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HearthstoneOct 11, 2023 5:00 pm CT

The decks you need to win A Less Friendly Game of Chess Hearthstone Tavern Brawl


Shall we play a game? I’m not feeling like Global Thermonuclear War right now, so how about a good game of chess? With a twist! This week sees the return of Hearthstone’s A Less Friendly Game of Chess Tavern Brawl.

Tavern Brawl basics

  • Name: A Less Friendly Game of Chess
  • Description: Things have gotten a little underhanded at Medivh’s Magical Chessboard. Bring 6 unique cards and hide them under the table, they could swing the match in your favor!
  • Fun level: 6/10
  • Difficulty: 8/10
  • Replayability: 5/10
  • Format: Wild
  • Type: PVP
  • Deck: Constructed
  • Rewards: 1 Standard pack (can contain any card from any set in the current Standard rotation)

Your deck will have 15 Chess minions, plus six cards of your own choosing. Your Hero Power is Castle, which lets you Discover a new Chess minion. The Brawl uses Wild rules, but there are many cards banned in this Brawl including Baku the Mooneater, Grizzled Wizard, Frothing Berserker, Arathi Weaponsmith, Axe Flinger, Evolve, Devolve, Prince Renathal, Sir Finley of the Sands, Zayle Shadow Cloak, Whizbang the Wonderful, Genn Greymane, Justicar Trueheart, Galakrond, and all the Death Knight heroes from Knights of the Frozen Throne.

This Brawl is based on the Chess encounter from the One Night in Karazhan Adventure. This encounter was one of Blizzard’s earliest attempts to create an auto-battler type of game. You don’t control the Chess minions: instead, they attack on their own and positioning is critical. If a Chess piece is directly across from a minion it does its damage to that minion. If it’s between two enemy minions, it will damage both minions, so you want to keep your minions positioned to maximize the damage you do to your opponent (and minimize the damage they can do to you).

You tend to get your six custom cards fairly early in most matches. Any minions you include in your six custom cards aren’t subject to the same restrictions and can attack normally. With only 20 Health on your Hero, an unanswered, strong minion can end the game quickly.

How to win A Less Friendly Game of Chess Tavern Brawl

Since you get your custom cards early, you can plan your strategy around them. This Brawl plays out like a Constructed Brawl, and you will need a good list. I’ll suggest a couple, but with only six cards, the “best” list is going to shift around fast. My advice is if you play against a powerful deck, make note of what cards your opponent used and play them next game.

The Brawl has you play as the Black King or the White King. You won’t be able to see what your opponent’s class until they play one of their class cards. With Dual Class cards in the mix, you might have a harder time figuring it out.

The opening turns play out in a similar manner. The White King goes first and will usually play a Pawn. The Black King goes second, and plays a Pawn, Coin, Pawn.

One thing to keep in mind is the Chess pieces damage is controlled by their card text, not their actual attack. You can buff a Pawn’s attack all you want, but will still do 1 damage per turn. I did find health buffs advantageous, especially on the Bishop pieces, but buffs won’t directly help you take down your opponent.

Here are some combos that seem to be working well:

  • New for October 2023 Death Knight: Staff of Primus, Distressed Kvaldir, Plague Strike, Down with the Ship, Helya, Tomb Traitor
    • Alternative Death Knight: Vampiric Blood, Gnome Muncher, Alexandros Mograine,  The Primus, Blood Boil, Corpse Explosion
  • Druid: Innervate, Capture Coldtooth Mine, Jerry Rig Carpenter, Wild Growth, Overgrowth, Lady Prestor
  • Hunter: Hunter’s Mark, Glaivezooka, Toxic Arrow, Deadly Shot, Toxmonger, Crushing Walls
    • Update for August 2022: Tracking, Venomizer, Bloodseeker, Primordial Explorer, Toxmonger, Imported Tarantula
  • Priest: Circle of Healing, Power Word: Shield, Renew, Divine Spirit, Extra Arms, Gift of Luminance
    • Update for February 2022: Focused Will, Power Word: Shield, Bless, Divine Spirit, Shadow Visions, Thrive in the Shadows
    • Update for August 2022: Forbidden Words, Mind Blast, Faceless Rager, Grave Rune, Darkbishop Benedictus, Faceless Corruptor
  • Paladin: Desperate Measures, Hand of Protection, Sacred Trial, Hand of A’dal, Potion of Heroism, Gift of Luminance
  • Rogue: Shadowstep, Scorp-o-matic, Mind Control Tech, Plague Scientist, Plaguebringer, Mountain Giant
    • Update for August 2022: Shadowstep, Tenwu of Red Smoke, Youthful Brewmaster, Plague Scientist, Plaguebringer, Sea Giant
  • Warlock: Power Overwhelming, Shadowflame, Lord Jaraxxus, Mal’Ganis, Voidlord, Sea Giant
  • New for October 2023 Warrior: Town Crier, Charge, Steam Guardian, Outrider’s Axe, Magatha, Bane of Music, Lokholar the Ice Lord

More Less Friendly Game of Chess card suggestions

With only six cards, it’s easy enough to copy a list you’ve played against. One of these decks should see you through. If you find another great list, share it with us in the comments. But if you’re looking for new combos, keep checking Hearthstone Top Decks. There are more Tavern Brawl decks being added by the hour.

Overall, I found this one fun at first. I’m not a huge fan of the Chess mechanics, but the custom cards add some unexpected plays. Good luck getting this week’s pack!

Originally posted January 14, 2021; last updated October 11, 2023.

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