How to navigate the meta and win in Hearthstone Battlegrounds
Hearthstone Battlegrounds is in a good position right now, since the recent refresh. The meta is fairly balanced — as much as you can say that in a game with so many different heroes and minion tribes, of course. It’s also the perfect gateway into Hearthstone — unlike Constructed, which requires you to purchase packs, craft cards, and know how to build (and pilot) decks, Battlegrounds is already ripe for anyone to jump into it at any moment. No collection required! No cards! Just press play and, you know, begin playing!
Does that sound appealing to you? If it does, and you’re interested in giving this mode a try — or if you’re already a player and simply want to learn some tips in order to improve your odds at winning — we’ll present you a brief analysis of how the meta-game of Hearthstone Battlegrounds looks at the current moment.
Which heroes should I pick, or avoid? Should I build my composition around Murlocs, Demons, or Pirates? Are Quilboars still overpowered, or have they fallen from grace? Read on to find it all out!
Which hero should you pick?
These are the best heroes in the game at the moment. Pick one of them, and your chances of getting a top four finish are definitely going to be higher than average:
You won’t find them every time, of course. But fret not, for there are other very strong heroes as well, who aren’t that far below the top tier in terms of power. Those heroes include:
- Arch-Villain Rafaam
- Milhouse Manastorm
- Mutanus the Devourer
- The Great Akazamzarak
- The Lich King
But those aren’t the only strong heroes in the game! If you don’t see any of those, try to nab one of these, who can definitely hold their own very well too:
- Death Speaker Blackthorn
- Forest Warden Omu
- George the Fallen
- Jandice Barov
- Kurtrus Ashfallen
- Maiev Shadowsong
- Millificent Manastorm
- Patches the Pirate
- Ragnaros the Firelord
- Reno Jackson
- Silas Darkmoon
Of course, knowing how to play a hero well is often more important than simply following these tier lists. For instance, I’m confident that I can pilot Ragnaros much better than Galewing, a hero that I’m not very experienced with, and who has some key strategies that require very specific knowledges of that particular hero, rather than of the game mode in general.
So play to your strengths! Don’t insist on a hero if you’re seeing better results with another one that you’re more familiar with. Knowledge and consistency are more important.
Which composition should you try to build, and how to play it well?
Mechs are the strongest composition in the game right now. Murlocs, Elementals, Dragons, Demons, and Beasts — more specifically, Beasts using Leapfrogger — are also very strong and capable of winning many games. So for this piece, we’ll focus on those.
Quilboars and Pirates are not in a very good position at the moment — which is why they were recently buffed. Meanwhile, Menagerie is pretty much dead, sadly. How the mighty have fallen!
Mechs have two main themes going on for them: Divine Shields, and the ability to spawn smaller Mechs (Microbots). You’ll find many minions that take advantage of those effects. But the stars of the show are Holy Mecherel — which you’ll want to place as the second minion in your board, while making sure that the first minion has Divine Shield — and Omega Buster, which you’ll also want to place in the initial positions of your board, to take advantage of the buffing side-effect of the Deathrattle, rather than simply spawning regular Microbots.
For the Divine Shield strategy, Deflect-o-Bot is not as important as it used to be in the past; it’ll be strong in the early to mid game, but for the late game, you’ll want to rely on stronger minions — assuming you didn’t buff it to very high levels by using Grease Bot, another key tool.
Finally, another powerful Mech worth mentioning, outside of the Divine Shield and Microbot strategies, is Mechano-Tank, which can single-handedly carry you to victory sometimes with its “juggles,” especially if you can manage to get a golden one.
Deathrattles galore! Basically, as your Beasts die, they make your other Beasts stronger. You’re still going to rely on old favorites like Goldrinn and Monstrous Macaw, but your Deathrattle shenanigans start much earlier in the game now, with Leapfrogger.
You will, of course, want to amplify the Leapfrogger effect as much as possible, not only through Macaw, but by nabbing yourself a Baron Rivendare as well. And you’ll want to fill your board with rats — more specifically, Sewer Rat and Rat Pack. Multiplying is the name of the game!
The other powerful effects that Beasts have come from buffing minions you spawn during the game, by using Mama Bear, and cleave, from Cave Hydra. While those two minions are still powerful, the current Beasts strategy doesn’t rely on them nearly as much as it did before — hence why this comp is called “Leapfrogger” by most people, rather than “Beasts.”
No juggles no more! Soul Juggler has fallen from grace, and is far from the strongest tool in the Demon toolkit these days. When playing Demons, you’re looking to do two things: buffing your minions, and getting more (and more) Demons for free.
