Battlegrounds Buddies are coming to completely revolutionize Hearthstone Battlegrounds — here’s the details on all the Buddies so far
A brand-new system called Battlegrounds Buddies is coming to Hearthstone Battlegrounds on January 25, and it may considerably shake up this fan-favorite game mode. Soon, each hero will have its own “buddy,” a specific minion exclusive to that hero which is tailored to suit its playstyle. Completing tasks in game will unlock these minions to use, with a system somewhat similar to the ultimate meter that many other games, like Overwatch or Heroes of the Storm, utilize. Progressing through Battlegrounds will fill up the meter, and filling the meter to certain levels will let you summon Battlegrounds Buddies. And these hero-specific minions are likely to make the game play very differently, giving each hero more of a unique playstyle.
A meter next to your hero will show progress towards unlocking your buddy for that game. You can fill that bar in several ways:
- By dealing damage
- By popping Divine Shields
- By winning or tying games
- Passively (a small amount each turn)
Once the bar is half-filled, you earn your first buddy, adding a standard copy of the minion to your hand. Once the bar is completely full, you’ll earn two more copies of the same minion — so if you still have your first buddy in your hand or on your board, you can combine them into a golden, more powerful version of the minion. It should also be noted that there is a limit to how much the bar can fill on each turn.
Buddies are just like regular Battlegrounds minions, with a tier that can vary from 2 to 4. The higher the tier, the more powerful that buddy is — and the longer it takes to unlock it. In one of the examples given, for a tier 3 buddy, you’re expected to reach the halfway mark on your bar (earning the first copy of your buddy) at around turn 6, and finish your bar (earning the other two copies) at around turn 11. Also, if your hand is full on a turn where you would get a buddy, it should not go to waste; the game should wait until your hand has room and try giving it to you again.
For the full details, you can watch the Battlegrounds Buddies announcement video, courtesy of pro player and content creator RDU. We expect more announcements follow, as several other Hearthstone personalities are scheduled to present changes that are coming to Battlegrounds over the next couple of days.
New Heroes (and their Buddies) coming to Battlegrounds
We’re getting four brand-new heroes with this update.
The Troll Shaman Mercenary we’ve grown to know over the past several months has a very powerful hero power: before every battle, he gets to “call upon an element” for 0 mana. This lets Bru’kan choose from one of four different effects, such as buffing your minions or dealing damage to the opposing board.
Which brings us to Bru’kan’s buddy: Spirit Raptor, a tier 2, 3/2 minion that works in conjunction with Bru’kan’s Hero Power. This raptor “remembers” every single time you use your hero power, and upon death, its Deathrattle triggers calls on each of those elements again, potentially providing a pile of buffs or damage. The golden version of the Spirit Raptor has higher 6/4 stats, but also has an improved Deathrattle that triggers twice rather than once. It has the potential to be quite devastating.
The leader of the Alliance’s successful efforts in Alterac Valley has a 0 cost hero power that reads “Choose a friendly minion. It copies the Health of your highest Health minion for next combat only.” His buddy, Stormpike Lieutenant, is a tier 3, 4/7 minion with “Avenge (2): Give your minions +1 Health permanently.” The fact that we’re talking about a permanent increase is certainly very noteworthy, allowing Vanndar’s board to scale in health indefinitely.
On the Horde side of the Alterac Valley, we have basically a mirror of the Alliance hero discussed above, but working for Attack instead of Health. Drek’thar’s 0 cost hero power reads “Choose a friendly minion. It copies the Attack of your highest Attack minion for next combat only.” His buddy is the tier 3 Frostwolf Lieutenant, a 7/4 minion with “Avenge (2): Give your minions +1 Attack permanently.” So it remains to be seen which scaling strategy between Vanndar’s defense and Drek’thar’s offense will be more powerful.
Tavish has a very complex hero power. It costs 0, and deals damage to a specific minion on the board, from four options you can choose from: the leftmost minion, the rightmost minion, whichever minion has the lowest health, or whichever minion has the highest health. In addition to that, this power scales, with its damage increasing by 1 each turn.
