Battlegrounds is one of the newer game modes in Hearthstone where eight players battle it out to be the last one standing. The game mode features an MMR system where points are awarded based on placement. Top 4 is considered a win in Hearthstone’s daily and weekly quests.
At the beginning of the game, players are given a choice between two heroes; this can be increased to four by purchasing the Battlegrounds Season Pass. Some heroes are more powerful than others, so choose wisely. Sire Denathrius is considered one of the best heroes in the game, as his hero power can give him a decisive advantage; Dancin’ Deryl isn’t nearly as powerful and has a low pick rate. Looking at a Hero Tier List is a good starting point.
It’s also important to consider the minion types when choosing a hero: Dinotamer Brann works great in a Murloc lobby whereas Trade Prince Gallywix is strong in an Elemental & Pirate lobby.
A – Gold
You start the game with 3 gold, which is increased by 1 each turn until it reaches 10.
B – Bob’s Tavern
Here you will see a set of minions randomly generated from the minion pool. A minion can be bought for 3 gold and sold for 1 gold. Selling a minion returns it to the pool. A minion’s Tavern tier is denoted by the number of stars at the top of the card. Naturally, higher tier minions are stronger in that they have better stats and more powerful effects.
C – Tavern Upgrade
You start the game at Tier 1 and the highest level is Tier 6. There is a base cost for each Tavern upgrade, which is reduced by 1 gold each turn.
Tier 2 – 5 gold
Tier 3 – 7 gold
Tier 4 – 8 gold
Tier 5 – 11 gold
Tier 6 – 10 gold
Your minion pool consists of your current Tavern Tier and lower; for example if you are Tier 3, you will see Tier 1-3 minions in the pool. The amount of minions in the Tavern increases as you level: you start with three and an additional minion is added at Tier 2, Tier 4, and Tier 6.
D – Refresh
The dreaded Refresh button. This button allows you to replace minions in the shop for 1 gold, also known as rolling. Use this button when there is nothing you want to buy, but let me give you a valuable piece of advice: never trust the Refresh button! It will let you down more often than not. Sometimes it’s better to just take what’s on offer than waste your gold looking for a specific minion.
E – Freeze
The Tavern will automatically refresh at the beginning of a turn, however with the Freeze button you can lock a set of minions. This means the exact same minions will appear in the shop next turn. Freeze the shop when you see a minion you want but will only be able to afford it the following turn.
F – Hero power
Active hero powers need to be clicked, whereas passive hero powers don’t need any action from the player. Active hero powers typically cost 0 to 3 gold, so you need to learn which turns are optimal for hero powering. Your hero power can also affect your upgrade curve. Heroes like Elise and Galewing usually hit an early Tier 3, whereas Millhouse Manastorm will stay at Tier 1 and buy more minions initially.
Hearthstone Deck Tracker
This is a great tool to run alongside Hearthstone Battlegrounds. Deck Tracker shows a wealth of useful information in a convenient overlay. At the beginning of the game, it will display each Hero’s pick rate and average placement, as well as which minion types are the most effective. This is super useful when trying to decide what hero to play.
Once the game begins, you can see the entire minion pool on the right, grouped into their respective Tiers. This can help you figure out what minions you’re looking for at what Tiers, so you have a better idea of the composition you’re working towards.
During combat, Deck Tracker displays a combat simulation that contains the percentage chance of a Win, Tie, and Loss. You’ll be amazed how many <5% losses you take!
Note that you have to subscribe to Tier7 to use all the features of Deck Tracker.
Recruit Phase & Combat Phase
Every turn is split into two parts, the Recruit Phase and Combat Phase. During the Recruit Phase you will buy minions and work on your board composition; during the Combat phase heroes battle each other. Your minions will attack from left to right with targets chosen randomly (Taunts are always attacked first). A general rule of thumb is to place your stronger minions on the left where they will have an immediate impact, but it’s not always that simple.
Some minions have passive effects that trigger during combat: Budding Greenthumb gives adjacent minions +2/+1 for every three minions that die; Scrap Smith generates a Blood Gem for every Taunt that dies; Scrap Scraper gives you a random Magnetic Mech for every f our minions that die. It makes sense to place these minions on the right, where they have a better chance of surviving.
