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Hearthstone‘s newest mode officially releases today. Mercenaries gives the aging digital card game a needed boost, especially if you’re looking for a way to kill time that doesn’t require you to play against other humans.
Mercenaries is more of a card-based RPG than Hearthstone’s other modes. Instead of a deck of 30 cards, you go into battle with just six hero cards. Of these, you only have three active in the field. When one dies, you pick one of the remaining cards to take its place. There’s also a progression system with these heroes. As you play, they can improve their abilities and learn some new skills. Many of these are permanent buffs. There’s also a triangle weakness system, which gives Mercenaries a bit of a Fire Emblem or Pokémon feel.
You can play Mercenaries against other people, but I enjoy the solo campaign. Here, you go up against computer opponents. It’s a relaxing-yet-challenging experience with a decent stream of rewards, which includes the potential to unlock new heroes or points that you can use to upgrade their abilities.
Make mine mercs
Of course, you can also spend money to give yourself more opportunities to unlock those goodies. But I feel like you can still have a good free-to-play experience. And while the hero cards comes in different rarities, just like normal Hearthstone codes, a legendary one is not necessarily better than an epic or even common hero.
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There’s also still plenty of deck-building strategy involved. You can use multiple heroes that all work around empowering arcade spells, for example. And you’ll want to have different decks ready for different expeditions, some of which will favor one kind of opponent type.
I’m something of a lapsed Hearthstone player these days, and that was even before the investigations into Blizzard’s workplace practices became known. I had been playing Hearthstone regularly since its debut in 2014 before stopping. Battlegrounds did give the game some new life for me when that mode debuted, but Mercenaries is even more of a unique experience. It’s practically a new game, and it could help bring in lapsed players like me.
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