The guide was updated, taking the recent Mysterious Stranger nerfs into account.
There are literally trillions of possible party compositions in Hearthstone Mercenaries, but gaining access to them all is not fast. If you’re like me, you may have casually strolled your way through the Mercenaries storyline, and in Winterspring you arrive at the realization that your party perhaps just isn’t that great. Or maybe you start finding human opponents in PvP, and they just roll over you with their party synergy. Or perhaps you’re just getting started and wonder how to catch up as quickly as possible.
In this guide, we will take a look at how to level up and upgrade your Mercenaries. What are the most effective ways to gain experience? How will you get the Coins to upgrade the skills of your favorite Mercenary? What if you want to level up one Mercenary or an entire party?
Mercenaries Leveling in General
In the grand scheme of things, getting to level 30 is inconsequential. It feels like an important part of the journey, but your Mercenary is still a fledgling at level 30. You still want to unlock all of their equipment (from tasks 2 and 7) and upgrade their abilities and equipment. You are able to carry some low-level Mercenaries in your party while you farm for equipment and tasks, and all of them will reach level 30 easily during the task farm.
However, it is useful to know some details of how experience works in Mercenaries:
- The amount of experience you get from a battle depends on the level of the battle (a higher level battle gives more experience). Heroic mode and PvP give additional bonuses.
- Every Mercenary in your party receives the same amount of experience from the battle whether they fight or sit on the bench the whole time.
- The amount of experience your Mercenaries get does not depend on the party size – there is usually no reason to use a party with fewer than six Mercenaries.
- PvP is the fastest way to gain experience, but because you also want tasks for your Mercenaries, it is generally not the best way to level up. You can mix in some PvP battles to complete tasks and have a more varied experience. Note that for PvP, you only get experience for wins.
Reported leveling times for full parties from level 1 to level 30 range from three hours (PvP against the AI, winning almost every battle) to around seven hours (first-time PvE bounties gameplay).
What Is the Best Way to Level up a New Party of Mercenaries?
If it is your first party, I recommend playing through the campaign even though PvP is faster. You can mix in some PvP battles, especially to get the first daily win for Coins (since further wins get less efficient). Playing through the campaign unlocks all bounties for future bounty farming and gives you your first Mercenary tasks.
Some of the Mercenaries you are offered at the start are really good. In particular, the trio Cariel Roame, Blademaster Samuro, and Xyrella can blast through most normal bounties. Once you get to task farming, level 30 Blademaster Samuro and Millhouse Manastorm form a good duo that can carry your new Mercenaries. These Mercenaries can be good options to level up first unless you have access to some of the most powerful Legendary Mercenaries.
Once you have some level 30 Mercenaries, you will want to level your future Mercenaries while grinding through tasks. You essentially get all the levels while doing things you would do anyway.
You’re Not Done at Level 30…
Here comes the hard part. You can get your Mercenaries to level 30 with reasonable effort, but you are far from done. Upgrading the abilities of your Mercenaries and acquiring appropriate equipment for them is crucial, especially for high-level PvP and end-game Heroic bounties.
Each Mercenary has access to three pieces of equipment. You get one of them for reaching level 30, and the other two come from progressing through your Mercenary’s task chain. Tasks are offered by daily visitors, but you can also get tasks for Mercenaries in your current party from the Mystery encounters in bounties. Therefore, you should take the Mystery route to progress the tasks of your Mercenary already while you are leveling. If you see a Mystery node on the map, always plan your route through it.
Many tasks require you to actually play with the Mercenary, so they are only useful when you use the Mercenary on the field. In particular, the first three tasks introduce you to the Mercenary’s abilities and require you to use them. For each Mercenary, task 5 requires them to reach level 30 and complete a bounty. Beyond that, many of the generic tasks can be completed even without having the Mercenary in your party. For example, the task to visit Spirit Healer can be completed with any party going through the Spirit Healer nodes in bounties.
