Hearthstone’s new Battlegrounds mode will offer 8-player competition
And with the just-announced Descent of Dragons expansion, Blizzard has delivered exactly that with a new Battlegrounds mode looks absolutely wild. In practice, the mode looks similar to Auto Chess, and in fact, it began its life as an Auto Chess-style Tavern Brawl until Team 5 realized it had more potential than that.
In Battlegrounds, eight players will face off for dominance. The mode features 23 playable heroes (including one “dancing murloc”) who are different from the nine baseline classes. The gameplay trailer shows cards like Jaraxxus, Ragnaros, Shudderwock as heroes, as well as others that have previously appeared as enemies in Adventure modes.
You’ll start by choosing a hero with its own Hero Power bonus. For example, the Curator gives a free 1/1 at the start of the game that has all minion types. King Mukla lets you “sell” beasts for bananas. Professor Putricide gives your leftmost minion +10 attack.
Then you’ll purchase a team of minions at Bob’s Tavern and place them on the board the way you want them. You can also buff them, and the buffs remain permanent for the entire Battlegrounds match. Bob will also let you change the choices, “fire” a minion, freeze the current choices, or upgrade the Tavern (which gives you access to upgraded minions). You can even create a “Triple” by acquiring three copies of a minion. A Triple combines to give you a vastly more powerful, golden version of that minion.
Bob’s minion cards draw from part of the existing card pool, but also include 10 new cards designed just for Battlegrounds. They’re grouped into six different tiers that represent their cost.
Once you’ve set up all your minions the way you want them, you’ll be matched up randomly against one of the other seven heroes. Unlike a regular game of Hearthstone, you can’t decide what your minions target. Each side will automatically attack from left to right. Their targets will be random minions, although Taunt minions always get targeted first. Any remaining damage is assigned to the enemy hero.
Between rounds you’ll get more and more gold to spend on additional minions until one hero emerges as the victor. You’ll fight the next hero standing until there is only one victor left. The mode will feature rankings and a leaderboard of the top 1000 players on the official Hearthstone website. Spending your gold wisely and making the most of your minions are the keys to winning.
With 24 heroes, each player receives their own choice of up to three, so two players can’t choose the same hero. With only 8 out of 24 chosen in any given match, each match should play out quite differently than the next.
Battlegrounds will be free, but buying packs of Descent of Dragons will unlock “bonus” content such as detailed stats on your performance, additional hero choices (three instead of two), and new “visual” emotes. It sounds like a total of 30 packs is required to unlock all of the bonus content, and the packs can be purchased with gold.
I never imagined an 8-player mode for Hearthstone, so it’s hard to wrap my head around it at the moment. I’m hoping for a mode that eschews the more linear strategies of 1-on-1 play and allows for more creative deckbuilding. It seems like the mode will feature adaptive, on-the-fly deck creation like we’ve seen in Hearthstone‘s PVE modes.
A Battlegrounds demo is playable at BlizzCon right now. It will launch with Hearthstone‘s newest expansion, Descent of Dragons, on Dec. 10, but early access for pre-purchasers begins this Tuesday. A global open beta for Battlegrounds will begin on November 12.
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