Whether you're new to Hearthstone or returning after an extended absence it can be tough to figure out exactly what you should be spending your hard earned gold (or cash) on. What packs make the most sense to buy? How long should I keep buying them before I switch to something else? How can I get the most bang for my buck? We answer all of these questions and more in our Hearthstone purchasing guide.
Guide by Stonekeep.
If I had to name one thing Hearthstone should not adopt from the physical card games, it would be the pricing. Card games are often hard to get into because of their huge entry price. In order to really enjoy one, you need to own a decent collection, which most likely translates to dropping a lot of money. Hearthstone has one big advantage over its physical predecessors – it’s possible to play it without paying anything at all. While the F2P (Free to Play) model isn’t extremely generous, it’s still possible to enjoy the game without paying. This is especially true if you’re playing casually (and you don’t care about having a competitive collection) or vice versa, you’re able to put a lot of time into the game.
Regardless of whether you want to pay for the cards or grind them slowly, in this guide, I’ll give you some tips that might influence your decisions. Assuming you want to get as much bang for your buck (either real or virtual), what is the optimal way to spend your money in Hearthstone?
Note: This guide is mostly targeted at the new players who are either looking to find the optimal buying order with real money or maximize their F2P progress. If you’re a seasoned player, you probably know most of those things already.
Constructed Hearthstone currently has two formats – Wild and Standard. Wild format includes all cards that were ever released, while Standard only includes cards from the Classic set and from the last two calendar years worth of expansions. You can buy packs from any expansion that is currently in Standard, but you can’t do the same with sets which have already rotated into the Wild. This basically means that in order to get into the Wild, you would need to craft all the necessary cards, which is very costly. So if you’re a new player, you should first aim at having a playable Standard collection (most of the powerful Standard cards are also used in the Wild) and only then think about expanding to another format.
Assuming you’re aiming for a playable Standard collection, you need to know how rotations work. Each Standard year includes expansion released in that year, the previous year and a Classic set.
This means that the current (2017) Standard rotation, on top of Classic, includes every set from 2016-2017, namely Whispers of the Old Gods (2016), One Night in Karazhan (2016), Mean Streets of Gadgetzan (2016) and Journey to Un’Goro (2017). There will be two more expansion sets this year, but those are irrelevant right now if you’re just starting.
The general rule, assuming you want your collection to stay relevant in Standard for as long as possible, is to prioritize buying packs from the Classic set and the latest standard year. Classic cards are most likely going to stay in Standard forever, but if they ever rotate out (Blizzard calls it “moving them to the Hall of Fame”), you are going to get a full Dust refund for each one of them.
Cards from the latest Standard year come second – they will take the longest time to rotate out. Cards from the 2017 sets will stay in Standard for the whole of 2017, 2018, and will only rotate out with the first expansion of 2019. These cards will stay relevant for nearly two years.
Expansions from the previous Standard year (2016) have a lower priority because they will rotate out an entire year sooner. Right now they are still probably worth purchasing because they stay relevant for about the next 10 months (until April 2018). But the closer we get to 2018, the lower priority they have.
How Many Packs?
Since you know which expansions you should prioritize, now the next question is – how many packs do you want from each one of them? Answering that question isn’t easy. First of all, you need to understand that you probably will never get a full collection. I’ve been playing the game since Closed Beta, with over 15,000 games under my belt and dozens of packs purchased with real money, yet I’m still far from completing my collection. If you’re willing to go this route, you would need to spend a few thousand dollars right away and then an extra $400 or so each expansion. What you should be aiming for first is a playable collection that includes most staple cards.
Since Epics and Legendaries are much rarer, getting the ones you want is more like a lottery. You might open 200 or 300 packs and still not get the Legendary you need. This means that unless you get lucky, most of the staple Legendaries are going to be crafted.
Your first goal is to have a solid Common and Rare collection. Yes, those are usually boring and aren’t the shiny Legendaries, but the truth is that they make the core of each deck. Legendaries are mostly complementary cards – there are a lot of Legendaries that are simply not necessary to play a given deck. But you can’t make most decks without the basic Commons and Rares. In order to get most (or every if you get lucky enough) of the Commons and Rares from each set, you need to buy about 80 packs. That number also guarantees at least two Legendaries and four Epics, but the average number you’re going to get is twice as high.
