In our previous installment of the Hearthstone beginner guide, I covered some super-high level tips that are common knowledge for anyone who has any experience in collectable card games that players new to the genre (and Hearthstone) likely haven't learned yet. I was originally planning on hopping right in with posting and analyzing some decks, but I realized dealing with the in-game economy and how you get the cards for your decks is more important to cover first.

Crafting

The good (and bad) thing about Hearthstone being a virtual CCG is the instant accessibility to cards. Through a crafting system where you get rid of your duplicate or otherwise unwanted cards you earn arcade dust, and then you can spend this dust to craft the cards you do want. Unfortunately, in this transaction, the house always wins.

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Here's what you'll get for disenchanting as well as the cost of each rarity level:

Rarity Disenchanting Crafting
Common 5 40
Rare 20 100
Epic 100 400
Legendary 400 1600

Now, while we're on the subject, something to consider is that golden cards (essentially the Hearthstone equivalent of fancy foil cards) disenchant for (and cost) way more dust. Initially, it might seem like a good idea to convert your gold cards to dust because you can get so much for them, but consider this:

Hearthstone, compared to other CCG's, is in its infancy right now. Typically in card games rare things always stay rare, meaning if you eventually want a deck of cards that's all gold, it's going to be just as hard to chase those cards down as it is today.

Comparatively, dust is reasonably easy to come across right now by burning your extra cards, and if free to play games have taught us anything over the years it's that the in-game currencies (like dust) often get easier to come by. I'm not sure just how likely it is, but for instance, it's entirely possible that the upcoming expansion Curse of Naxxramas could make grinding out dust easier.

Of course it's entirely up to you with what you do with those juicy gold cards, but, I'm holding on to mine as the dust reward seems good, but if I ever want those cards back it's going to be expensive. Similarly, the methodology I'm using for all cards is to only blow up duplicates. You lose so much value when disenchanting that it just doesn't seem worth it.

You can't trade cards with other players, so the only way you're ever going to get cards is by unlocking them yourself. CCG's have an evolving meta game surrounded by the overall design idea of intentional imbalance, so even though a particular card might seem terrible now, as the meta game evolves that clunker could turn in to the next killer deck.

Here's a great video that details how intentional imbalance makes these sorts of games fun, for some additional background:

Getting Dust

Obviously, you get extra cards to disenchant by opening packs, which can be bought for 100 gold or whatever IAP pack you feel like dropping cash on, starting at $1.99. The most reliable way to earn gold is by doing your daily quests that you get, and you get 10 gold for every three wins. Just playing every day will get you cards at a pretty decent clip.

Many places online will tell you the best place to get cards is by playing in the arena, which is the Hearthstone equivalent of a limited format used by other CCG's. You get a choice of three random classes to play, and choose one of three random cards until you've got a 30 card deck. Entering the arena costs 150 gold or $1.99.

The thing with the arena is, you can get fantastic rewards, but only if you're able to reliably win more than you lose. Starting out, this likely isn't going to be the case, and chances are you're going to walk away with your free pack for playing and a random reward which can be 25-40 gold, 25-40 dust, or one random card. These rewards scale up with each win, but at 3-5 wins you can come out even while at 7+ wins you earn more gold than you paid to enter.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying don't do the arena, but if your sole goal is to flesh out your collection both by getting new cards and potentially getting duplicate cards to craft the cards you want, you're probably better off just getting packs outright with your gold until you learn the game more and are capable of crafting a cohesive deck on the fly and consistently average a win rate of greater than 50%.

The Best Cards to Craft First

3So you've got a few wins under your belt, you're starting to do your daily quests with some reliability, and you're earning dust at a steady pace in the process. The next step a lot of people take is to find a deck they like somewhere like HearthPwn or any of the other deck databases out there and just go nuts crafting it.

I highly advise against doing this, as what is going to happen is you're going to wind up with tons of crafted cards that are highly class specific. The best way to spend your dust early in the game is by crafting the strong neutral cards that are used in most decks. Doing this you're going to get the most bang for your proverbial dust buck, as a strong neutral card is going to see play in many classes versus a strong rogue card which obviously can only be used by rogues.

