Hearthstone Beginner’s Guide: Tips for New Hearthstone Players 2017

As a new player in Hearthstone, it’s really easy to get lost at first. While the game itself isn’t complicated, there are a lot of things you need to understand before you become a better player.

If you’re looking for the ways to improve your gameplay, managing the resources, maximizing your progress etc. – you’re in the right spot. I’ll share some of the most useful tips for the new Hearthstone players, but some of them might also be useful for those who are playing the game for a while already or even returning players.

In case you have any more questions or would like me to add something to the list, please let me know in the comments! Also, if you don’t understand some of terms below please consider taking a look at our Hearthstone & Card Game Glossary!

Hearthstone Beginner Gameplay Tips

Don’t play your cards just because you can

This is one of the most common mistakes I see among new players. The fact that you have enough mana to play a card doesn’t mean that you have to. Passing while still having mana won’t hurt you and instead of wasting a card for no reason you might find a better use for it later. The most common example is using a turn 1 Arcane Missiles, on an empty board. It might seem like a good play, since you didn’t have anything else to do anyway and you’ve dealt 3 damage to the opponent. But it really isn’t worth it – at this point in the game 3 damage doesn’t mean anything. Later in the match you could be in a situation where those Missiles would be way more useful (for example, your opponent could have a few low health minions on the board). And if you want to use them as a burn spell, you will most likely find more opportunities down the road.

Another example is playing too much into the board, which can result in your opponent clearing your side with some AoE. When you already have a board lead and you can play another minion, ask yourself a question – “do I really need that extra minion?”. If the answer is yes, because it will e.g. set up lethal or your current minions are pretty weak, then you might play it. On the other hand, if it won’t really change anything, BUT it might just die to AoE (like Flamestrike or Hellfire for example) there is simply no reason to play it.

Damaging the enemy Hero isn’t always important

It’s pretty clear that the goal of the match is to kill the opponent. But it doesn’t mean that you should mindlessly hit their Hero (or “hit the face”, which is the most common term for that) and ignore everything else. This is a terrible strategy unless you’re playing a deck that’s specifically built to rush the opponent down (a fast Aggro deck, but even then it’s not ALWAYS worth it to hit face).

If you do that in a deck that’s not optimized to close the game quickly, you’ll end up losing the long-term war of card advantage and other resources. If your opponent is the one dictating trades, they’ll eventually end up with an advantage.

When it comes to minions, it’s worth it to hit face when you a) have no good minion trade on the board b) your opponent is low on the health and you can set up lethal damage. When it comes to burn spells (e.g. Fireball) it’s worth it to keep it until you can kill your opponent with it. This way you can always use it as a board control tool if necessary, but you also hide it from your opponent – hiding information is important, because when you Fireball them they might start playing more defensively or even heal – if you don’t, they might assume that you have no way to damage them and make a mistake.

Play around cards

Okay, this one is more complicated than the last two. Every time you play a card, you want to have your opponent’s deck in mind. What cards they can play to counter it, what they might be holding, is it worth it to take a risk etc. There is no way I can make a list of every card you have to play around in the game, it’s just something that comes with the experience, I just want to make sure that you’re thinking about it. The most common and easiest cards to play around are AoE cards. After playing a certain class few times, you will have a general knowledge of what kind of AoE he plays. For example, most of the Druid decks play only Swipe. Since you know that it deals medium damage to one target and low damage to the rest of the board, when you have a 5/4 minion on the board already, instead of playing two small minions you might instead decide to play another big minion. Now Swipe will be much worse and you’ve just played around AoE.

It gets more and more complicated the more competitive decks you start facing, as they’re using a way higher range of cards than the basic decks are. But don’t worry, the more you play the game, the more cards you will remember and – hopefully – play around them.

One final note on that matter is that you don’t always want to play around everything. Because you probably wouldn’t be able to play anything against Control decks, as they will nearly always have a potential answer. But there are situations where you can play into things, for example when you’re losing the game and you’re in a really bad situation, you need to take more risks and you can ignore the potential AoE/removal/whatever they might be holding. But that’s a more complicated topic and you’ll learn that with more experience.

