Hearthstone Mercenaries Launch Guide - With Tips and Frequently Asked Questions!
It's Tuesday 12th of October, which means it's Hearthstone Mercenaries Launch Day! We got confirmation that the Game Mode will launch at the usual Blizzard Launch time and the Patch is now LIVE, it is part of a larger patch download. The mobile launch will start at 1:00pm PST/ 4:00pm EST/ 22:00 CEST/ 21:00 BST. There will apparently also be Freebies, Twitch Drops and Log in bonuses!
Most importantly this also means we can finally get our grubby hands on the new Game Mode to actually play it ourselves once the patch is live!
This Guide will cover more than just the launch time though. Here's a quick overview of what you can find here.
- What is Hearthstone Mercenaries?
- Is Hearthstone Mercenaries Free to Play (F2P)?
- Mercenaries Coins: What are they and what can you use them for?
- How do I play Hearthstone Mercenaries?
- The Mercenaries Village
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is Hearthstone Mercenaries?
Hearthstone Mercenaries is a new game mode where you collect iconic Mercenaries, assembling Parties to take down procedurally-generated Bounties. It is an entirely new way to play Hearthstone, combining RPG and roguelike elements with some of your favorite Hearthstone characters.
Is Hearthstone Mercenaries Free to Play (F2P)?
Mercenaries is completely free to play! Each Mercenary Card and Mercenary Portrait can be unlocked through regular play. You get eight free Mercenaries for completing the introductory missions, which is more than enough to form a Party powerful enough to complete all Mercenaries Bounties! You’ll also earn Mercenaries, Mercenary Packs, and Mercenary Coins as you play through the mode to unlock many more characters for your roster. For instance, each Mercenary you own will give you a series of Campfire tasks over time. The rewards for completing each Mercenary’s Campfire task chain include 3 packs and over 1500 total Mercenary Coins split between your mercs and random mercs you don’t yet own! There will be 51 Mercenaries at launch, so that amounts to 153 Mercenary Packs and over 76,500 Mercenary Coins just for completing all the Campfire tasks.
The 8 Free Mercenaries
Mercenary Coins: What are they and what can you use them for?
Mercenary Coins are a form of currency that allows you to invest in whatever part of a Mercenary you are interested in, be that stronger Abilities, upgrading Equipment to wear or new skins, called Portraits. You get them from doing Bounties, Campfire tasks and Mercenary Packs and even PvP.
Blizzard indicated that when a Mercenary is fully upgraded with the highest level Abilities and Equipment and leveled to max level, that such a Mercenary gets +1/+5 added to their base stats, so there is some incentive to fully complete a Mercenary!
Click the Image to get a larger version!
How do I play Hearthstone Mercenaries?
This is a (somewhat) quick guide on how to play Hearthstone Mercenaries. For the visual learners or the interested there's some gameplay videos too, further down the Guide!
Before we start, there's going to be a Tutorial of sorts when you first play the game that will guide you through most of this too, so dont be afraid to go into the game and just try to play, even if this basic guide leaves you with questions.
- Choose your Activity: You can do both PvP and PvE matches. Most of the early time in this game mode will be spent in PvE so this guide will assume a PvE match up, but a lot of this applies to PvP too.
- Choose your Party: Before you start playing the game you need a Party (except when you do the Tutorial, where you slowly get your Party built while you play.) Each Party consists of 6 Mercenaries. Once you have created a Party it will be selectable like a Deck in Constructed when you have to choose one for your Bounty. The Mercenaries are divided up into 3 sorts:
- Fighters have green frames. They tend to use aggressive Abilities to deal major damage to your enemies.
- Casters have blue frames. Casters tend to cast spells for powerful effects—sometimes supporting your Party, sometimes blowing the other Party up—but they tend to have less Attack, which can make them softer targets for your enemies.
- Protectors have red frames. They tend to be your tanks and supports. They often have a lot of Health and tend to utilize effects like Taunt and buffs to control the flow of battle. Some of them are pretty good at hand-to-hand combat, but do not have many ranged options and tend to be a bit slower than the other Roles.
