Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Good stuff, but not enough

Today I finally got around to finishing up the Heroic modes in the new Hearthstone adventure One Night in Karazhan.  I complained before that the Heroic modes had good aesthetics but weak difficulty, and my conclusion is that this is a pretty good summary of the adventure.

The final boss is actually quite difficult as these things go, and although it only took me five tries to beat it I nearly lost several times and I doubt I could beat it consistently at all.  The trick to the final boss, Malchezzar, is that it is two fights.  The first is against a decent warrior deck with a hero power that produces a 3/3 minion with Charge.  This is extremely powerful obviously, but when you tune your deck defeating that power winning isn't difficult.

The problem is that as soon as you beat the warrior your turn ends and Malchezzar takes over.  As soon as he does he immediately casts Twisting Nether and kills all of your minions, then plays two 6/6 minions, and has a hero power to make two more 6/6 minions a turn.  This is actually a really challenging situation to beat because you start off with nothing, usually badly hurt from fighting the warrior deck, and are immediately facing down an opponent with two big minions and a ton of health.

My strategy was to set up a crazy turn using Kel'thuzad and Moat Lurker.  I got out Kel to keep my taunt minions invincible, Moat Lurkered Kel, and then activated Malchezzar and let him blow up all my minions including Moat Lurker.  This brought back Kel, who then resurrected all my other stuff.  In theory this should make me nearly invincible, but in practice I didn't have a lot of stuff left in my deck or on board when I pulled this off, and winning was tight.

I also lost four times, generally really badly, trying to make it work.  That of course is exactly how heroic modes are supposed to go!

I feel like this heroic was a proper one.  I got my ass kicked a fair number of times, barely held it together for the win when I did win, and had to do some thinking and unorthodox deck building to get a victory.  I call this appropriately difficult for an end boss.

However, when we consider the boss two before the end, it is all disappointment and sadness.  The Shade of Aran has the special power "All players have +3 Spell Damage" in normal.  Beating it is not hard - fill your deck with spells that scale well with spell damage and play well.  I would expect most decent players to 1 shot that encounter.  I figured on Heroic it would be something really exciting like "Shade of Aran has +5 Spell Damage".  That would have been interesting!  Take away the player benefit and crank it up.  I don't know off hand what deck I would take to such a duel, but it would feel like a real challenge.

Instead Shade of Aran has the power "Both players have +5 Spell Damage".  What?  So all I have to do is fill a deck with burn and healing and cruise to victory?  Yep, that's exactly what I needed to do.   I 1 shotted the encounter effortlessly.  It seems like a waste to have heroic modes that aren't any more difficult than normal modes and which a half assed deck can easily beat.

I want to have to practice.  I want a challenge.  I want the thrill of defeating something interesting.  Trivial encounters like Shade of Aran utterly fail at that.  We don't need trivial encounters that you can beat with whatever deck you want - that is what normal is for!  Heroic can fill the niche of players wanting a PVE challenge, something to test them.

In conclusion I can say that there were a couple of good heroic encounters in One Night in Karazhan, but only a couple.  Most were a joke and far too easy.  It wasn't a total waste, but it definitely didn't live up to my expectations.  Creativity was good, the cards get a thumbs up, but the heroics... not so much.

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