Understand your deck’s win condition & role

By “win condition” I don’t mean one magical card that will win you the game. No. Each deck has a specific way of victory it wants to achieve and that’s your win condition. An Aggro deck’s win condition is rushing the opponent down before they can stabilize. Control deck’s win condition is surviving long enough to outvalue the opponent, get card advantage over them and win the game that way. Combo deck’s win condition is usually to get the combo, possibly discount it and then kill the opponent with it. Basic decks rarely have clear win conditions, because they’re made from whatever cards you have, but they still have something they’re good at.

Understanding the win condition of your deck should make you play accordingly. If you build a slow deck that intends to play the long game, you generally don’t want to play too fast, because there is no point. And if you built a fast deck, you can’t pass the first 3-4 turns and play reactively, because you won’t win in the long run.

But following on the last point. Besides knowing what your deck can do, it’s even more important to understand which player plays which role in the matchup.. The faster you understand it, the higher your chance to win. There are two players in each match – one player plays Beatdown role and the other plays Control role. Beatdown player usually plays the faster deck – they can’t afford to play the long game, because they will eventually get outvalued, so they need to kill the opponent as quickly as possible. On the other hand, there is a Control player, who does the opposite – wants to stall the game for as long as they can to eventually outvalue the opponent. But who is the beatdown?

When playing with meta decks at higher ranks, it’s pretty easy, because you know each matchup really well. But when you’re a new player and you don’t know what to expect from your opponent, it’s a bit harder. First things first – you KNOW one part of the equation, you know the speed of your deck. If you built a fast deck, there is a solid chance that you will be the beatdown and vice versa. Now, when you start the game, you need to make an educated guess based on what class your opponent plays (and your previous experience with that class) and what card they play. If you determine that they play a faster deck than you do, you DON’T engage in a rush game, because you will most likely lose it. You want to play defensively and Control the game as much as possible.

From my experience, new players tend to always assume one role – they always try to play Beatdown or they always try to play Control. I know, sticking to one role is easier, but it’s not what you should be doing. You want to be flexible about the roles and try to adapt to each game. Eventually it will come naturally, but it’s really hard at first.

Mana Curve & The Coin

Mana curve is very important in Hearthstone. Generally it is most efficient to play the strongest minion you can every turn – sometimes you win games just because you have a good curve. Try to plan your plays to use every mana point each turn, if you end up with 1 or 2 mana because you had to play off-curve you end up “floating mana”, which just disappears and you don’t get anything out of it. Of course, you still have to keep to the “don’t play cards just because you can” rule. Cards that count for your curve are mostly proactive cards – a card that you can drop and let your opponent react to them (e.g. high stat minions). There aren’t many ways to fix your curve, but there is one that most people don’t think about too much.

Most people don’t realize it, but The Coin is the most played card in the whole game. Besides rare cases when you end up not using it, you play The Coin in around 50% of your matches. It means that using it incorrectly affects as much as half of your games, that’s A LOT. I’ll explain the two ways you should use it most often and point out common mistakes.

First and the most probable way you’re going to use The Coin is to fix your mana curve. The Coin offers a very interesting opportunity to play something a turn earlier than you normally could. But it doesn’t mean that you should use The Coin on the first card you can play. You need to take your curve into the consideration. Let me give you an example – let’s say you have a 2 mana minion, 3 mana minion and 5 mana minion in your hand. For a moment, let’s assume that you won’t draw anything else you can play in the first few turns. Now, the best use of Coin with this hand would be to wait until turn 4 and Coin out a 5-drop. Why? Because every other play ruins your mana curve. If you Coin out a 2-drop on turn 1, you have a play for t1, t3 and t5, but you don’t have play for t2 and t4. You can also Coin out a 3-drop on turn 2, but that’s even worse. Now you have no t1 play, no t4 play and you’re forced to play the 2-drop on t3 which floats one mana. If you, however, Coin out the 5-drop, you don’t have t1 play, but you do have t2, t3 and t4 plays – 3 turns straight on curve. You only don’t have a t5 play now, but the later turn you “skip” with your curve the better, because there is a higher chance that you draw something playable by turn 5 than by turn 4 (you have +1 mana and +1 card to work with).

