Developer Insights: Personal Rating in Hearthstone Battlegrounds

Just as promised a while ago, Blizzard has released a blog post detailing how exactly rating works in Battlegrounds. It’s important to know when you’re trying to climb, or even aiming at Top 200 Leaderboards. It’s also one of the most common discussion topics – questions like whether your performance affects it, how matchmaking works etc. are asked everyday. You can read the full blog post below, but here’s a summary:

  • Rating is used to measure players’ skill and match them against each other.
  • There is also a hidden number called “variance”, which shows how confident the game is about your rating. Variance starts as high and goes down as you play more games and perform consistently, “as expected”. Your variance can still increase if something unexpected happens, like when you are at high rating and lose against someone with low rating.
  • At the start of each match, rating & variance are used to calculate each players’ expected performance / chance to win against each other.
  • After the game is over, your rating gain / loss is calculated based on your position, but also on other factors such as rating of each opponent, expected win chance against them and variance. Higher variance = bigger rating swings.
  • Since your variance is high at the start and goes down as you play more matches, your rating swings will be lower after playing lots of games. In the current system, if you finish 1st on your first match ever, you should get +195 points. Then as the variance goes down, you should get about +98 points for your 150th game. But it can still go up and down based on the factors listed above!
  • The game also has a progression adjustment – it means that a small amount of rating is always added to your final score no matter if you win or lose. E.g. you get +90 instead of +88 for a win and -50 instead of -52 for a loss – but we don’t know the EXACT amount added. It works all the way up to 6500 rating. So in theory you can progress even if your win rate is slightly below 50% (disregarding matchmaking differences).

Greetings! I’m Tian, a Senior Data Scientist on the Hearthstone team, and I’m here to talk about some science behind your rating in Hearthstone Battlegrounds!

After your first round of strategic tavern purchases, methodical minion placements, and triples upon triples, you’ll note that you’ve either earned or lost rating points based on your finishing place. After seeing this number change, you may ask yourself: what does this rating actually mean? And how did my rating get decided alongside my opponents?

I’m here to answer those questions – and more! – to help demystify the inner workings of your Battlegrounds rating.

What does this rating number mean?

Your rating in Hearthstone Battlegrounds is more than just a number. The value of your rating represents your skill level in Hearthstone Battlegrounds (with a higher value meaning you are more skilled). But it also helps us match you with seven other players of similar skill, helping make each game you play to feel as fair as possible.

What we want to accomplish with the rating system is that, as we look at the full player base of Hearthstone Battlegrounds, we’ll see most players in the middle of the “rating spectrum”. In Mathematical terms, the rating distribution follows a bell-shaped curve called normal distribution. In the way we designed our rating system, on the second day of Open Beta, if your rating was 4200, you were roughly more skilled than 77% of the players playing Battlegrounds; if your rating was 5000, this would be better than 99% of the players.

How does my rating get updated after each match?

One of the important goals of the rating system is to quickly identify your actual skill and thus create matches that will feel competitive and fair to you. In order to achieve that, let me introduce you to another concept: variance.

Variance is a number that’s associated with your rating but not explicitly shown to you. This value represents how confident we are about your rating. When you are completely new to Battlegrounds, we’re not sure about your actual skill level because you haven’t played many matches. We don’t have much data on how your performance changes over multiple matches, so your variance is pretty high. After you have played some matches, your variance is likely to drop as we are more confident what your actual rating is. However, if we are looking at a single match, your variance could go up if the result is not what we expected. For example, if a high rating player loses to some players whose rating is much lower than theirs, it may result an increase of their variance.

Once we know each of the eight players’ ratings and variance, we need to calculate the win chance of each player again the seven other players in the match. During each calculation, all the factors we have discussed before are factored in. When all is said and done, this is a lot of calculations: 56 to be precise!

Now let’s return to how ratings get updated. After each match, your rating gets updated based on a combination of your rating, your opponents’ ratings, the place you finish in the match, your predicted win chance, your variance, and a few other factors. Generally speaking, the bigger your variance, the more you’ll see your rating change after the match. When you first start playing Battlegrounds we don’t have much historical data about how skilled you are, so our main goal is to quickly put you in an appropriate rating range. You’ll see higher variance and bigger rating changes after each match. After you’ve played quite a few games, we will have more and more data to inform us of your proper rating and your rating will not change as drastically.

We recently made some updates to how rating is calculated when you start playing Battlegrounds. We want to ensure the ratings don’t swing too wildly and end up putting people in the wrong rating groupings, and we also want to ensure that you are getting closer to your correct MMR each time you play a match. We increased your rating gains and losses once your rating has been established when you’ve played enough games so you will see more movement in your rating.

Assuming all of your opponents have the exact same rating as you, in the original system you got roughly 240 points for a first place on your first game and 24 pts for a first place on your 150th game or after. With the November 19th changes, you will get roughly 195 pts for a first place on your first game and 98 pts for a first place on your 150th game or after. I also want to point out here that the updating formula depends on many factors as you can see above. When we are looking at actual rating updates, we do not only pick one factor. Keep in mind that this does not mean more forward progression necessarily. If you are at your correct rating you will move up and down but generally stay at the same rating after enough games.

We’ve also added a very small progression adjustment to your rating after each game. This adjustment always has a positive value and depends on your current rating unless you reach 6500 rating or above. The lower your rating is, the larger the adjustment. Therefore, in theory, playing more games in Battlegrounds will give you a small advantage in terms of “boosting” your rating (if you are below 6500 rating). Bear in mind that this is true whether you win or lose; think of it as a consistent progression adjustment that gives you a small positive bump each time you play Battlegrounds.

As a final note, for our algorithm experts out there, I also wanted to clarify why some widely used matchmaking algorithms such as Elo or Glicko are not a good option for us. We ran many simulations and the results showed that our algorithm had the fastest runtime (ensuring that matchmaking happens quickly) and the highest accuracy (ensuring that you have a more positive play experience). Elo and Glicko are also primarily designed for 2 player games, not 8 player games.

We hope you enjoy Hearthstone Battlegrounds! We are constantly listening to your feedback – feel free to share any matchmaking and rating comments with us. We’ll see you all in the Tavern!


A Hearthstone player and writer from Poland, Stonekeep has been in a love-hate relationship with Hearthstone since Closed Beta. Over that time, he has achieved many high Legend climbs and infinite Arena runs. He's the current admin of Hearthstone Top Decks.

Check out Stonekeep on Twitter!

Leave a Reply


  1. FlacidusMaximus
    November 27, 2019 at 5:10 pm

    Played a game last night with a friend who’s only recently started, I’m around 6400, he’s fresh so around 4000. I finished first and got 0 rating which I assumed was because of his lower rating, he finished second however and also got 0 rating. Is this something other people have encountered when queuing up with others? Can’t say it particularly concerned me but he sure wasn’t happy

    • No1434
      November 27, 2019 at 7:40 pm

      i think that 0 rating is just a visual bug, last time i played i also got 0+ rating in first place, when i see my rating again (in home screen ?), its increased about 50-80. Oh and i also played that game with my freinds

      • FlacidusMaximus
        November 27, 2019 at 11:38 pm

        Ah right, didn’t actually take notice of rating before and after but that makes a lot of sense. Cheers.

    • Stonekeep - Site Admin
      November 27, 2019 at 10:29 pm

      0 rating for a win is a visual bug that happens sometimes, it was reported multiple times and devs confirmed that it’s the case. The rating gain happened, it just didn’t show on the victory screen.

      You most likely gained less rating than you would for a win if you played solo, but you were most likely still tens of rating points ahead in the end.