Best Druid cards to craft

Malfurion Stormrage

This article is a part of the Hearthcraft series of article, where I present the best cards to craft if you want to have a rich card collection that will allow you to create as many powerful decks with a minimal investment of cash or time.

I'll be presenting the cards which I think are the most efficient Druid cards. When I say "efficient" I mean that these cards have a great ratio of power level (how strong the cards actually are) coupled flexibility (if they can be used in multiple decks and deck types) to cost (how much $$$ or time or gold/arcane dust you have to spend on them).

Druid cards have a very clear theme: flexibility. Most of the Druid cards can be used in one of two ways. Each option individually is not very strong but once they are coupled in the same card they become quite strong.

If you’re looking for neutral cards (for example you might be wondering why Dr. Boom isn’t here), then you should head over here:

Now that you’ve finished the articles about the neutral cards and are wondering which Druid cards you should craft first, read on :wink:


Druid

Keeper of the Grove

Keeper of the Grove

Good, old, trustworthy Keeper of the Grove. As a new player the 4 mana 2/4 minion doesn’t seem much (the standard for a 4 mana minion is 4/5). But the effect makes up for the fact that the stats on the actual minion are low.

Keeper of the Grove can either do 2 damage to an enemy or silence an enemy. This provides any deck which includes it a lot of flexibility as the Keeper can take out a small threat, such as a Knife Juggler, finish off a damaged larger enemy or silence a minion with a very dangerous effect (such as Sylvanas Windrunner). In case of emergencies it can even do 2 face damage to finish off an enemy.

The effect provided by him is very powerful and the body, even though understatted, is still good. It especially good at fighting off small minions, such as those in aggro decks. Keeper of the Grove can even 3 for 1 aggro minions (1 with its effect, 2 with its body).

One of the most reliable Druid cards, seen in aggro, midrange and control Druid decks.


Darnassus Aspirant

Darnassus Aspirant

One of the latest entries (it was introduced in The Grant Tournament), Darnassus Aspirant is a 2 mana 2/3 minion which comes with 2 effects: its battlecry increases your total mana by 1 and its deathrattle decreases it by 1.

If not killed on time Darnassus Aspirant allows the Druid to play cards which cost more mana ahead of time (this is called “ramping”). Very dangerous, since the Druid has access to very powerful big cards such as Cenarius or to a very strong and famous combo: Force of Nature / Savage Roar.

Also, in a similar way to the Keeper of the Grove, its body is also a defensive one: 2/3 instead of 3/2. This means that the Aspirant can also trade favorably with smaller minions. The 3 health also makes it harder to kill under some circumstances, therefore allowing it to survive longer so that the player can take advantage of its battlecry.

The Aspirant is also seen in many types of decks ranging from aggro to control.


Druid of the Claw

Druid of the Claw

Another staple of Druid decks, Druid of the Claw is the best known “transformer” in the game. When played for 5 mana, Druid of the Claw can either become a Bear (4/6 with Taunt) or a Cat (/4/4 with Charge).

Both forms are strong, although there is a slight preference for the Bear. The Cat form is usually chosen when an enemy minion really needs to be destroyed this turn and there’s no alternative way to do it or the enemy can be killed this round.

Druid of the Claw is so solid and versatile that he can be seen in all types of Druid decks. The Cat is greatly appreciated in aggro decks while the Bear is welcome in midrange or control Druid decks.


Force of Nature

Force of Nature

One of the best known spells in the game. Not on its own. But as part of the most famous Hearthstone combo: Force of Nature / Savage Roar. On its own Force of Nature is not something to write home about, for 6 mana it provides just 6 damage. Fireball provides the same amount of damage for 6 mana. Force of Nature shines because it is a versatile spell (the core characteristic of all Druid cards). It can do 6 damage to the enemy’s face or to his minions. Since it spawns 3 minions with charge, each of them can be used independently to focus another target, for example for clearing the opponent’s board.

But its highlight is when it is paired with Savage Roar. For 9 mana this combo does a total of 14 damage (2 from the hero itself and 4 from each treant). As a result every Druid opponent has to make sure that he has a taunt up when his life total is below 15 HP.


Wrath

Wrath

Wrath is a 2 mana cost spell that is used for removing a small but very threatening minion, finishing off a larger minion or drawing a card (when it only does 1 damage).

This flexibility comes at a cost as Wrath can only target minions, but the flexibility greatly surpasses this downside and as a result Wrath is seen in almost all Druid decks.

It is frequently used to fend off very aggressive decks or to draw 1 more card when the Druid player is out of fuel (usually when he is the one playing the beatdown deck).

Used in all but the most aggressive of Druid decks.


Ancient of Lore

Ancient of Lore

The venerable tre(e)ant is another example of a very versatile card. For 7 mana you get a 5/5 body that can either heal you for 5 or draw 2 cards.

The 5/5 body is a little under the standard for a 5 mana minion while its effect costs either a little under 2 mana (Holy Light) or a little under 3 mana (Arcane Intellect). The whole package definitely deserves paying 7 mana for.

In general the effect is used to draw cards, especially when “fishing” for the parts of the Force of Nature / Savage Roar combo. But against aggro decks it can also be used to heal yourself and gain a bit more time to stabilize on board and eventually win the game.

Ancient of Lore is seen in all but the most aggressive of Druid decks and is one of the core cards of the decks he’s part of.


Living Roots

Living Roots

Living Roots is another new entry in the Druid arsenal. It was introduced in TGT, together with Darnassus Aspirant, and it was widely adopted by the community.

Its uses are multiple: fend off aggressive decks through the Saplings or the nuke, damage the enemy’s face (probably just before winning the game), provide more “boots on the ground” to be used next round for Savage Roar.

Some of the fastest wins in the game have involved Living Roots (2x Living Roots provide 4 minions, and when Savage Roar is used these 4 minions total 12 damage, 2x Savage Roar and the damage goes up to 20 damage; add the 2 / 4 damage that the hero gets from Savage Roar and a quick win is possible).


Honorable mentions

Card name Why is it a good card?
Savage Combatant Provides an aggressive minion and some extra damage for removal.
Cenarius Hard to remove, can provide 2 taunts or extra stats for burst damage.
Ancient of War One of the biggest, baddest taunts available. Very hard hard to remove through minion combat.
Druid of the Saber Stealthy aggro minion.
Druid of the Flame Hard to remove minion or threatening small minion, depending on mode.
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How to beat Naxxramas using basic cards (part 2)

Curse of Naxxramas

And now we continue the Naxxramas series with the second part, a guide explaining how to beat the second Naxxramas wing, the Plague Quarter, using only basic cards.

The first part can be found here, if you'd like to read it first: How to beat Naxxramas using basic cards (part 1).

In case you skipped the previous part, TommyJ has managed to beat all the bosses from the current adventures using only basic cards: cards you start out with and cards you get while leveling up heroes. He has made guides for defeating the heroic bosses using decks he created.

With his blessing I'm republishing his guides as I think they're a great resource for newer players, especially since the same decks can be used for finishing normal mode (heroic mode is much harder than the normal mode). This article contains his second guide, for beating the Plague Quarter from the Curse of Naxxramas.

TommyJ:

Naxxramas Heroic Bosses

Plague Quarter

Hey guys, so this time around I’ve managed to beat the Plague Quarter in heroic using basic cards. Similarly to last time, when I say basic cards, I mean only cards that you can get before opening a pack (and again, no cards you get by beating Curse of Naxxramas on normal in either wing were used).

Heroic Noth the Plaguebringer

Heroic Heigan the Unclean

Heroic Loatheb

For Noth, I used a Priest deck, for Heigan, I used a Warlock deck and for Loatheb, I used another Priest deck.

Decks used for the Plague Quarter

So in this quarter I found the fights to be a lot harder. I tried a whole lot of different decks on almost every fight, and I’m not sure some are possible at all with certain classes. Noth was relatively easy – he didn’t take too many attempts though I may have gotten lucky with him. I found that as a long as you were able to get good value for your minions and survive until around turn 5 or 6 without any trouble the fight was actually ok.

Heigan took me a while; I first gave shaman a go and while I got him under 15 a few times in the end I didn’t have enough options when it came to dealing with the demons, so I went with warlock since they have some great anti warlock cards available to them from the get go! Once I tried warlock all it took was the attempts in the video, so yeah, that one was pretty cruisy.

Loatheb was perhaps the most difficult, I started off with shaman for a while - hoping to essentially just drop minions, destroy the spores and then give the strongest things windfury for a quick kill, but that didn’t really work out too well, mostly because of the Fen Creeper. I then tried a spam warrior deck which involved pretty much dumping a whole heap of low cost minions on the board and giving them all charge but it relied on execute to deal with that damn Fen Creeper so wasn’t really reliable, and if any other strong minions went down it was pretty much game over.

So for Loatheb I ended up swapping to priest, which is a bit easier but definitely relies on Shadow Word: Pain in your opening hand or first 2 draws. Also, on my kill for that Loatheb didn’t drop anything on one of his turns which allowed me to gain momentum and I’m fairly sure that was incredibly lucky.

If you’re looking to make your own free to play decks, I would highly recommend adding in some of the Naxx cards as they would probably help you out a ton (for example Loatheb or even the Gargoyle against Noth since he uses all those damn secrets or to get self heals every turn or Nerubian Eggs against Heigan).

Anyway, I will continue to do this for all of the coming wings, again it was an absolute ton of fun!

Stay tuned for part 3!


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How to beat Naxxramas using basic cards (part 1)

Curse of Naxxramas

Curse of Naxxramas is Hearthstone's first adventure, released in July 2014. Adventures are Hearthstone "mini-expansions" in which the player has to defeat Hearthstone "bosses" (heroes with special hero abilities and custom decks which can contain unique cards). For each boss defeated the player receives a reward: a card or a pair of cards. These cards cannot be obtained through crafting, the only way to obtain them is to buy the adventure (with cash or gold) and to beat the boss.

Each adventure has a normal mode and a heroic mode. The normal mode is the one that offers the cards as rewards while the heroic mode is much more difficult and has as a reward a special card back. The card back is available once all the heroic mode bosses have been defeated.

TommyJ has managed to beat all the bosses from the current adventures using only basic cards: cards you start out with and cards you get while leveling up heroes. He has made guides for defeating the heroic bosses using decks he created.

With his blessing I'm republishing his guides as I think they're a great resource for newer players, especially since the same decks can be used for finishing normal mode (heroic mode is much harder than the normal mode). This article contains his first guide, for beating the Arachnid Quarter from the Curse of Naxxramas.

TommyJ:

Naxxramas Heroic Bosses

Arachnid Quarter

So I set out yesterday with the goal of beating all 3 bosses of the Arachnid Quarter in heroic using only basic cards and managed to actually get it. When I say basic cards, I mean only cards that you can get before opening a pack (not including the cards that you can get by beating the quarter on normal - I didn’t use any of them).

Heroic Anub’Rekhan:

Heroic Grand Widow Faerlina

Heroic Maexxna

For Anub’Rekhan, I used a Shaman deck, for Grand Widow Faerlina I used a Warlock deck and for Maexxna I used a Warrior deck.

