Turn three is a difficult situation for many players in Battlegrounds because of how many options you have – five gold is an awkward number, just short of buying two minions. It’s crucial to think carefully about the following questions: What kind of Warband will your opponent have? Of what is your hero capable? Should you tier up? How strong are the minions being offered? I’m here to talk about all of the common situations you will find yourself in turn three. And how to best navigate it.
To review, heroes usually buy and upgrade in one of three ways:
- Heroes who prefer the standard curve like: Al’Akir, Alexstrasza, Aranna Starseeker, Dancin’ Deryl, Deathwing, Edwin Vancleef, Fungalmancer Flurgl, George the Fallen, Illidan Stormrage, Jandice Barov, Kael’Thas Sunstrider, Lich Baz’hial, Malygos, Millificent Manastorm, Mr. Bigglesworth, Nozdormu, N’Zoth, Patches the Pirate, Patchwerk, Ragnaros the Firelord, Rakanishu, Reno Jackson, Shudderwock, Silas Darkmoon, Sindragosa, Skycap’n Kragg, Tess Greymane, The Curator, The Lich King, The Rat King, Ysera, and Zephyrs the Great.
- Heroes who prefer the Rafaam-curve, such as: Arch-Villain Rafaam, Captain Eudora, Captain Hooftusk, Dinotamer Brann, King Mukla, Lord Barov, Lord Jaraxxus, Maiev Shadowsong, Pyramid, and The Great Akazamzarak.
- Or, heroes with a special curve, which include A.F. Kay, C’Thun, Chenvaala, Elise Starseeker, Forest Waren Omu, Millhouse Manastorm, Yogg-Saron, and Y’Shaarj.
We’ll discuss the general strategies in order, starting with the largest pool – the standard curve.
Hearthstone Battlegrounds’ Standard Curve
Most heroes in Hearthstone Battlegrounds don’t have a hero power that affects their first few turns. Because of that, they have three options to choose from to prepare for round three of the game.
- Sell your tier one minion or token and buy two minions.
- Sell your tier one minion or token and tier up early.
- Buy one minion and reroll twice.
Expand for images of Mewwy’s Turn three decision.
The most common type of turn three you will see: I sold the token from Murloc Tidehunter and purchased two fairly strong tier two minions.
Other times you will run into less-than-ideal situations, especially if you don’t get a token generator on the first turn. But even given mediocre choices, you still have options. Using your hero power on the Rockpool Hunter and buying the Freedealing Gambler is one play – you can always give the murloc Poison later. Another option would be to buy the Party Elemental and Refreshing Anomaly to get the buff and refresh off their effects, improving your consistency in the following turn.
Option One: Sell your tier one minion or token and buy two minions
Let’s start with the most common play on turn three. To get ahead of your opponents, you have to create the strongest combat board possible with the minions offered. Look out for minions from tier two that have synergy or are just generally strong.
For example, Spawn of N’zoth and Kaboom-Bot are often great at the early stages of the game due to their powerful effects and continue to be relevant even later. Imprisoner, Harvest Golem, Steward of Time, and Glyph Guardian have the best stats you can get at tier two and are just solid combat picks.
Synergy picks are an interesting option at turn three since it’s much less common than your other options. For example, picks like a Southsea Captain with a Yo-Ho-Ogre are also very effective together. Menagerie Cup can also be a decent synergy pick if you can get at least two tribes on the board. Finally, Freedealing Gambler is a fairly average pick in terms of combat stats, but fully refunding the three gold it costs to purchase her makes her a reasonable choice as well.
Expand for images of Mewwy’s turn three decision as Al’Akir with a Sellemental start.
Although there is synergy between Scavenging Hyena and Alley Cat, they are probably too weak to carry my warband in the next turns. My next opponent, however, is a C’Thun who had just leveled his tavern – with that in mind, I know he should only have one minion. As a loss would only result in three damage, I chose to tier up instead.
Option Two: Sell your tier one minion and upgrade your tavern
An uncommon play due to the risk involved; you’ll have a single minion at best – sometimes nothing – and will almost certainly lose the next combat phase. Still, given extremely weak choices from Bob, it might just be your best choice, giving you access to more powerful tier-three minions earlier than anyone else in the lobby.
Consider the following before making an early upgrade play:
- Is your opponent someone who is weak or most likely will do low damage? For example, a C’Thun player who just upgraded to tier two and has a curve that allows him to only have one or two minions at best – meaning even a loss would only result in three or four damage at most.
- Conversely, are you fighting a hero who’s so strong on Turn three that you have no chance of winning in the first place? Certain heroes like Millhouse Manastorm or A.F. Kay typically have unbeatable boards on Turn three. If you’re going to take damage anyway, you can consider upgrading early instead of saving yourself a few points of damage at best.
- Are you playing a hero with a hero power that gives you an early game advantage? Heroes such as Kael’thas Sunstrider, The Curator, The Lich King, or Al’Akir might be able to mitigate the tempo loss from an early upgrade. Of course, you can still upgrade early on other heroes, but having a strong early game hero can help you stabilize in the following turns more quickly.
Option Three: Buy one minion and reroll twice
The third option, buying and rerolling, usually happens when Bob gives you a single decent choice from the tavern against an opponent that you still have a shot at fighting. You can pick up the strongest minion offered and then reroll twice to secure better choices for the following turn. Some heroes like Ragnaros the Firelord want to keep their health as high as possible, so risking the early upgrade just isn’t worth it.