Tavish’s buddy couldn’t be any other than Crabby, his loyal pet crab, a tier 3 minion with 5/3 stats, and the power to buff minions adjacent to it by an amount equal to whatever Tavish deals with the shots from his hero power. Like a Prized Promo-Drake in crab form, but even better!
Existing heroes are also getting their Buddies
Now we’re entering the territory of the existing heroes, who are also being updated by receiving their own buddies to possibly change how they play moving forward.
Our favorite banana-tossing gorilla (seriously, everyone loves him, he buffs everyone) will be accompanied by Crazy Monkey, a tier 2 Beast with 4/4 stats and the following ability: “After you feed a minion a Banana, give it +1/+1.” So, this makes Mukla’s base power considerably stronger, since he’ll now get four times as many buffs per turn as everyone else on the lobby, rather than just twice as much, as he currently works.
In addition to that, the fact that Crazy Monkey is a Beast is also meaningful. There’s a considerable chance that, moving forward, Mukla will work better with Beast (or Menagerie) compositions than any other option, since he is guaranteed to get a high-tempo Beast of his own early on, and the player will likely want that Beast (and later, its golden version) to stick to the board regardless of what their game plan is.
One of the most unique and constantly powerful heroes in the game, Millhouse will now be accompanied by Magnus Manastorm, a tier 2, 4/4 minion that reads: “After you buy a minion, add one of the same Tavern Tier to Bob’s Tavern.”
I’m legitimately a little scared of how good this minion is for him; Millhouse’s only weakness is the fact that rerolls cost 2 gold for him, but with more minions being constantly added to the Tavern, he definitely won’t need to reroll nearly as often, essentially bypassing his only flaw.
Weebomination is very cute. It’s also a tier 3, 6/6 minion with “Battlecry: Give a minion +1 Health for each Health your hero is missing.” The golden version doubles that, to +2 Health. This feels similar to Annihilan Battlemaster, except you can target any minion you want, which is much better, and double dips from Patchwerk’s naturally higher health pool.
Her tier 2 buddy is Raging Contender, a 5/3 minion that makes her hero power, “Trash for Treasure,” offer three options instead of two. The golden version of that buddy is 10/6 and further upgrades “Trash for Treasure” to four options. This isn’t the flashiest power out there, but seems solid enough, for a hero that is already pretty solid.
Patches the Pirate
Patches will be charrrrrging forward accompanied by Tuskarr Raider, a tier 3 Pirate with 4/4 stats and “Battlecry: Give a minion +1/+1 for each Pirate you played this game.” Nothing here is surprising: neither the fact that this buddy is a Pirate, nor that he gets stronger and stronger the more Pirates you play on that game — that should already be your strategy anyway when playing Patches. Can’t say that this one won’t fit the theme, that’s for sure.
Tess will be aided by a tier 4 minion called Hunter of Old, with 6/4 stats. His power is: “At the start of your turn, add your last opponent’s buddy to your hand.” If that wasn’t crazy enough, his golden version adds two copies of that buddy to your hand. This is potentially a very strong buddy, and serves as our first example of what to expect from tier 4 buddies, who should take much longer to unlock than the ones on tier 3 and especially tier 2.
Master Gardin will be working with Vol’jin as a tier 3, 8/5 minion that reads “At the end of your turn, adjacent minions copy this minion’s Attack.” This is interesting not only because Master Gardin’s attack is already naturally high, but also because Vol’jin’s hero power allows you to keep switching his stats to make it even higher if needed, and then he can spread that higher attack to other minions.
Brann’s Epic Egg is a tier 2, 0/3 “minion” with Taunt, and “Deathrattle: Summon a random Battlecry minion and add a copy of it to your hand.” Or two minions, on the golden, 0/6 version. Considering that Brann (the hero) revolves around expert usage of Brann (the minion), who lives and dies by using Battlecry effects, this seems like a very powerful buddy to have. Effects that generate extra minions — especially minions that are tailored to your strategy — are often very good, and this is probably not going to be an exception.