- While on offense, Fighters deal double damage to Casters, Casters deal double damage to Protectors, and Protectors deal double damage to Fighters. You’ll want to keep these weaknesses in mind when building your Party.
The Bounty Map
The PvE part of the game takes place on Maps just like the one below.
Each Bounty includes a procedurally-generated series of encounters before culminating in the Bounty Boss. Those encounters include fights, the Spirit Healer, and random point of interest nodes that can either help or hurt your Party through universal Boons, additional characters, or a rule change for that Bounty. Fights make up most encounters on any given Bounty. You can find an image of a Boon on the Map and what it resolved into when clicked in the image below.
Start of the Game
- Choose your Starters and Your Bench: You will now be able to choose your Starters and your Bench. Starters go into the fight directly. Bench Mercenaries only get brought in when a Starter dies.
- Be Careful: Once a Mercenary is put on the Game Board, there is no taking back, think carefully before choosing! This is also the time to think about placement of your Mercenaries on the board, as this will lock in once you start.
- The Ability Selection or Command Phase: Choose a Mercenary and pick what Ability you want to use and on whom you want to use it (if there's a target to choose).
- Ability Speed and Cooldowns: Each Ability has an indicator on it with a number. This is the Speed of the ability, and the abilities of EVERYONE, both hostile and friendly, resolve in order of Speed, from Lowest to Highest. Ties get resolved by RNG. Some abilities also have a Cooldown. This comes in 2 forms, a Cooldown before the Ability can be used in a given Match and a Cooldown when you have used the Ability, to show when you can use it again.
- Once you are done with setting up all your Abilities, you can hit the "Ready!" button to start the Combat phase.
- The Combat Phase: You and the opponent have chosen your Abilities and they now resolve. Like in Battlegrounds this phase is fully automatic and you can only stand by and watch.
- If a character goes down before their action, that action is skipped. If a target of an action goes down before that action, then the action will randomly re-target.
- Some Abilities include physically attacking an enemy. As you might guess, these types of Abilities are more common in Fighters and Protectors than in Casters. When a character attacks an enemy, they deal damage to each other equal to their Attack stats, just like in traditional Hearthstone.
- Important: the damage that the defender deals back to the attacker does not get double damage based on the Mercenaries’ Roles. Spells and ranged attacks avoid taking any damage from the defender at all!
- Repeat till Dead: Once the combat phase ends, you will be prompted to replace any dead Mercenaries with ones from your bench (should you have them) and then it's back to choosing Abilities. This cycle happens until either your or the enemy's Party is fully dead.
After the Fight
After each fight, all surviving Mercenaries will have their health restored, but any Mercenaries that did not make it out of the fight can’t be used for the rest of the run. Unless you get to a Spirit Healer, that is. The Spirit Healer node randomly revives one of your fallen Mercenaries. If your team is weak after the long road or a tough encounter, you might want to choose a path in the Spirit Healer’s direction. Conversely, if you see a Spirit Healer ahead, you might feel a bit more confident about taking on that Elite encounter.
Like any good game, you get loot when you win in Mercenaries. This takes a couple of different forms.
- After each fight, you will gain experience for all Mercenaries in your Party, regardless of whether they participated in the fight, sat on the Bench, or even died.
- You will also gain one Treasure per fight for one of your surviving Mercenaries. Treasures can come in the form of stats boosts, passive effects, or exciting and powerful new Abilities! While most progression in Mercenaries is permanent across the mode, Treasures only last for that Bounty, similar to picking up a Treasure during a Dungeon Run.
- After each Bounty Boss you can open the Bounty Chest, which will hold a bounty of Mercenary Coins.
- Fun Fact: If a certain bounty gave you Mercenary Coins for a certain Mercenary, then you can simply repeat that bounty for a chance at more Coins for that same Mercenary.
The Mercenaries Village
The Mercenaries Village is the map with connections to all the main Mercenaries points of interest.
Quote from Blizzard
The Workshop will be your first stop in the Village. Actually, when you first enter the Village, it will be the only stop! At the Workshop, you can build out and upgrade all the other locations in the Village. Upgrading locations gives them a new look and improves their functionality. Some upgrades unlock additional features, whereas others allow for more efficiency. All Village upgrades are persistent, so you’ll be able to watch your Village grow and flourish as you play.