Decks used to beat Arachnid Quarter

Heroic Maexxna was by far the most challenging; I tried it with several decks (Priest, Warlock, Druid and Shaman) with various different combos before attempting it with the Warrior. I actually managed to 1 shot Anub and 2 Shot Faerlina (first attempt was with the Shaman deck from Anub but couldn’t ditch my cards fast enough so got completely stomped by her hero ability). It’s definitely worth mentioning that I didn’t life tap against Faerlina; I went with the Warlock because they have cards that will discard others when used such as the Succubus so her hero power was pretty useless.

Stay tuned for part 2!


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Reaching legend rank

So you're not really a great Hearthstone player and you don't have a full Hearthstone collection but you still want to reach legend?
Well, that makes two of us: Hearthstone is my first collectible card game and I'm also playing on a budget.
I reached legend by playing a rather unorthodox deck and I decided to write a guide to help others like me: average Joes that don't have all the cards in the game.

TL;DR:
  1. Hearthstone is P2W. Pay for the core cards or be prepared to play hundreds and hundreds of hours to be on par with other players.
  2. Keep an eye on your win rate. Either use tracking software or do it old school style, but do it.
  3. Stop playing when you're tilting. If you're on a loss streak, just do something else. It's only going to get worse.
  4. Play to win. Risk more in match ups which do not favor you.
  5. Go for the surprise factor. A strange deck or a strange tech card can help you win games.
  6. Be patient. It will probably take hundreds of games to reach legend.

Keep reading if you want more details :wink:

Pay to win

Hearthstone is P2W

Ok, let’s face the hard truth: Hearthstone is a P2W (pay-to-win) game. You either pay with your time or with cash. And paying with time is very inefficient. So if you really like the game and can spare $40-$60 per year, do it. It will save you hundreds of hours of grinding.

Saying that Hearthstone is P2W is the quite controversial statement so I’ll explain: no, you cannot actually pay to win a game in Hearthstone. But you can pay for shortcuts by buying great cards through adventures or tons of card packs.

Let’s say that Joe and Mike are about as good at Hearthstone. If they play 100 games, they should each win about 50. However, if Joe doesn’t have key cards to counter Mike then Joe’s never going to win 50. He’ll win maybe 40 if he’s lucky.

Of course, skill is a factor. At different skill levels nothing can save you from having a sub-50% win rate against a better player. But skill levels equalize as you climb: players are better and better and you can’t just weasel your way out of a bad situation through sheer luck and brainpower.

If you want the legend climb to be fun, get at least 1 competitive deck that is not completely countered by the current meta. You will probably have to tech in cards.

You might even be forced to switch decks to another competitive deck. Or maybe even to a third one. So you need at least 2-3-4 competitive decks and their corresponding tech cards.

In my case I decided that I’d buy all the adventures with cash and get the rest of the cards through buying packs with gold. I sometimes feel that I would have enjoyed the game more if I had actually bought the adventures with cash as well as the pre-order packs (50 packs) for each expansion.

Keep an eye on your win rate

And now we get to win rate… Win rate is the thing that will either take you to legend or won’t. You will lose games. You will be annoyed by losses. But in the end, it doesn’t matter, as long as you’re still climbing and therefore winning more games than you are losing.

If you have a higher win rate, you’ll climb a lot faster.

Win rate Games from rank 20 to rank 5 Games from rank 5 to legend
45% 2743 111416 (!)
50% 444 929
51% 372 617
55% 223 227
60% 147 120
66% 101 76
70% 83 62
75% 67 49

If you’re playing on a PC you should probably use a deck tracker. If you’re playing on a phone or tablet… you’re out of luck. I’m playing on a tablet so I had to keep track of things the old fashioned way. When I reached legend I actually used a very simple system. I started at rank 3 and 0 starts with Raptor Rogue and I had 0 wins with Rogue on ladder. I needed 16 wins to get to legend. So I set myself a limit of 30 wins to get to legend. This meant that I had to sustain quite a high win rate since at 50% I’d just be back where I started.

Related to this: don’t get really angry when you lose. Win rate = rate at which you’re winning. This means that you’re also losing from time to time, it’s normal. Just make sure to notice when you’re losing more than you’re winning.

Tilt alert

Stop playing when you’re tilting

You need to be very focused. As I said, the opponents are at least as good you are at Hearthstone. If you’re tilting, you’re turning into a worse player. This means that you’re giving your opponents an advantage over you.

As a simple rule of thumb, I stopped playing after 3 consecutive losses, no matter what. In your case it might be 2 losses or 5 losses, depending on how easily you tilt. Still, stop playing ladder at least if you’re tilting.

You want to make life for your opponents harder, not easier, when they’re facing you :smile:

Play to win

There will be match ups where you’re not the favorite. If you’re Freeze Mage against Control Warrior, you’re most likely going to lose. So if you’re playing it safely, you’re going to lose. Your only real shot against a competent opponent is going all in. Where “all in” depends on how desperate the match up is.

This might mean doing things which seem silly in most match ups, like keeping a 5 or 6 drop during the mulligan phase, because being guaranteed to play it on turn 5 or 6 and having it left unanswered is one of the few ways to win the match up.

Of course, if at some point you notice that you’re encountering only unfavorable match ups, it’s probably time to switch decks. This is a judgment call, I generally did it when I noticed I wasn’t climbing after a higher number of games played (15-20).

Acidic Swamp Ooze

Go for the surprise factor

Almost all the good players I’ve seen at some point or another try a strange deck or add a strange tech card in their deck. This is because the surprise factor is important in multiplayer games. Predictability is good for your own actions (this is why Ogre Brute is a bad card, because you can’t guarantee what it’s going to attack) but it is not good when your opponent can reliably predict your actions. Of course, in most games you win you’re just going to use your deck’s main win condition.

But especially above rank 5, if your deck is popular enough, opponents will find or make decks that will counter that a main win condition. So it doesn’t hurt to have a plan B.

In my case I just took advantage of the surprise factor of the deck I was playing: Raptor Rogue. Most opponents facing a Rogue would be mulliganing for Oil Rogue (the most popular Rogue variety) and would often not have the required tools to react to a Rogue that plays more like Zoolock.

If using or creating a brand new deck is not possible (and usually it isn’t) then surprising tech cards can work as well. Acidic Swamp Ooze has destroyed many Doomhammer dreams over the years :smile:

Be patient

The last but most important point. Reaching legend, even if you’re on a hot win streak, will still take at least 100 games. Probably 200 or 300. When you go above rank 5 each win starts mattering more and more.

So you have to be patient and remember that you have to play a lot of Hearthstone games to reach legend. You also have to be patient during the actual games and take the time to think through your moves 1, 2 or even 3 turns in advance.

In the end you may ask yourself, is it worth it? I don’t know. It was probably worth it for me as I generally like achievements in game and this is probably the greatest achievement a non-pro player can get.

Reaching legend.


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How to play Raptor Rogue

League of Explorers (LoE) has brought with it several deck types enabled by newly added cards.

Unearthed Raptor

Sometimes a new card can create a new deck type for a class. One of the League of Explorers cards, Unearthed Raptor, has done just that. Unearthed Raptor is a 3 mana 3/4 minion with a very powerful battlecry effect: it can copy the deathrattle of any friendly minion, thus having its own deathrattle. This has enabled Rogue, which was traditionally a spell-based class, to focus on a more minion-heavy play style. Some people have even gone so far as to call it "Zoo". The new, minion-based deck is commonly known as "Raptor Rogue" or "Deathrattle Rogue".

The general idea is simple: since Unearthed Raptor is a midgame minion which can copy powerful deathrattles, just create a deck which includes the most powerful deathrattles. Deathrattles from Leper Gnome to Sneed's Old Shredder have been tested in Raptor Rogue decks, with varying degrees of success at all levels of play. Here I'll present my own variation of Raptor Rogue, with a card-by-card explanation for things I've included and thing's I've excluded that might be alternatives to my choices, as well as a mulligan guide and a general game play guide. I've managed to reach legend with this variation and I think that the deck is competitive for most levels of play and it's definitely a lot of fun to play!

Raptor Rogue deck

Deck list

Cards included:

  • 2x Backstab - very cheap and efficient removal, hard to take out of any Rogue deck; used to clear smaller minion or to add some chip damage when killing a bigger minion.
  • 2x Cold Blood - Nerubian Egg activator, allows trading up minions, racing aggro decks and giving extra reach for lethal.
  • 2x Abusive Sergeant - Nerubian Egg activator, allows trading up minions, racing aggro decks and giving extra reach for lethal (the minion form of Cold Blood :smile:).
  • 2x Eviscerate - Backstab’s bigger brother that can also hit face; used to clear very threatening small minions or bigger minions or as burst damage when going for lethal.
  • 2x Haunted Creeper - deathrattle, sticky minion that can fight off aggro minions and also provides several bodies which can be used (& abused) by Cold blood, Abusive Sergeant or Defender of Argus.
  • 2x Loot Hoarder - deathrattle, cheap and efficient minion that also draws a card; used early game to fend off aggro and late game to draw more cards together with Raptor
  • 2x Nerubian Egg - deathrattle of great value, especially when comboed with Raptor; used to build up a board which is very resilient to board clears.
  • 2x Fan of Knives - good AOE against aggro also provides more card draw
  • 1x Big Game Hunter - cleanest solution to Dr. Boom, also used against Mysterious Challenger (when buffed) or against Giants; overall, most efficient solution to big minions.
  • 2x Unearthed Raptor - the card that started it all; solid 3 mana 3/4 minion that is extremely versatile and can provide a sticky board, more card draw or even special deathrattle effects (Sylvanas, Boom Bot) when needed.
  • 2x Defender of Argus - egg activator, anti-aggro card, allows trading up minions, racing aggro decks and giving extra reach for lethal; all round, great card in this deck.
  • 2x Piloted Shredder - deathrattle and all-round best 4 mana minion in the game.
  • 2x Azure Drake - card draw, +1 spell damage for more efficient minion removal or better reach for lethal and on top of that a decent minion body.
  • 1x Dark Iron Skulker - another, slightly more powerful AOE that also leaves a 4/3 minion behind.
  • 2x Sludge Belcher - deathrattle, double taunt to block aggro.
  • 1x Sylvanas Windrunner - another deathrattle and a decent 5/5 body; great in control match ups especially against classes where you want to block a big drop; copying the deathrattle with the Raptor can be strong as it can potentially block 2 powerful turns from your opponent.
  • 1x Dr. Boom - more deathrattles on top of probably the best 7 mana minion in the game.