Asher the Haberdasher, besides winning the “best minion name” award, is a tier 3, 3/3 minion whose text reads “After you sell a minion, gain +1/+1.” This would be a potentially good minion for any hero out there, but that is much truer for Deryl, whose entire winning strategy revolves around buying and selling lots of minions every turn. Looks very powerful.
Shadow Warden is a tier 2 buddy with 4/4 stats, and the following effect: “Battlecry: Your next Hero Power makes the target Golden and awaken 1 turn faster.” This power seems very, very strong to me. I mean, we have Reno Jackson who can win games simply by “forcing” a single golden minion at some point of the match. Maiev will have the potential to do that multiple times per game now. Are the days of Maiev as the most powerful hero in the game returning? The potential is certainly there.
The Ticket Collector, a tier 3, 6/6 minion, has “Battlecry: Discover a Darkmoon Prize from the most recent Prize turn.” This effect is doubled to two prizes on the golden version. We’re starting to sense a theme here, where several heroes will have a buddy that allows them to make more use of an otherwise limited hero power.
Sharkbait is a tier 4 Beast with 4/2 stats. Its power is “Battlecry: Refresh your Hero Power.” Essentially, it allows Kragg to earn his free coins multiple times in the game, though it remains to be seen if the amount of coins will be reset with every usage.
Forest Warden Omu
Evergreen Botani is a tier 4 buddy with 7/6 stats and the following effect: “At the end of your turn, add a random minion of your Tavern Tier to your hand.” As soon as Omu reaches tier 6 — which he should often do before anyone else in the game — you might start collecting lots and lots of free tier 6 minions, which sounds pretty great.
Death Speaker Blackthorn
Blackthorn’s buddy is Death’s Head Sage, a tier 3, 3/6 Quilboar, with “After you gain a Blood Gem, gain an extra one” as his effect. Needless to say, the synergy with Blackthorn — and Quilboars in general — is tremendous. Quilboars are far from the strongest composition in the game right now, but who knows what future balance changes will hold.
The Jr. Navigator will help her teacher Elise as a tier 3, 4/5 buddy. Her text reads “At the start of your turn, get a ‘Recruitment Map’ and reduce the Cost of your maps by (1),” and that is improved to “(2)” on the golden version. This seems like a very powerful and skill-testing buddy. Elise will probably rank among the “high skill, high reward” heroes moving forward.
Meanwhile, the Sr. Tomb Diver will help Reno as a tier 3, 7/3 buddy, with “Deathrattle: Make your right-most minion Golden.” The golden version of the Tomb Diver makes your two right-most minions golden instead. I’m not terribly impressed by this one, but it can definitely be powerful when combined with specific minions like Baron Rivendare, for instance.
Sir Finley Mrrgglton
Maxwell, Mighty Steed is Sir Finley’s faithful companion, a tier 3 Beast with a 1/1 body, and “Battlecry: Add the buddy of your Hero Power to your hand.” Much like with Tess, it’s a little hard to predict exactly how powerful this will be; the variance in power will certainly be high.
A. F. Kay
The Snack Vendor is in town, in the form of a tier 2, 5/4 buddy that reads “At the end of your turn, give your Tavern Tier 3 minions +1/+1,” or +2/+2 for the golden version. This is certainly the most unique buddy power I’ve seen so far, since it asks for such a specific strategy. Will the optimal way to play A. F. Kay in the future be to remain on tavern tier 3 for the rest of the game? I’m honestly a little unconvinced about this one, but we’ll see.
Flight Trainer is a 4/3 buddy, at tier 2. His text reads “At the end of your turn, progress your flightpath by 1 turn,” which is increased to 2 turns on the golden version. Essentially, Galewing will be able to fly much, much faster now, and since he’s been a strong hero historically, this is a potentially very powerful effect.
Rafaam’s Loyal Henchman is a 6/6 minion at tier 3, and his effect reads “After you kill a second minion each combat, get a plain copy of it.” Again, we have the strengthening of a hero’s base effect. However, the golden version nets you two copies of the killed minion, which is considerably more powerful, since it makes you much more likely to earn triples.
