I'm hooked on Hearthstone Battlegrounds! Open Beta of the game began last Tuesday, November 12th. We have tons of details from the anouncement at Blizzcon here.
They also anounced a streamer contest that will reward packs to anyone who participates. It's called the Battlegrounds Brawl and features some of Hearthstone's favorite streamers, the event is on November 21st. I voted for team Mega Fins, I'm a big fan of Dog, join me for the best rewards!
Last time, we went over the basics. Today, we will talk a little bit about the Hero selection.
Choosing Your Hero
One of my favorite parts of Battlegrounds is the ability to select your Hero at the start of the game. You are given 2 choices, unless you have purchased at least 20 Descent of Dragons packs, then you get 3. Your Hero choice should immediately impact your strategy, if you can play into your Hero's strengths, you will be rewarded. Some Heroes will steamroll the early game and others are only really good once the game reaches its' final stages. Today, I'm going to start with a scale of fun vs. power, rather than a tier list. This chart will be followed by brief guides for how best to pilot each Hero.
NudeWookie's Fun vs. Power Hero Chart
I don't love the idea of picking my Hero solely on power level, because I will often choose the most fun Hero available. I like making meaningful decisions and plays that are influenced by my Hero's strengths. For this reason I have decided to chart Heroes based on power and fun, this should give you a good overview before we get into our individual Hero guides. This chart is completely subjective, my version of fun or power may not be the same as your own.
We'll start with arguably the most consistent top-4 finisher of the game. A.F. Kay's Hero Power should read instead: take 5-8 damage on turns 1 and 2 to guarantee being a mid-game beast. On your turn 3, you're going to be busy figuring out your strategy for the game. The most powerful mechs come from Taver Tier 4, so getting a headstart over your opponents is incredibly valuable. Before the latest changes, I always rolled the 4-drop first and hope for Junkbot over everything, if I wouldn't get it, I would typically take Security Rover followed by whichever card has the most stats. That is true right now as well. The 3-drop roll will then be done based on what I got from the first roll. Then I immediately upgrade my tavern and buy the best 1-drop available. Once you've completed turn 3, A.F. Kay plays the same as all other Heroes, you want to take advantage of your early lead by upgrading your Tavern as quickly as possible. The early board you have will take you into the late-game almost every time and consistenly land you in the top 4 or winning the game.
Bartendotron has a great advantage, you can always afford to get ahead of the pack when it comes to Tavern Tier. My typical curve for Tavern Tiers is 2 on turn 2, 3 on turn 5, and 4 on turn 7. Getting Tavern Tier 5 and 6 is dependent on what strategy you are playing. Bartendotron allows you to mix up the curve a bit by allowing a reroll at the higher tavern tier because you spent 1 less gold. Getting a higher Tavern Tier minion a turn earlier can make all the difference in the mid-game and lead to a win.
Brann is a fantastic Hero. If you get early Battlecry minions he runs away with the big boards in the early and mid-game. Once you get to the late-game, you typically want to buff your biggest minions with Battlecries; Brann throws in an additional +1/1 to help you out further. His strategy is quite clear and he even has synergy with himself! Brann is an excellent Hero to play the Menagerie strategy with and it became even better with Junkbot seeing it's Tavern Tier increase. Play as many Battlecries as possible and profit those sweet, sweet wins!
This was the most underrated Hero at the start of the game, and he's as fantastic as his top hat. Warning, this Hero requires some serious APM (definitely not advised for mobile). Your goal with Deryl is to fill up the board in the eary game and stay on curve for upgrading your Tavern. Do this until you see a minion you really want and have around 9 or 10 gold. My absolute favorite target is Cave Hydra, cleave is the most powerful effect in the game right now. Now that you have a target you want to buff, buy the 3 worst minions. Then sell 3 of your weak minions from your board to buy the last minion you don't want buffed. Now continue selling all your minions that you don't want on your board. You will end up with your target minion with as much as 12/12 in buffs. A heavily buffed Cave Hydra will win rounds immediately and get you into an end-game state you can win from. Dancin' Deryl is a blast to play!
Elise gives you immediate power boosts every time you upgrade your Tavern. You pay 3 gold to discover a minion from your current Tavern Tier, this is incredibly flexible and powerful throughout the game. Even with an upgraded Tavern, you are more likely to find lower Tavern Tier minions than not; therein lies Elise' power. Because you will always have a choice minion at each Tavern Tier, she favors the upgrading strategy and the perfect curve of Tavern Tier upgrades suits her quite nicely. If you get good rolls immediately, you can save the map for later, her flexibility is her power.