Tech cards and alternatives

  • Piloted Sky Golem - great body, great deathrattle, it’s probably the best card that was no included in the deck; I favored Sylvanas as Sylvanas is stronger against control decks.
  • Sir Finley Mrrgglton - the Rogue hero power is not that useful in this zooish deck after early game so swapping it for a better one is strong.
  • Brann Bronzebeard - there are a lot of battlecries in this deck so Brann is a strong contender; it can either beef up your Argus taunt or give you more reach for lethal.
  • Cairne Bloodhoof - useful against more grindy, control oriented decks.
  • Bloodmage Thalnos - fills almost the same role as Loot Hoarder but provides extra spell power for your nukes; situationally better than Loot Hoarder.
  • Acidic Swamp Ooze - the dreaded weapon killer, this time used by a Rogue that doesn’t rely on weapons :smile:; useful for metas where weapons are extremely abundant.
  • Antique Healbot - great in a meta with a lot of aggression through spells or hero powers (Hunter, mostly); generally great for leveling as most of the sub-level 10 decks are very aggressive.
  • Sap - Sap can be a great choice for a more-tempo oriented play-style.
  • Sneed’s Old Shredder - big deathrattle, great in a grindy meta; can be used instead of a Sludge Belcher.

Cards which have been intentionally excluded

  • All Rogue weapon buffs and Blade Flurry - you live and die by your minions, not spells; weapon buffs will slow down this game plan while Blade Flurry without them is useless since using it on a naked dagger is too weak.
  • Leper Gnome - doesn’t trade well with anything and this is not a pure aggro deck; think of this deck more like Midrange Zoo than Aggro Zoo.
  • Harvest Golem - the main body doesn’t trade up while the deathrattle doesn’t make up for this weakness.
  • <a href=http://www.hearthpwn.com/cards/7740-baron-rivendare”>Baron Rivendare</a> - Baron Rivendare isn’t threatening enough when played on its own and the extra proccing of deathrattles doesn’t help much as this deck can already fill the board reliably.

Game plan

The general game plan is similar to that of Zoo: get control of the board early and don’t let it go. If you do lose it, unlike Zoo, there are some comeback mechanisms in Fan of Knives and Dark Iron Skulker, but they’re not powerful enough to turn a game around on their own if the board has been lost completely.

Against aggro decks and almost every kind of deck except for super late game control, you’re the control deck. There’s no healing in the deck so once you get too low you’re probably dead. However, with your very cheap and efficient removal, small and sticky minions and your hero power, winning the board around round 4 should be achievable in most games.

The perfect game start would be:

  • Turn 1: Coin / Nerubian Egg
  • Turn 2: Haunted Creeper or Backstab + hero power to kill the opposing minion
  • Turn 3: Raptor on the Nerubian Egg
  • Turn 4: Piloted Shredder
  • Turns 5 & later: solidify the board, preferably by keeping deathrattles so that enemy AOE cannot wipe your board

Mid game things become a bit fuzzy since you need to balance out doing face damage to controlling the board. The reason for this is that the deck is fundamentally a midgame oriented deck, not a super late game control deck that wants to drag out the game to fatigue.

As a simple rule, favor doing face damage to Control Warriors, Priests, Paladins and Handlocks after turn 7 or so, since it’s unlikely you’ll be able to control the board forever with a board that is actually threatening (this deck can flood the board with many bodies but sometimes they’re just 0/2s, 1/2s, 1/3s which are not really threatening to a control class.

Favorable Match Ups

Favorable match ups

Secret Paladin

Mulligan for: Backstab, Egg, Creeper, Raptor, Fan of Knives (only if you already have a 2-drop in your hand; Fan is used to counter Muster for Battle).

Stick things on the board, clear everything the opponent plays until turn 6 (Mysterious Challenger turn), then depending on the turn of the game, either grind down the Paladin with an endless supply of deathrattles or rush face if you have a lot of burst in your hand (Secret Paladins don’t really have defense).

Aggro Druid

Mulligan for: Backstab, Egg, Creeper, Raptor, Eviscerate or BGH (only if you already have a 2-drop in your hand; Eviscerate is used to counter an early Druid of the Claw or Fel Reaver).

Same general plan as for Secret Paladin until turn 5 (Fel Reaver turn) with an emphasis for taunting up after turn 9. The main ways you lose are to an uncontested Fel Reaver (face tanking it isn’t a good choice) or a lucky Force of Nature / Savage Roar combo early on.

Midrange Hunter

Mulligan for: Backstab, Egg, Creeper, Raptor.

Same general plan as for Secret Paladin until turn 7 (Dr. Boom turn) with an emphasis on racing after this turn as the Hunter hero power will whittle you down.

Hybrid Hunter

Mulligan for: Backstab, Egg, Creeper, Raptor.

This game is a race after turn 3. Clear all the beasts after turn 5 if it’s not too costly, to avoid huge spikes of damage from Kill command.

Control Warrior

Mulligan for: Egg, Creeper, Raptor, Eviscerate (to cleanly clear Armorsmith or Acolyte of Pain).

Stick things on the board and grind down every threat with efficient removal. Don’t overtextend into Brawl. If the Warrior is running two copies of Brawl, the match up becomes way harder.

Handlock

Mulligan for: Egg, Creeper, Raptor, BGH.

Same rule of making a sticky board. Ignore most minions played if not giants but don’t bring the Warlock too low before you’re ready for the burst.

Unavorable Match Ups

Unfavorable match ups

Priest

Most minions are bigger than yours, Priest hero power makes them sticky. This deck doesn’t have enough 1-turn burst to kill them from higher life totals (you’re not Miracle Rogue). Also Cabal Shadow Priest can steal most of of your minions causing a huge game swing.

Renolock

Several strong AOEs, many strong Warlock minions, better late game than yours, no way to grind them down efficiently and insufficient burst. Maybe Sneed’s could help, but I don’t have him :smile:

Face Hunter

Pure Face Hunter is a dice roll. On your part it relies on having sticky minions and Defender of Argus in the mulligan.

But overall, you’re disadvantaged since Face Hunter has a ton of damage and this deck is neither fast enough to race nor defensive enough to stall out the game long enough for the Hunter to run out of steam.

Aggro Shaman

Similar situation to the Face Hunter match up. On top of it, Aggro Shaman has higher burst. If you’re facing a lot of Aggro Shaman teching in Acidic Swamp Ooze is a decent choice.

Variations of the deck.

There are many variations of this deck around, here are several versions I found:

And you’ve reached the end of the guide. Thank you for reading so far, have fun playing this deck and come back for more guides!


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HearthCraft Key Cards: epic and legendary neutral cards

This article is a part of the HearthCraft series of articles, where I discuss about the cards that should be crafted first in Hearthstone, when playing on a budget. And we’re all playing on a budget.

Dust

If you want to read the rest of the articles, here is the full list:

So, let’s get to business and discuss about the key epic and legendary neutral cards, cards you should craft first when you’re thinking about crafting epic and legendary neutral cards.

Epic neutral cards

Big Game Hunter

Big Game Hunter

The bane of every “big” card in the game. If you’re “taller” than 6 attack, you’re in his sights.

Big Game Hunter (BGH) is one of the most popular tech cards in the game and probably the only epic card that could be considered a “must-have”.

As the opponents get stronger and stronger and the card quality goes up, Big Game Hunter becomes a common sight.

For the lowly cost of 3 mana, you get a 4/2 minion with a battlecry that instantly destroys a minion with 7 attack. Since minions with 7 attack cost at least 4 mana, the battlecry alone covers the 3 mana paid for BGH. The minion body left behind can then trade with another minion on the board or absorb a hateful nuke used by your opponent after he sees that his big threat has been removed.


Honorable mentions

Card name Why is it a good card?
Recombobulator A common card in fun decks, he can “heal” damaged minions or invoke the RGN gods for even better results.
Doomsayer Anti-aggro card, a very powerful AOE for a low cost. If he survives :smile:
Blood Knight Tech card, used when divine shields are very, very common.
Twilight Guardian Anti-aggro card. Also a dragon, popular in dragon decks.
Enhance-o-Mechano Powerful buff if you have a decent board.
Fel Reaver Aggro deck finisher card that is quite hard to remove.
Faceless Manipulator Another common card in fun decks, also used in combo decks.
Piloted Sky Golem Powerful mech and 6 drop in general.
Sea Giant Finisher for decks which flood the board.
Mountain Giant Powerful minion for decks which tend to have a big hand (Handlock).
Molten Giant Powerful minion for decks which can survive at low HP (Handlock, Echo Mage).
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Legendary neutral cards

Doctor Boom

Dr. Boom

The first 7 mana card in the game to be considered truly good, Dr. Boom is seen as overpowered by many.

For 7 mana he provides a 7/7 body with 2 minuscule Boom Boots besides him. Each Boom Bot is a 1/1 minion that does 1-4 damage once it is killed. That deathrattle is a very powerful effect as in the best case scenario the Boom Bots can kill a 10 HP minion or 2x 5 HP minions. On average they’re still strong, as the average damage that they do is 7.

The main minion is nothing to scoff at, as he can trade with the vast majority of minions under 9 mana.

Dr. Boom is incredibly popular and can be seen in almost any kind of deck, going from aggro to midrange/tempo to control.


Sylvanas Windrunner

Sylvanas Windrunner

Sylvanas is one of the most powerful 6 mana cards in the game. Besides her 5/5 body she comes with a very powerful deathrattle, as she will steal a random enemy minion when she dies.

When she is on the board she can trade with small minions or prevent the enemy from playing his big minion, as suiciding Sylvanas will steal it. Frequently the opposing player will have to make awkward trades to remove her or going for a 33%-50% chance that Sylvanas will steal a powerful minion, in the absence of a silence effect (Ironbeak Owl) or a transform one (Hex).

Sylvanas is used successfully in many midrange and control decks.


Ragnaros

Ragnaros the Firelord

Ragnaros, the Firelord is one of the oldest legendaries in the game that is still seen in many decks and across many meta changes.

For 8 mana you get a “turret”: a 8/8 minion that cannot attack but that does 8 damage to a random target at the end of your round. Ragnaros puts your opponent on a timer as 4 attacks from Ragnaros will kill the opponent even if he is at 30 HP.

Opponents will prioritize killing Ragnaros or, if they cannot do that, they will try to fill the board with small minions hoping that the random attack targets them.

Ragnaros is used as a finisher for midrange/tempo decks or as a powerful minion for control decks.


Ysera

Ysera

Ysera is the veteran “control dragon”. She has a solid 4/12 body which is quite hard to kill unless you have direct removal when she is played. If not answered she starts creating special cards called “Dream Cards”. These cards range from decent (3 mana untargetable 3/5, 4 mana dragon 7/6) to strong (0 mana return minion to owner’s hand, 0 mana give minion 5/5 then destroy it next turn) to almost overpowered (2 mana deal 5 damage to all characters except Ysera).

Against aggro decks and midrange decks the body can trade at least 2-to-1, while the dream cards can at minimum provide additional bodies to throw on the table and at best can provide additional reach for a surprise lethal while racing. Aggro decks are less affected by Ysera as by turn 9, when she is usually played, they are close to killing the enemy and Ysera doesn’t have an immediate effect on the board or on either player’s HP.

Besides the advantages mentioned against aggro and midrange decks, against control decks the body usually trades at least 1-to-1 while the dream cards provide another stream of cards allowing the Ysera player to avoid drawing and going into fatigue first.

