A look at the current state of the Hearthstone Battlegrounds metagame
The Hearthstone Battlegrounds meta has many, many pieces that are constantly moving, and the developers make balance changes with a healthy dose of regularity. The introduction and removal of heroes and minions, as well as buffs and nerfs themselves, and the tweaking of values like the Armor system ensure that what is true today might not be true two weeks from now. So if you want to know which minion types are winning and losing, and which heroes should you pick or avoid, the answer today may not be the same as the answer did last week.
So if you want to win in Battlegrounds, let’s take a look at the current state of the Battlegrounds metagame, to decipher how to win more in the present environment.
What even is a “metagame?”
Any competitive game with a large number of variables allows players to come up with many different strategies to win. Once certain strategies become popular, other players will try to come up with new strategies that counter the ones that are currently winning. When they succeed, the previously winning strategies are replaced by the new ones, and the cycle repeats itself. That’s the meta, and the decks and strategies that work best are always changing.
For instance, let’s say you have a game of Rock Paper Scissors. A group of players realizes that, for whatever reason, most people are psychologically inclined to pick “scissors” more than “rock” or “paper.” So those players decide to start using “rock” a lot, in order to win a higher number of games, on average.
Now, those “rock” players are winning a lot of games — but other people have noticed what they’re doing, so they start picking “paper” a lot, in order to beat the ones picking “rock.” Suddenly, it’s the “paper” players who are winning, and “rock” ceases to be a viable strategy. And then, those former “rock” players start picking “scissors” in order to counter the “paper” players.
I think you get the idea by this point.
In a card game, this kind of back and forth on winning strategies and counters happens constantly — it’s why balance is only one factor among many to ensure a healthy playing environment (but that’s a whole other discussion).
Battlegrounds isn’t much different
When Demons or Elementals get their minions to absurdly high stat numbers, players pick Murlocs to instantly take down those giants with their Poisonous effects. When Murlocs are winning, players pick Mechs, or to a lesser extent Dragons or Quilboar, to protect themselves from that nasty Poison with Divine Shield minions. Once Divine Shield compositions are at the top, players will gravitate to cards like Unstable Ghoul to bust all of those shields right at the start of a match, or Leeroy the Reckless to kill minions through their shields.
There are several other examples, but this should give you an idea of how the meta shifts as players themselves analyze the game and come up with new strategies to counter what’s currently winning. This endless cycle of change is what truly makes competitive games evergreen.
The best Hearthstone Battlegrounds heroes in the current meta
The power level of Battlegrounds heroes is fairly balanced since the return of Armor to the game, which happened right as Buddies got removed. When it comes to heroes, picking the ones that you know how to play well is often more important than metagame “tier lists” or things like that. However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t arm yourself with the information of which heroes are doing well at the moment.
- As Cookie, you want to make sure to use your Hero Power every single turn — it costs zero, after all. This should help you find minions of the type you want, as well as help you earn triples. If you do manage to get a stronger board than your opponents, seize that opportunity and level up your Tavern Tier aggressively, gaining access to the upper echelon of minions before they do.
- Silas is all about those tickets. When playing as him, you’ll see tickets sticking from some minions in Bob’s tavern: buy them whenever you can. For every three tickets, you get to Discover a minion from your current Tavern Tier. So you’re basically making a trade-off: by purchasing those “less than ideal” minions just because they have tickets on them, you’re getting to Discover minions, often tailored to your liking, for free.
- The Lich King should use his zero cost Hero Power every single turn, just like Cookie — and he should do it on minions with good Deathrattle effects, preferably, to take advantage of repeating those effects during the match. This hero thrives by playing any comp that’s reliant on Deathrattles — which usually means Beasts, but also Mechs sometimes.
However — and this is a general tip, not specific to The Lich King — don’t try too hard to force a composition! If you can’t find the minions you want, make the best possible use of the ones you have, by purchasing whatever the strongest options offered to you are at the moment. That’s infinitely better than rerolling too much.
Which Battlegrounds heroes should you avoid in the current meta?
It’s hard to say, since it depends on so many variables, from your MMR range, to which minion types are offered in a given game, to your own personal playstyle, among other things.
Strong (and weak) team compositions in Hearthstone Battlegrounds
Right now, when it comes to minion compositions, the Battlegrounds environment is fairly balanced. But there are still a few small outliers worth noting.
When Naga were introduced to the game mode, that particular minion type was considered overpowered, but it’s been heavily nerfed since then. Since the removal of the incredibly powerful Stormscale Siren, however, Naga compositions are struggling quite a bit, and very far from their brief days of glory. They’re actually among the weakest minion types in the game right now — outside of those rare games when all the stars align, and a player is able to get a lot of very quick stat scaling.
Elementals are struggling a bit as well. Blizzard recently introduced Bubblette to help their early game, but the truth is that Elementals still have to rely on a challenging playstyle that rewards them with nothing but big stats, which are often easily countered by other compositions. And one of their counters are Murlocs, who are still near the top, being an old reliable — perhaps the biggest one on this game mode.
What is the “Pirate Scam” comp, and how does it work?
At the very top of the current meta, however, is one very specific type of Pirate composition: it combines Scallywag, Dread Admiral Eliza, Khadgar, and Baron Rivendare to allow the Pirate player to keep generating multiple copies of the token summoned by Scallywag when it dies (courtesy of Rivendare and Khadgar’s powers), as well as buffing all the Pirates (including the attacking token itself) on each attack, from Eliza’s effect.
This build is not trivial to pull off, since it requires the player to find a large number of specific minions — preferably as their golden versions — to be truly effective. However, when it’s successfully pulled off, this Scallywag build (“affectionately” called the “Scam” build by some players) can absolutely catapult its user to victory. So much that this is the top build in the metagame at the moment, and has been for a while now — even during the time when Naga were perceived to be more powerful than anything else, according to unofficial data.
What counters the “Pirate Scam” build?
Basically, you want Taunt minions with low attack values — low enough that they won’t kill Scallywag or its token when attacked, which prevents them from multiplying. Ideally, you also want the ability to generate even more of those low-attack Taunt minions during the game.
Thankfully, there are two cards that allow players to do exactly that: Voidlord, if Demons are present in the game, and Acolyte of C’Thun, which should always be present — and in much greater numbers.
- In a pinch, you can also use any low attack minions you have, by giving them Taunt through Defender of Argus.
- Additionally, you can also use Zapp Slywick to be able to kill the opposing Khadgar and Baron before they can work their evil magic.
However, chances are that if you’re facing an opponent who’s successfully pulling off this build, you’re near the end of the game, and in a winning final position yourself. Even if you lose to them, you’ve probably already secured your top 4, so don’t feel too bad!
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