When I was prepping myself for BlizzCon, there was a fair amount of stress involved. Beyond the normal travelling stress, I knew I had appointments for undisclosed things, so I had to be ready for anything. I didn’t want to arrive rusty on any IP, because who knew what would be happening? What I didn’t expect was an autobattler.
Several of my friends have been telling me about the joys of the autobattler and how they have taken up a considerable portion of their time. On hearing that, I mentioned not wanting to even try because I didn’t need another thing in my life that took a lot of time… I have enough of those thanks.
Then I get to BlizzCon and oh look, an autobattler to play in Hearthstone. One match for work-related reasons won’t cause any problems right? Right?
Hearthstone Battlegrounds pits eight players into a brawl and it was a bit of a learning experience, I will tell you that. I recognised old Bob from the solo adventure’s tavern, offering me various cards after I chose my hero from two options. I picked Ragnaros the Firelord because the other option involved tribal conditions and I wasn’t sure I could handle that just yet.
Things start off with a Recruit phase. Here you hire minions and summon them onto your board, taking care with placement because this matters a lot. I didn’t know this in the first round though. I mean, there were a lot of things I didn’t know…
When you recruit a minion, you don’t need to place it immediately. I didn’t know this in my first game, but there are two reasons for this: 1) Your Battlecry effect only happens once, as you place it. 2) You can collect three of a minion and combine them into a more powerful gold version and get a chance to Discover a free minion. Besides recruiting or getting rid of minions on your board to make space, you can also spend money to level the Tavern up, to refresh the recruits in the tavern or hang onto what is there for another round when you have money again. The upgrade is pretty important as it increases the number of recruits as well as improving the power of cards that can appear in the pool. By tier 6 the biggest, meanest Hearthstone cards come out to play, but you need to make it there first. Oh, you also pay to activate your hero power, so make sure to use it only when you will get the maximum effect.
The combat phase is where you sit back and watch and hope that your card ordering was done well. It looks like minions fight from the left-hand side of the board through to the right in an aggressive fight until things are dead fashion. Deathrattles and taunts are your only attempt at control here because it is hands-off action in this phase. (Yes I get the name is autobattler, but I had no idea where the auto part was). Eventually, one side will have no minions left and all the damage will get added up and slammed into your face. If you survive this hit, you start the process again, back at recruitment phase, buying minions, selling off other units and trying to get good drops or tribal matchups. There is a lot of random luck here and knowing what kind of card is going to useful later on in the game and what was just chump fodder for starting off will help a lot. Cards that get better every turn are useful if you can get them early on, while Battlecry minions might only hang around for one round before you sell them off and buy something better.
I had a lot of fun in my first match, even though for most of it I had no idea what was going on. I still don’t really know what was going on, but coming third and seeing the other people have these absolute monster units that arrived to decimate my meagre forces has lit a fire in me. I must crush them! I won’t let it stand like this. I think I have a better idea of how combat flows and how to get the most out of my cards now, so the next match should be less brutal. I hope.
And now I want to look at all the autobattlers. Whose great idea was this?? Battlegrounds is in beta and playable right now. If you have any good hints, let me know, those wins need to be had soon.