Overall, a very solid card in slower metas and a staple of the dragon “tribe”.


Justicar Trueheart

Justicar Trueheart

For 6 mana, Justicar Trueheart provides an instant effect which can be very strong. It buffs hero powers for all classes and for some classes the effect is very powerful:

Justicar Trueheart is great at providing extra value during long, drawn out control games or at keeping your hero alive during the onslaught from an aggro deck.

Probably the best legendary to come out of The Great Tournament (TGT) expansion.

Harrison Jones


Harrison Jones

Harrison Jones is a bit of an odd-ball on the “must have” list. He’s not the staple of any deck. With his 5/4 stats and his quirky battlecry, he can’t really be. He is however one of the most common “tech cards”. Any time classes with weapons flood the metagame, Harrison is bound to show up. Together with his smaller brother, Acidic Swamp Ooze. Or, for the more desperate amongst us, Bloodsail Corsair.

There are 5 classes which can have weapons:

  • Rogue
  • Warrior
  • Hunter
  • Paladin
  • Shaman

It’s a good bet that any time in Hearthstone’s history at least one of those classes was popular of very popular. As a result, Harrison is a common sight in decks. Even if he’s not “must have” in the sense that you can’t build your deck without him, you will want to have him in those moments of need.

Against aggro and midrange decks Harrison is used either as a vanilla 5 mana 5/4 (quite underwhelming) or as a weapon removal in a crucial moment in the game (for example against a Hunter with a Eaglehorn Bow and a trap in play). If the midrange deck is slower he might even be used for the second part of his battlecry, card drawing.

Against control Harrison is used in the same way, but with less emphasis on playing him without benefiting from his battlecry, and a lot more emphasis on drawing several cards when possible.


Alexstrasza

Alexstrasza

Alexstrasza is another veteran from the dragon “tribe”. She can be seen in control and combo decks. Depending on the situation Alexstrasza is either used to do up to 15 damage to the enemy’s face (maybe allowing lethal next turn) or to heal for up to 15 damage. On top of the instant effect she brings a 8/8 body which trades well with most enemy minions or forces the usage of direct removal. Even if the enemy uses removal on the body, the effect has already taken place, and it is a very powerful effect in many circumstances.

Especially for new players Alexstrasza provides one of the best examples of “good card”: instant, powerful effect on the game.


Honorable mentions

Card name Why is it a good card?
Bloodmage Thalnos Card draw and spell damage packed together, both appreciated by tempo or spell combo decks.
Malygos Dragon, hard to kill body (4/12), extremely powerful effect (+5 spell damage means that with 2-3 spells you can kill your enemy from full HP).
Baron Geddon Powerful, constant AOE on top of a hard hitting minion.
Chillmaw Dragon, beefy taunt with powerful AOE on death.
Sneed’s Old Shredder Mech, very slow card but the deathrattle is very powerful in control matchups.
The Black Knight Also called the “taunt-buster”. Great when taunts are very common.
Leeroy Jenkins Staple of aggro decks when used to cost 4 mana, he is still seen in aggro decks, as a finisher.
Gormok the Impaler Decent in decks that can flood the board constantly.
Nexus Champion Saraad Used for providing extra value in control decks.
King Mukla Beast, overstatted body, Seen sometimes in aggro decks.
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HearthCraft Key Cards: rare neutral cards

This article is a part of the HearthCraft series of articles, where I discuss about the cards that should be crafted first in Hearthstone, when playing on a budget. And we’re all playing on a budget.

Dust

If you want to read the rest of the articles, here is the full list:

So, let’s get to business and discuss about the key rare neutral cards, cards you should craft first when you’re thinking about crafting rare neutral cards.

Rare neutral cards

Knife Juggler

Knife Juggler

Knife Juggler, partner in aggro crime with Leper Gnome and Abusive Sergeant. If your deck is a aggro deck, there’s a huge chance that Knife Juggler is in it. Knife Juggler is so good that he’s even played in midrange decks that have some method of spamming minions.

Knife Juggler is a 2 mana minion with a 3/2 body and a very powerful effect: it does 1 damage to a random enemy when a friendly minion is summoned. This makes it very powerful since Knife Juggler can trade 2 for 1, 3 for 1 and maybe even higher with the right amount of luck.

It’s easily one of the most threatening low-cost minions in the game (should be killed on sight).


Azure Drake

Azure Drake

Azure Drake costs 5 mana and comes with a 4/4 body. Nothing to write home about. But it also draws a card, provides +1 spell damage and is a dragon. All of which are powerful extras.

Almost every midrange deck runs it as well as most spell-based combo decks. The Drake is a “fast” card since it draws another card as soon as it is played and it also helps buff cheaper spells providing them the extra damage needed to destroy tougher targets.

The 4/4 is also decent as it can trade 1 for 1 with many cards and is in a sweet spot regarding stats, since most cheap removal can’t kill it.


Defender of Argus

Defender of Argus

One of the “weakest” minions in the rare category, Defender of Argus doesn’t seem like a “must have” minion. However his 2/3 body comes with a powerful battlecry, since it grants both taunt and 1/1 to the minions next to the defender.

As a result Defender of Argus actually provides a total 4 damage, 5 HP and 2 taunts for 4 mana, if there are 2 targets on the board. 2 damage also have “charge”, since they can be used immediately “as part” of the minions already present on the board.

Defender of Argus is a popular defensive option for classes which lack powerful class taunt minions. However, it is versatile and can be seen even in aggressive decks which spam the board since the extra HP provided to the minions on its left and right can take them out of AOE range or make trades very awkward for the enemy.


Honorable mentions

1 Mana minions (1 drops)

Card name Why is it a good card?
Secretkeeper Secret support card, 1 mana minion that gets +1/+1 for each secret played.

2 Mana minions (2 drops)

Card name Why is it a good card?
Wild Pyromancer Anti-aggro, provides both a decent 2 drop and AOE.
Sunfury Protector Anti-aggro, smaller brother of Defender of Argus. Doesn’t provide extra stats, though.
Ancient Watcher Over-statted minion that can’t attack by default. Can be silenced to let it attack or taunted.

3 Mana minions (3 drops)

Card name Why is it a good card?      
Mind Control Tech Used against decks that spam a lot of minions.      
Coldlight Oracle Murloc, draw engine for aggro and mill decks.      
Injured Blademaster Jokingly called “Priest card” since priests can heal it to full HP.   Arcane Golem Aggro minion: charge and a ton of damage for a low mana cost.

4 Mana minions (4 drops)

Card name Why is it a good card?
Violet Teacher Combo card used by classes that want a lot of small minions (tokens): Rogue, Druid.
Twilight Drake Strong 4-drop when the average hand size is above 5 cards (Handlock, Control Mages, etc.)
Kezan Mystic Tech card used against classes with powerful secrets. </a>
Jeeves Powerful card draw for aggro decks.
Arcane Nullifier X-21 Anti-aggro for mech decks.

5 Mana minions (5 drops)

Card name Why is it a good card?
Stampeding Kodo Tech card used when a powerful minion with 2 or less attack is used by a lot of decks.
Bomb Lobber Tech card used when a 4+ mana, 4-HP minion is very common in the meta.

5 Mana minions (5 drops)

Card name Why is it a good card?
Sunwalker Anti-aggro mid game minion.
Gadgetzan Auctioneer Card draw engine for decks with a lot of small spells.
Argent Commander Sticky finisher for aggro decks.

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HearthCraft Key Cards: common neutral cards

This article is a part of the HearthCraft series of articles, where I discuss about the cards that should be crafted first in Hearthstone, when playing on a budget. And we’re all playing on a budget.

Dust

If you want to read the rest of the articles, here is the full list:

So, let’s get to business and discuss about the key common neutral cards, cards you should craft first when you’re thinking about common cards.

Common neutral cards

Piloted Shredder

Piloted Shredder

The “king” of common cards in Hearthstone. Introduced in Goblins versus Gnomes, this 4 mana 4/3 minion summons a random 2 mana minion when it dies.

It is a very powerful minion because of 2 separate factors:

  • it is “sticky”: its removal is very awkward in most situations, requiring 2 hits, in any combination of: minion, weapon, direct nuke or AOE nuke
  • it packs a ton of stats: under the flimsy 4/3 body (that can also trade up due to its 4 attack) the average stats of a 2 mana minion are 2/2; as a result Shredder is basically a 4 mana 6/5 minion

Piloted Shredder can be seen in almost any kind of deck, except for the extremely aggressive ones (Face Hunter) or the extremely greedy ones (greedy Control Warrior). But any time even those decks “move” towards midrange, they tend to include Piloted Shredder.


Ironbeak Owl

Ironbeak Owl

Silence is a very powerful mechanic in Hearthstone. It’s so powerful that it’s literally “hidden” in the basic set (there are no silence cards that are available to a new player when he first plays Hearthstone).

The first time a new player will use this mechanic will probably be when he gets or crafts his Ironbeak Owl.

Another staple of Hearthstone, “Hoot hoot!” as it’s lovingly called by the community, is a common sight in many decks. Aggressive decks use it to bypass taunts and to neutralize big cards with powerful effects, control decks use it to stem the bleeding against the same aggressive decks I mentioned.

It is probably the most used “tech” card (card that’s used mostly for its effect which counters a very specific, major threat). Even if in many occasions it’s only a 1-of, Ironbeak Owl sees a lot of action in Hearthstone.

The 2 mana cost 2/1 body doesn’t seem much. But once it silences your Sludge Belcher just before the Wolfrider and the Glaivezooka hit you, you will see why the card is so powerful.


Leper Gnome

Leper Gnome

The 1 mana 2/1 body isn’t impressive. But it comes with a powerful deathrattle: deal 2 damage to the enemy hero. Leper Gnome is a staple of ultra aggressive decks. As someone called it, it is the “announcer of cancer decks” (“cancer decks” is the not-very-sensitive name the Hearthstone community has given to decks which are extremely common and especially very aggressive).

Leper Gnome is not flashy but it provides a guaranteed 2 damage to the enemy’s face. In a well-oiled aggressive deck, that’s all you can ask from your 1 drop. Especially in the “later” turns of the game, when you need to bypass taunts.

When you hear “I feel icky!”, it’s time to avoid things which reduce your hero’s HP, because you will miss every one of your hit points later on.


Antique Healbot

Antique Healbot

A homonym for “anti-kill bot”, Antique Healbot is a 5 mana 3/3 mech that heals you for 8 HP. Since he has been introduced in the Goblins versus Gnomes expansion, Antique Healbot has been a staple of control decks.

In many control versus aggro games, the control players can be at low health levels in turn 5 or 6. This is where Antique Healbot comes in: he heals the control player for 8, thus extending the game by 1 or 2 more turns, until the control player can stabilize and start playing “bombs” (cards with a high mana cost and a high impact on the game).

Antique Healbot is usually played as a 1-of, or when things get really aggressive, as a 2-of.


Abusive Sergeant

Abusive Sergeant

Another flimsy 1 mana 2/1. Again, the extra text on the card makes card powerful.

