Hearthstone Mercenaries has been released today in the Hearthstone client. Hearthstone is now a platform. This includes the Battlegrounds (auto-chess), and traditional Hearthstone card games. Now there is a new Hearthstone Mercenaries. Let’s get some key information out of the way before we dig in. Hearthstone Mercenaries
- You can’t use your current Hearthstone collection.
- It can be used in the same way as Hearthstone or gold for your in-game currency
- This does not follow the Hearthstone rules and mechanics.
- Turn-based. Speed is a factor of abilities. An ability that is faster than a skill at a speed 1 will take effect before an even slower and probably more powerful one of speed 9)
- Instead of building decks, players bring 6 characters to each bounty mission and PVP battle.
- Your characters can level up, gain new abilities and equip themselves with equipment. Missions also give you the opportunity to earn resources.
Mercenaries can be described as a compact, RPG-like experience that has some roguelite characteristics and variables to take into consideration on each run. On each play through an area, enemy fights may be different and some special boosts you receive are temporary. However, the experience points you gain and the resources you acquire are permanent, meaning your roster is generally always getting stronger regardless of the run’s outcome. When you begin the game, options are going to be limited due to your character’s low levels and abilities – you are probably going to be limited to a single skill to use on each character for a while – and your roster won’t be that big. Think of this phase as you head to the Barrens as sort of that time in an early RPG where you’re killing rats, slimes, and spiders. While you won’t get to experience much complexity or counterplay here, it will teach you the essential basics as you move into harder and more interesting fare soon enough.
How can you make the most of your time here? Two things – timing and the weakness triangle. All characters of Hearthstone Mercenaries are classified into one of three archetype categories. Protectors represent your brawlers and big fighters. Fighters represent your rangers and more agile rogues. Casters, your warlocks, clerics, and mage characters. Every role has a specific color associated it. This color determines the way combat will proceed through the weakness triangle. Casters do double damage, Fighters suffer double damage, Casters are vulnerable to Casters and Protectors can take double the damage. You can also find classless and colorless entities that are immune to attack when fighting.
At the most basic level, this means if you’re going into a mission knowing the boss is going to be a mean mage of some kind, you probably want to stack your party with a crew of Fighters to have the best shot at winning the day. Of course, that’s just base-level strategy, but having the ability to dish out double the usual damage to any target is a huge benefit to begin each battle with, so keep that in mind. When it comes to PVP, you won’t be able to see the opponent’s board before you drop yours, meaning there’s going to be all kinds of meta-strategy in pre-game builds, or perhaps people will just start playing one of each kind in an opening drop… we’ll have to see.
New options are available as you battle and upgrade your characters’ abilities. As characters gain access to equipment, complexity increases. This allows you to modify or improve one of your skills through gear. Your party will eventually be able to farm small dungeons or enemies using one skill. You’ll then face a variety of challenges that may require you to use your timing skills, and some that can only be solved by interesting combinations.
Sylvanas is an example of a character who is not very impressive outside of the party that uses her. However, she can be a huge wrecking ball if properly fuelled. Slyvanas has the ability to tap into the souls and increase her attack value. If you combine this with a lot of fodder such as summoned characters that are designed to die, then you could have an absolutely banshee princess on the field. That said, don’t get too greedy because figuring out exactly when to usher her onto the board in this situation can be the tricky part. She may come out and enhance herself to a dizzying attack value, but if the battle is already far in the enemy’s favor with a setup position, it might not matter at all.
If this doesn’t make any sense, that’s okay – it’s a lot easier to see in action than it is to explain. Some synergies can be obvious. For example, you could put all of your Murloc champions together and have a fun, fishy time. You may not be able to see all combinations, so it is worth looking at your roster and trying out different pairings.
As Mercenaries is a free mode (it’s really its own game) that gives you all the stuff you need to play, the best way to figure out exactly how it works is to head in and do a few battles.
Do you like Hearthstone Mercenaries? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!