By StoTheXx

Conquest is Blizzard's Hearthstone format for this year's BlizzCon.

Opposite to last year's Last Hero Standing (LHS) a player doesn't have to win against all 3 of his opponents decks to eliminate them but instead win with all 3 of his own. For every game, players are allowed to pick any of their decks that hasn't already won a game in the match.


The most likely reason Blizzard introduced conquest is to eliminate the need of a ban. No deck can get more than 1 win per series, keeping the game in balance even if one deck happens to be stronger than all the others. Another upside of this format is not forcing you into having a counter to everything but promoting solid all around decks instead.

Conquest limits the amount of preparation you can do for a match as all games are blind pick. Players have different opinions on whether that's an up- or downside. A flaw of conquest is the higher risk of bringing an innovative deck you might consider good but are unsure about. In LHS an unexpected deck could get you up to 3 wins or 1 loss. In Conquest its 1 win or 3 loss.

In LHS, you had to have a counter for everything in order to defeat all your opponent's decks. In conquest it's the opposite. You preferably want all your decks to be good against the same thing. If all of your decks have a 60% chance of winning vs one of your opponent's decks and 45% vs the other two you have a 50% chance of winning the first game, but a slight edge over the series. In Hearthstone, counter-decks usually don't perform as well as you'd imagine.

There are lots of examples of people only teching their decks for one matchup and still losing it. Some decks are more easily targetable than others. In the weeks before the release of BRM, Oil Rogue was extremely popular. In order to take advantage of that, my winning lineup for the Plantronics Invitational was Aggro Rogue, Face Hunter and Control Warrior, trying to just get 3 wins against the Rogue. Find the lists here!

When Conquest first got introduced Chakki tripled up on fatigue decks which were beating the Oil Rogue versions played at that time rather consistently, getting him to the finals of the Root Invitational. That being said, most tournament winning lineups are a compilation of decent ladder decks teched against all the expected meta decks, not just one. A big consideration when making your conquest lineup is also knowing what decks you are confident in. There is a higher variety of matchups you might queue into as you have less control over it, so knowing all your decks in and out including all matchups is even more important than in LHS.

Xixo's advice on how to pick decks in Conquest

Objectively, the order of picks does not matter and you can't get punished for randomizing it. That said, there are some patterns you can abuse and mind-games you can play.

One would be to pick your — for the series expected — best decks first to try to get an early 2-0. Even with 3 unfavorable match-ups left, bringing your opponent to the edge of elimination will usually make him play around things he is not supposed to and therefore making him play worse overall. 

Also, sometimes getting information on your opponent’s deck is more important for one of your decks than for the others, so if you still have 2 or 3 decks to choose from and your opponent is down to 1 you want to pick that deck of yours that profits of knowing your opponent’s deck the least. For example, if your opponent’s last deck is Warlock and you don’t have information on it, you’d rather not play a deck with Big Game Hunter but rather Face Hunter which mulligans similar vs both.

The more interesting way of picking is abusing patterns. There are two possibilities here:

  1. Not knowing your opponent.
  2. Knowing your opponent.

Even not knowing your opponent, you can still encounter general patterns. People tend to pick their more solid decks first, and their more matchup dependent decks last. So if your opponent has Druid and Freeze Mage left, I'd consider it more likely for him to pick Druid. Also, people stick to their class after a loss more than queue from his/her remaining decks. So picking your better deck vs the class you just played when being 1-0 up will pay off more often than not.

If you saw your opponent play already, you can study his patterns. I want to take PHONETAP's ESL playoff run as example.

In both his group stage matches, Roger started with Patron Warrior, then picked Druid and Handlock last. He only lost one game while having more than 1 deck left to chose from, but in that situation he stuck to the class he just lost with. PHONETAP and I figured that he would be more likely to stick to that order than have this type of read on us and pick a counter deck. (If he randomizes, we don't get an advantage or disadvantage at all).

Matchups we wanted to get are Druid vs Warrior, Shaman vs Druid, and Hunter vs Warlock. Our plan was to pick Druid first. If we won against Warrior, we would try to win with Shaman, since our Hunter has a good matchup against Handlock left anyway. Getting the Druid vs Warrior made it so PHONETAP had 2 decks left, both great against Druid, and he got rid of his own Druid, which is bad in the mirror.

Demigod picked his Warrior and Paladin with no discernable pattern. He switched off which one he picked first; sometimes he kept playing the same class after a loss, and sometimes he changed. Consistently, however, he picked Mage only after getting a win with his other 2 classes. We therefore decided to pick Shaman last, as it has a good matchup against the Mage and a worse matchup than our other decks against Paladin and Warrior.

On the first look, Reynad's picks seemed to not follow any patterns. He started and finished all matches with different classes throughout the tournament. Taking a closer look, we found that he consistently stuck with his Mage after dropping a game with it.

I think LHS was the better format in terms of possible preparation and storyline. Conquest does a good job allowing consistent ladder decks and makes tournaments more friendly for casual players. It's an interesting format with up- and downsides and will be around until Blizzcon.

I definitely think conquest is not what competitive hearthstone will end on and do expect a new format for next year.

written by Xixo, with thanks to PHONETAPHoarth, Noobberry, Shevek, and StoTheX.

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