Hearthstone’s Battlegrounds mode has just received its biggest update yet. There’s quite a lot to cover here (and you can read the full details here), but the headline of the latest Battlegrounds patch is the addition of dragons to the mode’s roster of minions. Despite being one of the most popular minion types in Hearthstone’s constructed mode over the years, dragons have been suspiciously absent from Battlegrounds up until this point.
Now, you’ll be able to recruit a variety of new minions that are either dragons or interact with dragons in some way. Many of the higher-end dragon cards available to recruit from the later tiers only showcase their true power if you control a board full of dragon minions so, much like other tribes in the mode, it does seem that the ideal strategy is to recruit as many dragons as possible along the way. Of course, since all Battlegrounds players pull from the same selection of available minions, you can expect your opponents to also be chasing the dragons (so to speak).
Dragons aren’t the only new minions you’ll see in the Battlegrounds recruitment pool. Divine shield strategies will get a bit of a buff with the addition of creatures such as Holy Mackerel, which gains divine shield whenever another minion loses divine shield, while Demon players will be able to access a new tier six minion called Imp Mama who summons a random demon and gives it taunt whenever it takes damage.
The addition of all these new faces does mean that some older Battlegrounds minions have been temporarily removed from the game. While some, such as Boogeymonster and Tortollan Shellraiser, probably won’t be missed, other meta favorites are being rotated out to make way for new ideas. For instance, Blizzard notes that it felt there were too many mechs in the mode and wanted to trim those numbers somewhat.
Speaking of new faces, seven dragon heroes have been added to Battlegrounds as part of this update. You’ll be able to choose between Galakrond, Deathwing, Ysera, Nozdormu, Malygos, Alexstrasza, and recently confirmed dragon, Reno Jackson. Each benefit from new hero powers that offer fascinating new ways to play the game. Professor Putricide has also been removed from the list of available heroes while George the Fallen is getting a slight buff in the form of a one gold reduction to his hero power cost.
I recently had the chance to play with all the new content included in this update and came away impressed with how drastically it changes the Battlegrounds’ meta. Dragons are a powerful new option and their arrival brings the welcome addition of some new strategies. The surprising influx of new minions combined with the removal of older minions and heroes means that games simply play differently than they have over the last month or so. Some of those new minions and heroes also force you to consider possibilities that you may not have thought of before and even (*shock*) experiment with new, untested compositions.
What really impressed me, though, was Blizzard’s dedication to constantly updating Battlegrounds with such patches and the ways that those changes keep the mode feeling fresh. Between patches such as this and Hearthstone’s other recent notable updates, it does seem that Blizzard is finally dedicated to consistently adding more content to the game.
In any case, this is by far the biggest Battlegrounds update we’ve seen yet, and if Blizzard can find a way to continue to improve the incredibly popular auto-battler with minor alterations and these kinds of “mini-expansions,” then Battlegrounds could indeed become the new face of Hearthstone.