Hearthstone Battlegrounds, a new Auto Chess Hearthstone mode, was announced this past week at BlizzCon, but to play the full demoed experience, you will need to “acquire” 30 packs of cards. In an introduction to the new game mode posted by Blizzard and announcing its release date, they call this “bonus content”.
You can acquire these packs in a number of ways (“Quests, Gold Purchases, Bundles, Events, etc.”), so in theory, you could get all this bonus content for free. However, because it takes quite a while to earn packs in Hearthstone without paying, it does incentivise you to pay for 30 packs in-game (£39.98). If you do want to earn, rather than pay for, these packs, it requires you to play the base game for an extended period of time, rather than playing the mode you’re most interested in.
The bonus content, as Blizzard calls it, will cost different numbers of packs. For ten packs, you’ll be able to see your Battlegrounds statistics – for example, which hero you play as most, or triples created. For 20 packs, you’ll be able to choose from three heroes at the beginning of the game, rather than two. For 30 packs, you’ll receive emotes to use when playing your opponents.
Perhaps the biggest perk is choosing from three heroes rather than two. With 24 characters, you might not always get to play as your favourites, so a third selection could be a real boon. There will also undoubtedly be balancing issues with the hero powers of the playable characters, so those with only two heroes to choose from are at quite a disadvantage.
Hearthstone already has a mode secondary to its base game called Arena. Arena also lets you choose your hero at the very beginning of the mode. However, unlike Battlegrounds, you get to choose from three regardless of how many packs you’ve acquired. You do have to pay a fee to enter the Arena – something Battlegrounds does not require – but since the mode rewards you with loot at the end of a run it frequently pays out rewards equal to what you paid to get in. Arena does not limit the number of characters you get to choose from and doesn’t require you to play vanilla Hearthstone extensively to enjoy its full experience.
One detail missing from the post is if these pack requirements reset with every expansion. Blizzard merely states “players who have acquired packs of the most recent Hearthstone expansion through any means (Quests, Gold Purchases, Bundles, Events, etc.) will have access to the following bonus Battlegrounds content”. This could imply a one-time purchase, but could also mean every four months or so, you’ll have to re-earn the right to play Battlegrounds’ full experience. We have asked Blizzard for comment and will update the story if this clarified.
The cards acquired through these pack, will not affect your Battlegrounds experience in the slightest, making this a bold choice of incentivisation.