Battlegrounds is a completely new game mode in Hearthstone, which changes the way you play the game completely. You could even say that it’s a new game built into Hearthstone. The general idea behind it was to take the recently popular Auto Battler genre and translate it into Hearthstone. It doesn’t play like most of “Auto Chess” games, and it still feels a lot like Hearthstone, but that might be an advantage!
Players have access to 24 Heroes, and it doesn’t seem like the pool is going to change. When new Heroes are added, some of the old ones are removed at the same time. While they do not affect the minions offered, each comes with a different Hero Power – a special ability that is either passive or you can use once per visit in the Tavern (between combat phases). Some of them are stronger in the early game, some have good late game scaling, so you can adapt your strategy to the Hero you’ve picked. However, sometimes the right strategy is to ignore your Hero Power altogether and go with strong minions that are offered to you: use your Hero Power to your advantage when you can, but also be ready to choose a different route when you are not offered minions that have synergy with your Hero Power.
When you start the match, you get two Hero choices and pick one. The number of Heroes you can choose from can go up to three thanks to the cross-progression system (buying packs from Descent of Dragons expansion adds certain upgrades for Battlegrounds – and an extra Hero pick gained for 20 packs is the only one that adds some kind of advantage). No two players will ever share the same Hero – given that there are 8 players and up to 3 choices per player, no one will be offered duplicates.
Some Heroes are stronger than others, even significantly so. Nonetheless, it is possible to win games even on leaderboard ranks with any Hero. If you’re having fun with a specific Hero, don’t worry about its tier. That said, this tier list guide can help you choose your Hero based on how useful various Hero Powers are in general. We’ve categorized Heroes in four tiers. Click on each one of them to earn more – including how they look like, what their Hero Power is why they are put into a given tier / what kind of strategy they usually run.
- Elise Starseeker
- Lich Baz’hial
- Lord Jaraxxus
- Ragnaros the Firelord
- The Lich King
- George the Fallen
- The Great Akazamzarak
- Sylvanas Windrunner
Tier 1: The Best of the Best
These Heroes are extremely strong. Their Hero Powers will be a major asset to you in practically every game you play with them.
With Battle Brand, Brann Bronzebeard makes any Battlecry minions you use +1/+1 better. Battlecry minions can even buff themselves with the Hero Power, so you generally want to pick up a Battlecry minion at the start of the game whenever possible: the already strong options Alleycat, Murloc Tidehunter, and Vulgar Homunculus are even better when you get to pick them up early as Brann. This makes Brann a powerful tempo Hero early in the game, and should you pursue a strategy based on Battlecry minions (and perhaps Brann, the minion) for the late game, Brann’s Hero Power makes all the buffs even better.
Yogg-Saron, Hope’s End
Yogg-Saron provides you with two advantages. First, it gives you some buffed up minions, which can be decisive in the early game and help you get to the mid-game unscathed. Second, it is the only Hero who can recruit a minion for a mere two gold: sure, it is a random minion from the line in front of you, but it means that you have the option to grab two minions on turn three when you have access to five gold. Other Heroes spend gold on refreshing or their Hero Power on that turn, and you can spend it on more bodies on the board.
When Yogg is on a roll, it rules. Cheaper minions and with a +1/+1 buff to boot, what’s there not to like? Alas, sometimes you have sweet 50% or 66% rolls to get a great minion and you just miss. It’s the fickle nature of this Old God, but the overall power it provides is still substantial, and the early tempo it provides can often land you in the upper half of the table.
Edwin VanCleef provides you with a powerful and cheap buff. The more minions you buy in a turn, the bigger the buff becomes. Edwin’s Hero Power is a targeted ability, and that makes it especially useful because you can buff any minions, including ones that are usually difficult to improve. This can be used to protect your key assets, such as Baron Rivendare, Scavenging Hyena, or Mama Bear: with more health, they survive the battle better and can continue to influence it until the very end. The buff is permanent, so you can build up your key minions to some big numbers over time.
Arch-Villain Rafaam is a master at acquiring useful minions – by copying them from other players! At one gold, these are basically free minions, because you can sell any that you don’t like for the same price. Because players tend to have useful minions on their board, the overall quality of the copies can be high: Brann Bronzebeards, Lightfang Enforcers, and Goldrinns are all up for grabs, and you can sometimes even get to triples without recruiting a single copy from the Tavern.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind while cruising towards victory: First, watch out for undesired triples. It can be awkward to turn your buffed up Nightmare Amalgam pair into a single golden copy by accident. Second, don’t get too confident with the Hero Power too early. If you do not actually kill any minions, you do not get a copy. This can happen in the very first turns, but not really after that.
