it on your second turn since you would need a minion on the board already … and even if you did, you probably don’t want to silence it) that only provides a positive benefit in specific circumstances.
It’s even worse in Arena. In that mode, players draft decks by picking one out of three random cards repeatedly until they have selected 30. However, cards from the newest set are more likely to appear than others. The same goes for class cards and ones with common rarity. Purify will have all three of those things, so it will be one of the most common cards to show up for Priests when they’re trying to draft a deck.
Meanwhile, Mage, which is already arguably the best class in Arena, gets Firelands Portal as its class common card in Karazhan.
Now, what would you rather have? A card that can kill an enemy minion and summon one for you, or a card that can silence your own minion and draw you a card. Why give a fantastic card like Firelands Portal to a class that’s already doing well, while the suffering Priest gets Purify?
The response from fans
This is the question that a lot of Hearthstone fans are asking. Kripparrian, one of the game’s most popular streamers, released a video rant that echoes sentiments from across the community.
Fans have made a lot of videos decrying the card. The movie below combines many reactions, including one from Blizzard’s own reveal.
At least some videos are having some fun with the whole thing.
And then we have this:
The response from Blizzard
Blizzard isn’t remaining completely silent on the issue. Hearthstone game designer August Dean Ayala is talking to fans about their criticisms on his Twitter account.
— August Dean Ayala (@IksarHS) August 7, 2016
— August Dean Ayala (@IksarHS) August 7, 2016
Ayala went into more detail on the game’s Reddit page.
“In the case of Priest, we were pretty happy with the amount of options the class was getting from neutral (Barnes, Curator, Medivh, dragon cards) to do some testing with a new archetype that Purify could be a part of,” he wrote. “In my mind there is some positive to the outcry over Purify because I think people will definitely try it out and report any successes/failures/stories they had building and playing a ‘silence your own stuff’ priest. None of this is to say anyone is wrong in their feedback, but just to communicate some of the ideas surrounding a card design. Hearthstone is important to all of us, and we’re trying to do better in terms of communication and understanding what different communities (like this one) are most interested in.”
This is a pretty typical defense from Blizzard when players complain about new cards, and it’s a fair one. We don’t really know how good a card or class is until people start playing. But with Purify, it’s hard to imagine how it could be much use. Even in the rare circumstances it could help, you could be playing a consistently good card instead. That’s what the best decks in Hearthstone are all about: consistency. It’s a card game, so it will always have an element of randomness. However, if you’re smart, you can make a deck with reliable synergies, minions, and spells that will win more often than that.
For example, let’s look at one of the best cards ever released for Hearthstone, Dr. Boom.
This ridiculous card gave you a 7 mana minion with 7/7 stats that summoned two 1/1 minions (that were mechs, which opened up possibilities for synergy) that, when killed, dealt damage to random enemies. Every time you played this card, whenever you played this card, something good would happen.
It’s unfair to compare Purify to Dr. Boom. The latter is a Legendary minion. It should be better. It fact, it was too good. I’m glad it’s no longer playable in the Standard format. But it gives you an example of what kind of cards work best in Hearthstone. For a more fair comparison, let’s look at another Karazhan card, Kindly Grandmother.
Another 2 mana, common class card. It looks good. A total of 4/3 stats, plus it’s Deathrattle effect makes it difficult to kill in a single turn. It also gives it synergy with cards like N’Zoth, which re-summons all Deathrattle minions that died that game. Kindly Grandmother is also a beast, so it has a lot of potential synergies. If Priest had a card like this, it would have tremendously helped the class.
So, what can Blizzard do? The developer rarely likes to change cards. It’s only a last resort if it feels that something is really broken. The odds of the company changing a card that hasn’t even released yet are low. Instead, it will have to try to justify itself to players.
Maybe Blizzard is right. Maybe Priest will become a better class this expansion in spite of Purify. Maybe some of the new neutral cards work well for the class. But releasing such an underwhelming card for a class that fans were expecting to get the most love makes the company look out of touch with its fans, even when it has good intentions.
Updated 5:06 a.m.on August 9.
Hearthstone lead designer Ben Brode has responded to the criticism of Purify in a new video, which you can view below. In it, he explains the thought process behind Purify, admits that its release right now might be a mistake, and promises to make changes for Priest if it doesn’t perform well going forward. He also noted that Purify will not show up in Arena, which will definitely help Priests in that format. It’s an honest video that should do some good in building trust between the Hearthstone team and its community.