Hearthstone Battlegrounds: The Missing Strategy Guide (Heroes)

Battlegrounds is still in beta, but it’s already caught on with players and may prove to be the game mode that saved Hearthstone. It has a lot going for it thus far:

  • Open to everyone
  • Free to play
  • Provides some much-needed variety from the usual Hearthstone game, with a fresh “Battle Royale” take on things

We won’t repeat for you the basic rules; they’re nicely covered by the Gamepedia Hearthstone wiki now that they have a maintained entry for it. Instead, we’re going to offer straight talk about how to play your best strategy, gleaned from our own experiences.

Overall Hearthstone Battlegrounds Tips:

Drafting Skills:

Always remember that the minion pool is limited, with only so many copies of each to go around. One game you might be able to corner the market on a certain strategy, the next time you don’t see minions for that strategy anywhere.

Knowing when to switch strategies mid-game can save you, as can using your intuition from the draft format of other TCGs like Magic: The Gathering. If strategy A forces you to refresh constantly while strategy B is wide open, switch to strategy B.

Speed Skills:

The most important skill component in Battlegrounds is speed! You have a maximum amount of time to make up your mind in the Tavern and make your plays.

The beginning gives around 30 seconds or so per round, and increases throughout the game. This is before the time for a match is deducted! So if you just had a long match, you have less time in the Tavern.

Animations count off from this time as well, so if you’re playing something with a leisurely animation (we’re looking at you, poison!), you will have even less time in the Tavern. Players have complained that the timer is too short, so this may be extended in the future.

Given the above, PC players have a tremendous advantage and always will. The faster your device clock speed and pointer skills (be they mouse or stylus), the better you are at Battlegrounds.

Along with that, certain heroes are preferred for the speed factor, given that some of their powers require you to do a lot of finagling in the Tavern in order to take advantage of them.

Hearthstone Play Styles:

TribalPick a tribe and stick to it, hoping for good synergy.
Bi-tribalPick two tribes and try to squeeze value out of their combined strengths.
GoodstuffDon’t care about tribes, just want the strongest minion each turn.
CommitmentMany hero powers build up your minions each turn, but if you have to sell a buffed minion later, your advantage is gone. These are high-commitment heroes.
FlexibilityThese heroes don’t depend on keeping buffed minions around.
OffensiveBuild fast and have a punishing mid-game which knocks out competitors quickly to secure a spot in the top four.
DefensiveTake a leisurely pace and count on sticking around an extra couple turns to develop a strong late game.

We’ll cover minions and other strategy matters in part 2 of our Hearthstone Battleground series!

Meet the Heroes:

You’ll be limited to a pick of 2 (or 4 with perks) randomly selected heroes from the pool of 53. Which one you pick will be a decision process involving relative ranking against the other two, and your preferred strategy and play style.

We’ll present Hearthstone Battlegrounds heroes alphabetically with our own rankings (1-4, best-worst).


Hero: A. F. Kay

Power: Procrastinate: Skip your first two turns. Start with two minions from Tavern Tier 3. (Passive)
Suited for: Defensive, Commitment, Bi-tribal
Upsides: Strong mid-game boost
Downsides: Too luck-dependent, strategy lock-in
Our ranking: 3

A. F. Kay gets over-rated in other skill guides. Skipping your first two turns is a huge disadvantage, and the turn-three spike only lets you discover from a choice of three random minions, which may or may not be coherent with a good strategy. From there, you still have to catch up on Tavern tiers and building your board. Your whole game depends on having fantastic luck turns three and four, and not being shut out of your chosen strategy.

A. F. Kay is the gambler’s choice. Your best play is to try for two tier-3 minions that work well together towards tribal unity and then hope that tribe stays open. If you have to sell those first two minions later, there goes your advantage!

Hero: Arch-Villain Rafaam

 

Power: I’ll Take That!: Next combat, add a plain copy of the first minion you kill to your hand. (1 Coin)
Suited for: Goodstuff, Flexibility, Offensive
Upsides: Lots of choice, flexibility, early-game perks
Downsides: Huge Tavern chock pressure requiring fast play
Assessment: 2

The strength of Rafaam is obvious: Get an extra minion for just one gold! You’ll be swimming in extra minions in the mid-game. However, it’s not all good: You have to kill a minion to get one, the first minion you kill is usually the weakest on your opponent’s board, and in the Tavern you will scramble to make room to drop extra minions to sell and recomp your coins. On the plus side, making merged golden minions can happen by sheer accident, and you’ll have so many minions in hand by late-game that you’ll easily be able to sell off your whole board and switch strategies mid-game.

Arch-Villain Rafaam requires a fast player. His strategy goes very deep, so you’ll need to think about your next play almost constantly. He’s good in the early game because you win rounds by sheer force of numbers, and good all game long because of his unbounded flexibility. Stay loose! You may find it advantageous to play with only six minions on the board to give you room for shuffling them around in the Tavern.

Hero: Al’Akir

Power: Swatting Insects: Give your left-most minion Windfury, Divine Shield, and Taunt. (Passive)
Suited for: Offensive, Commitment, Flexibility
Upsides: Hero Power makes for a strong early/mid-game/late-gmae—Divine Shield, Taunt, and Windfury make for versatile strategies.
Downsides: Position dependent
Assessment: 3

Al’Akir is suited to any general strategy you want to play, since adding Divine Shield, Taunt, and Windfury is a powerful effect no matter what point of the game you’re in. The downside here, of course, is placement and cohesiveness—you often want your taunts minions to play more defensively than offensively, but with the buff affecting the left-most minion on your board, it naturally becomes offensive oriented. 

