We've come to the end of Season 3, a season with probably the largest set of PvP changes since launch. Map rotations have been introduced, we've seen two new modifiers in the form of Bounty Hunt and Collateral Damage, SAFE Pilot has finally been nerfed, and a significant change to honor acquisition, which has lead more people than ever to climb to higher rank.

Let's begin by looking at how the leaders landed this season:


First thing to note is that the shape of the graph has not changed significantly since last season. We have overall balance looking roughly the same, with Sneed and Sylvanas still being a noticeable drop-off point in PvP. The second thing to notice is how much more honour we're getting now. Last season the midpoint was roughly around the 4000 (per leader) mark, and now it's been shifted up to 6000. This represents (on average) a gain of 6000 honour per player, a pretty significant movement along the rewards curve.

What about the leaders themselves? We've actually seen some dramatic shifts this season, particularly the downfall of Maiev and Murkeye:

Tier List

S Tier

  • None

A Tier

B Tier

C Tier

D Tier

The Other S Tier

Once again, we omit the inclusion of a real S tier, as even Hogger is not a significant enough outlier to deserve one.

Rivendare and Jaina remain in the top (surprising, given the unfavorable Bounty Hunt modifier for the Baron), but are joined by Rend and Hogger, both of whom find Hero's Resolve an ideal environment. In fact, Baron has finally been dethroned by Hogger, and falls into third place.

It's not hugely surprising that Hogger is enjoying the current set of modifiers. The extra gold from Bounty Hunt and the lack of Dragon Towers, as well as the obvious scaling from Hero's resolve have combined in a perfect storm to catapult him from C to the top. Rend is another leader that packs an awful lot of power into the unit itself, and benefits accordingly.

In B tier, we see Charlga retaining her spot, but being joined by two newcomers, in Grom and our Season 3 addition, Emperor Thaurissan. Charlga can cycle extremely quickly as a 1 cost leader, so she holds on, whereas Grom scales exceptionally well as a high damage leader. Emperor Thaurissan has performed pretty well in his debut. The two levels granted by Hubris are pretty huge in a PvP environment, pushing minis along crucial breakpoints.

Coming in C, we see Drakkisath and Tirion as before. Due to both being deathball favorites, I thought they might have enjoyed the Bounty Hunt/Hero's Resolve combo more, but it seems like they're just too slow to keep up with the scaling of Hogger or Rend, and the use of Polymorph to counter those hits them in the process. But on the other hand, Thalnos is happy to finally escape the dregs of the lowest tiers and finds itself comfortably in C as an improvement. Chances are it will continue to climb further as Hero's resolve continues and Dragon Towers rotate in.

Down in D, we see Cairne, Maiev, and Murk-Eye. The fall of the latter two is shocking in a way, finding themselves unable to cope with the modifier changes. I think both also have found themselves struggling with the rise of Deep Breath armies which can easily clear a lane, as well as deal chip damage to towers or a barracks. It's certainly a question in my mind whether modifiers are too impactful, given that this previously high-performing pair have dropped so dramatically.

Last and Least we have Sneed and Sylvanas. After 3 seasons of underperformance there's not a lot to say - they're bad and they need help. Sneed has just not recovered from his nerfs, and Sylvanas, while powerful in certain situations, has just not found a place as a 6 cost fragile mini.

What about other changes? SAFE Pilot got hit by some hefty nerfs, but it doesn't seem to have majorly hurt her popularity. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, if she's now being played because her role is important and hard to replace then that's not such a bad thing. What's crucial is that she no longer forces other minis out of the possibility of being played, which I think the changes achieve.

We saw another big shift this season as maps went from static to dynamic. The fear was that this would force armies into a narrower space, since you'd have to build them for all conditions and couldn't specialise. There doesn't seem to be much evidence of that occurring, though to some degree that might be because things could have gotten much worse. So, seems like a positive change overall.

Finally, we saw the addition of winstreaks and PvP wins refreshing quests. The former has had the significant inflationary effect noted earlier, which while slightly worrying in how it leaves PvE-only players, probably is overall positive in how rewarding it makes PvP, which attracts players to the mode. The refreshing of quests, while another good-faith attempt at attracting players to the mode, seems to have generated a strange set of incentives whereby players deliberately drop their ranking in order to farm XP faster. Rank floors could weaken this effect, though care must be taken at how it leaves players 'stranded' on the rank floor in a system with unequal levels in PvP.

The other question in my mind is whether these effects are really helping new players climb the ladder, or already performing players get more rewards. A big issue remains that there is still little-to-no onboarding of players stepping into PvP from the campaign. When they should make the transition, how they should build for the mode, and the rewards like the winstreak bonuses or the quest refreshes are opaque for the majority of players. Hopefully we'll see steps to address these barriers in the future.

What about next season? We'll see the return of Dragon Towers, which should put a dampener on Hogger. For the other leaders in A tier, they'll probably be unaffected. Later, we'll see Bounty Hunt drop off and be replaced with First Strike, which should help lift Murk-Eye and Maiev out of D.