The Tavern is where your Mercenaries rest and relax when they’re not out chasing a Bounty. Think of it like your Mercenaries Collection Manager. From the Tavern, you can craft Mercenaries, browse your collection of Mercenaries, select from any cosmetic options for them, upgrade their Abilities and Equipment, or throw them together to form a Party!
The Travel Point is your access to Bounties across Azeroth for Mercenaries PVE gameplay. From here, you can pick a Zone and then a Bounty to hunt within that Zone. The Bounties unlock sequentially within a Zone and each has a suggested level and predetermined Bounty Boss, so you have some idea what you’re getting yourself into. After you upgrade your Travel Point, you will also be able to unlock the Heroic difficulty, which will make Bounties much more challenging! We also have plans to continue adding to the Travel Point in future updates for even more challenges.
You can learn more about collecting Bounties in the Gameplay blog.
Once you’ve collected a few Bounties, you can head to the Fighting Pit for a different kind of combat! In the Fighting Pit, you are always paired against a similarly-powerful team of Mercenaries, even when trying out one of your new, under-leveled Mercenaries. Gameplay is also a little different in the Fighting Pit than it is while hunting Bounties because you can’t see what moves your opponent is locking in. Compete in the Fighting Pits to complete achievements, get rewards, and even push for a spot on the leaderboard!
The Merchant Cart is your shortcut to the Mercenaries-specific part of the in-game shop. From there, you can get Mercenaries Packs, Mercenaries Coins, and any seasonal or personal offers that might be available to you. Mercenaries Packs are a great way to grow your collection! Each Mercenaries Pack offers five Mercenaries items, which can include new Mercenary Cards, Mercenary Coins, or Mercenary Portraits.
The Mailbox is where you will receive in-game announcements about Hearthstone’s Mercenaries mode. Check in regularly to see what kinds of special events and offers you can take advantage of!
And last, but certainly not least, the Campfire. The Campfire is where your Mercenaries can sit, relax, and trade stories about glorious Bounties you’ve claimed with them. Functionally, the Campfire houses the Task Board. The Task Board is similar to your Quest Log or Achievements tab in the Journal. Once a day, Mercenaries will come sit by the Campfire and put up a new task for you to complete. Once you have completed the task, return to the Campfire to claim your reward. Those rewards can include Mercenary Coins, Mercenaries Packs, or Equipment for a particular Mercenary. Even after you’ve completed your dailies, there will be ways to get more tasks in your Village, so check back often to make sure you don’t miss anything!
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How many Mercenaries are there at Launch? A: 51! You can find them in HearthPwn's Database or in this handy PDF that Blizzard put out.
Q: How much Gold does it cost to upgrade your Village? A: At launch, it will cost 900 Gold to fully upgrade your Village: 100 to unlock the Fighting Pit, 200 to upgrade the Travel Point (which unlocks Heroic difficulty for Bounties), 200 to upgrade the Campfire (to add a slot to the Task Board), and another 400 to upgrade the Campfire a second time (to add another slot to the Task Board).
Q: How will Matchmaking work in Mercenaries PvP? A: The Mercenaries Fighting Pit will have its own, new matchmaking and rating system. This new system is the most complex matchmaking and rating system Hearthstone has ever seen, to account for all the variables in each Mercenaries matchup. And if the perfect match can’t be found, we’ll make one for you with new A.I. opponent technology! Look for an article highlighting and further explaining the new system, soon.
Blizzard put out a FAQ with one of their blogs and updated it a few times. We used some parts of it throughout this article, but here's the remaining things:
Quote from Blizzard
Q: Is Hearthstone Mercenaries part of the Book of Mercenaries?
A: No, Hearthstone Mercenaries is a new mode that combines RPG and roguelike elements, while Book of Mercenaries is solo-content within Hearthstone’s traditional gameplay. The two modes have different gameplay and you do not need to play one before you play the other. That said, all your favorite Mercenary characters from Book of Mercenaries do appear in Hearthstone Mercenaries, alongside over 40 other iconic characters from the Warcraft universe!
Q: How many Mercenary Coins does it cost to craft a Mercenary you don’t own?