Regardless, Al’Akir allows for otherwise un-buffed minions to get a trio of powerful abilities at no cost to you. You’ll have to be very mindful of placements when playing, but the pros vs. cons here weighs in heavily favor of the abilities you gain, vs the flexibility you sacrifice.

Hero: Dancin’ Deryl

Power: Hat Trick: After you sell a minion, randomly give two minions in Bob’s Tavern +1/+1. (Passive)
Suited for: Commitment, Goodstuff
Upsides: Easy buffs to random minions late game
Downsides: No early game advantage, randomized power, no long-term strategy, requires frantic play
Assessment: 4!

Every guide out there pins Daryl to the #1 tier. They are wrong. Most of those guides were written when HS Battlegrounds first came out. Buffing two random minions in the Tavern is worse than the heroes who buff predictable targets or those who just buff everything! And he requires you to sell minions first, meaning you’re out of luck until mid-game and then only in a good spot if you hoarded tokens and get lucky on refreshes.

Only attempt Daryl on a high-clock desktop with all graphics optimized. Start by buying a full board of tokens from Alleycat and Murloc Tidehunter. Take your early game beatings while leveling up. Now in the mid-game, refresh the Tavern until you get a minion worth buffing, then buy the other minions until Bob is down to two. Now sell your board minions as fast as possible and buy the buffed minion. Play it. Yay, all that work for a single 7/9 Psych-O-Tron, and you only had to sacrifice 15 life to get here! Now prepare for the inevitable elitist snobs who will condescend to you “Well Daryl takes skill to play right!” Your response: “Or I could pick one of the dozen other heroes that give me buffed minions WITHOUT having to jump through thirty hoops like a trained seal!”

Hero: Edwin VancleefPower: Sharpen Blades: Give a minion +1/+1 for each minion you’ve bought this turn. (1 Coin)
Suited for: Commitment, Offensive, Tribal
Upsides: Strong targeted buffs all game long
Downsides: Must be able to buy and sell minions quickly
Assessment: 1

Edwin is a contender for strongest hero in Battlegrounds. Even if you just buy one minion per turn, his power is relevant. You’ll often find yourself buying extra minions just for the buff. There is no scenario where he’s a bad choice. Buff up your taunts to survive early game. Buff up your aggressive beaters and go on the offensive. Buff your lords (minions with strong tribal dependency) to ensure they survive until late match.

Edwin is almost OP, maybe due for a nerf. There’s very little that can go wrong with him. Ideally, your best bet is to go with a tribe with emphasis on strong lords. But he can work on general-build Goodstuff too. He’s an overachieving hero that’s good at anything and bad at nothing.

Hero: Elise StarseekerPower: Lead Explorer: When you upgrade Bob’s Tavern, get a ‘Recruitment Map’. (Passive)
Suited for: Tribal, Bi-tribal, Commitment, Defensive
Upsides: Climbs tiers just a touch faster than average, timing is flexible
Downsides: That ‘Map’ costs 3 gold to use!
Assessment: 2

Elise is a well-balanced hero who is at her best with a strategic player who thinks ahead. The Recruitment Map feature lets you discover from three randoms of the given tier, selected outside the minion pool. This is great for tribal strategies and high-commitment, but poor for early game building because the 3-gold cost is too prohibitive to be an advantage early on.

Elise works best if you treat her like a less-bad A. F. Kay. Level early and level often, taking a few early-game hits in exchange for having guaranteed access to more choice in higher-tier minions. Your late game is outstanding, because you can horde maps and minions, selling off the excess and building a stronger board.

Hero: George the Fallen

Power: Boon of Light: Give a friendly minion Divine Shield. (2 Coins)
Suited for: Variety of strategies
Upsides: Relatively low-cost for Divine Shield that is permanent
Downsides: Requires coins that otherwise could be spent on tavern upgrades and minions
Assessment: 2

Every Battlegrounds strategy guide used to dump on George, and rightly so. But after the latest Battlegrounds patch, Ol’ Georgie has turned over a new leaf!  At 2 gold, his power is relevant at all stages of the game, although, there are divine shield minions at just about every minion tier already. Note that Divine Shield doesn’t stack, so once you have invested 5 gold in a minion with shield, it’s a bit harder to part ways with it. Regardless, with the update George is looking a lot more viable than he once was—there is still that pesky Nefarian hero power to worry about, though

Hero: Infinite Toki

Power: Temporal Tavern: Refresh Bob’s Tavern. Add a minion from a higher Tavern Tier. (2 Coins)
Suited for: Bi-tribal, Goodstuff, Flexibility
Upsides: Sometimes breaks incredibly lucky and gets good minions early
Downsides: 2 gold is just a mite too expensive for this advantage
Assessment: 3

Toki is a hero that does require some skill to play well, because her power is almost nonexistent. You refresh the Tavern repeatedly anyway through the course of the game; throwing in an extra random from a higher tier doesn’t do that much. Toki is another candidate for a balance patch, either making her power repeatable or cutting its cost to 1 gold.

To play Toki, ignore her power in the early game and focus on defensive boards while leveling up. In the mid-game, use her power selectively. Even at your luckiest, you’re going to have a hard time making this work.

