Becoming Legend in Hearthstone Guide – Lessons From a First-Time Legend Climb

When it comes to Hearthstone, people have different goals in mind. Some people just want to have fun, some want to be competitive, and some would just like to hit Legend one time! If you find yourself struggling through the ladder on the way to legend these tips from randomnine might help you get over the hump this season!

Thanks to randomnine for allowing us to re-host this article, check him out on Twitter here.

Hiya! I’m randomnine, a long-time Hearthstone player with consistent season finishes around rank 10 for the past year or so. I changed my approach this season, doing everything I could to improve my play, and I hit Legend for the first time yesterday.

One day in Legend? I’m just a Hearthstone baby! Still, I was a rank 10 player when I started reading CompetitiveHS and I’ve learned a number of things the hard way on the road to Legend. Some of them, I’ve never seen written down. To all other players struggling to reach Legend in the audience, here’s what I learned about getting that card back!

I hope these tips help you reach Legend too – without the hundreds of games I had stuck between ranks 10 and 3 while I learned this stuff.

If you’re in a rush, the most valuable point here is #6: install Hearthstone Deck Tracker and start watching your replays!

Obligatory Infodump

Stats(I started tracking at rank 6; this covers half my games this season)
The two decklists for the final climb from rank 5:
* Fiery Bat v1.8 was Toymachine’s midrange Hunter list, – Ram Wranglers + Stranglethorn Tigers
* Fiery Bat v1.9 was slightly tweaked from there

Legend proof.

1. Don’t marry yourself to a single deck or class.

Let’s get this out of the way first! Until last season, I played Priest exclusively. I have 1500 wins with Control Priest. My best finish ever was rank 5 in the unstable meta during TGT’s launch.

Priest has often been weak in the meta. Control Priest has always had long games. These factors make it very hard to climb the ladder. I’m no Zetalot, so the first lesson I had to learn was giving up deck archetypes that are hard to ladder, even if I like them.

2. Even so, commit to one deck archetype each season (unless it gets hard countered).

When I first got stuck at rank 5, I decided to try Aggro Shaman to see if a “tier 1” deck would help. I dropped to rank 9 in just fifty games. I learned a few things about aggro, but ultimately it set me back a week on my climb.

I’ve played over 900 games of Midrange Hunter this season, and only in the past 100 have I understood the deck well enough to compete above rank 5. Practice and study with one deck against a stable meta has taught me countless invaluable details about every common matchup. Swapping decks means you’ll improve slower at each, get fewer games in between meta shifts, and your weakest decks will hold you back.

3. After picking an archetype, look at every guide you can find for it. Learn the possible variants and their flex spots.

No decklist is perfect for all metas. As you climb the ladder, you need to be able to identify the strong lists in your archetype and how to adjust them for meta shifts. This means you need a thorough understanding of the different ways your deck can be built.

I started off the season playing Midrange Hunter with N’Zoth and Princess Huhuran. I’ve played hundreds of games with Doomsayer openings and hundreds without. In the 5-slot I’ve tried Stranglethorn Tiger, Ram Wrangler, Stampeding Kodo, Tundra Rhino and even Leeroy Jenkins. All of these showed up this season in decklists from players who hit Legend. Trying and learning them all helped me to identify stronger and stronger decklists during my ladder climb.

Without this flexibility, I’d have been stuck with whatever decklist I read first—and even if I’d found a great decklist four weeks ago, this season’s meta shift away from Control and towards Zoo could have hurt my winrate. Learning different lists made me adaptable.

4. Competitive laddering is hard work and takes intense focus. A single misplay can cost you an hour.

My stats tell me my winrate drops when I don’t get enough sleep.

Before this climb I’ve always churned through games on ladder quickly and without breaks, taking obvious plays each turn. This didn’t work at rank 5+. If you have a 55% winrate with 6 minute games, each of those twenty-five stars will take you an average of one hour to earn—so if a misplay costs you a star, it costs you an hour of laddering.

You need to take your time and stay focused to avoid those misplays. Learn to love the rope. Use all the time you need to find the best play, or simply to give your brain a thirty second rest if you need it.

Yes, your opponent wants you to play fast. They also want you to play badly. They’re not on your side.

