Hearthstone Beginner Guide

Hearthstone Beginner's Guide

Is Hearthstone an Esport?

Hearthstone struggles a little bit competitively compared to other Esports as it is a very niche style of game. As a Digital Card Collection Game, it turns people off when it comes to what a majority of people see as a “Paywall” with the purchasing of card packs and expansions. However when you compare this to the physical variation Trading Card Games, such as Pokemon or Yugioh, the only true difference is the physicality of it. A lot of perks come with the Digital version of the game that just isn’t available with a physical variant. All that being said, there is enough Competition in the competitive scene to warrant a guide for those looking for one, especially since competitive decks will help when taking on the solo adventures.

What Hero Class should I play?

The nine available classes offer a variety of playstyles within each and choosing one or even two to try out is easier to do in this game as the practice mode is rather useful. It allows for you to practice each Class and experiment with some of the basic decks as well as your own custom decks. Choosing which Class you want to use the most or build the best decks for first is a little trickier.

First, when it comes to choosing a Class there is absolutely no real reason to focus on one other than it will be easier to build up and collect cards for where as wanting to play many will take longer to learn and collect for. The bigger thing to look for is your playstyle and what kind of combos you can remember. When playing the game you have to remember what your goals are going into each matchup whether it be Solo Adventure or Play Mode. 

Each Class offers different Hero abilities which are minor abilities but can help in a pinch. The strength in the Classes all stem from the different kinds of Decks you can create, more so than the Class. Choosing something you think is interesting will benefit you more than something that is considered better or worse for whatever reason, find a way you like to play and that will set you up to learn more about the game and give you an avenue of improvement.

There are ways to balance learning all of Classes and this is probably what Blizzard wants players to do, the only real problem with this is that you will collect cards a lot slower if you don’t want to focus on a smaller number of Classes. Plenty of people mainly play up to three Classes and use the other Class Cards to feed their other Decks. The main thing to remember here is that the player is in complete control over what they want to focus on and what they’re going to play Class wise.

Play whatever and however you want, just know that it may take a lot longer to be able to have the right cards for a Deck that you want to play.

How should I play Hearthstone?

By now you have a general understanding of how to play, you draw a hand, can select a few cards to switch out and then proceed to start the game. After the coin toss for who goes first and who gets the mana card, you begin implementing your strategies and attempting to beat your opponent to get that last star on you ranking. The game really is that simple at a glance. The more you know about the current Meta and can recognize the Decks you face, as long as you understand your own Deck’s purpose you have a decent shot at winning no matter what happens.

The problem players usually face is that they don’t take the game for what it is, a Deck based Card Game. They play their cards knowing that some are powerful and some are just meant to be played when they are needed to be. The real growth happens when players are able to recognize what a card being played means, and being able to prepare for that event. Playing the waiting game with your mana crystals is always a strong position as long as you are able to get to that stage without losing too much health, all hands can be countered given that you held off using a card that you needed for that moment before then.

The more you play the easier it will become to learn what tells an opponent has even if it’s completely anonymous. A card with an effect shows and tells all, you just have to know what the player wants to accomplish with that card.

How do Decks work in Hearthstone?

Decks are literally the center of the game. You collect all the cards and configure them into a cohesive Deck that you take into the game modes and use to beat opponents. There are an infinite amount of possibilities but unfortunately only a handful or two of efficient enough builds to take into Ranked or even Solo Adventure. You can theoretically make anything work but because of the RNG of drawing from a deck you may not get the correct cards when you need them. Of course this is true when you’re using an efficient deck but it is more manipulative than just any deck you slap together.

There are a lot of deck codes that you can copy from the internet and slot into your deck creation screen. If you are looking for the strongest of decks then this is the best way to figure out what cards you need to complete the deck. The meta changes quite frequently in Hearthstone as it does in any card game, often times as the game evolves as time goes on, and power scaling is an inevitable part of any multiplayer game with longevity. As time goes on and new things are added to a game, they have to be relevant and unfortunately  that usually means they need to be better than the old cards. 

Some people argue about whether power scaling is necessary or not, regardless, it tends to happen the longer any competitive game is around. As new expansions come to Hearthstone they take the same approach as any other Card Game and disallow a decent amount of cards from the previous expansions from being played competitively. Cards that become obsolete or at least counter intuitive to the new sets are more of a liability to the competitive player and that’s why they split the Play Mode into Wild and Ranked play. 

The Meta revolves around which set of cards work the best together and have the best synergy whether it be in hand or in the deck. Because of this, the Ranked Meta included or excludes specific Decks for each Class and what you’re ultimately trying to accomplish is creating the best Meta deck you can and playing in to it’s best potential. Some Decks can be viable in the new Meta’s and some won’t be.

