Open Beta of Hearthstone Battlegrounds has launched today! It’s a new, free to play Auto Battler game mode. While some of the players had a week of head start thanks to the early access, everyone can play it now. Because of that extra week, they had an opportunity to learn the game better. And so did I. Throughout the last week, I played dozens of games and stayed in Top 200 most of the time (proof). I wanted to share some tips with new players that will just start today, especially those who haven’t watched hours of streams. Some of the advice will be specifically targeted at new players, others might be useful for those who already played the game too. I’ll divide them into a few categories, so they’re easier to read. I hope you will find them useful!
Minions combat is the very base of Battlegrounds matches. You will fight against random people very round, and whoever wins gets to deal damage to the opponent. Damage is calculated this way: your Tavern Tier + Tier of every minion that is left alive. In the early game, you will usually end up doing (or taking) 2-5 damage, but as the game goes by, 20+ can happen too.
Minions attack in a very predictable pattern, something you absolutely need to be aware of. Minions always attack from left to right, alternating between yours and opponent’s. There’s a 50% chance which player will attack first, so it’s best to prepare for both possibilities. Minions always attack a random target – the only exception are Taunts, which are prioritized. If your opponent has only a single Taunt, your minions will 100% prioritize it. If he has 3 of them, there’s a 1/3 chance to attack one of them at random. Because of that, minion positioning is incredibly important.
When picking your first few minions, do not think about the long term game plan yet. The only exception is Demons – you want to get Wrath Weaver as early as possible to keep stacking the buff. Other than that, don’t sweat it – for the first few turns you just want to pick the strongest stuff from every tribe.
When it comes to 1-drops, minions that summon a token (Murloc Tidehunter, Alleycat) are extra valuable. That’s because even if you don’t end up going for that specific tribe in the end, you can still sell them at only 1 gold loss (compared to 2 gold loss of single minions).
Nightmare Amalgam is overpowered. If you see him in the early/mid game, PICK HIM. No matter what strategy you’re going for. He’s incredibly strong, because he gives you flexibility – Battlegrounds is all about tribes, and Amalgam has all of them at the same time. Which means that when you get him early, you can keep him around when going for any strategy. He’s also crucial when doing Menagerie (multi tribe) strategy, since he can substitute for whatever tribe you’re missing. In Menagerie builds, it’s so good to the point that you don’t want to triple it – you’d rather have two separate ones so they can catch more buffs.
In Battlegrounds, there are two kinds of buffs – temporary and permanent. There’s a simple way to tell which is which. Any buffs that happen during combat are temporary – they will disappear after the combat is over. However, any buffs that happen during your Tavern visits are permanent and will last until the match is over (or until you sell the minion, at least). Both of them are very important – temporary buffs are great way to snowball during the combat with certain strategies (e.g. Beasts – Scavenging Hyena or Mechs – Junkbot.
Triples are a very important part of Battlegrounds. Once you get your third copy of a given minion, it goes back to your hand and upgrades itself. It has double the base stats, and any effects present are also double. This is great for two reasons – first of all, board space is incredibly important, and combining two minions into one frees up one board slot. The second reason is that once you play the upgraded minion, you get an extra card in your hand. For no extra cost, you can discover minion from a higher Tavern Tier – e.g. when you’re on Tier 4, you get a card to discover something out of Tier 5. It’s the best way to get higher tier minions early, and a good way to settle on a certain strategy if you find a key card. Because of that, you might want to upgrade your Tavern first before going for a triple minion.
Board space is the main late game limitation in Battlegrounds. You can only have up to 7 minions at the same time. That’s why you cannot go for a wide board strategy – while it’s good in the early game, after you hit the limit, the only way to get stronger is going big. That’s why Battlecry and Magnetic minions are so strong and a vital part of every strategy. If you play them and then sell their (usually small) body – you still got the effect and increased your overall power without taking another board slot. Those minions are the reason why filling your board completely is not good – you always want to have a board slot open so you can play more of them. Of course – if it’s the last Battlecry minion you’re playing for the turn, you should (usually) leave him for the combat and sell next turn after you already spent some gold and found another Battlecry/Magnetic you want to play.
If you’re looking for the best Heroes, check out our Tier List here! We also have a quick guide for each one of them. But I’ll still cover some more general tips.