If either hero has minions left after the combat, that hero wins the round and deals damage to the other hero. Damage is calculated as follows: the sum of the Tavern Tiers of all the remaining minions plus the Hero’s Tavern Tier. Most heroes start with 30 health points but have different armor tiers.
At the beginning of the game, there is a Damage Cap of 15, meaning you cannot take more than 15 damage at a time. The Damage Cap expires once a hero has died and the game has reached Turn 8–both conditions must be met.
Once a player dies, he becomes a ghost. If there are an uneven amount of players left in the game, one human player will face the ghost. The ghost’s board composition will be the same as when the player controlling it died. Facing the ghost usually means a free turn, so it gives you a chance to level or set up a strong future turn.
Battlegrounds has a growing minion pool that we can put into three categories:
Single minion type
Minions that are of one type, eg. Murloc, Beast, Undead.
A dual minion has two types, eg. Mech Demon, Quilboar Naga, Undead Pirate. Dual types will be available if either minion type is in the lobby, eg. if there is either Undead or Mech in the lobby (or both), the game will feature Undead Mechs.
A minion that has no minion type.
In a game of Battlegrounds, only half the minion types are present; the other half will be banned. Neutral minions feature in all games. Knowing minions and minion combinations is very important, and it takes time to master board composition. A good starting point would be playing an easy single minion style like Naga or Quilboar, as most of the synergies are fairly obvious. Once you have an understanding of basic single minion types, try more advanced compositions like Mech, Menagerie, or APM pirates.
It’s crucial to think about countering other heroes, and you can sometimes beat a much stronger opponent by running counters. Leeroy the Reckless counters big Divine Shield minions, Sin’dorei Straight Shot counters Undead, Zapp Slywick counters Titus Rivendare, and so forth. One of the strongest counter minions, especially in a Menagerie setup, is Mantid Queen, which is basically a guaranteed Reborn Venomous minion.
Once you own three copies of a minion (regardless of where they are), they will combine to form one golden minion, also called a triple. A triple is a more powerful version of the base card and will typically have double stats and a doubly powerful Battlecry, Deathrattle, or passive effect. When you play a golden minion, you earn a Discover card as a bonus. This card enables you to Discover a minion of the next Tavern Tier, and can give you a big boost if you use it to Discover a Tier 5 or Tier 6 minion. Finding an early Magmaloc or Underhanded Dealer will give you insane scaling potential.
Let’s run through a game of Battlegrounds in a turn-by-turn fashion.
The most common play on Turn 1 is buying a minion for 3 gold. What you should be looking for here is a good tempo minion or a token. A token is a minion that can give you extra gold: Shell Collector’s Battlecry gives you a coin, and Sellemental gives you a 2/2 Water Droplet when sold, allowing you to gain gold without sacrificing tempo.
Here you will most likely be upgrading to Tier 2 for 4 gold, but it also depends on the hero. Millhouse Manastorm will typically double buy on Turn 2 and only upgrade on Turn 3, and a hero like Lord Barov is looking to buy a minion and hero power on Turn 2 instead of upgrading.
On this turn you have 5 gold, which makes things awkward as buying a minion will leave you on 2 gold. This is where the token comes into play. Having that one extra gold means you can double-buy, which should give you good tempo. If you cannot double-buy, look for a Battlecry minion. You can merely buy the minion for its Battlecry, then sell it again with 3 gold left for another buy.
On this turn you have 6 gold, making it possible to double-buy. If you feel like you have enough tempo, you can push to Tier 3 and roll once for a potential Freeze.
Upgrading to Tier 3 here is considered normal curve. You have 7 gold so you can exactly upgrade and buy a minion.
On this turn you have 8 gold so you you can roll a few times if necessary. This is where you’re looking to set up tempo for the mid-game, and also start thinking about a potential line of play. Are you doing single minion or Menagerie? Do you want to hit an early Tier 6 or prioritise tempo? Is there any triple potential for a Tier 5/Tier 6 discover?
This is another curve upgrade turn, and you can exactly upgrade to Tier 4 and buy a minion.
