Hearthstone Battlegrounds: Meet the Heroes!

Introduction

Hey everyone! I’m lulnenko, a Battlegrounds player with a peak rating over 10.3k. For more Hearthstone and Hearthstone Battlegrounds content, follow me at https://twitter.com/lulnenko and https://www.twitch.tv/lulnenko. You can also chat with me on the NoProsHere Discord server at https://discord.gg/vjA7DYu.

Today I want to take a brief look at each hero. I’ve ordered them from best to worst by equally weighing my opinion of each hero with HSReplay’s data for the top 20% of Battlegrounds players. I’ve heavily considered HSReplay stats while writing this, but mainly focused on my own experiences in high rank lobbies. I’ll explain why each hero ended up in the spot they did, and give some helpful tips for some of the heroes!


Millhouse Manastorm

The Great Heroes

When played well, these heroes consistently place in the top 4 due to their hero powers granting a significant advantage over other heroes.

Millhouse Manastorm

Passive Hero Power: Minions cost 2 Gold. Refresh costs 2 Gold.

Now that Millhouse starts with 3 gold (formerly 2), he can easily flood the board with minions, winning early fights. His early strength and discounted minions also allow him to upgrade his tavern earlier than most heroes while retaining strength. In the late game, the expensive refreshes become a significant detriment, but early high tier minions can often snowball into a victory.

Nozdormu

Passive Hero Power: Your first Refresh each turn costs (0).

Saving loads of gold over the course of an entire game is obviously good. It allows players to get more rolls for key units and helps them afford to play more units in a turn if they are using their refreshes. Perhaps less obviously, Nozdormu also grants important retries in early turns, which can prevent getting blown out early, and he lets players immediately reroll for higher tier units after upgrading their tavern.

Arch-Villain Rafaam

(1) Hero Power: Next combat, add a plain copy of the first minion you kill to your hand. 

Sometimes, Rafaam steals his opponent’s extremely powerful units and uses them to win the game. More commonly, Rafaam uses his hero power to find triples more effectively than other heroes without wasting much time along the way. Rafaam also has the luxury of purchasing a unit on turn 2, as using his hero power early generally grants an early advantage which allows him to catch up in levels later.

Yogg-Saron, Hope’s End

(2) Hero Power: Hire a random minion in Bob’s Tavern and give it +1/+1.

Yogg’s hero power grants such a ridiculous early game advantage that it is truly bizarre to see Yogg finish in the bottom two spots. On turn 3 (5 gold), Yogg can use his hero power to get a buffed random unit and a normal unit without having to sell anything. On turn 4 (6 gold), Yogg can sell a unit, upgrade the tavern, and use his hero power, keeping him stronger than nearly every other hero in the early game while still being ahead in tavern tiers. On turn 6 (8 gold), Yogg can upgrade the tavern for 6 gold and hero power. At this point, Yogg’s board lead has likely diminished, but he is one to two turns ahead of most opponents in terms of tavern tier and can leverage that into a victory. While this exact line of play isn’t optimal in every single game, it’s a solid guideline. Regardless, Yogg’s early strength allows him to crush the early game and quickly ramp into high tavern tiers, much like Millhouse.

Dancin’ Deryl

Passive Hero Power: After you sell a minion, randomly give a minion in Bob’s Tavern +1/+1 twice. 

Deryl can be difficult to play perfectly, but generally making a few big minions by isolating them in the store and selling a bunch of small minions is a good enough plan. Anything with divine shield, Rat Pack, Cave Hydra, or even something like Imp Gang Boss is generally a reasonable target. In a pinch, just about any unit is strong if buffed enough. Don’t underestimate the value of buying and immediately selling units, and don’t underestimate the power of pure stats!

Edwin VanCleef

(1) Hero Power: Give a minion +1/+1 for each minion you’ve bought this turn.

Edwin is strong for many of the same reasons as Deryl, but with the downside of buffing minions more slowly and the upside of having the buffs be both targetable and usable on minions you have already placed (which also means he is able to buff discovered units, unlike Deryl). Unlike Deryl, Edwin can be played without significantly altering your normal playstyle. Like Deryl, Edwin often ends the game with gigantic Deflecto-o-Bots and Cave Hydras.


