Intro

Hi, HSReplay.net readers! A quick introduction of myself: my name is Mike Fouchet; battletag is Magnechu. I have played Hearthstone since base set and have been as high as Rank 2 legend in constructed. I played Masters Tour Vegas last year, but haven’t been very involved in the competitive scene past that. I have played the Pokemon Trading Card Game for a long time and have played in the World Championships for that game many times.

I have been playing Battlegrounds a lot since it went into open beta and am currently around 12k MMR. Never playing an autobattler game before, I went from 4k to 6k pretty easily and then got stuck for awhile. Once I got to 7k, I cruised to 9k without too much difficulty. 9k - 10k was hard as well. The climb to 12k has been quite long.


I wrote a Hearthstone Battlegrounds guide back in December/January that got a lot of traction on the Bob’s Tavern subreddit and wanted to write a new one now that we are all in quarantine. It is hard to keep up with every change and new meta, as things do change quite a bit from patch to patch. The best way to keep up if you want to learn is to watch streamers, like Dog, EducatedCollins, Bebe, SirSalty, RDU, Savjz, and more.

I’ll try my best to summarize the new patch and how the game is currently played, as of late March/early April. Some of the below (and above!) is repeated from my original guide, as to give a more holistic guide for people to look at. I haven’t taken everything from there, so please look back at the old guide for some more info - not much of it has changed.

Abbreviations:

  • T# = turn #. I also refer to turns sometimes by the amount of gold you have.
  • HP = Hero Power

Basic, not necessarily obvious, things to know

1)  The player with the most minions attacks first. If you are equal, it is random.

2)  There is a shared pool of minions for everyone. That means if one of your opponents has a Mecharoo for example, there is one less Mecharoo for everyone else to get. There is a predetermined amount of each minion based on their tier level.

  • Tier 1: 18 copies
  • Tier 2: 15 copies
  • Tier 3: 13 copies
  • Tier 4: 11 copies
  • Tier 5: 9 copies
  • Tier 6: 6 copies

3)  If you have a triple, it counts as 3 copies until you sell it back to the tavern.

4)  The player you play against is completely random, but you cannot play the same person in the next round or the round after. This starts to fall apart when there are two or three players remaining, and can even be untrue with more if people get knocked out.

5)  You can get a lot of info by looking at the sidebar of other players:

  • The indented hero is the one you will play next round
  • You can see their tier level and if you pay attention during recruitment, you can see if they leveled that turn. This is extremely useful information, because if they level then it is safer for you to level that turn as well.
  • The next icon is how many tripled up minions that player has gotten this game.
  • The fire icon is how many wins they have in a row.
  • You can see the results of their last two fights and how much damage they dished out/received.
  • The new addition tells you what type of minion is most common on your opponent’s board.
  • These are all indicators of how strong your opponent is, so they are good to keep an eye on throughout the game.
  • In particular, if you are against a dead opponent, you are more open to do some riskier plays, such as level up or use your gold to roll for specific minions.

General turn-by-turn strategy

There are exceptions to everything, but this is a good general blueprint:

Turn 1

  • Buy the best minion to not take damage on T1 and T2
  • In order: Murloc Tidehunter, Alleycat, Rockpool Hunter/Dragonspawn Lieutenant, Red Whelp, Mecharoo, Righteous Protector, Vulgar Homunculus, Dire Wolf, Micro Machine, Murloc Tidecaller, Selfless Hero, Fiendish Servant, Wrath Weaver
  • I get some questions on Homunculus: I thought it was great when I first started, but now I don't buy it as often. The reason is you usually just want a minion on T1 that will trade with tokens, as that is what almost everyone is going for. This ensures you don't take damage and can then sell the minion for two more things on T3. Homunculus essentially reads "lose a battle on T1/2 immediately." Then, depending on your matchup, you might even lose again! (Yogg, Rafaam, Curator, Bartendotron can often beat you). I prioritize Homunculus over Whelp/Mecharoo/Protector if I’m playing a hero with a 1 or 2 mana HP, like Edwin, Secret Guy, or Toki. Homunculus is good enough that you can leverage your HP to get a second stronger minion than selling and buying two Tier 2 things.

Turn 2

  • Level up. There are very few reasons to not level up on T2 with most heroes. Not leveling up on T2 means you can fall pretty far behind in leveling, as on T3 you cannot buy and level unless you sell a minion...which kind of defeats the point of wanting to not level on T2. Some exceptions are discussed in the heroes section.

