There is a lot to do in the single-player Hearthstone Mercenaries PvE experience, but the game mode also includes a robust PvP system. In this guide, we will show you how to access the PvP mode, what rewards there are for PvP, and how PvP battles differ from your regular bounty runs against the computer.
How to Unlock Mercenaries PvP
Hearthstone Mercenaries PvP battles are found in the Fighting Pit in your Village. To build a Fighting Pit, you must complete the Barak Kodobane (level 13) bounty in the Barrens. It also costs 100 Gold – the same Gold you use to buy card packs – to build a Fighting Pit.
Mercenaries PvP Rewards
PvP in Hearthstone Mercenaries can be ruthless: if you lose a battle, you get nothing. No progress, no Coins, no experience for your party.
However, if you win a battle, your team receives a fair bit more experience than you would from running bounties. For example, winning your first battle with a full level 1 team instantly levels the entire team to level 5. Overall, your Mercenaries can expect to level up slightly faster through PvP than through PvE, even though losses give you nothing.
You also get reward chests full of coins when you win PvP battles. These chests contain around 100 Mercenary Coins each, so they are around twice as good as the chests you get from bounties. You get a chest for your first win every day, then another chest after two more wins, then another chest after three more wins, and so on. Therefore, winning at least one PvP battle every day gives you the best rewards. After opening your first chest, the second one gives you only 1/2 of the rewards per win, the third one 1/3 and so on.
You also get coin chest rewards for improving your PvP rating, starting at 1000 rating.
Mercenaries PvP Matchmaking
Hearthstone Mercenaries has the most complex matchmaking system Blizzard has made so far. In your regular Hearthstone game modes, opponents are chosen based on matchmaking rating (skill), and nothing else. In Mercenaries, your party plays a major role in any success you can have. Accordingly, the matchmaking system takes into account your rating, but also the levels of your Mercenaries, their abilities and equipment, and their roles. If the system cannot find a good match for you, it will pit you against an AI team that should provide an appropriate challenge. In practice, the AI opponents can be defeated far more often than not, but they are not complete pushovers. Once your rating reaches 7000, you will no longer meet any AI opponents.
This matchmaking system makes it possible to enter PvP with any team and level up your Mercenaries through PvP. You don’t need a maxed out team in order to try yourself against other players (or AI).
Note that the importance of your Mercenary abilities is much smaller when you enter PvP with a full max-level team. Max-level PvP matchmaking is more focused on your rating than on your team.
Mercenaries PvP Battles in Practice
There are some important differences between PvP battles and PvE battles.
In a PvP battle, both players have a team of six Mercenaries, of which three are in the battle at the same time. The other three start on the bench and are brought in as replacements when Mercenaries on the field fall. The battle is over when all of the Mercenaries on one of the teams have been defeated.
At the start of the battle, both players choose their starting lineup without knowing the starting lineup of their opponent. You do not know which Mercenaries are in your opponent’s team, either. However, you get a basic role rundown, which can help you decide which Mercenaries to start with. You can see the roles in the opposing team on the right side of the board. In this example, the opposing team consists of one protector and five casters, so they are quite weak to fighters, no matter which Mercenaries they start with!
During the battle, you see the roles of the Mercenaries remaining on your opponent’s bench. This can help you evaluate which replacements your opponent is likely to play next, and plan your own accordingly.
In a PvE battle, you can see what abilities your opponent has queued, so you can calculate exactly what will happen each turn (apart from abilities that happen at the same speed or have some inherent random effects). In a PvP battle, you cannot see what your opponent is about to do, so you need to predict their actions and choose your own actions accordingly. Unfortunately, the native user interface does not show you the abilities your opponent’s Mercenaries have, so you would need to know the abilities of all Mercenaries by heart to make informed choices. Deck trackers added a list of Mercenary abilities to their interfaces already on the first day, so if you use a deck tracker, you can more easily have a rough idea of what your opponent can do. You still cannot see exactly what they have upgraded though.
Combos are useful in a PvE battle, but they are even more important in PvP. Therefore, it is even more important to know timing details. In particular, while the order of abilities of the same speed between you and your opponent is random, the order of abilities of the same speed within your own team is not! When you choose two abilities of the same speed for a battle round, they are used in the order that you choose them. The ability that you choose first will happen first. This can be vital to pulling off big combos.
Mercenaries PvP Meta
When fully upgraded, each Mercenary can play one of three builds, depending on the equipment you use. With 51 Mercenaries in the game at launch, each of which can be played in three different ways, there are more than 9 trillion possible party combinations of fully maxed Mercenaries in the game! There are lots of parties you can build around various synergies: tribe, spell school, or other mechanics. The synergy between your Mercenaries is the key to building successful PvP teams.
Since the game mode has been just released, there is no “meta” to speak of yet. We’ll have a separate guide with the best PvP party compositions once players get to max level, try things out and we have access to more data.