Infinite Toki

The Good Heroes

These heroes either lack the consistency of the great heroes or require more skill to perform well. However, they still often get strong results and offer a lot of power to those who know what they’re doing.

Sir Finley Mrrgglton

Passive Hero Power: At the start of the game, Discover a Hero Power.

The strategy behind Finley is pretty simple. If your other two options aren’t either great heroes or good heroes that you feel confident playing, choose Finley as a reroll. Whether you choose him over a reasonably strong hero like Elise is up to you, but stats do seem to suggest that taking Finley often pays off. Finley often creates lobbies with multiple copies of the same strong hero, which can occasionally lead to mutually beneficial scenarios for each of you (like the whole lobby awkwardly trying to navigate double Rafaam) or mutually destructive (like the whole lobby gobbling up units that summon tokens, so that they can defeat two Deathwings). It remains to be seen whether the recently added option to choose between 4 heroes instead of 3 makes choosing Finley less attractive.

The Great Akazamzarak

(2) Hero Power: Discover a Secret. Put it into the battlefield.

Akazamzarak is one of the most under-picked heroes for how strongly he tends to perform, at least according to available statistics. Ice Block alone often offers enough stalling to convert a potential 5th place finish into a 3rd place, and secrets like Splitting Image and Redemption are often game-deciding. While some of the secrets in Akazamzarak’s arsenal are truly abysmal, Redemption is particularly strong with deathrattle minions like Goldrinn and Splitting Image is great with large taunt minions.

A. F. Kay

Passive Hero Power: Skip your first two turns. Start with two minions from Tavern Tier 3.

A. F. Kay’s strength depends quite a bit on the strength of tier 3 minions, but with strong early game units like Deflect-o-Bot, Hangry Dragon, and Soul Juggler available, she can quite regularly convert her first two turn losses into multiple turns of wins. The difficulty in playing her comes in navigating the games where suboptimal tier 3 minions are offered, but even in these games she rarely falls too far behind.

Infinite Toki

(1) Hero Power: Refresh Bob’s Tavern. Include a minion from a higher Tavern Tier.

Toki’s hero power shines in the mid to late game, as cheating out tier 5 and 6 minions early can offer a substantial advantage over other heroes. Toki can also take advantage of this by leveling aggressively, getting her tier 5 and 6 units into play early and mitigating the drawbacks of early leveling by guaranteeing high tier rolls. However, Toki players are often weak in the early game, so learning to minimize early health loss is key to effectively playing Toki.

Elise Starseeker

Passive Hero Power: When you upgrade Bob’s Tavern get a ‘Recruitment Map’.

While Elise does not offer huge power spikes like some other heroes, she offers general consistency. Maps can be used on turns when no good options are available in the shop or can be used immediately after upgrading the tavern tier to get a higher tier unit without having to reroll.

Deathwing

Passive Hero Power: ALL minions have +2 Attack.

Despite having a symmetrical hero power (that is, one that affects both players in a fight equally), Deathwing usually gets a net benefit from his hero power because he will generally spend every turn purchasing units that benefit from the hero power while his opponents will not. In some lobbies, Deathwings may struggle if their opponents purchase copies of Rat Pack, reducing the number of Rat Packs available and keeping themselves strong against Deathwing. Deathwing players who find Rat Packs early will sometimes level extremely aggressively, but I would not advise this in most lobbies as opponents will generally begin to outpower Deathwing within one to two turns. It’s worth noting that the nerf to Deathwing (previously +3 Attack) weakens Deathwing in early fights due to 4 health minions like Vulgar Homunculus and Steward of Time now surviving attacks from minions with 1 base attack, like Alleycat and Mecharoo.

Malygos

Hero Power: Replace a minion with a random one of the same Tavern Tier.