(UPDATED) A: Mercenary Coins are specific to each Mercenary. Those Mercenary Coins can be used to upgrade a Mercenary’s Abilities and Equipment, or to craft the Mercenary if you do not already own it. The cost to craft a Mercenary depends on the Mercenary’s rarity: 100 Coins for Rares, 300 Coins for Epics, and
600500 Coins for Legendary Mercenaries.
Q: How do we get these Mercenary Coins?
A: You can get Mercenary Coins a number of ways, including from purchases, Mercenary Packs, Campfire tasks, Fighting Pit rewards, and Bounties. Each Bounty has a pool of Mercenary Coins that it pulls from more regularly, so returning to a Bounty that you’ve already beaten can be a good way to work towards a particular Mercenary you want.
Q: What’s in a Mercenaries Pack?
A: A Mercenaries Pack can be purchased for 100 Gold, like current Hearthstone packs. A Mercenaries Pack includes 5 Mercenaries items, which can include new Mercenary Cards, Mercenary Coins, or Mercenary Portraits. You are guaranteed one new Mercenary Card in each Mercenaries Pack until you have all Mercenaries of a rarity tier. The rates for Legendary and Epic Mercenary Cards are equivalent to the rates for Legendary and Epic cards in traditional Hearthstone packs. You can learn more details about Mercenaries Packs here.
Playing in Mercenaries will give you XP towards your rewards track, so you can earn Gold for your packs from playing.
Q: What are Mercenary Portraits?
A: Mercenary Portraits are alternative art options for a Mercenary, each reflecting a different stage of that character’s personal journey. Just like Golden and Diamond frames, there is no gameplay difference between different Portraits for the same Mercenary—they just let you customize how your squad represents you! Usually, when you first obtain a Mercenary, you will get their default Portrait. On rare occasions, you might get an alternate Portrait before you have received the default Portrait. When that happens, that Mercenary will become unlocked and playable with that Portrait, just like if it was the default.
Q: How long will it take to max my Mercenary’s level?
A: It depends on how you play. At launch, each Mercenary will be capped at level 30. Whenever you get a new Mercenary Card, that Mercenary will start at level 1. If you just stick with your starting team and play through Bounties as they unlock, we expect it to take less than 10 hours of gameplay to max level your starting Mercenaries. The Fighting Pit is also a pretty good source of experience, and can fully level a Party slightly quicker than playing through those first Bounties.
Later on, you’ll be able to stick new Mercenaries on the Bench and have them watch your more powerful Mercenaries take on tougher Bounties. Remember, all members of a Party get the same experience from fights, even if they don’t participate. Power-levelling like that could cut the leveling time drastically. Heroic Bounties offer 50% more experience than the normal versions, so things can get even quicker in late-game Mercenaries!
Q: Can players challenge each other to Mercenaries fights?
A: Yes! The Fighting Pits are open for friendly challenge like in Standard, Wild, and Battlegrounds. You’ll also be able to spectate your friends playing Mercenaries!
Q: What will the Mercenaries Leaderboard look like?
A: The leaderboard will show the top 200 Fighting Pit players, by their numerical ranks, based on their internal MMR, like the Standard and Wild leaderboards. Rating resets will happen once per month, while MMR will adjust over time, similar to the Standard and Wild internal MMR calculations.
Q: How often should we expect updates to Mercenaries?
A: We plan to make Mercenaries content part of our regular development cycle, with regular updates in most patches and at least one large update per expansion cycle, like Battlegrounds. We are really excited about what avenues this mode can open up to us for entirely new features down the line, too. Depending on how the mode and playerbase develop, we may adjust and re-prioritize our plans to best serve the overall Hearthstone community, just like we do with all the other modes.
Q: What is the balance adjustment philosophy for Mercenaries?
A: Mercenaries has a large PVE component and we don’t mind it if players find a way to beat up on the A.I. Even in the Fighting Pits, any power outliers can be smoothed out by our dynamic matchmaking that takes things like team power into account. For those reasons, we don’t anticipate balance changes being a major part of the Mercenaries development cycle. But, of course, if there are game-breaking or unintended interactions, we will make any changes necessary to correct them.