Would you look at that; it’s Chromie! She’s a tier 3 buddy with a 6/6 body, and not a Dragon, which is a little disappointing. Her power reads “Minions in Bob’s Tavern have +1/+1 for each time it was Refreshed this turn.” The golden version increases that to +2/+2. This, of course, synergizes perfectly with Nozdormu’s power, and seems very strong overall.
Nexus Lord is a tier 3, 6/6 minion whose text reads “‘Arcane Alteration’ replaces with a minion one Tavern Tier higher.” So, basically, Malygos’ already strong hero power becomes even better. And if that’s not enough, the golden version makes that two tiers higher, enabling Malygos access to many powerful tier 6 minions early on.
Deathwing’s buddy is not the dragon Sintharia, but rather, her human form, Lady Sinestra. She’s tier 3, 3/8, and her effect is simply “Your minions have +3 Attack.” Of course, the golden version improves that to +6. It’s not the most fun or compelling effect in the world, but it definitely works with Deathwing’s usual strategy of making the most from the extra attack, by utilizing tokens and minions with Divine Shield.
The Dragon Queen’s buddy is none other than Vaelastrasz, a tier 3, 5/3 Dragon with “Battlecry: Add a random Dragon of your Tavern Tier to your hand.” The golden version makes that two random Dragons. Since getting the right Dragons is so important to playing that composition in general, Alexstrasza will probably reign supreme here.
Valithria Dreamwalker has left Icecrown Citadel to serve as Ysera’s buddy. She’s a tier 3 Dragon with 3/3 stats and the following effect: “Dragons in Bob’s Tavern have +3/+3.” That is increased to +6/+6 on the golden version. Ysera will definitely gain a lot of power since she’s guaranteed to always find dragons to purchase.
How do Old Gods reproduce? Let’s not think about it too much, but the fact is that Y’Shaarj’s buddy is Baby Y’Shaarj, a tier 3, 6/6 minion with “Whenever you summon a minion of your current Tavern Tier, give it +4/+4,” which turns into +8/+8 for the golden version. This works directly with Y’Shaarj’s hero power, as is to be expected.
The tables have turned, and now the cat pets its master? Mr. Bigglesworth’s buddy is none other than Lil’ K. T., a tier 2, 5/2 minion with “At the start of your turn, get a plain minion from your lowest Health opponent’s warband,” or two for the golden version. This one is very exciting; Bigglesword will finally be able to earn power before his opponents bite the dust.
Baby Elekk is a tier 2 Beast with 2/2 stats, and the following ability: “After you play a minion with Attack equal to its Health, gain +2/+2,” which changes to +4/+4 for the golden version. This means that this minion will keep scaling whenever Xyrella uses her hero power, at the very least. The fact that it’s a Beast makes us wonder if that will be the favorite composition for Xyrella moving forward.
Baby Kodo is Guff’s buddy, a tier 4, 3/6 Beast. It has “Battlecry: Refresh Bob’s Tavern with a minion of each Tavern Tier.” The fact that it guarantees you to be offered even tier 6 minions is huge, but since it’s a tier 4 buddy, it’ll take a while to earn it. And the same question asked about Xyrella concerning favoring Beasts in the future also applies to Guff.
Cookie the Cook
Sous Chef is a tier 2 Murloc with 2/5 stats and the following effect: “You can use your Hero Power an extra time each turn.” So Cookie can essentially discover two minions every three turns… until you get the golden version of Sous Chef, which allows you to use your Hero Power two extra times each turn, thus allowing Cookie to discover a minion every turn. Sounds good!
Baby N’Zoth is a tier 4 minion with 8/4 stats and “Battlecry: Make a friendly Deathrattle minion Golden.” This already sounds very powerful, but the golden version is truly bananas, since it makes all friendly Deathrattle minions golden. That fish is about to start eating very well.