Malygos combines two of the themes common among good heroes: “having options is good” and “having a strong start is good.” With an Alleycat or Murloc Tidehunter, Malygos gets to upgrade the 1/1 token for free, and without this start bad units can still be rerolled into (hopefully) better options. The hero power can also be used to look for triple, to reroll high tier units that don’t fit Maly’s current board, or to upgrade units like Nathrezim Overseer which are valuable for their battlecries but do not have strong stats.

The Rat King

Passive Hero Power: Whenever you buy a Beast, give it +1/+2. Swaps type each turn.

Free stats are great! Rat King usually gets a strong start, which can be used to try to get ahead of the rest of the lobby. Unlike Yogg and Millhouse, Rat King cannot as easily convert his early stats into a tavern tier advantage, because he cannot purchase minions for a discount. However, the tempo advantage from getting +1/+2 on several minions is often at least enough to help The Rat King avoid low finishes.

Alexstrasza

Passive Hero Power: After you upgrade Bob’s Tavern to Tavern Tier 5, Discover two Dragons.

Statistics from HSReplay.net show that Alexstrasza is the definition of a boom-or-bust hero. She gets more first and last place finishes than almost any other hero, with relatively few results in between. That indicates a couple things: many players are simply dying before getting value out of this hero power, and those who do make it to turn 5 experience wild variance in how strong it actually is to discover two dragons. It goes without saying that players who find Razorgore and Kalecgos will generally finish much higher than players who do not, but experienced players can reduce Alexstrasza’s variance a bit by playing carefully. I would recommend leveling to tiers 3 and 4 at a normal or even slow pace, as rushing to 5 rarely pays off. After leveling to tier 4, leveling to 5 immediately the next turn will allow the player to catch up to other players in tavern tier while offering either a huge buff (with minions like Kalecgos) or some playable minions (like Cobalt Scalebane). Using this strategy, it is rare but not impossible to hit dragons which simply leave Alexstrasza dead in the water.

The Curator

Passive Hero Power: Start the game with a 1/1 Amalgam with all minion types.

The somewhat recent addition of dragons to Battlegrounds increased the power level of cards like Zoobot, Menagerie Magician, and Lightfang Enforcer, all of which are also fantastic for The Curator. Curator’s Amalgam also slots nicely into other tribal synergies, even if it’s just being used to make Soul Juggler juggle just a little bit more or it’s helping Razorgore grow. Realistically, though, it’s not uncommon to miss buffs for the Amalgam, and in those games it may serve as little more than a coin and a near-guarantee to win the first fight. Do not be afraid to sell your Amalgam.

Pyramad

(1) Hero Power: Give a random friendly minion +4 Health.

Stats are good. While the benefits of 4 extra health per turn dwindle in the late game, Pyramad can often hero power his way to early fight victories. As seen with many heroes higher on this list, early fight victories can be converted into an advantage later in the game. Interestingly, it is fairly common to see Pyramad players play murlocs, as early game murlocs which might normally lose fights become fairly strong with health buffs. This approach is risky, though, as its strength will fall off quickly if Pyramad does not find Murloc Warleaders and then immediately transition to their late game. Another interesting interaction with Pyramad is using the hero power to buff Micro Machine, a unit which quickly gains attack but usually struggles due to its low health.

Reno Jackson

(3) Hero Power: Make a friendly minion Golden. (Once per game.)

Like Alexstrasza, Reno comes with a late game payoff which can be game winning but usually comes at the cost of losing early fights. Reno games often go one of three ways: 1. Finding a triple on tier 4, discovering a tier 5 minion, and hero powering that minion; 2. Hero powering an early minion like Soul Juggler or Iron Sensei; or 3. Dying before the hero power accomplishes anything. While a golden Brann, Baron, or Lightfang Enforcer is generally stronger than a golden Soul Juggler, it’s also usually a bit harder to pull off, so the direction a Reno player chooses to go depends a bit on how quickly they are taking damage and how quickly they find pairs (which represent potential triples into tier 5 discovers). If opting to go for discovers, tier 5 discovers are usually much stronger than tier 4s, and waiting until tier 6 is usually much too slow. Don’t be afraid to use Reno’s hero power on suboptimal minions like Drakonid Enforcer or Iron Sensei, as a modest strength boost in the early to mid game is much better than waiting for a large boost when it’s already too late.