Hero: Lich Baz’hial


Power: Graveyard Shift: Take 2 damage and add a Gold Coin to your hand. (0 Coins)
Suited for: Tribal, Bi-tribal, Goodstuff, Flexibility, Offensive
Upsides: Money! Spend more, do more
Downsides: That damage adds up fast, requires fast play to take advantage
Assessment: 2

As any demon tribal player will tell you, taking damage in the early game for a strong early advantage is a great trade-off. But beware: her power gets less relevant as the game wears on, because by late game, time is in shorter supply than gold.

When you play Lich, play hard or go home. Despite the pain you’re taking already, demon tribal is good for her just because of the minions Floating Watcher, which gets a buff off your damage, and Mal’Ganis, whose immunity removes your power’s downside. In the meantime, an extra refresh to the tavern helps you find the right minions for your board. In a pinch, you can always horde coins in your hand for later, which can add up to an extra minion every three turns in exchange for (ouch!) six damage. Or spend the coins on earlier upgrades. That’s the cool thing about money, you can spend it on anything.

Hero: Lord Jaraxxus

Power: Bloodfury: Give your Demons +1/+1. (2 Coins)
Suited for: Tribal, Offensive
Upsides: Great with demons
Downsides: You’re out of luck if you’re shut out of demons
Assessment: 3

Ol’ Jerry is one of the few heroes with a built-in tribal synergy. How good he is is up to one question: Are demons open? If nobody else is playing demons, you’re just about guaranteed a spot in the top 4. Otherwise, you’re gonna have a hard time.

Jaraxxus’ strategy is “play demons.” Don’t faint, demons are under-rated. Vulgar Homunculus is the best turn-one buy minion, but of course Wrath Weaver is necessary to add to your early board too. By the way, there are no demons or demon lords at tier 6, so just relax and level up when it’s cheap.

Hero: Millificent Manastorm

Power: Tinker: Mechs in Bob’s Tavern have +1 Attack. (Passive)
Suited for: Tribal, Commitment, Offensive
Upsides: Strong mech tribal, free power
Downsides: Sucks when mechs aren’t open
Assessment: 2

Mechs are plentiful, versatile, and strong at all tiers of the game, a solid tribe that always has at least three players competing for them. Milly would be a little more helpful, however, if her buff was to health in addition to attack, or even instead of. That being said, a free buff to all mechs with no further commitment is a strong advantage.

Milly’s strategy is obviously to play mechs, but remember that you can go Bi-tribal without much disadvantage too. For mech strategies, prepare to have an open space on your board to take advantage of magnetic minions.

Hero: Nefarian

Power: Nefarious Fire: At the start of next combat, deal 1 damage to all enemy minions. (1 Coin)
Suited for: Flexibility, Defensive, Goodstuff
Upsides: A strong power that’s always useful
Downsides: Not too relevant late game against boards without divine shield
Assessment: 2

In the early game, Nefarian is a beast, picking off weak tribal boards and often deciding matches you otherwise had no business winning. In the late game, minions tend to be buffed outrageously so that the one damage is less important, but is still strong against divine shield. Even then, his power only costs 1 gold, so there’s never a reason not to use it.

Nefarian gives you the leisure of picking any tribe or strategy you like, then leveling up aggressively in the early game since he defends you so well there. A couple taunts plus his hero power lets you coast to mid-game unscathed. Be vigilant, however, because your power advantage dwindles to nil later. Build a strong, resilient board selectively, because his power does nothing to buff your own minions.

Hero: Patchwerk

Power: All Patched Up: Start with 50 Health instead of 40. (Passive)
Suited for: Tribal, Flexibility, Defensive
Upsides: Gives you extra turns to build a master plan, passive power
Downsides: Easily overestimated
Assessment: 1

Patchy is often seen in the top 4 for one good reason: He has an extra ten health, so he often makes it through sheer persistence while the lesser heroes pick each other off. Even though he was nerfed from 60 health down to 50, he still tends to do well. Just don’t get complacent to taking damage anyway, because one match against an aggressive player can cut you down to size fast!

Patchwerk’s best play is to level often and early, while buying some taunt minions along the way just to increase his longevity. He works well with any tribe, but is especially good at demons with his 10 health buffer against their health tax. His health advantage on average works out to just one, maybe two, extra turns in most cases, so spend it wisely.

Hero: Queen Wagtoggle

Power: Wax Warband: Give a random friendly Mech, Demon, Murloc and Beast +1 Health. (1 Coin)
Suited for: Goodstuff, Commitment, Offensive
Upsides: Cheap power, builds fast, never without a strategy
Downsides: Forces you out of tribal synergies, also negates non-tribe minions
Assessment: 3

Recently the all-purpose tribal minion, Nightmare Amalgam, was removed from the pool, hitting poor Waggy the hardest. At the same time, competition for tribes means little to her, since her power makes you want one of each anyway. It is possible to build a selective board with one of each tribe, giving you predictable results, but you’ll have to be very lucky to pull it off.

Queen Wagtoggle is OK if you’re stuck with a hard choice. Literally buy anything in the early game and count on her buffs to blindly land you some tougher minions. Watch out for minions with no tribe, because she does nothing for them. As cheap as her power is, she’s actually under-rated just a bit. At least she’s no Rat King.