When picking a Hero, you’re soft committing to a certain strategy. For example, picking Millificent Manastorm means that you want to play Mechs, Giantfin = Murlocs, King Mukla = Beasts, Queen Wagtoggle = multiple tribes etc. If you prioritize strategy that synergizes with your Hero, you’re going to get extra benefits. But the reason I’ve said SOFT committing is because you don’t need to absolutely force it if it doesn’t work. When you pick Millificent, but you aren’t getting any good Mechs, but you for example got some great Murloc synergies… just go for Murlocs. It might seem counter-intuitive, but trying to force a strategy when you’re not getting any good cards is a bad idea. You will most likely end up with a weak setup and lose early. But in this case, Murlocs can easily carry you into Top 4 – you might not win the whole thing, but reaching #4 is already better than losing. Not to mention that you can still switch up your strategy later – even if you’re playing Murlocs now but you manage to pick up a few strong Mechs along the way, you can go back to the strategy that fits your Hero.
Health is very important – every Hero starts at 40 (with an exception of Patchwerk, who starts at 60 thanks to his Hero Power – and he’s considered to be one of the better Heroes) and that’s NOT very much. Lots of players are wrongly thinking that taking 10 or even 20 damage early is nothing and they can be greedy instead. While being greedy might sometimes pay off if you get lucky, in general lots of players (especially at higher rating) are very aggressive – that 20 health loss can easily turn into a quick defeat if you get to face someone who was going all in early. Try to preserve as much health as possible, since there is no way to heal. You will inevitably end up taking some damage, but even if going for greedy strategy with quick Tavern Upgrades, you still want to grab some stronger minions along the way. The thing is that players who went for a very aggressive start can then take a few slower turns and go for upgrades, while a greedy player might struggle for his life and will have to start buying things quickly. So in the end, they might end up with a similar board state and Tavern Tier, but a greedy player will have much less health.
You want to ignore a lot of active Hero Powers in the early / mid game. Sure, if you pick Ragnaros, you can easily win some early combats with your Hero Power alone. But it will cost you a lot – you will use gold that you would rather spend or more useful stuff (like re-rolling to find the right minions). So while you might win some early matches thanks to it, early wins don’t really mean that much. Sure – you can save yourself some life, but if you end up with a weak board because you wasted so much gold, this strategy will quickly bite you back. Hero Powers that you DO NOT want to use until late game involve any kinds of temporary advantages, like damage (Patches, Nefarian) or temporary buffs (Professor Putricide, The Lich King). In the early / mid game, use them only when you have 1-2 gold leftover after freezing the board.
On the other hand, other Hero Powers are made to be used in the early game. Lich Baz’hial is a good example – it’s a Hero Power that can let you “ramp” in the early game, but gets useless as the time goes by (health gets much more important and a single piece of gold is irrelevant). Another Hero Power made for the early game is Yogg’s. Not only you can snatch a buffed minion on T1, it also makes your T3 much stronger (normally being at 5 gold is awkward – with Yogg you can Hero Power + buy a minion). On top of those, Hero Powers that you don’t mind using in the early / mid game are those that give you some sort of permanent advantage. Anything that buffs your minions (e.g. Lord Jaraxxus, Pyramad, George the Fallen) can be useful, but there’s a catch. They are useful IF you plan to keep the minion around. For example, using Pyramad’s Hero Power in the early game is often counter-productive, since you’re usually selling your first minions in the mid game anyway. The best idea is to use them only if you know that you will be keeping those minions around for longer. Otherwise an extra re-roll (or even a few) is a better way to spend that gold (unless, of course, you have some left-over gold after freezing board).
While it’s very simplified compared to other Auto Battlers, economy still plays a very important role in this game. When in Tavern, you can spend gold in three ways – buy minions, re-roll available minions or upgrade your Tavern Tier. You need to balance between all three correctly. Buying minions is the most powerful move – you increase strength of your current board and have a higher chance to win your current games. Re-rolling wastes the gold, but lets you find the minions you’re looking for, the ones that will fit into your strategy. And upgrading your Tavern means that you’re going to see more powerful minions, which is a HUGE gold sink, but something you need to do. Each one of them is equally important – focusing on only one while ignoring the others will most likely lead to a quick defeat. Even if you play an aggressive strategy, you don’t want to ignore Tavern upgrades. And vice versa, if you’re aiming at the late game, focusing only on Tavern upgrades and staying with a weak board is a sure way to never see that late game.
Try to plan ahead when it comes to Tavern Upgrades. Remember that each turn, the cost of upgrade is down by 1 gold, which is especially important for those expensive, high cost Tavern Tiers. If you plan to upgrade your Tavern next turn, instead of re-rolling a lot try to get a stronger board this turn to not lose too much health. If you have a weak board and THEN you still go for an upgrade, you will take too much damage. Also, try to plan your Tavern upgrades when they’re gold efficient – e.g. it’s really good if you can buy an upgrade and still have 3 gold left to buy a minion (for example when your’re at 9 gold and your Tavern upgrade costs 6).
The number of minions present in the Tavern increases as you upgrade it. You start with three and go up by one on every even Tier. T2 – 4 minions, T4 – 5 minions, T6 – 6 minions. I’d say that upgrading to T4 is the most important one, given that you will see more minions with every re-roll AND that tier has a lot of strong picks.
