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Dragons have arrived in Hearthstone Battlegrounds' biggest update yet

Dragons have landed in Hearthstone Battlegrounds in today's big 16.4 update—seven of them, in fact, including Galakrond, Deathwing, Malygos, and even Reno Jackson, who was recently revealed to be the human aspect of dragon in a fairly bonkers twist. The new Dragon heroes will be joined by 18 new minions, 12 of them belonging to a new Dragon minion tribal type, and all but two of them brand-new to Hearthstone and exclusive to Battlegrounds.

At the same time, 10 existing minions are being rotated out to make way for our new scaly overlords. You can find a full list of which ones are leaving further down the page, but I know some of you will be heartbroken to say goodbye to Boogeymonster. 

Dragons are the first new minion type to come to Hearthstone Battlegrounds, and as such you can expect a lot of players to try to 'force' comps using them for at least the first few days. Our resident Hearthstone head Tim Clark recently had a chance to test the update out at the Hearthstone 2020 summit (which you can expect more very big news from soon) and said that the main issue was everyone in the lobby snagging the dragons whenever they were offered. 

To celebrate the addition of Dragons to Battlegrounds—and the sixth anniversary of Hearthstone in March—Blizzard is handing out free card packs for logging in and watching Twitch streams. But before discussing that, let's get to the new stuff—behold the new Battlegrounds Heroes and their dazzling Draconic powers:

(Image credit: Blizzard)
  • Galakrond - Galakrond’s Greed [Cost 1]: Replace a minion in Bob’s Tavern with a random one from a higher Tavern Tier.

(Image credit: Blizzard)
  • Deathwing - ALL Will Burn! [Passive]: ALL minions have +3 Attack.

(Image credit: Blizzard)
  • Ysera - Dream Portal [Cost 1]: Refresh and add a Dragon to Bob’s Tavern.

(Image credit: Blizzard)
  • Nozdormu - Clairvoyance [Passive]: Your first Refresh each turn costs (0).

(Image credit: Blizzard)
  • Malygos - Arcane Alteration [Cost 0]: Replace a minion with a random one of the same Tavern Tier.

(Image credit: Blizzard)
  • Alexstrasza - Queen of Dragons [Passive]: After you upgrade Bob’s Tavern to Tavern Tier 5, Discover two Dragons.

(Image credit: Blizzard)
  • Reno Jackson, and—spoiler alert!—yes, he's a dragon - Gonna Be Rich! [Cost 4]: Make a friendly minion Golden (once per game).

Of the new heroes, Tim's favourite was Deathwing. Note that his power applies +3 Attack to both your own minions and your opponent's. Therefore to make the most of it you want to be generating as many tokens as possible, thereby leveraging the extra damage more often.

Speaking of minions, let's meet the new Dragons:

(Image credit: Blizzard)
  • Dragonspawn Lieutenant [Dragon, Tier 1] 2 Attack, 3 Health: - Taunt.
  • Red Whelp [Dragon, Tier 1] 1 Attack, 2 Health: - Start of Combat: Deal 1 damage per friendly Dragon to one random enemy minion.
  • Glyph Guardian [Dragon, Tier 2] 2 Attack, 4 Health: - When this minion attacks, double its attack.

(Image credit: Blizzard)
  • Steward of Time [Dragon, Tier 2] 2 Attack, 4 Health: - When you sell this minion, give all minions in Bob's Tavern +1/+1.
  • Waxrider Togwaggle [Tier 2] 1 Attack, 2 Health: - Whenever a friendly Dragon kills an enemy, gain +2/+2.
  • Unstable Ghoul [Tier 2] 1 Attack, 3 Health: - Taunt, Deathrattle: Deal 1 damage to all minions.

(Image credit: Blizzard)
  • Bronze Warden [Dragon, Tier 3] 2 Attack, 1 Health: - Divine Shield, Reborn.
  • Hangry Dragon [Dragon, Tier 3] 4 Attack, 4 Health: - At the start of your turn, if you won the last combat get +2/+2.
  • Drakonid Enforcer [Dragon, Tier 4] 3 Attack, 6 Health: - After a friendly minion loses Divine Shield, gain +2/+2.

(Image credit: Blizzard)
  • Murozond [Dragon, Tier 5]: - Battlecry: Add a minion to your hand from your last opponent's warband.
  • Herald of Flame [Dragon, Tier 4] 5 Attack, 4 Health: - Overkill: Deal 3 damage to the left-most enemy minion.
  • Cobalt Scalebane [Dragon, Tier 4] 5 Attack, 5 Health: - At the end of your turn, give another random friendly minion +3 Attack.