Hero: Ragnaros the Firelord

Power: DIE, INSECTS!: At the end of your turn, give your left- and right-most minions +3/+3. (Passive)
Suited for: Commitment, Flexibility, Offensive
Upsides: Gain +6/+6 in stats between two minions each turn
Downsides: Positioning and the 25 kill timeframe
Assessment: 1

Raggy is a stat-stacking beast, unleashing a +3/+3 every turn, passively—once you run up 25 minion kills for the game. Ragnaros almost demands that you commit in the early game, as the mid- to late-game strategy is where momentum really starts to build up. Positioning is of very minor concern here, and we’re only talking about raw stats in this case—navigating your strategy is mostly a matter of putting the minions you’re looking to buff in space 1, or 7. Rinse and Repeat.

Hero: Shudderwock

Power: Burbling: Your next Battlecry this turn triggers twice. (1 Coin)
Suited for: Goodstuff, Commitment, Defensive
Upsides: Quite handy in certain circumstances
Downsides: Surprisingly irrelevant oftentimes
Assessment: 4

Poor Shudderwock, he looked so good on paper! Alas, his 1 gold power cost negates some of early-game advantage—plus, there just aren’t enough Battlecry effects in the minion pool to take reliable advantage of his power, most of which are in tribes anyway. To add insult to injury, his whole power is granted for free by running Brann Bronzebeard, which isn’t even a minion most players pick when they get the chance. Oh, and the two powers don’t even stack.

To play Shuddy, you want to either decide early on a tribe or buy lots of Alleycat and Murloc Tidehunter so you’ll have tokens to sell later. He makes Pogo-Hoppers good from the second one you buy, but there aren’t enough of them to matter much. Your best bet is to run Goodstuff and count on luck.

Hero: Sindragosa

Power: Stay Frosty: At the end of your turn, Frozen minions get +1/+1. (Passive)
Suited for: Bi-Tribal, Goodstuff, Flexibility, Offensive
Upsides: Zero cost, relevant right away
Downsides: Forces you to lag a turn behind in board development sometimes
Assessment: 2

The easily overlooked Sindragosa is an aggro-player’s dream. For 0 gold, you are getting a buffed minion turn 2 and every turn after. It costs nothing to freeze a Tavern at the end of turn, and you’re under no pressure to buy those minions next turn – but you’re better off taking advantage. However, his power doesn’t stack, requiring you to buy minions all the time just to keep getting any benefit.

Playing Sindragosa is an exercise in patience, but it pays off. He excels when obtaining tripled golden minions, since all three buffs stack on the final minion. He’s also good for magnetic mechs, since the buffs stack there as well. He does, however, require you to break the normal pattern of level-refresh-buy. Instead, reverse that order: Buy a minion, level up, refresh until you see what you’ll want next turn, then freeze.

Hero: Sir Finley Mrrgglton

Power: Power Up!: At the start of the game, Discover a hero power
Suited for: Um… something?
Upsides: A second chance to pick a hero power
Downsides: There aren’t any, really…
Assessment: 2

Sir Finley fans can rejoice after he was updated with the ability to pick a hero power at the start of the game. This is essentially the same as the pre-game character selection, except… you get to do it again. That’s pretty much where the upside ends—Sir Finely is a great re-roll if you whiff on all of your strategies initially, but once you’ve picked a hero power it’s like nothing even happened at all. At least you get to be a a murloc with unfitting hero powers to anger your opponents.

Hero: Aranna Starseeker

Power: Demon Hunter Training: After you Refresh 5 times, Bob always has 7 minions (Passive)
Suited for: Tribal, Commitment, Offensive
Upsides: Free power, minions galore
Downsides: You still have the same amount of coins to work with
Assessment: 4

Arranna isn’t a hero to get too excited over—the prospect of 7 minions to pick from is enticing, but in practice, it makes little difference. For starters, it isn’t as if you get more coins to cycle through all of the added minions. Sure, if you’re looking for a particular card for triples or just in general, your odds of finding it are a bit higher. But overall, the benefit isn’t worth building your strategy around. Your best bet is to play without the hero power in mind, and once your 5 refresh limit hits, you can just enjoy the added minions.

Hero: The Curator

Power: Menagerist: Start with a 1/1 Amalgam that has all minion types. (Passive)
Suited for: Tribal, Bi-tribal, Flexibility, Offensive
Upsides: You get a free minion right from the start, all tribes welcome
Downsides: You’d better make good choices and have good luck in the early game
Assessment: 1

Before the minion Nightmare Amalgam was patched out of the game, Curator was nothing special, but still strong. Now, however, he’s the only one who gets to run an Amalgam, so he’s ever so much more relevant. Pick your minions right, and you can get a super-buffed dude with poison, taunt, and divine shield. Have bad luck in finding buffs, and your free minion is a useless twig.

Your strategy with Curator is obvious: Use your extra minion wisely. But don’t let it stop you from just playing a good tribe, as the amalgam will still get buffs from whatever you’re playing. In a pinch, just glue all the magnetic minions you can buy onto the amalgam and build whatever board you want for the rest. Or just give it divine shield and poison, then keep it for an opening tempo play.

Hero: The Great Akazamzarak

Power: Prestidigitation: Discover a Secret. Put it onto the battlefield. (1 Coin)
Suited for: Flexibility, Defensive
Upsides: Uh, secrets?
Downsides: Secrets suck
Assessment: 4!

