Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Hearthstone for Beginners

For the uninitiated Hearthstone is a Collectible Card Game (CCG) from Blizzard, the creators of World of Warcraft, Starcraft, Diablo, etc. The card game is free to play, and set in the Warcraft universe with heroes, minions, weapons, and abilities that will be familiar to anyone who's played WOW in the first place. The game is similar to Magic the Gathering and other CCGs, with some very specific differences (aside from the IP it's based on of course).

Decks are made using 30 cards each. You are limited to 2 copies of any card in your deck, and legendaries are limited to 1 per deck (more on legendaries and rarity in a minute). The Tutorial section can be a little annoying honestly, especially if you're already familiar with both the Warcraft universe and CCGs. But it's important, it gets you accustomed to the game mechanics and UI in a reasonable manner.

Once you've defeated Illidan it's time to enter the game proper, initially you'll have the option of Play and Solo Adventures. You won't be able to enter the Arena until later, and it's a complex subject so we'll save discussion on that in more detail for another post entirely.

First order of business is to get some practice in, this will allow you not only to gain some new cards, but also unlock Heroes other than the mage, while also getting a better feel for the game itself under more normal conditions. So, choose Solo Adventures, then under Practice go to Normal and choose your Mage deck before choosing which deck the Innkeerper will use. I advise getting the Warlock deck immediately, as it's strong at all levels of play and ultimately easy and cheap to manage.

From here, you can continue using the basic Warlock deck to unlock other Heroes quickly. As you level up the class you'll unlock several class specific cards, these will for the basis of the first deck you build later.

By the time you unlock all of the classes you will begin receiving some quests and you should be about level 10 in Warlock (or whatever class you choose). If you're not, play a few more practice games until you do reach level 10.

Quests, yes they exist in Hearthstone though they're not exactly as you might expect from playing games like WOW. Here is a list of achievements you can do in your first day of Hearthstone.

  • Ready to Go! Unlock every Hero in Hearthstone. Reward: 100g
  • Got the Basics! Collect every card in the basic set, this requires you to obtain every hero then level each of them to 10. Reward: 100g
  • Crushed Them All! Defeat every Expert AI Hero, have to defeat them all on Normal first. Reward: 100g
  • Level Up Get any Class to level 10. Reward: 1 Expert Pack
  • First Blood Complete a Game in Play Mode, you don't have to actually play the game you can simply load it and concede to claim your reward. Reward: 1 Expert Pack 
  • The Duelist Complete 3 Games in Play Mode, and same as above you can concede your way to a quick prize. Reward: 100g
  • Crafting Time Disenchant a Card. Reward 95 Arcane Dust
  • Enter the Arena Complete an arena run, you may concede your way through like those above, however you will get progressively greater rewards depending on your success in the run. Reward: Variable, Free Arena Credit, Minimum of 1 Expert Pack and some Gold or Arcane Dust.
Completing all of these will actually take several hours, so if your time is limited it may take a couple of days. However, I'd recommend knocking all of these quests out at minimum before taking a dip in the deep end of the pool.

You'll noticed in the rewards listed above that there's mention of Gold, Arcane Dust and Expert Packs. Gold is the currency of Hearthstone, it is earned through gameplay. Completing the quests above, as well as completing daily quests earns varying amounts at a time. Winning 3 games in play mode also awards 10g , this can be done a total of 10 times in a single 24 hour period for a total of 100g (enough for a single Expert Pack).

Every 24 hours you are also given access to a new Daily Quest, these vary wildly and are either Hero based or Neutral. Such as Win 3 Games with Any Class, gain 40g. Or Win 2 games with Warrior or Hunter and gain 40g. Each player can have a total of 3 Daily Quests active at a time, so don't worry too much if you can't complete one immediately.

Gold is used to unlock Adventures and to buy Packs, Expert Packs contain five randomly generated cards each. The rarity of the cards inside varies, however each pack has a minimum of 1 Rare and 4 Common cards. Though it's also possible to more cards of higher rarity in a single pack, and Gold Cards can also be found in packs as well.

And while we're on the subject of rarity, what's that?

Each card has a small gem in it's center, this gem's color denoted it's rarity: White for Common, Blue for Rare, Purple for Epic, and Orange for Legendary. The potency of these cards is generally relative to it's rarity. Initially, you'll want to use your Gold to buy packs...

After you've opened your first few packs and decided on a direction for your first deck, you're going to end up with some cards that you just don't want cluttering up the place. Even if you're main goal is to collect them all, and even if you're planning on spending some real money on the game, you'll still want to familiarize yourself with crafting and dust, because ultimately there's always going to be one or two cards you'd like to have but just didn't get because of the randomness of the packs.

Additionally, since you can only ever have 2 of any specific card (1 for legendaries) in a deck, anything more should be disenchanted anyway.

The first card you disenchant will unlock a bonus, an additional 95 Dust. Since this first card is almost certainly going to be a common card you'll now have 100 Dust, just enough to craft a single Rare. You can either create a second copy of the first rare you got (if it's a good one this isn't a bad idea). Or you can start looking at more specific cards for the deck you want to build.

If you're planning on grabbing a load of packs for real cash then I'd hold off on crafting any cards until after you've opened them all. Nothing hurts worse than crafting an expensive card then seeing more copies of it from a bundle of packs. I'm looking at you Cairne Bloodhoof and Sylvanas Windrunner, I got 3 of each one day after I'd already crafted both.

It's also worth mentioning that Gold versions of cards award expontentially more dust, and likewise cost more than their normal counterparts. There is no real advantage to the Gold cards, they are however pretty. I would say however, that if you get a particular good Gold card, hold onto it at least until you get a regular copy.

I mentioned earlier that Warlock offers the best option for starting out, a couple of months ago I started over once I got my old account back. I couldn't transfer any of the stuff I'd earned on my original Hearthstone account, so I started by building my way up to Reynad's Zoo V2, Zoo is a term you'll hear pretty often as you knock around HS related websites. These are essentially very mana efficient decks focused on killing off enemy minions quickly and continuing to keep a strong presence, preferably killing the opponent around Turn 6 at latest (I've seen turn 3 kills with some of these). With the Warlock Hero Ability drawing an extra card on command, you can quickly amass a small army of highly efficient minions to get the job done.

This is probably one of the easiest decks to learn the game with, it's also one that can be used to play at pretty much any level of the game (including higher ranks on the ladder). It's also more than sufficient to the task of taking out the first wing of Naxramas and other bosses throughout adventure mode, but more on those another time.

The best part is, there are no Rare or Legendary cards in the deck. There's only six rares in the deck, meaning you should be able to assemble the deck pretty quickly, even if you don't spend a dime on cards. I keep a deck like this around myself these days specifically for burning through the earlier portion of the ladder if I'm interested in playing at higher ranks, and also for quick gold farming (wins and dailies).

You can find more information about this budget deck on Hearthpwn at the following link:

And with that, I leave you to it. Enjoy, Hearthstone's a fun game. And if you're looking for a fight you can find me on as Khaas #1502. And if you liked that guide, stay tuned because there's more coming including a guide to Naxramas, Gold Portraits, and more!

-Khaas the Despoiler

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