By Spike, Regular Contributor
As you may have figured out from the title, this is going to be a short article on how to play Patches the Pirate in Hearthstone Battlegrounds. Keep in mind that as I write this, it’s mid-July 2020, so some information may be outdated by the time you read this. I’ll do my best to keep these updated, but please cut some slack, I have dozens of articles to keep tabs on and not nearly enough time to update them all.
It is now January 2020, Patches has been buffed and Pirates have been buffed. Updated ares of the guide have been noted.
At any rate, this is the first in what is going to be a series of short articles on how to play each hero in Hearthstone Battlegrounds. You, the readers, are the ones that voted on who’d be first, so… Patches time!
As you can see, his Hero Power is one that forces you into a Pirate-based comp. You could technically not go Pirates, but then his Hero Power isn’t helping you out much. As of January 6th, 2021, Patches is 12th on the HSReplay Battlegrounds Hero tier list, in Tier 3 (with the likes of Rakanishu, Lord Jaraxxus, Maeiv Shadowsong and Millificent Manastorm- essentially, decent Heroes that aren’t superstars) , with a 45.3% pick rate and a 4.53 average placement (wow, his average placement has only changed by .01 since July 2020, when I wrote this article originally. He got buffed, but the meta is also much faster and more powerful than he is, so it makes sense). So, he isn’t amazing, but he isn’t bad at all. For a point of reference, anything better than a 4.5 average placement is considered Tier 2 or higher, so a little worse than that isn’t bad.
Patches’s Hero Power used to deal 4 damage to 2 random enemy minions at the start of combat and cost 1. If memory serves, that was a buff from his original rendition, which was the same thing, but with 3 damage. At that time, he was a lot worse than he is now.
At any rate, Patches has a decent Hero Power. It could probably cost 3 and still be balanced, but it isn’t terrible. You need to go for a Pirate comp to take advantage of it, both because every time you buy a pirate it gets cheaper and because, well, Pirates are generally best in a Pirate comp. Shocking, I know.
Updated: Patches has a buff, and his Hero Power now costs 3. The sarcastic aside is still relevant.
Due to the Pirate-based Hero Power, Patches’s best strategy is Pirates, but he has a unique advantage for them. If you need to Triple up on a Pirate that you already have 2 of, and can’t find the triple, you can always hail mary and hit the hero power. Also, you will always be able to obtain Pirates on demand, while any opponents trying to do the same cannot.
However, Patches won’t always find Pirates early. If you really must, Patches works with every other Tribe, you just won’t have a benefit from it. Update: after the buff to the Hero Power, try to force Pirates. The Hero Power is cheap enough that you can hit it instead of buying a minion, and it isn’t awkward enough to derail your game plan if not discounted like it was at 4 Gold.
On turn one, you’d normally buy a token generator if offered. Patches is one of the few heroes I would recommend to do something else- if Deck Swabbie is available, you’re going to want to pick it. You also won’t want to upgrade your Tavern turn 2 if you find Deck Swabbie turn one. Here’s why:
Turn One: Deck Swabbie
Turn 2: Due to the Deck Swabbie, upgrading costs (3) and Hero Power costs (2). Instead of upgrading, buy a Pirate if one is offered, then use Hero Power. If you’re able to chain Deck Swabbies, you’ll triple up, but don’t play it- your Tavern Upgrade should be free next turn, then you can drop the Golden Swabbie and snag a Tier 3 minion, plus discount Tavern.
There used to be a lengthy section here of what to do with your first few turns if you got a Turn 1 Deck Swabbie. I removed it, because after the buff it’s inaccurate- and after the buff, you don’t really need the smooth moves to pull off a decent early game.
However, this only works if you get Deck Swabbie Turn 1. If not, don’t try this, it will not work. Just play out your early turns the same way you normally would, but try and go for Pirates.
In general, you’ll want to play a Pirate game where you weave in the Hero Power both when it’s cheap and when you need to Hail Mary for a Triple. Freedealing Gambler is great because you can buy it to make your Hero Power cheaper, then sell it with no loss.
As for playing Pirates, I actually don’t recommend the APM Hoggarr build that you’ve probably seen a lot in Youtube and Twitch hype clips. The idea of the build is that you have a Golden and regular Hogarr so you make back your 3 Gold every time you buy a Pirate, or with 2 Golden Hoggarrs get an extra Gold piece upon buying a Pirate. As awesome as it is once you get the build up and running, if you fail, you are very much not doing well afterwards. Cap’n Hoggarr is alright when you’re transitioning to the late game and trying to quickly buff Salty Looter, but after the small buffs to Pirates you’ll be alright without being super greedy.
