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HearthstoneApr 19, 2021 2:00 pm CT

How to get started with Hearthstone

Nemsy Necrofizzle

There’s never been a better time to get started with Hearthstone than the present moment, thanks to the enormous reset the game has just received. The advent of the Core Set, combined with other recent changes to the game — like the brand-new Rewards Track — have ensured that it is high time to give Blizzard’s digital collectible card game another try.

Here are some tips on how to make the most of your return, without getting completely lost out there.

Start with the Single Player modes — train before you rush into PVP!

Playing Hearthstone as a single player game can work to some extent — and this is how you should start anyway, even if you plan on trying PVP later on. These modes will allow you to get used to playing the game: Learning the mechanics and keywords, understanding what each class does, wrapping your head around when it’s time to go on the offensive and when it’s time to defend, etc.

If you asked me a few months ago, I wouldn’t recommend playing against the AI in Hearthstone. But it turns out that, since the big Core Set patch, all of the AI opponents have had their decks updated — even including some Legendary cards — on the “Expert” difficulty of Practice Mode. Those AI opponents can actually be a decent challenge now!

My advice is to keep cycling through all ten AI opponents (one of each class), testing out the same deck against them, since they will present you to several different playstyles. Some of those AI opponents play aggressively, while others tend to use a slower, control-oriented gameplay. Some play for “Tempo” — that is, trying to affect the board as much as possible every turn, always being one step ahead of their opponent — while others play for “Value” — that is, trying to use cards that do as much as possible for the mana cost.

In addition to Practice Mode, Hearthstone also offers some free-to-play single player adventures, like Book of Heroes and Book of Mercenaries. Those adventures can get pretty tough later on! Think of those challenges as puzzles — beating them will require not only luck, but also skill and knowledge of the game. You will need to learn how to figure out which cards to play, not only to increase your position on the current turn, but also to advance your strategy, anticipating what your opponent will do on the next few turns, so that you can seal your victory later on.

Slowly dip your toes into the more casual PVP modes

Once you feel comfortable enough with the game mechanics by playing Single Player for a while, it’s time to try the more casual PVP game modes.

Tavern Brawl is full of wacky mechanics that change every week — and we always have some guides on how you can improve your chances at winning them. Players usually don’t play Tavern Brawl as seriously as they do on the Ranked PVP modes, so you’ll have a more relaxed environment to learn in. Losses don’t amount to much — so you have no need to fear losing — and your first win of the week usually nets you a free card pack.

You can also hit the Play button and try real matches against real opponents, on Casual mode. That’s the unranked mode of Hearthstone — so, again, the stakes are low. Stick to that mode for a bit. You’ll face a greater variety of decks there, since some players like to use Casual mode to experiment their own ideas; while in Ranked mode, people will usually stick to the “meta” decks — those decks crafted and perfected by pros (that players will copy from the internet, and try to pilot themselves).

However, a few words of advice are in order: Playing against human opponents often feels quite different from playing against the AI. If you become too used to the patterns the AI repeats, many moves from a human player will surprise you. So, even while you’re still in your learning phase, and playing mostly against the AI, it is important to try some casual PVP every once in a while, on the side, in order to make your transition from Single Player to PVP not be too jarring.

Look into external help to keep improving at the game

Speaking of meta decks, it’s time to look into external websites and tools.

HSReplay.net is an invaluable website that will quickly give you an overall idea of what decks are worth playing at the moment. Check the winrates for each class, click them, and find decks which have a good winrate and that you can craft with your collection.

Don’t be afraid to copy those decks and try them out yourself. Also, try to branch out, checking out many different classes and archetypes. There is no better way to learn how to counter every opponent than trying to think like they do.

Another invaluable external tool is the Hearthstone Deck Tracker, also from HSReplay. When you launch it, it adds an overlay to your Hearthstone client that shows you your deck, which cards you have already drawn, and other useful information.

Having that info you can quickly glance at and reference is an enormous burden off your mind, and makes planning your next moves considerably easier. Also, the tool will record your own winrates with each deck, allowing you to analyze your performance, and make changes where needed.

Always be aware of your mindset — consistency is more important than winning

Besides getting help from external tools, it’s also important to help yourself: get into the correct mindset to improve. Remember: Consistency is key. Don’t feel discouraged even if you’re losing, and stick to it!

When you’re just starting out with the game, you will lose a lot. This is normal, and expected. The key is sticking to it. One helpful tip at this stage is to have the mindset of just playing the game without expecting short-term results. “I will play five games with my Mage deck today, no matter the results.”

You should focus on that — and on learning the mechanics and intricacies of your deck — to improve your ability and game knowledge over time. If your day ends with no wins and five losses, don’t feel disheartened. Focus on your longer term goals, and sometimes even short term gains — do this again tomorrow, and maybe you’ll be able to get a win and four losses. That’s improvement!

This is the rule that stays true and never changes, no matter your skill level and how much experience you have with the game. Getting into a game like Hearthstone — or on any competitive game, for that matter — requires you to make adjustments to your mindset, and understand that it takes time and patience to get good.

Other game modes in Hearthstone have almost no barrier to entry

While the bulk of this article is meant to help you get started on Hearthstone’s “main” mode — Constructed play, where players craft decks and battle against one another — Hearthstone has several other game modes. Of special note to new players to the game is Battlegrounds.

Battlegrounds mode is completely free to play, and it actually doesn’t have any relation to your card collection: This mode doesn’t require you to collect any cards! When it comes to gameplay, it is a completely different game from Constructed Hearthstone, with its own rules and mechanics. You’re not building mana to play minions and spells; instead, you are buying minions from Bob’s Tavern, placing them on the battlefield, and watching as they battle automatically. In other words, it’s an “auto-battler” game.

But don’t think of Battlegrounds as a “lesser” mode — it has a very healthy playerbase. Recent data even shows that Standard and Battlegrounds have roughly the same amount of players! And there are many super popular Hearthstone streamers that have completely stopped playing Standard, and only play Battlegrounds now. It truly is a very robust and fun mode, that is likely easier to get into than Standard.

Regardless of what you choose to play, be assured that Hearthstone is easier to get into now than it was years ago. All the recent changes to the game have improved the new player experience considerably, and I would absolutely advise you to give it a try again.

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