Ahoy! After a pretty crazy weekend, we're back to nor-- Nope! This week we're taking a look into Battlegrounds, Hearthstone's new game mode, currently in closed beta. We are here to analyze the meme potential of the new format. It's tough to figure out, given there are no cards to bring into the format, and it's quite unlike anything we've ever seen in Hearthstone. Nonetheless, there is still room to mess around!
Hearthstone's Battlegrounds follows the model of Dota 2 Auto Chess, which in turn is inspired by the Chinese tile-based game Mahjong. It can look daunting, even confusing at first, but a player with good knowledge of Hearthstone mechanics should get the hang of it pretty quickly. The majority of available cards come from the existing pool, with a few Battlegrounds-exclusive additions.
There are a total of 24 heroes. Each player gets to choose between 3 of them (not exactly true, you have to open at least 20 Descent of Dragons packs), all different from other players, to ensure no two players have the same hero. Each hero has a unique Hero Power! Some appear less effective for now, such as Boon of Light (the tooltip is not showing the mana cost, which is 4), which costs too much; or The Rat King's Passive Hero Power, which can turn the tide of fate towards destruction.
There are four tribes currently represented in this game mode, and to keep it short, here are their perks:
- Demons: Solid early to late game, big minions. Disadvantage: Your hero needs to eat some damage to be truly effective.
- Mechs: Great synergy, can pull of some crazy combos. Disadvantage: Barely any! Can be tough to set up.
- Beasts: Good buffing options, interesting swarm tactics. Disadvantage: Can quickly fall short if the wrong things happen mid-combat.
- Murlocs: Memes. Great early-game, but fall out of the race later on. Disadvantage: Not enough power aside from tribe-specific synergy.
What about the memes? The potential for them is lesser, due to the nature of this game mode, however it is not entirely nonexistent!
As you can see in Image 1, we have Yogg-Saron blindly putting his faith into Murlocs. He is not at fault, for he knew not the rather low ceiling of competence Murlocs possess.
The result is... expected.
The science is not exact. There may very well be a day when Murlocs will outshine every other tribe! The game mode is still in beta, and I expect quite a lot of balance changes to take place before it is officially deemed released.
There are cases where the meme is not just the opponent's board. Sometimes your board turns your opponent's efforts, and perhaps his entire existence, into a meme. And there are other times when that happens to you.
You thought amassing Micro Machines past the golden tier was going to be worth anything? Also, Bob, I paid good money for those tiers.
Oftentimes, the state of the board is a meme in itself. Seems the Curator had similar ideas...
The bots really know their stuff. There aren't enough Poisonous minions in the world to deal with that.
In the end, even if you lose, Bob will always be there for you with a surprise 3x of the same minion - even when you don't want it.
After laborious research, I believe it is accurate to say that Battlegrounds have a meme potential factor of 47.7% compared to Wild. The reduction comes from the lack of control over the memes, even though they could potentially reach a higher memeness than in other areas of the game.
The game mode, memes aside, is quite entertaining. It brings a fresh experience to a game whose most recent distinguishing game mode was the Dungeon Run format of solo adventures. It requires a little bit of work, especially with bugs (mostly visual, though I do think the game unfroze my tavern minions without my consent at one point!) and with adding more tribes, and other cards which could prove interesting. I am also excited to see tournaments for Battlegrounds; they will surely prove more exciting than the constructed ones! All in all, no matter what you enjoy doing most in Hearthstone, Battlegrounds should provide a fresh, fun experience with the added benefit of all that waiting time - I actually had time to cook a full meal during those tavern waiting times!