Tuesday, 29 October 2013

A Basic Guide to Getting Started in Hearthstone

It's been a bit quiet round here lately - between working to get ahead of myself in the office before my vacation & playing Hearthstone, I've not really been writing much. I'm actually in USA right now visiting friends which also doesn't help as all my screenshots are on my PC at home! I do still have Hearthstone access though so I thought I'd write about that today!

Getting Started in Hearthstone

Blizzard have made getting started in Hearthstone very easy - there is a premade Mage deck waiting for you and some familiar faces of WoW to challenge you in the tutorial games. Leave the sounds on at this point & read any tips, read the cards & listen to cues as well. The tutorial seemed a bit lacking to me - it does give you the most basic info but perhaps they could have done just a few more.

Practice Mode

Once you've completed the tutorial matches, you get to choose Practice or Play modes. Arena becomes available once you have all the decks opened. You also have the opportunity to open up card decks for the 8 other classes available and as each one has a different kind of playstyle, it's definitely worth opening up various decks.

To open a deck, you use your basic Mage deck to play any of the AI classes in Normal mode - once you beat that class, the basic deck opens for you. I used the Mage deck to open all the classes as I was familiar with it and it made life a little simpler whilst I was learning! I played a fair bit of Practice mode to start with - it got all the decks open for me and gave me a taste of what was possible and available in those other decks.

There's also a bonus for beating all the AI classes in Normal mode - I think it's 100 gold and there's another 100 gold for beating them all in Expert AI mode. There is a bonus for getting your first deck to level 10 - I think it was a booster pack and another 100 gold for getting all 9 classes to level 10.

Custom Decks

By the time you get all the decks open & available to you, you will probably have worked out that the auto built decks aren't that great! Don't worry though - you can custom build your own decks from the cards in Your Collection. On the main screen that offers Practice, Play or Arena modes - you will see 'Your Collection' button below that, along with the Store, the Quests/Achievements & Open Packs buttons.

You will see the Druid deck page first but along the top is a row of icons, one for each class so just choose the class you want to build a custom deck for & click that icon. There's also a neutral icon which has all the basic cards available to every class (circled in red in screenshot!) - easily missed if you don't see how to flip the pages of the card collection 'book'!

If your deck isn't level 10, you will open up a new card every 2 levels so that will be 5 new cards (and 2 of each type too) by level 10. All you have to do is to click an empty box on the right hand side which will name your deck as Custom *x class* and then go through and click which cards you want to add to your deck.

You can only have 2 of each card in your collection or in your deck so when you do start getting booster packs, you will get duplicates. These can be disenchanted into dusts to craft a card you haven't got but by the time you get enough dust, you won't need me to tell you how! It's not a quick process, let's put it that way!

Building Decks

Building a deck is easy clicking to pick cards but your own playstyle & certain classes will determine which cards to choose - anyone can click the cards they like to use but the best players can build a deck that all works together. I still have a long way to go on that score! I'm still working stuff out & listening to Cold's advice about deck building. You can see his Basic Mage Deck build and if you read through - you'll begin to see how/why he chooses each type of card. Cold is also helping his co-host Rez with deck building and you can read about Rez's experiences over at his new Hearthstone blog - Hearthstone Card Factory

There are loads of sites springing up with recommended deck builds, with all sorts of varying results but as a starter, you may find it better to use one or two good builds and try to build your own based on those. It can be frustrating to keep losing but try to use what you are learning - even if you are getting hammered, the other player has put together a good deck or a good combination of cards - try to pay attention to those & use it yourself in your next match.

Play & Arena Modes

Play mode has two forms - unranked & ranked. I always play unranked to do my dailies and to level my decks. It just gets too disheartening to keep losing more & more games as you move up the ranks! I still have so much to learn & I feel more comfortable winning a few now & then to keep my spirits up so I stay unranked.

Arena is a whole other kettle of fish! You pay 150 gold to play for starters and that takes time to build up unless you get your credit or debit card out to pay $1.99 for each Arena attempt! The very first Arena attempt is free from Blizzard though and you will get a booster pack from it, regardless of your score.

When you enter, you get to choose one class from a selection of three then you are presented with a deck building screen - this shows you 3 cards at a time & you get to choose one. There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason behind which cards you are shown to choose from nor which order - get the most important ones the first time you see them then fill in any gaps.

I think you need to know what could turn up and have a deck build in mind when doing this - which is why I'm still avoiding Arena as I'm still learning cards! But I'm also a bit of a scaredy cat when it comes to new stuff - I know some total newbies who've just jumped straight in & are loving it!

Each Arena entry costs 150 gold or $1.99 real money but you get to play up to 11 games - it finishes when you have 3 losses or 9 wins. I've yet to see my 3rd win in any attempt but I regularly get 1-2 wins now which is a definite improvement over a month ago! You are guaranteed a booster pack for each Arena entry regardless of the score but the better your score, the better the gold & dust rewards are & if you make it to 9 wins, I think you are guaranteed a second booster pack or a golden card in your prize.


So there you go - some basic stuff to get you started in Hearthstone. It is still in Closed Beta for the moment but there are waves of beta keys being sent out almost everyday it seems so hopefully, if you haven't got yours yet it should only be a matter of time now. Once I get a deck or two that I feel is good enough to share, I'll be posting them here for you. I don't intend being a Hearthstone blog but it may get that way for a little while until I get bored of it! I hope this helps a bit but most of all, have fun!


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