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HearthstoneJun 21, 2015 6:00 pm CT

Hearthstone’s Tavern Brawl Mode: Blackrock Mountain week

Hearthstone’s Tavern Brawl mode debuted earlier last week and reactions so far have been incredibly mixed. Some players (like myself) jumped in for a game or two just to grab the reward pack for the week while others have had a blast playing as either Ragnaros or Nefarian. Much of the lackluster feeling can be attributed to the seeming imbalance of playing as Ragnaros. In fact, there are players who simply concede the moment they discover that drew Rag. During Friday night’s shortened stream, I decided to pop into Tavern Brawl again to see if I could secure consistent wins as Ragnaros. Unfortunately, I went 1 win and 7 losses on the night as the Fire Lord while winning my lone game as Nefarian. If anything, the odds of me playing that many games as Ragnaros vs Nefarian should be way more suspect.

About Tavern Brawl

There are no major incentives to keep brawling other than the fun factor nor are there any costs involved to enter. Players earn a free Classic card pack for their first win each week and no other rewards are planned. The developers want to ensure that players don’t feel that they have to play all the time. On the bright side, Tavern Brawls can count towards daily quests and towards the 10 gold per 3 wins reward. But there are no Brawl-specific quests being introduced nor will you be allowed to challenge friends for credit in normal quest completion.

Your Tavern Brawl match making rating (or MMR) is ongoing and will carry over from week to week. When you queue, you will be paired up against other players of similar skill level with your initial internal ranking dependant on your ranking in other game modes like Casual or Ranked play.

Personally, I’m not the type of player who creates fun decks so when I play against friends, I know they’re often frustrated because they bring out cool or unorthodox decks and here I am with tournament ready decks. Tavern Brawl provides a great way to have fun with players with varying card collections and skills since it helps equalize the playing field. My collection of cards would’ve been useless during Blackrock Mountain week because it doesn’t affect any of the preconstructed decks. It’s another great way to bring players together.

What about that win counter? It’s only there for show. Imagine the Tavern Brawl as a set of individual matches. There’s no reward system at the end of your run as there is in the Arena format.

All in all, the preconstructed deck portions of Tavern Brawl show some promise but I’m looking forward mostly to deck construction components when that becomes available.

Playing as Ragnaros

Deck list

You’re going to be starting off at a huge disadvantage here. Rag’s Molten Rage Hero power summons a Magma Rager but will change to DIE, INSECT! once you’ve exhausted all the charges on his weapon, Sulfuras.

You need to mulligan hard to try to get yourself a Living Lava. Without it, your early turns are not going to go well. If you can hold off long enough until turn 6, your Hero power changes and you can really start flinging 8 damage fireballs all over the place. Son of the Flame is another solid card to try to mulligan for as it gives you a good shot at removing any of Nefarian’s minions on turn 3 for 6 damage. Sadly, some of his minions have over 6 health so it might take both that and a weapon attack to remove it from the board. Playing Lucifron will apply Corruption to any minions still on the board which means they will die the following turn buying you even more time to get set up. Flamestrikes will help you out big time toward the end (even moreso if the Nefarian player happens to drop an Electron early on) but you should consider saving one for when Onyxia hits the board.

Your end game is going to involve dropping Molten Giants along with Golemagg to help power the rest of your offence. If those bad boys can survive and get even one swing in, you’ll be able to walk out of the matchup with a win.

It’s unfortunate that many players opt to immediately concede when playing as Ragnaros because it’s certainly possible to win. Like ranked play, sometimes you need a little randomness to fall in your favor.

As a reminder: mulligan for Living Lava and Son of the Flame.

Playing as Nefarian

Deck list

Nef starts the game with 5 mana which is a massive advantage. This is what a dragon-themed deck would look like if it were legally possible to do so in constructed. The assorted ‘Tron cards there to help you out but some of them can hinder you (such as Electron). Rend Blackhand should be kept to use against opposing legendaries. Your Chromatic Drakes, Hatchers, and Slayers will provide a significant amount of your attacks. Shadowflame provides you a great way to wipe the board so long as you have an expendable minion in play. But really, this deck plays itself quite well. The first few early turns will provide enough breathing room to apply pressure early on.

The moment Rag’s hero power changes is when things start getting interesting. 8 damage will begin randomly flying in your direction potentially hitting your minions or you. The best way to win is to completely overwhelm Ragnaros with drakes from Open the Gates and Onyxia. Watch out for the Flamestrikes though since they will mess you up.

Nef’s hero power lets him pull a random class card and play it for 0 mana. I’ve witnessed it pull useless things like Totemic Might or game-enders like Dark Wispers. The game can essentially be decided by what random class cards Nefarian happens to pull.

That’s it for Tavern Brawl! It is a new game mode and it has a certain appeal that’s going to change from week to week depending on the Brawl theme. It certainly wasn’t the tournament mode I was expecting, but it is unique enough in its own way.

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