While it took a while to wrap my head around the stats, types, and abilities, I found that the three different mercenary types — both for enemy units and for your own deck — kept things interesting. Considering your party weaknesses and working out the best heroes for creating attacking synergies was one of the things I found most enjoyable about Hearthstone’s mercenary mode. Particularly in PvE mode, where battles are often set up almost like puzzles, it felt really satisfying to figure out how to utilise the speed mechanics in order to emerge victorious. However, I did notice that PvE combat was sometimes repetitive in terms of enemy parties, and it made collecting coins and completing tasks rather grind-heavy at times.
While the roguelike elements in PvE were entertaining, I do think there are other games in the deckbuilder roguelike genre that deliver a tighter game loop, not to mention at a one-off fixed price. Compared to a game like Monster Train or Slay the Spire, the gameplay pace in PvE certainly feels slower and grindier, which will not be to everyone’s tastes. While you can play the game easily without spending a cent, it’ll take you significantly longer compared to players who regularly buy decks to bolster their card collection.
When it comes to free-to-play card games like Gwent and Hearthstone, I’ve always enjoyed playing against other people in PvP the most. In this sense, unlocking PvP was a welcome change of pace. It certainly made combat a lot more dynamic. On top of this, it was a great way to test out my decks since you’ll find yourself taking on the game’s complex PvP AI instead if the game can’t connect you with another human in time.
Overall, I found that Hearthstone’s Mercenaries mode dished up some interesting mechanics that looked promising and were very entertaining. While its PvE model is not as layered an experience as other roguelike deckbuilders, its PvP mode provides a fresh perspective on the traditional Hearthstone mechanics. If you enjoy online games like Gwent and the traditional Hearthstone and don’t mind a bit of grinding here and there, there’ll be plenty to love in mercenaries.
Hearthstone’s Mercenaries is now available through battle.net.