In general, don’t be afraid to sell a small/weak minion (like a token generated from T1 minions) if it will give you an immediate advantage! For example, if you’re at 5 gold and you see two good minions you want to pick, it’s usually worth to get rid of your worst minion and pick both. You would most likely sell it sooner or later anyway, and if you didn’t spend all your gold, you would end up in an awkward spot. You have 2 gold left and a minion you want to pick – what to do? You can freeze, but then you waste 2 gold (unless you have some Hero Power you can use, but like I’ve said in the Heroes section, you don’t really need most of them in the early/mid game). You can also go for re-rolls, but then you give up on a minion you want to pick. Most of the time, the best strategy there is to sell your weakest minion and then buy whatever you need. While it’s often impossible in the late game, because you have no “weakest minion”, in the early and mid game you should easily be able to get rid of some vanilla minion (like a simple 3/3 with no effect) just to buy something immediately. Being gold efficient is very important, wasting resources is never good.
But which strategies are best, exactly? We’ll have a more detailed guide for different ones soon, but I’ll still cover some tips & tricks for different strategies.
First and most importantly, you want to ask yourself a question – are you going for a Top 4 finisher or a win? Because your strategy might vary depending on your goals. In general, aggressive strategies are the best way to guarantee Top 4 finish. In the early game, instead of looking for specific synergies, you want to go for a strong start with every good minion that you find. You also don’t go for early Tavern Tier ups, instead you want to buy more stuff and get a stronger board. Your goal is to not lose health (win combats), while taking out as much health from your opponents. In the mid game you can settle for one good tribe and that should carry you to the late game. At the same time, aggressive strategies will fall off after the mid game. You will slowly start losing combats, but you should have enough health advantage that others will be knocked first. When Aggro strat is performed correctly, you have a solid shot at getting #4 or even #3, but rarely higher (unless you find some great opportunity to transition into a late game strat). On the other hand, there’s a late game start, which means that ever since the mid game you’re already trying to build towards a strong late game. Your main goal is to get your Tavern up to T5 as quickly as possible – this way you will get access to every single minion (T5 through rolls and T6 through Discovers from Triples). You want to find your key cards, such as Lightfang or Mama Bear as soon as possible. At the same time, given that you had to Tavern Up and then roll a lot, there’s a high chance that you will be on average weaker than your opponents – which means that you will lose health. After you find the right minions, it should take you extra few turns to take off. I was often at less than 5 health after finally getting all the pieces together, and then I proceeded to win the game from that point, since people could no longer beat me. Of course, you can also go for something in between, because matches are rarely that straightforward and it really depends on the Heroes you face, how strong your opponents are early etc.
Besides picking whether you want to go for a faster or slower strategy, you also want to pick a tribe you will be focusing on. Tribes are incredibly important in Battlegrounds, most of the synergies are based around them and you simply simply can’t build a “Neutral” deck. Like I’ve already mentioned earlier, this is NOT a decision you have to make early – during your first turns just go for some stronger minions from every tribe, which leaves good transitioning opportunities in the mid game. Pigeonholing yourself into one tribe is good only if you pick a Hero that supports given tribe, or when you get some insane minions from that tribe early.
In general, Mechs are considered to be the strongest tribe. Both Beasts and Mengaerie (multi-tribe) have a better late game potential, but they rely heavily on specific cards to take off (Mama Bear in case of Beasts and Lightfang in case of Menagerie). That’s why Mechs are #1, because they’re most consistent, but if you found the key cards for other strategies quite early, you should consider switching, because they will often beat Mechs in the long game. Demons and Murlocs have solid early and mid game – if you find the right cards, you can easily dominate those stages. However, they fall off heavily in the late game. Demons don’t have a great way to buff stats to insane levels, no easy access to Poisonous, Divine Shields or Cleave (which are all premium effects). Murlocs, on the other hand, rely HEAVILY on getting Gentle Megasaur (6*) and getting the right roll. If they manage to hit Divine Shield and/or Poisonous, then they can beat basically every other strat, but the problem is that they usually lose before that happens. There are also other strategies, such as Battlecry strat with Brann, Deathhrattle start with Rivendare etc. but they’re more rare and new players shouldn’t worry about them yet (if you want to be successful with those, you really need to know what you’re doing).
However, not only there is a limited number of each minion (more for lower tiers, less for higher tiers), but the pool is shared with other players. It means that going for a highly contested strategy (usually Mechs) gives you a lower chance to pick key cards. It means that worse strategies, such as Demons or Murlocs, still have some merit to them – simply because it will be much easier to find the right cards when no one is going after them.