Hearthstone’s newest patch, 17.4, brought important changes to its Battlegrounds mode but also the most content since its release. Besides an entirely new minion type, 17 new minions, three new heroes, and a reworked hero, there is also a new mechanic called Shifting Minion Type Pools.
With all of this new content, here’s what you need to know to succeed in Hearthstone’s Battlegrounds mode in Patch 17.4.
Shifting Minion Type Pools
The most important change out of all in Patch 17.4 is the ever-changing Shifting Minion Types. At the start of each game, the game notifies you which five unit types will appear. If a minion type does not show up, that means any corresponding type synergy minions or heroes will not show up, like Soul Juggler for Demons, Gentle Megasaur for Murlocs, or Ysera for Dragons.
This means if you’re trying to force certain synergies or comps early, you can reliably know what potential counters won’t show up. If Murlocs won’t appear, then you can reliably build taller boards since there will be less access to Poisonous in the pool. If Beasts don’t show up, then there are less Deathrattle cards and token-based strategies to see.
Since there are currently six minion types, this new tool will keep different minion types limited to five. From a design perspective, this allows players a higher chance to be able to find synergies and triples. Additionally, this allows more minion types to be continually added without the need to permanently remove old types. Whenever new minion types are added to the game, this will allow offering bonuses to skew heavily in favor for new types, so that way players can practice and experience the new type. This is seen now as Pirates currently have a 100-percent chance to appear in the current type pool, but it is currently unknown when it will no longer be guaranteed.
Besides augmenting costs and changing the economy, the newest minion type has a very specific power curve where they aren’t the strongest early, and they can get outscaled by other types later. But in that sweet spot in the mid-game, Pirates can wrack up lots of damage due to how their minion stats are distributed in tiers two through four.
Some strong pirates standard to pirates are ones that empower one another during combat. Ripsnarl Captain, Seabreaker Goliath, and Dreadadmiral Eliza are all minions that accentuate this type’s identity. They give power to fellow pirates by attacking or overkilling enemy minions. This means that pirates can punish wider boards, which allows players to have a higher win percentage versus tokens.
How to play the newest heroes
The most unique out of the newest heroes, Captain Eudora gives you a guaranteed option to always find golden minions at a consistent rate every four turns. While the golden minion isn’t guaranteed to be one from your highest tier, when you do play it, you are guaranteed to get your triple reward still. This allows you to get one regular minion guaranteed from a tier higher. The main decision points to decide when playing Eudora is when to begin digging, since you can begin digging as soon as turn two (or one with a token unit). You can still play a standard game and begin digging by turn three, however, which can allow you to reach tier five within four turns. This strategy can potentially be risky though if you do not hit the highest tier minion.
An important aspect to note with Eudora is that her hero power is not a one-time use. So once you dig out your first golden minion, you can start digging again for another.
Due to the nature of Skycap’n Kragg’s free Piggy Bank, his hero power allows players to choose a strategy each game to either use it early or bank on a powerful turn later. You can usually determine when to use this depending on how far ahead or behind you are early. If you’re behind and struggling with your health total, using it earlier to catch up is a good option. But if you’re ahead you can wait to build up your bank a bit more to accentuate your lead later.
Patches the Pirate
Reworked from his previous Ragnaros-like hero power, Patches is now a Pirate synergy-based hero. While not finding Pirates in your taverns early may feel like a death sentence for Patches, playing a natural game with strong fundamentals and good play can shore up early weaknesses where you do not find any Pirates.
The ideal time to start hero powering with Patches is when your Hero Power is cheap at zero to two gold in cost, and when you’re Tavern tier three. At that Tavern tier, there are a bunch of Pirates at tier two and three that you can find, from Southsea Captain to Salty Looter. Since Patches has a higher chance to find pirates over other heroes, keeping pairs of pirates can yield triples more
The most important aspect to note about Patches’ hero power is that the discount can still happen even after you used it for the turn, so you can use the hero power when it is free and still double dip on reducing its cost after buying more Pirates. In addition to this, the cost of your hero power is retained in between rounds. With the previous knowledge, you can buy some Pirates and chain cheap hero powers each turn if you’re lucky enough.
