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Five ways to level up your Hearthstone Battlegrounds gameplay

Blizzard revealed an auto battler mode for Hearthstone at BlizzCon this year. Provided by Blizzard Entertainment

I have a love-hate relationship with Hearthstone.

I used to play it all the time, especially when (the obviously not OP, overpowered for those not in the know) Quest Rogue was released. Definitely before that, with my super aggro Mage deck (aka: the "super impatience" deck) with my fam the Azure Drakes. It was a fun way to pass time.

Eventually I got to a point where I didn't have the time or resources (insert emoji sticking out dollar sign tongue here) to truly level up my deck to a point where I would be a respectable competitor.

Then, BlizzCon 2019 rolled around. One of my (extremely) bold predictions ahead of the weekend was that Blizzard would announce an auto battler that would be available to play ASAP. Maybe even that weekend. Sort of in a "surprise, here is our answer to Team Fight Tactics!"

And that's exactly what happened. Putting aside the fact that I'm a 200 IQ prediction machine for a second, the announcement struck many as odd. An auto battler was a safe bet, but in Hearthstone? In the existing game as a mode? That was interesting. I didn't know how to feel about it.

Then I played it for the first time that weekend in the press area.

I hated it.

The mechanics annoyed me. I was picking minions, sure, that's fun, but the "auto" really is ... auto! It just didn't sit well with me. Part of the fun of Hearthstone is choosing the order in which your minions attack and interact, like a coordinated symphony of beautiful destruction.

But then, the beta was released. I played it a bit more ... and more ... and a lot more.

And now, I'm absolutely hooked.

I've won, but I lose a lot more. It doesn't matter. Every game brings something different to the table. It might even be the best auto battler out there right now. I even love how if you time it just right, the sound of the clock ticking away is in perfect beat with the tavern music (for 15-20 seconds, anyway!)

After playing it for a day, and listening to some experts, here are five things I learned playing Hearthstone Battlegrounds to help you level up your gameplay:

1. Don't be afraid to change your strategy.

During the first 15 games I played, I was locked into my strategy. I picked my hero -- let's say Giantfin -- whose power is to give all Murlocs a deathrattle of summoning a 1/1 Murloc. That entices you to build Murloc. The problem is, the game might not always cooperate and you might get minimal Murlocs, instead seeing a lot of Beasts. In those moments, I stayed the course and hoped it would get better in later rounds, but by then I was already so far behind that I lost control and eventually flamed out (sobbing with my head in my hands). I needed to identify the best time to shift and adapt.

This was the biggest advice top players like Octavian "Kripparrian" Morosan and Jeremy "DisguisedToast" Wang gave as well: If you need to change strategies, do it. RNG (the randomness of the game) is ruthless, void of all feelings and will suck the fun out of your game plan. So, roll with it. Make a shift and build again.

2. Choose wisely which minions you turn into a taunt.

Let's say you are building Beasts, and you have a Scavenging Hyena on your field. I personally wouldn't make this card a taunt with the battlecry of another card. Why? Because this is the type of card that gets stronger as the auto battle progresses. Each friendly Beast that dies grows in attack and health. If you play this right -- for example, pairing it with cards that have a deathrattle that spawns a ton more Beasts -- a Hyena or two on the field will be formidable in the late stage of the auto battle. But if it's a taunt, then enemy minions will attack it first, when it is in a weaker state. Divine shield, though, would be just fine. Personally, I like to pick taunt targets that are either useful throughout the entire game (like Crowd Favorite), or one that has a useful deathrattle (like Mechano-Egg).

3. Manage your minions.

Here is a perfect example: Let's say you are building Mechs, and you have a couple cards in your hand that are Magnetic. If your play area is full, you won't be able to play that card until you sell one on your field of play, even though the end result of you playing that magnetic card is one minion on the battlefield. Also, you can't sell cards that are in your hand, only ones that have been played on the field. When you are trying to collect three of the same minion to level them up into one card, don't be afraid to keep them in your hand if other cards have a better use for you long term. And if you go several turns without seeing those cards again, don't be afraid to play them and sell them. This happened to me a few times with Pogo Hoppers. Remember it's RNG ... it won't always go in your favor!

4. Especially in the later stages of the game, remember rank.

Wrath Weaver is my example here: This is a Tier 1 card, so even if it is at a 20 attack, 20 health state, at the end of the turn, it will add only one attack for your hero. A card like this can stack very quickly, especially if you are choosing the demon path, but in the late game when you have other strong cards on your field, you might want to consider adding higher tier cards that you can easily build up to that level so you get more attack power when you win the auto battle.

5. Gold management.

This might seem like a logical one, but especially mid game, if you don't happen to use all your gold, make sure you spend it on refreshing the minions in the tavern, unless you have frozen them because you have one available you definitely want to buy next turn. It sounds silly to say, but you don't want to waste the opportunity to improve your position, even slightly, when you had the gold to do so. If you're at 2 gold and there's a minion to buy, judge the rest of your minions on the field vs. the benefit (both short term and long term) of the minion you want to buy. If the outcome is better, make the trade. If not, let it go.

Now, get in the game and get those dubs!