Having a good stock of strong neutral cards is vital to completing your daily quests too, which often have you rotating between all sorts of classes to get gold. With good neutral cards, you can fill out a reasonably decent deck with just those cards, then fill in the holes with whatever class cards seem to fit to grind out your daily quest class-specific wins.

I really, really wouldn't bother crafting common cards. If you're sticking with doing your daily quests you'll have gold coming in at a decent pace and will be opening a free pack every couple days. It doesn't take long for you to fill out your collection of common cards to the point that you'll be disenchanting most of the common cards you get, so it's really not worth crafting them. Stick to rares, as it's far more difficult to count on opening a specific rare you want compared to eventually getting 2x of every common.

Here's the rare cards I'd make sure I have two of before anything else. The list is alphabetical, as which of these cards is "better" than the others largely depends on your play style:

463Argent Commander - A 4/2 for 6 mana might not seem great, but add charge and divine shield in to the mix and you've got a great minion. Divine shield protects him from one damage source, and being instantly usable means you can potentially swing in to kill a minion with much higher attack without trading your Argent Commander for it. Alternatively, you could bash your opponent for 4, and force them in to using two actions to get rid of this guy.

Azure Drake - I think cards that have a battlecry that results in card draw are always great, and a 4/4 for 5 mana that also boosts your spell power is fantastic- Particularly if you can follow it up with any kind of spell. If you can't, a card in your hand and a 4/4 on the board is more than worth the casting cost.

Defender of Argus - A 2/3 for 4 mana isn't great, but the battlecry this dude comes packed with is killer. Drag him between two existing minions on the board and you're not only swinging in for a combined two additional damage, but those guys just got beefier and gained taunt. Defender of Argus is almost always a pain for your opponent to deal with as he can turn two seemingly insignificant minions in to threats and road blocks.

Sunfury Protector - This guy is a cheaper Defender of Argus that doesn't buff your minions, but still provides them taunt. The Sunfury Protector is great at buying you time, as well as protecting a higher value minion. Late game if you've got a card you can get out for 8 that likely won't survive the next turn, you can spend that extra 2 mana on this guy to give the other minions on the board taunt to make sure your high value cards stick.

Sunwalker - A beefier Argent Commander, here we're trading charge for more health and taunt. This card is very annoying to get rid of, as even if you silence it to remove the divine shield and taunt, a 4/5 is still a sizable threat. If your opponent already used their silence, it's going to take two, or potentially even more, minions to get the Sunwalker off the board.

Wild Pyromancer - As mentioned in our previous guide, card advantage is everything in CCGs and Wild Pyromancer is a great way to spice up your mass-damage spells without costing as much as +1 spell damage cards typically do. Additionally, if you're playing a class that doesn't have many options when it comes to removing a battlefield full of enemy minions, Wild Pyromancer is a great answer- Particularly if you've got a way to keep him healed as he damages himself and your minions as well.

The above cards are by far the most flexible and useful in most decks, these cards can be good if you're running the right kind of deck or other cards to support them:

153Ancient Watcher - A 4/5 for 2 mana is insane, but the whole "Can't Attack" thing is a real wet blanket. It turns out, this card can be ultra-useful if you've got the right stuff in your deck to pair it with. It can trigger the battlecry of Knife Juggler. All silences can target friendly minions, so you can drop this guy and a Ironbeak Owl and have 6 points of attacking power. Alternatively, powering up this guy can keep your opponent from using mass-silences like Mass Dispel, and either of the above guys who can give adjacent cards taunt can turn Ancient Watcher in to a real problem for your opponent, considering if they silence the taunt they still have a 4/5 coming their way to deal with.

Gadgetzan Auctioneer - If you've got a deck that plays lots of spells, you need card draw or you'll totally run out of gas and will be playing off the top of your deck. A 4/4 for 5 isn't bad, but when all your spells now essentially have "Battlecry: Draw a card," Gadgetzan Auctioneer can create some seriously silly combos.

