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Hearthstone Battlegrounds open beta has begun, with free packs for playing

(Image credit: Blizzard)

After a week in early access release for BlizzCon attendees and pre-purchases, Blizzard's new autobattler Hearthstone Battlegrounds is now open to everyone. There are three free packs up for grabs in the form of a legendary quest which requires you to complete two full games of Battlegrounds, but given the interest in Hearthstone's first new mode in forever, I doubt that will feel too onerous.

The 15.6.2 patch that Blizzard said it was working on last week, to address the surprising number of Hearthstone bugs introduced by the release of Battlegrounds, is also live now too. 

In the patch notes, community manager Kurt Ocher touched on some of the things Blizzard is working on for future Battlegrounds updates. New heroes and minions, including "a couple of very familiar faces," are coming in the next update, and expanded stats tracking, covering things like top five heroes by wins, most played heroes, and how many wins you've racked up, is also on the way. The leaderboard is being updated to offer more information about opposing players, and "the selling experience" is being improved to enable the sale of minions from your hand. Which should help if, like Tim, you have 'Boomer APM'.

Ocher emphasized that this is all "future-looking," and some of these features are a good way off: Changes to selling minions, for instance, aren't expected to arrive until early in 2020.

The 15.6.2 patch makes the expected bug fixes, as well as a handful of balance changes "that we identified based on our initial testing that didn’t quite make it in for release." Here's the full list of what's been changed:

Balance Changes:

Minions

  • Mama Bear: Changed from 5/5 giving +5/+5 to 4/4 giving +4/+4
  • Kangor’s Apprentice: Changed from 4/8 to 3/6

Hero Powers:

Infinite Toki

  • Temporal Tavern: Changed from 1 cost to 2 and now reads “Refresh Bob’s Tavern. Add a minion from a higher Tavern Tier.”

King Mukla

  • Bananarama: Changed to “Passive Hero Power: Whenever you buy a beast, add a Banana to your hand.”

Jaraxxus

  • Bloodfury: Hero power changed from 3 cost to 2.

Game Fixes and Improvements:

  • Squelch now works as intended + no longer causes crashes under certain circumstances
  • Daily Quests can now be rerolled
  • Hallow’s End Arena Daily Quest can now be completed
  • A variety of Android crashes have been fixed
  • Memory optimization for Battlegrounds for devices with less than 2GB of RAM

Hearthstone Battlegrounds is free to play for everyone with a Hearthstone account (which is also free), but players who have acquired card packs from the most recent Hearthstone expansion (through quests, gold purchases, bundles, events, or whatever) will also have access to bonus content: Ten packs will enable detailed stats about your Battleground performance in the Battlegrounds queue screen, 20 packs will let you choose from three heroes instead of two at the start of a match, and 30 packs will get you unique Battlegrounds emotes. If you haven't played Battlegrounds yet, you can get a crash course in what it's all about before you dive in with our handy "How to Play Hearthstone Battlegrounds" guide.

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.