Now, of course, plans can change mid-way by the other cards you draw, but you should generally plan your curve at the start of the match and follow it as best as you can. You should disrupt your curve only when you need to do something else, e.g. if it’s turn 4 and you need to Hex something – of course you can do that, even though you float some mana.

Another way to use The Coin is for the synergies. You don’t have too many of those in your Basic decks, but just for the future, Coin is best for 2 kinds of synergies. First are Combo cards (exclusive to Rogue) and second are Spell synergy cards. Combo cards activate their extra effect only when you’ve played another card on the same turn. Since it’s kinda difficult in the early game to play 2 cards in one turn, Coin is amazing at activating them. E.g. on turn 2 you can play Coin + SI:7 Agent to have a 3/3 with 2 extra damage. The second synergies are spell synergies – it’s often worth keeping the Coin if you play cards like FlamewakerViolet Teacher or Gadgetzan Auctioneer, because on top of the usual effect (+1 mana) they also activate each of those cards giving you extra value.

General Tips

Standard vs Wild & Buying Order

If you’re a new player and you’re wondering which format you should focus on, it should definitely be Standard. Getting into the Wild is much more expensive. Right now there is no way to get “Wild” card packs or buy the Adventures that have rotated out. It means that you have to craft every card that’s Wild-only and the pool will get much bigger very soon. Blizzard has announced that they plan to make Wild more accessible, but those changes are still not in the game.

Okay, you’re focusing on the Standard, but what now? Which packs or adventures you want to buy? Generally, when it comes to the “safest” buys, it goes like this: Classic packs > Expansions from the latest Standard year > Expansions from the previous Standard year. Most of the Classic cards will never rotate out, and if they do, you’ll be refunded full Dust cost anyway (so you don’t technically lose anything). Since the Classic set includes tons and tons of staple cards that are played in many competitive decks, that is the safest choice.

After that, you need to look at when a certain expansion will rotate out. Each Standard year consists of the last 2 years worth of expansions. Everything from before that rotates into Wild. So, let’s take this year as an example. Year of the Mammoth starts with the first expansion of 2017. It means that expansions from 2015 rotate out, while those from 2016 still stay in Standard. So right now it’s really not worth to buy adventures or packs from 2015, because they will leave Standard very, very soon. As soon we get the new expansion, cards from it will last “longest”, because they won’t leave Standard until 2019.

Of course, it doesn’t mean that you should ignore e.g. Whispers of the Old Gods packs. If you need some cards from that expansion, by all means, buy the packs. The expansion will stay in Standard for another year and that’s a lot of time. But right now, Classic is the safest, Journey to Un’Goro will be the second safest while 2016 expansions will be “less safe” to buy.

Deck Tracker & Arena Companion

You see, there are some tools that even the most experienced players often use to increase their chance to win. While there are some clear disadvantages of such tools (you might stop thinking for yourself, because they’ve got you covered), they are a tremendous help, especially for new players.

First one is Hearthstone Deck Tracker. It allows you to store decks (more than the limited 18) and adds a nice overlay on your Hearthstone client. The most basic feature is displaying the deck you currently play on the right. But it doesn’t only display it – it also shows which cards you already drew, which are still in your deck, how many cards you have in your hand, what are the odds to draw a specific card etc. On top of that, it also shows the cards that your opponent has already played – now you won’t forget whether the Warrior has played 2x Execute already. Deck Tracker also tracks all sorts of other things – turn in which cards in your opponent’s hand were drawn, which cards are “token” cards (including Coin) etc. This is a lot of useful information that would theoretically be possible to track even without the app, but it would be way, way harder and require a lot of extra work.

Second one is HearthArena Companion. This one does nothing for Constructed play, but is amazing for new Arena players. While it doesn’t draft for you, it gives you the general scores for each card you can pick from, it points extra synergies etc. It’s really helpful especially if you a) still don’t know all the cards in the game b) you don’t know how powerful each of them is in Arena c) you’re not good at tracking synergies from your deck. The app isn’t perfect and many great Arena players have disagreed with some picks (usually ~5 per draft), but it’s very, very close to making your drafts perfect. And we all know that half of Arena success is having a great draft.

