Cash - time - gold - dust


The most important thing in Hearthstone, as in any game, is to have fun. Kind of obvious, I know! :smile:

A slightly less obvious thing is that Hearthstone is a free-to-play (F2P) game. This means that you can start playing it without paying anything. But in life nothing is truly free, and all F2P games are paid somehow.

Either by tricking you towards impulse buying (“This skin for my character is cool!” “That animation for my spell is awesome!”) or by stuffing ads everywhere and anywhere or by many other mischevious means.

As a result one of the most important things you will need to manage in Hearthstone is your budget.


For that you will need to be able to play the game at a profficient level, so that your “investment decisions” are solid (see my guide for this: Welcome to Hearthstone, you suck!) and you will need to know how much things are really worth in Hearthstone.

There are 4 major resources in Hearthstone:

  • Cash
  • Time
  • Gold
  • Dust

and one of the most important things is to see how much each one of them costs, so basically we need several “exchange rates”.

The most important ones? The ones most related to “real life” things: cash to gold / dust, time to gold / dust.

Cash to gold: $1.33 for 100 gold

The easiest exchange rate? Cash to gold. We can figure it out through card pack and arena entry prices, both of which are shown by Blizzard in both cash and gold. I will use the prices in US dollars from now on, to keep things consistent.

So, let’s see:

1 pack: 100 gold. This is the only option which is available for gold, for the rest you’ll have to use cash. But we can use this price and multiply it for the number of packs to determine the gold cost of multiple packs.

Number of packs Gold cost Cash Cost
1 pack 100 gold -
2 packs 200 gold $2.99
7 packs 700 gold $9.99
15 packs 1500 gold $19.99
40 packs 4000 gold $49.99
60 packs 6000 gold $69.99

So this means that the cash to gold exchange depends on the volume, giving us a range of: $1.495 / 100 gold → to $1.167 / 100 gold.

I’ll average it to $.1331 / 100 gold to keep things simple.

The other cash to gold entry point is Arena. 1 Arena entry is worth 150 gold or $1.99. What do you know! The “exchange rate” provided by Arena is close: $1.326 / 100 gold. I’m kidding with the surprise part, I would have only been surprised if the Arena rate would have been way off :wink:

I’ll simplify things even more by using $1.33 / 100 gold as the exchange rate to have (hopefully) nice, round numbers further along.

This part was easy, compared to the other ones. The reason for this is that we don’t have access to Blizzard’s spreadsheets which determine the actual, price exchange rates they’re surely determined before the launch of the game for the rest.

But, thankfully, Hearthstone has a big and active community so we do have some data. And I’d venture to say that we’re damned closer to the actual number Blizzard won’t ever show us, than they ever thought.

Gold to dust: 100 gold for 100 dust

Ok, so along the way we’ll take a detour. We need to know how much gold and dust are roughly worth in relation to each other in order to make a good decision when making our collection.

And here is where the community comes in, let’s see what their number crunching determined.

And here they go: 1, 2, 3, 4.

There are even statistics pages and calculators if you want to dig deeper.

The overall conclusion? 1 pack is worth roughly 100 dust.

Since 1 pack costs 100 gold, therefore the gold to dust exchange is 1:1, or 100:100.

This will also solve…:

Cash to dust: $1.33 for 100 dust

Well, since gold to dust is 1:1, cash to dust is also $1.33 to 100. Phew, that was easy!

Well, it isn’t actually that easy since there are other ways to get dust, such as Arena or Ranked rewards, but those put is in a more complex equation I doubt anyone will be able to solve without getting Blizzard’s marketing guys drunk on a Friday evening :wink:

Plus there’s another component we haven’t covered.

Time to gold: 1 hour is 50 gold

Things related to time are incredibly tricky to determine, but we can at least try. For this to work we need to set some base rules:

Average game time is 10 minutes

For most decks, except perhaps Face Hunter, Aggro Zoo or Aggro Paladin, the game will last longer than 5 minutes. And even then there are factors which happen regardless of the deck type:

  • queueing time
  • slow opponent
  • opponent has an anti-aggro deck that prolongs the game

Based on my personal experience (personal games, friends, streamers, etc.) 10 minutes seems a reasonable estimate. I haven’t actually recorded game time but some people did that and their estimate is actually close to 10 minutes.

