This post is more for my own benefit than anything else, because I’m the type of person that learns best if I write down new concepts as I’m made aware of them. Now, as stated before, I am a total CCG n00b so there have been A LOT of new concepts thrown at me since I started playing Hearthstone. These concepts are probably old hat for the CCG vets out there, but they might be useful for the other n00bs who happen to stop by here (the, like, one of you). Without further ado, here we go in no particular order (don’t worry, it’s not much).
- Try to Play Something Every Turn — This is something to think about even during the initial card draw when the game starts. Look at the 3 – 4 cards you’ve been given. Do you have something you can play in rounds 1, 2, and 3? If not, maybe consider discarding something that isn’t going to be useful in the early game. There are times that I have tossed out my whole hand because they were all 6s or 7s. There are also times when I’ve held onto 4s and 5s if I have the Coin or they synergize well with the other cards. The point is, you need to be thinking about what you can play each turn right from the get-go.
- Try to Use Up Your Mana Each Turn — This goes along with #1. To maintain good momentum and generally be using your cards and Mana effectively, you should be trying to burn up all of your Mana each time you are up. Turn 4 and you only have a fist full of 2 drop minions? Play 2, or one and use your Hero Power. Still have your coin? Play it and play a 3 minion and a 2 spell, etc. In the later game you’ll probably have fewer cards, but you should also have higher cost cards, so the same holds true. It also offers the opportunity for some synergies. It’s turn 7 and you have a Chillwind Yeti and a Shattered Sun Cleric? Play the Yeti and buff it with the Cleric.
- Board Control is King — I may have this wrong, but things have been going much better for me since this became clear. Board Control means, ideally, having 1 or more minions on the board while your opponent has none. Or at least having more on the field than your opponent does. When given the choice between hitting your opponent in the face or clearing his minions, clear his minions. You can either do this, ideally, with spells so that after having cleared the board you can then hit him in the face with your minions on the same turn, or you can use your minions to make good trades. Have a 2/1 minion and 3/2 minion and he has a damaged 5/1? Take it out with the 2/1 minion, then hit him in the face with your 3/2. If you’re playing a class that can wield weapons or has a damage dealing Hero Power, you can also just eat the damage and take them out yourself. This brings me to #4.
- Hero Health is a Resource — Like Mana, or the amount of cards you have in your hand or deck, Health is a resource, especially when we’re talking about maintaining Board Control. It is often a wiser move to use your weapon, if you have one, to take out low level minions, because it leaves your minions on the board and undamaged, free to wallop your opponent in the kisser. Obviously if you’re low on health you have to consider such moves carefully, but in the early game or when you have lots of health I’ve found it is very often a wiser trade to give up a few points of health on your part to keep your minions in fighting form. Which, finally, leads me to #5.
- Never Surrender — Obviously there are exceptions, but in my mind they are very situational and usually more of a move to preserve your sanity during a particularly frustrating session than an admission of true defeat. I’ve already talked about one game I won while maintaing a health of 1 for several turns. Today I had another one; by judiciously playing some Taunt minions, and focusing on maintaining Board Control you can often stave off hits to your Hero’s pan long enough for something big to pop into your hand that’ll save the day. And, really, staying in the game costs you nothing but time. Also, you often learn more in defeat than in victory. Every defeat is a lesson; see it through to the end.
Now, all of these, with the exception of some of the Weapon related points, should be applicable to whatever class or type of deck you’ve chosen to play. For me, the above are sort of Hearthstone Commandments. I offer these as the n00b that I am, so take everything with a grain of salt. I’d love to hear some of your Commandments, so feel free to share or offer tweaks in the comments.