HearthArena Companion also adds an overlay which displays your current deck, so it’s mutually exclusive with Deck Tracker (I mean, it’s not, but you don’t need to track everything twice) – you should be using Deck Tracker for Constructed and Arena Companion for Arena. Sadly, those are not available on mobile devices, so you have to play the game on PC to have access to them.

Quests

Hearthstone has a daily quest system. More and more quests are added to the pool. There is also one cool option – you can reroll one quest per day. It means two things. a) you can reroll the quests you don’t want to do and b) you can try to maximize your gold value by rerolling the quests.

Overall, I’d say that rerolling 40g quests is always safe – you can’t get a worse quest and the average gold value for a quest is just above 50 (it was 53 if I remember correctly). It means that if you want to maximize the gold gain, you should always reroll the 40g quests, no matter what.

But what about 50g quests? Here it gets a little more difficult. Gold-wise, it’s still worth it to reroll them. However, you also need to take the 10g/3 wins into account. 50g quest from your “main” class will usually give you more gold than 50g quest from your “bad” class or if you just make a deck to finish the quest (e.g. play X Divine Shield cards). That’s because you will also have a much higher chance to win, and winning is about 3.3g per win. So in the end, rule of the thumb is that you don’t want to reroll the “good” 50g quests (those which you can finish easily, let’s say by playing the deck you normally play) and you want to reroll the “bad” 50g quests (if you’d need to play a class you don’t play or make a bad deck to finish it).

To be fair, fun still should come before maximizing the gold gain. For example, the “Play 100 Murlocs” 100g quest is a really amazing one to get, you rarely get 100g quests. But if you don’t feel like playing a wonky Murloc deck, just reroll it, because you will need to play like 10 games with the deck you might not even want to play just to speed up your progress slightly.

Disenchanting

It’s a very common question new players are asking – is it worth to disenchant cards to craft X deck? The general answer is – no, it’s not. Disenchanting vs crafting value is really low, you need to disenchant TONS of cards in order to be able to craft a single one. There are, however, a few exceptions from that rule.

First and most important are Gold cards. They add nothing gameplay-wise, they’re just cosmetics. So if you don’t care about such things, you’re free to disenchant EVERY Gold card you get. The only exception is when you don’t have 2 copies of the regular card you play (then you have to put a Gold copy into your deck). I did that when I was still new to the game and I don’t regret that. I still disenchant Gold cards when I need dust, simply because they offer nothing besides being shiny – they don’t improve my deck at all. If you don’t care about cosmetics it’s a way to get a lot of free Dust. If you do – then the choice is up to you.

Another exception are the Legendaries that see no play. Legendaries are generally worth disenchanting. A normal Common card gives you 5 Dust, while Legendary gives you 400 Dust – that’s 80 times more. For the price of one Legendary, you can craft 10 Commons, 4 Rares, 1 Epic or 1/4 of another Legendary. So if you stumble upon a Legendary that’s simply bad, you can decide to get rid of it. Of course, there are still some risks involved, because there is no way to predict whether a bad Legendary won’t be playable with more cards in the future. Here is my list of the Standard Legendaries you can safely disenchant, updated for the Mean Streets of Gadgetzan (it will be updated again after each expansion).

Stonekeep

A Hearthstone player and writer from Poland, Stonekeep has been in a love-hate relationship with Hearthstone since Closed Beta. Over five years of playing and four years of writing about the game, he has achieved infinite Arena and multiple top 100 Legend climbs. He's the current admin of Hearthstone Top Decks.

Check out Stonekeep on Twitter!

Leave a Reply

11 Comments

  1. Stonekeep - Site Admin
    March 16, 2017 at 7:25 am

    Hey guys, instead of answering every comment separately, I’ll answer the concerns in one place:

    Yes, I agree that a part of the article might not be easily understandable to a new player. But explaining every term here would be a little bit pointless, because instead of focusing on the topic I would have to interrupt it every other sentence and start explaining what is card advantage or what is tempo etc. Those things would have to be explained in every article targeted at new players, basically making them really clunky and harder to read for people who know what those things mean (I mean, it’s not hard guessing what “card advantage” is even without playing the game before).

