Introducing the Hearthstone Top Decks F2P BTW Challenge

Within the Hearthstone community, you’ll find frequent discussions about the high cost of entry for the game. There’s no denying that amassing card collection capable of building even a handful of top-tier decks requires a great deal of either time or money. However, an informed approach to quest management, pack openings, and card crafting can take you far in Hearthstone without spending a cent.

Here at Hearthstone Top Decks, we wanted to find out exactly how much progress an experienced player can make on a fresh, free-to-play account. The end goal is to provide quality content, specifically tailored to the new player experience in Hearthstone.

Who am I?

None of your… Well, actually, I’m Roffle and I’m an author here at Hearthstone Top Decks. From time to time, I write guides about specific decks, as well as articles on more general topics. I’ve been playing the game since closed beta and have accumulated a robust collection while spending very little real money. In past seasons, I regularly make the grind to Legend, including brief stints at Rank 1 Legend in the Wild format.

For the month of October 2017 (Season 43), however, I’ll be starting with a blank slate and recording my journey up the Standard ladder.

Progress Reports

Each week, you can expect to see a summary of my experiences, rank progress, detailed statistics, goals for the upcoming week, and any ridiculous moment I encounter along the way. These progress reports will make it possible for readers to follow along as I (hopefully) make my way up the ladder.

New Player Guides

Starting a new account in any game can be intimidating for inexperienced Hearthstone players. Along with regular check-ins, new content will be created for Hearthstone Top Decks related to optimizing certain aspects of Hearthstone collections management, resource accumulation, and pack openings. The guides will use my experience in the F2P Challenge as the foundation for providing new and casual players alike tips for climbing ranks without breaking the bank.

Challenge Goal

My goal for the first month is to reach at least Rank 5 on the new account. In terms of end of season rewards, there is little difference (about 45 Arcane Dust) between Rank 5 and Legend. Generally, new players should focus energy on achieving this rank threshold and push for Legend ranks when they have a more replete collection (and plenty of time). 

Obviously, as a veteran player, I have a massive advantage over the average new player. As such, I’m more than happy to face the ridicule if I come up short of my goal. That said, the purpose of this challenge is not to showcase my Hearthstone prowess. Rather, it’s meant to provide new players with more relatable how-to guides from an experienced player facing several of the same challenges.

Challenge Rules

Before going any further, let’s set some rules for this endeavor.

  • First and foremost, no money, gift cards, or game keys can be used to purchase packs or arena runs. Cards can only be accumulated through in-game rewards.
  • Only Legendary Cards on the Safe to Disenchant list can be dusted. Moreover, any card that is played in any of the Top Standard Ladder Decks cannot be disenchanted. Asking a new player to part with powerful cards that could be used in the future is unreasonable, so I’ll avoid doing so myself.
  • Arena, which is typically leveraged by free-to-play accounts, is limited to the one free run granted from leveling up. As an above-average player, I could easily grind out Arena runs to earn additional packs this month. However, the learning curve for the format makes it intimidating for new players. Instead, I’ll rely solely on quest rewards to earn packs on my new account.
  • Additionally, time played will be monitored to ensure that a fairly realistic game-life balance is considered. Like many, I have a life outside of Hearthstone (including a full-time job) so this won’t be terribly difficult to replicate.

Week One Game Plan

Before diving into ranked play, I’ll need to have a plan of attack for completing introductory quests and piecing together a deck.

Introductory Quests

To start things off, I’ll need to work my way through the Hearthstone tutorial and Introductory quests.

For those unfamiliar, a table containing these entry quests is provided below:

Quest Description Reward
Win 5 Practice Games Win 5 games in Practice mode. 1
First Blood Complete a game in Play mode. 1
The Duelist Play 3 games in Play mode. 100
Ready to Go! Unlock every Hero. 100
Enter the Arena Enter Arena Mode. 1 Arena Run
Crafting Time Disenchant a card. 95
Level Up Get any class to level 10. 1
Crushed Them All! Defeat every Expert AI Hero. 100
Got the Basics! Collect every card in the Basic Set. 100

Completing these quests will provide my new account with a bankroll of 400 gold, 95 Arcane Dust, and 3 Classic Packs to get my collection started. From there, Unlocking Tavern Brawl will be a top priority since that will give me access to another free pack each week. Shortly thereafter, I’ll turn in my arena ticket and see if I can add to some of my week one resources.