Turn 3

  • Sell your T1 minion (hopefully a token!) and buy the best two minions
  • If all the minions suck (or even if only one good), it’s fine to roll once or twice to find a better minion and hopefully find a board to freeze for the next turn. This is especially true if you took something like Homunculus or Rockpool, as they have decent stats. If you have a hero with a 1 gold HP, you can use it sometimes.
  • You can also sell your minion or a token to level if the shop sucks.

Turn 4

  • Buy the best two minions. Sometimes the minions suck and you want to roll and sell something to get two minions on the next roll, but this is quite rare, as you want to maximize your gold usage and not fall too far behind on your board.
  • You can also level here if the shop sucks.

Turn 5

  • Almost always level and buy the best minion or roll once and then buy the best minion (only possible usually if you have a token ready to sell)
  • If you took a lot of damage turns 1-4 you may want to just buy two more minions and help stabilize. A late game hero like Nefarian, George, or Secret Guy may want to consider this more highly as you want to ensure you get to the late game.

Turn 6

  • Usually buying the best two minions and using the extra two gold to roll for good stuff. Sometimes you can leverage the two gold and sell a minion and just buy three things, but usually you don’t see three minions worth buying right off the bat.
  • If you didn’t level last turn, you’ll almost always want to level this turn, otherwise you’ll fall pretty far behind in leveling.
  • If you are far ahead (often with Yogg), you can actually level to 4 on this turn. Yogg can sell something and use his HP to get a buffed minion.

Turn 7

  • Ideally you want to buy a minion and level to Tier 4. If your board is full, you usually level, roll, and see if you want to sell something for a better unit.
  • This is often where strategies start to diverge. If you’re behind or even in the middle of the pack you want to spend another turn or two building up your board so you don’t take too much damage.
  • This is the most important turn to see if your opponent is leveling or not, as if you level and they do not you could easily take 10+ damage.
  • The most powerful thing you can do is get a triple and level up so you see a Tier 5 minion. This either gives you immediate direction or at the very least a strong minion if you are weak.

Turns 8 - 12

  • This is the midgame where you want to start deciding on a direction if you haven’t yet.
  • Depending on how healthy you are and what direction you might be looking to get into, you will either stay on 4 for awhile or go to 5 relatively quickly. If I get an early Brann/Lightfang off a triple or looking towards a Divine Shield comp, I will stay on 4. If I don’t have a good direction, or if I’m going for something like Dragons, Beasts, or Murlocs, I will look to level to 5 as soon as possible while also minimizing risk of taking heavy damage.

The Rest of the Game

  • Look for buffs on your minions
  • Look for triples
  • Don’t be afraid to spend some of your late turns just continually rolling, as just getting other minions usually doesn’t advance your comp that much in the late game. Tripling up is really where you gain a lot of value, especially on minions with Deathrattles or other effects (like Scalebane or Herald). They also get you the Tier 6 minions which are strong and a board of a few of them plus other strong things can often compete with a more synergistic comp just because of how powerful they are.
  • Leveling to Tier 6 is something I don’t do most games, but does happen more often now than ever. Look to level to 6 when you face a dead person. Murlocs and Dragons comps have the largest incentive to push for Tier 6.

General/Random Tips

  • Don’t commit too hard to any single strategy early. The early game is all about getting the most stats on the field and keeping your life total high enough to make it to the mid and late game. Transitions to different strategies can take a few turns, and you do need to identify where you’re going at some point, but even just a random assortment of powerful minions can get you pretty far.
  • Don’t worry about damaging your opponent as much as not dying yourself.
  • Some games play themselves: you happen to buy Murlocs early, you get a triple into Bagurgle and you’re locked in. Or you have a bunch of Beasts and get a Goldrinn or Mama Bear. But many games do not play so straightforwardly. If healthy enough, saving a triple to go to Tier 6 can often provide a strong direction. There are a bunch of games where I’ve gotten a Mama Bear or Kalecgos with 0-1 Beasts/Dragons on my board, but felt like I could throw a round or two in order to transition into a strong final composition.
  • If I am weaker, I have to play more conservatively: take the triple and look for a strong Tier 5 minion like Ironhide or Battlemaster. These games you tend to just go for Top 4 rather than winning.
  • It is important to recognize when you are playing for the win or for Top 4. Developing the strongest board possible each turn is important in the latter case, rather than starting a transition into a final, more powerful late game comp. However, if going for the win, it is worth losing a couple of fights to set up a big swing turn into a powerful late game comp. This can only happen if you are healthy, though.
  • Leveling is all about minimizing damage to yourself. I consider it a huge win if I don’t take damage on the turn that I level. Don’t force leveling if you are weak, especially when going for the level up to Tier 4 or 5.
  • Microbots are really strong to break ties. There are lots of fights where it comes down to the last two minions fighting and if one has microbots, then you win and get to deal damage. This is especially true in the late game.
  • Annoy-o-Module is one of the most important minions in the game. Anything except pure Demons/Beasts/Murlocs will want some big Divine Shield minion, so Annoy-o-Module lets you make anything into a big Divine Shield boy. Some of my most common targets are Mechano Egg, Sneeds, Foe Reaper, and Kaboom Bot. When I triple up early and get a Tier 4 minion, I almost always pick Annoy-o-Module, even if I don’t have a great target immediately. Also remember as Deryl you can dance onto this and make a current weak minion very strong.