If you want to buy Hearthstone packs, I’d first get about 100 Classic packs. They’re most valuable and should give you the playable core for a lot of the decks. Then I’d buy the One Night in Karazhan adventure.
Adventures are really efficient when you buy them with money. The full adventure costs $19.99, which is exactly the same price as 15 packs. In 15 packs normal packs you would open 75 cards in total with 1.5 Epics and 0.75 Legendaries on average. One Night in Karazhan gives you 81 cards with two Epics and five Legendaries (not counting the four cards you’re getting for free from the Prologue). Considering that the set has a lot of powerful cards that are staple in the high tier decks, it’s very much worth it.
This is actually a situation where it is much better to buy it with real money rather than with Gold. When compared to the packs it would cost you 2800 Gold to buy all four Wings, which translates to 28 Packs from any expansion. Compare that to the $19.99 price which would only give you 15 packs and you know that it’s a good deal.
Then I’d buy 40-80 packs (depending on how much can you afford) from each of the three expansions currently in Standard. First focus on the Journey to Un’Goro (you should probably buy more packs from Un’Goro than from the other expansions as it will stay relevant for the longest time), then proceed to either Whispers of the Old Gods or Mean Streets of Gadgetzan. Which one you prioritize is really up to you – they both have about the same number of playable cards.
While 40+ packs from each expansion might not be that much if you’re willing to spend few hundred dollars to get into the game, it’s a lot if you’re an F2P player.
You’re very unlikely to buy that much just after getting into the game. So if you’re an F2P player just starting your journey with the game, you should first focus on the Classic set. Your first few dozen of packs should be from Classic.
This might seem a bit boring, but it’s just worth it – Classic still has the highest percent of playable cards. After you open about 40 or 50 Classic packs (including the packs you’re getting from things like one-time Quests or Tavern Brawl), you can start to get packs from the other expansions.
It’s probably wise to forget about the 2016 expansions if you’re just starting, by the time you get a competitive collection, those expansions will be rotating out very soon. So after all the Classic packs, you should start opening the Journey to Un’Goro packs, and then packs from the new expansion once it’s released (probably sometime in August).
If you have some spare gold, for example, you have been playing for a while already or you’ve decided to drop some money on the game, after all, it’s still worth to buy at least 10 or 15 packs from the 2016 expansions. The thing is, you should always – if possible – diversify your purchases. If you have literally no cards from a certain expansion, packs from that expansion will be worth significantly more than usual. Opening duplicates is a really bad deal and if you have no cards you’re incredibly unlikely to open duplicates. Every pack means new cards. That new common you’re going to put into your deck is worth 40 Dust (that’s how much you would need to spend in order to craft it) instead of five Dust that you get for a duplicate. However, you still prefer to diversify between expansions from the latest year. So later this year, you will want to spread your purchases between all of the 2017 expansions.
Deals & Promotions
The simplest option is to, of course, just straight up purchase packs in the game’s store. But it’s not always the most efficient way. If you want to save some money, you should look for any deals available.
First and foremost, Blizzard is offering a one-time Welcome Bundle. It’s the deal you should always start with when doing any real money purchases. It might even be worth it if you’re an F2P player to speed up your progress a bit and you can afford to throw a few dollars on that. For just $4.99, you get 10 Classic packs AND a random Legendary from that set (so in the worst case scenario, +400 Dust). Normally for that money, you’d only be able to get about four packs with no guaranteed Legendary.
Then, before each expansion comes out, you can get a pre-purchase bundle. While the deal is not as good as the last one, you get 50 packs for the price of 40 and a limited Card Back on top of that. If you’re willing to purchase packs from a given expansion, either way, it’s a good way to start – you’ll save a few bucks and get an extra card back for your trouble.
But the best way to save money when buying Hearthstone packs is to complete your purchase with Amazon Coins. By doing this, you will always be able to get the packs with a slight discount, but if you time everything right, you can easily get at least 25% off.
To maximize your value, you need to wait until they put a bigger discount on the Amazon Coins. For example, at the time I’m writing this, you can buy the 5000 Coins bundle at 23% off ($38.50 instead of $50). After you buy the Coins, you can use them to purchase goodies in Hearthstone with 100 Coins being worth $1.