George the Fallen
George plays pretty straightforward, play a normal early and mid-game until you get to the point that you have a few minions which are going to stay on the board until the end of the game. When I'm playing mechs, I often just spend time looking for Annoy-o-Module to put Divine Shield on them. With George you no longer have to dig for a Divine Shield, not to mention you can give it to non-mech minions, which let's you play basically any strategy you choose. This effect is incredibly powerful! If you can survive to the end-game, you can win with an army of Divine-Shielded minions. Unless your opponent is Nefarian, then you will be a sad sad panda :(
Toki was taken down a few notches from her insane power-level prior to open beta. However, she's still a fantastic Hero. Your goal with Toki is to rush to Tavern Tier 5 as quickly as you can. Once you hit Tavern Tier 5, you can use the Hero Power to roll into non-stop 6 drops, guaranteed. Mama Bear is your best friend, as long as you don't die in the effort to find her as quickly as possible. I recommend waiting to use the Hero Power until you hit Tavern Tier 4 because the 2 gold cost is steep without a significant reward in the early game. One exception might be turn 3, where you have 5 gold and should already be on Tavern Tier 2, you can roll for a Tier 3 minion instead of two rerolls for a better Tier 2.
Demons, Demons, Demons. Once you get a few, it is one of the more powerful mid-game strategies. Mal'Ganis is the biggest boost available and you should aim to get a triple at Tavern Tier 4 for a chance of Discovering it early. If you have a few demons, it's worth hitting the button in my opinion. It'll win more rounds than buying more minions that don't fit your strategy. Demons are hard to scale in the very late-game, but if you can get there, the buffs stack up, fast.
Divine Shield is an incredibly powerful mechanic that is key to most late-game victories. So, naturally, a Hero which removes them will be an incredibly powerful late-game force. If you can stay alive long enough to get a good build, you will win the game. Once you get to turn 7 or 8, you pretty much want to hit the Hero Power every single turn. It'll give your own divine shield minions an extremely big advantage. The hardest part is to get through the early and mid-game; if you aren't careful, you will die long before your Hero Power becomes really useful.
Patches the Pirate
Patches is a bit underwhelming at the moment. His Hero Power is simply put: too weak. In the early game when it would be useful, I find I very rarely just have an extra gold sitting around to use it. In the mid-game his Hero Power kills nothing. In the late-game you might hit off a divine shield, but it's not guaranteed. You'll need to get creative and play a solid game to make him work.
20 extra Health is a massive boost. In Battlegrounds, I find that you have to trade Health for earlier Tavern Tier upgrades and to buy low-tempo minions that will scale into the late-game. Patchwerk makes all of these things possible. You can take 30 damage while building aggressively for the late-game and still be at the same Health total as the leader, it's awesome. If you play him conservatively, you won't end up winning the game.
The Professor is good in the mid-game when you need a 10-attack boost to get through big taunts or to snipe important minions. If you get a Divine Shield minion, his Hero Power is incredible. You'll also want to take advantage of using the Hero Power with cleave mechanics like Cave Hydra and Foe Reaper 4000, these will help you win tons of rounds. While great in the mid-game, the Hero Power decreases in effectiveness the longer the game goes on due to opponents getting more Divine Shields and Poisonous minions.
Random buffs that cost gold aren't good, your goal each game is to only buff minions you plan on keeping the whole game (cough, cough Amalgams). For this reason, Pyramad fails to help your strategy for the late-game and small Health buffs simply don't do enough in the early or mid-game. The idea of buffing Health is great, but because you have no control over it, it is significantly worse.
Sindragosa has such a cool strategy! The support for freezing minions on your board is incredible. Your early-game will always be powerful and even into the mid-game you will find that Sindragosa has a distinct advantage. I recommend freezing your first board of minions a few times at the start of the game to get the highest stat minions as possible, buy them after some buffs, and then repeat the process for mid-level minions. Sindragosa is one of the few Heroes you may opt not to upgrade to Tavern Tier 2 immediately and you will be rewarded later for Smorcing down your opponents early.
Sir Finley Mrrgglton
I'm gonna sound like a broken record here, but "random buffs that cost gold aren't good, your goal each game is to only buff minions you plan on keeping the whole game (cough, cough Amalgams)". Unlike Brann, who gives you random buffs for free; Sir Finley feels greedy making you sell minions to give him more gold for his Hero Power. Sir Finley struggles to find success because in the early-game you want to use gold to fill your board and in the late-game it is almost always better to reroll your Tavern than try for random buffs. If this were a targeted buff, it'd be fantastic; but because it's not, Sir Finley is not recommended for top finishes.
The Queen of Candles and all things shiny is a bit underwhelming as a whole. She has the same problem as tribe-specific Heroes: you have to play that strategy for it to be useful. She favors the Menagerie strategy which is currently among the top end-game builds. Menagerie meaning one of each tribe and buffs created by Lightfang Enforcer and/or Brann Bronzebeard. If you don't find the Menagerie cards, the Queen will struggle to help you win any game. However, if you can get your minions for her buff set up, you will find that her Hero Power works wonders.
