Blizzard’s answer to the hot new auto-battler genre is here in Hearthstone Battlegrounds. 8 players duke it out over multiple rounds to clash auto-attacking boards, trying to defeat their opponents and build the ultimate set of minions. While the minions, interactions and combat are largely similar to traditional Hearthstone, you’d be surprised at how different it can be. The format flips normal Hearthstone balance on its head, meaning you’ll have to look at minions with a completely new perspective.
Tempo? What tempo?
Perhaps the biggest difference is the lower impact of the early game. In Battlegrounds, minions return for the next round after they fall in combat. And rather than attack damage, you’ll lose health based on surviving minion’s ‘tier’. This means that if you fall behind in the early game, your minions will survive, and you will only take moderate damage.
This is a radical departure from normal Hearthstone. Rather than early tempo and aggressive board dominance being key, in Battlegrounds you’ll always need to keep one eye on the end-game if you want to win. You can’t just throw down strong cheap minions then continually go face when you can’t win the board. If you don’t kill all the opponent’s minions, they won’t take any damage! Rather than tempo, synergy and long-term development are key.
Part of this change is a complete reinterpretation of what a minion’s ‘attack’ means. In traditional Hearthstone, minions with high attack are great at going face. But in Battlegrounds, going face doesn’t exist! Attack is only good for clearing out minions. It’s still very important; especially since you can’t use spells or weapons to control the board.
This makes a massive impact on the power of Poison. Poison in traditional Hearthstone is pretty lacklustre. Without a threateningly high attack, you may as well ignore the poisonous minion and just go face, forcing your opponent to trade for you. But in Battlegrounds, Poison functions as infinite attack, able to clear any minion (without Divine Shield). Moreover, Poison has a double threat; both when the poison minion attacks, and when the auto-attacking opponent attacks into it for you. A Poison minion with Taunt is a dangerous thing in Battlegrounds.
Positioning is king
In traditional Hearthstone, positioning is largely irrelevant. Sure, decks that play Dire Wolf Alpha and the like care, but more often than not it makes little difference. Not so in Battlegrounds. Positioning is absolutely vital.
Since minions attack left to right, getting your most valuable attacks in early is vital. The free positioning between rounds makes it easy to change, but almost impossible to master. Knowing what to protect and what to put in the line of fire relies on predicting your opponent’s strategy and playing around their minions.
Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment.
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