Hearthstone. That new card game in development by Blizzard that’s drawing the attention of tabletop enthusiasts everywhere. Well, it’s actually pretty good and you should go play it right now. Don’t have a beta key? Don’t worry, you’ll get yours soon (TM).
So, now that you have one (or time travelled from when it went into open beta, I won’t judge you), let’s get started on the stomping part of playing. After all, what fun is there in a game if you aren’t utterly destroying somebody’s hopes and dreams?
Good thing is, Hearthstone plays mostly like other popular CCGs. Draw cards, play cards of increasingly ridiculous size, and the one who doesn’t die first wins.
Bad thing is, Hearthstone is still nothing like other card games. You may have some trouble adjusting even if your career has been long and littered by many defeated opponents. Well, we’re here to help you across that gap.
Disregard death, own the board instead
Okay, this is a strategy that applies in most games, but let’s repeat it another time. Life is just another resource which happens to make you lose the game if you have none of it. That’s the idea behind weapons in this game: They allow you to kill minions without using any cards of your own. (Your minions rarely have 29 spare health. You do.)
Even if you don’t use weapons, don’t throw cards out there without getting the same amount of cards in return unless you really have to. Yes, this also applies to letting an ogre smack you in the face if you have just one mana too few. Gaining superior board position is far more important than staying at high health levels. Hell, I came back from facing a 1:30 difference in health once. Do you want to know how? Keeping calm, trading efficiently, and grabbing control of the board when my opponent thought me beat.
That being said, you know how you can often get away with not really doing anything in the very first few turns of the game in other card games? Not here. Losing life isn’t that hard, but allowing your opponent to build a decent board position and trade efficiently once your higher drops arrive is.
Acquire and evaluate cards carefully
Played your first few matches against AI using the quite terrible basic decks? Feeling like some cards could do a bit more? Good, because they could. Unlike in certain other card games, here minions can (and often will) fight directly amongst themselves, with the attacking player choosing who does the fighting. Your opponent choosing means that you can’t just leave a 1/1 utility creature out there since it will only be eaten by a larger guy.
Play some more, this time valuing cards above literally everything else. A wise view, because they are the most valuable thing in Hearthstone. Use your cards to take out as many of your opponent’s minions as you can using as few of your own as possible. Try to trade using only low cost minions or ones created by your hero ability. If it’s obvious that your opponent will do a trade, by all means, let her do it. The same applies for deckbuilding. For each card, ask yourself the following questions:
- Does this card help me kill enemy minions efficiently? (This is why Mad Bomber is good.)
- How easily can my opponent kill this card? (This is why most 1 health minions are bad and Sen’Jin Shieldmasta is good.)
- Does this card otherwise give me direct advantage worth the mana spent on it? (Gnomish Inventor!)
Likewise, don’t forget about your hero ability. Some of them are better (Mage, Paladin) than others (Hunter, Warrior), but all of them give you two of something for only 2 mana, with no cards invested. Certainly there are cards that do more than a 1/1 for 2 mana, but do those cards put themselves back into your hand on the next turn? Didn’t expect they would. Squeeze your hero ability in as often as you can and be amazed by the difference. It’s more than it seems at first.
Profit in knowing your enemy
Playing against a mage? Great, she has two Flame Strikes on hand. Bloody mages always do. Priests always have the perfectly balanced Mind Control, and Druids always have dem trees. In case I’m not making myself clear, know your enemy’s abilities and how to play around them. No, you don’t have to learn each card by heart, but you should have a basic understanding of each class’s staple cards. Luckily, most of them are basic or common cards, so they shouldn’t be too hard to get for yourself. Play a bit with each class, unlock their cards, and learn their strategies and weaknesses.
Don’t feel like putting in days of work? Why not learn from those already good at the game? One specific recommendation would be Trump, as he explains most of his decisions and plays so much that you can’t help but learn. Head over to his YouTube channel for recorded games, as well as his Twitch account where you may catch him streaming.