Hearthstone Tavern Brawls Review II: If You Can Dodge A Card, You can Dodge A Ball

I took apart the last five Tavern Brawls that Hearthstone had to offer here – there’s nothing really new to cover in terms of why the brawls are there – Hearthstone has an even bigger content gap problem now than before [what with the release of The Grand Tournament and everything] – so nothing I can add here is going to be especially new news.

But I thought it might be worth going over the new Brawls just to kind of see where we’re at.

Tavern Brawls
Tavern Brawls

What’s A Tavern Brawl?

A Tavern Brawl is basically a player versus player game of Hearthstone with different rules each week. Each brawl awards you a classic pack per week for your first win. I have problems with this set up, because I seriously wish I could just play the AI. But that’s just my own personal preference.

This idea of the rules shifting each week is good because it presents us with a new meta game that’s solely restricted to the brawl. Each week starts on a Wednesday and the brawl rules in that section of the game are turned on for the next five days, with the brawl interface going inactive on Sunday.

The brawls themselves have no other real change on the game dynamic. You’re still sitting down to play Hearthstone. You’re still trying to kill your opponent, but some of the other core principles of the game might change. For example [and this is just thumb-sucking, I have no idea if they’d ever do this] – they might restrict you to only using cards that cost eight or more mana to cast. So you’d construct your deck with big dudes and duke it out like that.

The new rule sets were as follows:

Week 6: Heart Of The Sunwell

This brawl is a straight-up money brawl. As in: either you got the cards to compete via money or dumb luck opening free packs. The rule is simple: Everyone starts at ten mana. This was tricky to play as a free-to-play player with few Legendaries, because your pool of “good stuff” is pretty limited.

It is pretty easy to just straight-up get wrecked by people who had poured way too much time [or way too much money] into the game through the access they had to better picks.

Week 7: Too Many Portals

This brawl is almost the polar opposite of Heart Of The Sunwell, because you were at the complete mercy of the random number generator. For this particular brawl, everyone gets a deck consisting of 23 “unstable portal” cards alongside 7 class specific spell cards. [I believe those are the numbers, anyway.] – Unstable portal costs two and randomly generates a minion that costs x-3. So if the minion it generated started off costing 5, it would really cost 2.

Not much fun to play unless you somehow beat the rng and got crazy portal results and reasonable control in your class spells. If you get even a little behind the curve here, you may as well pack your bags and leave.

Piloted shredder is possibly the best four-drop in the game.  With the Masked Ball rule set, he just got especially absurd.
This guy is absurd. You’re going to see him a lot.

Week 8: The Masked Ball

Still somewhat RNG-based, but a little less silly. You create your deck with creatures you like and hope for the best when they die, since every [original] minion gains Deathrattle wording which basically says: “summon a creature that costs two less than the minion that just died.”

So, if your creature cost 5, you’d get some random 3-cost guy when the first guy died. [The Deathrattle’s not recursive. That is: it’ll only happen once with the original creature. If the creature already had Deathrattle that’d summon another guy, you got double your money – it’d generate the original/intended minion + the Maksed Ball minion.]

Not a terrible brawl idea. Though it did lead to a lot of Piloted Shredder and the like.

You can get "new heroes" in the store for $10 [!] - all they are is animated reskins of the current heroes.  Alleria, Medivh and Magni are the current animated .gifs you can buy.
The animated .gif fight!

Week 9: Grand Tournament Match

You either get the Mage [with a pre-set deck based on Insipre from The Grand Tournament] or the Hunter [with a pre-set deck based on Joust from The Grand Tournament] – the Mage could absolutely be nuts and kill within a handful of turns, while the Hunter was about out-lasting and being good with control.

This week was also a kind of showcase for the animated portraits that they have in the shop. [DON’T BUY THEM, THEY’RE NOT WORTH IT.] since you got Medivh as Mage and Alleria as Hunter.

Much like Nefarian versus Ragnaros, it was kind of fun to be the underdog [the hunter, in this case], becasue balance? What’s that?!

Week 10: It’s Raining Mana

This is a variant on the rules that’s all about slow ramp. At turn one, you get one mana, at turn two, you get three mana and at turn three you get five mana [and so on.] – this didn’t really change deck building that much, but it did mean that you could get better cards down faster, which meant that you would choose differently [quite differently, in fact] in your mulligan phase.

A somewhat shruggy idea that doesn’t do enough to shake up the game at a fundamental level

My ranking of these five brawls? I kind of wish I could say that they were all basically terrible, but since this is a top five… ;)

[Really, I wish the developers would do something far more radical with the rule sets – these little tweaks are all interesting, but not far reaching enough.]

  1. Heart Of The Sunwell: Money Brawl. Not much fun to play if you’re just starting out.
  2. Too Many Portals: Lazy. RNG-based. The skill here is in hoping your pile is better than their pile. Also. GO FIRST if you can help it. Usually that helps you win. [we’ve seen this one before, by the by.]
  3. It’s Raining Mana: Basically lazy. This changes your mulligan and not much else.
  4. The Masked Ball: Not a terrible idea. But it definitely shows how bad piloted shredder has been/can be.
  5. The Grand Tournament Match: It’s fun being the underdog if you’re into it. If you’re the mage, it can be somewhat broken. But a good idea, none-the-less. More of these, please [with “more choice.”]

You can see me take on these current taven brawls here.