Ragnaros the Firelord
Ragnaros is very similar to Patches. However, his Hero Power shines in the mid-game if you need help winning a round. You can use the Hero Power to make up for a weak roll of minions you don't want and it will get you to the late game. However, there, it loses its effectivness. Because although you might remove a Divine Shield or two, it's not guaranteed and most late game minions will not die to 8 damage. Ragnaros can get you a win with some luck and creative play, but he's not the most consistent Hero.
Shudderwock is a fun Hero to play, there are many different ways you can play him. I love flexibility. Most players I see try to default to Pogo-Hoppers. Definitely a fun strategy, but I've found that you can lose really quickly if you don't find them. Instead, I would recommend you look for them as early and often as you can, but don't let that be the only strategy you are trying for. Any tribe or build which can utilize buffs extensively can get mileage from Shudderwock's Hero Power. All tribes have a Battlecry minion which buffs minions of that type and Nightmare Amalgam will take them all. Menagerie Magician is your best friend.
Nightmare Amalgam is the best early-game minion in the game because it will be useful all the way to the end-game. You can give it Divine Shield, Poisonous and it functions as a recipient for any buff you like. The Curator gets a free Amalgam to start the game. It wins early rounds for you because you have more minions, it's the biggest mid-game minion due to buffs, and it becomes the largest minion by the end of the game. There are no downsides to the Curator. No matter which strategy you go for, an Amalgam will fit it and you will find yourself consistently performing well.
The Great Akazamzarak
I'm in the minority for sure, but I really miss Ice Block in Standard Hearthstone. I love Freeze Mage play. The Great Akazamzarak uses his Hero Power to survive when he certainly should not, it's magic! I recently had a game where I Discovered Ice Block 5 times in total. However, if your Ice Block popped the last round, there is almost a 0 chance of discovering it the next turn. The great thing about Ice Block is that once you have it up, it lasts until you take lethal damage. The other secrets are incredibly useful as well, a favorite of mine is Splitting Image because you get a copy of your best taunt minion (usually a Poisonous, Divine Shield Amalgam). He's a lot of fun to pay and late-game you simply always click the button to get the extra advantage.
The Lich King
The Lich King has a fantastic flavor to him, your undead minion is even useful most of the time. Rather than being centered around tribes, the Lich King is best used with good Deathrattle cards. You should always place your best Deathrattle minion on the right to get it to trigger twice. Because the Hero Power is inexpensive, you can also use it during the early and mid-game with Divine Shield and taunt minions to great effect.
The Rat King
The Rat King is very very RNG dependent. If you get the right Hero Power with the right draw, you will have the most powerful early and mid-game of all Heroes. My advice is to always take upgraded units the first few turns of the game, it's one of the few Heroes I might forgo upgrading Tavern Tier on turn 2 to get a buffed minion. The Hero Power drops off significantly in the late-game because +1/2 doesn't do much at that point. Your goal with the Rat King is to get out to a massive lead and then take some risks upgrading your Tavern Tier earlier to find a viable late-game strategy and win.
Trade Prince Gallywix
With the Trade Prince, you'll never waste gold. His Hero Power gives you an advantage in the mid-game. By saving gold early and often, you can make powerful plays with Tavern Tier upgrades and rerolling to give you an advantage. Your challenge is to figure out when is the opportune time to use your saved up gold for the biggest advantage. My advice is to use it for Tavern Tier upgrades earlier or to reroll immediately after upgrading your tavern for the best effects. Freezing minions late-game is incredibly useful if you can't afford them immediately, doing so will often leave you with a gold or two unused, saving that gold for more rerolls and purchases later is what makes Gallywix powerful throughout the entire game.
Yogg-Saron, Hope's End
Praise be to Yogg, our Lord and Savior! I'm a big big fan of the original. In Battlegrounds, I love the randomness of the early game that makes you shape your strategy accordingly. I always click the Hero Power on turn 1, unless there is only one good option. On turn 5 I'll hit the Hero Power and buy the minion I want most. The ability to get two minions on turn 3 instead of just 1 is huge. Your early and mid-game will go well with Yogg since you're able to buy more minions and they come with a small upgrade. Late-game the random Hero Power doesn't do much since you're rerolling to find specific minions, but your advantage will carry you there almost every time. Playing as Yogg, you're often required to make the best of minions you normally wouldn't buy; that's what makes it fun. Trust in Yogg and you will be rewarded.
Enjoy the Battlegrounds!
Now that you know a bit more about the different Heroes, go play them! I love this game, it's incredibly refreshing compared to the rather stale evolve-heavy meta of standard. Each game feels different and I feel like I have to adapt my play based on what the game gives me. The Heroes are all powerful in unique ways, don't rule any of them out, they can all win games. Take risks with random strategies, experiment, and most of all - have fun! I've won games with tons of different builds and each game feels different. Stay tuned for future in-depth guides highlighting Turn-by-Turn Strategy and Win Conditions.
Let me know your favorite Battlegrounds experiences and feel free to ask questions in the comments below.