Abusive Sergeant gives a minion +2 attack the turn it is used. While it doesn’t sound like much, it allows a small minion to trade with a minion which costs 1 more mana or even 2 more mana in certain situations. It also allows a small minion to do a lot more face damage when that’s needed.

Just as his cousin, Leper Gnome, Abusive Sergeant is a staple of aggressive decks. He sometimes makes his way even into midrange decks which need a little help with boosting their low-attack minions when they fight bigger minions.


Honorable mentions

1 Mana minions (1 drops)

Card name Why is it a good card?
Clockwork Gnome Mech, 1 mana minion that provides spare parts for card combos.
Cogmaster Mech support, 1 mana minion that can provide 3 damage, used in aggressive decks.
Argent Squire Sticky 1 mana minion used in many aggressive decks.
Worgen Infiltrator Sticky 1 mana minion used in some aggressive decks.

2 Mana minions (2 drops)

Card name Why is it a good card?
Loot Hoarder Cheap, efficient card draw minion that can combat smaller threats.
Mech Warper Staple of the Mech tribe, he allows Mech spam very early.
Annoy-o-tron Mech, protects threatening minions (such as Mech Warper in mech decks.
Unstable Ghoul Anti-aggro card that can also trigger enrage-like effects.
Gilblin Stalker Sticky 2 drop used by buff classes (Priest, primarily).
Dire Wolf Alpha Damage buff card used by aggro decks which spam minions (zoos).

3 Mana minions (3 drops)

Card name Why is it a good card?
Acolyte of Pain Efficient card draw minion that can draw multiple cards.
Tinkertown Technician Mech support, 3 drop with above average stats and source of spare parts.
Spider Tank Mech, 3 drop with standard stats.
Argent Horserider Sticky charger for only 3 mana used in aggro decks.
Harvest Golem Mech, sticky 3 drop used in aggressive or midrange decks.

4 Mana minions (4 drops)

Card name Why is it a good card?
Mechanical Yeti Mech, standard stats for a 4 drop and source of spare parts.
Dread Corsair Anti-aggro, used in decks with many weapons or in pirate decks.
Dragonkin Sorcerer Dragon, used by in dragon decks and by buff classes (Priest, primarily).

5 Mana minions (5 drops)

Card name Why is it a good card?
Stranglethorn Tiger Beast, sticky 5 drop used as part of the higher end of the deck for aggressive decks.
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HearthCraft Basics: what you need to know before you craft any card

As you know, I’ve started writing a series of article about crafting Hearthstone cards. The series is called “Hearthcraft” and you can find the first episode here.

When I wrote the original article I wanted to finish the full series, presenting all the cards that I thought would be worthy of crafting. However, based on feedback I decided that I should actually start with a general guide to crafting in Hearthstone.

Dust

TL;DR

  1. Learn the Hearthstone basics
  2. Don’t rush it
  3. Do all the quests
  4. Unlock all the basic cards for all the classes
  5. Play arena as often as you can
  6. Play Brawl each week
  7. Buy about 10 packs from each expansion
  8. Buy the adventures
  9. Pick your favorite class
  10. Pick your favorite play-style
  11. Craft higher rarity cards first
  12. Prioritize crafting key cards

Learn the Hearthstone basics

You’ll find most of the information you need regarding Hearthstone basics, and more, in my comprehensive Hearthstone guide.

If you don’t have a lot of time at least go through Trump’s Hearthstone basics videos, they’re all linked in my article.

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Slow and steady wins the race

Don’t rush it

Hearthstone is a great, complex game. It’s fun even after thousands and thousands of games. However if you want to play it you need a decent collection. For that collection you’ll have to pay. Either with your cash or with your time. There’s no escaping it.

If you want a complete collection, you’re either going to play the game for hundreds of hours “grinding” gold and dust, or you’re going to pay a lot of money. At the time I’m writing this, after the release of The Grand Tournament expansion, a 100% collection could cost you $1000.

Since you’re reading this article you’re probably not interested in throwing away all your cash on Hearthstone. This means that you’re going to be playing a lot of Hearthstone. The same 100% collection could cost you 2000 hours of play time.

Don’t panic! You don’t need a complete collection to have fun. You don’t even need 10% of the cards, as many of them are “bad” anyway.

And while you’re building your collection you’ll also be learning the game and getting better. Which is also extremely important going forward.

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Quest accepted

Do all the quests

Blizzard is quite stingy with resources since each player that plays and gets gold and dust will use them instead of cash to get cards.

Still, there are plenty of ways to get these in-game currencies. I recommend reading the Hearthstone Wiki Quest page in detail.

Try to not skip quests. Even if they seem harder for classes you don’t have cards, you’ll notice that the Hearthstone match making does work, it just takes a while to adjust to your new deck. You’ll soon be facing other newbies such as yourself. Just play on and try to learn from each game.

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Unlock all the basic cards for all the classes

Ready to kill

You can’t craft cards without knowing why you’re crafting them. Sometimes you’ll craft them because you saw them in a deck on the net. However there are many, many bad decks on the Internet. So the best way to not get “scammed” is to learn to play all the classes, at least at a minimal level.

And that minimal level is level 10, when you unlock all the basic class cards.

As an exercise I’d recommend that you also venture on the ladder aka ranked mode aka “Play”.

It will be quite brutal at first but don’t be discouraged: each game is a learning opportunity.

If as a new player with mostly basic cards you go above level 20, then you have great potential :wink:

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Play arena as often as you can

Ogre time

Hearthstone has several game modes. You can practice against the Innkeeper in single player mode, play adventures, also in single player mode, or go against human players in casual mode, ranked mode, the Arena or Tavern Brawl.

The most complex game mode is probably ranked mode, but the Arena is a close second.

It is also great for learning about all the cards in the game and how to pick the best ones to make a decent deck.

If you get good at playing Arena you also get rewards, which are quite good once you reach 7+ wins. If you get 12 you’ve basically tripled your initial investment for the Arena ticket.

Of course, for this you’ll need to learn to play arena.

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Play Brawl each week

Get in there

Tavern Brawl is the other multi player game mode in Hearthstone. It’s crazier than the other two and it changes each week. It’s great because the first win rewards you with a card pack (which you’ll greatly appreciate in the start!) and also because it teaches you to think on your feet and to react in unusual game circumstances.

To be able to enter the brawl you will need to level a class to level 20 (it shouldn’t be hard to do as you keep playing).

Even if you don’t like the Brawl available this week, at least play it until you win once to get the free pack.

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Buy about 10 packs from each expansion

Where's my cut?

It’s quite hard to play when your collection has only basic cards. You can play, but many of the fun cards are not available to you.

This is why I think that you should buy (either with cash or with gold) 10 packs from each expansion. These packs will give you at least 40 common cards and 10 rare cards from each expansion, giving you a lot more flexibility when making decks.

This is especially useful when you’re off questing, since the more efficient you become when you are questing, the more gold and dust you get, which in turn will make future questing even easier and faster.

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Buy the adventures

Excuse me!

There are currently 2 Hearthstone adventures: Curse of Naxxramas and Black Rock Mountain. Both of these have cards which can be used by any class and by any deck type.

It’s quite inefficient to buy them with gold. As a result I recommend that you buy them with cash. If Blizzard sticks to this principle (and I think they will), adventures will probably be your only cash investment in Hearthstone.

This means that you’ll spend about $25 per year on Hearthstone. Quite good for a quality game!

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Pick your favorite class

The elements guide me

This is the follow up to the point about unlocking all the basic cards. Once you “get a feel” for all the classes, as most players do, you’ll start liking some more than others. In order to double check that the class or classes you selected work the way you think they do, even when you get a bigger collection, I recommend checking the streamers from my Hearthstone guide.

All of them are high legend constructed players (so top 0.01% or higher) or infinite arena players (I don’t have a percentage for this category, but it’s also very small).

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Pick your favorite play-style

Ribbit!

This one’s a bit trickier. The reason it’s trickier is because unlike the classes, some play styles are not available at the start. For example Handlock is a specific kind of control deck which requires expensive cards. Still, if you make a short list of styles and decks you like, you’ll probably find a cheaper version or a version you can change slightly until you can play the deck with the cards you already own.

At a minimum, decide on your deck archetype: control, midrange or aggro. This is a bit more flexible and you can select the actual deck a bit later.

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Craft higher rarity cards first

Bark cracking

When you open packs you get at least 4 common cards and 1 rare, in the worst case scenario. If you’re lucky you’ll get even better cards, but the chance for getting those better cards (such as epic or legendary cards) is lower.

If you want to see the exact stats, you can read about them here.

So, there’s a 20% chance that you’ll get an epic card and a 5% chance that you’re going to get a legendary card. But the trick is… you don’t know which epic or legendary you’ll get.

This means that unless you open 50-100+ packs, you can’t really guarantee that you’ll get the epic or legendary card you need.

On the other hand, you’ll get at least 4 common cards per pack, so getting the common cards is quite easy once you open a decent number of packs (the sweet spot is around 20 packs per expansion). For rare cards things are a little more tricky, but you still have a decent chance of getting the rare card you want from a pack if you open a reasonable number of packs.

What this means is that you should:

  • try to get most common and rare cards from packs
  • prioritize crafting epic and legendary cards unless you really, really need some common and rare cards for a deck you’d love to make
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Prioritize crafting key cards

Mmmmmmmm

This is even trickier. Some cards are “key” cards. They are a reason a specific deck can work, even in competitive environments. It’s quite hard to figure out what a key card is. For example Molten Giant is a key Handlock card. The deck wouldn’t work the same way without Molten Giants. As a result 2x Molten Giants is a high priority for any player that wants to play Handlock.

As a general rule, many of the key cards you will craft are rares and epics. For commons it’s generally a good idea to first buy some packs if you have spare gold, since commons are… common, so there’s a good chance that you’ll get them in a pack. Rares are… rare and epics are even rarer, so you’ll probably need to craft them once you have a specific deck in mind.

Legendaries are a special category since they are very rare and it’s very, very hard to get a specific legendary from a pack. However they are also very expensive and generally not a good return on dust, unless they are crucial. That’s why legendaries are generally crafted only in special circumstances.

As a new player it’s best to craft rares or epics since you will probably make suboptimal decisions at first and at least you won’t regret them that much :smile:

Now, for the exact list of “key cards”, that topic deserves its own article… stay tuned!

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Welcome to Hearthstone, a comprehensive Hearthstone guide

Hearthstone Logo

This article is a guide to Hearthstone for newer players. It’s actually a bit more than that, it is a curated collection of guides and useful links. These guides cover all major aspects of Hearthstone and they will definitely help you become a better player.

If you have suggestion for improvements use the comment section below or just contact me (contact details on the about page).

Required reading

Before we start talking about Hearthstone there are some articles I consider interesting and which I think you should read before going further, the main reason is that this way we’ll make sure that we are on the same page and talking about the same things.