5. Getting from rank 5 to Legend isn’t just about putting in hours. You have to play better.

I had a 60% winrate climbing from rank 10 to rank 5 (twice). Above rank 5 I had a 50% winrate with the same decklists across hundreds of games. I was getting safe wins at 6 and hard losses at 3, over and over.

It’s not just a grind. The higher ranks are harder. If you keep getting bumped back down, you have to study.

6. Studying replays improved my winrate by 10% overnight.

Hearthstone Deck Tracker is known for stats tracking and its overlay (which I’ve disabled, cause I’d like to play tournaments!), but I’ve found its replays far more valuable. After stalling at rank 5 for hundreds of games, I adopted a simple rule from my Starcraft 2 days:

REPLAYS RULE: When you lose a game, immediately analyse the replay to find out why.

Were there any strong plays that you missed? Did you fail to play around a strong, common card your opponent held? Did you miss damage you could have dealt? Did you take damage you could have avoided? Why did you lose?

After adopting this rule, my winrate immediately shot up from 50% to 60%. I climbed consistently and hit Legend 140 games later.

The obvious benefit from reviewing replays is finding misplays. I’ve learned so much by tracing losses back to a misplay on turn 2, or even turn 1, that cost me lethal. My early game is now much stronger, and strong openings make every match easier. I’ve even found this helpful in refining my decklist by finding card swaps that would have fixed losses.

More importantly, I’ve found this rule keeps me focused and stops me going on tilt. When I lose, I now have to stop and analyse the match. This puts me back in the right mindset to play well.

If you’re not keeping or reviewing replays, I strongly recommend it. I think reviewing replays was the biggest factor in getting my rank 5+ winrate up and, ultimately, getting to Legend.

Bonus Tips You Probably Already Know

  • Each card in your deck will show up in over 30% of your games. Every single card matters.
  • Focus on the cards in your hand, not the cards in your deck. Gambling too much on card draw will lose you games.
  • Hero power can really add up over a match. Setting up efficient hero power use can make a cheap hand go much further.
  • The meta shifts based on time of day. Know the types of decks your schedule pits you against.
  • Reading decklists for other classes, especially their mulligans against you, will help you beat them.
  • You’re not mulliganing hard enough.

Thanks for reading! May your good matchups be plentiful and your bad matchups swift.

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Leave a Reply


  1. SerFapaLot
    January 13, 2017 at 9:21 am

    Make a guide for 2017!!

  2. dasmanuel
    July 7, 2016 at 4:42 am

    Hi there!

    This useful article is a little bit old, so I’m curious if I get answers to my questions …

    1. regarding randomness – Too me, what happens quiet often (read: all the time, regardless which deck I’m playing) is that on one day, I have a win streak and easily level 2-6 ranks within an hour and on another day, I lose 12 games in a row. Not because I play badder but mostly due to bad mulligans (not the decisions, but getting 3 late game cards after mulliganing 3 late game cards) or brutal topdecks by my opponents. I’m not saying I make no mistakes (I do!), but most of the games there isn’t much thinking or considering – it’s just that I can predict I’m gonna lose against Zoolock because my mulligan and the first 2-3 draws are abysmal … It goes so far that I truly can’t understand how one is supposed to reach legend without playing 14-16 hours a day, each day of the season – regardless of your explanations. Any thoughts on that?

    2. metagaming – Okay, so … what happens to me all the time (really, everytime I play) is that I meta my flexspots after playing a few games against let’s say 80% weapon classes (put in Harrison, for example) only to play the NEXT games against classes that have no weapons. As soon as I board back Loatheb (again, just an example) … I’m facing weapon classes again. This went so far that I thought that Blizzard / Hearthstone / the AI purposely pitted me against ‘harder opponents’.

    3. metagaming II – What happens quiet often also is that I change my flex spots but it doesn’t really matter. I always wonder how players manage to pull ther one-offs just when they need them, because I can’t most of the time. To use the former example, if I board in Harrison against weapons, most of the time I don’t draw him, or I draw him just when my opponent used his last charge, or I draw him but can’t play him because I need to take care of other things … same goes for big minion removal, aoe etc. So I came to the conclusion, that 1-2 flex spots don’t matter that much and that it’s better to just build a more consistent version with two-offs. Which contradicts directly to ‘every single card matters’ … thoughts on that?