Shudderwock

The Bad Heroes

These heroes are very inconsistent or are much weaker than the good heroes. It’s still worthwhile to learn how to play them well, as these heroes will still frequently be the best ones available. Any hero can perform well, and these are still significantly stronger than the terrible ones.

Nefarian

(1) Hero Power: Start of Combat: Deal 1 damage to all enemy minions.

Nefarian’s hero power is fantastic against divine shields in the late game, but does not impress overall due to a lack of early game strength. Additionally, dealing 1 damage to all enemy minions is almost exclusively good against divine shields, and even then not ones that are generated by minions like Nadina the Red. In many fights, the hero power will simply be ineffective.

Sindragosa

Passive Hero Power: At the end of your turn, Frozen minions get +1/+1.

Sindragosa, formerly one of my personal favorite heroes and likely still in my top ten most played heroes, has sadly fallen into the “bad” category. Sindragosa offers a significant stat boost in the early game (starting on turn 3), but in a fairly unconvincing way compared to some heroes available. Sindragosa players are often forced to play subpar units (but with a stat bonus), and unlike Yogg and Millhouse, Sindragosa neither plays minions faster than other heroes nor generally gets the luxury of upgrading the tavern faster than other heroes. As a result, Sindragosa’s strength often falls off by the mid game.

The Lich King

(1) Hero Power: Give a friendly minion Reborn for the next combat only.

When I first saw that Lich King’s hero power was changed to be targeted, I thought it was overpowered. I was wrong. While it is quite strong to consistently get double value on powerful deathrattles like golden Spawn of N’Zoth, Goldrinn, or Ghastcoiler, Lich King still seems to fall flat in many games. In a meta where powerful deathrattles are more easily found, The Lich King may prove a serious threat. Currently, he’s fairly inconsistent and often weak.

Patchwerk

Passive Hero Power: Start with 50 Health instead of 40.

10 extra health is not very much when you are unfavored to win fights from the beginning of the game until the end. It may be enough to buy a little extra time, so that Patchwerk finishes 6th instead of 8th or 4th instead of 5th. It also lets wrath weaver players play a few more demons before dying. Patchwerk is bad, but playable in a pinch.

Galakrond

(1) Hero Power: Replace a minion in Bob’s Tavern with a minion from a higher Tavern Tier.

I have a soft spot for Galakrond, but realistically the most common Galakrond strategy, building a tier 6 minion early in the game, is nearly never a good idea. Galakrond can actually be played by progressing normally in the early game before trying to create higher tier minions using the hero power, a strategy which will both increase consistency and drastically decrease highroll potential. I personally enjoy playing Galakrond this way – very similarly to how I would play Toki – but for many players it may be advisable to only pick Galakrond if they believe in their ability to make a turn 6 Mama Bear.

Illidan Stormrage

Passive Hero Power: Start of Combat: Your left and right-most minions attack immediately.

As the newest hero on this list, Illidan is also the one with the most uncertain placement. While his hero power can be extremely beneficial when running powerful deathrattles or cleave minions, Illidan is generally weak in the early game and needs specific minions to really shine in the late game. While Illidan players may develop new strategies for him in the upcoming weeks, the initial stats are not promising.

Bartendotron

Passive Hero Power: Reduce the Cost of Tavern Tiers by (1).

Upgrading the tavern early sounds like a great idea. In practice, a 1 gold discount doesn’t actually line up nicely with the amount of gold players are likely to have most of the time. In general, Bartendotron does not benefit from his hero power compared to most heroes until around tier 4 or 5. Compared to other heroes who can level aggressively, like Millhouse, Bartendotron offers almost no benefit while also lacking the early game board advantage.

Shudderwock

(1) Hero Power: Your next Battlecry this turn triggers twice.

Are Shudderwock’s stats lowered a bit by players who attempt to force Pogo Hoppers? Probably. Regardless, the HSReplay stats actually show Shudderwock’s odds of winning a fight increasing pretty steadily throughout a game. Doubling battlecries is a very strong effect, especially in the late game with valuable battlecries like Annihilan Battlemaster and Murozond, but some team compositions don’t benefit greatly from battlecries and the late game disadvantage is often insurmountable.

