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HearthstoneFeb 27, 2020 9:00 am CT

Dragons take over the Hearthstone Battlegrounds

Here, there be dragons, and “here” is the Hearthstone Battlegrounds. First announced at BlizzCon 2019, Battlegrounds has been a great addition to Hearthstone as players battle it out with warbands of Murlocs, Demons, Beasts and Mechs. Now, the Dragons swoop in to shake up the game.

It wouldn’t be Hearthstone if we didn’t have a catchy tune to announce it!

The dragons of Hearthstone Battlegrounds

Let’s meet the new dragons and their support cards.

Tier 1

  • Dragonspawn Lieutenant – 2/3 Dragon with Taunt. Dragonspawn is one of the best Tier 1 options available regardless of your ultimate strategy.
  • Red Whelp – 1/2 Dragon, deal 1 damage per friendly dragon to one random enemy minion. Red Whelp might ping off a key a Divine Shield, or take out a key minion.

Tier 2

  • Glyph Guardian – 2/4 Dragon, Whenever this attacks, double its Attack. I don’t think Glyph Guardian keeps its upgraded attack from round to round. If it does, it could be a serious monster in the mid to late game. As is, it’ll be a key target for Divine Shield and health buffs to ensure it lives.
  • Steward of Time – 2/4 Dragon, When you sell this minion, all minions in Bob’s Tavern get +1/+1. Steward of Time is a buff for all your minions plus everything you’ll can buy at that moment. It’s a skill cap minion.
  • Waxrider Togwaggle – 1/2 tribeless, Whenever a friendly Dragon kills a minion, gain +2/+2. This is a snowball minion like Scavenging Hyena, or Junkbot. These were popular early on, but fell off as players learned to counter them.

Tier 3

  • Bronze Warden – 2/1 Dragon with Divine Shield and Reborn. This is the first Reborn minion for Battlegrounds. It’s a little weak for Tier 3, but your opponent will have to kill it four times. It could wreck havoc on those annoying magnetized Replicating Menace or a Rat Pack.
  • Hungry Dragon – 4/4 Dragon which  the start of your turn, gain +2/+2 if you won the last combat. You’ll have to confident in your abilities to put this minion into play, but it can snowball and ensure its own activations.

Tier 4

  • Cobalt Scalebane – 5/5 Dragon that gives another random friendly minion +3 attack. This has amazing synergy with Glyph Guardian, but the buff is useful for almost any army. He was dangerous in Standard for a while, I expect he’ll be a force in Battlegrounds.
  • Drakonid Enforcer – 3/6 Dragon with after a friendly minion loses Divine Shield, gain +2/+2. Straight powercreep on Bolvar, Fireblood, another Tier 4 minion who only gains +2 attack. He can be found crying in the corner.
  • Herald of Flame – 5/4 Dragon with Overkill: Deal 3 damage to the left most minion. Many times that left most minion is going to be a key minion the enemy is trying to keep alive.

Tier 5

  • Murozond – 5/5 Dragon with Battlecry: Add a minion from your last opponent’s Warband to your hand. At a minimum, the minion will be worth 1g to sell. Early on, when many players are experimenting with Dragons, it might give you something to synergize with your own warband.
  • Razorgore, the Untamed – 2/4 Dragon with at the end of your turn, gain +1/+1 for each Dragon you have. This could be up to +7/+7 every single turn if it counts itself and you have a board full of dragons. Any why wouldn’t you?
  • Twilight Emissary – 6/8 Dragon with Taunt and Battlecry: Give a friendly Dragon +3/+3. That’s a beefy taunt to chew through and a nice buff for one of your other minions.

Tier 6

  • Kalecgos, Arcane Aspect – 2/8 Dragon with that gives your Dragons +1+/1 after you play a minion. Another minion which can snowball your warband into a huge monsters.
  • Nadina, the Red – 7/4 tribeless with Deathrattle: Give your Dragons Divine Shield. With low health, it should be easy enough to ensure she dies. Obvious synergy with Drakonid Enforcer. Big dragons with Divine Shield are going to be hard to kill.

