Hearthstone Tavern Brawls Review IV: The Quest For Randomness

Hearthstone has a bit of a problem for new players. They don’t have enough cards, so they cannot easily compete. Blizzard is trying to rectify this problem through the Tavern Brawl. A game mode where the rules of Hearthstone change a little each week based on a theme. I cover the content problem here, but we’re going to discuss the last five brawls this week.

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.

Before We Look At The Tavern Brawls…

The Grand Tournament came out at about the point these were going live. So some of the themes from that expansion are very apparent [almost nauseatingly so, in fact.]

The new rule sets were as follows:

Week 16: Who’s the boss now?

You build a deck. You get a random boss power. Every time you use the power, you get a new one. This is kind of fun, mostly because of the boss powers. Of course, as with all the deck building challenges, [this was one of those] money often carried the day.

Such a difficult brawl, but so, so fun. You and a friend/cohort take on Mechazod and use your combined powers to defeat him.
Mechazod! Slayer of players everywhere!

Week 17: Unite Against Mechazod

BEST BRAWL EVER. You and someone else take on Mechazod. It’s a bit hacky, but it worked.

I can’t even describe how much I love this brawl. I’ll try. So, it’s you and an “opponent” against Mechazod, who’s in the center and changes sides all the time. On your turn, he’ll be on your “opponent’s” side, so you can hit him [he’s a guy with taunt] and on your “opponent’s” turn, he’ll flip sides. One of you – at the start – is randomly a priest or a paladin. The paladin buffs the other guys. The priest heals everyone. It was GREAT to be able to play with someone instead of against the other player. There were, of course, problems. The other player could buff Mechazod, which would grief people. There wer also implied rules that you didn’t know until it was too late [putting seven guys on a side that Mechazod couldn’t move to resulted in him killing all those guys.] – but otherwise, it was pretty cool and I like this a lot. This is Blizzard not being lazy. Bear that in mind, because you’re about to see a ton of Blizzard laziness.

Week 18: Captain Blackheart’s Treasure

Randomness, enter stage left: Discover, all the time, every time.

I’m not sure I need to talk about this much more than what I’ve suggested here. Every round, you pick one of three cards that goes directly into your hand and which you use to beat your brawl opponent. It’s not much more complicated than that. It’s also pretty lazy.

Week 19: Battle of Tol Barad

You make guys. The guys give you spells. All the spells cost 0.

Another pretty lazy brawl. Any time you play a creature, that creature gives you a random spell. The spell costs 0, so you can play as many a turn as you end up making/having from your last turn. Not all the spells will be relevant to the present situation. More Blizzard laziness.

I can't even describe how broken this card is in this format if it turns out right. Get it on turn one or two with ramp and you're good to go. Just so long as you get it before turn four, otherwise, it's a dead draw.
And then God [aka Ben Brode] gave unto us Astral Communion

Week 20: Decks Assemble

This is…complicated. You get a starting hand of bad dudes and on your turn, you discover. Whatever you discover goes right into your hand. The minute you play a card – either from the starter bunch or your discovered cards, a copy goes into your deck. Slowly, you build a deck over time.

I like this one. Sure. There’s some amount of Blizzard laziness going on here [they copied the basic idea from Dominion, et al] but it’s sort of fun making a deck as you go. Also, Astral Communion is COMPLETELY BUSTED in this format if you draw it early.

My Ranking

Urgh. I can’t get into enough showers to wash myself clean. Lots of Blizzard laziness. Lots of shruggy brawls.

  1. Captain Blackheart’s Treasure: Super lazy on Blizzard’s behalf. I don’t want to live in a world where you discover all the time.
  2. Battle of Tol Barad: Go, go, super laziness, go! You build a team, they give you spells, the spells are sometimes useful. It’s very meh.
  3. Who’s the Boss Now?: I like the idea of the random boss power every turn. I do kind of wish there were a greater selection of powers, though. [And I kind of wish they weren’t given to you at random.]
  4. Decks Assemble: Like Clockwork Card Dealer before it, this can be incredibly strategic and interesting to play. Of course, due to the randomness, you could just get hosed, too.
  5. Unite Against Mechazod: MORE BLIZZARD PLEASE OH GOD. Such a good idea. Marred by some bad/avoidable flaws. This is a gold standard for brawls everywhere.

They also did a re-run of Nefarian versus Ragnaros. I still like that brawl as Ragnaros. It’s interesting to out-think the Nefarian player, but they did do some tuning. It’s not as crazily imbalanced as it was before. Just a bit.

I’m not crazy about the super random nature of the brawls or the way the game is building on randomness as a stock design tool, but I haven’t quite hit my limit for this kind of laziness. We’re slowly reaching that point, though.

You can check out video for all of the previous tavern brawls here [alas, I didn’t get the SUPER BUSTED AND ABSURD game with Astral Communion :(]


Image Credits:

The sky image came from: Wikimedia Commons, courtesy of Ildar Sagdejev

The hand image came from Pixabay