George the Fallen

(3) Hero Power: Give a friendly minion Divine Shield.

3 gold is expensive. George, like Shudderwock, actually gets quite strong in the late game, should he make it to the late game with a team composition that makes sense. With divine shield synergy units like Drakonid Enforcer and Bolvar, George can create a powerful team, and hero powering important units like Mama Bear or Baron Rivendare is also strong. Highly experienced players should likely value George a bit higher than his placement on this list, but as this list takes into account all HSReplay statistics for players at 6700+, he places very poorly.


Lord Jaraxxus

The Terrible Heroes

These heroes should be avoided at all costs. A few of them may offer high entertainment value, but they are all consistently weak. Regardless, highly skilled and highly lucky players can sometimes manage to win with these heroes.

Millificent Manastorm

Passive Hero Power: Mechs in Bob’s Tavern have +2 Attack.

Forcing yourself to play a specific tribe is a very bad idea. Even with the extra attack on mechs, it’s often better to just take other things that are offered and accept that your hero power is accomplishing almost nothing. If you do manage to build a strong team, it’s unlikely the +2 attack was what really got you there.

Queen Wagtoggle

(1) Hero Power: Give a random friendly Mech, Murloc, Beast, Demon, and Dragon +2 Attack.

Sure, it’s strong to buff Cave Hydra, Holy Mackerel, Bronze Warden, Annihilan Battlemaster, and Mechano Egg. Those are not the minions Queen Wagtoggle will be buffing early in the game. She spends a fair amount of time and resources buffing early minions that will be sold in the mid to late game to start the buffing process over again. Without finding strong minions to buff early, the Queen will fall apart in the mid game.

Ysera

Passive Hero Power: At the start of your turn, add a Dragon to Bob’s Tavern.

First, let’s establish that staying on a low tier and making red whelp triples is a bait and a terrible idea (even if you saw Purple gain ranks doing it). Ysera does benefit from often having a decent turn 1, and having extra minions in the tavern is never really a bad thing, so she is perhaps a bit better than some of the other “terrible heroes” when played well. The truth is that playing a dragon build is often just very weak unless a Kalecgos or some early Razorgores are involved.

Fungalmancer Flurgl

Passive Hero Power: After you sell a Murloc, add a random Murloc to Bob’s Tavern.

A common theme among the terrible heroes, Flurgl baits players into playing a very weak, inconsistent strategy. Playing and selling a bunch of murlocs early in the game is not a good idea. Once Flurgl gets to tavern tier 5 or 6, cycling murlocs for triples may be strong, but the odds that he should actually be playing a murloc build after making it to that stage of the game are actually fairly low. Flurgl will usually die before getting the crazy payoff turns you may be imagining.

Professor Putricide

(1) Hero Power: Give a friendly minion +10 Attack for the next combat only.

Putricide is a bit like a “find Cave Hydra” simulator. Putting all of your eggs in that basket is probably not a good idea. Giving extra attack to a divine shield minion or a Rat Pack can be strong in early fights, but will quickly be outpowered without extra health to go with it. It’s hard to imagine a game where Putricide’s hero power isn’t outclassed by every other hero power in the lobby.

Lord Jaraxxus

(2) Hero Power: Give your Demons +1/+1.

YOU FACE JARAXXUS, EREDAR LORD OF THE BURNING LEGION! Forcing one tribe is still bad, and 2 mana is hilariously overpriced for this hero power. Interestingly, Jaraxxus actually performs decently at low ranks, where players generally make their boards stronger at a much slower rate. I would still advise against picking Jaraxxus even in low ranks, because learning to play any other hero well will still give better results than playing Jaraxxus.


Thanks for reading! For more Hearthstone and Hearthstone Battlegrounds content, follow me at https://twitter.com/lulnenko and https://www.twitch.tv/lulnenko. You can also chat with me on the NoProsHere Discord server at https://discord.gg/vjA7DYu.