Hearthstone Best Game Modes [Worst And Best Hearthstone Game Modes Revealed]

Pull up a chair by the hearth!

Looking for a card game to play? Give Hearthstone a try, it just might be the one for you

Do you like testing out new cards in a casual match? Or are you a competitive person looking to reach the top of the rank ladder? Maybe you care more about the hidden lore of each character? Whatever way you want to play, there is a Hearthstone game mode for you.

With 8 years of service, Hearthstone remains a giant in the video game industry, averaging around 4 million active users per month in 2022. Having such a long history, it’s no surprise that the game has since expanded from the initial two game modes of Constructed and Arena. A new game mode called Mercenaries was even released last October 12, 2021, bringing the total game mode count to 10.

With so many choices to pick from, it can be overwhelming to decide which game mode to play. But worry no more, as this article will help you in your decision and give an overview of Hearthstone’s 10 game modes.


10. Casual

The four constructed game modes in Hearthstone

As the name suggests, Casual mode is the go-to game mode when you want to vent out and destroy newbies after losing ten consecutive times in ranked. Jokes aside, the Casual mode is a low-stakes game mode where players are free to test out their deck in a match against another player.

With no competitive ladder and no pressure to win (no consequences in losing either), you are free to play constructed Hearthstone whichever way you want, whether through performing a sick One Turn Kill or playing a deck full of 0 mana 1/1 minions. Essentially a “quick play” game mode, there is almost no real reason to play this over the other modes, putting Casual mode last in this list.

How Casual Mode Works:

  • Casual works the same as other constructed game modes (Standard, Wild, and Classic) where two players battle it out with their constructed decks
  • Playing in casual mode will not affect rankings in other constructed modes
  • Matchmaking in casual mode depends on deck type as well as familiarity with the game:
    • New players will be matched with new players, veteran players will be matched with veterans
    • Same deck types will be matched with each other (e.g. Wild decks will be matched vs. wild decks, Standard vs. Standard, and Classic vs. Classic)

Pick Casual Mode If:

  • You are a new player trying to improve your understanding of game mechanics
  • You want to test out a new deck that will surely get you to rank 1 this time (surely, right?)
  • There is a sick combo/interaction that you want to post on social media, but it is very hard to execute in a ranked match


9. Mercenaries

Putting a spin on the turn-based board game, Mercenaries lets you explore different missions and defeat bosses for loot

A nod and an attempt to replicate the turn-based gameplay of JRPGs, Mercenaries joins Battlegrounds in the list of game modes that are “pretty much a separate game but packaged inside Hearthstone”.

On paper, this mode stays faithful to the basic RPG elements that made turn-based games popular such as permanent progression, equipment upgrades, and even PvP. But upon closer inspection, Mercenaries feels more like a forced fusion of Hearthstone and a bunch of decent RPG elements, providing a disappointing experience that neither Hearthstone nor JRPG fans will enjoy.

How Mercenaries Works:

  • Core combat works by having 3 active mercenaries battle with the current stage’s enemies, turn order being determined by the unit’s speed (speed is indicated in the ability used)
  • Three more mercenaries serve as backup and can be deployed when a friendly unit gets defeated
  • Outside of combat, the Mercenaries Village manages all other elements such as taking missions, playing PvP, and upgrading items
  • New mercenaries (outside of default ones) can be obtained through opening a Mercenaries card pack

Pick Mercenaries If:

  • You have a sudden itch for games with permanent progression elements
  • You prefer a mode with more elements of a turn-based RPG and less of a turn-based strategy


8. Classic

Nothing beats the classics

The Classic format aims to bring that feeling of nostalgia back to when the game was in its infant state. A simpler time when matches were not heavily decided by RNG and one of the strongest plays was the turn 2 Chillwind Yeti.

However, with the 8-year gap since the game’s release that allowed the overall skill of the playerbase to get better, the meta for Classic mode quickly got solved and games got stale.

Even worse, no change is in sight for the Classic format, which does not help in retaining players who lost interest after the initial wave of nostalgia. With such a repetitive meta and a player count that continues to decline, the Classic game mode ranks 8th in this list.

How Classic Mode Works:

  • Classic mode is a constructed deck format in which the cards that can be played are restricted to those from the Classic Set, the original 240 cards back in June 2014
  • All the cards for the Classic Set will be reverted as they were in patch, meaning that all buffs/nerfs will be reverted as they were during the patch
  • Classic has its separate rank ladder, same with Wild and Standard

Pick Classic Mode If:

  • You are a returning player from the early days of the game and want to take a breather with more familiar cards
  • You want to play a game mode with simpler card interactions and fewer random effects
  • You want a game mode with a small set of meta decks (fewer meta decks = easier to guess what deck the enemy is using)


7. Duels

Duels Hero Selection Screen

What happens when a reoccurring concept in Solo Adventures and Tavern Brawl becomes extremely popular? It becomes a permanent game mode, of course! Such is the case with Duels, derived from the Dungeon Run mode introduced back in the Kobolds and Catacombs expansion.