Expand for images of Mewwy’s decision, in a spot requiring buying one & rerolling twice.
While I could sell my Wrath Weaver and upgrade early, a hero like Kragg wants to save as much health as he can to ramp quickly on future turns, and Nozdormu isn’t particularly powerful on Turn three. With that in mind, Harvest Golem is an easy pickup, being one of the stronger tier two minions. While I could sell my Wrath Weaver for a minor upgrade, rolling for stronger tier two minions is usually the better choice. Luckily, my rerolls paid off; I managed to tie against my opponent, and find two Imprisoners for a solid Turn four.
Heroes who want to follow the Rafaam-curve commonly gain a lot of value from their one-cost hero power. Characters like Maiev Shadowsong or Arch-Villain Rafaam can obtain extra minions by spending a single gold. While other heroes like The Great Akazamzarak or Lord Jaraxxus boost their combat ability by using their ability.
Whatever the reason, users of the Rafaam curve usually have little to no variation on turn three – you buy the best minion and use your hero power. You’ll have a single extra piece of gold here, which lets you reroll for better picks before you make your choice.
For more on the Rafaam curve, read all about it in Mewwy’s Basics of Battlegrounds post.
Expand for images of Mewwy’s decision following the Rafaam-curve as Maiev.
With five gold, you’ll have an extra gold to spend. Reroll for better choices if you don’t like what you’re given!
The heroes with a special curve in Hearthstone Battlegrounds
These heroes have abilities that give them unique ways to level. Here’s a quick run-through for them:
- A.F. Kay – While you can’t buy anything on your first two turns, it doesn’t mean you should actually go AFK. As soon as Bob offers a token or Deck Swabbie, freeze it. You can make your two picks from her hero power and buy the minion you froze on turn three. Sell the token (or in the case of Deck Swabbie, just play it for the discount) and upgrade to tavern tier two with your three minion Warband.
- C’Thun – You must use your hero power as much as possible, so you typically hero power and upgrade on Turn three. You can also buy a minion and hero power if it’s something particularly important for your strategy, like a second Wrath Weaver or Micro Mummy.
- Chenvaala – While you usually do the standard curve, if you manage to get a Sellemental with another elemental minion, you should upgrade instead of purchasing another minion to get the tavern advantage. Her hero power reduces the upgrade cost by three gold.
- Infinite Toki – Her hero power allows you to do the standard curve, but with some small differences. At turn three, unless Bob gives you some amazing choices, you usually hero power and buy a tier-three minion. If you have extra gold from Darkmoon prizes or from a token generator you have, you may want to hero power one more time before upgrading tiers. Once you find yourself in tier three, it’s best to use her hero power every turn from now on.
- Millhouse Manastorm – With the ability to buy all minions at a discounted price, Millhouse Manastorm plays quite differently than any other hero in the game. On turn three, you will usually sell a minion – ideally a token – and upgrade while maintaining the strongest board possible. You won’t be able to reroll at all early on (unless you get a Refreshing Anomaly!) so just pick the best minions that Bob offers you.
- Elise Starseeker, Y’shaarj – These two basically follow the standard curve, but with the added advantage of their hero power getting them minions at a discounted price of two gold. Buy the best minion that Bob offers you and hero power for a perfect five gold turn – there’s no need to sell anything!
- Yogg-Saron – Like Elise Starseeker and Y’shaarj, Yogg-Saron can also obtain minions at a discounted price of two gold. If you follow the standard curve and upgrade on turn two, you will do the same as the other two and hero power for a random minion before buying the best minion left in the tavern. The reason Yogg-Saron deserves his own category, however, is because he also has a special curve that’s stronger than the standard turn three if you find a token generator on turn one or two:
|Yogg-Saron Curve||First Turn Token||Second Turn Token|
|Turn one||Buy Token Generator||Buy Strongest Minion|
|Turn two||Sell Token||Buy Token Generator|
|Hero Power||Sell Token|
|Buy Strongest Minion||Hero Power|
|Turn Three||Upgrade & Hero Power||Upgrade & Hero Power|
- Forest Waren Omu – Omu has an extremely varied early game depending on if – and when you found a token generator. Here’s a quick overview of all three possibilities leading up to turn three, depending on the timing of when you found a token generator. The goal of having these three variations is to ensure you have three minions by the end of turn 3:
|Omu’s Curve||First Turn Token||Second Turn Token||No Token Start|
|Turn One||Buy Token Generator||Buy Strongest Minion||Buy Strongest Minion|
|Turn Two||Upgrade||Upgrade||Buy Strongest Minion|
|Sell Token||Sell Minion||(Optional) Reroll|
|Buy Strongest Minion||Buy Token Generator|
|Turn Three||Sell Weakest Minion||Sell Token||Upgrade|
|Buy Two Minions||Buy Two Minions||Buy Strongest Minion|
Remember that Deck Swabbie can work in place of a token for the First Turn Token pattern through his upgrade discount, but not the Second Turn Token pattern because you have already upgraded at that point.
Now that we’ve covered the general ways you can play the third turn, remember that every game is going to be different, no matter how similar the first three turns always seem to play out. With that said, take your time before you make your choice – for many heroes, it’s the first real decision point in the game, and whatever you do will often help or hurt you for the rest of the game. Now good luck out there, and stay away from Bob’s spicy pretzel mustard!
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