Your Mercenary’s task chain will give you Mercenary Coins, some of which are guaranteed to be for the Mercenary whose task you are completing. However, these will not be enough to fully upgrade a Mercenary. You need 475 Coins to fully upgrade one ability, so that’s 1425 Coins to upgrade all three abilities of a single Mercenary. Some of the equipment can also be upgraded, and it costs 425 Coins to fully upgrade one piece of equipment. Some equipment cannot be upgraded, but if a Mercenary has three upgradeable equipment options, it takes 2700 Coins to fully upgrade everything.
For high-level PvP, there is a lot of grinding ahead. For anything else, the upgrades have diminishing returns: you generally want your abilities to level three to get the most value for your Coins. That’s 175 Coins (50+125) per ability, so 525 Coins per Mercenary. Further upgrades are good, but not essential. However, for some Mercenaries, the abilities become faster with each level, so upgrading to level five is actually important. The Lich King and Sylvanas are examples of such Mercenaries.
To fully max your Mercenary, you will want to grind tasks for equipment and Coins.
How to Farm Tasks for Equipment and Coins
With a fully upgraded Campfire, you get four Mercenary tasks per day. This is a tiny number compared to how many you can farm from bounties: people have grinded through more than 60 tasks per day.
While task farming, you enter a bounty and work your way to the bounty’s Mystery node. If you find a Mysterious Stranger, you will get to choose a task for one of the Mercenaries in your party. It works like Discover in regular Hearthstone: you are offered a choice between three Mercenaries in your party who do not already have an active task. After you have opened the Mystery node, you retire your run (View Party – Retire) and start again. Rinse and repeat.
Your Campfire determines the number of tasks you can have at once. You start with two tasks and a fully upgraded Campfire allows four active tasks. If you visit a Mysterious Stranger while your task log is full, you will get 15 Coins for the Mercenary you choose instead of a new task. This is sometimes used to get Coins for a specific Mercenary by keeping a full task log while farming. Note that you are only offered tasks for Mercenaries who have not completed their entire task chain and have no active task. There are 18 tasks for each Mercenary, so do not complete the last one if you want to farm Coins for them. You will get enough random Coins to max all of your Rare Mercenaries eventually, so this only applies to Epic and Legendary Mercenaries.
After the Air Elemental nerf, the best task farm locations are in Felwood.
There are at least four viable task farming bounties: Felwood’s last two encounters in either normal or Heroic. My personal preference is Lord Banehollow in normal.
If the Mystery node is too far away, you can retire your bounty immediately to reroll the map. In normal Lord Banehollow, I would reroll until I get a Mystery node that is one or two battles away from the start. In Heroic, I would reroll until the Mystery node is between one and three battles away from the start.
The cheapest farming group consists of Blademaster Samuro and Millhouse Manastorm with Arcane Explosion equipment. Millhouse uses Arcane Explosion and Blademaster Samuro uses Double Strike. If needed, Millhouse finishes off anything that remains with another Arcane Explosion. With these two, you can bring four other Mercenaries to a normal bounty to get levels and tasks.
For Heroic, I would prefer a stronger farming team. For example, a fire team with Antonidas, Baron Geddon, and Ragnaros is strong, as is a holy team with Xyrella, Anduin, and Velen.
How to Farm Coins without Tasks
If you have completed all tasks for a Mercenary and still want to farm more Coins for them, you can form a party with only that Mercenary. Then enter one of the easiest Barrens bounties and fight through it. In the end, you will get 5-10 Coins for a random Mercenary in your party. Because you only have one Mercenary in your party, the Coins will always be for them. Note that farming Coins through tasks is faster than going through an entire bounty.
The Mercenary Coins part of progress can be skipped with the most powerful card of them all, the credit card. Mercenary Packs include Coins, so a boatload of packs would give you enough Coins for all your needs. You still need to complete tasks to get equipment, but that is only up to task seven for each Mercenary.
Mercenaries can be a grindy game if you want to unlock everything. It is good to keep in mind that you generally do not need absolutely everything unlocked, and can take your time for the final upgrades. I hope that these tips and tricks help you to achieve good progress with reasonable effort!