Swift and fun
Brawls are basically fresh out of the oven for Heroes of the Storm, but they’ve already been pretty divisive. First up was the Punisher arena, which assigned random heroes to each player, and was generally very well received. Rounds were quick, the randomness was silly, and it forced you to get out of your comfort zone — it felt like a “Brawl.”
The second, Hammer Time, was a lot less in the spirit of the arcade-like gametype. The gimmick was “what if everyone was [the Siege Tank] Sergeant Hammer?” and was essentially just a regular match on the standard map Towers of Doom. Some sessions lasted as long, if not longer than the average non-Brawl match. It was…not great, but that’s how the cookie crumbles with Brawls.
Blackheart’s Revenge, however, a Brawl I was able to play at BlizzCon, has the right stuff.
Because of the Brawl format the Heroes team is able to jump out of the standard team format and dive into more out there concepts like asynchronous play. On Blackheart’s Revenge, one team will attack and the other will defend the titular pirate ship. If you’re on the former side, you’ll grab cannon ball pickups, then load them into cannons to dole out damage to the vessel — if you manage to smash it five times, you win. Defenders will…basically prevent that from happening. That’s all there is to it, and that’s part of why it works so well.
There were a lot of last-second saves just as enemies were getting ready to fire off a canon, plenty of uses of the underground tunnel that teleports players between each side of the map, and even more great skirmishes between random team comps — because yep, Revenge goes back to the Punisher style of giving players three random heroes to choose from. While I don’t like the idea of shoehorning Brawls into one style, the randomness of having to maybe learn a new character or one you’re not comfortable with is why I love jumping into Brawls so much. And it definitely didn’t have anything to do with the fact that I won all three of my BlizzCon matches.
It’s relaxed and not competitive — a nice respite from the pressure of having to perform in ranked or even unranked draft play. I hope Blizzard continues to find its footing with this mode and keeps pumping these out. That’s the plan for now, anyway.