Aranna Starseeker’s hero power gives a value which is difficult to measure after seven rolls. Since Aranna gains an extra space for minions in the Tavern when compared to tier six, two extra slots when compared to tier four and five, three extra slots compared to tier two and three, and four extra slots when compared to tier one, this means the earlier you roll the more value you gain from achieving Aranna’s true form sooner.
Aranna is bound to best succeed in Demon and Beast pools combined, as hyper rolling for multiple Wrath Weavers, Rabid Saurolisks, alongside the Demons and Deathrattle minions they feed off of has a higher likelihood of being found when you can find seven minions each roll as opposed to three when you’re sitting at Tavern tier one.
The indisputable strongest out of all the newest heroes, Captain Hooktusk’s Trash for Treasure ability provides immense value in the early game and powerful high-roll opportunities in the late game. In the early game, by using Trash for Treasure on a tier-one minion, the hero power essentially serves as a controllable Malygos hero power. This allows you to accrue early pairs, or force strategies you may be looking for. If you do not like what you get during the first turn, you’re allowed a free re-roll to get something better.
Another general use of Captain Hooktusk’s hero power is after you use powerful Battlecries of minions from any tier, you can try to fish for pairs from lower-tier minions.
Newest minions to take note of
One of the most impactful new minions to appear with the update, the Arcane Cannon, should alway be a worthy consideration of an early pick-up due to its nature of shredding wide boards from opponents. Since this newest unit is neutral, it can show up in every pool, so fans should expect to see it often.
To achieve maximum effectiveness with this minion, combo it with Scallywag, Yo-Ho-Ogre, or token summoners in the early game. If you still have your cannon in the late game, Windfury minions can yield multiple Arcane Cannon procs in just a few attacks.
While Pirates have a weak early game and can wrack up a ton of damage in the mid-game, their late game scaling is limited outside of in-combat buffs through means of Ripsnarl Captain, Seabreaker Goliath, and Dreadadmiral Eliza. Outside of Bloodsail Cannoneer, which only buffs attack for all of your Pirates, and Southsea Strongarm, which only buffs attack and health of a singular Pirate, Salty Looter is the singular most consistent scaling option Pirates have.
Goldgrubber can serve as inconsistent scaling based on how many golden units you have. This type of scaling means that Goldgrubber can be used independently from Pirates, which can help change your outlook on which minions you should pick up in any given game.
Due to Goldgrubbers inclusion, tripling a minion on Tavern tier three can be a powerful option since hitting this minion early on behind a golden minion can help secure early game victories.
The sole minion that enables the “Money Printing” strategy, Cap’n Hoggar can quickly disrupt the economy of the Tavern by allowing you to purchase a ludicrous amount of Pirates. In conjunction with Salty Looter, you can quickly allow your board to compete in scaling with other game types like Dragons or Menagerie.
This minion is probably one of the strongest new units to join the Battlegrounds, and it’s not even a pirate! Laying in the beast pool, the Monstrous Macaw is the newest corner piece to enable Deathrattle strategies to reach their highest potential. In the early game it can help Spawn of N’zoth or Kaboom Bot get multiple triggers. In the mid-game, if your build is full beasts, you can pick up a Goldrinn to make your board reach monstrous heights of power with multiple +4/+4 buffs.
With a Baron Rivendare on your board, it can help your Deathrattles trigger multiple times—twice from Macaw swinging and twice from the Deathrattle minion itself dying. Whenever you see that Beasts are in the minion pool at the start of the game, be sure to be on the lookout for this parrot. The main weakness to this unit is if it goes second and gets sniped early, so picking Illidan as a hero can help shore up that singular weak point.
While there isn’t a determined date to when Pirates will no longer be guaranteed to be in the minion type pool, knowing how they impact pools will allow you to adapt to the meta when they’re no longer always showing up. Some previously strong heroes, like the Curator, are not as good as they used to be since they do not synergize well with Pirates.