Hearthstone is venturing into a brave new world, jumping into the uncharted territory of auto battlers. Blizzard's card game has joined the ranks of Auto Chess, Teamfight Tactics, and DOTA Underlords. However, to call it an exact copy of those games would be inaccurate. There is a lot of Hearthstone to be found in the new Battlegrounds game mode, making it arguably more "Hearthstone" than "Auto Chess." So then the question for novices will be, how does one go about playing this? What are the rules?
Shacknews is here to help you out. We're here to help explain Hearthstone's latest game mode and how it operates.
How to play Hearthstone Battlegrounds
The first step in Hearthstone Battlegrounds is to select a Hero. Unlike the main Hearthstone game, there are 24 different characters to choose from, each with their own unique Hero Power. However, you can only select one Hero out of a pool of three randomly selected characters. Choose your Hero wisely. Their Hero Powers range in cost and effectiveness and some of them might suit your typical strategy better than others.
Now comes the Recruit phase. This is where you purchase minions to do all of your fighting. Each minion will cost three Gold. If you don't like your pool of minions, you can refresh it for one Gold. If you like the minions you see, but can't afford any of them on this turn, you can freeze the board at no cost. If you need some extra funds, you can fire a minion already on the board by clicking and dragging it over to Bob the Bartender. That will award you one Gold.
If you'd like to gain access to more powerful minions, you can upgrade your Tavern. Upgrading your Tavern can cost a lot of Gold, however, it's worth it to increase the value of your minions and also increase your own Tavern Tier.
If you purchase three of the same minion, you'll pick up a Golden copy with increased stats. Once that Golden copy is played, you'll gain a spell allowing you to Discover a minion on the next tier up for free.
Arrange your minions carefully before the time runs out on the Recruit phase. Now you'll enter the Combat phase. Minions will attack minions on the other side of the board, going from left to right. However, this is where things take a more traditional Hearthstone turn. The basic rules of Hearthstone still apply. So if there's a Taunt minion on-board, that must be attacked first. If a minion has Divine Shield, it can take a full hit. If a minion has a Deathrattle that can summon more minions, it will summon more minions after it dies. If there's a minion with a stat-buffing effect, that effect works just as it would in a normal game of Hearthstone. Some minions are even exclusive to Battlegrounds mode, so check their effects carefully and see if they fit into your strategy.
The Combat phase continues until one side of minions remains. The winning side will deal damage to the opponent. Damage is calculated by the tier value of each remaining minion added to the player's Tavern Tier. If all minions destroy each other and there are no minions remaining on either side, that round is a draw.
There are eight total participants in a Hearthstone Battlegrounds game. Each Combat phase will randomly pit two opponents against one another. Once players start falling, if there's an odd number of combatants, you may be placed in a Combat phase with a dead player. That player is represented by Kel'thuzad and, in most cases, you'll win that game handily.
Victory is awarded when only one player remains. If you lose before the end of the game, you can go back out to the main menu and try again.
Hearthstone Battlegrounds is currently in Early Access to those who have purchased the BlizzCon Virtual Ticket and those with special access keys. The Open Beta is set to begin next week, with Blizzard adjusting various facets of the game mode based on player feedback. For more on Hearthstone Battlegrounds, be sure to check out our hands-on preview from BlizzCon 2019 or visit the Hearthstone website.