Insights for Current Metagame

Hero Tier lists

Educated Collins (March 30th)


My personal tier list (April 10th)

My list is a bit more recent. Maybe Collins would agree with me more now, I don’t know. The data from HSReplay.net Battlegrounds, at least high MMR, seems to coincide pretty accurately with what I have here; the one exception is the data has Toki much higher than what I have. Some of the lower heroes are switched around, but the general trends are similar.

The heroes are a bit unbalanced, but that might be expected with so many heroes. I will discuss each below. Tier S and A heroes are significantly stronger than everything below. B tier is defined as “decent heroes that are relatively consistent at not losing you MMR” and C tier is defined as “high roll heroes that you can easily win or get 8th with”. When prioritizing climbing MMR, I would always pick B tier heroes. But if I want to have fun, I’ll pick from Tier C. Tier D and E is a mix of consistent and high roll, they just tend to be weaker than the ones above them.

The more interesting choices for my tier list:

  • Pyramad is actually quite strong now and may even be better than Edwin and Yogg.
  • Yogg is perhaps the weakest he’s ever been
  • Deathwing is more consistent than Yogg or Edwin

I think the tribes might be the most balanced they have ever been. Beasts, Murlocs, Demons, Mechs, Dragons, Menagerie, and other comps all have win conditions and there is no dominant composition. So, while the heroes are kind of imbalanced, I think it’s awesome that comps are fairly balanced.

That said, the power spikes can be a little hard to handle right now. It feels like more than ever it’s easy to take 15-25 damage on 9 or 10 gold, which is pretty ridiculous. Additionally, there are multiple games where I have gone out in 8th place without even getting to 10 gold: playing against the strongest people and then Millhouse hits you for 15 to knock you out. These are certainly FeelsBad moments, but it’s just part of the game right now and you have to deal.

Some compositions that get you 1st place in one lobby will get you 6th place in another. It’s just the nature of the game right now with the huge power spikes and RNG of a fight. A good example is Alex: she can rip a Kalecgos but be at 15 life and then die in the next fight or two as she is just starting to ramp up. Or maybe a single hit goes a different way in a fight, she lives, and then just takes over the lobby. These small things can turn a lobby from an unbeatable comp taking over or more “fair” comps actually fighting for top finishes.

Heroes

Please refer to my old guide for more specific tips on some of the old heroes. I’ll highlight some of the reasons some of the older heroes are still strong or stronger than before before giving some details on the newer heroes since my last guide.

Old Heroes

Deryl - At first I thought Deryl got weaker with the removal of the early Divine Shield minions (Annoy-o-Tron, Shielded Minibot, big Annoy-o-tron), but it just took me some time to play him a bit better. More often you play “normally” up to Tier 4 and then dance on things there. Bronze Warden, Deflect-o-Bot, and Cave Hydra are all really strong minions to dance onto. Don’t be afraid to have some mini-dances onto Ratpacks or Righteous Protectors in the early game, but I would also caution against going “all in” too early on one of these. Divine Shield strategies are pretty strong right now, with Holy Mackerel and the new 3/6 Dragon, and Deryl can really make these compositions shine. Since the Deflect-o-Bot starts out weaker, Deryl is one of the few ways to make it stronger more quickly. There are other cool strategies you can do with Deryl if you don’t get “great” targets: Drakonid Enforcer is a good target, as it stays alive longer as it scales during a fight. Similarly, some mini-dances onto any dragons and Waxrider Togwaggle can get you through the mid-game without taking much damage. Don’t be afraid to mini-dance onto strong minions like Savannah Highmane or Cobalt Scalebane if you don’t find things quickly on Tier 4, as it’s easy to start taking 10-15 damage for a few turns and die early.

