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Hearthstone’s new Mercenaries game mode drops the decks entirely

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The mode is set to launch on Oct. 12

Hearthstone - an orc Mercenary swings his axe over a screen of card-based gameplay Image: Blizzard Entertainment

Hearthstone’s next game mode is Mercenaries, a turn-based RPG starring a tiny squad of Warcraft characters (and at least one non-Warcraft character). Players have a collection of Mercenary characters that they can pit against competing teams in both PvP and PvE modes. Blizzard will release Mercenaries on Oct. 12.

Players will start with eight Mercenary characters and the main hub, a Village. The Village lets players manage their characters and base, then send their squad off on a procedurally generated Bounty run or a competitive match against another person. At launch, there will be over 50 Mercenaries, including the Lich King, Sylvanas, and Diablo (from the Diablo games, obviously). Completing the Mercenaries prologue also grants players a mouse mount in World of Warcraft.

There are three kinds of Mercenaries: Fighter, Caster, and Protector, which exist in a rock-paper-scissors system. Once players figure out their squad of three characters, they head into combat, which is turn-based. Each side picks their team’s actions, and then the round plays out. The format feels similar to Hearthstone’s Battlegrounds mode, with rounds split between decision making and action.

Hearthstone publisher Activision Blizzard faces wide-ranging allegations that it maintains a toxic workplace environment that is particularly hostile to women, pays them less, and subjects them to sexual harassment, and that perpetrators are not meaningfully punished, according to a lawsuit filed by California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing in July. You can read more about the allegations against Activision Blizzard in Polygon’s explainer. The lawsuit has caused many Warcraft fans to turn away from the franchise, with some using their remaining World of Warcraft game time to stage an in-game protest.