Deck Building

Early on, I’ll focus my crafting efforts on a single deck. As some might expect, I plan to lean on the budget-player favorite Rexxar and start assembling this Hybrid Hunter list. Coming in at a mere 2,000 Arcane Dust, this deck is a great option for a new player.

Since Adventure content is fairly expensive, however, I will have to find an early replacement for Kindly Grandmother. A combination of 1x Dire Wolf Alpha and 1x Fire Fly should fill the gap until I’m able to unlock the second wing of One Night in Karazhan. Tundra Rhino should also provide a reasonable temporary replacement for the lone Epic card in the deck, Bittertide Hydra.

In the future, if I’m able to gather enough gold for the full Karazhan Adventure content, Secret Mage would be another great choice as a budget-friendly deck. Despite the deck’s low crafting cost, Medivh's Valet is unfortunately deep in the wings and is a critical component to the archetype’s success. Unlocking this single card would give me access to a second top-tier deck.

Rank Goal

Once I have a formidable deck assembled, I plan to jump immediately into Ranked Play. I know this isn’t typically desired for new accounts but, given my experience, I should be able to climb to Rank 15 within the first week of the new account’s lifespan. Doing so will put me in a good place to reach Rank 5 before the end of the month.

Follow Along

If you’re interested in tracking my progress throughout the challenge, you can follow me on Twitter to see regular updates of my challenge status. Additionally, you can catch me play some games on the new account on Twitch. My tentative schedule for this F2P challenge is Tuesdays and Thursday at 6:00 PM Pacific Time. Hope to see you there!

Join In!

Better yet, if you think you’re up for the challenge you’re welcome to join me in creating a new free-to-play account. You can even race me to Rank 5! Feel free to share your own experiences in the comments section of each of the upcoming articles (whether or not you’re taking part in the challenge this month). Or, you can tweet your progress (and tag @HSTopDecks) with the #f2pbtw hashtag.


A card game veteran, Roffle has been infatuated with Hearthstone since closed beta. These days, he spends most of his time tinkering with decks on ladder or earning gold in Arena (f2p btw). In particular, Roffle has a wealth of experience in competitive Wild Hearthstone, including a top 16 finish in the inaugural Wild Open Tournament and numerous high end of season finishes since the format’s inception.

Check out Roffle on Twitter or on their Website!


  1. khaled
    January 20, 2018 at 1:51 pm

    i have started aa year ago with priest i have anduin raza and pruphit … im f2p dont want pay to win my top rank 13 on the lader all becous i cant get preast of the feast . any help . and thank you

  2. HiddenSquid
    October 25, 2017 at 10:55 pm

    The challenge does not represent a typical newcomer F2P player because of one thing – prior knowledge about Hearthstone. Arguably, you Roffle, have been playing Hearthstone for a long time and know what cards to craft, what to disenchant, when to go face and when to trade, how other decks work – their weaknesses and how to exploit them etc… I think you’ll agree that a newcomer player does not have access to this kind of know-how.

    The challenge should be modified to include a new rule:
    No prior knowledge of Hearthstone is permitted. A newcomer may use the internet to research Hearthstone but that time spent is included in the “time played” statistic. Further, the newcomer may not have a “coach”, “mentor” or “tutor” which gives them tailor-made advice. Only publically available publications are permitted.

    The big problem is that newcomers don’t have the card collection (being F2P) nor the know-how. They lose a lot and quit because of it. In this f2p challenge you have one big advantage which no typical newcomer f2p player has – knowledge and experience about the game.

    • Roffle - Author
      October 26, 2017 at 8:40 am

      I do agree that I have an advantage over the typical new player. This was, in fact, directly stated in the article.

      Also mentioned was that the purpose of this challenge isn’t to be representative of a new player. Rather, the point was to reacquaint myself with some of the difficulties a new player has and provide publicly available content (from an veteran player’s perspective) for those starting new accounts.

      Aside from the potential embarrassment I’d have to face of not reaching Rank 5, the rank I achieve is irrelevant. Sharing the knowledge and experience I have about the game with newcomers is the goal.