    4. metagaming III – staying to a single deck. Not working for me. There’s always a point where the deck I’m using just stops being ‘good’ in the meta. Either I switch, or I lose. What good is Secret Paladin when you’re playing against Control Warrior and Freeze Mage all the time … I think it’s true that you shouldn’t play like 4-5 different decks, but that it’s okay to play 2 decks which supplement each other against the metagame.

    5. Quality of opponents – Usually, I reach rank 5, sometimes stopping at 10, because I don’t find the time to play or have bad losing streaks. But no matter at which rank I’m playing (right now I’m at 13) I’m almost exclusively pitted against ‘former’ legends or ‘golden’ Heros. This phenomenon first occured during ‘the May season’ (was that 26?). Since then, 80-90% of my games are against either of those (just yesterday, I played 15 games, ALL of those against legends or golden heros). Which makes winning just a little harder, I guess!? Any thoughts on that? Am I just superunlucky?

    6. I’m playing on my iPhone – so: No Deck Tracker … Does that mean I have no chance to reach legend? If I had to use a computer, I could track but could only play a fraction of the time I’m playing now … so, what’s better? Playing more with no tracking, or playing less with tracking?

    Wow, a long one. I really hope I get any feedback to this. :/

    • Evident - Author
      July 7, 2016 at 9:23 am

      I didn’t write this article, but I’ll try to answer some of your questions.

      1. This is mostly variance. You should always mulligan assuming you are going to play an aggressive opponent unless you know for sure the deck you are playing against is Control.

      2. This is also variance, you should generally only tech for popular meta game choices but not switch them based on five games. The decks you play against are random and you can only play the odds.

      3. You will generally have to play a lot of games for a single card choice like Harrison to make a difference. There are times when you aren’t going to draw him, but over a long enough span he will help win you games.

      4. I disagree with you here, a single deck strategy is generally better. Every deck will have bad matchups, but you again are playing the odds. Midrange Hunter is good against Warrior which makes it a popular deck to take to legend, but it has weaker matchups against Aggro Shaman and Zoo. You are going to generally lose those games, but it doesn’t mean you should switch because you’ll still have a very solid winrate against Warrior.

      5. Hearthstone is two years old at this point, a lot of people have gold portraits and have reached legendary at least once. You will also be playing against tougher players in the beginning of seasons. The people who play a lot are grinding their way to legend early in the season so you might want to consider starting your grind mid-way through.

      6. A deck tracker isn’t required to reach legend, it’s just a tool that can help you find mistakes or help you remember which cards have been played.

      A lot of what you describe seems to be related to luck and variance. If you are constantly focused on the negative things that happen to you while laddering you’ll likely get tilted and start playing badly. You have to remember for as many times as you’ve had bad luck, you’ve likely had good luck. The problem is that the bad luck is what sticks in our minds.

      • dasmanuel
        July 11, 2016 at 1:21 am

        Hey Evident!

        Thank you very much for your detailed answer – I appreciate this! And yeah – as soon as I clicked on the Submit Comment button I recognized that you will be the one who answers, not the original author … 😉

        To sum it up, I’ve come to the conclusion that for me as a married father of two children it isn’t realistically possible to reach legend. No whining here, it just seems to me that Hearthstone’s variance is to big to overcome for a casual gamer.

        I still have a different oppinion regarding 4., especially if your main goal is to become legend. I think many (the majority?) of the pro players use a small collection of decks to level to legend and adapt to the metagame. In the end it’s a matter of personal preference, I guess.

        Thanks again for your thoughts and advice – especially the part about ‘remembering bad luck better than good luck’.

        Happy gaming!

        • Evident - Author
          July 11, 2016 at 8:08 am

          Hey, I understand what you mean. As an older player myself, it’s difficult to find the time to grind out Legend.

          Pro players are able to switch decks mostly because they understand each deck and the matchup against it. If you’re more of a casual player it’s better to stick with one deck so you completely know the ins and outs of the deck.

          No problem, I still hope you’ll find the time to make it to Legend at some point, good luck!

  3. Alkoviak
    June 2, 2016 at 7:50 pm

    “I’ve played over 900 games of Midrange Hunter this season, and only in the past 100 have I understood the deck well enough to compete above rank 5”
    This is the kind of this that reminds me that I am a casual gamer, I can play around 50~60 games per season. Maximum rank 7… Seems reaching legend is out of my league.

