6 ways to get better at Hearthstone
Posted on June 2, 2014
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft (rated PG) is a fantastic games for younger players, because it is completely non-violent (it’s basically a card game in digital form), it has the potential to teach systems thinking and it’s free! (Just make sure your credit card is not connected to your iPad as it does include in-app purchases that can be hard to resist.) However, if players are not familiar with game systems they may be slow to improve, so here’s a few pointers.
1. Start well
Like any game or activity, the beginning can either set you on the path to success or make it nearly impossible to catch up. Discard any initial cards that have values that are too high, as you won’t be able to use them for several rounds. Start as you intend to continue: if you’re going to attack the hero, get an early hit in; if you want to build up an army of minions, get them spawning early. Most importantly, use your ever-precious mana wisely, and never finish a round with any left over, if you can help it.
2. Have an overall strategy
Consider how you want to play and choose your hero appropriately: are you going to be aggressive, and try to get your opponent on the back foot? Or are you going to play defensively, with lots of armour and healing? Do you prefer the wildly powerful but unpredictable magic spells, or the dependable and cheap weapon attacks? Most importantly, select a strategy that your opponent won’t expect: mix it up and vary your approach to take them by surprise.
3. Make decisions carefully
As in chess, you must never make careless decisions. Although there is some luck involved in Heathstone (based on how the cards come out of your deck, or who goes first), you have about 90% control over everything in the game. Figure out where the most important decisions lie and put some thought into the advantages and disadvantages of each. Time your most powerful cards (e.g. ‘damage all minions’ ) carefully to get the most benefit (i.e when lots of minions are in play).
4. Choose your battles wisely
It is essential to maximise the benefit to you in any battle decision: don’t just attack the hero every time, if their minions pose a bigger threat. If you can take out a heavy-hitter (say, a 5/2) with a minion who only has 1 or 2 health, you are preventing that opponent from doing more damage in another encounter. If you sacrifice a minion, make sure you do the most damage possible for the least cost. Use your Buff, Taunt and Charge minions for particular strategic benefit: to protect a crucial minion, or to take out an opponent unexpectedly.
5. Manage your resources
Mana is your most obvious resource: it doesn’t stack, so try to use your full stock each round. Cards in your hand are also an important resource: you don’t want to be left with too few to choose from, and your Hero ability is a good way to use 2 mana if you have any left over after playing cards. Your minions are another form of resource: leaving your field completely empty leaves your Hero exposed, but having it too full makes them vulnerable to all-out magic attacks.
6. Aim for a surprise defeat
If you opponent sees the end coming, they may get in first. Calculate your hitting power with your minions on the field and any playable magic or Charge cards, and try to knock out your opponent quickly and decisively. Plan 1-2 steps ahead to win, and prepare for the unexpected.
In short, play Hearthstone like Chess: with care. It requires more luck than Chess, but you can turn things to your advantage given clear thinking and good tactics. Build a strong deck for the Hero and your play style, and most importantly, learn from losing! You almost never learn from winning, so from the point of view of getting better, losers are the real winners.