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HearthstoneJun 7, 2022 10:00 am CT

How to build your Hearthstone card collection without spending a dime

So you decided to get started with Hearthstone, or perhaps to return to the game after some time away. Welcome back! But perhaps what’s been putting you off from the game has been the fact that you have a small card collection, and don’t feel like you can compete on equal footing with veteran players.

That is a very common concern, and an extremely valid one. But building your Hearthstone collection can be expensive if you’re doing it by buying packs with real money. Thankfully, there are several things you can do to make the process of collecting cards and bolstering your collection as easy — and cheap — as possible. The game has lots of sources for free cards if you’re willing to put in a little time to get them, helping you collect cards without spending cash.

Read on to find out more about how to be smart about increasing your Hearthstone card collection without spending any money.

Do your quests to level up in the Rewards Track

The main thing you need to know is that Hearthstone uses a system called the Rewards Track. As you play the game, you earn experience — XP — which goes into the track, earning you levels. With each level up  you earn a small reward. Sometimes it’s gold, other times it’s card packs, and on a few specific levels, you may get rewards like specific golden cards or Hero portraits.

Earning XP is of utmost importance to building your collection, since the gold you get from the Rewards Track can be used to purchase card packs without spending real money. Although you can earn XP simply by playing a lot of games, that’s not terribly efficient. Instead, your focus should be on completing daily and weekly quests.

If you just log into Hearthstone every day — or even every other day — and tackle your quests, your constant XP flow will give you gold, which in turn will allow you to buy a lot of packs. Most of these daily and weekly quests can even be done on the single player modes, while challenging a friend, or playing the weekly Tavern Brawl, so you don’t need top-tier decks to progress.

Keep in mind that you can accumulate up to three daily quests and up to three weekly quests at once. So it can be more efficient to wait until you have a full set of dailies and weeklies before tackling them in order to potentially double-dip on quests and get them done more quickly. But at the same time, you never want to finish a day with three dailies undone, since that means you will “waste” a daily on the following day, and miss out on that precious XP. Play smart!

Unlock all the cards in the Core Set

Hearthstone’s Core Set of cards includes the most basic cards in the game, which constitute the foundation of most decks. And all players get the full Core Set at no cost — as long as they’ve leveled up each of the game’s ten classes. If you’re a returning player, you’ve probably already done this, but if you’re a brand new player, you’ll want to make it a priority.

The Core Set will always make up the basic building blocks of decks, because Core Set cards will rotate every year, bringing in new and interesting cards. If you’ve already unlocked the Core Set by leveling up your classes, you’ll get the latest Core Set cards automatically. So this is a one-time process that will earn you cards that will always be up to date with the game, no matter how many years pass.

So as you’re starting out, you should focus on leveling up all ten classes by playing as them on the more casual modes of the game, such as the single player modes or the Tavern Brawl.

Play the Tavern Brawl every week

In fact, make sure to play that Tavern Brawl every week! The reasons for this are many: You will earn XP in a more relaxed mode, you will level up your classes, you will gain knowledge at the game, and your first win rewards you a card pack containing relatively recent Standard cards. Right now, it rewards a Year of the Phoenix pack which contains cards from the Ashes of OutlandScholomance Academy, and Madness at the Darkmoon Faire expansions.

The Tavern Brawl rotates every Wednesday (and we have a weekly guide to help you win it), so be sure you get your win of the week before then!

Spend your gold on card packs

As you level up on the Rewards Track and earn gold, you should spend that gold on packs from the in-game shop. You can buy a single pack from any expansion for 100 gold, so if you do your quests you’ll be able to grab several packs a week.

Here’s a tip: even though the in-game UI doesn’t make it very obvious at all, you can actually purchase multiple packs with gold at once. Do you see that “1 pack = 100 gold” button? Just double click it, and type your desired amount on the pop-up window that shows up.

Also remember that you are guaranteed to earn a Legendary for every 40 packs you open of a same set — this is informally called the “pity timer.” With each new pack you open that doesn’t contain a Legendary, the game will slowly increase your change of earning a Legendary until you get one. The chance hits 100% at the 40th pack, but you’ll rarely need to open that many. So it might be useful to keep track of how many packs of a specific set you’ve already opened in order to know how long until you earn your Legendary, and “reset” your pity timer.

Disenchant duplicate cards (and a few others)

As you build up your card collection, you’ll inevitably wind up with some duplicate cards. Because decks can’t contain more than two copies of each card (or one copy of each Legendary card), there’s no reason to keep more than that. These cards can be disenchanted to give you dust which you can use to craft new cards. To do this, just open your card collection, click “Crafting” then “Disenchant Extra Cards.” The game will automatically find any duplicates and let you disenchant them all with a single click.

But you shouldn’t randomly disenchant cards — even if you think you aren’t likely to use them. When you disenchant a card, you won’t get enough dust to immediately craft another card, so it’s best to hang on to them. Cards may be buffed in the future or find a use in a future meta. Another reason not to disenchant cards is that the game has a built-in duplicate protection. So if you already have a certain Legendary card, you are guaranteed not to open that same Legendary from a pack until you have already collected every single Legendary from that set. If you “dust” a Legendary you aren’t planning on using, you might end up opening a pack with that same Legendary again. Letting it sit in your collection works as guarantee that the next Legendary you open will have a slightly higher chance of being one that you could use.

There are only two exceptions to the “don’t disenchant” rule:

  • “Nerfed” cards. Whenever a balance pass happens, some cards might end up being nerfed. Whenever that happens, the game will tell you that you can disenchant those cards and get a full dust refund (if you already own them), meaning you’ll immediately get enough dust to craft a different card of the same quality. In that case — and if you’re not planning on using those cards anyway — it’s worth it to disenchant them. In the worst case you can always just make it again.
  • Golden cards — if you want to craft another card of the same rarity. For example: if you get a Golden Legendary card that you’re not planning on using, you may want to disenchant it, since that will net you the same amount of dust that it costs to craft any other (non-Golden) Legendary card of your choice.

Craft the right cards

So you’ve been expanding your collection and disenchanting your duplicates — that will earn you Dust, which you can use to craft other cards. When you don’t want to spend real money on the game, you should be smart about this by crafting the right cards.

  • Favor those cards that you can use on multiple decks. Strong neutral cards are usually a safer bet than strong class cards because you can use them in decks from any class.
  • Make sure that you’ll get actual use out of the card you’re crafting: you should only craft cards that you can use in a deck that’s already proven to be strong. You should keep an eye on the metagame to pay attention to what everyone else is playing — and winning with. You don’t want to waste your precious Dust on cards that you don’t end up using.

So there you have it. If you follow these tips, you will be able to earn gold and manage your dust as efficiently as possible, and you’ll build up your collection in no time, just by playing the game — hopefully with little to no real money expenditure required. Have fun!

Originally posted April 27, 2021. Updated June 7, 2022.

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