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Hearthstone’s Heroic Tavern Brawl has players paying $10 to compete for prizes

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Update: Blizzard has clarified via the official Hearthstone Twitter account that the Heroic Tavern Brawl will not actually take place this week, as we had thought.

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Since its arrival in June last year, Blizzard has used the Tavern Brawl format as a proving ground for new Hearthstone ideas, the most successful of which have gone on to become the basis for new cards or adventure mode encounters. This new Brawl has the potential to go one further by a leading to a new mode entirely. Dubbed the Heroic Tavern Brawl, players will have to pay $9.99 (£7.99) or 1,000 in-game gold just to enter.

As the announcement blog explains, you then create a 30-card deck according to the usual Standard rules and pit it against other Heroic Brawl players. From there it works a lot like the existing Arena mode. The more wins you rack up, the better your prize at the end becomes. But lose three games and you’re done on that ticket, and will have to drop more gold or cash in order to go again.

Here are Tavern Brawl designers Pat Nagle (who, yes, is the inspiration for this) and Dan Emmons going into a bit more detail about how it's going to work.

Presumably you’re still puffing out your cheeks right now about the cost. But if you are confident of going deep—I hear Midrange Shaman is pretty good right now—then the top prize is very impressive. 12 wins will earn you 50 packs, a guaranteed three golden legendaries, plus a ton of dust and gold on top. The cost of 50 packs, assuming you buy the best value bundles, is around $66 (£46), so the potential value is great. But what if you go 0-3? Not so great. You win just a single pack to soothe the burning sting of shame.You can see a full breakdown of how the rewards scale below.

Any new way to play Hearthstone is interesting to me, but I wonder if the added stress of having my hard-earned cash on the line is really conducive to an enjoyable leisure experience. The implication from Heroic Brawl is that it could become a permanent mode, and if so it would presumably be Blizzard’s answer to community requests for in-game tournament functionality. Obviously, the Arena-style structure means it won’t be much use to esport event organisers, but I always thought it’d be hard to incorporate true tournament play given that a lot of that experience involves hanging around waiting for your next match.

In any case, it's certainly an interesting experiment, and I can imagine a scene of Spike-style players thriving around something like this. It’s worth noting that once you’ve picked your deck you’re completely committed to it, so definitely do some testing before you dive in there with Unicorn Priest. I’ll probably drag my trusty Ramp Druid in and see if I can avoid the ignominy of being swept. Let me know what you’re planning to try in the comments, or just grouse about the fact you don’t get a free pack this week.

With over two decades covering videogames, Tim has been there from the beginning. In his case, that meant playing Elite in 'co-op' on a BBC Micro (one player uses the movement keys, the other shoots) until his parents finally caved and bought an Amstrad CPC 6128. These days, when not steering the good ship PC Gamer, Tim spends his time complaining that all Priest mains in Hearthstone are degenerates and raiding in Destiny 2. He's almost certainly doing one of these right now.