If you’re not in a hurry, to get an even greater return you can wait until Amazon offers a “coin back” deal. Sometimes, for a limited time, you can get 10% or 20% of your Coins back when completing any purchase with them. So if you buy the Coins at a big discount and then get some of them back, you can save a lot of money. It’s probably not worth the hassle if you’re going to buy a small bundle, but if you’re going for a bigger purchase, it’s definitely worth it.
Even if there are no big discounts on Amazon Coins, I’ve always saved at least 10 or 15% on my purchases.
Sadly, Coins aren’t available in every country. You can try using a VPN or other methods to access them from around the world, but there is no guarantee that it will work.
Important: In order to use the Amazon Coins, you need to install Hearthstone through the Amazon App Store. So you either need to have a mobile device with Android that’s good enough to launch Hearthstone or you need to set-up an Emulator on your PC.
We’ve covered the most important information when it comes to buying Hearthstone packs and adventures. However, there are some other things left that are worth mentioning when it comes to your collection and purchases.
After a while, you should have a lot of leftover Dust. If you’re going to buy tons of packs right away, you’ll probably end up with a few thousand dust from the duplicate cards.
What is the best way to spend it?
Well, first of all, it’s not worth it to craft Common and Rare cards. They’re easiest to get and relatively expensive to craft. If you’re missing a key Rare and you need it to play some deck, it’s most likely worth crafting it instead of opening dozens of packs from a given expansion.Commons are really bad cards to craft, however. They cost 40 Dust each and are definitely not worth that much. You should have most of the Commons from each expansion after just 30 or 40 packs from that expansion.
The best way to spend Dust is to craft staple Epic and Legendary cards. Those are hardest ones to get. I’ve opened hundreds of Classic packs and I’m still missing some of the Legendaries from the set. Getting exactly the one you want is incredibly rare. When crafting, it’s usually best to aim at one playable meta deck. It might be more efficient to craft all the staples from different decks first, but what’s the point of having a bunch of Legendaries if you don’t have a single full deck? So you should pick a deck you want to play (possibly something not too expensive), then look at the Epics and Legendaries that are necessary to play it and craft them first.
You might also want to, similarly to pack openings, prioritize cards from Classic and then the current Standard year, especially if it’s close to the rotation. Crafting a card that’s going to rotate out in a few months might be a waste if you’re working on a tight budget.
Maximizing Your Progress as an F2P Player
Being F2P in Hearthstone is definitely challenging, so you want to do your best to maximize your progress. Here are some things to remember:
- Don’t miss the Daily Quests. When you have a full Quest Log at the time you should get a new one (midnight), then the new Quest is discarded. So try to keep your Quest Log clear. If you’re looking to maximize the gold gain, you should also reroll any 40g Quest. There is no harm in doing that – you can’t get anything lower and you can sometimes get a 50g, 60g or even 100g Quests. (It’s also technically worth rerolling 50g Quests, you’re likely to get something of equal or higher value)
- Get a free pack from weekly Tavern Brawls. Your first win in each of the weekly Tavern Brawls (outside of some rare exceptions like Heroic Tavern Brawl) rewards you with a Classic Card Pack. One extra pack per week doesn’t seem like much, but it adds up to around 50 extra packs per year, which is huge for any F2P player.
- The more you play, the more gold you get. You’re rewarded with 10g for every three wins in Constructed and Tavern Brawls. The gold is capped at 100g per day, so if you’re going to play a lot, your progress will be significantly faster. Gold-wise, there is no incentive to play past the first 30 wins in a single day, as you don’t get any more rewards.
- Keep your eye on the announcements to check whether Blizzard is giving away any goodies for free. For example, a week before Journey to Un’Goro, you could get a daily login rewards, including Gold, Dust, Packs, and Volcanosaur. More recently, we had a Free Card Day, where you could get a copy of Fight Promoter just for logging in (which is 100 Dust if you’re not going to use it). The rewards aren’t huge, but considering that it only takes a few moments to log in and you don’t have to do anything else, it’s probably wise to just take them.
The pity timer is a very important mechanic if you’re looking to maximize your progress regardless of how you’re buying your packs. Your chance to get Epic and Legendary cards is not static. Instead, the chance “ramps up” each time you open a pack without cards of the higher rarity. The mechanic is in place to protect players from incredibly long streaks with no high rarity cards.
The average appearance rate is 1 in 5 packs for Epics and 1 in 20 packs for Legendaries. The pity timers are exactly twice as long – 10 packs for Epics and 40 packs for Legendaries. The chances of getting an Epic or Legendary gets higher and higher the closer you get to 10/40 packs without opening one. And the last pack (10th for Epics or 40th for Legendaries) is guaranteed to have one.
