Heroes of the Storm loot boxes, the numbers behind them, and how they can be gamed

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Taking a leaf out of Overwatch’s book, followed by a sprinkling of Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm has unveiled its revamped progression system. No longer are levels simply the barrier between you and playing a differently shaded hero - they’re the key to loot chests.

Has Heroes of the Storm’s 2.0 update inspired you to start playing? Check out our beginner’s guide!

With a slew of new cosmetic items such as emoji, banners, and so on, it’s very much akin to Overwatch’s model. In each chest are four items, of common, rare, epic, or legendary rarity, which you can add to your collection. It’s not exactly the same, so we’ve gone and run the numbers: using data from a number of sources, we’ve worked out the odds behind it, what you can expect, and even how to game the system.

First though, the basics. You’ll be getting a new loot chest every time you level up. Very simple, and exactly what you expect. On top of that, if you reach a certain milestone with a hero, you’ll get a chest with a guaranteed rare item for them - for example, reach level 10 with Illidan, and you’ll get a chest with a rare item for him.

Chest types and how they differ

Before we get to the specifics, here's the basic data you need. There are three kinds of chests: regular loot chests, rare chests, and epic chests. As you might have guessed, these refer to their contents. An epic chest will always contain an epic or legendary item, and possibly more.

HOTS loot chests

Similarly, rare chests guarantee at least one rare or better item. This is important because it differs from Overwatch and Hearthstone - in those game, loot boxes and card packs always give you at least one rare card. In Heroes of the Storm, this isn’t guaranteed - a loot chest may well give you four common items, if the dice rolls aren’t in your favour. 

Our statistics are all based on regular loot chests - these are the most plentiful and also the only kind you can buy directly right now. That said, there’s definitely some strategy to opening all kinds of loot chests.

This is because Heroes of the Storm has a new system: rerolls. Each chest can be rerolled up to three times for increasing amounts of gold, the first reroll costing 250, the second 500, and the third 750. From what we can tell, rerolls are independent of the previous results, and there’s no reroll-specific weighting to get you something better or worse. If you reroll a loot chest that contained a legendary item, you’re not guaranteed to get another (in fact, it’s incredibly unlikely).

Heroes of the Storm’s Legendary pity timer is set at 18 boxes, 8.21% of chests contain a legendary

So, part of what you’re here for: the actual numbers. We watched 524 loot chests being opened, resulting in a total of 1504 common, 401 rare, 148 epic, and 43 legendary items.

71.76% of items found were common, 19.13% were rare, 7.06% were epic, and only 2.05% were legendary. 

That meant that 76.53% chests contained a rare item, 28.24% contained an epic item, and 8.21% contained a legendary. That’s one in every 12-13 loot boxes giving you a legendary item, with your average box being either four commons or 3 commons and a rare. 

It’s unclear if loot chests are weighted as a whole or each item is weighted individually. This weighting is a result of Blizzard’s system where nothing is completely random - you’re guaranteed to get a legendary item ...eventually. They’ve not explained quite how this works, but we can make some good guesses.

HOTS loot chest purchase

This is Heroes of the Storm’s ‘pity timer.’ It prevents the almost-but-not-impossible scenario of just never, ever getting legendary items due to repeated bad luck. If you’ve not been doing great legendary-wise, a box’s contents will have its odds put in your favour. This throws a little uncertainty into the mix.

We saw individual edge cases where players opened 17 boxes and then found a legendary item. We never saw a longer legendary-less streak, implying that Heroes of the Storm’s pity timer will hand over the goods after, at most, 18 boxes. In Hearthstone, chances ramp up significantly heading into the end of the pity timer, so it’s likely a more round 20 boxes is the actual max, but nobody has gotten that unlucky yet.

With the amount of inspiration for this system coming out of Overwatch and Hearthstone, it would be surprising if the pity timer system isn’t very similar behind the scenes. We’ve covered both Overwatch and Hearthstone’s pity timers before in the past, for a little extra reading.

Reroll any chest that has only given you the minimum quality result at least once

Of the loot chests we studied, the average number of chests used before opening a legendary item, though, was between eight and nine. This is because of the reroll mechanic.

Some people chose to just reroll when they found duplicate items, regardless of rarity. We’ll go into the numbers behind why that’s often a mistake soon, but this meant that they could get sometimes higher rarity items without forking out for more loot chests.

This comes to the question of when and why you should reroll a chest. The exact answer to this differs from player to player: with Heroes 2.0, gold can only be used for rerolling and buying heroes, so those who own all heroes will be fine to spend gold on rerolls. If you’re saving up, try not to reroll too much.

HOTS opening loot chests

The best times to reroll a chest, though, are when you’ve got the bare minimum from it. If you’ve got a regular loot chest with four common rewards, it’s best to reroll. Assuming each item is weighted equally, each has a 28.24% chance of being rerolled into a higher rarity item. Note that just because there’s four of them doesn’t mean you end up with a 112.96% chance of getting something better - the roll of each item is independent from the rest. Statistics feel a bit weird, we know.

This becomes an interesting deal with rare and epic loot chests. If you get one epic item and three common items from an epic chest, rerolling will never give you less than what you previously had. Those three common items each have that 28.24% chance to be upgraded, while the one epic has a 2.05% chance to become legendary, and a 97.95% chance to stay the same. 

The worst case scenario here is that you’ll still have three commons and one epic. There’s a 36.58% chance of this happening, according to our numbers - this gives you whopping 63.42% chance to get something better. That something better is more than likely going to be one of those common items turning into a rare item, but it could get even better than that. 

When you’re dealing with a regular loot chest and four commons, the odds are even better than that. You’ve got a 26.87% chance of sticking at just four common items - 73.13% of the time, at least one item will be upgraded to something of a higher rarity. If  the pity timer effects rerolls as well, this percentage will be higher, but Blizzard aren’t sharing their algorithm.