Sparkfin Soothsayer is a tier 4 Murloc with a 7/5 body and “Battlecry: Transform minions in Bob’s Tavern into Murlocs of the same Tavern Tier.” The golden version does the same, but the Murlocs are of a higher tier, which should be even better. Flurgl’s strategy is pretty much “get a lot of Murlocs” anyway, so this just makes it even easier to accomplish that.
Al’Akir will summon a tier 3, 6/4 Spirit of Air as his buddy. It’s an Elemental and has “Deathrattle: Give a random friendly minion Windfury, Divine Shield, and Taunt,” which is increased to two random minions for the golden version. Basically, Al’Akir will get to share his hero power to more of his minions, although you maybe can’t control it as well as you’d like. Can’t tame a storm!
Zephrys, the Great
Phyresz is a tier 3, 3/3 Elemental with “Battlecry: Discover a plain copy of a minion that you have exactly one copy of.” This essentially gives you the second copy you need in order to activate Zephrys’ hero power, which works out very nicely. But the golden version gives you that same effect twice — not limited to the same minion; you could pick two different minions with this if you wanted. All in all, this is one of the most exciting buddies in my opinion, and should be very skill-testing.
Curator already had a buddy of sorts, and now he’ll have a second one: Mishmash is a tier 2 minion with 3/3 stats and All types, just like the other Amalgam. His text reads “whenever your Amalgam gains stats, this gains them too.” So, essentially, Curator should play similarly to how he does currently, but double dipping on effects, which should definitely give him a lot of tempo. And since the golden version of Mishmash gains double the stats that the Amalgam does, that tempo scales even better later in the game.
Edwin is setting the Defias Brotherhood aside and making deals with Stormwind, by enlisting SI:7 Scout as his buddy. It’s a tier 3, 3/3 minion with an ability that reads “After you buy a minion, gain +1/+1,” or +2/+2 on the golden version. It seems good, but not particularly impressive when compared to some of the other buddies we’re seeing. Time will tell if the Brotherhood shall prevail or not.
Monstrosity is a tier 3 buddy with 0/12 stats and “After a friendly minion dies, gain its Attack” as its ability. That attack gain happens twice for the golden version. Tamsin is certainly a peculiar hero, and it remains to be seen how the Monstrosity will affect her game plan, and how much her power will improve from it.
Elder Taggawag is a tier 4 minion with a 4/3 body that reads “Whenever you play a minion of a type you don’t control, trigger your Hero Power,” which happens twice for the golden version. Of course, Queen Wagtoggle’s hero power is to give +1/+1 to a friendly minion of each type, which lends itself to Menagerie builds. It seems likely that Wagtoggle’s Menagerie boards will get crazy scaling potential with this buddy.
Tentacle of C’Thun is a tier 2 body appendage with 1/1 stats, and text that reads “After a different friendly minion gains stats, gain +1/+1 until your next turn,” or +2/+2 for the golden version. C’Thun is a peculiar hero, and his buddy seems to simply add temporary buffs as long as C’Thun’s barrage of buffs that he unleashes every turn hits minions other than the tentacle itself. It’s pretty hard to evaluate how powerful this will be without seeing it in practice.
Toki will enlist the help of a Clockwork Assistant as her buddy. It’s a tier 3, 3/3 Mech with “Battlecry: Discover a minion from a higher Tavern Tier,” or two minions on the golden version. Essentially, nothing changes much in Toki’s gameplan; she’s stil going to work with the goal of discovering minions from higher tavern tiers. This buddy just gives her even more ways to do that.
How will these changes impact Hearthstone Battlegrounds?
Needless to say, a lot is set to change in Battlegrounds once every hero has access to not only a unique hero power, but also a unique buddy that actively pushes them toward whatever their plan is to win the game. This is a significant power-up for all heroes, and the game mode will never play quite the same again.
The possibilities of how this could change the game are endless. Will some of these minions completely change how our tried-and-true compositions like Beasts, Mechs, and Murlocs work? Will their powers be strong enough, or volatile enough, to make games less predictable? We’ll find out soon. In the meantime, we can browse all of the existing Battlegrounds heroes and their buddies, and speculate.
Originally posted 01/18/2022, updated 01/24/2022
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