While the Dungeon Run mode was a fan favorite, the same could not be said for Duels due to a crucial difference: PvP. In Duels, the PvP aspect of Arena is combined with the deck progression concept of Dungeon Run. Even though making your deck stronger at the end of each match is a novel and fun concept, the randomness of treasures (cards with big effects or permanent board effects) means that the player with the weaker treasure is at a disadvantage.

As someone who enjoys the game mode, Duels still needs more polishing before it becomes another excellent game mode for Hearthstone.

How Duels Works:

  • Before the game, the player chooses a hero, a hero power, and a corresponding treasure
  • The player then builds a 15-card deck, selected from their card collection
  • Like Arena, the player battles with other players until they achieve 12 wins or 3 losses
  • After every match, the player selects a card bucket containing 3 cards, a passive treasure (after rounds 1 and 3), and an active treasure (after rounds 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13). Each selection consists of 3 choices, whether for treasures or cards

Pick Duels If:

  • You want a combination of Arena’s high-risk, high-reward format and Dungeon Run’s concept of growing a deck after every game instead of playing with the same deck all the time


6. Solo Adventures

Book of Mercenaries, Hearthstone’s latest Solo Adventures

Serving as the dedicated PvE/story mode, Solo Adventures is full of character-driven scenarios focused on the title or main character of the expansion. Notable Solo Adventures include Book of Mercenaries, which introduces the heroes and cards in the Forged in the Barrens expansion. The Demon Hunter Prologue is another popular story that features the story of Illidan, the main character for the Ashes of Outland expansion.

Not only does the Solo Adventures mode deliver great backstories and hefty rewards, the challenge for each adventure is also surprisingly challenging! To those looking for good stories and solving interesting puzzles, this mode is the one for you.

How Solo Adventures Works:

  • Each adventure is tied to the story of the expansion and usually presents a unique challenge
  • After completing a stage, players are rewarded with any of the following: cards, card packs, gold, or card dust for crafting
  • Some adventures need to be unlocked first using gold, while some are completely free from start to end

Pick Solo Adventures If:

  • You want a story-focused mode featuring characters from the expansion that are oftentimes existing characters in the Warcraft universe
  • You want to play a PvE game mode that has unique mechanics and very repeatable content


5. Tavern Brawl

Hall of Champions, a Tavern Brawl that had players use the iconic decks that won the Hearthstone World Championship

Featuring a new set of rules and challenges every week, Tavern Brawl is the best game mode for those looking for a quick and exciting match.

Some themes like Randomonium and Captain Blackheart’s Treasure even became so popular that they were brought back multiple times since Tavern Brawl’s release on June 17, 2015 (11 times for Randomonium and 10 times for Captain Blackheart’s Treasure as of writing this article).

As a cherry on top, there is even a Standard card pack as a reward for winning your first Tavern Brawl match each week, making this mode an attractive option for everyone.

How Tavern Brawl Works:

  • Every week (beginning every Wed 9:00 AM PT for the Americas Region, check the Hearthstone game client to see your region’s schedule), a new Tavern Brawl is introduced and ends 1 hour before the next Tavern Brawl
  • Rules have a wide variety, going from PvP-centric themes to even coop modes
  • Tavern Brawl is unlocked when a player reaches level 20 on at least one hero
  • A Standard card pack is rewarded for the first win in every week’s Tavern Brawl

Pick Tavern Brawl If:

  • You want to play a quick and casual game mode that adds fun challenges while also rewarding a card pack every week
  • You are a new player that wants to learn more about the game, as Tavern Brawl rules often utilize built-in game mechanics as the foundation for its rules


4. Wild

A Wild Card Pack contains an assortment of cards currently playable in Wild Format

Fully deserving of its name, Wild allows you to craft a deck from all playable cards since the game’s release (except a handful of cards that are banned). Producing some of Hearthstone’s most broken combos (Remember pre-nerf Aviana + Kun Druid, anyone?), balance and fair play are two things that you should not expect in this game mode.

For new players, even constructing a meta deck for Wild usually requires multiple legendary cards, making Wild the least newbie-friendly mode by far. Despite the immense barrier of entry, Wild’s chaoticness produces some of the most dopamine-inducing moments in Hearthstone. As such, this is the game mode that I recommend you try at least once.

