Welcome to Hearthhead's introduction to the wonderful world of Hearthstone! Released by Blizzard in 2014, Hearthstone is a free-to-play digital card game with set in the World of Warcraft universe. Players choose one of nine core character classes and then build decks of cards representing creatures, spells, weapons, and hero cards. Each player starts with a total of 30 Health and is victorious if their opponent runs out of health before they do.
To play Hearthstone, you will need to download the game client. For Windows or Mac users, you can get it online from Blizzard's Hearthstone website.
After installing the game client, you will be guided through the initial tutorial. Complete the tutorial, then defeat each class against the AI to unlock them. You can level each class up to level ten by playing additional games against the AI, rather than against other players if you prefer.
Once you have each class up to level ten, it's time to build a deck! The game offers a built-in tool to help you identify what cards you should add to your deck as you go, but it uses a fairly rigid set of rules. You can find lots of great deck ideas online, including in our class archetype guides!
Here are a few tips to help you build a good starting card collection:
Unlock all nine classes. You will get a bonus 100 gold for doing so!
Beat each class against its unlocked Expert AI. This grants you an additional 100 gold.
Get all nine classes up to level 10. In addition to unlocking all of the game's basic cards, you get another 100 gold for doing so.
Complete the Tavern Brawl each week for a free Classic Pack!
Try to complete your quests. These will award you gold which can be used to purchase packs from the in-game shop.
Picking A Class to Play
We've created a series of Class Overviews, or "hubs," about each of the Hearthstone classes. From our experience, new players tend to get overwhelmed by the number of classes when they just start playing. They don't know the play style of each one of them, so they have a hard time picking the one that fits them. This resource should be a perfect way to resolve that issue. That said, more intermediate players might also learn a thing or two, especially about the classes they haven't played a lot.
Things you will find in each of the Class Overviews are:
Class Background - Mostly includes bits of lore and some information about how the class is played in World of Warcraft.
Themes and Mechanics - Each class has some unique themes and mechanics. Starting with the Hero Power, we try to talk about "class identity" - what kind of cards the class was getting in the past and what can we expect in the future.
Strengths and Weaknesses - Each class is good at something and bad at something else. We try to identify those and explain why it's the case. Those might change a bit with the release of a new expansion (especially weaknesses, which are often patched up), but most of them should still stay true when we're talking about the class' core.
Meta Decks and Strategies - We identify the meta decks each class can use right now. Each of the strategies is explained, with the basic strategy and core cards identifies. Also, each of those has a link to a full deck list and guide.
Level-Up Rewards - List of the Basic cards that are rewarded for leveling the class up to level 10. Useful for players who are just starting to play a given class.
Starter Deck Guides
With our Starter Deck Guides, you arm yourself with a completely free deck list alongside a guide that will help you learn.
Each Basic Guide contains:
Card Choices - Why are you running some cards over others? We try to explain that here.
Mulligan and Strategy - You'll want to know and understand what cards you want in your opening hand and how this specific Basic deck does to win the game.
General Tips - Answers to some general questions you might have. When do I use my hero power? What card combos are available? Etc.
Card Upgrades - There are obviously some less than ideal cards, so we offer a few cheap upgrades for the ones you'll want to replace.
Building Your Collection & Earning Gold
To build a collection of cards, players must first complete a basic tutorial. When you finish the tutorial, you start with the Mage class unlocked and can defeat the other classes (played by the AI) to unlock them. Basic cards for each class are unlocked by playing additional games with them and leveling them up.
Expert cards are unlocked by acquiring card packs. Packs are purchasable with in-game gold or money, and may also be rewarded for completion of quests or other rewards from Blizzard. Each pack contains five (5) cards, with at least one card per pack being of Rare or better quality. The higher a card's rarity, the more valuable it is. Card rarities are analogous to item rarities in World of Warcraft:
Optimizing your gold income is an important part of learning Hearthstone. Check out our Earning Gold Through Quests Guide which will walk you through all of the information you need to know and teach you how to earn as much gold as possible.