What were they thinking? The discover-secret power is still over-costed at 1 gold. The pool of secrets is even limited to these, as if allowing access to the full set of Hearthstone secrets would have overpowered him. Furthermore, the secrets expire after one trigger just like normal secrets, and three secrets have no effect if triggered on a full board!

I’m sorry, if you picked Akaz, you’re on your own here! At least his ability doesn’t constrain your minion selection, though it doesn’t help either. The best you can say is that maybe that ability will help some in the late game. Maybe you can record your game and post it on Twitch later to reap some sympathy.

Hero: The Lich King

Power: Reborn Rites: At the start of next combat, give your right-most minion Reborn. (0 Coin)
Suited for: Tribal, Flexibility, Defensive
Upsides: Make it your best minion, and you get it back
Downsides: With just one health, if it got killed once, it’s getting killed again
Assessment: 2

Well, another day, another mediocre hero power. Lichy is a decent guy alright, but reborn is just a less relevant power in a format that depends on killing everything. At 0 gold, the hero power stays relevant all game long at least. It’s better in the early turns where a divine shield taunt can get in two extra hits, but blah otherwise.

Your right-most minion should ideally be a deathrattle, preferably a Mechano-Egg with Replicating Menace magnetized onto it. You’re prepared to refresh Tavern all day to make that? Good!

Hero: The Rat King

Power: King of Beasts: Whenever you buy a [tribe], give it +1/+1. Swaps [tribe] every turn. (Passive)
Suited for: Bi-tribal, Flexibility, Offensive
Upsides: Free power, works well if you’re crazy
Downsides: Deliberately engineered to drive you crazy
Assessment: 3

What’s worse than having a buff limited to a tribe? Picking a random tribe each time! However, Ratty isn’t all bad, since his power is free, “repeatable” in a single turn. You can’t even play Goodstuff though, because his power has no effect on tribe-less minions. Then again, this is an infinitely usable power, so if you load up a board with cheap minions early on, you can switch tribes mid-game and be able to afford a new full board of buffed minions when the right tribe swap comes around.

Advice for those playing Rat King: make sure that you have absolutely amazing luck. Well, actually, just follow his recommendation for the early turns, level up when you can, and use his buffs on random tribes to survive early game while you plot your late-game revenge.

Hero: Yogg’Saron, Hope’s End

Power: Puzzle Box: Hire a random minion in Bob’s Tavern and give it +1/+1. (2 Coins)
Suited for: Goodstuff, Flexibility, Offensive
Upsides: Not only are your minions buffed, but cheaper too
Downsides: Random ones – go fish
Assessment: 1

Last but most definitely not least, Yogg is similar to Rafaam. Near guaranteed to make top 4 based on the simple fact that cheaper minions are better already, and the buff makes them sweeter. His ability makes it so that you can thrive on cheap buffed guys early on, selling back the ones you don’t need to buy even more minions. Even the randomness can be controlled by buying up other minions to narrow the selection.

Let’s put Yogg this way: Activate is ability turn 1 to get a random buffed body, suitable to survive turns 1 and 2. Turn 2, upgrade Tavern. Turn three, buy one and hero power one, total three minons, two of them buffed. Ride the tempo from there. Swap and trade minions mid-game to build your board for late game. Honestly, if you can’t win with Yogg, you’re just not trying.

Hero: Captain Eudora

Power: Buried Treasure: Dig for a Golden minion (1 coin)
Suited for: Goodstuff, Flexibility, Offensive
Upsides: Golden minions are always a welcomed addition
Downsides: Random ones – go fish
Assessment: 3

Eudora is a bit of a unique hero, with a guaranteed Golden minion. You essentially pay 5 coins for a random Golden minion plus the addition +1 tier bonus card from playing it—Golden and +1 tier for 5 coins ain’t bad. The downside here the randomness of rewards and the time it takes to get your Golden—5 turns, at least. You have to factor in missing out on buying minions along the way to ensure you keep using your digs in a timely fashion, and in the process risk losing momentum. Part of the magic of Goldens is the extra, +1 tier card, but you’ll need to balance digs, tier upgrades, and randomness to take advantage.

Hero: Captain Hooktusk

Power: Trash for Treasure: Remove a friendly minion. Discover a random one from a Tavern Tier lower.
Suited for: Goodstuff, Flexibility, Offensive
Upsides: Strong early game with token replacement
Downsides: Hero power tapers in power as the game goes on/Randomness
Assessment: 4

Captain Hooktusk is pretty solid in the early game, but as the game goes on her hero power loses relevance. While navigating tier 1 minions, you can swap free tokens from Alleycats and Murloc Tidehunters for legit tier 1 minions, but as you climb tiers, the randomness starts to put a damper on strategies. 

Once upon a time Hooktusk was arguably the strongest hero in battlegrounds, but after the nerf hammer was dropped, she’s barely even viable in most situations. If you plan on exploiting lower tier minions/tokens for your strategy, you might have a case, but you’d truthfully be better off with another hero in most cases 

Hero: Chenvaala

Power: Avalanche: After you play 3 Elementals, reduce the cost of upgrading Bob’s Tavern by (3).
Suited for: Tribal, Bi-Tribal, Commitment
Upsides: Lower cost tavern tiers is always welcome—reducing cost by three is the stuff of dreams
Downsides: You’re pigeon-holed into shopping primarily for elementals
Assessment: 3

On paper, Chenvaala is a monster hero—reduce tavern cost by three? Why, thank you very much.