Timmy, Johnny and Spike

Hearthstone has been inspired by a card game called Magic the Gathering (MTG for short). The creators of MTG, Wizards of the Coast, regularly publish articles about the design of MTG. “Timmy, Johnny and Spike” is one of the most important articles they’ve published, where they describe a very important design principle for MTG: player profiles they’ve created and which they use when designing new cards.

TL;DR:

  • Timmy: big creatures good!
  • Johnny: my 20-card combo did a million damage!
  • Spike: Winning is everything! Style is for losers!
  • A player is a mix of Timmy-Johnny-Spike, and usually 1 side dominates (Timmy 60% + Spike 40%, 20% Timmy + 80% Johnny, etc.).

For you as a player it’s important to figure out what your main focus will be because depending on it you will have to make various decisions as how to invest your time and money (Hearthstone can be a really expensive hobby if you’re not careful).

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Playing to win

“Playing to win” is a really old article by Sirlin which applies to basically any competitive multiplayer game. His examples come from fighting games such as Street Fighter but the ideas are valid in any game where people compete.

TL;DR:

  • Figure out if you’re playing for fun or to win.
  • If you’re playing for fun don’t feel bad if you lose.
  • If you feel really bad when you lose then you’re really playing to win, so you should just accept it.
  • When you decide that you play to win, use the best tactic allowed by the rules of the game.
  • Don’t allow yourself to get blocked by fake “moral” arguments while playing to win.
  • Also when you play to win, always look for reasons why you lost within your own actions, not outside.

To which I’d add:

  • Don’t burn out. Unless you’re a paid professional, take a break from the grind from time to time.
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Who’s the beatdown

“Who’s the beatdown” is another article about MTG which is also very relevant to Hearthstone.

TL;DR:

  • You need to know the strengths and weaknesses of your deck.
  • Back on these strengths and weaknesses you need to continually assess your role during the game.
  • There are 2 main roles: beatdown (aggressor = aggro) and control (defender).
  • These roles vary from game to game and even from turn to turn.
  • Never go in a game thinking that you will only have 1 role all game long.
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Hearthstone Wiki

Ok, this a bit of a stretch since it’s not exactly “required reading”, it’s more like an encyclopedia. And you should use it as an encyclopedia: as a reference. The place you go when you don’t know something. Such as details about a class or a card or an expansion or many other Hearthstone details I couldn’t possibly fit into a single article.

Without further ado: Hearthstone Wiki.

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Basics of Hearthstone

I could talk about the basics of Hearthstone but someone better than me has already done this: Trump.

Trump is one of the best known professional Hearthstone players, also one of the most popular Hearthstone streamers. He has published a series of videos where he teaches the basics of Hearthstone: “Trump Teachings”. Highly recommended as a newbie to Hearthstone and minion-based card games in general.

You can find the playlist here: Trump Teachings.

I’ll also link the individual videos in case you want to see just some of them (but I still recommend that you see all of them):

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Game modes

Basically everything we’ve discussed so far applies to all game modes in Hearthstone. So now it’s time to discuss about game modes and see what’s different in each one.

Solo adventures aka “Single player”

While fun, this is probably the least interesting aspect of Hearthstone. It contains:

  • a practice mode for absolute beginners
  • a slightly more advanced practice mode for intermediate players (Blizzard lovingly calling this one “expert mode”)
  • and adventures, which are slightly tougher single player battles which give you rewards

Adventures are not free, they cost either a lot of Hearthstone gold or quite a bit of real money. Just remember that you actually have to beat the computer opponents in order to get the rewards, you don’t instantly get the rewards when you pay for the adventures :wink:

Also, because Hearthstone always logs you in to the Blizzard servers, “single player” mode doesn’t work when you have no Internet connection. So no Hearthstone practice for you while you’re offline!

Play aka “Constructed”

Probably the biggest game mode of them all. This is the place where you can make your own decks. And the rest of this guide will be about the “constructed” game mode, except for the 2 sections below.

Probably the most complicated and competitive game mode.

It is separated into:

  • “Casual”, which has a hidden match making ranking system
  • “Play” (also called “Ladder” or “Ranked”), which has a “visible” ranking (ranked or position on the legend ladder for legend players)

Keep in mind that the match making system is far from perfect and in “Casual” you will probably face players with a lot more cards and experience than you. Just relax and try to make the most of it!

In “Ranked” you will start at rank 25 and progress until rank 20. Each win will give you 1 star and once you get a certain number of stars you will advance a rank. Starting at rank 19 each loss will erase one of your stars.

Until rank 5 if you win multiple consecutive games you will get extra stars. As a result it will be easier to advance up to rank 5. At rank 5 opponents start becoming a lot more efficient plus each loss cannot be compensated by win streaks, therefore the competition becomes fierce.

Arena

Arena is the place where you make your deck from random cards. For each deck slot you’re offered 3 cards and you have to pick one. Card rarity matters, so common cards are… common, rare cards are… rare (only several per deck), epic cards are… almost as rare (also several per deck) and legendary cards are super rare (you might make several decks without getting 1).

The best place to look for arena advice is HearthArena. Create an account, use it, and you will definitely get better at arena faster than you’d do it on your own.

Which is important since arena entries are not free, and if you manage to get 7+ wins constantly arena pays for itself.

Tavern Brawl aka “Brawl”

Tavern Brawl is the most casual game mode of Hearthstone. Each week a new game mode appears here with rules and decks made by Blizzard. Since everything is mostly random there’s not much to say about it.

Just select the game mode, read the rules and see what happens.

This mode is also great for beginners, in general, since many brawls offer you predefined decks so you are on equal footing with your opponents regarding the deck.

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The game and the meta-game

When discussing or reading about Hearthstone you’ll often hear about something called “the metagame”. Basically Hearthstone is a game of cards, as we know. Each time you click “Play” and you’re looking for an opponent you’re going to play the actual game, the one where you draw minions and spells, play them and try to kill the enemy hero before he kills you.

But as you get to know more and more about Hearthstone you’ll notice that there is a sort of game outside of the actual game, the so-called “metagame” (“game about the game”). Players are competing to not only out-play each other during the actual games, but even before the game starts.

How do you outplay an opponent you haven’t even met before Blizzard’s match making system pairs you up with him? By selecting the best deck to fight whatever is thrown against you.

There are 4 major parts to the metagame:

  • deck archetypes

  • deck creation

  • deck selection

  • deck tweaking

Deck archetypes and styles of play

Hearthstone has millions and millions of possible decks and probably tens of viable decks. However different and varied they might be, they fall into 3 major deck categories or deck archetypes:

  • Hyper aggressive decks (aggro)
  • Midrange decks (midrange or tempo)
  • Late game decks (control)

You will have to decide which archetype you like most and then create or select a deck of this type.

Aggro

Hunters

This decks archetype wants to finish the game quickly: ideally the opponent is dead before turn 8. Games are fast (~5 minutes) and you’re all in. You either kill your opponent quickly or he comes back and you run out of steam. Good aggro decks have a mechanism to continue even when they run out of steam but this usually only work when the opponent is still struggling to stay alive even in later turns. If the opponent gains some board presence or heals a lot before your “kill point” the game is usually over even if your “steroid” mechanic activates.

Against all other non-aggro decks aggro deck are the “beatdown”. Against other aggro decks they can become a sort of strange “control deck” unless they decide to race each other for face damage, trying to kill the opponent 1 turn before the opponent kills them.

Aggro usually relies on:

  • low cost (80% 1-2-3 mana; 20% 4+ mana) minions and spells, forming a low “mana curve”
  • mass playing (spamming) these low cost minions
  • using minions with charge for instant damage
  • efficiently costed spells for face damage (or minion removal in dire cases)
  • little to no AOE, especially if the AOE does not hit the enemy face as well
  • little to no card draw
  • no taunts or heals

Midrange / tempo

Shaman/Rogue

This deck archetype is in between aggro and control. With a good card draw it can end a game as quickly as aggro decks but if it don’t it still has the potential to handle the late game. Unlike pure aggro decks or pure control decks these decks fill a continuum where they can be almost like aggro or almost like control, depending on how they’re tweaking by their creator.

Midrange / tempo decks are very fluid in switching between the “beatdown” and “control” roles. They are generally “controlly” against aggro and “beatdowny” against control.

Midrange usually relies on:

  • a mix of efficient low cost and average cost minions and spells (80% 2-3-4-5-6 mana, 20% 6+ mana)
  • playing the best minion for the context, balancing trading with face damage
  • few or no charge minions
  • versatile spells used for minion removal (or face damage if close to killing the opponent, also known as “lethal”)
  • some AOE spells, amount and type varies wildly depending on the deck
  • good to great card draw
  • some taunts or heals, amount and type varies wildly depending on the deck

Control

Warrior/Priest

This deck archetype is the most defensive one: in the vast majority of games their opponent will be killed after turn 8. Games are long (can go up to 15-20-40 minutes) and unless forced by the opponent no single turn is “all in”. Control players like to hedge their bets :smile:

Against most other decks control decks plays the “control” role (no surprise here). Against some specific control decks even control decks become weird “beatdown” decks, much as aggro versus aggro produces weird results :smile:.

Control relies on:

  • high cost minions or spells (50% 5+ mana, 20% 7+ mana)
  • playing the best minion for the context, focusing on board control until very, very late (usually later than turn 10)
  • few or no charge minions
  • strong spells used for minion removal
  • very strong AOE spells
  • average card draw
  • many taunts or heals

Extra

Besides these major archetypes you will hear about various other deck types. These actually fit into the categories above, but they have their own twists:

  • Combo: rely on a very strong combo to kill their opponent; they’re either midrange or control based on their mana curve
  • Mill/Grinder/Fatigue: rely on either destroying key enemy cards (“milling) or prolonging the game so much that their opponent is killed either by a lack of responses for their actions or by fatigue damage

Deck creation

I’m going to start with this one, even though it is by far the hardest part of Hearthstone. You’ve opened Hearthstone, clicked “My Collection” → “New Deck” and now are looking at a blank list which you will need to fill with 30 cards. You’re like a writer looking at a blank page.

Depending on your personality, this case be either a scary moment or a fun one.

If this is a scary moment, I recommend that you skip to the deck selection part.

If on the other hand this is a fun moment, go ahead! Start adding cards and play. Just remember that the initial plan you had for the deck might not work out so don’t feel bad if you lose to people playing decks which have been combat-tested across thousands of games. All that matters is that you have fun. Either by winning a lot of games, or some games in a spectacular fashion or by tweaking your deck until it often does what you want it to do.

One thing to always keep in mind: creating entirely new decks is hard. Hearthstone has millions and millions of players all trying to outsmart each other constantly and some of them have created highly efficient, ruthless, hero-killing machine-type decks. You will meet all of them as you play more and more games.

This article has some good advice about making a deck.

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Deck selection and netdecking

Ok, the next best option to creating your own deck is using a pre-existing deck (this is called “netdecking”). The disadvantage is that you’ll be playing a deck that other players are also playing and as a result your opponents will have probably faced this deck at least once. In case of really popular decks, they’ve probably seen it many times (Hi there, “Face Hunter”!).