Knife Juggler - A 3/2 for 2 mana is great, and either playing Knife Juggler on turn one with the coin or turn two by himself can be really strong plays to fish out whatever targeted card removal your opponent might be holding. Alternatively, he's cheap enough to hold on to for when you've got a bigger combo coming up like any card that summons multiple minions like Mirror Image, Feral Spirit, Unleash the Hounds and more. Each of those minions summoned will trigger his battlecry, and since it's totally random, Knife Juggler can knock out annoying minions that are buffing others but might be protected by a minion with taunt.

Once you've got those cards, look at picking these even more situational but still really great neutral cards:

97Arcane Golem - A 4/2 minion with charge is great for smashing in for loads of damage with your other minions on the board, and at 3 mana it's low costed for the damage it does… But it comes with the significant drawback of ramping your opponent's mana pool. This can be a really bad thing or a not-that-bad kind of thing depending on what your opponent is playing. If they're running an aggressive deck that's more dependent on card draw than it is mana, giving them an extra crystal isn't that bad. If they're not doing much but holding on to a full hand of cards to bust out some combo, unless you're swinging in for lethal damage giving them extra mana isn't a great idea.

Imp Master - A 1/5 for 3 mana is pretty decent, but things get even better when Imp Master starts dumping out free 1/1 minions every turn, particularly if you've got buffs that apply to them. If you've got a way to heal Imp Master, it can turn in to a real problem for your opponent.

Injured Blademaster - The battlecry makes this card a 4/3, which isn't terrible, but once he starts soaking up heals this guy just gets crazy. He's great in Priest decks, as well as any deck that runs cards or minions that heal other minions. Heal this dude up, apply whatever buff cards you got, and he's a crazy force to deal with. It's super situational though, as if you don't have a way to keep him alive, there are better minions to be had for 3 mana.

Mind Control Tech - Like most luck-based battlecry minions, this guy can be really good or do absolutely nothing worthwhile. Four minions is a lot to have out, but like Mind Control, there's no restrictions on what minion this guy can steal. Grab some legendary your opponent just summoned and Mind Control Tech will suddenly become your favorite card.

Twilight Drake - Best played with decks that have loads of card draw, Twilight Drake can be super beefy if you're holding on to a bunch of cards. If you're not, for 4 mana, a 4/3 isn't great, a 4/2 is pretty bad, and a 4/1 is even worse if you just pulled this card off the top of your deck and have nothing else to do but play it.

Violet Teacher - Often with decks that run heavy with spells, you've got to cut out minion support to have what you need while still staying at 30 cards. Violet Teacher can do a great job at filling this hole, as playing it then a couple spells can fill your side of the board with minions. It's down here in the super situational list because obviously if you're not playing many spells there's way better cards than this for 4 mana.

Those cards are a great place to start, and while crafting a ton of these rares will cost you a load of dust, these cards are flexible enough to be usable in most decks. Again, until you really figure out what class you like best, I wouldn't really get too invested in to building loads of class specific cards.

Next up we'll look at a few typical Hearthstone deck archetypes and examine both what makes them work as well as how to play against them. Stay tuned!

  • CkX82

    *sigh*
    Everything i get a hearthstone notification i hope its a release for iphone....

    • ste86uk

      I was just about to say that because it'll likely just be a surprise it's out now! Rather than a planned date. I want it so badly.

    • Opinion

      I cannot wait until its out. Probably wont touch my laptop when it comes to hearth again lol my phone is used for a lot.

  • Ethereal87

    So, I know in the beta phase at some point, certain cards were able to be disenchanted for their full value due to balance changes for a limited time. Is this something that happens regularly or was it beta only? Or another way, is there a good reason to hold onto extra cards because they might disenchant for more?

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      If I recall correctly the only time this happened was during the pre-wipe beta when they significantly changed cards to effectively "refund" players the cost of those cards if they wanted. It seems now the nerfs are infinitely less substantial and are limited to things like the recent Unleash the Hounds nerf where the card will cost 3 instead of 2 mana to cast. In that case, it's not a total rework of the card, but a minor alteration.

      I'd be very, very surprised if that ever happened again.

      • Ethereal87

        Ok, good to know. Thank you!

      • SoyGreen

        it was my understanding that anytime they "nerf" a card - they would allow people to dust it for full value.

