The Darkmoon Prize Spells are the newest mechanic added to Battlegrounds, creating different ways to play the game and opening up new tricks and strategies for every player to use. Every four turns, you’ll be offered a choice of three different spells from a pool, all with powerful and varied effects that can tip the scales of the game in – or against – your favor! At first glance, spells can feel pretty overwhelming with how many different choices there are, so I’m here to break down what spells are good, what spells are bad, and why – tier by tier.
Battlegrounds update 20.8.0 brings the return of Darkmoon Treasures! With some changes from the previous version. Since the first time you might have read this article, the treasures “Might of Stormwind” and “The Good Stuff”, and “Great Deal” saw changes, and “I’m still just a rat in a cage” (the 2x attack treasure) was removed.
Prize Turn one, finding your Darkmoon Prize in Battlegrounds
Your first prize comes at turn 4, and you get three choices out of these seven spells. In general, the best choices are “New Recruit” for value or “Might of Stormwind” for tempo.
New recruit is a great spell to give consistency but does give enough the immediate power spike necessary to survive turns nor does it advance your game in ramping to the higher tiers. It’s the best choice when Might of Stormwind or Pocket Change are not an option or if their strengths do not fit your current situation.
However, be careful if you’re playing Aranna Starseeker, Infinite Toki, or Dancin’ Daryl!
– Aranna Starseeker gets no benefit after her hero power is activated.
– As of writing this, Infinite Toki does not get the additional minion when rerolling with her hero power. Normal rolls, however, still benefit.
– While Dancin’ Daryl can still benefit from the spell, the additional minion on Bob’s board will lower his hero power’s consistency after Tavern Tier four due to the additional target for the hats to land.
Might of Stormwind
“Gacha Gift” is a decent choice if you aren’t offered the above two spells or don’t have a wide enough board to utilize “Might of Stormwind” properly. Your minion count is very important as it secures the first attack, allowing for more favorable trades by your minions.
Additionally, “Gacha Gift” is great if you’re playing Demons, as it allows you to search for another Wrath Weaver.
Rocking and Rolling
The three rerolls from “Rocking and Rolling” adds up to three extra gold over time and offers you more consistency in the following turns, but doesn’t give much immediate battle strength. You might consider taking the rerolls when you’re offered terrible minion choices on Turn 4.
“Pocket Change” is a good pick in two situations: At Turn four, you might see three strong Tier two minions offered but have only six gold to buy two of them. If you have a token, you can sell it off in conjunction with “Pocket Change” to pick up all three.
Alternatively, “Pocket Change” can also be picked when you’re playing to tier up quickly. “Pocket Change” is the only way to “save” extra gold for future turns, so it can be a good choice if you plan your curve out.
The Good Stuff & Big Banana
Although the phrase “the rest of the game” might seem appealing for value fanatics, +1 health is a very low impact effect – and it doesn’t even affect your current minions! Avoid “The Good Stuff” unless your other choices are the “Big Banana” and something else you genuinely can’t use.
If there were still Divine Shields at Tier one or two, this might have had some use. As of this patch, they’ve removed all of them, so don’t pick this.
Prize Turn two, situational & impactful prizes to choose from in Battlegrounds
The second set of prizes are much more dependent on your current situation in the game. Usually, you’ll be at Tavern Tier four when you choose from these spells, so I’m going to talk about them in that context. There isn’t a clear cut winner, so pick based on what you need!
“Gruul Rules” is a strong choice on minions with Divine Shield or Cleave effects, like Cave Hydra or Deflect-o-Bot. If your strategy already revolves around these kinds of minions, “Gruul Rules” can be an excellent choice. However, it takes time for the stats to add up, so be wary if you’re low on health – you might not survive to see the full benefit!
“Brann’s Blessing” can be a good choice if you see a lot of useful battlecries offered at the start of Turn eight or if you happen to have frozen for them at the end of Turn seven. Alternatively, you can also utilize “Brann’s Blessing” on a Murloc build if you failed to find Brann Bronzebeard when tripling – the single-use Brann effect might give you enough staying power to find the real thing.
On the House
“On The House” can be used in two ways – either you can leverage the effect by upgrading early and grabbing a higher tier minion immediately to mitigate the tempo loss, or you can use it to search for a Triple at your current tier. The spell “On The House” is generally a great pick, so if you’re unsure what to take, “On the House” is never bad.
“Evolving Tavern” evolves all the minions in the current tavern by a single tier – so Tier one’s become tier two’s, tier two’s become tier three’s, and so on. Because of this, “Evolving Tavern” should be used if you’re willing to try to search for a board full of Tier four or five minions so you can evolve them all into Tier five and six minions. Evolving Tavern is a bit high-roll in nature since you both need to find a good board to evolve and roll well on the evolves once you play the spell – so if you’re too behind on health to take risks, this spell might not be the best pick.