Once you do open an Epic or Legendary, the pity timer resets.
Pity Timers are separate for Epics and Legendaries – opening one doesn’t reset Pity Timer of the other. Similarly, they are separate for each type of the packs. If you open 39 Classic Packs without a Legendary, then a Journey to Un’Goro Pack will NOT have a guaranteed Legendary. You need to open the 40th Classic pack to get a guaranteed one.
But what does it mean for you? Well, it means that it’s wise to track how far into the pity timer you are in each of the expansion so you know whether it’s worth to buy some packs from it or not. For example, buying Mean Streets of Gadgetzan packs might not be a good idea right now, especially if you own most of the staple cards from the set already. But if you’re 37 packs into the Legendary pity timer, it means that you’re guaranteed to get a Legendary in the next three packs. Even if you’re halfway there, 20 packs into the pity timer, each pack will ramp up the chance to get one and you’re very likely to open one soon. It’s usually best to stop buying packs from given expansion right after you open a Legendary, which resets the pity timer.
If you’re looking for a tool to track your pack openings, I can recommend PityTracker. It’s simple and faster than making your own Excel sheet.
Disenchanting Gold Cards and/or Useless Legendaries
This is a pretty controversial topic and a lot of people will tell you to not do this. But my opinion on this matter is really simple – it’s your collection and you can do whatever you want.
Arcane Dust is a very valuable resource. You can pick any card you want to craft instead of hoping to get it randomly from the packs. What if you could get a lot of Dust without even touching your competitive collection? You likely have a few a lot of cards laying in your collection that will never see play or give you any advantage over your opponent. If you hope to have a full collection, you should, of course, leave them be. But if you want to speed up your progress a bit while aiming at a playable collection, you can get rid of them.
First of all, Gold cards. Gold cards don’t give you any competitive advantage over the regular ones. They are just shiny and have animated images. Especially if you already own the regular version of the card, you might consider disenchanting the Gold version. If you don’t care about cosmetics, it’s a great way to get some Dust. First time I did it was a few months after I started playing. Doing so gave me enough Dust to get a Legendary of my choice. Yes, my collection is less shiny, but I’ve enjoyed the game much more.
In addition, some of the Legendaries are pretty useless and you can disenchant them. You need to be really careful here because it might be really hard to tell which Legendaries are good or bad. I won’t list every bad Legendary here, but there are some obvious picks like Nat Pagle and The Beast from Classic, The Boogeymonster from Whispers of the Old Gods or Mayor Noggenfogger from Mean Streets of Gadgetzan. Remember that some of the “useless” Legendaries are sometimes played simply for fun – like Lorewalker Cho who can be used to perform multiple crazy combos in a match with your friend. But if your goal is to have a competitive card pool, then 400 Dust is much more useful than those bad Legendaries.
While we’re talking about disenchanting, there is something I need to strongly advise against. New players often decide to focus on a single class and disenchant every card from other classes. That’s usually a huge mistake – many of my friends did it when they first started playing the game and then they’ve regretted it for few reasons. First of all, you have no clue which classes you like and which you don’t when you’re a new player. You haven’t yet had an opportunity to play around with them and you haven’t tested the most interesting decks for them. The early gameplay with basic cards looks completely different than the meta decks of the same class.
You might also change your mind about that later down the road and suddenly find a class you didn’t like at first interesting (I didn’t like Warlock when I was a new player, but then it became my favorite class). On top of that, the meta changes every expansion and sometimes a certain class underperforms heavily to a point that it’s nearly unplayable. This has happened to pretty much every class at least once, some have been not viable for many long months.
And finally, it’s just not worth it. I would understand it if it was a two for one conversion rate. But the current rates are underwhelming - you need to get rid of eight Commons to craft another Common and five Rares to craft another Rare.
Of course, in the end, you can do whatever you want with your collection, but unlike disenchanting cards that give you no edge over other players, getting rid of a lot of playable cards is something you will probably regret.
A Hearthstone player and writer from Poland, Stonekeep has been in a love-hate relationship with Hearthstone since Closed Beta. He's achieved infinite Arena and multiple top 100 Legend climbs. You can follow him on Twitter @StonekeepHS.