    • Kurama
      June 6, 2016 at 8:29 am

      Playing 800 games of Midrange Hunter without understanding it properly seems strange to me. I mean, it’s one of the easiest meta decks to play and there is not so much room for misplays.

  4. Golom
    June 2, 2016 at 7:22 am

    What colud I use to record my games ?
    Great guide, thx.

    • Evident - Author
      June 2, 2016 at 7:48 am

      Hearthstone Deck Tracker records your games.

      • TacoRocco
        June 2, 2016 at 9:58 am

        I don’t think Hearthstone Deck Tracker can record games, it just records the data from the games such as most played cards, win rates, matchups, and it does also give a breakdown of games and what cards were played. It is very useful, don’t get me wrong, but it is not the best for watching replays (unless they added video recording to the program that I didn’t know about). I think that Golom is looking for recording software. There are many programs out there for video recording. I personally use Open Broadcast Software (OBS). It is relatively simple to use. It is free to download and use. You can download it from their site

        • Evident - Author
          June 2, 2016 at 10:02 am

          Ah, yeah I thought he meant the cards that were played like in the tracker.

        • Gregg
          June 2, 2016 at 1:17 pm

          HDT does actually record games and you can view the replays…

          • Sabretooth
            June 3, 2016 at 11:54 pm

            Can you please explain how?

    • fishjello
      June 13, 2016 at 12:50 am

      This is a link to OBS which you may download for free. OBS will allow you to video record your games.

      Hearthstone Deck Tracker records your entire game which you then can review. But it isnt a video recording. With that said, Hearthstone Deck Tracker records it well for what it is.

      • Chi to
        August 16, 2016 at 5:42 pm

        Windows ten lets you record video games or take snapshots, and it’s built In.

  5. Sparehands
    June 2, 2016 at 4:06 am

    Could you please expand on how the time of day changes the meta?
    This is not something I’ve considered before. Maybe worthy of an article in its own right.
    In your case did you make tech changes for your midrange hunter, use a different deck, or intentionally play at a certain time for favourable matchups?
    Would really like to know!

  6. Necronlord111
    June 2, 2016 at 12:37 am


    nice guide. I read many of these guides and in one point they are not totaly agreed:
    The one Legend Player says – focus on only one deck, the other says be felxible.

    I have on Question – how many games did he played the saison?

    • Evident - Author
      June 2, 2016 at 7:53 am

      Here’s his stats: but it sounds like he played a ton of games: “I’ve played over 900 games of Midrange Hunter this season, and only in the past 100 have I understood the deck well enough to compete above rank 5.”

    • fishjello
      June 13, 2016 at 4:21 am

      @ The one Legend Player says – focus on only one deck, the other says be felxible.

      I like what the author is saying which i believe isn’t so much different (if at all depending on the semantics) than the other legendary player(s) you are referring to. Randomnine is being specific and saying that you should stick with the same archetype rather the same exact deck. It makes sense to be able to adapt and in doing so not change your archetype.

      For example, I copied StrifeCro’s Totem Shaman deck. However, because of the meta i was up against, it was an easy decision to remove doomhammer and add Bloodlust . Despite the change in the deck, I still consider myself to be using the same deck.

  7. Jawsh
    June 1, 2016 at 8:14 pm

    Watching replays… Pro athletes do this in every sport. Once you can start watching opponents replays is illegal in sports because you can easily learn the other players mistakes. A lot of Poker player watch hours and hours of footage of future opponents games to look for the same mistakes.

  8. Influx
    June 1, 2016 at 12:28 pm

    Dude, I can totally relate to your story! I’ve been a player who has been hovering around rank 5-3 each season and could never seem to get any further. I kept looking to streamers for help and they are useful but they weren’t in the same boat as me cause they had hit legend several times already. Your guide was extremely helpful and I hope to maybe hit it for the first time this June!! Thank you!!

    • Gully1824
      June 8, 2016 at 6:49 am

      I’m in the same boat as ^^^^^.

      The article was awesome! Thanks for writing.

      I’m going to attempt running only the same archetype of deck for the rest of this season to see where it gets me. Going to try a mix of Zoo, Tempo Warrior and Midrange Hunter.

      Where can i get the stat tracker?

  9. BocejoHS
    June 1, 2016 at 10:34 am

    Some great tips! Tx!