Other newcomers to the Battlegrounds

Tier 2

  • Unstable Ghoul – 1/3 (no Tribe) with Taunt and Deathrattle: Deal 1 damage to all minions. This is a great anti-Divine Shield minion. It has no tribe which is important for Heroes like Tirion Fordring.

Tier 6

  • Holy Mackerel – 8/4 Murloc that gains Divine Shield whenever a friendly minion loses Divine Shield. Stop. Whoever created this minion, Blizzard needs to give them a bonus. I love the name, and Murlocs now have a similar recurring Divine Shield mechanic like Mechs get with Cobalt Guardian.
  • Imp Mama – 6/8 Demon that summons a random Demon and give it Taunt whenever it takes damage. Spawning minions is good, but the random aspect could hold it back. I see this useful more in a Soul Juggler comp.

New Dragon Heroes take the Battlgrounds by storm

Alexstrasza – Passive Hero Power: After you upgrade Bob’s Tavern to Tier 5, Discover two Dragons. This is a bit like AFK’s Hero Power. You’ve got nothing to help you in the early game, and I have my doubts that two Dragons are going to make up for the power the other Hero Powers give. If they were guaranteed to be Tier 5 Dragons maybe, but it doesn’t say that.

Deathwing – Passive Hero Power: All minions have +3 attack. Straight upgrade to Queen Wagtoggle’s Hero Power. I could see this working well with Cleave style minions.

Galakrond – Hero Power (1g): Replace a minion in Bob’s Tavern with a minion from a higher Tavern Tier. Another straight upgrade, this time to Infinite Toki’s Hero Power.

Malygos – Hero Power (0g): Replace a minion with a random one of the same Tavern Tier. This gives a reroll on a single minion for 0g. This will be helpful when you’re committed to your strategy but you don’t get anything good in the Tavern.

Nozdormu – Passive Hero Power: Your first Refresh each turn costs (0). This is going to be a good Hero Power. With a diluted minion pool (more on that later), rerolls will be more important than ever.

Reno Jackson – Hero Power (4g)- Make a friendly minion Golden. 4g Hero Powers haven’t worked great in Battlegrounds so far, but this one might be good enough to justify the cost. You don’t get the discover or the Battlecry, but hitting a Braan or a Rivendare with this could be powerful.

Ysera – Hero Power (1g): Refresh Bob’s Tavern and add a Dragon. If you know you’re going to play Dragons, at least you’re guaranteed to get one.

Who’s out of the Battlegrounds lineup?

We bid a fond “keep yer feet on the ground” to one Hero and several minions to make room for their new dragon overlords.

The Professor Putricide hero is once again out of Battlegrounds, and all of these minions have taken their final bow:

  • Annoy-o-tron
  • Mounted Raptor
  • Shielded Minibot
  • Phalanx Commander
  • Psych-o-Tron
  • Tortollan Shellraiser
  • Piloted Sky Golem
  • Festeroot Hulk
  • Sated Threshadon
  • The Boogeymonster

Several early Divine Shield Mechs will make it harder to sustain long enough for the Cobalt Guardians and Mechano-Eggs to take over. But the bigger losses here are Tortollan, Festerroot Hulk, and The Boogeymonster. All were all key minions for Tirion Fordring. I had suspected we might see an increase to his Hero Power form 1g to 2g, but now I understand why they left it alone. He’ll take a step down in the tier lists, even with it still at 1g. I could see this being problematic because Tirion players now have little incentive to upgrade the Tavern. Go wide and smash that Hero Power.

Will these changes launch a brand new Battlegrounds meta? Maybe

With how some of the new Hero powers are straight upgrades over the old ones and with all those old Heroes still in the rotation, I’m concerned the initial roll of the three heroes you’re offered will have a larger impact on your performance now.

Many players will try out Dragons and there’s potential here for sure. I don’t see much to change up the current game plan of huge Demons and poisonous Murlocs.

The biggest change will be the additional tribe. Battlegrounds has always had an RNG element to it, but now you’ll be hoping for the right minion from among five tribes rather than five. The pool overall is larger with 18 new minions added but only 10 removed. Rerolls will be extra valuable to help even out the RNG.

I’ll be diving into the new Battlegrounds on the Blizzard Watch Tuesday night stream, directly after the Blizzard Watch Podcast, so show up to watch the new Battlegrounds in action!

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