(Image credit: Blizzard)
  • Twilight Emissary [Dragon, Tier 5] 6 Attack, 8 Health: - Taunt, Battlecry: Give a friendly Dragon +3/+3.
  • Razorgore, the Untamed [Dragon, Tier 5] 2 Attack, 4 Health: - At the end of your turn, gain +1/+1 for each Dragon you have.
  • Holy Mackerel [Murloc, Tier 6] 8 Attack, 4 Health: - After another friendly minion loses Divine Shield, gain Divine Shield.

(Image credit: Blizzard)
  • Imp Mama [Demon, Tier 6] 6 Attack, 8 Health: - Whenever this minion takes damage, summon a random Demon and give it Taunt.
  • Kalecgos, Arcane Aspect [Dragon, Tier 6] 2 Attack, 8 Health: - After you play a minion with Battlecry, give your Dragons +1/+1.
  • Nadina the Red [Tier 6] 7 Attack, 4 Health: - Deathrattle: Give your Dragons Divine Shield.

The update will also make a few balance changes: The cost of George the Fallen's Boon of Light Hero Power has been reduced from 4 to 3, Sneed's Old Shredder is moved from Tier 6 to Tier 5, Mama Bear is once again a 5/5 Beast (Whenever you summon a Beast, give it a +5/+5—was previously 4/4 and +4/+4), and the starting cost of Tavern Tier 6 has been reduced from 11 gold to 10.

"Tavern Tier 6 has a lot of exciting minions and we’d like players to have a more of an opportunity to reach it than they have," Blizzard explained. "We’re also trying to make Tavern Tier 6 more interesting by adding some of these powerful new minions."

And as new Heroes and Minions join the fight, others will take a break, including the hero Professor Putricide. "We’d like to go back to the drawing board with Professor Putricide," Blizzard said. "We’re going to disable him for now to make way for our new Heroes, but you’ll likely see him return in the future with some changes."

Ten Minions are also being moved out, to make room for the new ones and also give Blizzard a chance to balance the minion pool, which is heavier in some minion types—Mechs, in particular—than others. Other minions being removed aren't performing very well, or just aren't very much fun to play with. The list of moved-on minions includes:

  • Shielded Minibot
  • Annoy-o-Tron
  • Mounted Raptor
  • Phalanx Commander
  • Psych-o-Tron
  • Tortollan Shellraiser
  • Piloted Sky Golem
  • Festeroot Hulk
  • Boogeymonster
  • Sated Threshadon

Other changes in the 16.4 update:

  • Speeding up animations from 0.8s > 0.2s across all game modes for Overkill, Lifesteal, Poisonous, Inspire, and cards that reference "Whenever" and "After" in their text, outside of some special cases.
  • “Recruit” will no longer be displayed on the turn timer when a player is about to lose in Battlegrounds.
  • Rafaam’s hero power will no longer trigger a Triple notification before you transition to the combat phase in Battlegrounds.
  • Fixed a visual issue in which Golden Primalfin Lookout would sometimes display Golden Murloc cards.
  • Fixed an issue where the scoreboard would not sort players correctly on the first turn if they conceded during the mulligan in Battlegrounds.
  • Fixed an issue where the scoreboard could appear unsorted when reconnecting to a game in progress in Battlegrounds

Now, as promised, the free stuff: Blizzard is celebrating the release of the first new minion in Hearthstone Battlegrounds with Twitch Drops. From 11 am PT/2 pm ET on February 26 until 5 pm PT/8 pm ET on February 29, watching three hours of any Hearthstone stream on Twitch will get you a Descent of Dragons card pack for Hearthstone, and watching for another three hours will get you another pack. The viewing time is cumulative, not consecutive, so you can watch in as many bits and pieces as you like as long as it adds up to the requisite time, and you've got your Twitch and Battle.net accounts linked.

And that's not all—Blizzard will also celebrate Hearthstone's sixth anniversary with a limited-time event beginning on March 4 with special Tavern Brawls, a new legendary quest line, and login rewards: Logging into Hearthstone between 10 am PT/1 pm ET on March 4 and the same time on March 17 will get you two packs each from Rise of Shadows, Saviors of Uldum, and Descent of Dragons, plus a Year of the Dragon card back. Full details on the Twitch drops (and everything else) are up at playhearthstone.com.

Andy covers the day-to-day happenings in the big, wide world of PC gaming—the stuff we call "news." In his off hours, he wishes he had time to play the 80-hour RPGs and immersive sims he used to love so much.