As mentioned before you can find the most Meta decks online and will have a code for that deck that you can enter on Hearthstone, and the deck will form itself with all the cards you already own for it.

How do I build a deck in Hearthstone?

When you find a deck or two that you want to try then you have to build it. There are a few ways to go about building a deck and some are more efficient than others. One way is to take the hit to your wallet and suffer the RNG roll buy spending money on packs and opening those packs to collect five random cards from that pack series. This is probably the most efficient as it requires the least amount of time, but getting all the cards you need for a specific Deck is left up to chance. There are two ways in game that you can collect cards free of cost, both of these ways take time and have different drawbacks from just outright purchasing packs. One way is to play the game and complete missions which will give you a small amount of gold, at 100 gold you can purchase a card pack. This is probably the longest way but relatively the grind will end up being worthwhile. The last way is to break down cards you already own into Dust and then using the dust to create new cards that you want

Breaking down cards isn’t really recommended by most people but if you already spent a lot of money on the game then there are a few ways to work around the bad RNG. Breaking down cards that are Class locked into a Class you don’t play, might be a good idea if you stick to one or two Classes. The Dust can be used to make Cards you might be missing for the Decks you want to play, the drawback here is that you don’t get a lot of dust per card and if you spent 5 dollars on packs, you might be able to disenchant all of your cards and make one, maybe two cards you actually wanted to begin with.

There are, realistically, plenty of ways to go about making the deck you want even without spending all of your money. I was able to make a bunch of different Mage decks at the expense of all the other Class Cards I had at the time. Still though, I didn’t have to spend any more money than I already had to do so. If you plan on spending a lot of money to collect the cards then the only thing holding you back is however much money you can allow yourself to spend, don’t go broke buying packs, but really invest if you want all the cards.

Expansions allow for new cards to come into play and offer new exciting ways to play and makes new Decks more viable. This isn’t to say that you can’t find decks to have fun with that aren’t considered viable as with any other game there are tier lists and some of those C tier decks can take a game or two off the S tier Decks. So really make a Deck that you are going to enjoy playing, and feel satisfied winning with. Never take a loss too hard as there is a slight amount of RNG to consider when playing Card Games and even when we believe in the heart of the cards, we can’t all be as lucky as Yugi.

What strategy is there outside of Decks?

Usually games don’t last all that long and being able to roll with the punches will get you further into a game than taking a bunch of damage and just refusing to see the answer you built for yourself. If your Deck requires time to ramp up than you need to sustain yourself until you have the mana crystals required to play the cards you need. If your deck is quick and requires more draw cards to play as many cards as you can to rush your opponent's life down, then make sure you have a few measures in place to quickly fill up your hand if your opponent is able to counter you one turn.

The name of the game is win or lose, you can only counter so much of what your opponent does but same for them, they can’t always counter your next card or two. Decision making is key, and knowing your game plan beforehand can be the difference between winning and losing a match. Of course, your opponent may just have the same idea going into it, which is where the whole point of competition comes from in the first place. 

So then, how do Decks work in Hearthstone?

A major thing to consider when trying to take on Ranked play, is that you have to understand what goal you are trying to reach not within the game, but within the deck you made. Understanding how your Deck is supposed to be played will help you going into competitive play and make it easier to play the right combo at the right time. Yes, the cards are all cool and you have it all nicely organized by mana cost, but they all do something, and what they do best is synergize together to make the player’s chances of winning stronger.

Understanding your deck is more than just knowing what the cards all do, it is about knowing what the cards can accomplish together and when played in the right order. Some cards are just meant to sustain you until you have all the right pieces and some are meant to be throwaway cards that you never even use unless it becomes an emergency situation. A very common Deck type is a Quest Deck, in which the player is trying to accomplish the goal of a card either before or after it is played in order to make it stronger or affect the game drastically and help tilt the game to the players side with an advantage. Some of the cards in a Quest Deck mya be used more for clearing the enemies field and do nothing to help finish the Quest.

This all falls in line with building your deck in the first place. You need to be aware of whatever Deck you built and made via an online code, and what it’s purpose or win condition is. Yes the most powerful card is in fact the most powerful card, but how do you make it stronger? Or, how do you protect it from the enemies spells? This is where variations come from. A Deck code will give you an idea, but there are many ways to alter that deck to make it stronger in an aspect you think is a bigger issue than what the person who made the deck thinks. The game changes every day, maybe your deck should as well.

