This week's Tavern Brawl sees the return of the Heroic Brawliseum, in which players must pay an entry fee to go into Standard combat with other players, attempting to hit 12 wins for maximum rewards.

Is Heroic Brawliseum right for you, especially with the mini-set just around the corner? Let's talk about that. 

Whats Different This Time Around?

Blizzard has made two changes to the format this time, which aims to help 

  • A legendary quest is available to replace the usual free pack from Tavern Brawl for the week.
    • Win a game in any play mode to earn your Standard Pack.
  • A Death Knight Hero Skin, Ghoul Queen Scarlet, is available if you can win 3 games across Brawliseum (not just in one run).

Is Heroic Brawliseum Worth Playing?

FIrst off, Heroic Brawliseum can be a challenging format which gives Hearthstone a place where you, in theory, should have guaranteed competitiveness. For players on that side of the meta, this is a great opportunity to pilot decks to take advantage of a competitive format. That can be quite fun but there are a couple of problems:

  • Adding a chance at getting a Hero Skin is bait for more casual players.
  • It removes what could have been a fun and accessible Tavern Brawl for the week.

Take The Bait?

Why is that we're consistently seeing Heroic Brawliseum pop up before a mini-set is due? 

  • Murder at Castle Nathria's Mini-Set released on September 27, with the Brawliseum starting September 14.
  • Voyage to the Sunken City's Mini-Set released on June 1, with the Brawliseum starting May 25.

Remember, mini-sets come out around 2 months after the main set. March of the Lich King launched on December 6. We're due for an announcement and a load of card reveals!

The reason is simple. Blizzard's monetization team wants to entice players to spend their hard-earned gold with the dream that one could win 50 card packs and 1100 gold by going 12 wins in a run of Brawliseum. You have the option of using your in-game gold or real money (Runestones) in Brawliseum, so what feels like better value? This can lead to a total waste of your gold and lowered chances of having 2000 gold to buy the next mini-set.

Things would be different if we'd get to see the mini-set cards in advance of Brawliseum, but that would likely lower the number of people participating in the mode because mini-sets usually have some pretty great looking cards! We certainly can't have that happen. But wait, what about that Hero Skin, Ghoul Queen Scarlet?

To earn this skin, you simply need to win 3 games in Heroic Brawliseum across all your runs.

Quote From Blizzard

Correction: the Ghoul Queen Scarlet skin legendary quest will require 3 wins in this Heroic Tavern Brawl across all runs, not necessarily in the same Tavern Brawl run.

That's right, you need wins, not just games played. This could have been a simple exchange of 1000 Gold, a few losses after trying to make some of your gold back, and you'd get your shiny new skin. I'm not trying to be an ass about this, because rewarding players for losing games early on can artificially boost the wins other people are getting if people enter with the intention to concede, which is against the competitiveness of the mode, but this skin might end up being quite expensive.

Hero Skins generally cost an equivalent of 1000 Gold. We see with Brawliseum that Blizzard values 1000 Runestones and 1000 Gold as equals, so if we look at the most recent example of shop skins we can see that Dreamgrove Lunara can be purchased for 1000 Gold... wait a moment, she also comes with card packs. If you value the class-specific packs at 100 Gold a piece, the skin is effectively 500 Gold. We're paying twice as much Gold for a chance at receiving it by playing games. If you don't get 3 wins into your run, and you really wanted that skin, congratulations, you're now going to be forced into additional runs, drying up your gold reserves and making the mini-set a mandatory real money purchase.

There's another reason why you shouldn't take the Hero Skin bait though. Unless there is an overwhelming number of players on the more casual side aiming to get the skin, the odds that people are going to be playing very competitive decks is extremely high, meaning you must be on a level playing field. As much as I wish everyone reading this article was a high-legend card slinger, we know that simply can't be the case.

The reward structure for Heroic Tavern Brawls.

And if we take the skin out of the equation, and just want to do some basic math, not every person that enters is going to be winning enough games to make their investment worthwhile, which to breakeven on value requires 5 wins. Gold and Dust in Hearthstone are roughly equivalent, so the approximately 220 Dust and 220 Gold you will receive from a Brawliseum run at 5 wins, plus the 6 packs (600 Gold) gives you your 1000 Gold back in value - assuming those things all matter to you, which if they do, just save for the mini-set. 

Don't take the bait. Let the metrics suffer and show that they should use skins as rewards elsewhere.

No Tavern Brawl For The Week

I've long been a champion of the Tavern Brawl format and have continually been disappointed by Blizzard's moves to add additional brawls to the mode, opting instead to reuse old brawls what feels like 99% of the time. Understood, development resources are stretched thin and Tavern Brawl isn't the hottest thing out there. But, having a capital required to play event taking place in something that is usually very low barrier of entry doesn't feel great.

Players without a large collection can usually swing into brawl and be given a deck or a randomized set of cards to have some fun with the game. Sure the rules are usually crazy and completely change the balance of things, but at least it's fun. Putting a simple Standard game into the format that is supposed to change the rules of the game is a waste of space and time (remember, this is up all week!). 

I've never quite understood why we don't just have a dedicated spot for Brawliseum-style events. Perhaps Blizzard is worried about not enough people playing should they leave Tavern Brawl up for the week; that's certainly a valid reason to not run multiple events at the same time. There can't possibly be a ton of overlap with players who are ultra competitive and those that sink their time into Tavern Brawl each week though, which means we're using the mode to change the target audience, potentially alienating players in the process. Huge props to Blizzard for adding the legendary quest so people can get their free Standard Pack for the week by playing other games of Hearthstone, but it misses a large point of Tavern Brawl.

Blizzard needs a new way to do special competitive events in the client so Tavern Brawl can continue to be its own thing.

Are you planning on participating? If so, we've posted some of the ladder's top Standard decks that you may want to take for a spin in the mode. Let us know how well you do!

TL;DR: Don't play Heroic Brawliseum