A. F. Kay
A. F. Kay cannot perform any actions on the first two turns, and has to just passively wait and take the damage without a board of her own. However, damage is low in the early turns, and turn three is an immense power spike for the Hero, because she gets to Discover two minions for free, and those minions are from Tavern Tier 3. These minions set up your strategy for the game and often win the next couple of turns while you catch up on Tavern Tiers.
Tier 2: Very Strong Heroes
These Heroes are very strong, but their Hero Powers are slightly less powerful than those of the Tier 1 Heroes. Early tempo and snowballing to victory has proven to be extremely important in Battlegrounds, and these Heroes sometimes lack the means to make the most out of those opportunities. They have major strengths, and when they can play with those, they can easily win games.
Nefarian’s Hero Power deals one point of area-of-effect damage to all enemy minions for one gold. It is phenomenal in the late game, because at that point you often face multiple huge minions with Divine Shields, and it can take all of those away from the opponent. Because it costs only one gold, it is also easy to weave into various turns in the mid-game to give you an edge to conserve your Health for later. Nefarian’s main weakness is lack of early tempo, but it is a beast later in the game.
Dancin’ Deryl is one of the most difficult Heroes to play. It has the potential to give substantial buffs to minions, but it can be difficult to set up the Tavern so that you get the buffs to land on just the right minion. You can use token generators such as Alleycat and Murloc Tidehunter to give you more minions to sell (yes, the tokens count as full minions too) and you can buy minions from the Tavern just to resell them back so that there are fewer options left to help you land the buffs on just the right minion. Despite the wording on the Hero Power, both +1/+1 buffs can land on the same minion, so if you only leave one minion in the Tavern, you can buff it up a lot in a single turn.
Patchwerk has a larger Health pool than the other Heroes, and this allows you to play a more greedy game early on and develop towards your late-game win condition faster. Damage scales up very high in Battlegrounds, so if you’re weaker than others in the late game, your 10 Health advantage might buy you just a single extra turn. It is all about building for the long-term early on when the damage is still relatively low: going greedy and entering the late game after taking 30 damage is a completely different experience when you’re at 20 Health or at 10 Health.
While you generally do not aim to go for Demons in the game, Patchwerk is the best Hero to go for them if the opportunity presents itself. Wrath Weavers deal a bunch of damage to you early on before you find Mal’Ganis on Tavern Tier 5, and Annihilan Battlemasters gain more Health the more damage you have taken during the game, and all of this benefits greatly from Patchwerk’s larger Health pool. If you find a Wrath Weaver together with a Floating Watcher, you can have multiple growing threats on the board, and may even skip Mal’Ganis altogether, because it prevents Floating Watcher from growing further.
The Rat King
The Rat King offers some of the most powerful passive stat bonuses available in the game. However, there is a catch: the tribe it offers bonuses to swaps randomly each turn. There are The Rat King games where you pick up buffed minions for a single-tribe strategy, usually including Nightmare Amalgam for some additional flexibility, and there are The Rat King games where you build a menagerie board of various tribes and multi-tribe buff minions.
Alas, there are also The Rat King games where you cannot roll the right tribes on the right turns and get very little benefit from the Hero Power. Even the very first turn can go multiple ways: because you cannot afford to refresh the minions offered on turn one, you either get a +1/+1 buffed Beast for a strong early game, or you get no benefit whatsoever. There is a lot of strategy involved with optimizing your gains from The Rat King, but there is also plenty of variance.
The Curator gains an immediate advantage early in the game from having a 1/1 Amalgam as a starting minion. This means that it can often win early turns by virtue of having that extra body on the board. However, its advantage is not limited to early turns, because the Amalgam has all minion types and can be buffed by anything. Nightmare Amalgam is one of the strongest minions in the game, because it can be buffed into a huge Poisonous minion with Taunt and Divine Shield, and The Curator basically gets a copy of it for free, even if it only starts with 1/1 stats (later in the game, when you buff them a lot, the few stat points won’t make a big difference anyway). The Curator’s success largely depends on how well it can take advantage of its free Amalgam: if it finds a menagerie or buff-based composition, it can run away with the game.
Mechs are a strong tribe, and Millificent’s Hero Power adds more attack to your Mechs. You often want to Magnetize to buff up your Mechs, and Millificent adds another +1 Attack on each Magnetization as well. Her Hero Power used to also add Health, at which time Millificent was a top tier Hero. Now that it only adds Attack, she can still be useful, but finding Divine Shield Mechs has become more important for her success.
Tier 3: There Is Still Some Power Here
These Heroes have some major strengths under the right circumstances, but their overall power level cannot quite match that of the higher tier minions. Either they are situational or just generally less powerful, but their Hero Powers can and do win games.
The Recruitment Map created by Elise’s Hero Power is a three-gold spell to Discover a minion from the Tavern Tier you just upgraded to: when you upgrade to Tier 2, you get a spell to Discover a Tier 2 minion, Tier 3 gives a spell to Discover a Tier 3 minion, and so on.
