Today marks an important milestone for Hearthstone's Tavern Brawl mode - 300 weeks of brawls! It doesn't seem that Blizzard is too enthusiastic about the event though because this week, we're seeing Just a Hallucination make a return for its fifth go.

As the title says, that's disappointing. Tavern Brawl has become disappointing.

I don't play a whole lot of Tavern Brawl anymore because repeats don't interest me, also Battlegrounds takes up much of my Hearthstone time, but I'm genuinely passionate about the mode. There is so much room for potentially cool ideas as the game goes on, you can't possibly run out of them. Sure, sometimes an idea might flop, but that's the beauty of Tavern Brawl - it only lasts for a week! Having more ways to play with cards, with simple rules attached to them, is awesome and with the digital format that Hearthstone has, they have the upper-hand.

Tavern Brawl Today

The current status of brawls shouldn't exactly be a surprise though as Dean Ayala has talked a bit about it in a previous community Q&A in which someone asked about the excessive repeats.

Quote From Dean Ayala

What’s the plan for Tavern Brawls? They are listed on all phases of the roadmap for Year of the Phoenix, yet we had mostly repeats this year. Should we expect this many repeat Tavern Brawls as the team focusing on other game modes? Any thought to changing the Classic pack reward?

The team responsible for Tavern Brawl content is also responsible for duels, book of heroes, and another entirely new game mode we haven't talked about much yet. They've just been busy. I'd expect some newer tavern brawls when those things get closer to release but not until then

Duels, Book of Heroes, and the new mode (Mercenaries) have put Tavern Brawl into the shadows. The current fate of Tavern Brawls was likely also solidified when joemag left Blizzard a little over a year ago. Joe was on the live content team and was one of the main people behind new brawls. His insight on brawls was never replaced by anyone else as the team went to work on much more than brawls and basic events.

I'm not saying that Tavern Brawl needs someone dedicated to it, its simple business at the end of the day whether we like it or not and you aren't going to get a great return on your investment if someone's only job is to play with the mode - it isn't monetized and I don't think anyone is quitting the game if they just removed brawls altogether. It is also important to bring back some older brawls occasionally because some of them are genuinely enjoyable to play and are clearly community favourites (Idols of Azeroth, Top 2, Top 3, Cloneball! to name a few) because that can be an exciting moment and discussion within the great community (plus those engagement metrics!).

What I am saying though is we need more than what we're getting. Let's take a look at the last year of Tavern Brawls. We had 12 "new" Tavern Brawls compared to the 23 new ones we saw in 2019. Here are last year's "new" brawls, the majority of which were in the first half of the year.

  • Jan 8 - Just Macaws
  • Jan 22 - Road to Northrend
  • Jan 29 - Lunar Blessings!
  • Feb 12 - Brawl of Gaudiness
  • Mar 4 - The Burndown - Rekindled
  • Apr 8 - The Fury of Kael'thas
  • Apr 29 - Brawl Block: Feeling Adventurous?
  • Jun 17 - An Outlandish Recipe
  • Jun 24 - The Outlandish Burndown
  • Jul 1 - Rumbledome!
  • Oct 14  - Boss Battle Royale 3
  • Nov 25 - Half & Half

"New?" Yeah, "New". You see, some of the “new” Tavern Brawls are only reskins of older brawls which, in my opinion, don't count as new ideas.

  • Just Macaws is cool but it is just a much-needed improvement over the Webspinner brawl.
  • We saw the Burndown in two flavors, which was already an older brawl.
  • Brawl Block's theme is recurring.
  • Outlandish Recipe is the usual deck recipe brawl we'll get with a new set - or at least that we should get with a new set...
  • Boss Battle Royale 3 brings us an additional batch of adventure bosses to play with.

That's not to say that Tavern Brawls that don't require a whole lot of development time aren't worthy of our time, Brawl Block: Feeling Adventurous? was a genuinely fun brawl after all, but it does make me question why we couldn't have seen something that "simple" as a fun 300th brawl thing.

Under no circumstance am I saying creating a Tavern Brawl is a simple task. Developers hate when people call stuff simple because the public never knows everything that is going behind the scene and as a developer myself I have a special understanding and respect for what these awesome folks go through. This is especially true when beaurocracy is involved. Don't make assumptions, don't harass people!

I'm more so disappointed that it seems that no one had a serious conversation about what to do for Brawl 300. Maybe communication issues due to the pandemic was at play here, or perhaps everyone really is just super into Mercenaries right now and they need to really get it out the door sooner rather than later since it seems like, even though it hasn't been official confirmed, it was the mode we were supposed to see during the end of the Year of the Phoenix.

Regardless, could we not have seen a new Brawl Block with a fresh rule? Maybe we can get an anniversary Tavern Brawl on #312 to celebrate 6 years of brawling. Not as cool of a number to do something on, but at least they've got 3 months to consider doing something for it. And it shouldn't just be a Cavalcade of Brawls again.

Tavern Brawl's Future

There is some light at the end of the tunnel though. Since Classic packs are being retired, we'll see new rewards from Tavern Brawls since they can give us newer card packs instead which at least gives veterans the ability to potentially earn a new card and newbies can get cards with appropriate power levels. We're also getting closer to the release of Mercenaries as time goes on, which as Dean says may be when some room gets freed up to work on new Tavern Brawl content.

Personally, I would have loved to see them give us an early look at the Classic mode. It would have been a good way to promote something that was coming in the near future and really get people excited for it. I'd also love to see:

  • Bonus experience for playing a weekly brawl.
  • Bring back the deck recipe brawls for every expansion. And bring it out right away!
  • Tavern Brawls that focus on new set mechanics before they come out when it makes sense.
    • Ashes of Outland could have had a sweet global Outcast-based brawl. Could have done a cost reduction or let you draw a card.
    • Scholomance Academy was a perfect opportunity to let us build dual-class decks. Not exactly the same, but cool!
  • Better achievement rewards for playing Tavern Brawl. We need a Tavern Brawl card back or two!

Blizzard, please make brawls entertaining again. Also, it would be cool to give out stats on Tavern Brawls again like you did that one time at an early BlizzCon. Individual brawl popularities is cool.