Unlike other game modes whose main entities are cards, which are based on traditional Constructed cards, Mercenaries features completely new controllable entities called mercenaries (merc for short), and a turn-based RPG-like combat system, along with their unique PvE and PvP content. Mercenaries also has tasks, which are equivalent to quests in traditional Hearthstone, except for the fact that they reward items exclusively to Mercenaries mode.
Mercenaries is accessible in the main menu, making it one of the three main game modes alongside Constructed and Battlegrounds.
- Main article: Mercenaries/Village
The village is the main hub of Mercenaries and also the first scene when you visit the mode. The village consists of buildings that have different functionalities which grants you access to different content of Mercenaries. In brief overview:
- Workshop is the first available building for new players. All other buildings are unavailable, but can be built, upgraded, and even given new looks in Workshop. The prices of the builds and upgrades are currently unknown.
- Tavern is equivalent to Collection manager, except that the player manages their Mercenaries collection.
- Travel Point is where player's access PvE zones of Mercenaries, similar to Solo Adventures.
- Fighting Pit is where player's access PvP content of Mercenaries, similar to Constructed.
- Merchant Cart is equivalent to Shop, except that it only shows Mercenaries-only bundles and items for sale.
- Mailbox is where the player gets announcements from Blizzard about Mercenaries updates.
- Campfire is equivalent to the Quest Log in the Journal, except that they are called tasks instead of quests and reward a variety of Mercenaries items.
Village look (1)
Village look (2)
Village look (3)
Mercenaries, abilities and equipment
- Main article: Mercenaries/Mercenary
- Main article: Mercenaries/Team
Mercenary (or merc) is the main character the player will control in any Mercenaries game. A merc consists of three familiar attributes, attack, health, and minion type. A merc also has a role. Currently, the role can be either caster with blue frame, protector with red frame, fighter with green frame.
Role has a weakness system, whereby protector deals double damage to fighter, fighter deals double damage to caster, and caster deals double damage to protector.
To let the mercs interact with others, each merc has three abilities. Their effects can be varied, including letting the merc attack an enemy like minion-attacking-minion combat in Constructed, dealing damage, giving mercs new effects, and restoring health.
To play a Mercenaries game, the player needs to bring a team consisting of 6 mercs, which is equivalent to a deck in Constructed. It does not have any other limitations: the player can bring mercs of any role and any level. A team can even have only one role. After a game, regardless of the outcome, mercs will gain experience, which is used to level up, incrementing their base attributes: attack and health. At certain levels, one of their abilities will be unlocked, allowing the merc to have more variety of choice during combat.
- Main article: Mercenaries/Ability
Abilities act as a merc's actions it may take in a turn. They function like cards, except with their unique keywords. Each ability can also belong to a spell school, which are the same as those found in Constructed, namely Fel, Fire, Frost, Holy, Nature, and Shadow.
Unlike cards, each ability has two attributes: speed and cooldown. Speed determines the order of the combat; the ability with the lowest speed will get to resolve first. If there are multiple abilities with the same speed, their order of resolution will be decided randomly. Cooldown is the number of turns needed to pass before the player can use the ability again. Abilities with at least 1 cooldown are unavailable at the start of game.
Each merc will have one ability available after being obtained or unlocked. Other abilities can be unlocked by leveling up their merc: the second ability unlocks at level 5, and the third at level 15. Unlocked abilities can be upgraded by spending their merc's Mercenary coins.
- Main article: Mercenaries/Equipment
Equipment can be used pre-game to give bonus to their corresponding merc, or one of their abilities. Only one equipment can be assigned to a merc.
Equipment can be unlocked by either completing tasks, or achievements: for each merc, one equipment is unlocked at level 30 (which must be claimed on the achievement page), one after the completion of task 2, and one after the completion of task 7. Like abilities, unlocked equipment can be upgraded by spending their merc's Mercenary coins.
- Main article: Mercenaries/Task
New tasks are available daily at the Mercenaries/Campfire, or during the bounty run at a Mystery coin.
Mercenaries is a turn-based role-playing game that allows the player to bring a team of 6 mercs. At the start of game, they appear in the player's hand, where they can drag 3 of their mercs into the battlefield for combat. They cannot be returned to hand once on the battlefield. The rest of the player's mercs are put onto the bench and wait until one of the player's merc dies in combat. Then, each turn of a Mercenaries game can be described as followed:
- Enter command phase. For each merc, choose one of their abilities, and choose a target if the ability allows it.
- Repeat until all mercs have chosen their abilities. The player can change the abilities before pressing the "Ready!" button.
- Each chosen ability will display a bubble and the order above its merc portrait, which is the result of combining and sorting abilities by speed from smallest to largest.
- "?" at the end of the bubble indicates that the order may differ. This happens regularly in Fighting Pit combats, since the player can only see their own order, while in Travel Point combats, some abilities with the same speed may occur, which leads to randomness to decide which will be resolved first.
- Pressing the "Ready!" button enters the combat phase. All abilities will be resolved like how minions and spells in Constructed with the specific orders earlier.