Average win rate is 66% or lower

I can’t find the source anymore (please comment below if you have it), but Blizzard released the winrate of the top legend player for 1 season and it was roughly 75%. So this could be taken as the highest average win rate possible for a large number of games.

But we have to keep in mind that this was one of the best Hearthstone players in the world, probably at the peak of his performance, while he was “in the zone”.

Mere mortals will probably be more than satisified with 66%, which I feel is still too optimistic for the average player. To simplify calculations I will use this ratio and maybe adjust the time estimates upwards at the end.

So, our hypothetical player plays 1 game in 10 minutes and wins 2/3 games he plays. How does he get gold? He gets it by winning 3 games. Then he receives 10 gold, up to a total of 100 gold per day, for 30 total victories.

Average gold per quest is 40

He can also get gold from daily quests. And the ever helpful Hearthstone community has already made experiments to determine the average gold value of a quest. The result is not as precise as I wanted, for various reasons, but apparently the average gold per quest we should expect hovers around 45-48. Since in my calculation I assume that the player is able to finish his quest during the alloted time period (1 hour), which might not be always possible in real life circumstances, I’m lowering the average gold amount per quest to 40.

So, when we add it all up… if our hypothetical player plays 1 hour of Hearthstone per day, he will play roughly 6 games, out of which he will win, on average, 4 games. This will net him 13.33 gold, on average, from the 3-win reward and will probably net him his quest reward if he pursues it, netting him 40 more gold.

The 13.33 gold seems a little too generous considering that most players do not have a 66% win rate so I’m arbitrarily lowering the gold amount to 10 gold. This also makes things simpler :smiling_imp:

Time to cash: 1 hour is $0.67

Since 100 gold is worth roughly $1.33 and we’ve determined than on average a player will get 50 gold for 1 hour played, then 1 hour gets you about $0.67 worth of Hearthstone value. Yay! :fist:

Enough already, how should I budget for Hearthstone?

So, if you want to play constructed (casual + ranked), you will need to buy:

  • adventures
  • packs

Adventures: buy them with cash if you can

Adventures generally contain some core deck cards. Almost every viable decks has them, so you will probably want to buy them. By the way, this is by design, Blizzard places core cards in adventures since it wants players to buy them. You will be able to play those key decks without adventures but you’ll be at a severe disadvantage. Like playing Patron without Grim Patron, Emperor Thaurissan and Deathsbite or playing Hunter without Mad Scientist…

Well, besides the fact that Blizzard gently nudges you to buy adventures because of those cards I mentioned, it also gently nudges you to buy them with cash. Why?

Number of wings Cash cost Gold cost Cash / 100 gold
5 $24.99 3500 $0.71
4 $19.99 2800 $0.71
3 $14.99 2100 $0.71
2 $9.99 1400 $0.71
1 $6.99 700 $0.98

Soo for $0.71 or $0.98 you’re getting 100 gold. So cool! Not really. This just means that you’re going to waste a ton of gold if you want to buy the adventures with gold, since you’re basically wasting $0.35-$0.62 per 100 gold spent, which you could have used on packs or arenas, for example.

The conclusion: buy the adventures with cash if you can. Of course, if your collection is almost full and you’ve already saved thousands of gold, then by all means, save your cash and use the gold! :smile:

Making a full collection: $1,415

Now that we have the adventures out of the way (and probably $50 out of your pocket), let’s see for the rest of the cards. And as previously, the community did the hard work!

So, let’s see:

Card set Number of packs needed for full collection
Classic 472
Goblin versus Gnomes 294
The Grand Tournament 298

So for a full collection you’d need 1064 packs, give or take a few. That’s 106,400 gold. Or $1,415.


Now, before you despair, there are some things I should point out:

  • first of all, get better at Hearthstone: you will need to prioritize cards and decks and you will be able to do it a lot better once you know the game
  • you don’t need all the cards; at best, maybe 40% of the cards are actually used in popular decks
  • there are daily quests which reward you with card packs
  • playing ranked and getting as high as you can will reward you with golden cards, which will boost your collection quite a bit
  • playing Arena well will definitely help you with getting a larger collection faster
  • there are some tricks for getting extra packs

Now that you have all this info you can plan your budget accordingly. And one of the first things you should remember is that you should never disenchant epic and legendary cards because you think they’re bad. If you’ll need them later on your costs will increase greatly.

If you have more tips for how to increase your Hearthstone card collection efficiently, please comment below.


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