My name is Race and I have been playing Hearthstone Mercenaries since its launch. Almost since the release I have been a leaderboard player (top 200) and I am currently sitting at rank 7 and 8835 rating on the EU server as of October 20. Since there have been multiple tier lists with individual mercs I thought I would give my sight on full comps instead. The comps will be listed out of my own experience when climbing. It is 100% ok to disagree, this is just what I think can do good on the ladder.
I have seen variants of all these with 1 or 2 mercs swapped but these were the most common. The most common starting trio are the 3 first mercs in the following lists. Above 8k it’s been exclusively Nature, Shadow and Beast comps. The rise of Tavish is recent.
Nature: Build which uses Samuro with Sash of Illusion to quickly clean up enemy blue usually after Malfurion is dead.
Shadow Diablo: Relies on speed momentum and heavy Shadow / Diablo damage to wipe boards.
Shadow Sylvanas: I think this is better than the other verison of Shadow except in the mirror. The Deathrattle equipment for Sylvanas is better than the passive damage because it’s easier to tie the game if you fall behind.
Beast: There are many variations of the 3 back line of Beasts such as Shadow and Cairne or Diablo. Natalie can be swapped for Varden, Lich King or Sylvanas depending on the matchups. One of the stronger Beast teams I faced used Voljin, Lich King and Tamsin as back line.
Frost: It feels like the front 3 (usually Lich King, Jaina and Varden) have worse output than the Shadow variant. Jaina’s Ice Block is bugged as of the writing of this and the Frost comp might have more potential once it’s fixed.
Fire: Ragnaros, Antonidas, Geddon, Carine, Diablo, Varden – Does insane damage but needs the combo and it can easily be stopped with speed/slows at the moment. Recently, versions which use Tavish instead of Antonidas have been showing up on ladder, which I think is a stronger option in the current meta.
BTX Shadow: A slow from Lich King on Xyrella renders her almost useless and even though you can pull off a turn 1 kill on Blue, many comps can kill Thrall or Samuro on turn 2 while having put a slow on Xyrella. The Shadow package is not as strong unless you can swap in multiple at the same time.
BTX Cairne: Same as above, BTX start often gets punished by turn 2 by top comps. Here the Shadow trio is swapped out for Cairne and Diablo and usually a second Caster such as Voljin or Varden
Other tribes: I have seen a few variants of the Holy package utilizing Andiun, Velen and Uther or at least the Andiun-Velen combo. The problem in my opinion with Casters is that they often can be killed in one turn (BTX, Beast) which means that a Blue needs to come with some type of Deathrattle or speed manipulation to be viable. The holy package is somewhat slow, does not have any speed manipulation or Deathrattles for example.
Recommendations of Mercs to level
The question gets asked a lot: “what mercs do you suggest me leveling?” By looking at the meta now I would recommend leveling the versatile mercs first which can be fit into multiple comps such as Cairne, Diablo, Lich King, Varden and Voljin. To get started I recommend using the starter duo of Xyrella and Samuro to “carry” your other mercs so they get experience. If you are new to PvP you will probably face bots in the start of the climb which should be taken advantage of. You will get a lot more experience in PvP than in PvE and the bots use the same leveled mercs as you do. If your Samuro and Xyrella are level 30 and the rest is level 1, the bots will have 4 level 1s and 2 level 30s for example. Use the bots to your advantage and power level new mercs before you cannot run into bots anymore which according to discussions in the Hearthstone Mercenaries discord happens around 6400 Rating.
Another question that gets asked frequently is “what should i replace X with in this comp”? The sad truth is that some of the mercs in the comps are mandatory for the synergies to work so there is no proper viable replacement. If you are starting out trying to build towards a comp I would suggest you look at what you have and what you miss. It is a lot easier to get hold of some remaining Casters you are missing instead of having to open a legendary merc for example. As a new player I would recommend starting out with BTX (Samuro, Thrall and Xyrella) building towards Carine and Diablo or Shadow as these mercs can be used in many different comps. Mercs such as Malfurion are limited to Nature. Below is some information on some mandatory mercs in each comp and my thoughts around each one. Sadly the legendary mercs are often irreplaceable in the comps.
Cairne: One of the most used and versatile mercs due to the speed manipulation, tankiness and the ability to properly set up Diablo for a board clear. Can be used nearly every time and with the resurrection equipment he cannot be bursted down so easily.
Diablo: Often paired with Cairne for the combo, he is by himself a slow hero and often relies on other mercs to reach potential. Would not recommend investing in Diablo unless you have Cairne as he needs proper setup.
Vol’jin: The core of the Shadow comp due to the 3+ speed equipment, Ring of Haste. Usually swapped in with another Shadow user on the field to guarantee that you will go first trying to snipe an enemy merc before they get to act. Irreplaceable in the Shadow comp, I would suggest you level him as the other Shadow casters are Rares and easier to obtain.
Malfurion: Mandatory in the Nature comp, his two companions (Brukan and Guff) are both Rare so easier to get if you would have Malfurion. All three are needed however for the nature comp to work and I would not suggest investing time to build a Nature comp without Malfurion. Malfurion is not used in other comps.
Varden Dawngrasp: Plays the same role as Cairne and used for to slow down multile opponents which is very powerful. They can be used in most comps and reach great potential with the Deathrattle freeze as the enemy team get punished by focusing him to get rid of the slow effect.
Thrall: I recommend leveling this as you already have Blademaster Samuro and Xyrella so you can run the BTX comp early and use it to power level the other mercs.
Remember that this early the meta is constantly changing, Tavish has only seen play a day or two and a counter to Diablo as a finisher in the form of Gruul has been tested out (Gruul has +5 fire resistance). Many of the above mercs also require the “task 7 equipment” to reach full potential such as Vol’jin. The fastest way I found to grind tasks is to spam the Barrens Heroic Level 8 Bounty as the Mystery coin is guaranteed after maximum of 2 encounters. You can also get lucky and only have to battle once as shown in the picture below as you hit the Boon on the way:
I think both Fire with Tavish and Frost when Jaina is fixed can have great potential as top comps. Currently I think the Demon and the Holy packages are a bit lacking with Shadow and Nature being the top contenders as of October 20th 2021.