How Wild Works:

  • A player can construct a Wild deck from all cards across all card sets, including those from Classic and Standard format (except specific cards banned in Wild)
  • A deck in Standard can be converted to a Wild deck and played in Wild, but a Wild deck (with at least 1 Wild card) cannot be converted back to a Standard deck

Pick Wild If:

  • You are a veteran player with a large card collection looking for an alternative to Standard
  • You want to play with different cards across various card sets and discover the wonky interactions (or bugs) that come when these effects come together


3. Battlegrounds

Bartender Bob's sure to accommodate whatever request you may have

Following the boom of the auto-battler genre, Battlegrounds skyrocketed in popularity as Hearthstone’s auto-battler mode. With 8 players per game, the Hearthstone community that was previously non-existent quickly grew bigger, even turning Battlegrounds matches into players against RNG instead of a PvP game mode.

Utilizing an exclusive set of cards and shying away from the grid-style map of other auto-battlers, Battlegrounds truly feels like a completely different game instead of just another game mode.

How Battlegrounds Works:

  • Battlegrounds, as with all other PvP game modes, has a separate ranked leaderboard
  • The game progresses per round until only 1 person remains, with each round being separated into the recruit phase and combat phase
  • In the recruit phase, players are free to manipulate their board and minions by buying, selling, or rearranging their minions. A maximum of 7 minions can be placed at any given time
  • In the combat phase, a player’s team faces off against another player’s team. The player that has more minions goes first (randomly decided when both players have an equal number of minions)
  • Each minion attacks randomly but turn priority goes from leftmost to rightmost minion, so make sure to position your minions correctly!

Pick Battlegrounds If:

  • You are looking for an auto-battler with an easier learning curve compared to other titles
  • You want to play another turn-based strategy game but with familiar mechanics and graphics
  • Card games are not your thing but you like Hearthstone’s design


2. Arena

The Lightforge key, signifying 12 wins in the Arena

I know, I know, long-time Hearthstone players might cringe at me putting Arena this high, ranking it above Wild and even Battlegrounds. But hear me out, as I believe that Arena is the most underrated game mode in Hearthstone.

Being one of the two original game modes, Arena was always considered just an alternate PvP mode with the immense downside of consuming a Tavern ticket as an entrance fee (Tavern Tickets are one-time use and cost 150 gold each). However, this entrance fee actually boosts the competitiveness of the game mode and makes Arena a high-risk, high-reward experience.

As a mode whose niche is focused on drafting the best deck possible from random choices, Arena thoroughly tests a player’s card knowledge and deck-building skills.

How Arena Works:

  • Each arena run costs a Tavern Ticket which can be bought with 150 gold
  • A player chooses a class and drafts one card from a choice of 3 cards for 30 rounds, picking a total of 30 cards
  • After finishing the draft, the player battles against other players. The run ends when the player achieves 12 total wins or 3 total losses, receiving a corresponding reward after the run (cards, card packs, gold, or dust)
  • Players with similar win-loss records are matched against each other to maintain fairness

Pick Arena If:

  • You are very confident in your deck-building skills and judging card strength
  • You want to play a high-risk, high-reward game mode that relies almost entirely on game knowledge and skill


1. Standard

Rank 1 Legend, the highest rank for the competitive ladder of Hearthstone

Ranking at the top of this list is the Standard format, Hearthstone’s bread and butter. Being the game’s main mode, the appeal of Standard lies in the continuous release of new cards while taking out old cards, resulting in frequent meta shifts that keep the game fresh and accessible to new players.

Another factor that contributes to the success of Standard is because it is the only constructed game mode that regularly receives balance patches and changes. As the most popular game mode, perhaps the simplicity of building a deck and competing with others is what summarizes the joy of playing Standard. If you want to play Hearthstone, play Standard.

How Standard Works:

  • A player can construct a deck from cards in the Standard set. The Standard set includes all cards from the Core set and from the last 2 calendar years, beginning from the first set of a year which is usually in April
  • As an example, the Standard format allows cards (as of writing) from the last 2 years, starting from the Forged in the Barrens expansion up until before the first set of 2023 is released
  • When the first set of 2023 is released, all cards from the year 2022 (Forged in the Barrens - Onyxia’s Lair) will be rotated out of Standard and will only be available in Wild

Pick Standard If:

  • You are a new player who wants to experience the core Hearthstone experience
  • You are looking for a competitive card game where the meta is shaken up every 4 months or so
  • You want to play a game mode that is frequently balanced and has a large community built around it


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An aspiring novelist in his spare time, Jan takes pride in his colorful and descriptive worldbuilding. An avid gamer since childhood, JM's writing style is greatly influenced by the MMO's he played.
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