As a side note, “Evolving Tavern” has a neat little trick with one of the new minions added in this patch! Namely, if you tripled into a “Faceless Taverngoer” and you have the health to work with, you can consider upgrading early to Tier five. Then on the next turn, find a board with multiple Tier five minions and activate your “Evolving Tavern” spell. You’ll be able to duplicate whatever Tier six’s you find with your “Faceless Taverngoer”! You’ll probably take a hit as you upgrade, but it can give you a huge power spike if you’re willing to take the risk.
You pick “Time Thief” for the same reasons you would ever buy a Murozond – to steal a win condition or complete a triple off your opponent’s board. Remember that you can hold onto this spell without playing it, so don’t forget to check who your next opponent is, too – you can always save it for them.
The Unlimited Coin
“The Unlimited Coin” is the most average choice in the second spell pool. While a coin every turn is always useful in every situation, it doesn’t provide much immediate power or swing potential than the other spells. If you don’t get any spells that you can utilize well, “The Unlimited Coin” is always a decent backup plan.
The Great Deal
The great deal received a significant improvement with the return of Darkmoon Treasures as of Patch 20.8.0. The additional cost reduction ads up significantly, but it is up against quite steep competition with the other Tier Two Darkmoon Treasures. If you play a hero that naturally doesn’t power-level, consider picking this treasure to scale better into the late-game. A great example of that is Guff Runetotem, a hero that naturally doesn’t reach taverns five and six until late into the lobby.
“The Bouncer” is probably the best choice if you’re behind on the board – pick this for a lot of immediate stats so you can stay alive for Top 4. Heroes that naturally fall behind but have hero powers that get progressively stronger, like Ragnaros the Firelord, are often the ones who will find “The Bouncer” appealing.
Prize Turn three, finalizing your build & aiming to win the game of Battlegrounds
In many lobbies, these will be the last spells you see. Your build should already be set in stone by Turn twelve, so tailor your spell pick to the needs of your build.
Buy the Holy Light
“Buy the Holy Light” gives you an immediate boost in power while scaling well into the end game, so it’s often a great choice – unless you’re playing George the Fallen! Try to put it on minions with powerful effects like poison or cleave. Alternatively, Divine Shield also serves to protect key minions like Soul Juggler or Mama Bear if your build depends on their survival.
A second life is an incredibly powerful tool, making “Ice Block” a great pick when you see it. When you’re behind, the extra life can give you enough time to make a stronger Warband than your opponent – or at least last until Top four! If you’re ahead, it can give you insurance against other strong opponents, so you don’t get knocked out early. While it’s great on everyone, heroes or compositions that only get stronger as the game goes on – like Mr. Bigglesworth or someone playing Dragons – can make even greater use of the extra time
“B.A.N.A.N.A.S.” fills your hand with Bananas, spells that give +1/1 to a minion you choose. What they don’t mention about “B.A.N.A.N.A.S.” is that the spell can also give you Big Bananas (+2/2 to a minion) too! If your other choices aren’t very useful, “B.A.N.A.N.A.S.” is a solid block of stats to throw on your minions. Just make sure you empty your hand of any minions before you play it – you can only hold ten cards at a time!
“Top Shelf” is great when you’re playing a build that wants to stay at Tier four, such as Mechs or Divine Shields. Since upgrading to Tier five could dilute the pool of minions you want, “Top Shelf” lets you avoid that while giving you a chance to find the Tier six completes your build, like Foe Reaper or Elistra the Immortal.
All That Glitters
On the surface, “All That Glitters” seems game-breaking, but the fact that it’s random makes it a huge investment – you need to buy off Bob’s entire tavern before you use it, or it might land on something you don’t want! Still, it’s a solid choice if you see a key minion at the start of your turn – with ten gold, you can (unless you picked “New Recruit” earlier in the game) clear off the entire tavern except for your desired minion and make it golden!
If you’re already at Tier five, you can also forego targeting a specific minion and just use “All That Glitters” as a reskinned “Top Shelf” – even if the Golden is useless, you’ll still get to discover a Tier 6 minion.
“Training Session” is a great choice for specific heroes that no longer need their natural hero power late into the game. Because many heroes have powers that are very powerful early on but stop being useful by the end of the game, “Training Session” gives you the chance to find a powerful end game hero power. The best endgame hero powers include George the Fallen, Lich King, Al’Akir, the Windlord, or Illidan Stormrage, with none of the downsides of picking those heroes!
Watch out for “Training Session” when you’re playing a hero with:
-Hero powers that are only useful early on. Examples include Yogg-Saron, Hope’s End, Elise Starseeker, Forest Warden Omu, A.F. Kay, Captain Eudora, Kael’Thas, Sindragosa, and Y’Shaarj.