Essentially, with Pirates, you want to get Salty Looter down pretty fast, because it’s your most reliable minion you can buff the stats on (in Bob’s Tavern, not mid-battle, which is what most Pirates do), and you do it by doing what you would’ve anyway- playing Pirates. Bloodsail Cannoneer is also nice for Attack buffs, of course.
Yo-Ho-Ogre isn’t especially good. After it was bumped down to Tier 2, it’s a decent transitional minion, it just isn’t likely to be a big part of your finalized build.
Tier 4 and up are where Pirates start to get good. At Tier 4, you should have a couple Goldens, and Goldgrubber is especially good when you start growing it early. Ripsnarl Captain is an essential piece of the comp, and since most of Pirates’ strength comes from growing mid-battle, you really do need him. Southsea Strongarm is okay, but I find that I don’t usually get much use out of it- most of the time, it’ll be a 2/2 buff or something similar, and it isn’t well-statted enough to do much in combat. Note: Southsea Strongarm was moved down a Tier. You still don’t really care that much about it- maybe you’ll buy it for small buffs in the mid-game or simply to buff Salty Looter, but it’s not the best.
At Tier 5, I’ve already expressed my views on Hoggarr- he’s not consistent enough to be an automatic buy, but using him to make a better transition to the late-game with more stats on board is optimal. The real kicker here is Seabreaker Goliath. This dude works great as the first attacker in your line, and buffing him with Southsea Strongarm isn’t a half bad idea. A 2/2 buff to most, if not all of your comp is always going to be welcome, and he has the potential to do so twice in a row, provided you buffed him enough to both trigger Overkill and not have him die.
Nat Pagle, Extreme Angler is pretty interesting, and, after his buff, a decent transitional minion. At worst, he provides some minions to sell the next turn.
Dread Admiral Elise is the only Tier 6 Pirate, but she’s a really good one. 1/1 to most (or all) of your comp every time a Pirate (you know, what should probably be every minion in your comp) attacks? Yeah, that’s amazing. The Tide Razor isn’t optimal.
Now, the Tier 2 minion Southsea Captain- I would say drop him once you have Ripsnarl Captain and/or Seabreaker Goliath set up. He isn’t especially good in the later game, since his buff is too small to really matter, and his stats are low enough that he doesn’t do much- and he dies easily, un-buffing your comp.
Fully set up, the ideal Pirate comp, from left to right, is as follows:
Seabreaker Goliath (because getting those buffs right off the bat is awesome), some combination of big Salty Looters, big Goldgrubbers, and potentially Nat Pagles or leftover Hoggarrs/Bloodsail Cannoneers, then 2cd to last, a Ripsnarl Captain, and last of all, Dread Admiral Elise. All Golden, of course.
That’s the ideal. You might not get that every game, but it shouldn’t be an issue normally to get most of that set up.
The advantages Patches has are simple. With Pirates, he can get big minions mid-combat, and he has an advantage of Pirates on demand. Pirates are rather strong against Demon or Beast comps, since their high stats can usually deal with the tokens spawned, or the giant Scavenging Hyena from Beast comps. You know that hyena. The one that somehow hits the 1/1000 chance of surviving long enough to get 100/100+ stats.
However, Patches also come with major drawbacks. The most obvious one is that if you don’t find the resources to force Pirates, his Hero Power is mostly useless. Sure, a few Pirates see play in other comps (especially Goldgrubber), but, for the most part they’re heavily class-dependent. Also, Pirates have a huge issue with Murlocs. Poisonous is annoying for a comp relying on stats. Really annoying. [irates also hate Mechs and George the Fallen’s Divine Shields, as Divine Shields (really, Divine Shields in any comp) give them a lot of issue. If Pirates can’t survive a trade, they’re not going to do very well, and with Divine Shields their main asset (lots of Attack, and one shots) is negated.
Dragons also give Pirates some issues, but Dragons are (thankfully) not generally online super early. If Whelps snipe down your Dread Admiral Elise or Ripsnarl Captain early, those mid-combat buffs won’t happen, and you’ll be left without the advantage of gigantic stats on the board. However, until Kalecgos gets rolling, they aren’t a major issue.
All in all, Patches is a mid tier hero that runs a fairly consistent game of Pirates. You know what you’re going to get most of the time when you pick him, and he usually does okay. He isn’t especially strong, and he has a linear gameplan, but, like most of the Tribe synergistic Heroes (Ysera, Jaraxxus, Millificent), he can pull a Top 4 finish off fairly easily.
Until next time,
Never Stop Playing -Spike