Yogg - Not too much to say about Yogg: he’s always been good because he gets so many more stats in the early game. He feels weaker now because things ramp up so quickly. His biggest advantage comes in games where he can level to tier 5 very quickly because he’s still at 36+ health and is able to find a direction quickly. But this can also be a way to lose if you tier up early and don’t find a direction quickly enough, as you can get knocked out in just a few fights then as other people have caught up in power.

Edwin - Edwin is still great for a lot of the same reasons Deryl is still good. Divine Shield comps and Cleaves are super strong and Edwin guarantees buffs on them throughout the game. I like staying on tier 4 with Edwin most of the time, at least until you’re further into the late game and maybe find a triple to look for a strong tier 6 minion. You’re usually some type of Divine Shield comp and if you have a Hydra, all the buffs are there. No need to force tier 5 in this case. Sometimes you do want to go to 5 if you find a triple early and don’t have many good units to buff. Hitting Foe Reaper is also very strong in these cases.

Rafaam - Rafaam is very strong right now, as he was before. One key thing that has helped my Rafaam play is that I very rarely level on turn three now. Be delaying leveling one more turn, I guarantee I get another minion from his HP and develop a strong board. Then I will often level the next two turns. Sometimes you get to just level the next three or four turns and go right up to tier 4 or 5. Another huge boost to Rafaam since my last guide is being able to see information on what minions your opponent has on the first two turns. This gives you a better idea of what you should take to give you pairs and a chance to triple.

AFK - AFK has continued to get weaker, after moving to two tier 3 minions, the removal of Floating Watcher from tier 3, and now the removal of Cobalt Guardian. Deflect-oBot is still a decent pick, but doesn’t offer the immediate attack that Cobalt did. The addition of Bronze Warden and Twilight Emmisary is strong. Hangry Dragon is okay but usually a trap: Crowd Favorite is almost always better. Overall, she’s still a solid pick, but not quite as good as in the past.

Elise - Elise is a consistency hero and has been pretty solid for me. She can leverage leveling a bit quicker because she can grab a minion from that tier in the same turn.

Secret Guy - I never remember this guy’s name. He’s about as good as always. He can sneak into Top 4 quite often and steal some points you don’t deserve because of Ice Block. The secrets in the late game offer a lot of strength as well. Not bad, not amazing, but I like picking him over a lot of other heroes, as he often feels “safest.”

Curator - Curator has always been overrated in my opinion. Now is no exception. I’ve seen more people selling the token than ever recently. Not terrible, but I’m never thrilled to play Curator.

Toki - Toki is a hero I always want to be good but never feels like she is as good as she should be. Can obviously high roll good units off the HP and steamroll, but it just isn’t consistent enough to be higher.

Rat King - Despite being reverted back to his old self, Rat King just doesn’t feel as powerful. You can certainly high roll some strong units in the early game, but unless you hit Mechs on the turn when you buy two Deflect-o-Bots, his HP is pretty mediocre as the game progresses. There are just better heroes that give strength in the early game.

Sindragosa - Sindra is still decent. Grab some stats early game and try to leverage them. Nothing too fancy.

Shudderwock - Shudder is a hero that I don’t really like playing. Feels really high-rolly. I try to Menagerie or Murlocs with him mostly.

Lich Bazul - I liked her a lot when the patch first dropped, but have been dying too early with her recently. She can help keep pace with some of the faster heroes, but one bad round where you get paired against a strong Millhouse and you’re just dead from 20.  

Lich King - I also thought the buff to Lich King was going to make him better - and it did - but only marginally. He’s just a bit too slow for this metagame. Maybe could be better in the future. The best new trick for him IMO is to give Godrin reborn so you get an extra buff.

Patchwerk - 50 health isn’t 60 health. Can sneak into Top 4’s a bit more easily, but Secret Guy does it better.

Nefarian - You would think that with Divine Shields playing such a huge part in the meta that Nefarian would be good, but the fact is that there are so many good comps that it’s easy to get paired vs Beasts or Dragons or Demons and take 20+ damage and die.

Bartendotron - Another consistency hero in my opinion, just weaker than Elise and Secret Guy.

George - I haven’t given George too many chances, as I’ve just assumed he’s still too slow. But I have seen George do pretty well when he is picked, so maybe he is underrated right now.