On Turn 8 you’re looking for powerful Tier 4 minions, and the best case scenario would be tripling up to discover Tier 5 minions. As of Patch 26.2, the base cost of upgrading to Tier 5 is 11 gold, so power-levelling on Turn 8 is going to be difficult, unless you have something like Corpse Refiner or Freedealing Gambler. If you have the tempo and the gold, levelling to Tier 5 is a strong play.
Turn 9 and beyond
This is where you need to start transitioning from a mid-game to a late-game setup. At this point you should have a few strong minions and your board must have scaling potential.
From time to time, Blizzard will introduce new mechanics or reintroduce old ones. Most players will be familiar with Buddies, where each Hero has a synergistic Buddy that can have a decisive impact on the game. Another impactful mechanic is Quests. Each hero receives a Quest at the beginning of the game, and the Quest has a certain requirement before giving the player a reward, eg. play X Battlecry minions or have X minions die.
Thinking about future turns is crucial. Very often you will have to weigh tempo against value, and it’s important to find a balance. Buying a token on Turn 1 like Shell Collector or Sellemental isn’t necessarily amazing tempo, but will enable you to double buy on Turn 3 while keeping your first minion.
Sometimes you’re holding higher tier minions with no board space. Instead of playing them right away, save them for the next Recruit Phase as you can then sell the minions they’re replacing for extra gold on that turn. But making a value play like this means you will be weaker in the combat, so ask yourself if it’s worth potentially losing a combat for more value the following turn. If you feel confident you’re going to win the combat, rather hold the value until next turn.
Counter the lobby
When working on your board composition, spare a thought for what the lobby is playing. If everyone is running Undead, it might be a good idea to develop a Sin’dorei Straight Shot; if someone is running a giant Crackling Cyclone, drop a taunted Leeroy Jenkins; if the lobby is filled with cleave minions like Foe Reaper 4000 and Cave Hydra, place a Taunt minion in the corner; if many players are running Beast, start looking for a Zapp Slywick to kill those pesky Titus Rivendares. You’ll pick up the effective counters as you go along.
Use triples wisely
You generally want to triple into a Tier 5 or 6 Discover, as there are some very powerful minions at those tiers. If the opportunity presents itself, Freeze your triple minion and rush to Tier 4 or Tier 5. Finding a strong minion early can be a game changer.
Learn the heroes
Your whole game plan revolves around the hero you’re playing. Start by choosing a hero that synergises with the minion types in the game. Let’s take Teron Gorefiend for example; he has really good synergy with Undead, so make sure they aren’t banned.
Now think about the board composition you’re working towards. What minions do I need and how can I get them? If you’re playing Teron Gorefiend, you’re looking for minions like Eternal Knight; Anub’arak, Nerubian King; and Eternal Summoner. Anub’arak is especially important, so try to triple up on Tier 3 or hit a quick Tier 4.
What is my levelling strategy with this hero? With Teron Gorefiend it’s beneficial to level aggressively as you are looking to hit that Anub’arak, Nerubian King at Tier 4 and Eternal Summoner at Tier 6. Try to find some tempo early on with Risen Rider and Nerubian Deathswarmer to create space for levelling.
What is Plan B? More often than not, Bob will not be very cooperative, so you need to compromise. Your second best strategy with Teron Gorefiend is Beast, so if you simply aren’t getting Undead in the Tavern, try a Banana Slammer composition.
Some heroes require a very particular style of play. Familiarise yourself with heroes like Millhouse Manastorm, Shudderwock, and Trade Prince Gallywix. If you play these heroes correctly you can dominate the lobby.
Learn to scam
This ties in to the whole Plan B thing, so I guess we’ll call this Plan C. Sometimes a game is just going terribly: Bob isn’t giving you anything remotely useful and everyone else seems to be high-rolling. This is the perfect time to run the so-called scam composition.
It’s very simple, you’re looking for minions that can scam your opponent, and the biggest scammers are Leeroy Jenkins and Mantid Queen. These minions can be huge equalisers when you know your opponent is much stronger than you. Try to run at least two different minion types alongside your Mantid Queens so they get Reborn. Minions with Venomous can be devastating, especially against compositions that run stats like Elemental and Demon.
You probably won’t win these games, but you can easily scam your way into a Top 3 or Top 4. Sometimes you just have to make the most of a bad situation.
Honourable mentions: Ghastcoiler (with reborn for extra lols), Pufferquil, Tunnelblaster