The obvious downside here is the need to rely on elementals for your hero power. To be fair, elementals aren’t exactly a weak tribe. However, there is no guarantee, in any battleground match, that you’ll be peppered with elementals in Bob’s Tavern. 

In the instances where you’re hurting for elementals to select form, you’re essentially defaulted to survival mode until the decide to show up again. You can get lucky on occasion, and everything works out in your favor. But more often than not, you end up utilizing your hero power less than is ideal. 

Hero: Deathwing

Power: ALL Will Burn!: ALL minions have +2 attack
Suited for: Offensive, Flexibility, Bi-tribal
Upsides: +2 attack can work quite well in your favor if executed properly
Downsides: Your opponents also have +2 attack
Assessment: 2

Our scaley pal Deathwing’s +2 is a bit of a hit or miss, and cards like Rat Pack are best suited due to the synergy with guaranteed attack buffs—not to mention beast synergy with with Pack Leaders and Mama Bears. 

Obviously you can’t predict your opponents build before the game starts, and giving your opponent your hero power effect is a pretty big downside due to that. Due to the unpredictability of your opponents’ builds, Deathwing’s upside is minimized and is heavily reliant on chance, but if you can craft your build just right—and likely with beasts—you just might crack the top 4 after all. 

Hero: Dinotamer Brann

Power: Battle Brand: Refresh Bob’s Tavern with Battlecry minions
Suited for: Tribal, Flexibility, Goodstuff
Upsides: Great synergy for Battlecry/Battlecry-dependent minions
Downsides: Not all Battlecry minons are created equal—they also don’t synergize very well together
Assessment: 2

Brann is good, there’s no getting around that fact. But there is a bit of a learning curve to get the most out of his hero power, particularly earlier in the game.

Since most Battlecry minions don’t synergize very well with one another, your best best is to navigate the game with a foundation in mind—things like tribal/bi-tribal commitment or scaleability. There are quite a few solid Battlecry minions in Bob’s Tavern, and worst case you’re paying the same amount (1 coin)  as a regular refresh, except you’re guaranteed only Battlecry minions. 

Note that Dinotamer synergizes with the card version of Brann pretty darn well too, and should find him in Bob’s Tavern once you climb Tavern tiers,  you’ll start seeing some wild possibilities come to light. 

Hero: Forest Warden Omu

Power: Everbloom: After you upgrade Bob’s Tavern, gain 2 Gold this turn only (Passive).
Suited for: Offensive, Flexibility, Bi-tribal
Upsides: An extra two coins come in handy more often than you think
Downsides: Essentially no hero power at max tavern tier
Assessment: 1

The biggest issue with upgrading tavern tiers is losing momentum, but the Warden laughs at the idea. Omu mitigates a lot of the downside with upgrading due to Everbloom, and 2 coins can be life saving when you just spent 6 coins—not on minions, mind you. 

If you can be mindful of your coin usage and time your tavern upgrades just right, not only does momentum not suffer, it benefits greatly in early, mid, and early-late game. The only real downside to Omu is after you’ve already maxed out your tavern tiers, leaving you hero powerless for the remainder of the game. This isn’t nearly as bad as it sounds, as by this point you’ve most likely gained a bit of a momentum advantage already. 

Hero: Fungalmancer Flurgl

Power: Gine Fishing: After you sell a Murloc, add a random Murloc to Bob’s Tavern.
Suited for: Tribal, Commitment
Upsides: Guaranteed stream of murlocs throughout the game
Downsides: Stuck with the murloc crowd
Assessment: 4

Murlocs have lost a lot of their appeal ever since Megasaur’s departure. Old fungi gives you guaranteed murlocs, but who wants that right now? 

If you can manage to pull off a full poisonous board, your chances look pretty good in most cases, but the odds of pulling it off are much lower than they used to be. The advantage of poisonous minions is great, but the consistency just isn’t there to justify favoring Flurgl to other heroes. 

Hero: Galakrond

Power: Galakrond’s Greed: Replace a minion in Bob’s Tavern with one from a higher Tavern Tier (0 coins)
Suited for: Goodstuff, Flexibility
Upsides: 0 cost taverm minion upgrade
Downsides: The minion is random
Assessment: 1

In true Galakrond fashion, Galakrond’s Greed is an above average hero power, which costs you absolutely nothing, by the way. 

We can’t emphasize the benefit of this hero power now costing 0—you lose out in exactly zero ways by using it. Add in the fact that you can still freeze minions, and upgrade them in Bob’s Tavern overtime, and you have a value add that’s pretty darn good overall. 

Negatives lie in the fact that the minion is random, but if you’re built to just go after good stuff—or end up with a lucky, convenient upgrade along the way—it still cost you nothing to get there.

Hero: Illidan Stormrage

Power: Wingmen: Your left and right-most minions attack immediately (Passive)
Suited for: Offensive, Tribal, Flexibility
Upsides: Easy to take advantage of minions with attack buffs and cleaves
Downsides: Positioning can get tricky
Assessment: 4

Illidan is a confusing hero to play. The idea of always attacking first is great—twice at that. But  as the game progresses, you’re sometimes forced into awkward situations due almost entirely to placement. You can make Illidan work with a little bit of elbow grease, taking advantage of cleaves, on-attack buffs, or Windfury, but the cons often outweigh the pros when your play style is so restricted. Get creative with ol’ Stormrage—his playstyle calls for it.