New Heroes

Millhouse - Perhaps obviously, Millhouse is the strongest hero in the game right now. The extra gold he starts with has made a huge difference and he is able to now buy many minions much more quickly. Most Millhouse sequences look like this:

  • T1 buy a minion. If you have a token minion, good job! Now you can sell the token and buy the biggest minion as well.
  • T2 level.
  • T3 sell a minion and buy the three best things. Alternatively, if the shop sucks, you can sell a minion and level. Don’t worry about taking the damage. You’re Millhouse!
  • T4 you can either buy three minions again or level. I like to level most of the time.
  • T5 buy some minions or level again. Who cares, you’re Millhouse!
  • T6 you need to make sure your board is strong enough so that you can level the next turn.
  • Next couple of turns you are either buying strong minions/buffs or leveling or a combo of both. The goal is to get T5 or T6 as quickly as possible so you can start figuring out a strong comp and snowballing your board into the biggest one faster than anybody else.

An early Crowd Favorite can often be a great way to ensure you are always decently strong. You want to be buying buffs as much as possible anyway, since they only cost 1 gold for you (after you sell it back), so it makes sense that Crowd Favorite can get strong fast. Pick up triples along the way if you can. Going to Tier 5 and finding a triple into Kalecgos is one of the most common ways Millhouse dominates games. But you do have to go with the flow more often than other heroes.

Nozdormu - Nozdorumu is one of the strongest new heroes. A free refresh every turn is essentially +1 gold every single turn, which is extremely strong! He has one of the few hero powers that is strong in the early game, but also gives you an advantage in the late game. In the early game you get to look at an extra set of Tier 2 minions on T2 and can freeze if you see one good unit without much penalty. Then you get another extra look on the next two turns. Having three extra looks at Tier 2 ensures that you rarely come out of the early game with weak units. Each time you tier up, you have an option to get a free roll and see stronger units that you wouldn’t get to see otherwise. Most prominnently, on 7 gold you can tier up to 3 and get a look at Tier 3 minions to buy, on 9 gold you can tier to 4 and get two looks instead of the usual one. Overall, Nozdormu is one of the most consistent heroes which is what makes him so strong.

Deathwing - I think it’s good to have heroes like Deathwing that make you think about the game differently; Deathwing requires you as the Deathwing player to think differently about what units are valuable, but it also makes your opponents each round reconsider which minions they buy and the positioning of their units. Generally, you want high health minions towards the back so they can value trade with tokens later on in the fight. When buying minions, especially in the early game, it is often worth it to take a Deathrattle minion (especially Rat Pack) just so you can fight better that round.

As Deathwing, you generally get to level more aggressively than other heroes, as your HP ensures that you won’t take too much damage as more minions kill each other. It’s quite common to tie multiple times while you are leveling to 5 before everyone else. Though Beasts are the most common transition for Deathwing to make late game, I have found success with Demons, Dragons, Deathrattle, and Divine Shield comps as well. Though it’s important to take the HP into account later in the game, I think of Deathwing more as a hero that allows me to get into the late game sooner than other heroes and pick a direction that makes sense. If I triple into Kalecgos on the 9/10 gold turn, I’m going dragons.

On T3, if you don’t see two good Deathrattle minions on the board to sell and buy, just use your extra two gold to roll to find Ratpack or even Harvest Golem/Kindly Grandmother. Righteous Protector can be a strong unit throughout the game, as he soaks up two hits as a Taunt and deals not insignificant damage in the early game.

Pyramad - Pyramad is an old hero, but like Millhouse, is so different now. +4 health is a lot! I feel like I top 4 with Pyramad also every game now with some form of the following strategy:

  • T1: Buy best minion, but our best minions are: Micro Machine, Murloc Tidecaller, and Wrath Weaver. On T1 we can take other minions, but these are the top priorities. Tokens are still the best because we’ll have more options next turn.
  • T2: If you found one of the three minions last turn, then buff it and buy another minion (don’t play it usually unless it’s another one of the above three). It’s fine to take one of each of the above - you don’t need to focus on just one. If you didn’t find one of the above three, we want to find one this turn. You can roll and sell the minion(s) you have. Generally you’ll find one this turn. If not...sorry.
  • T3/4/5: Sometimes you level on one of these turns, sometimes you stay at 1 and buff your Murloc/Wrath Weaver. Or buy more copies if they show up. It’s a bit shop dependent. The important thing is to actually sell minions that you don’t want getting the health buff and leverage the gold to level/roll/buy more minions to buff.
  • T6 - 8/9: You slowly level while taking buffs and finding more things to add to your comp. You continually sell things that you don’t want buffed and keep your board relatively small. It’s a hard balance to strike: you don’t want just two minions but you don’t want to have seven and have 2/7 odds to hit your right buff target. Timing your HP on any given turn to give you the best odds of hitting your key guys is important. Don’t be too upset if it hits something else - roll with it and maybe that becomes one of your units throughout the game.
  • Mid/Late game - If you’ve gone Wrath Weaver, looking for Floating Watcher is important. Tripling while on Tier 3 is the correct choice then. With Micro Machine, similarly you want to triple on Tier 3 so you can find Annoy-o-Module. With the Murloc, you should consider delaying triples until Tier 4 or 5 so you can find Bagurgle, Brann, or Megasaur. Most often you have a combination of two of the above, so keep these in mind in conjunction with each other.