There are sites where you can find decks other people are playing. The best sites are ones where decks are tagged by costs (gold and dust) and rated so that you can figure out quickly if many other players consider the deck any good.

At the moment, the top sites for netdecking are:

hearthpwn.com

icy-veins.com

Besides actually selecting a good deck for your favorite class, it is generally a good idea to also see if the deck you selected is actually good against the current metagame. This is quite hard to do and it usually involves a mix of playing games and doing some research online. One of the most helpful sites for this is Tempo Storm’s site (Tempo Storm is a pro Hearthstone team). They publish a weekly review of popular and powerful decks, called the Meta Snapshot.

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Deck tweaking, core cards, tech cards and stats tracking

Whether you’ve created a deck or “just” netdecked one, you will still need to perfect the deck, especially since the game evolves as players gain a better and better understanding of their decks.

In order to perfect your deck you will need to understand it so first of all you should play it as is. This is called “piloting the deck” in Hearthstone slang.

The first important step is to figure out which are the core cards and the “tech” cards of the deck.

Core cards

The core cards are the cards without the deck simply does not function as designed. If you remove them it does not mean that the deck is necessarily “broken”, instead it might just mean that you turned your deck into another deck.

Examples of core cards:

Core Cards

  • Molten Giants for Handlock
  • Grim Patrons for Patron Warrior
  • Tirion Fordring for Midrange Paladin

Tech cards

“Tech” cards are cards used as a counter to something, they’re the “technology” you use against a specific threat. Unlike core cards they can be swapped in and out of a deck depending on the type of opponent you’re facing most.

Examples of tech cards:

Tech Cards

  • Black Knight against decks with lots of taunts
  • Ironbeak Owl against enemy minions with taunt, strong deathrattles or against buffs
  • Harrison Jones against decks with powerful weapons

Be careful while changing tech cards in a netdeck as a good netdeck has been most likely been tweaked through tech cards to cover the deck’s weakness. Try to ask a more experienced player or the deck creator before changing tech cards.

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Stats tracking

So now you know what kind of deck archetype you want to play, what exact deck and what core cards and tech cards you want. At least you think you do :)

In order to make sure that your decisions are correct you should track your stats. Hearthstone is a casual-friendly game and as a result it does not offer stats tracking in order to not frighten newcomers such as yourself :)

But if you’re not scared of practicing in order to improve your game, there are third-party stats trackers. Unfortunately the mobile versions of Hearthstone do not have stats tracking, so if you want to track your stats on mobile you will have to do it the old fashioned way with pen & paper or Excel spreadsheets.

If you play the desktop version, especially on Windows, then you’re in luck.

The Hearthstone Deck Tracker is the most common tracker in use right now. Once you’ve installed it and configured it (which can be tricky), it will automatically track your results with various decks. It offers a lot of powerful features such as:

  • in-game card tracking for yourself and your opponent (it shows % chances for you or your opponent to draw a specific card)
  • game history separated per deck
  • and a ton of other features

Really useful and powerful, definitely recommended if you’re the competitive, Spike, type.

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Basic decks

Courtesy of Sheng from hearthstonecoaching.gom, a set of good basic decks.

These deck won’t take you to legend (unless you’re super smart or super lucky or both :smile:), but they are a good place to start. Each deck comes with an explanation of why a specific card was selected over another one and the reasoning is solid.

Especially at the beginning I recommend that you play a bit with these decks while you level up your classes and try to get a feel for each class until at some point you will probably arrive at a play style you like or a class you like. Or both.

I also recommend that you do not make any serious investment decisions regarding Hearthstone before you play a bit with all these decks. Otherwise you might regret your initial decision terribly later on :smile:

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Budget decks

Now we’re getting to the more volatile sections. These decks were after the release of the Grand Tournament (TGT for short) expansion.

It is very important to note that unlike the basic decks, which are completely free, these require more resources. And this is where “budget” becomes very important.

Hearthstone has been designed to be “free to play” (F2P). This means that it can be played for free. But actually making such a complex game and hosting it for millions of players for many years is not cheap. As a result not everything in Hearthstone is available immediately. The major thing players care about are cards. Out of the total number of cards, hundreds and hundreds, only a small number are available for free.

The rest have to be paid, with either your cash or your time. In Hearthstone time = gold.

Based on the amount of cash and time you have you could either spend hundreds of dollars on the game to get a full collection ($1000 should do the trick) or spend hundreds and hundreds of hours (it could be even thousands of hours).

Of course, you don’t need a full collection to play, but to really enjoy the experience you will probably need at least 1-2 somewhat competitive decks per class.

And if you are here, then you probably want to improve, so you are competitive, you are “Spike”.

Again, courtesy of Sheng, a set of good budget decks.

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Budget management

You might be wondering: “What budget management are you talking about?”. Well, your wallet.

Hearthstone is a free game. Actually it is a “free to play” game (or F2P). When you start playing it is free and if you’re only playing it rarely it remains free.

However, as you keep playing more and more you notice that the odds are stacked heavily against you, especially if you play the constructed game mode. And Blizzard has made sure that you can’t advance without a huge time or cash investment. When I say huge, I mean hundreds and hundreds of hours of grinding and hundreds and hundreds of dollars invested, if you’re not careful.

This section deserves its own article, but here are some basic rules regarding budget management:

Quests

Try to do all your daily quests. Use the tiny “x” in the corner to dismiss quests you know you cannot do or it takes you a very long time to do (for example quests with a class you barely have cards for). Also dismiss quests worth 40 gold if you are feeling confident that you could do a 50-60-100 gold quest with another class.

The gold really adds up after several weeks or month. Don’t miss out on it.

A great resource for figuring out how to get gold/dust in Hearthstone is the wiki page. I’d recommend not spending your initial gold/dust until after you’ve read this page. I know I wasted quite a bit of resources before I read it :disappointed:

Aventures

Adventures are better bought with real cash, if the cards in them are considered good by the community. Buying them with gold is very inefficient, by design. It is a good idea to determine how many pieces of these adventures you actually want to buy (pieces = adventure “wings”).

Card packs

Card packs are not a really good investment except for the initial phase where you want to kickstart your collection. Ideally you only want to buy packs, preferably with gold, when an expansion is out.

Arena

Getting a decent set of arena skills, allowing you to get at least 4-5 wins per run, is a very good idea. Arena rewards you with a random pack from the Classic, Goblin versus Gnomes or The Grand Tournament sets. It is the best way to fill your collection on a budget, together with quests.

Golden cards

Short version: don’t. They’re very expensive to create. If you have extra golden cards, always disenchant them and get useful cards you’re lacking. Don’t disenchant golden epic or legendary cards if you don’t have them already, because you will lose dust in the conversion process if you’re ever forced to re-craft them.

Disenchanting

Always disenchant the extra copies. That means anything more than 2x for common/rare/epic and anything more than 1x for legendaries. The extra copies don’t help with anything. Except for bragging that you have 5 Malornes.

Also, don’t disenchant “bad” cards in the beginning. You have way too little experience to decide correctly what a bad card is. Plus many “bad” cards suddenly become useful when a strong deck is created which has them.

As I said, this section deserves its own (probably huge, article).

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How to progres

Practice, practice, practice

Kind of obvious: as you play more you become better and better at Hearthstone.

However, something many people miss is that past a certain point you need to practice in a systematic manner. For this you will need a big, overarching goal and a set of steps to achieve it.

For example:

  • Goal: achieve legend.
  • Steps:
      1. craft a Tempo Mage deck
      1. learn to play it by playing some casual games
      1. start playing on the ranked ladder, tracking your stats
      1. based on your stats tweak your deck if your win rate over a larger number of games is low (50% or less)
      1. if after tweaking your win rate still stays low, change decks
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Watch streams or videos

Another way to become better is to watch better players. Watch their games and ask yourself after each play:

What would I have done differently? Why did he play the turn this way? What would have happened 1-2-3 turns from now with my play and with his play?

StrifeCro

  • Deck preference: control & combo.
  • Presentation & playstyle: relaxed & slow.
  • Game modes: constructed.
  • Favorite classes: Mage, Warlock, Paladin.

StrifeCro Youtube StrifeCro Twitch

Trump

  • Deck preference: control.
  • Presentation & playstyle: relaxed & slow.
  • Game modes: constructed, arena, brawl.
  • Favorite classes: Paladin, Warlock.

I’d recommend also watching his teaching for Hearthstone decks. Even though some of them might be out of data as expansions appear they still cover a wide variety of playstyles.

Trump Youtube Trump Twitch

Kripparian

  • Deck preference: N/A.
  • Presentation & playstyle: serious & slow.
  • Game modes: arena.
  • Favorite classes: Mage.

Kripparian Youtube Kripparian Twitch

Kolento

  • Deck preference: control.
  • Presentation & playstyle: serious & slow.
  • Game modes: constructed.
  • Favorite classes: Priest.

Kolento Youtube Kolento Twitch

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And for the daring souls that got this far…

And I’d like to thank everyone who had the patience to read this far! You rock!


... Read more

HearthCraft Episode 1: Classic set - neutral legendaries

Hello, I’m oblio and I’ll be your host for a new series called “Which cards should I craft first as a new Hearthstone player?”. That’s a mouth-full, so I’ll just call it “HearthCraft” from now on :smile:

One of the most important things you have to decide as a new player is: which cards you’re going to craft with your spare dust. Unless your name is Donald Trump, you probably don’t want to throw a lot of :heavy_dollar_sign::heavy_dollar_sign::heavy_dollar_sign: on cards you will not use.

This guide is meant for players who want a collection that allows them to play the highest variety of competitive decks. If you love to play the same class or archetype over and over and over again, your crafting priority will be different.
This guide is also meant as a long term guide. This means that some cards have been selected because they are close to being viable now and it's not hard to predict that they will become usable once Hearthstone's card pool becomes bigger.

Hearthstone has a lot of cards so I’ve decided to make several articles about this topic, each one of them covering a different part of the ever-growing Hearthstone collection. As new expansions appear I will publish new articles and I will link them here, so stay tuned!

  • HearthCraft Episode 1: Classic set - neutral legendaries (you are here)
  • HearthCraft Episode 2: Classic set - neutral epics
  • HearthCraft Episode 3: Classic set - neutral rares (part 1)
  • HearthCraft Episode 4: Classic set - neutral rares (part 2)
  • HearthCraft Episode 5: Classic set - neutral commons (part 1)
  • HearthCraft Episode 6: Classic neutral commons (part 2)

Let’s get started. I’ll list the cards according to their crafting priority.

Must have

These are the cards that are most likely to be used in decks you create or you find on the internet. They are so powerful or versatile that most players would consider them better than the alternatives.

Sylvanas Windrunner

Sylvanas Windrunner

Sylvanas is a staple of many control and midrange decks. Besides the solid 5/5 body she comes with a game-swinging deathrattle: she steals an enemy minion. As a 5/5 she can deal with most aggro deck minions (which are usually high attack - low HP minions) or she can suicide into the control deck’s “bomb” and steal the damage unit after she dies. Either way, decent against aggro and a huge swing against midrange and control decks. She tends to provoke awkward trades or overextension by board flooding (thus playing directly into AOE).