Jandice Barov

Power: Swap, Lock, & Shop it: Swap a friendly non-golden minion with a random one in Bob’s Tavern
Suited for: Goodstuff, Flexibility
Upsides: A 0 cost swap is a pretty sweet deal
Downsides: The swap is random
Assessment: 2

Jandice’s hero power is one of the most flexible in all of Battlegrounds—swapping anything from tokens to trash minions through the early game, and still being relevant throughout the matches entirety. It takes a little bit of work to get the hand of positioning Bob’s Tavern to get exactly what you want (or at least up the chances), but even swapping at complete random can work out favorably in many situations.

Hero: Kael’ thas Sunstrider

Power: Verdant Spheres: Every third minion you buy gains +2/+2.
Suited for: Goodstuff, Flexibility,
Upsides: +2/+2  is a reliable momentum builder
Downsides: You need to time your tavern purchases
Assessment: 2

Kael’thas’ hero power is the perfect passive ability—you get to play relatively carefree, minus the fact that you need to time your purchases a few steps ahead. This makes Verdant Spheres one of the easier hero powers to work with, and so long as you have an understanding of general strategies, you’ll be able to capitalize here.

One thing to be mindful with Kael is making sure you don’t waste your +2/+2 on minions meant to be strictly supportive—things like Battlecry minions meant to pump-up and then dump (sell) immediately. 

Hero: King Mukla

Power: Bananarama: Get 2 Bananas. At the end of your turn,  give everyone else one (1 coin)
Suited for: Offensive, Goodstuff, Flexibility
Upsides: +2/+2 in raw stats
Downsides: +1/+1 for everyone else…
Assessment: 3

Our old friend King Mukla—long after his days of milling in standard, Battleground form is a bit more offensive-minded.

Now, The idea of giving your opponents stats is never ideal, but giving yourself +2/+2 still leaves you with a +1/+1 swing over the competition—technically compounding every turn. To be fair, +2/+2 is pretty good, but when you give opponents stats to play around with, you’re generally asking for trouble. Mukla’s hero power makes him competitive enough to play, but at 1 coin it the hero power is just average overall.

Hero: Lord Barov

Power: Friendly Wager: Guess which player will win their next combat.  If they win, get 3 Coins.
Suited for: All play-types
Upsides: Win many coin tosses, get many coins
Downsides: Lose many coin tosses, you lose…
Assessment: 2

Lord Barov is an interesting guy. You’re essentially in a coin toss at all times during the match—meaning roughly half of the time you get to take advantage of his insane hero power. On the other hand, roughly half of the time you have absolutely no hero power at all. Never fear, though, as Lord Barov’s hero power effect is so strong, that only winning half of the tosses is more than a viable strategy to get ahead.

Three coins is essentially a free minion every time you win—not to mention some nice buffer coins for tier upgrades, and god-forbid, mistakes. If you’re generally an unlucky person, maybe stay away from Barov as a hero selection—but seriously, so long as you don’t totally whiff on the vast majority of coin tosses, you’ll likely gain a significant advantage from this hero power over the course of game.

Hero: Maiev Shadowsong

Power: Imprison: Make a minion in Bob’s Tavern Dormant. After 2 turns, get it with +1 Attack.
Suited for: Flexibility, Goodstuff, Offensive
Upsides: Buff minion for only 1 coin? Don’t mind if I do
Downsides: Dormant for 2 turns
Assessment: 1

Maiev has one of the strongest hero powers in all of Battlegrounds. Having the ability to save 2 coins on multiple minions is incredible, and the +1 attack bonus isn’t too shabby either. The added value over the course of a given game usually weighs heavily in Maiev’s favor, and it isn’t uncommon to find yourself with far too many minions in your hand. 

If you want to call having too many minions in your hand a weak point, feel free. But you can generally navigate around this by dumping minions throughout the game, as opposed to hoarding minions you won’t be using on the off chance you’ll be needing them. This obviously isn’t the case if you’re playing a commitment or tribe build, but being mindful of your long term strategy helps when navigating a Maiev selection.

Hero: Malygos

Power: Arcane Alteration: Replace a minion with a random one of the same Tavern Tier.
Suited for: All play-types
Upsides: Token swapping, but that’s about it
Downsides: Take your pick
Assessment: 4

Malygos is pretty underwhelming for an all-powerful arcane dragon, and that’s really all that needs to be said. There isn’t really any reason to pick Malygos over any other hero option, unless you plan to swap tokens and trash minions all day—in which case, you’re probably already in bad shape anyway. 

Early game can be mildly strong with the aforementioned token swap strategy, but Arcane Alteration loses all viability as the game goes on. In short: leave Malygos on the bench for the time-being. Maybe an update or two down the road can make this hero a worthwhile venture, but now is not that time.

Hero: Mr. Bigglesworth

Power: ALL Will Burn!: When a player dies, Discover a minion from their warband. It keeps any enchantments.
Suited for: Defensive, Flexibility
Upsides: Opponents dying can mean insane tempo swings
Downsides: You have no hero power until someone is eliminated
Assessment: 3

Mr. Bigglesworth is a pretty fun hero, at least in the late game. But fun doesn’t necessarily equate to victories in Battlegrounds. On the plus side, our feline friend’s hero power allow you to snatch up the most powerful minions from your opponents, so long as you can last till the late game stretch. Minions keep all of their buffs, including golden status—meaning free golden minions, which also means an additional free minion from that.The randomness and unpredictability makes it hard to call Bigglesworth competitive, but sometimes winning the jackpot is a possibility if your opponents built up strong minions that synergize with your warband. Chance is your best friend here, so depending on your preferred play-style, you’ll need weigh this into your selection process.