Malygos - Malygos is an okay hero to play - he is consistent, just a bit less powerful in his consistency compared to some of the other Tier B heroes. He can have a strong early game if you find a token T1 and transform them into decent Tier 1 units. As the game goes on, you can utilize your hero power in two main ways: transform units in the shop to get one free reroll or buy buffing units and then transform them. A good example is Defender of Argus: he always gets stronger as a different Tier 4 unit.

Reno - I really don’t like playing Reno very much. Knowing when to use your HP is quite tricky most games. Even getting a Brann or a Lightfang off a triple, if you’re low on health, you often can’t afford the gold investment right away anyway. Besides these two, other obvious good targets include Baron and Soul Juggler. Some unconventional targets that aren’t bad when you are weaker include Ironhide, Herald of Flames, or Drakonid Enforcer. It’s also worth mentioning tripling a Wrath Weaver very early on. I’ve only tried this strategy once and it worked out okay (finished 4th), but I’ve heard other people have success with it.

Alexstrasza - I’m also not a huge fan of Alex, but she can obviously steamroll games. It’s important to not force dragons with Alex, actually. If you get them, great, but if not, think of your HP in a different way: use it to comfortably level to Tier 5 and have access to either a) good cards (Bronze Warden, Scalebane) to get you through the next couple of turns or b) simply two extra gold so you can find a Tier 5 unit on the turn you level up. Either way, now you’re at Tier 5 and you can find stronger units before many other heroes. The problem with Alex is that you can get steamrolled in the early game and easily level to 5 and then die a turn or two later when you wiff strong things.

Flurgl - When it comes to high-rolling heroes, I like Flurgl the best. Murlocs are just naturally one of the strongest (if not the strongest) late game comps, so it makes sense to me that if I’m trying to high roll I might as well take the one that’s going to get me to the best comp. The problem is obviously two-fold: 1) you need to actually see Murlocs in the early game in order to snowball his HP and 2) Murlocs are generally weak in the mid-game. The new Murloc, Felfin Navigator, was a huge buff to the second problem, so he might be worth taking a look at again, as he may be more consistent now. Though you still really want to find Murloc Tidehunter early on to be able to get your stuff rolling. One tip with Flurgl is to skip Tier 4. Especially now with Felfin, I would stay on Tier 3 until you are ready to go leveling on back-to-back turns. Being able to sell a Murloc on the turn you go to Tier 5 and hopefully hit Bagurgle or Primalfin off your HP is important.

Ysera - I’ve tried all the different strategies with Ysera and feel like they all suck and thus Ysera is pretty bad. Staying on Tier 1 for a while is okay - you can triple pretty quickly and hopefully get a Bronze Warden or Twilight Emissary. I prefer to play normally and try to grab my triples on Tier 4 or 5, hopefully hitting Razorgore or Kalecgos. Another in-between line of play is: T1 buy Whelp. T2 buy Whelp or Lieutenant. T4/5 you buy so that you have two pairs and level up on turn five (two gold to tavern up, buy a minion, and roll). Now you can either triple your one-cost minions to find a dragon on Tier 3 or try to grab some Tier 2 pairs. Then let the game play out from there.

Galakrond - Haven’t played him much since his debut, so I don’t really know the correct lines of play. He is an interesting hero, as you can get a Tier 5 or 6 minion relatively early, but with the cost of losing fights early on. I think it’s probably not correct to do this most of the time, but it can obviously have a huge payoff if you sit something swingy like Mama Bear.

Compositions

I’ll try to give a summary and a couple tips on the various common compositions you might be working towards. Note there are so many ways to develop a composition and many of these overlap. It’s very common to find a big Foe Reaper in a Murloc composition or Holy Mackerel in a Mech comp. Many times there are even hybrid comps, with Mech+Demons. Other times it’s just “big minion” comp where you buff a bunch of Tier 6 minions. These are just some general thoughts and tips for some of the more common compositions you will see.