  3. Hopje
    October 20, 2017 at 4:36 am

    Git uy legend now while hunter is tier 1 at metastats before next xpac
    metastats 4353 is no epic no legendary and hit legend 2 month running

    • Dumpster-fire
      October 20, 2017 at 11:05 am

      Whatever happened to the guy that used to run to Legend every month with a FTP free/common/rare Hunter deck?
      Seems like I haven’t seen his lists in a year or more…

    • Roffle - Author
      October 20, 2017 at 2:11 pm

      Hunter is certainly a Legend viable deck, but I don’t think it’s Tier 1 at the moment. In fact, many consider it to be the least competitive class at the moment.

      That said, we’ve come a lot way from the top heavy metas there have been in the past. Standard is significantly more balanced that we’ve seen before where 1-3 classes felt completely unplayable, which Hunter is far from right now.

  4. Joni98
    October 15, 2017 at 8:51 am

    GL for your challenge.

    I started plazing about 2 months ago and am f2p with the exception of the welcome bundle. It gave me jaraxxus in the welcome bundle and guldan as dk for the prologue of kft. I also drew Defile, 2x siphon soul and a despicable dreadlord from packs, so Im wondering if theres a warlock list I could build somehow, as the game seemingly wants to push me in that direction…..

  5. TacoRocco
    October 11, 2017 at 5:33 am

    Will you consider doing a P2W BTW series where you try to get to rank 5 with a 30 legendary deck? Us Pay to Win players feel left out by this Free to Play series.

    • Roffle - Author
      October 11, 2017 at 9:54 am

      That seems more like an article celebrity meme master TacoRocco should write. #WhatTheHeck

      • Redpixel
        October 17, 2017 at 3:18 am

        Taco dont you mean 35 legendaries?! The madmaness is infinite.

  6. Jerry
    October 10, 2017 at 10:48 am

    Hey, I just wanted to say that this article was very helpful as I recently started my own f2p acc. and want to see how high I can go with it. I’ll be referring to this article as much as possible, so thanks for the helpful tips!

    -mostly f2p player

    • Roffle - Author
      October 10, 2017 at 11:57 am

      Glad to hear you found it helpful! I hope that the guides that come from this challenge will be of use as well.

  7. Kwinten
    October 10, 2017 at 7:05 am

    As a (relatively) new player, I would like to share my experiences also.

    I started playing in late July. I’m not a f2p player; I bought the welcome bundle and the Karazham adventure. I don’t intend to pay for card packs though.

    In July, I barely broke level 20 as I was learning the basics of the game, and making do with the basic cards I was given.
    In August, after getting Valeera from the KFT expansion, and Edwin from the welcome bundle, I assembled a patchy version of miracle rogue, using almost exclusively cards that I already had. That deck wasn’t very competitive; I aimed to make rank 15 but stranded at rank 16. I also crafted a few cards to make a sacrifice based warlock, using both Runic Egg and Devilsaur Egg. Very fun, but needless to say, not very effective…
    Then in September, I started visiting hearthstone community and strategy guides more frequently, and ended up crafting a budget midrange hunter deck. It is similar, but not identical to this one:
    I don’t run the Fiery Bat, instead running one copy of Dire Wolf Alpha. The deck clocks in at 1100 dust (though as I said, I do have the Karazham expansion so I can run the Kindly Grandmother), but I found it very fun to play, and suprisingily competitive against (far) more expensive decks. I managed to get to rank 5 with it, exceeding my own expectations.

    In the meantime, I gathered almost 3K dust, and am looking to either make improvements to the deck or craft another budget deck. Tempo Secret mage looks like an interesting option!

    • Roffle - Author
      October 10, 2017 at 8:56 am

      Congrats on your early success! You’ve made great progress in a few short months!

      Climbing ranks helps increase both your card and dust pool immensely. Finding a powerful, reasonably cost decks is an important first step. Midrange Hunter is exactly that and what I’m currently building towards in this challenge.

      Secret Mage is another good option and it sounds like you have more than enough dust to build a fairly optimal version.

  8. Silent
    October 9, 2017 at 8:50 am

    Hey Good luck on your f2p run…I recently made a f2p acc too
    I built this deck from cards i had (no karazan cards for now) What do you think about it?