- After combat:
- If a merc dies in combat while there are still mercs in bench, the player goes back to the Recruit phase. The reserved mercs on the bench return to the player's hand. The player can drag as many mercs as died in combat to the battlefield to replace them.
- If all of a player's mercs died and their bench is empty, the game ends. If the other player runs out of mercs simultaneously, the game is a tie. Otherwise, the player with at least one surviving merc wins.
- Otherwise, repeat the turns.
At the Travel Point, the player can participate in bounties, which is equivalent to solo adventures. Each bounty consists of a procedurally-generated series of encounters before culminating in the bounty boss. These encounters can be either fights or special 'coins' (specifically Spirit Healers, boons, or mysteries). After each fight in a bounty, the player can choose a treasure for one of the mercs in their party that only lasts for that bounty.
Fighting Pit (PvP) gameplay
Fighting Pit reward
Travel Point (PvE) gameplay
Travel Point (PvE) gameplay (2)
Travel Point's bounty reward
- Main article: Mercenaries/Tavern
Mercenaries introduces a unique collection system separated from that of traditional Hearthstone. The player can visit their Mercenaries collection in the Tavern, where they can see which mercenaries they own and the number of their coins the player has beneath each card. The player can also create a team and check the teams they created.
The mercenaries collection system consists of 3 main in-game items:
- Mercenaries Pack - Mercenaries Packs can be bought with gold or real money. A pack can contain either Mercenary cards, Mercenary coins or Mercenary portraits. Mercenaries Packs follow Duplicate protection rule, meaning the player always gets a Mercenary card they don't own until they own all Mercenary cards of the pre-determined rarity. If they do so, they will always get a Mercenary portrait of that rarity instead. If they own all Mercenary portraits of that rarity, any opened Mercenary portraits will be converted to Mercenary coins with amount depending on that rarity instead.
- Mercenary card - Mercenary cards allow the players to put mercs in their teams and use them in game. Mercenary cards can be obtained by crafting using Mercenary coins, or opening Mercenaries Packs, with the following rarity drop rate breakdown:
- Rare: Each Mercenaries Pack contains at least 1 rare or better Mercenary card.
- Epic: On average, 1 epic Mercenary card can be obtained every 5 Mercenaries Packs.
- Legendary: One legendary Mercenary card is guaranteed within the first 10 Mercenaries Packs. Subsequent legendary Mercenary cards can be obtained in 20 Mercenaries Packs on average.
- Mercenary coin - Mercenary coins allow the players to craft mercs they don't own and upgrade abilities or equipment. Each merc will have a unique coin type, which can only be used to craft it, or upgrade its abilities or equipment, and are not usable for other mercs. Mercenary coins can be obtained by opening Mercenaries Packs with the following rarity drop rate breakdown:
- Rare: Rare coins will drop 12 times in 10 Mercenaries Packs on average
- Epic: Epic coins will drop 10 times in 10 Mercenaries Packs on average
- Legendary: Legendary coins will drop 8 times in 10 Mercenaries Packs on average.
- Mercenary portrait - Mercenary portraits are purely cosmetic, which is equivalent to golden and diamond cards in Constructed collection.
- All mercs have 3 golden portraits. Legendary mercs also have 1 diamond portrait.
- The baseline drop rates will be based on the following percentages, which will be dynamically recalculated each time the player obtains a portrait:
- Legendary mercs: 30% chance to get each of the 3 golden portraits and 10% chance to get the diamond portrait
- Rare and Epic mercs: 33.3% chance to get each of the 3 golden portraits.
- The player will not obtain the same Mercenary portrait until they own all the Mercenary portraits for that merc.
- Once the player owns all the portraits for a merc, they can obtain a second copy of a Mercenary portrait, which will automatically be converted into Mercenary coins of that merc: 50 coins for rare, 75 coins for epic, and 100 coins for legendary mercs.
Tavern collection manager and creating a team
Viewing Mercenary portraits in Tavern
Diamond portrait general animation
Upgrading an ability
Equipping an equipment
Equipping an equipment (2)
Upgrading an equipment
- Main article: Mercenaries/Level
- Main article: Mercenaries/Experience
Each merc has a permanent leveling system. All mercs start at level 1 and can be leveled up by earning experience after a game is completed, regardless of the result of that game or whether the merc was on the bench. Leveling up a merc increments their base attack, health, or both attributes. Currently the maximum level for a merc is 30.
At a merc's certain level thresholds (level 5 for the second ability and level 15 for the third), one of their abilities will be unlocked automatically, after which it can be upgraded using their coins.
Leveling up a merc
Leveling up a merc (2)
Unlocking an ability
Unlocking an ability (2)
New player experience
If the player is new to Mercenaries, they will be redirected to a bounty tutorial, guiding through the basic gameplay elements of a Mercenaries game.
Introducing basic combat
Introducing role and weakness
Final encounter access
Final encounter in bounty tutorial
Bounty tutorial's rewards
After completing the bounty tutorial, the player will be redirected to the Village and introduced the functions of each building. After the player unlocks the Campfire, the player receives a series of introductory tasks. Ultimately, the player is rewarded 8 free mercs to start with custom teams.