        It "should" fall into this one as well - as they changed a card people may have crafted. Willing to be wrong - but I also don't play much hunter and would totally dust them to make something I will actually use. :)

  • t0by

    So my plan is to just craft cards for my Mage, because it is the class I have really used to. i'm lvl 20 now. But I think compared to other classes, in terms of abilities, the Mage is left out. My win-lose ratio is simply horrible. But I don't know if it is worth it, to focus on a mage, or just move on and try other classes. :/

    • Terry Thrasher

      I would second the suggestion to make sure you have good, versatile neutral cards first. If you do, then focus on the class(es) that you enjoy playing the most. I'm a fan of trying to play at least a bit with all of the classes so that I can understand them and beat them when I'm against them.

      Generally Mage is considered to be weaker in ranked play, but that doesn't mean it can't do well. And sometimes the landscape changes, or someone figures out a way to play a class, and things change.

      • t0by

        But when playing,you just get a random opponent, so you really just have to stick with your class that has the best deck, and for me, it is the mage. But the mage is really overpowered by other classes. I would just follow the suggestion here to craft neutral cards first. Looks like, when you chose the Mage life, you really have to craft cards and sacrifice the cards of other classes to compensate for its weakness.

      • Cilo

        I know how you feel, I love mages in most games and in Hearthstone as well. To be honest, the class is extremely fun to play and you can construct a decent stock deck if you think of the class differently. I found myself having a lot of trouble at first until I started playing my deck in the same way as the character, spell power, spell damage, and damage mitigation focused. Try it out, you might be surprised at how well the class plays, and how most people might not expect it, especially when most decks are so minion based. I almost forgot to mention though that I do run neutral cards in my deck, there's no way to really be viable without them as the mage deck has a few holes in it such as +spell power, or taunts.

      • t0by

        Well actually, what made me reconsider the mage is when I got beat up by the mage (practice mode, expert). I saw the beauty again in using Mage, but ofcourse, the only hindrance is that I don't have the exact cards that Bot has,that is where O got the idea of crafting cards for my mage. I've been constructing my deck based on what spell cards my mage has. Mostly my neutral cards are composed of Taunt type minions and minions that increase their power when being attacked, that's what the fireball is, I think,attacking your minion with minimal damage. But still it is not enough. One problem about the mage too, in order to be effective, the cards you have must be in sync with each other. Or else their is no other strategy for you. I must learn how to deal with those type of situations.

      • Cilo

        I wouldn't neglect the neutral +spellpower cards. Add me, Drukqs#1998 and we can check out each other's mage decks. I run a budget deck right now, I have only like 2-3 rates.

  • Artur

    I must disagree about spending gold for packs - 100 gold for 1 pack, vs 150 gold for 1 pack, the potential to make back your gold, plus dust/card/extra pack potential, AND the practice of drafting a deck and playing at minimum 3 games seems like a better deal to me. Win 6 games and you nearly make back your gold.

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      I guess it depends if you have more fun in limited or constructed. Speaking from experience, as a new player, dropping 150g on the arena and scrubbing out in three games and essentially lose 50g for the privilege of playing a frustrating deck isn't really worth it until you know the game well enough to be able to build a cohesive deck from scratch.

      Again, these guides are targeted at people who are totally new to Hearthstone and CCGs, and it's hard to imagine a better way to turn someone off the game that barely has all their basics unlocked than throwing them in to endlessly losing in the arena. Hell, I reliably do pretty well in the arena and I still prefer constructed and ranked.

      • bcredonk

        Awaiting the arena guide with bated breath haha

  • benadvanced

    The hunter UTH card is being changed from 2 to 3 mana as a "nerf". I still think it is overpowered with the right combo.

  • bcredonk

    I like the arena until I come up against people with a bunch of legendary cards

  • sanitymops

    Really wonderful series of posts. Thank you!

  • Leeabe51

    Nice write up, again. I have to say I like the Injured Bladmaster quite a bit. Bit puzzled by the "situational" and there are better 3 mana 4/3 cards. 4/3 is very good for that cost, and with no abilities, it makes it an always good card to play at round 2 or 3.

  • RunningWild

    Thanks again Eli. I'm certainly taking notes.