It is a common misconception to compare this to refreshing your Tavern. In fact, Discovering a minion from a specific Tier is immensely more powerful than refreshing your Tavern, because you are not guaranteed to see minions from a specific Tier, much less three of them at once. Discovering gets even better the higher the Tier: on Tier 6, a single Discover is more likely to find a specific Tier 6 minion than more than a dozen refreshes.
The key to success with Elise is to use your Discover spells to find strong minions that you can build your strategy around.
Sindragosa is at its strongest in the early game. For the first few turns, you should simply stay frosty. Sure, you buy a minion on the first turn, but you also want to freeze the others. If you keep freezing the minions you are offered, you can buy the two that have been there since the beginning with a +2/+2 buff on both on the third turn, and you can buy even more buffed minions on the fourth turn. Minion stats are very important at this stage of the game, and you get a very strong early board that allows you ample time to transition to your late game army.
Lich Baz’hial’s Hero Power gives you Coins in hand and allows you to store your gold for future use. Baz’hial’s Hero Power does not cost any gold itself but instead deals two points of damage to you upon use. You want to grab a Coin every turn in the early game and use them quickly to gain a tempo advantage.
Baz’hial is a high-risk, high-reward Hero. Just a few uses of the Hero Power drain a significant portion of your Health, so you need to find good minions quickly as you cannot afford to lose battles in the mid-game. On the other hand, a strong board that wins battles can put you far ahead of the opposition. Baz’hial’s synergy with Mal’ganis is hilarious because then you can simply make gold out of thin air as your Hero is immune to damage. As a downside, Demons are already a tribe that results in lots of self-damage, so it is easy to kill yourself with all the damage from both your minions and your Hero Power long before you see a glimpse of Mal’Ganis.
Lord Jaraxxus’ Bloodfury is a powerful effect: you can buff your board by up to +7/+7 overall, and that is no joke. At two mana, it is possible to weave the Hero Power into your turns often in the mid-game. Its main limitation is that it only applies to Demons, which are a mediocre tribe.
This does not mean that you cannot have good games as Lord Jaraxxus. A bunch of early-game Demons on their way to being tripled, buffed turn after turn by the Hero Power, can form a powerful board. It is just difficult to pull it off consistently because you need to find a good number of Demons early in the game to really make them great.
Ragnaros the Firelord
Ragnaros the Firelord does exactly what one might expect from it: it shoots giant fireballs at the opponent’s minions. While the targets are random, eight damage is nothing to scoff at, especially when it hits two minions. In the late game, Ragnaros is surprisingly effective at sniping Scavenging Hyenas, Mama Bears, and Junkbots before the battle even begins properly, and even when it fails to hit them, it often takes out a Divine Shield or two. In the mid-game, any excess gold you have can turn into won battles, because at that stage most minions just die to the fireballs.
Obviously, there is randomness involved with Ragnaros, and sometimes you just can’t hit the right targets. Furthermore, sometimes the late-game boards get so big that eight damage only scratches the minions. These factors keep Ragnaros from reaching the top tiers.
The Lich King
The Lich King can help protect your key minions. You generally want to give Reborn either to an important Deathrattle minion or to a growing threat that you want to protect from accidental early death. Scavenging Hyena or Junkbot with Reborn can be really scary.
Shudderwock is the Hero to go for if you want to build some giant Pogo-Hoppers. Stay on a low-tier Tavern (Pogo-Hopper is a tier two minion) and keep those Pogos coming! While not a top-tier strategy, it can be hilarious when it works.
Shudderwock is more than memes though, as it can also be used to double up powerful buff Battlecries, such as Menagerie Magician, later in the game. Because the effect costs two gold for each Battlecry you want to trigger twice, it is difficult to afford it early in the game.
Note that the Hero Power does not stack with the effect of Brann Bronzebeard, it is the exact same effect. Therefore, every Hero has some access to Shudderwock’s ability, and Brann does not need a separate activation each time, although it takes up board space. You cannot always find Brann though, whereas Shudderwock can always activate its power on demand.
George the Fallen
George the Fallen has a strong late-game Hero Power: it can grant minions Divine Shields at will, and Divine Shields applied in the Tavern are permanent and carry over to future turns. Improving the survivability of your key minions, such as Mama Bear, Junkbot, or Scavenging Hyena, and getting to do that for multiple minions can result in some very strong boards.
The downside of George’s Hero Power is that it costs a whopping four gold, more than any other Hero Power in the game. This makes it unusable for much of the game, and only a late-game asset. If you can make it to the late game, you have an edge, but you get no help on the way there.