Developments and promotions
- Very initial ideas of Mercenaries were first developed in around July 2019. It started out as a 2v2 mode. Mid-development officially started around March 2020 and lasted for 11 months.
- Mercenaries was originally to be announced along with Madness at the Darkmoon Faire announcement. Even by the time the mode was announced, it was still "super early" in development.
- Mercenaries was first teased on February 19, 2021, when the new Standard format year, Year of the Gryphon, was revealed, as well as the first expansion, Forged in the Barrens. However, only brief a description of the gameplay and a preview image were revealed, and Blizzard Entertainment did not reveal the release date.
- After the official announcement, a number of articles from various news sites and interviews provided pieces of details about Mercenaries.
- On June 10, Blizzard Entertainment conducted a survey on Dynata. In the survey, more details and finally screenshots of the Mercenaries gameplay were provided.
- On June 28, when Blizzard teased the announcement date for United in Stormwind, which was July 1; they also moved the release date of Mercenaries to Phase 2 of Year of the Gryphon, stating that they needed more time to implement the content and would not be ready to share details about it on that announcement date.
- On July 17, another Mercenaries promotion occurred on TapTap, revealing more mercs and portraits.
- At around 5:30AM PT, August 24, the cinematic trailer of Mercenaries was accidentally made public on their official YouTube channel. After a couple of minutes, the video was set to private. At 10AM PT on the same day, Blizzard announced the announcement date of Mercenaries' Gameplay Showcase livestream, which was August 31.
- On August 31, at the livestream Blizzard provided almost full details about Mercenaries, including the gameplay and collection system, and the release date of Mercenaries: October 12, 2021. In addition, a series of promotions were implemented immediately after the livestream, including:
- Rewarding Sarge mount in World of Warcraft, United in Stormwind Tavern Pass, Template:BGl for this and the next expansion, 15 United in Stormwind Packs, 15 packs from Hearthstone’s next expansion, and 30 total Mercenaries Packs for purchasing 6-month WoW subscription between August 31 and October 19 or having current subscription's renew date later.
- Selling 3 pre-purchase bundles, each bundle including a golden or diamond portrait and Mercenaries Packs. They all last until Mercenaries launches on October 12.
- Lich King Mercenaries bundle costs $49.99, containing a diamond portrait of The Lich King and 50 Mercenaries Packs.
- Diablo Mercenaries bundle costs $49.99, containing a diamond portrait of Diablo and 50 Mercenaries Packs. This promotion also marks the introduction of cross-over designs between Hearthstone and other Blizzard games and also Hearthstone versions of Diablo Starcraft and Overwatch.
- Sylvanas Mercenaries bundle costs $29.99, containing a golden portrait of Sylvanas Windrunner and 30 Mercenaries Packs.
- New logo and key art
- B-roll videos for Mercenaries
Rewarding Sarge mount
- Blizzard Entertainment (2021-08-31). Prepare for Mercenaries—Coming October 12!. PlayHearthstone. Retrieved on 2021-09-03.
- Blizzard Entertainment. Hearthstone Shop. Blizzard Support. Retrieved on 2021-09-12.
- Cam Shea (2021-02-20). Hearthstone: Mercenaries Mode and Forged in the Barrens Expansion Announced. IGN. Retrieved on 2021-09-13.
- Amove.tv (2021-02-22). Devs Dish on Hearthstone's New Mode! | Mercenaries, Forged in the Barrens, & More!. YouTube. Retrieved on 2021-09-13.
- Blizzard Entertainment (2021-02-19). Welcome to the Year of the Gryphon. PlayHearthstone. Retrieved on 2021-09-13.
- BlizzConline 2021 - Opening Ceremony - Hearthstone (7:00). (2021-02-19). PlayHearthstone. Retrieved on 2021-09-13.
- BlizzConline announces Hearthstone Mercenaries, Forged in the Barrens expansion and more. (2021-09-19). GamesPredator.
- BlizzConline interview: “Hearthstone has become a platform for card games”. (2021-09-21). TechPulse.
- Fluxflashor (2021-06-10). Sneak Peek at Hearthstone Mercenaries - Screenshots and Descriptions of the New Mode via a Blizzard Survey. OutOf.Cards. Retrieved on 2021-09-13.
- Screencapped by u/Level-Ad3297. The full survey for Blizzard I took. Reddit.
- Blizzard Entertainment (2021-06-28). Expansion Reveal Stream Coming July 1, and a Note on Mercenaries. PlayHearthstone. Retrieved on 2021-09-13.
- Recorded by Arkentass. Hearthstone : Mercenaries - Live TapTap 17/07/21. YouTube. Retrieved on 2021-09-13.
- Blizzard Entertainment. Tune in on August 31 for the Mercenaries Showcase. PlayHearthstone. Retrieved on 2021-09-13.
- Blizzard Entertainment (2021-08-31). Hearthstone Mercenaries - Broll. Blizzard Game Press. Retrieved on 2021-09-10.