Is Hearthstone’s Heroic Tavern Brawl worth it?

TL;DR: If you’re a scratch player, Heroic Tavern Brawl has a slightly higher expected value than purchasing an equivalent amount of packs in the store. However, it has far less value than purchasing the same number of packs via gold.

My little brothers introduced me to Blizzard’s Hearthstone about a year ago. It and Factorio are the only games I play these days. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, then click here.

Today, Blizzard announced a new week-long mode called Heroic Tavern Brawl. For an entrance fee of $9.99 (or 1,000 gold), players are allowed to construct a deck and play in a makeshift tournament until they achieve either 12 wins or 3 losses. The more you win, the better the rewards.

Is it worth playing? I crunch the numbers in this Excel Book and explain below the fold. If you download the file, you can customize the calculation to your own situation.

Per the game files, the payouts are as follows.


In order to compare the value of different numbers of wins, I attempted to break everything down into dust on table 2.1. I assumed that a pack would, on average, produce 100 dust and that random golden legendaries would be dusted for a value of 1,600. If your collection is less than complete, then you might value some of these draws more highly, but this effect is also true of your opportunity costs, so I wouldn’t bother modeling it.


On table 1.1, I calculated the probability of achieving various records given a particular win rate. The resulting expected value of dust is calculated at the bottom.


For a scratch player who wins as often as he loses, he or she can expect to make 711 dust per HTB run. If they instead spent their hard-earned money at the store, $9.99 would buy 7 packs, which is worth 700 dust on average.

However, if they were to buy entry with in-game currency, they could buy 10 packs in the store for a total expected dust of 1,000. This is a much larger hump to get over.


Of course, if you’re the kind of whale who is used to purchasing packs in 60-unit increments, you have to expect more than 856 dust per HTB run for this to be worth it.

By changing the win percentage and using Excel’s Goalseek feature, you can calculate the necessary win rate to expect 1,000 dust / HTB run. It’s 55.32%. Given that you will be playing against other players who expect to win more than 55.32% of the time, you probably shouldn’t enter unless you have a strong understanding of the current meta-game. Since I can’t reliably beat midrange shamans, I’ll probably stay away, but I’ll give it a try if and only if streamers are showing off HTB matchups that I think I can win. I like the idea of a higher stakes game.

If this post is popular, I might make some calculators for the effectiveness of combo-heavy decks and optimal deck selection given the current meta. It would be a good excuse to learn theano. Until then, you can find me on ladder getting salty over tunnel troggs.