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A beginner’s guide to HearthStone

Finally here for everyone to play
Finally here for everyone to play

Hearthstone is Blizzard’s new online card game that just hit open beta, meaning anyone can currently sign up and play. It’s completely free to play with optional in game purchases. As is the case with most micro transaction systems, spending cash can give you an edge but they do a good job of keeping it from becoming necessary to spend money, while making it advantageous for people willing to drop money. This guide is meant for the people just getting into the open beta who don’t know quite what to expect.

Things you should expect and the basics

If you haven’t played a card game, like Magic the gathering in your past, you will be at a disadvantage. The pacing, resources and mechanics are similar but it is it’s own game. You gain one mana per turn which you can use to play cards. Low mana cost cards are necessary for most decks as they are the only cards you will be able to play for the early rounds of the game. As the game progresses and you gain more mana, higher mana cost cards begin to be played making the game escalate quickly.

First off it’s important to realize that the game involves a large amount of luck. The real skill of the game comes in calculating odds, making intelligent risks and understanding why and what your opponent is going to try to do to you.

Losing is a big part of the game as no matter how good of a player you are, you won’t always get the right draws or you might just make the wrong call even if it made the most sense. It’s important to learn from your losses but not let them frustrate you.

Things to understand

An example of a calculated risk is the card Mad Bomber who deals 1 damage to 3 random targets,excluding himself. Your hero and any other creature you have can be targeted by this ability and it can regularly backfire upon you but it is still an incredibly powerful card if used properly. The perfect situation for this card is when you have no minions out and your opponent has 1 minion with 1 health. It is very likely that one of those instances of damage will hit that minion and kill it and even if it doesn't, he has more targets for the damage than you do so it is very likely he will take more damage than you. This card is effective anytime your opponent has more minions than you but this example serves to show the perfect situation.

It is important for your deck to have synergy. You want to find a good balance of neutral cards that support well with your hero cards. A great example here is the Priest hero’s synergy with the card Gurubashi Berserker. The Berserker gains 3 attack every time it is injured and the Priest is able to heal the card with it’s ability and various cards. This makes your opponent afraid to injure these cards because it will only make them stronger. This then allows you to control the tempo of the match. Another example is the Ancient Watcher and taunt. The watcher is a 4 attack 5 health creature who cannot attack and costs 2 mana. At first glance the inability to attack makes him seem useless but when teamed with taunt it makes for a incredibly efficient tank to keep your other creatures alive and deal massive damage to anything that tries to attack.

Every deck has a timing window in which you should take control of the game in. When making a deck it’s important to understand what kind of timing window you are have. Certain decks are about sustaining early aggression and taking the match later, where they will bring out large minions and overpower their enemy. Other decks are about getting out early damage and trying to secure the win before you opponent can recover. A great place to find information on decks and see what people are talking about is the Reddit for Heartstone.

Which hero suites you?

It’s a good idea to play every class at least to some degree so you can understand how they work and what to expect when you play against them. At the same time it’s also good to focus on a few classes at a time to keep from getting overwhelmed. Here is a quick rundown on every class to help you understand them and decide which to start with.

  • Warrior- Great early aggression and utility with weapons, efficient minions and damage.
  • Druid- Balanced class that can stay powerful in all stages of the game but rarely shines in any particularly.
  • Mage- Revolves around constant pressure with spells and weaker minions. Tries to seal victory in a quick burst mid game or deal steady damage throughout the early rounds.
  • Priest- Relies heavily on the ability to heal and control the minion advantage. Shines mid to late game.
  • Rogue- Heavy damage to minions and steady damage to hero. Attempts to slowly kill you through controlling minion advantage and regular damage.
  • Hunter- Is incredibly strong early to mid game with powerful minions in large numbers and many ways to deal damage.
  • Shaman- Will win a game without their opponent even sensing danger, Shaman bring incredible burst through minion control and buffs.
  • Paladin- Bring a large quantity of weak minions to the battle early and can enhance them with buffs to last until they bring out strong minions in the late game. Steadily builds strength as the game progresses and tries to eventually overwhelm their opponents with numbers and strength.
  • Warlock- Relying heavily on drawing and discarding cards, they aim to overwhelm their opponents with quantity.

Just play

All the preparation in the world won’t get you as far as getting out there and playing. What’s important is that you feel comfortable and learn what to expect from your opponents. Take it one game at a time and you should be getting strong in no time.

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