-Hero powers that have a limited number of uses. Such as Reno Jackson, Zephyrs the Great, & Skycap’n Kragg.
-Hero powers that give you a passive benefit but with no effect after the game starts. Like the Curator, N‘Zoth, and Patchwerk
I’m still just a rat in a cage
I’m still just a rat in a cage is moving to a Tier-Two treasure. A worthwhile change, for the Tier-Three treasures, but it overall hurts the strength of Tier-Two treasures. The only time I’m still just a rat in a cage is worthwhile is when you have a sizable unit with Divine Shield or Cleave that immediately gets benefit from the extra attack.
“Repeat Customer” might seem very low impact at first – and it often is. There are, however, situations where it can be an excellent choice. If you have a battlecry you want to repeat – like an Amalgadon that didn’t get Divine Shield and Poison, or an Annihalan Battlemaster when your opponents don’t have poison – “Repeat Customer” can shine. It’s a situational pick and not always great, but I’ve won games off this spell by bouncing an Amalgadon into a Brann Bronzebeard.
Prize Turn four, uncommon & incredibly potent Darkmoon Prizes.
Many games will end before you’re allowed to pick from this spell pool – when you do play a game that reaches this turn, however, you’re often fighting the same one or two people left in the lobby. Try to think about what their composition is like before you make your pick.
As a side note – your first time picking from this pool will be on Turn sixteen, but in the rare cases where you and your opponent just can’t seem to kill each other, you’ll pick from this same pool again on Turn twenty, twenty-four, and so on.
“Argent Braggart” can copy the biggest stats on your board, offering a suitable replacement for the weakest member of your Warband. Or simply to fill in the final slot you left open for Battlecries. However, keep in mind that Argent Braggart is tribeless, so it won’t receive benefits like Nadina the Red, making him a bit weaker than his effect might suggest. In late-game dragon compositions.
“Fresh Tab” is good if you’re desperately searching for the last piece of your build – 10 extra gold is effectively ten extra rerolls, and it might let you find that Golden Baron Rivendare or Selfless Hero to complete your build.
Friends and Family Discount & Open Bar
“Friends and Family Discount” and “Open Bar” are extremely similar, so I’ll first discuss them as a group. Both these effects are very powerful over time, but you have to remember that by Turn 16, the lobby is likely going to end soon – if not the next turn. The previously discussed “Fresh Tab” is usually going to be better as it offers more immediate gold, whereas these two offer more gold over time.
However, the occasional rare game lasts for a very long time – especially given the addition of “Ice Block” as a usable spell. If it looks like the game will last for at least a few more turns, these two spells might be suitable picks.
While I did say that these two spells are very similar, there is one point that “Friends and Family Discount” has over both “Open Bar” and “Fresh Tab.” If you are playing Pirates with a Golden Cap’n Hoggar, the cost reduction on minion purchases will mean you effectively gain one gold every time you purchase a pirate. The effective gold gain makes “Friends and Family Discount” much stronger than the other two spells for Pirate builds, as the typical end game Pirate strategy revolves around purchasing massive numbers of minions every turn.
Give A Dog A Bone
Similar to “Buy The Holy Light,” giving Divine Shield to a minion of choice is still an excellent option, even among this spell pool. “Give a Dog a Bone” also has the additional benefit of extra stats and Windfury – which can be key if you’re fighting against certain deathrattle dependent builds. For example, against Beasts, where the Windfury effect gives you the chance to take out key targets like Baron Rivendare or Cave Hydra before your opponent can properly utilize their effects.
Raise the Stakes
Fairly obvious in usage – if you’re missing a certain minion you need Golden, this is a no-brainer. Playing “Raise the Stakes” on minions such as Baron Rivendare, Jeweled McCaw, or Selfless Hero will often be a game-deciding play.
The effects of Turn one and two Prizes are insignificant by this stage of the game, so you should only pick “Big Winner!” when you’re looking for a prize from Turn three. “Buy the Holy Light,” “Ice Block,” “Training Session,” or “I’m Still Just a Rat in a Cage” are strong spells that can potentially be even better than some Turn 4 spells. So if your other choices seem weak, you can try for something better with “Big Winner!”
Closing thoughts for the new Battlegrounds Treasures
Remember that these cards show up at Turn four, eight, twelve, sixteen, and every other four turns afterward. Prepare to think carefully – but quickly – on those turns because you only have so much time to make your decision; you still have to do your recruitment phase, after all! The biggest thing to think about when you choose your prize is how you’re doing in the lobby – some prizes scale very well, and other prizes are great at keeping you alive. Remember that you win by making it to the top four, so being greedy doesn’t always pay off! Now, get out there and win some amazing prizes at the Darkmoon Faire!
And stay away from that spicy pretzel mustard.
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