Hearthstone expansion leads to intense community backlash

On August 5, Blizzard threw an epic Hearthstone-themed party in L.A., one week ahead of the release of the latest Hearthstone expansion, One Night in Karazhan. Hosted by Hearthstone Senior Producer Yong Woo and Hearthstone caster extraordinaire Dan 'Frodan' Chou, the livestreamed event was also a celebration of the game reaching 50 million registered players across all platforms.

New cards

The climax of the event was expected to be the big reveal of the 45 new expansion cards being added to the Hearthstone library, which were immediately posted to the Hearthstone Facebook page following the conclusion of the live stream.

One rant suggested that this issue is a symptom of the larger issue of Blizzard's fraught relationship with the Hearthstone community

It should come as no surprise that some people had a poor reaction towards the cards, especially given the enormous size of the Hearthstone fan base. Regardless, as you read through the comments on each card, reactions seemed overwhelmingly negative, with most complaints centered around the perceived snubbing of the Priest and Paladin, with most of the angst aimed at one Priest card in particular: Purify.

This Priest spell card costs two Mana and lets you silence a friendly minion (which, for the uninitiated, means removing any special ability text) and draw another card. The issue? The Priest class already has a silence card which allows you to target any active minion at no Mana cost.

Rants and subreddits

Curious, we poked our head into the Hearthstone subreddit to see how the community at large was reacting, and the frustration on display was palpable. Hearthstone's Balance Philosophy is flawed and it's not because Priest sucks read one post, which has since garnered over 1000 comments.

Another rant suggested that this issue is a symptom of the larger issue of Blizzard's fraught relationship with the Hearthstone community when compared to the development and continual tweaking of their other AAA titles. The rest of the subreddit has been dominated by reaction videos, Straw polls and many more disheartening rants from disillusioned players.

In Blizzard's defence, one of Hearthstone's game designers, Dean Ayala, was quite active on Twitter engaging with fans who vented their frustrations about the new cards and the overall balance of the game.

What started with a celebration of the Hearthstone community and the new expansion exposed some deep-seated frustration amongst a fairly sizeable portion of the hardcore base. Consider just how much time and money some people have dropped to build out their Hearthstone decks. When you're struggling with the sunken cost fallacy, it feels impossible to just walk away from something you're emotionally invested in, even if it seems like the creators are showing you disrespect.

What started with a celebration of the Hearthstone community exposed some deep-seated frustration in the hardcore user base.

But, again, this all could just be a knee-jerk reaction from a passionate community. No one will have an opportunity to battle test these new cards until the expansion goes live on August 11, when players gain instant access to the One Night in Karazhan intro mission.

The remainder of the new adventure plays out over four weeks, as new wings of Medivh's palace are explored. Players will choose whether to buy the full expansion outright with an in-app purchase of $19.99, or buy each new mission individually for either 700 gold, or $6.99.

What are your thoughts?

Are you a fan of Hearthstone? Did you watch the live event? What do you think of the One Night in Karazhan expansion cards? Let's discuss in the comments!

Marc Lagace

Marc Lagace was an Apps and Games Editor at Android Central between 2016 and 2020. You can reach out to him on Twitter [@spacelagace.