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!
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!
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
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.