I could share one of my lucky wins.... or I could share this video of one of the best Hearthstone YouTubers pulling off terrifying strats.

It’s felt that way as I’ve played it. It’s possible to play strategically and level up cards so they have ridiculous stats—I’ve seen cards with attack values in the nineties that can crush basically anything in one hit—but Hearthstone’s various card effects also make it possible to find your footing even if you haven’t leveled up equally powerful cards. That Pogo Hopper with obscene stats? Maybe I get a poisonous card that lands a lucky hit, destroying it and winning me the match up.

“When you’re playing standard, it’s me versus another person,” Thompson said. “Eight players opens up a lot of doors. There’s a quality about wondering what will happen.”

That chaos, that sense of not knowing what comes next makes it possible for anyone to win. For my first Battlegrounds victory, I stumbled into picking the boisterous demon dude Jaraxxus, whose hero power can increase demon minions’ stats each turn if you spend some gold. Stat increases remain in place throughout each round, and I went from wide-eyed newbie to unstoppable demonic horde leader over the course of several rounds. Sure, I still needed to understand how cards worked and play properly. I also happened to be in the right place at the right time. It felt awesome.


In spite of recent controversies that rocked Blizzard both externally and internally—Lee told Kotaku that the initial punishment of Hearthstone pro Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai was “too harsh”—Hearthstone builds itself around one notion: sit down by the fire, play a few rounds. It’s less of a game you play than a place you go. It takes all sorts to fill a bar. There are regulars dropping by at the end of the day, there’s the hardcore darts league keeping score in the corner. There are also those dudes arm wrestling at the back table, with far too many chips and guac and booze in their system. Battlegrounds has that vibe down pat: loud, silly, and a lot of fun.