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HearthstoneDec 6, 2021 2:00 pm CT

Hearthstone Battlegrounds introduces new hero Scabbs, and Lord Barov returns to the lineup

The Fractured in Alterac Valley expansion is almost here, but the festivities have already begun. Patch 22.0 was recently released, bringing with it content for nearly every game mode in Hearthstone — and of course the ever-popular Battlegrounds wouldn’t be the exception.

We’ll delve into all the intel regarding the new gnomish SI:7 agent who can spy your opponent’s warband, the return of an old lord to replace Diablo, and the addition of a new type of cosmetic content.

New Hero: Scabbs Cutterbutter

Scabbs is a new hero to Battlegrounds with a fascinating Hero Power:

  • I Spy [Costs 2]
    • Discover a plain copy of a minion from your next opponent’s warband.

This is a really cool Hero Power. It allows you to discover a minion from among those that your next opponent is about to play against you, for only two gold. Getting minions for two gold is usually a very good deal — the power level of heroes like Yogg and Xyrella, who have always figured among the top tiers of the game, hinges on that.

The discovered minions aren’t completely random — the fact that those minions are part of someone’s warband usually means that they’re of a higher quality, since someone decided to buy them for their own use. And, of course, this Hero Power also lets you — as the very name says — spy three of your opponent’s minions, allowing you to better prepare for whatever it is they have in store for you.

That said, this is a Hero Power that definitely goes down in power the longer a game goes. When you get to the middle-to-late turns of the game, discovering “plain” random minions — instead of using your gold trying to invest into your own composition, or into finding your triples — becomes less and less of a good deal.

Scabbs is already live for players who have Battlegrounds Perks; everyone else will get access to him on December 14.

Returning Hero: Lord Barov

Ding dong, the Lord of Terror is dead! Much rejoicing has been had since the overpowered Diablo was removed from Battlegrounds — but another side-effect of this removal was the return of Lord Barov to the game mode. The rumors of his demise had been greatly exaggerated.

Because, you see, Lord Barov had been disabled while Diablo dominated the Battlegrounds, since his Hero Power — which allows the player to bet on who they think is going to win the next combat — simply couldn’t work with those special rounds where everyone battled against the Lord of Terror. But the event is over, and Barov is back with a vengeance.

Lord Barov is not one of the strongest heroes in the game at the moment, but I think I can safely speak for the majority of the Battlegrounds-playing community when I say this: better having him than Diablo!

Boards are being added as a new cosmetic option for Battlegrounds

Battlegrounds is a (mostly) free-to-play mode, so it hinges on cosmetics taking the lion’s share of its monetization model — which is very good thing, in my opinion. In general, I’d rather have free-to-play games make their profit by offering cosmetic options for the players, instead of by requiring players to invest into entrance fees, or in purchasing the pieces they need in order to simply begin playing. These boards add yet another cosmetic option to the game mode, beyond hero skins and bartenders — and I hope we keep seeing more and more of this.

But a question that should quickly emerge is: what happens if I’m using a customized board, and so is my opponent? The solution Hearthstone adopted is to randomly pick which player gets to display their board on that turn. Since Battlegrounds consists of several quick battles, this seems like an adequate solution, in my opinion.

Another game that features cosmetic boards is Legends of Runeterra. In that game, the board is actually split in the middle, so that each player can bring their own “half” — but, frankly, I feel like, for Battlegrounds, the solution of having the game randomly pick a board for each bout is far more adequate.

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