Sylvanas can be seen in a large number of decks and she has “survived” 2 expansions and 2 adventures already. Unless major power creep occurs, she will still be seen in many decks in the future.


Ysera

Ysera

Ysera is the veteran “control dragon”. She has a solid 4/12 body which is quite hard to kill unless you have direct removal when she is played. If not answered she starts creating special cards called “Dream Cards”. These cards range from decent (3 mana untargetable 3/5, 4 mana dragon 7/6) to strong (0 mana return minion to owner’s hand, 0 mana give minion 5/5 then destroy it next turn) to almost overpowered (2 mana deal 5 damage to all characters except Ysera).

Against aggro decks and midrange decks the body can trade at least 2-to-1, while the dream cards can at minimum provide additional bodies to throw on the table and at best can provide additional reach for a surprise lethal while racing. Aggro decks are less affected by Ysera as by turn 9, when she is usually played, they are close to killing the enemy and Ysera doesn’t have an immediate effect on the board or on either player’s HP.

Besides the advantages mentioned against aggro and midrange decks, against control decks the body usually trades at least 1-to-1 while the dream cards provide another stream of cards allowing the Ysera player to avoid drawing and going into fatigue first.

Overall, a very solid card in slower metas and a staple of the dragon “tribe”.


Alexstrasza

Alexstrasza

Alexstrasza is another veteran from the dragon “tribe”. She can be seen in control and combo decks. Depending on the situation Alexstrasza is either used to do up to 15 damage to the enemy’s face (maybe allowing lethal next turn) or to heal for up to 15 damage. On top of the instant effect she brings a 8/8 body which trades well with most enemy minions or forces the usage of direct removal. Even if the enemy uses removal on the body, the effect has already taken place, and it is a very powerful effect in many circumstances.

Especially for new players Alexstrasza provides one of the best examples of “good card”: instant, powerful effect on the game.


Ragnaros the Firelord

Ragnaros the Firelord

Ragnaros is staple of midrange or control decks. He is a weird minion, more like a turret than an actual minion, since he cannot attack directly. Instead, at the end of the round he does 8 damage to a random enemy target. You can think of him as a Demolisher on steroids.

Ragnaros is the epitome of big threat: 8 mana for 8/8 stats, does 8 damage to a random enemy. In most situations he cannot be ignored so he is used as a sort of “timer”.

Against aggro decks he is only used to race while against midrange and control decks he is usually used for a 50-50 chance of destroying a huge enemy threat or to bring the enemy into lethal range.


Harrison Jones

Harrison Jones

Harrison Jones is a bit of an odd-ball on the “must have” list. He’s not the staple of any deck. With his 5/4 stats and his quirky battlecry, he can’t really be. He is however one of the most common “tech cards”. Any time classes with weapons flood the metagame, Harrison is bound to show up. Together with his smaller brother, Acidic Swamp Ooze. Or, for the more desperate amongst us, Bloodsail Corsair.

There are 5 classes which can have weapons:

  • Rogue
  • Warrior
  • Hunter
  • Paladin
  • Shaman

It’s a good bet that any time in Hearthstone’s history at least one of those classes was popular of very popular. As a result, Harrison is a common sight in decks. Even if he’s not “must have” in the sense that you can’t build your deck without him, you will want to have him in those moments of need.

Against aggro and midrange decks Harrison is used either as a vanilla 5 mana 5/4 (quite underwhelming) or as a weapon removal in a crucial moment in the game (for example against a Hunter with a Eaglehorn Bow and a trap in play). If the midrange deck is slower he might even be used for the second part of his battlecry, card drawing.

Against control Harrison is used in the same way, but with less emphasis on playing him without benefiting from his battlecry, and a lot more emphasis on drawing several cards when possible.


Nice to have

These are cards which are not seen as often in powerful decks as the “must haves”. Nonetheless, they are decent cards and if you have all the “must haves” and want to craft another card, these are some of the next best cards.

Bloodmage Thalnos

Bloodmage Thalnos

Bloodmage Thalnos is a pint sized legendary. A minuscule body with 2 strong effects attached: draw a card and spell damage +1.

From the beginning of Hearthstone Thalnos has been a friend of Rogues, Shamans and Mages, helping them with their card draw problems and with removal.

Unlike most of the cards on these lists, Thalnos is not flashy. The minuscule skeleton come on the board when it’s time to kill the enemy, destroy a minion or there’s a dire need for another card.

One could say that he’s the redshirt of Hearthstone.


Malygos

Malygos

Also known as “the creator of many OTK videos”. Malygos packs a powerful body, the same as Ysera’s (4/12) but with a different kind of effect. Malygos’ effect is instant and is very strong (+5 spell damage) but in many situations cannot be used because Malygos himself costs 9 mana. And once Malygos is on the board the enemy will do whatever it takes to kill him.

As a result Malygos is a bit less consistent than Ysera. Still, players have found ways to include him in top-tier decks and even if you’re not that competitive, he’s the kind of minion that can really make for interesting videos.



Leeroy Jenkins

Leeroy Jenkins

“Leeeeeeeroy Jenkins” is the sound many Hearthstone players have heard just before they lost the game. Leeroy is a 5 mana 6 damage charger many decks have used in the past as a finisher. Combo Warlock, Face Hunter and especially Miracle Rogue have used him successfully. And every time there’s a new aggro deck that needs a way to push for a bit more damage, Leeroy pops up from time to time. Leeroy is not in the “must have” list since he has been nerfed from 4 mana to 5 mana.

He is still a solid card if you’re more into aggro/face decks.



The Black Knight

The Black Knight

From the Harrison Jones of tech cards comes The Black Knight (also known as TBK). TBK has a very specific niche and he’s very good at it: destroying taunts. For 6 mana he comes with a modest 4/5 body and a powerful effect in the right conditions: destroy an enemy with taunt.

His effect is strong but he is a lot more situational than Harrison (and also 1 mana more expensive, another important factor) and as a result he is not in the list of “must haves”. However, when Ramp Druids, Handlocks or other classes with an emphasis on taunts pop up en-masse, TBK is the go-to-minion (together with his little brother, Ironbeak Owl.


Baron Geddon

Baron Geddon

Baron Geddon is seen most often in control Warrior decks. Sometimes he even shows up in other grindy control decks, such as Control Mage.

He brings a decent 7/5 body and a very powerful effect that can backfire: 2 damage done to every character, at the end of every round. His effect is great against board blooding. If he is not killed he almost guarantees a clear board every time.

Unfortunately for him, there aren’t many classes in Hearthstone that can take the self-punishment of 2 damage to every friendly minion plus 2 damage to your own hero, on top of that.


Captain Greenskin

Captain Greenskin

The last neutral legendary in the Classic set to make the cut for the list is Captain Greenskin. As a 5/5 body for 5 mana, he is underwhelming, but he comes with a decent battlecry and is part of the “pirate” tribe.

If there’s ever a chance for the pirates to become popular, you can bet that Captain Greenskin will be part of them. Every now and then a Pirate deck appears, usually Pirate Rogue, and every time Captain Greenskin is the leader of the expedition.




Cairne Bloodhoof

Cairne Bloodhoof

Cairne is the epitome of value. For 6 mana you’re getting 8/10 worth of stats distributed in 2 rather solid bodies. He was once a staple of control decks.

Unfortunately, right now a 4-attack value isn’t strong enough since it doesn’t trade well into the usual 5/5s played on turn 5 or 6. And it also can’t one-shot the first half of Sludge Belcher.

However, Cairne still packs a lot of stats together with a useful and consistent deathrattle. It’s hard to discount the old Tauren forever.



Onyxia

Onyxia

The daughter of Deathwing (we’ll meet him a little bit later). For 9 mana you get a solid 8/8 body and as many 1/1 whelps as you can fit on your side of the board.

Like many other legendaries, she fails the Big Game Hunter (BGH) test. Her main body has over 7 damage so it can be taken out by the annoying, yet powerful dwarf. Still, unlike many other legendaries in our next section, she still leaves behind the pack of whelps she summons.

Onyxia is a bit slow but with the right setup it’s not hard to think that she might become useful in future competitive decks.


Hogger

Hogger

Hogger is another odd-ball. He costs 6 mana and has a very small body for that price (4/4 instead of the 6/7 expected for this cost). To make up for it, at the end of his turn he summons a 2/2 taunt.

This summoning ability can’t really make up for the fact that his main body is killed quite easily, therefore Hogger is not seen very often in decks. He does pop up from time to time, and with a bit of setup he can be useful in token decks (decks which rely on a large number of small minions).



King Mukla

King Mukla

An unlikely contender for the list, I admit, Mukla can fit some very interesting niches. He’s been used successfully as part of Face Hunter decks (Mukla is a beast, literally) and Aggro Paladin (Divine Favor can draw more cards of off the bananas you give your opponent).

Mukla is the epitome of tempo: you get a 5/5 beast on round 3. He can trade at least 2-to-1 or can usually get in at least 5 face damage. The bananas he gives your opponent can backfire and that’s why he’s not higher on the list. But in the right deck your enemies won’t have a lot of time to digest their bananas…



Deathwing

Deathwing

Probably the most controversial pick. However, I doubt that anyone can argue with my next statement…

Deathwing is the biggest, baddest dragon of them all. 10 mana for a 12/12 that also clears the board, entirely. Deathwing is the epitome of face smashing.

But he also discards your whole hand.

You will see him in strange aggro decks that want a flashy finisher or in control decks built around dragons.

He is also extremely, extremely slow against aggro decks, since you can usually only play him on turn 10 (you might already be dead by turn 7…).

A wonderfully designed card. It’s a pity that he lives in a world with BGHs, Annoy-o-trons and Sludge Belchers.


Forgotten & crazy legendaries

Besides the legendaries we’ve already reviewed, some legendaries have either faded into the past or only wacky decks play them. Here they are:

Legendary name Why is is not played?
Nozdormu Too slow, dies to BGH, too freaky.
Gruul Too slow, dies to BGH.
Illidan Stormrage Dies to BGH, it’s hard to trigger him many times.
The Beast Dies to BGH and then helps your opponent.
Tinkmaster Overspark Too risky. It’s too easy to give your opponent a 5/5 or turn your own big minion into a 1/1.
Lorewalker Cho No deck can afford to play 0 spells.
Millhouse Manastorm No deck can afford to let the opponent play all his spells in 1 turn, for free.
Nat Pagle Too slow, too risky, doesn’t trade at all.

And here we have it, folks. Stay tuned for the next episodes!


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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.


Gold

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.

Conclusion

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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Welcome to Hearthstone, you suck!

Hearthstone Logo

The original article title was an obscure joke. Since the guide is meant for newbies and it was supposed to be as clear and straightforward as possible, I’ve since renamed the article, updated it and now you can find it here:

Welcome to Hearthstone, a comprehensive Hearthstone guide.


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Personal opinions about history, news, computers and programming.