A few others proved interesting:

  • Steward of Time gives you an immediate impact when you sell it. But is a reselling strategy that useful outside of heroes like Dancin’ Deryl or Edwin VanCleef?
  • Bronze Warden is the first minion with Reborn in Battlegrounds (The Lich King can apply Reborn, but no minion has it as a property). This could prove to be a resilient member of Bob’s Tavern.
  • Hangry Dragon has a fun name, but it has snowball potential, especially if you build a strong lineup before hitting Tier 3.
  • Drakonid Enforcer is interesting because it brings more interaction with Divine Shield. Bronze Warden will have them, but three other Divine Shield minions are leaving the tavern with this update (Shielded Minibot, Annoy-o-Tron, and Psych-o-Tron). The question here is if it has enough gas between those remaining Divine Shield minions and other Dragons to make some hay.
  • Razorgore gives you a fantastic payoff for having a Dragon-heavy lineup, but is it too late and too expensive at Tier 5 to make a difference?
  • Twilight Emissary: Razorgore, Part Deux.
  • Kalecgos gives all your Dragons a +1/+1 whenever you play a Battlecry minion. I’m salivating at playing this with Brann Bronzebeard. This combo, albeit a late-game strategy, looks fun.

Also: I had to ask a question about the best-named minion in the Tavern: Holy Mackerel, the new Murloc that gains a Divine Shield whenever a minion loses theirs. I wondered how long the design team has wanted to give a card the name “Holy Mackerel.”

“Well, Mike [Donais, who was the Hearthstone team’s lead game designer] has probably waited his entire life to name a card ‘Holy Mackerel,'” joked Battlegrounds designer Conor Kou. “He’s the king of Murloc puns. But actually, he wasn’t the one who came up with it. It was an engineer [Josiah Jordon] on our team … and as soon as he told Mike, of course. … He’s one of our game engineers and most avid players.”

Juggling a Whelp

Randomness can be a touchy subject in Hearthstone. With Red Whelp being another minion coming in with a random ping, I asked just what randomness means to the design team these days. Soul Juggler, like its cousin Knife Juggler, deals random damage that can feel bad for the one who takes it as well as the one who dishes it out. Are these Juggler cards no longer appropriate?

“One of our goals for Battlegrounds is really exciting combat that’s fun to watch. And we want to create opportunities for really good stories, and sometimes that [happens] as a result of that story. So Soul Juggler has got a bunch of really exciting story elements to it where you get to make this plan where you can sort of see how it’s going to play out and try to position around that. And then watch it play out. And sometimes it doesn’t play out exactly as you plan, you shoot something that actually does something really negative for you as well,” Kou said.

“Battlegrounds is all about embracing [stories]. And, of course, we have to keep an eye on, like, is it becoming too unfun. [It’s] like, ‘I’ve played 200 game with Soul Juggler, and it’s not that interesting anymore.’ We definitely cut a lot of designs while we’re iterating that have crazy randomness as well. So it’s about finding the balance between those in Battlegrounds.”

Game director Ben Lee added his thoughts as well:

“I think with Battlegrounds as well we have a lot more freedom with is that it doesn’t impact the players’ economy [you’re not buying cards]. We need to respect how much the players invest in our game, and when it comes to Standard, we have to take that more seriously than we do with Battlegrounds. If we want to change a card in Battlegrounds, or we just think it’s time for Soul Juggler to rotate out of Battlegrounds and bring something new in, that’s something we can do, and it’s much easier to do. We’ve done it with a bunch of cards.”

Including 10 with the 16.4 patch.

A change is going to come

The 16.4 patch is also bringing about some adjustments to Heroes and Minions. These include:

  • George the Fallen: Boon of Light Hero Power cost reduced from 4 to 3.
  • Sneed’s Old Shredder: Moved to from Tier 6 to Tier 5.
    Mama Bear: Old: 4/4 Beast, Whenever you summon a Beast, give it +4/+4. New: 5/5 Beast, Whenever you summon a Beast, give it +5/+5. This reverts a previous change.
  • Tavern Tier 6: Starting cost of Tavern Tier 6 has been reduced to 10 Gold (down from 11).

In a statement, the design team said, “Tavern Tier 6 has a lot of exciting minions and we’d like players to have a more of an opportunity to reach it than they have. We’re also trying to make Tavern Tier 6 more interesting by adding some of these powerful new minions.”

Hey, hey-ey, goodbye

The Heroes minions leaving Bob’s Tavern aren’t impressive. Some of them give you a hand reaching one tier or another, providing a stopgap until you fish out those minions you need. It’s time to put the following on the bench:

  • Hero: Professor Putricide
  • Shielded Minibot
  • Annoy-o-Tron
  • Mounted Raptor
  • Phalanx Commander
  • Psych-o-Tron
  • Tortollan Shellraiser
  • Piloted Sky Golem
  • Festeroot Hulk
  • Boogeymonster
  • Sated Threshadon

In a statement, the design team said that, “We’d like to go back to the drawing board with Professor Putricide. We’re going to disable him for now to make way for our new Heroes, but you’ll likely see him return in the future with some changes.”

Correction, 10:13 a.m. Pacific: Battlegrounds’ boss is Conor Kou, not Chou. I corrected the error.

Update, 10:20 a.m. Thursday: Updated context of Kou’s comment on Soul Juggler.

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