This isn’t to say that you need to alter your deck’s insides every chance you get, but if something seems to be trumping your win condition, then it may be worth the time to figure out what you can do to stop that from happening.

How should I practice playing Hearthstone?

One surefire way to know if a deck is going to workout or not is to play with it. There are many different ways to practice a deck in Hearthstone and one should be vigilantly using them every time they want to try something out. There are the SOlo Adventures in which most allow for the player to use their own deck, as well as Casual modes specifically made for players to try new things and practice their decks before taking them into Ranked mode. Practicing a deck will help you understand what interactions your cards are going to have a little better and make it easier to make those hard decisions that you will inevitably face, because you’ve faced them before in a similar way thanks to practicing with them. 

This will also help you test out which cards may not make the final cut going into Ranked play. Being able to play around with whatever cards you may think will give your deck the necessary boost in power it needs, will either help confirm or deny your theories.

Some modes may be better than others for practicing but ultimately they will all give you an idea of how your deck fares against others’ just keep in mind that some Wild Decks are Wild for a reason and new times call for new strategies.

When making a Deck to take into ranked play, consider what other decks are prominent in the current meta, have friends play those decks into yours and you’ll find a relatively strong statement as to how your deck fares. Unfortunately, we can’t all be the best at the game, so sometimes your friends may play better or worse than you and that may skew the data but keep all of that in mind and your understanding of the game’s framework will improve.

Take time to really figure out the best and worst matchups for your own Deck and once you’re able to recognize what Deck you’re going up against you will have a good idea of how to play against it. Any deck can beat any deck if one is played right and the other is played wrong, just try and make sure you make as few mistakes as possible and capitalize on errors your opponent may make.

This may be a little harder for newer players to understand but essentially it is a recipe for success. The only way to cook it, however, is by continuously playing the game and challenging yourself and your deck to become better at the game. 

How does Hearthstone affect my mindset?

Personally I have never struggled with keeping my composure playing Hearthstone. It may be because I have never taken it too seriously but for awhile my Mage Purist Decks stood on their own among some of the best. I think this is one of the easiest games to “go next” on because it is so seemingly carefree. The music may be a bit redundant and after the 500th consecutive time hearing it you may get annoyed but for the most part there aren’t even that many Decks that cause a true headache or make a player tilt. Although, we all hate to lose and if we lose a lot then we may find ourselves falling to our emotions. The same as any game, if you start to feel this way maybe switch to casual modes or take a short break. Letting ourselves have some time to regroup and recover away from the game may lead us to new ideas and strategies to implement the next time we face a Deck that we just couldn’t seem to beat with our own.

I will say that I never got too mad at the game, there was a Deck that made me mad a few times when I was much lower ranked, I honestly never figured out a way to beat it other than my Quest Mage deck just hitting me with favorable RNG, but both decks eventually were weakened to a big enough extent I quickly forgot about how much I hated playing against it.

There are many ways to avoid getting tilted by the game, the main one is to remember that you can walk away from the game or play something else to cool off at any moment. There is never a reason to let yourself become more and more upset with something when you can take a step back.

If a certain solo adventure is getting to be too difficult with whatever Deck you tried taking in, try building a new deck with the information you gained previously. This will help allow you to find better counter play opportunities to take into the Solo Adventure and make things more of an order of operations rather than brute force losing over and over. It is after all a Card game with infinite possibilities, something will work, eventually.

When it comes to Ranked mode, if you are losing a lot it may just be bad RNG but at the same time, if you change your Deck around a little bit to shore up some of its weaknesses you may win a little more often. Some things just don't work, while others seem to do nothing but work.

What comes next?

The main takeaway from this guide is that if you are looking to take the next step and play Ranked seriously, or are looking to grind more efficiently in the Solo Adventures, there are a lot of things to take into consideration. Maybe it isn’t time just yet. There are going to be less guides than other Esports because the depth of a Card game only goes so far, and it all comes back to three things, The Decks in the Meta, The players ability to play those Decks, and the Players ability to understand what Deck they are playing against. Focus more at this point trying to break rank 15, at rank 15 then move on to our next guide to take a look at how the path to Pro should be taken. 

All the information in this guide should be considered seriously, this is a game where you need to invest more time than money to get to a place of competitiveness that places you above your peers. The more you understand about the game the better you are going to play it. There are no sheer mechanics, there are only strategies revolving around the Cards in a Deck. Make a Deck you understand through and through, then remember what decks you lose to and implement strategies to overcome that challenge the next time you come across it with your own deck. Improvement comes fast in Hearthstone, and the only limiting factor is our own understanding of the game. Good luck, Have fun.

Cameron Carr image

Cameron Carr

11 November 2019

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