Hero: Nozdormu

Power: Clairvoyance: Your first Refresh each turn costs (0).
Suited for: All play-types
Upsides: Free refresh comes in handy pretty often
Downsides: Not impactful enough to call it competitive
Assessment: 3

Nozdormu’s hero power is convenient, but it really isn’t the greatest—or most exciting—power out there. Saving 1 coin to refresh is welcomed in most situations, but it often takes multiple refreshes to get what you’re looking for anyway. This isn’t to say Clairvoyance is bad, it’s just… underwhelming.

Since the Clairvoyance is passive, you don’t need to think much in terms of strategy. Need to refresh Bob’s Tavern? Go right ahead. No thinking about the next turn, or anything else for that matter, really. The only time to be mindful of sequencing, is when you plan to upgrade taverns and want to refresh you minions to the higher tier—that’s when Noz really shines.

Hero: Patches the Pirate

Power: Pirate Parrrrty: Get a Pirate. After you buy a Pirate, your next Hero Power costs (1) less.
Suited for: Tribal, Bi-Tribal, Commitment
Upsides: Potential for free pirates!
Downsides: You’d better stick with pirates…
Assessment: 4

If your only desire in Battlegrounds is to play pirates, Patches is your guy. Anytime you’re forced into playing any one minion type is an automatic disadvantage. To be fair, there are some pretty incredible pirate warbands to be made, but the aspect of chance—not to mention the pirate from your hero power being random—puts a damper on the Pirate Parrrrty (see what we did there). 

The obvious course of action here is to get every pirate you can early on, and pretty much continue that trend throughout the entire game. Not the worst hero power in the world, but definitely one of the more underwhelming ones you’ll come across. If you really like pirates, go for it. Otherwise, you’re probably better off with another hero.

Hero: Pyramad

Power: Brick by Brick: Give a random friendly minion +4 Health. (1 coin)
Suited for: Commitment, Defensive
Upsides: +4 health is a pretty solid buff
Downsides: Random buff are hit or miss, literally
Assessment: 3

Pyramad is the defensive-minded player’s best friend—with +4 health coming from just 1 coin, it’s a pretty sweet deal. Early game is a good opportunity to keep the board light and build an unusually strong minion before build a wider board and letting the buff land at random. The real problem with Pyramad is the randomness, particularly with the nature of Battlegrounds being what it is.—selling minions. 

You often sell minions, it’s just how it goes. And in early/mid game when you have a sizeable board but are still building, you end up selling away your buffed minions—mainly because you have no control over where the buff lands. If you can treat Pyramad like he/she has no hero power, you end up with a nice +4 health on turns where you have 1 coin lying around. But don’t bank on this hero power making or breaking any strategy you plan to use.

Hero: Rakinishu

Power: Tavern Lightning: Give a friendly minion stats equal to your Tavern Tier.
Suited for: Flexibility, Goodstuff
Upsides: Targeted buffs
Downsides: Pretty useless in early game
Assessment: 3

Rakinishu has a pretty solid hero power, but it sucks pretty badly if you’re not at east somewhat invested in your tavern tier. The hero power text is a bit confusing, so to clarify, if your tavern tier is at level 1, you’ll be able to give a minion +1/+1; tier 2, +2/+2—so on and so forth.

The real upside for Rakinishu is that you can pick which minion is buffed, unlike some other heroes that choose minions randomly. Getting the timing right for when to use the hero power is the real struggle, but overall, if you time your buffs correctly its certainly possible to make deep runs.

Hero: Reno Jackson

Power: Gonna Be Rich!:Make a friendly minion Golden. (Once per game.)
Suited for: Commitment, Goodstuff, Flexibility
Upsides: A golden minion of your selection (from your board, anyway) is super handy
Downsides: Only one per game
Assessment: 2

Reno Jackson is one of two characters with a once per game hero power, but in true Reno fashion, the effect is actual quite strong. How many times do you you find yourself saying, “If only that minion was Golden!”. Well, now you get to pick which minion becomes Golden, and that can be a game changer for your warband.

The obvious downside is the once per game restriction, which means you need to reeeeally think long term here. Golden minions can really shift momentum in your favor, depending on the minion. And even if Gonna Be Rich! only happens once per game, it’s perfectly realistic to build entire strategies around it.

Hero: Skycap’n Kragg

Power: Piggy Bank: Gain Gold this turn. Increases each turn. (Once per game.)
Suited for: Commitment, Goodstuff, Flexibility
Upsides: Potential for huge momentum jump
Downsides: Waiting for coin count to build negates some of the momentum gain
Assessment: 3

Kragg’s hero power is pretty helpful in instances where you need to make a lot happen in one turn, but the effect isn’t powerful enough at a once per game limitation. Waiting for the coin count to build leaves you with an underwhelming warband build-up, and using it early-on leaves you out of luck for the remainder of the game—quite the dilemma. 

Still, if you can time your hero power just right, you’ll find the extra 4, 5, 6… however many coins, just made your turn a lot more interesting.

Join us next time for the rest of our Hearthstone Battlegrounds guide! (Seriously, we didn’t know it would be this

 

More Stories
Should You Build or Buy a Gaming PC?