Hearthstone’s newest patch, 18.4, added a new minion type and four heroes into the Battlegrounds mode. The patch brought Elementals, tech poisonous minions, and new and returning heroes.
With the plethora of new content, here’s what you need to know to find consistent success in Hearthstone’s Battlegrounds mode in Patch 18.4.
The strength of Elementals and how to play them
Players that have played with Pirates and Dragons will find similar play patterns in terms of augmenting Bob’s economy and scaling their minions stats. Most of Elementals’ stat scaling comes from playing your Elementals while you have key minions on the board like Party Elemental, Lil’ Rag, or Nomi. To allow you more consistent Elementals to play, the minion type can perform actions like creating extra elements to play or buy like Sellemental, Stasis Elemental, or Tavern Tempest. In addition to this, with the power of Refreshing Anamoly you are also allowed a free roll much alike to Nozdormu.
With all of this considered, not committing to Elementals early on in the Battlegrounds is a strong play. Outside of buying a Sellemental turn one if you cannot find a Beast or Murloc token, there’s not too much reason to gather Elementals unless you’re Chenvalla or finding triples. The prime time to consider pivoting to Elementals is when you’re buying a triple on Tavern Tier Four.
If you can find an early enough Lil’ Rag or Nomi, Kitchen Nightmare, then you can change your strategy to Elementals and start scaling your board quickly. Out of those two tier-five units, Lil’ Rag provides immediate tempo by giving you multiple stat buffs for playing Elementals, while Nomi will give you immense value by increasing the permanent stats of Elementals you find in shops for later. Considering when to pick up either of the two will depend if you’re behind or not. If you’re close to death, Lil’ Rag will help you stabilize faster, but if you’re at a healthy life total when finding Nomi, then sacrificing a bit of your lead to cement a victory is the way to go.
The newest heroes and their optimal strategies
The most exciting of the newest heroes is Ragnaros due to the nature of his evolving hero power. Ragnaros is among one of the weakest heroes in the early game alongside Aranna and Mr. Bigglesworth. On average, Ragnaros players can expect to have their hero power spike at turn six through nine. If Ragnaros survives, his hero power grants an additional +8/+8 in stats split across minions, and this stat increase is exponential when you add Divine Shields into the mix.
To best play Ragnaros, you need to not take any risks early and play a very standard Battlegrounds game. Always pick the best independent units and highest stats for the tier or turn. If you can win enough combats after slaying enough minions, then you will be able to suffer multiple buffer losses in the later stages of the game for when your hero power will improve your odds.
With Al’Akir, a free extra Divine Shield and Taunt is a ton of effective combat worth, especially when you are able to land your hero power onto a minion with high stats. While some minions have awkward synergy with the hero power, like Spawn of N’zoth, the emphasis of an extra Divine Shield cannot be understated especially when transitioning into the late game.
The Windfury from Al’Akir’s hero power can also be potent in fringe scenarios. If you can put the Windfury on a minion like Monstrous Macaw or while having a Whirlwind Tempest on board, you can get multiple uses out of your attack abilities.
Out of the four newest heroes, Chenvalla is the most straightforward to play since her hero power needs you to play multiple Elementals to receive discounts on leveling. Picking Chenvalla pigeonholes you into playing Elementals, which can be a weak strategy if you only find weak Elementals, if any. Due to this, there’s not much more to optimize outside of just buying multiple Elementals and using your free Tavern Discount effectively.
Despite all of this, picking Chenvalla runs a similar risk to playing Patches the Pirate. If you are able to find Elementals often and early enough, you can usually take over a lobby by snowballing your early level lead. But if you struggle to find Elementals, then you are effectively running a character without a hero power, and if your board is weak, everyone around you will scale faster and you are more prone to constantly losing.
Rakanishu is the strangest and most rigid of the newest heroes to play. Since his hero power is a pure stat buff, he can usually spend spare mana in the mid to later parts of the game to gain potent buffs for key minions. Since it costs two gold to activate, however, it is awkward to fit into your curve when you usually want to spend the gold finding powerful units or triples.
On top of all of these factors, you are unable to choose which minion receives the buff, so if you have a comp that relies on your minions dying, like Spawn of N’zoth or Nadina the Red, there is always a potential chance that your buff will hit those minions, making it more difficult for them to die and decreasing your odds to win fights.
The shifting minion pool meta and the Poisonous Divine Shield dilemma
Since Elementals were added to the Battlegrounds pools, there are now two missing minion types in each game. In addition to this, there are multiple minion types, like Dragons and Elementals, which can reach ridiculous combat stat totals. With a chance for both Murlocs and Beasts to be gone from the pool, that adds to the fact that there would be a chance for no natural Poisonous minions. To circumvent this, Blizzard added a 1/1 tribeless Deadly Spore, which guarantees at least one source of poison that everyone in the lobby could start picking up.
The side effect this caused, however, is that minions like Selfless Hero has higher value due to granting either minions with high stats a shield, or poisonous minions protection to trade two units for itself, and heroes like George the Fallen have a newfound life and has raised in the tiers slightly.
While the overabundance of Poison and Divine Shield comps players are pivoting to may feel annoying and numerous, there are comps and units that can be built to counter it. As an example, if you use Deathrattle units like Unstable Ghoul, The Tide Razor, or Ghastcoiler, you can usually spawn enough minions or clear Divine Shields to allow these fodder minions to tank the Poison.