    If a new player doesn’t understand what something means, he should look into a Glossary instead. Evident already wrote a Glossary of terms related to card games and Hearthstone (http://www.hearthstonetopdecks.com/hearthstone-term-glossary/). It doesn’t include every term, but adding more HS jargon is something we can always work on 🙂

  2. jeniok
    March 16, 2017 at 6:49 am

    Nice job!
    But it looks like new players will be able to truly understand what’s written in 70% of the article in about a month of playing (or so)

  3. MooPenguin32
    March 16, 2017 at 5:10 am

    Excellent article! I’ve been playing since season 3, took a break, started again in season 13 or 14, and have been playing ever since. I normally top out between rank 12 or 10. I found this article helpful as it re-emphasizes things that I sometimes forget about. I look forward to more in this series.

  4. Eddiep
    March 15, 2017 at 7:39 pm

    I played when the game started and I am trying to get my son an account. I am grinding quest and doing the Daily’s . I have about 1500 gold saved up. The debate is how do I spend it, my original plan was to save if for the new expansion or spend it on a Adventure. Finish a wing and get some kool cards, even though it will get roll out when the expansion starts. Till I read something on the net yesterday, if I use 700 gold to purchase a wing from black rock, 700 gold for league of explorers and purchase a wing at Karazhan . When ungaro comes I still have options to purchase the balance of the wings. Can you confirm if this plan works ? Or blizzard going to take the adventures away when ungaro starts . My son is a new player, it’s impossible to get the naxx , what are your thoughts ?

    • wooo
      March 16, 2017 at 12:52 am

      I think its better to just save gold for Ungoro then just craft the cards you need from rolled out expansions if you want to play wild.

    • Acau
      March 16, 2017 at 3:01 am

      with new account, if you don’t want to spend real money, then always start with classic pack. after you get decent amount of cards from classic set, then start with ungoro, the next expansion. this way you will kinda catch up after playing for one year. it is adviced to spend real money to catch up faster tho.

    • D00mnoodle
      March 16, 2017 at 3:42 am

      Yes, once you have one wing of an adventure you will allways be able to buy the other wings, even if the adventure goes to wild, so buying the first wing of blackrock and league is the safest option, because it gives you the option to buy the other wings whenever you want. And seeing that adventures are the best way for starting players to get good cards this is probably your best option

    • MooPenguin32
      March 16, 2017 at 5:08 am

      If you purchase at least one wing of an adventure that is rotating out, the rest of the wings will remain available for purchase after the rotation and can continue to play them as you can today. Scroll down to the “Gone Wild” heading on the website below to see where this is mentioned.

      http://us.battle.net/hearthstone/en/blog/19995505/a-new-way-to-play-2-2-2016

    • Pablopiola
      March 16, 2017 at 5:59 am

      I think that, if you’re a Free-to-play player, spending your gold in the first wing of the adventures that you don’t have, and that will rotate out of standard, is a better choice. League of Explorers and Blackrock Mountain have cards that will be always usable in the Wild Environment, like Reno and Thaurissan, a very good loot of cards, a lot of other stuff that you can craft, and… a funny single player experience too.

      In a long term plan, Wild is a better environment for F2P players, I think, because you don’t need to farm a lot of new cards, you only need to pick the right ones to have your decks evergreen. Of course that it’s hard to get into it for newest players, but… when you’re in, you get into a better position in the competitive environment.

  5. Raemahn
    March 15, 2017 at 2:49 pm

    Nice article; I especially liked the explanation on learning your role in each duel.

    A couple of thoughts for edits or a follow up article:

    (1) You briefly mention “card advantage” but don’t really describe it or how important that element is to card games in general. That’s an important principle to understand for advanced players.
    (2) Learning how to mulligan properly against opponents is a tricky subject, but an important lesson to learn. This could easily be coupled with a discussion regarding what the “meta game” is and what that means.
    (3) The discussion around quests could use a sentence or two about choosing quests that build on each other so you can complete multiple quests at the same time.

    It’s good to see an article targeted at the new players. Keep up the great work!

    • John
      March 16, 2017 at 5:29 am

      I just wanted to echo the comment about card advantage.

      The article on the whole is great, but you use some jargon without defining it (card advantage, value, etc.). A player who could make use of this article won’t understand those terms.