I’ve started playing Hearthstone – about five years after the rest of the planet went ape over it. I’m nothing if not ferociously cutting-edge.
One problem with coming to the game late is that beginners’ guides aren’t all that easy to find, because the rest of the gaming world has moved on. So here, for fellow starters, is my advice on how to survive your first few bruising battles against other real-life players.
1. Don’t let your opponent amass minions
Don’t let minions live any longer than necessary. Your opponent might have only one or two down and you might take the opportunity to take a swipe at their Hero. The next thing you know, they’ve pulled another four minions out of their hand on the next turn, and now you’ve got a problem. The only time I’d let a minion live is if they can do no or minimal damage, and you’ve got a chance to land a hefty blow on your opponent’s Hero.
2. It’s all about the combos
Try not to play cards in isolation. Yes, you might have a particularly strong minion that can do damage by itself, but the best opportunities come when you can play cards in combinations. For example, there are cards that double the health of a minion or throw a shield around another minion. If you can play a big hitter and then make it doubly difficult for your opponent to kill it, you’re halfway to a victory.
3. Keep an eye on your opponent’s hand
An easy mistake to make in the early days is to think you’re home and dry, because you’ve knocked 15 health off your opponent’s hero and yours hasn’t suffered a scratch. But when you look at your hands, he’s got six cards in reserve and you’ve got a single duffer. And now you’re at the stage of the game where he can lay two or three cards at a time and you can’t even spend all the mana you’ve got to play on this turn. Don’t let your opponent build a significantly bigger hand than yours – take opportunities to draw more cards instead of attacking when they arise, or you could easily find yourself outgunned at the end.
4. Read the cards carefully
It’s easy to ruin a game by misreading a card. “Does 5 damage to random minions” doesn’t say “do 5 damage to opponent’s minions”, for example. A lesson I learnt to my very dear cost in one game. I also didn’t realise that you could read your opponents cards until about a dozen games in (just click on the card to enlarge it). It really helps to know what powers your opponent’s cards have.
5. Taunt your opponents
Taunt cards are hugely valuable. When you play a taunt, the opponent’s minions and hero will normally have to target that card first, instead of striking at your hero or other minions. This can be enormously valuable if you’ve played a minion with high attack and low defence, as it may prevent the enemy from taking the attacker down before you’ve had a chance to use it. Taunt is also handy during the end game, when you’re often trading big swipes at each others’ heroes.
6. Bonus tip… manage your deck
One more tip for the road. Once you’ve played a few games and started collecting cards, make sure you manage that hero’s deck. Go to My Collection from the main screen, pick your hero and then you’re able to swap cards in your collection for those already in the hero’s deck. You’ll need to remove a card before you can add a new one. Make sure you have a broad set of cards – it’s tempting to stockpile the most powerful ones, but you’ll have little or nothing to play in the early parts of the game if you go for all the high-powered cards. The key is choosing cards that compliment one another, but that’s a whole other blog post…
If you’re a beginner and you fancy adding me to your friends list, I’m AngerMagnet on Hearthstone.
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