1)  Murlocs are interesting, because you generally get to Murlocs one of two very different ways: 1) Commit fairly early to them and hope you triple into a Bagurgle/Brann/Megasaur. This requires you to naturally pick Murlocs up along the way. 2) You transition to Murlocs late. This requires picking up Brann, Primalfin(s), and a couple other Murlocs and not playing them while your board is a completely different composition. Murlocs are so strong that they are worth transitioning to and the combination of Brann and Primalfin makes this possible. Holy Mackerel has made this even more of a powerful play to do. Having a big transition turn can be stressful and requires high APM, but you’ll never do it if you don’t try it! You’ll probably mess up the first one or two, but then you will get better at it.

  • Positioning Tips: If you can Taunt only your Mackerel and get Divine Shield on your other Murlocs as well, you can essentially make Mackerel respawn its Shield every time as your minions attack. This almost always ensures a win. Otherwise, positioning isn’t a huge thing with Murlocs. You usually want your highest health minions last, especially if all of your units have poisonous, so they can kill more things later on.

2)  Beasts have a couple variations that you can play: Mama Bear-focused or Godrin-focused. Sometimes these overlap. Often you start with Mama Bear to get some big units and sell her to transition into Godrin, as that is the more powerful late game comp. In any case, it is important to not keep your early units (even if they are tripled) for too long. Scavenging Hyena, Pack Leader, and Rat Pack don’t scale all that well into the late game and should be replaced with stronger beasts, like Hydra, Highmane, Ironhide, and Ghastcoiler.

  • Positioning Tips: If you have Godrin all the way to the left and your opponent has a big Cleave, you can put Baron right next to it. The Godrin will die and you will still get the double buff, as Deathrattles trigger from left to right. Also, watch out for Zapp. He can hit a lot of good things - Mama Bear, unbuffed Hydras, and obviously Baron.

3)  Divine Shields is my favorite comp, personally. You do not have to go past Tier 4 for awhile - at least until you want to triple and look for Holy Mackerel. The new Drakonid Enforcer is such a strong card and has made Bolvar into a much stronger unit overall. Generally, you are working with a combination of Deflect-o-Bots, Annoy-o-Modules on some other Mechs, Bronze Wardens, and the other units mentioned above. Note that Deflect-o-Bot is good, but if you can’t buff him into a significant unit rather quickly, it might be better to cycle through him in your comp. The other Divine Shield minions have just as much upside as him.

  • Positioning Tips: You will often want Draokonid Enforcer towards the back. But if you know your opponent has a Cleave, you might put your Taunt minion all the way to the right, a Bronze Warden or Bolvar immediately next to it, and then the Enforcer third from the right. This procs an extra Divine Shield to buff the Enforcer and keeps it alive to keep getting bigger throughout the fight. Secondly, consider your Mackerel placement carefully. You want to maximize the refreshes on it, so putting something without a Divine Shield first with Mackerel second if your Taunted minions have Divine Shield is a good strategy. Then a different Divine Shield minion behind it so that it refreshes immediately.

4)  Pure Mech builds aren’t as popular or as potent as in the past, in large part due to the loss of Cobalt Guardian. Additionally, the “Divine Shield” composition is generally stronger and you can leverage a lot of the same units. However, units like Junk Bot and Kangor’s can still be strong enough to carry this composition. In particular, Secret Guy and Lich King can be strong heroes to go for this type of comp, as they’re HPs can ensure strong value on some of these minions.

  • Positioning Tips: Keeping an Egg unbuffed can be important to play around Zapp. Alternatively, something like a Righteous Protector can draw two hits from the Zapp as well. Zapp and Cleaves are your biggest enemy, so think of ways to play around those!

5)  Dragons are the new and extremely powerful new composition. Your carry cards are Razorgore and Kalecgos, but don’t sleep on some of the lower tier dragons, like Scalebane and Herald of the Flame. I’ve already already talked about Drakonid Enforcer and Bronze Warden a bunch, but they are also strong cards to have in a final comp. Though Kalecgos is the main way Dragons will win, Divine Shield Dragons are strong as well. This is a bit of overlap from Divine Shields, but you can have a tripled Drakonid in addition to two regular Drakonids with multiple Divine Shields. Nadina is very strong in both variants. If you tripled into an early Kalecgos or Razorgore, look for your first opportunity to get to Tier 6. Finding Kalecgos/Nadina is of prime importance to take first place.