The Great Akazamzarak
The Great Akazamzarak brings a unique Hearthstone mechanic into Battlegrounds: Secrets. Every time you use Akazamzarak’s Hero Power, you get to discover a Secret and put it in play. If the Secret is not triggered during a battle, it carries over to the next turn. Because battles tend to be back-and-forth affairs, most Secrets are triggered immediately in the next battle, but sometimes you can set things up so that you get to keep them for longer.
Notably, Akazamzarak can discover Ice Block, which only triggers when you take lethal damage, preventing the damage. This can help you buy time and go for greedier strategies if you discover it early in the game. You can also get other powerful Secrets, such as Splitting Image (creates a copy of your minion when one is attacked, only triggers if you have enough board space for an additional minion) and Autodefense Matrix (gives your minion Divine Shield when one is attacked).
While The Great Akazamzarak’s powers may lean slightly into being cute more than deadly, Secrets can and will win games when you are able to find the right ones and use them properly.
Sylvanas can destroy your minions in order to buff your other minions. Her Hero Power is a targeted effect, so you can position the victim between the two minions you want to buff and execute them on the spot for two +1/+1 buffs to the adjacent minions. The Hero Power is nominally free, but you lose a minion that you could have sold for one gold. Losing a minion means that Sylvanas’ Hero Power is difficult if not impossible to use in the early game when you are still building up your board, and it only truly comes online in the mid-game. At that stage, +1/+1 is still nice, but not nearly as good as it is in the first few turns. This lack of tempo keeps Sylvanas from reaching the top tiers.
Tier 4: Life Could Be Better
These Heroes have some glaring weaknesses or lack of power. Even they can win high-MMR games in the right circumstances, but you need to work hard for it, and sometimes simply ignore their Hero Power altogether.
Sir Finley Mrrgglton
Sir Finley can give a random minion +1/+1, and with enough minions to sell, it can do so several times in a single turn. The effect just is not powerful enough to allow Sir Finley shine: it is difficult to use it a lot early on when +1/+1 is still a big deal, and later in the game, it is often less powerful than simply using another Battlecry minion.
Infinite Toki can grant you a huge advantage with her Hero Power: when you refresh the Tavern with your Hero Power, you are offered one additional minion that is guaranteed to be from the next tier. Early in the game, you are guaranteed to be offered a Tavern Tier 3 minion when your opponents can find tier 2 minions at best. Late in the game, you can get guaranteed Tavern Tier 6 minions on Tavern Tier 5. This is especially significant, because you are usually not guaranteed to see any minions from your highest available tier! Even a tier 6 Tavern does not guarantee that you see any tier 6 minions.
Nonetheless, Toki is not a guaranteed success. If you make it to the late game and get to start rolling those tier 6 minions, there is a good chance that you can find a Mama Bear, for example. However, in the early game, there are lots of minions that are not worth buying even if they are from a higher tier, so you may not gain any advantage from the Hero Power. When stars align just right, Toki can be unstoppable, but she is weak in the early game, and that can prove to be fatal.
Queen Wagtoggle can buff up your minions, at least a little. If you can set up a menagerie board, you can get up to four Health for your board per turn for just one gold, and at such a low cost, it is easy to use the Hero Power a lot. However, it takes a while before those incremental buffs show major results, and because attack is not buffed, your minions may lack the punch needed to push through. It is also important to find minions that you want to hold on to so that you get to keep the buffs: if you keep selling your buffed minions, the effect is short-lived.
Queen Wagtoggle is generally at her best in the early game, where a small Health advantage can result in won battles. Unless you can find a good menagerie composition early on, her Hero Power starts to fall behind as the game goes on.
December 6, 2019
- Edwin Vancleef, Sylvanas Windrunner, and Arch-Villain Rafaam were added to the Hero pool
- Patches the Pirate, Bartendotron, Pyramad, Professor Putricide, and Trade Prince Gallywix were removed from the Hero pool
- Millificent Manastorm (nerfed from +1/+1 to Mechs to +1 Attack to Mechs) and Lich Baz’hial (buffed from 3 damage for a Coin to 2 damage for a Coin) were returned to the Hero pool
- Patchwerk – Starts at 50 Health (was 60). Moved from T1 to T2.
- A. F. Kay – Discovers two tier 3 minions (was one tier 3 and one tier 4). Stays in T1.
- The Rat King – Hero power buffs a specific tribe that changes each turn by +1/+1 (was +1/+2). Moved from T1 to T2.
- The Great Akazamzarak – Harder to discover consecutive Ice Blocks, Hand of Salvation removed. Stays in T3.
November 20, 2019
- Millificent Manastorm, King Mukla, Lich Baz’hial, and Giantfin were removed from the Hero pool. They may return later, possibly with some changes.
- Brann Bronzebeard, Elise Starseeker, Sindragosa, and Sir Finley Mrrgglton were added to the Hero pool.