Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Hearthstone: Philosophy for Beginners


Note: If you want my first thoughts and opinions on Hearthstone as a whole please check out my guest post over on Cold’s Gold Factory: Play Hearthstone Overview & First Thoughts

Now, before watching the video above I’d like to start by explaining the different resources you have at play in Hearthstone. Much like Magic or other card games you have three main areas of concern during the match.

First: Life Total
Second:  Card advantage
Third: Board advantage

Life total is simple to understand and as always the simplest things can confound people the easiest. You start with 30 and you lose the game if you ever hit 0. You must think of this as a limited resource and not be afraid to spend a couple of life in exchange for an advantage in the game – remember you can ‘spend’ 29 life [before heals] and still win the game. Card advantage refers to the number of cards or potential cards you have at your disposal through your hand, card draw mechanics, and open mana.  The player that has the most choices open to them holds the power to control the game. Lastly, Board advantage is your presence on the board in the form of weapons and minions. This doesn’t only include just having more stuff on the board, but also setting the tempo and being ‘on the attack’ meaning you are beating your opponent to minion drops and being able to attack first – the player that attacks first can often put their opponent on the defensive where they are just laying minions each turn that get destroyed before they are useful.

Knowing these concepts I’ll explain things using the video as an outline…

It is common from what videos I’ve seen for newer players to think you are just supposed to go for the lowest cost cards during the opening mulligan. Here I dump a 1 cost and am happy to pick up a 3 cost card. The Noble Sacrifice I give up is a Secret type card. These produce an automatic effect the next time an action described on the card is taken. It is almost in all circumstances a waste to use these in the first 3 or so turns of a match because these cards can change the tempo in the mid game so well. Also I am playing a deck that really shines in later turns playing more than 1 card a turn – You have to be mindful of what your deck is trying to accomplish and keep hands that help you either swarm the field, or hold back and answer what your opponent plays.

When the opponent attacks me directly I know instantly he is new. Why? Knowing that you win by reducing your opponent hero to 0 life it is our instinct to try to do that as quickly as possible with hits directly to the face.  He could have traded with my recruit and left me with no minions. Paladin especially is a hero class that cares mostly about board advantage and taking it from them is critical as they have many buffs for their minions. Controlling combat would be advantageous for the Shaman for his own tricks as well such as Bloodlust.

Weapons (with the exception of Rogue) are to be used as removal primarily. Instead of equipping one and using it to smash a few damage into their face it is usually much better to hold on to it until it’s damage can be used to control the board. You see me give up a lot of small pops to his face to keep his board clear of minions. Also you see that I don’t really fear my life being half of his at one point. This is what I meant by using your life as a resource. I know that he only has a few cards that do damage directly to me so if I can keep his board clear of minions I’m in a really good position so giving up a little life to do that is worth it.

I pass several opportunities to play some of the small minions in my hand. This is because you have to be cautious of board wipes (I mention Lightning Storm) and not ‘over extend’ yourself only to have cards wasted. This applies equally to spells you might play. Make sure you are getting value out of the card, removal especially. You have limited removal so make sure you aren’t wasting a card getting rid of something that is likely not to be a threat only to have the person play something the next turn that makes you wish you still had the card. This is especially important for classes like the Mage that thrive on having card advantage and an answer to everything played.

Finally, take a moment to think your plays through before dropping a card. Don’t be rushed as the game gives you plenty of time to do simple math and think about the possible things that could happen on your opponent’s turn. For example in my opponent’s last play he could have simply reversed the order that he played the cards in and summoned a totem first he possibly could have bought himself some more turns – If it had been the +Spell damage totem his lightning storm would have potentially cleared my field instead.

Anyway, look out for more Hearthstone content in the near future! 


  You can reach me here in the comments, on Twitter @formerruling, and on my YouTube channel FormerRuling


  1. Great post, brother!

    The most common mistake I see way too often that immediately tells me my opponent has absolutely no clue how to play Hearthstone is this:

    Turn One: Elven Archer / Shoot me for 1 damage.


    This game is all about primarily board control and wasting that Elven Archer's ability on me for a minuscule one damage is a terrible option. That one damage is much better served as direct damage towards a minion to remove a threat from the board.

    I mean come on! You'd rather waste your one damage on me than hold it and kill a 3/1 or 2/1 creature that will threaten you or your minions every turn until you remove it?

    These are like the guys in MtG that would Lightning bolt me on turn one as then take 2 damage a turn a my Black Knight lays into them per and over. Shoulda held that direct damage and used it as removal!