You can purchase packs through the Shop in-game, and then click on the Open Packs button next to the My Collection button along the bottom of the interface to bust open your card packs.
Want to learn more about the Arena? Check out our Introduction to the Arena Guide. We'll walk you through picking a class, drafting your deck, and competing for rewards.
Learn about counting cards, making ‘reads’ on your opponent, constructing educated predictions as to how future turns will play out and finally, recognizing how to utilize all of this information and translate it into better gameplay.
When you start the game for the first time, you'll be greeted with a tutorial process before you truly begin playing. Once you're through that tutorial, however, there are seven main sections to the game client:
- Play - This is where the regular game mode (either in Casual or Ranked mode) is played. If you are new to Hearthstone, we genuinely recommend that you dive into Casual play first to get a grasp on the game. As your advance your knowledge of the game and your collection, Ranked will offer a new challenge, allowing you to climb the ranks of the ladder and compete against other players of your skill level! At the end of the month the ladder will reset, along with your Rank, and you will be awarded with a chest of rewards corresponding to how well you did during the ranked season!
- Solo Adventures - Home to the single player content in Hearthstone. Features the Practice (vs. AI) mode, as well as the currently available adventure: One Night In Karazhan.
- The Arena - A game mode in which players must 'draft' a deck from limited options (one of three classes, and then a selection of one of three cards at a time until a deck is complete). You then do battle with other 'drafted' decks until you win 12 games, or have lost three. Rewards are granted based on how many wins are achieved.
- Tavern Brawl - Each week Blizzard releases a special game mode which has its own rules and regulations. Some may require you to build a deck following certain restrictions, others will give you a prebuilt deck, and some may even be entirely random. Successful completion of a game in Tavern Brawl will reward you with a Classic Pack. Unlocking Tavern Brawl requires you to achieve at least level 20 with a hero.
- Shop - Using either gold gained by completing quests or real money, this is where players can buy additional cards or adventure mode content.
- Quest Log - Indicated by the exclamation point on a globe/compass icon, the Quest Log shows your Play Mode wins, your best Arena 'key' (how many wins you managed) and total Arena wins, your level with each of the nine classes (up to the current level limit of 60), the total level across all nine classes, as well as your up to three concurrent daily quests (objectives you can achieve to earn gold). You can reroll a quest you don't like once per day by clicking the red 'X' in the top right corner of the respective square.
- Open Packs - Where you go to open card packs, whether purchased or received from Arena rewards or other means.
- My Collection - A full list of all the cards you have unlocked, sorted by class and neutral cards. You can build decks as well as craft or disenchant cards for Arcane Dust (the resource used to 'build' new cards you don't have) here.
How The Game Works
The basic premise behind Hearthstone is a battle between two heroes, played out in a card game format. Players build a deck of 30 cards each, then do battle against one another to see who will emerge victoriously. A winner is determined when either player's hit points are reduced to zero. In order to do this, you must utilize a combination of your minions and spells to bring the enemy to defeat!
Health and Mana
Hearthstone has two main mechanics which the rest of the game revolves around. These mechanics are your resource pools. These resource pools are Health and Mana.
You can play cards by spending Mana. The amount of Mana that you have available to you is displayed in the tray at the bottom right-hand corner of your screen. Each turn, you gain one more mana crystal than the previous turn, capping at 10 mana crystals on Turn 10, and each time you start a new turn, your mana crystals are refreshed. Each card that you play will have a blue number in the top left-hand corner of the card. This number is the card’s Mana Cost. Playing a card will deduct that amount of mana from your mana tray. If you do not have enough mana, you will be unable to play the card.
Health is also a resource, similar to Mana. Some classes utilize Health as a resource to further their game plan. An example of this would be a class that uses a Weapon to clear a minion or a class that pays a Health cost to draw cards. Remember, once your health drops to 0, you lose! So pay close attention to how you use your health pool and make sure to get the most out of your cards!
Have fun! Try not to worry too much about results when you finally head into the Ranked Ladder. Simply try to learn all of the cards you should be looking out for, the different archetypes that are popular in the current meta, and how to better pilot your own deck!