With the first reroll of a chest only costing 250 gold, you’re usually better off rerolling if you received the bare minimum. While rerolling epic chests is more expensive (500, then 1,000, then 1,500), we still feel it’s worth the gold - more on that down below.

Don’t reroll lucky duplicates - there’s no guarantee you’ll get a new item of the same quality

On top of everything else, there’s now Shards in Heroes of the Storm, which function like Hearthstone’s dust or Overwatch’s credits. When you get a duplicate item, it will be turned into shards, which can be used to directly purchase cosmetics.

A legendary duplicate rewards 400 shards, an epic, 100, a rare, 20, and a common will reward you with a measly 5 shards. If you want one thing in particular, this is the way to go about it: they can be traded in for specific items.

You’ll get shards over time, but it’s best not to worry about them too much. 4 duplicate legendaries give enough shards for a new legendary - you’re not rewarded greatly for finding duplicates. 

At the same time, it’s best not to turn your nose up at them. Rerolling a legendary duplicate isn’t worth it, as it gives you enough to purchase an epic item. The chance of rerolling and getting an epic or legendary item in the duplicate’s stead is very low. Instead, use your rerolls in the situations described above, where you’ve received the bare minimum a chest offers. If you get an epic item and three common items from an epic chest, it’s worth rerolling regardless of if it’s a duplicate (unless, of course, your aesthetic demands it).

HOTS collection screen

When the system goes live, take note of what you want, and what you’re looking to spend, both in real money and in-game gold. To maximise the number of rarer items you get, use the gold you’re willing to spend to make the most out of your chests by rerolling those ones that give you low results.

Don’t burn all your gold on rerolls unless you’ve got a sweet collection

It’s also important to note what you’re more likely to find as the limiting factor in opening chests and rerolling them. It’s hard to know exactly what that is yet, as folks haven’t had a long time to get into them with the game’s revamped experience system, but we can make some guesses.

Looking at Legendary items, you can expect one every 12 or 13 chests if you’re not spending gold. With rerolls, that can be decreased, but legendary items are not always heroes - you might be spending gold to reroll for duplicates, skins, or other cosmetics. 

With a legendary hero costing 10,000 gold, you could instead get 40 rerolls out of that - in 40 rolls, you can expect about 4 legendary items. 

But you’d also have to have 40 chests for this to happen. Depending on your gold income, how you’re playing the game, how often you’re levelling up, and so on, there’s a strong chance that the limiting factor won’t be your gold income, for rerolling efficiently. Instead, it will be how many loot chests you have.

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If you’re forking out the cash for oodles of loot chests having a large sum of gold to reroll a lot is good, but for the vast majority of players - especially new ones that don’t have large hero pools - it’s best to focus on saving gold for heroes instead. Once you’ve got a large collection of heroes, you can focus on building gold stores up for rerolling chests. Having lots of heroes gives you so much more variety in what you can play, as well as makes you more competitive in ranked play.

Make sure to have some when the event starts, though: having a little to play with and use the rerolling system to your advantage will help get some extra rarer items when the event launches later this month.

When the loot boxes come out, you’ll receive a number of loot chests of three variants. If you’ve played one game of Heroes of the Storm, you’ll get 5 loot chests. Then, for every 10 levels, you’ll get an epic chest up to a maximum of 55, and for every 100 levels you’ll get a veteran chest, up to a max of 10. Veteran chests offer five rewards instead of four, and guarantee at least one legendary item. You’ll also get a 30 day stimpack if you’re level 40 by the time the update hits.

If you can’t wait to see what level you’ll be, folks on reddit have put together handy calculators. We’ve not been able to see what the veteran chests are like, but the advice for rerolling still stands: if you’ve received the bare minimum, you should reroll. The value of rerolling a veteran chest is even greater that of any other, as you’re rerolling five items, not four. 

The Assassin mega-bundle is the best value

HotS Mega Bundle

Blizzard have also announced they’ll be giving away free “mega bundles”: curated batches of heroes for a specific role. Every player that logs in to Heroes of the Storm by May 22 will be given the option to buy one of four bundles, each of which contains 20 heroes.

There’s a quiz to help you decide which bundle to choose, and the Reddit community has a guide for League of Legends or Dota 2 players who want to play something familiar. Thing is: the bundles aren’t of equal value.

If you’re really trying to save your gold, pick the Assassin Bundle. This one has a value of 145,000g, the most of them all. The Flex Bundle is worth significantly less at 123,000, the Support & Specialist Bundle comes in at 131,000, and the Tanks & Bruisers bundle is second-highest at 141,000.

If you really are desperate to ensure you’re efficient with the gold in-game, the Assassin Bundle is the best value. That said, if you’re not the sort of person who enjoys assassins you won’t get much out of it. This is primarily a heads-up for those of you trying to be as efficient as possible!

Before the stats nerds come for us: yes, values have been rounded to two decimal places, and yes, a larger sample size would be better. There will be some difference between what people get, but, 500 loot box openings is enough to gauge the system. We’ll revisit once the system is live to check our findings.

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sirnumbskull avatarHersheySquirtle avatarSunshine6992 avatar
HersheySquirtle Avatar
6 Days ago

I checked out that calculator, but it doesn't show that I'll get 10 Veteran boxes for every 100 levels (three, in my case). =\

Edit: Oh, the article was just kind of awkwardly worded. It's one Veteran box for every 100 levels, up to 10.

Sunshine6992 Avatar
6 Days ago

At the moment, if you want to reroll and epic chest, the first one costs 500 gold... probably for veteran chests are up to 500 the first reroll... quite expensive D: