Blizzard’s unexpected online collectible card game, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, has opened up the beta to all players who opted in. With the large influx of new blood and competition, it behooves players to seek out advanced strategies and tactics to get an edge. Here are some valuable (though hardly exhaustive) bits of advice from someone that has been playing the Hearthstone beta since it opened up months ago.
Disenchanting two-thirds of your collection to try to grab a couple epics or even a legendary might seem like a good idea, and it might even be so in the short-term, but doing so is highly inefficient. Disenchanting only gives a tiny fraction of the card’s worth in dust. Only having one good deck will make you tire of the game faster and make you less capable of doing class-specific quests. Balance changes might make those cards you disenchanted suddenly good and the ones you crafted suddenly bad or mediocre. Furthermore, when Blizzard changes the balance on a card, they make those cards give full dust when disenchanted. If you are absolutely certain you do not need a card, you are better off waiting until such an opportunity.
Learn Your Deck
The two basic kinds of decks are rush and control. Rush attempts to flood the field with minions and burst down the other player within the first few turns. Rush decks are almost always run by warlocks because of their minions and extra draw power, though druids are known to attempt rushes as well. Murlocs are the most common rush deck theme, and they are rarely used for anything else. Control decks are the bread and butter of the game and depend on keeping control of the field and winning either with attrition or by waiting for a certain combo of cards. Most decks are some form of control so they come in quite a variety.
Learn Everyone Else’s Deck
You do not need to know exactly which cards are in each player’s deck but you should know in general the common tricks of each class, what kind of decks you will see, and how to tell which of that class’ decks you are facing within the first few turns. At least half of warlocks seem to have rush decks. Priests almost always play control. Shamans will try to set up windfury/rockbiter/bloodlust combos. Mages tend to stall until later in the game and you should never have more than three minions on the field when it hits turn seven against a mage.
Keep an eye on which cards you see popping up again and again in opponents’ decks. You see Sen’jin Shieldmastas, Shattered Sun Clerics, Ironbeak Owls, Novice Engineers and Chillwind Yetis everywhere for very good reasons. That said, rarely used cards are not necessarily bad; they may only be good for very specific kinds of decks.
Rare =/= Good
All those cards just mentioned? All basic cards (and one uncommon). On average, the rarer cards might outclass the common and starter cards, but you cannot count on an individual card being good just because it happens to have the word “Legendary” attached. Reaching the upper echelons of ranked play with a budget deck is not hard if you know how to play and construct the deck well. Gimmicky legendary spam decks can feel frustrating to fight but a Raging Worgen (basic card) with a damage buff can do as much or more damage if used and supported properly.
Do Not Be Afraid to Take a Hit
Sometimes using an Arcanite Reaper to kill the enemy’s Core Hound is the best move. The damage might feel like a lot, but if you have no other way to take out that minion, nine damage from one attack is better than 18 from two. Throwing out a weak minion just to get something on the field will come back to bite you if the enemy can take it out without losing their own minion.
Likewise, you do not always have to rush to clear your opponent’s minions from the board the second they go down. Waiting a turn to use a more efficient option to clear the board can easily turn the tide of the game and leave your opponent at a disadvantage.
Think About Efficiency
Keep this tip in mind, always. Write it on a sticky note and keep it on your computer screen. Efficiency wins games, no matter which kind of deck you have. Rush decks need to get the most bang for their mana as fast as possible, just as well as control decks need to consistently use their mana and cards better than their opponents. You want to always have more cards available than your opponent does. Players call this “card advantage.” The more options you have open, compared to your opponent, the more easily you can make optimal choices. This aspect of the game does not find itself limited to card draw effects, though. When an enemy minion can kill two of your fresh minions before dying, your enemy has a one-card advantage. When a mage uses a flamestrike to kill six minions, the mage grabs a five-card advantage.
Try to use your mana to maximum effect, while also keeping in mind card advantage. Once you hit the “End Turn” button, all that extra mana you had disappears into the ether. If you can do something to advance your board position without overextending yourself, you should do it. As mentioned before, putting out more than three minions against a mage with unused flamestrikes on turn seven or later is just asking for it.