  • Positioning Tips: Like Murlocs, positioning doesn’t matter as much with Dragons as some other compositions. Having a Bronze Warden as your only Taunt is often strong to play the best around Cleave. Similarly, once you find Nadina, throwing Taunt on her is good. Putting your highest damage units to the left and in descending order is usually correct, but if you know something about their comp then you may reconsider.

6)  Demons, like Beasts, can take two different approaches and sometimes they overlap: Big Demons or Juggle Demons. With the nerf to Floating Watcher, Big Demons are harder to pull off. However, a tripled Wrath Weaver, even without Floating Watcher, can be a strong part of an otherwise different comp. I have gotten a big Wrath Weaver alongside a Mech comp, for example. Note your health whenever you think you want to go into this comp, as you have a hard cap at how big Floating Watcher can get. Wrath Weaver can technically go infinite if you get Mal'ganis, which is something you should be looking for in the late game.

Juggler Demons can look quite different, with Imprisoner, Voidlord, and other smaller Demons as your main units alongside a Soul Juggler or two. While this comp can be weak to things with a lot of stats, like Beasts and Dragons, it is extremely favored vs anything with Divine Shields. Generally you don’t want to triple Voidlords, but you do triple Imprisoner. Imprisoner is a stronger unit than most other Demons that have higher stats, since it spawns an Imp. One great thing about Soul Juggler is that you can pretty easily use it as a holdover comp to get you through the midgame. A single Soul Juggler and two or three demons is enough to help you win some fights and let you transition. Sometimes this turns into a larger Soul Juggler comp, but it doesn’t have to.

  • Positioning Tip: First, unlike lots of other comps, your Taunts need to go all to the left so that Soul Juggler can stay alive as long as possible. Second, consider putting Voidlords more to the left than you might think. Imprisoner wants to be killed so that its Imp can attack and not be trapped behind other Taunts. Similarly, though you want the attack buff from Siegebreaker, he usually wants to go as left as possible so that you can make board space for Voidlord. Lastly, like Deathrattle comps, you need to be cognizant of Zapp. Using Steward of Time to buff a Juggler early can make a huge difference in this. More likely, though, you will want to keep something like Voidlord or Imprisoner unbuffed so that it draws the attacks away from a Golden Juggler.

7)  There are so many ways Menagerie can look that it’s hard to offer too many tips. Generally, Brann is stronger than Lightfang. Cave Hydra and Bronze Warden are the strongest minions of their type. Other than that, it’s up in the air. Menagerie is the most versatile comp which makes it easily accessible throughout the game.

Other Positioning Tips

Positioning is one of the most key things in the game and makes a huge difference between higher and lower skilled players. The addition of seeing what type of comp your opponent is on has significantly affected positioning predictions. In some cases, this information also tells you what minions you should even buy that turn!

Early Game

  • Positioning doesn’t matter too much in the early game, but if you know stuff about what your opponent has, you should use that knowledge to your advantage. For example, something that comes up often is you know someone has Homunculus by looking at their history and seeing they haven’t taken damage from other people but are at 38 health. Especially on T3/4, you can use this to know that you should put a 4 attack minion (if you have it) first, so you can trade cleanly into it.
  • Generally, you want to order your minions with the highest attack all the way on the left and then put them in decreasing order from there.
  • There are not too many Divine Shield minions in the early game anymore, so generally highest to lowest attacking is correct. A common mistake is to put a high attack Taunt all the way to the right - just put it on the left if it’s your highest attack minion.

Mid Game

  • The biggest thing to think about is what their Taunt minions look like - how many do they have? How big are they? It’s easy to take a lot more damage than you need to if you don’t account for this.
  • You should still be putting your highest attacking minions first.

Late Game

  • If you’re in the finals and play more than one round against your opponent, you probably want to change your positioning in some way, even if it was favorable for you the first time around. Your opponent will want to change their positioning, so you should try and predict what they will do and act accordingly. A simple example is to move around where your Cleave minion - if you had it first before, now move it to second or third.


Conclusion

If you’re still reading, thanks! I hope you enjoyed it. Please let me know what you think! What do you agree with? Disagree with? Which parts were most helpful? Which parts could be fleshed out more? What did I leave out? It's impossible to capture everything about a complex game like Battlegrounds, which is part of what makes it so fun.

Thanks to HSReplay.net for hosting this. Make sure to check out Tier 7, as it houses a lot of good data on heroes, minions, and compositions.

Follow me on Twitter, @mikefouchet! I post a combination of Hearthstone, Pokemon, math, and education related material. Feel free to shoot me a message on there if you want to discuss anything from the article.