    ### Tempo Secrets
    # Class: Mage
    # Format: Standard
    # Year of the Mammoth
    # 2x (1) Mana Wyrm
    # 2x (2) Arcanologist
    # 2x (2) Frostbolt
    # 2x (2) Primordial Glyph
    # 2x (2) Sorcerer’s Apprentice
    # 2x (3) Arcane Intellect
    # 2x (3) Counterspell
    # 2x (3) Kirin Tor Mage
    # 2x (3) Mirror Entity
    # 2x (4) Fireball
    # 1x (4) Ghastly Conjurer
    # 1x (5) Burgly Bully
    # 2x (6) Kabal Crystal Runner
    # 1x (7) Archmage Antonidas
    # 2x (7) Bonemare
    # 2x (7) Firelands Portal
    # 1x (10) Pyroblast
    # To use this deck, copy it to your clipboard and create a new deck in Hearthstone

    • Roffle - Author
      October 9, 2017 at 8:56 am

      Thanks! I’m making good progress already! You can expect an update tomorrow 🙂

      You list looks like it’s off to a good start. Obviously, Medivh’s Valet would fit nicely, but the 2,800 gold to get all of Karazhan takes quite a bit of time. Bittertide Hydras also seem good in Secret Mage right now, but Burgly Bully/Conjurer are reasonable replacements (especially when running Antonidas).

      • Silent
        October 9, 2017 at 9:19 am

        Thanks for your fast answer 🙂 Yeah i placed Burgle Bully and conjurer only because i got antonidas.Bittertides might be a nice thing to put in 😀

        One more question,Can i see your previous streams of f2p run?

        • Roffle - Author
          October 9, 2017 at 9:25 am

          Congrats on opening Antonidas! I think that deck can take you far as is.

          VODs of my early stages are up on my Twitch channel now ( if you want to check them out.

          I’ll also be streaming more of my run tomorrow evening (Pacific Time).

          • Silent
            October 9, 2017 at 9:42 am

            Just finished my evening meal and started to watch your start of f2p run.I will sure watch your stream tommorow 🙂

    • Evident - Site Admin
      October 9, 2017 at 9:09 am

      Deck looks great, good luck on your run!

      • Silent
        October 9, 2017 at 9:25 am

        Thanks 🙂

  9. Distronium
    October 8, 2017 at 2:57 am

    Hi. Any possibility of streaming this or YouTubing it? Would be great to follow in that way. Thanks

    • Evident - Site Admin
      October 8, 2017 at 7:15 am

      It’s mentioned in the article, but Roffle will tentatively be streaming it Tuesdays and Thursdays. Follow the HSTD or Roffle’s Twitter, I’ll be tweeting it out when he goes live.

  10. Advocaat
    October 6, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    I love this! I might actually try it too. Lately I’ve been struggling with lack of motivation in hearthstone and pretty much stopped playing after years of activity. My goal was to be able to consistently hit legend every month which I achieved… I don’t really have any ambitions to grind high legend ranks so I felt like there’s no reason for me to play anymore. I had no “goal.” This seems interesting. I could have a feeling of progress in hearthstone once more 😀

  11. JoyDivision
    October 6, 2017 at 3:02 am

    Very cool, will follow closely!

    You didn’t mention the C’Thun package you’d get when ‘buying’ on WotG pack, Karahzan’s free cards and the DK you’d get when playing the KFT prologue – just saw those yesterday in Trumps new F2P video.

    Are you planning on getting those? Or is this not efficient in terms of building a new F2P card pool?

    Have fun!

    • Roffle - Author
      October 6, 2017 at 6:33 am


      I did get a DK (Uther) from the KoFT prologue and plan to grab enough WotG packs to pull a Legendary. I’ll address each of these topics in some of the upcoming weekly recaps and guides. Stay tuned!

  12. MattH
    October 5, 2017 at 2:39 pm

    I love this, will be following on closely.

    I have been wanting to start on another server but always put it off as the thought of starting over was too much to get over.

    It will be interesting to see the outcome week to week.

    Good luck!

    • Roffle - Author
      October 5, 2017 at 2:55 pm


      I’m looking forward to the challenge and hope to gain better insight into the new player/account experience along the way.

  13. BlueyesOwl
    October 5, 2017 at 12:12 pm

    Just wanted to say a GL.
    I had done the same in the past and was a great experience (great results also, 5rank 3 straight months with hunter), but I’m lazy to work again f2p account 😛

    • Roffle - Author
      October 5, 2017 at 1:28 pm

      Thank you! Even this early in the challenge, I think going in I underestimated how much time it takes to accumulate enough resources to be competitive.

      • aaaaaaaaa
        October 7, 2017 at 6:54 pm

        did that once, tried tempo mage, w/o medivh’s valet.. got to rank10, after that it was impossible..


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