The tried and true ways to buff your minions, such as Wrath Weaver and Bigfernal, are still very much valid. However, Demons have also gotten the brand-new “Consume” effects, from minions such as Insatiable Ur’zul and the very strong Famished Felbat.
But the star of the show is not a Demon herself. Impatient Doomsayer is a key minion that will allow you to generate Demons as she watches her fellow Demons die — make sure to position her at the end of your board, as you’re wont to do with any Avenge minion. If you manage to get a Doomsayer or two early on, that can make you no longer need to rely as much on the Demons that are offered to you from the tavern, which can be a critical advantage over your opponents.
Dragons haven’t changed very much with the Refresh. Your most key minions are still Kalecgos — which will make you want to buy every single Battlecry minion you find on the tavern once you secure him — and Nadina. Your endgame is still very much reliant on those two.
With that said, it’s your early to mid game that has been changed a bit. If you can get yourself an Evolving Chromawing early on, it will be a rare tier 1 minion that might stick to your board all the way to the end, since its self-buffing effect is so powerful. Similarly, Tarecgosa gets permanent buffs from combat, which can make her so powerful that she’ll be rendered irreplaceable.
The new thing Dragons got that is very worth mentioning is their new “shield busting” capability, from Prestor’s Pyrespawn. This minion allows you to almost completely negate the Divine Shields from your opponents — which can be super powerful if you’re going against Mechs, specifically. Keep that in mind!
Crazy stats! This tribe has the potential to buff all of your minions to absolutely ludicrous levels, and to do it fast. So many key parts of the Elemental comp will have the ability to permanently buff all Elementals in the tavern, meaning that you’ll be able to keep selling and purchasing new, stronger Elementals as you go. This effect was already known from Nomi, but our loveable Pandaren has been joined by Dazzling Elemental now.
Besides buffing the Elementals in your tavern, your board will also keep getting buffed as you play more Elementals, from good old Molten Rock, as well as new faces like Master of Realities. Not much else has changed for Elementals, so your old strategy to position a big Crackling Cyclone or Wildfire Elemental in the initial position of your board is still very strong and reliable.
Yes, Murlocs still win the game by poisoning the competition. The difference is that Toxfin is gone, and they have to work with the sadly much less reliable SI:Sefin, which you’ll need to position as the final minion on your board so he can watch his fellow murlocs die and create the desire to Avenge them.
Other than that, you’re still going to want to keep purchasing and selling lots of Murlocs, for the powerful Battlecry effects from Felfin Navigator, Coldlight Seer, and King Bagurgle, and for the ability to find more Murlocs through Primalfin Lookout — just make sure to sell those minions as well, rather than keeping them on your board, so that you can potentially find them again!
There are two other new pieces worth a mention for Murlocs: Saltscale Honcho, which can make your early game better by buffing the Health of your Murlocs, and Swolefin, which is a brand-new “finisher” minion for Murlocs, since he’ll grow stronger once your board is already filled with fellow fishmen.
How to win games in Hearthstone Battlegrounds
Raise your tavern aggressively. Don’t play conservatively! It’s better to risk it all and take a ton of damage now in order to begin making your comeback at a higher tier later. If you’re losing, you’re not suddenly going to start winning by staying in the same tier. You need some new tool to turn things around, and you can only find those in the higher tavern tiers.
But at the same time, don’t waste gold! If you have a total of seven gold and raising your tavern costs seven gold, it’s probably not a good idea to spend all of your money on doing just that, and not purchasing anything. You’ll always want to make sure that you still have at least three leftover gold after leveling up, so that you can at least buy a new minion — or sell a minion, refresh the tavern, and hopefully buy a minion from the new tier you just unlocked.
Don’t try to force a composition if you can’t find the pieces! This is a common mistake people make. Keep your comp open during the beginning of the game: simply buy whatever minions are the strongest for the early game. Try to find synergies if you can, but don’t overdo it.
Know the ins and outs of your hero: try to keep playing the same hero as often as you can, instead of changing heroes too much. Certain heroes are harder to play than others, and you’ll need to get some experience with concepts such as when to use your Hero Power, when to raise your tavern tier, etc.
These are some general tips, but of course, the key is to practice a lot. Battlegrounds is a far more forgiving mode than Constructed is; you don’t get as much anxiety since it’s a lobby of eight players, rather than just you vs. a single opponent. And finishing top 4 counts as a win, which definitely alleviates the pressure: winning is a spectrum, rather than a simple “yes or no” answer. You can win by playing a perfect game and smashing the competition, but you can also win by barely scraping by and finishing fourth against three opponents who are doing much better than you!
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