Blizzard announced the next Hearthstone expansion, Descent Of Dragons, today at BlizzCon. It'll add new cards with new abilities - the usual expansion stuff. More curiously, Blizzard also announced Hearthstone: Battlegrounds, a new mode they say is inspired by the Auto Chess. Y'know, the burgeoning genre which began as the Dota 2 mod Dota Auto Chess and has already spawned Valve's Dota Underlords and the League Of Legends mode Teamfight Tactics. That is not what I expected when I first heard the word "Battlegrounds" on the stream.
First, dragons. Their descent will bring 135 new cards, including a whole lot of dragons. Chief among these is Galakrond, a new Hero Card who grows more powerful when you play cards with the new "Invoke" ability. That sounds kinda neat. Blizzard explain Galakrond in this blog post, and have a Descent Of Dragons page up revealing some of the set's cards.
Decent Of Dragons is due on December 10th. As ever, packs of cards will be earned by playing as well as sold.
Hearthstone: Battlegrounds is a mode, like Auto Chess, about building an upgrading an army of minions then turning them loose to automatically fight each other. In the usual way, we'll buy critters, upgrade them by getting three of the same level, and arrange them on a board before sending them out to fight another player's army. It has Underlords-y leader units with army-wide buffs too.
Battlgrounds will be for eight players. It'll be free to all players and the way Auto Chess works means you don't need to come with a collection of cards, you find them along the way.
People who do buy packs from the latest expansion will get perks, starting with stat-tracking at 10 packs. At 20 packs you get an extra option in the initial choice of team-leading Hero, which is a cheeky little in-game advantage. Hmm. Then at 30 packs you get access to emotes. Pleh.
Battlegrounds will enter open beta on November 12th. Folks who attended BlizzCon (even Virtually) or pre-order Descent packs will get in a week early, on November 5th.
BlizzCon's opening ceremony began with an apology from president J Allen Brack for the lousy mess they made when they banned a pro Hearthstone player who voiced support for Hong Kong after a match. That's nice but insufficient. Blizzard also announced Diablo IV, announced Overwatch 2, and announced World Of Warcraft: Shadowlands.