Hearthstone guide: 5 keys to winning and having fun in Blizzard's card game

Article by Bo Moore

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft launched into open beta in North America on Tuesday. You can play it right now. But some of us were lucky enough to score a spot in the closed beta, giving us weeks or even months to learn the ins and outs of Blizzard's free-to-play online collectible card game. Here are some tips, strategies, and bits of beginner's advice to help you pick a class, master the arena, and even the playing field against Hearthstone's seasoned players.

Learn the classes

The first thing any player should do is unlock all the different classes, so stick to the AI while you get a handle on the basic game mechanics. This is helpful so they'll be available for completing daily quests, but more importantly for helping you learn how to play both with and against them. Mage and Paladin are probably the most beginner-friendly classes, as they both have powerful board-clearing cards and versatile Hero abilities.

The classes:

  • Warrior and Rogue are both weapon classes. They favor aggressive rushdown decks since your Hero will be taking a lot of damage from swinging at enemy minions. Druid's Hero ability is also semi-weapon based, so it falls into this category as well.
  • Mage has the most versatile Hero ability, being able to ping both minions and the enemy hero for 1 damage. It relies on maintaining board control via spells and abilities.
  • Shaman and Paladin both have abilities that summon minions, so they favor decks that revolve around maintaining board advantage and using minions that buff each other.
  • Priest is best suited playing minions with lots of health in order to take advantage of the healing Hero ability. Like Mage, it relies on maintaining board control, but via healing your own minions instead of pinging your opponent's. (Pro tip: Priest's heal can be used to mend creatures, not just the player.)
  • Warlock relies on gaining card advantage via its Hero ability, but since the price is health, aggressive rushdown decks are favorable.
  • Hunter's ability only deals damage to the enemy hero, making it one of the least powerful. However, many of its beast-type minions feature abilities that buff other beasts, which makes for a strong minion-based aggro deck.

Once you've found a Hero you like, be sure to unlock all of their basic cards. This should happen naturally if you're winning, but if you're struggling and feel your deck is underpowered, go take a few more swings at the AI and unlock those basic cards. Many of them are extremely powerful.

Don't be afraid of jumping into Ranked play. Especially with the new influx of players via the opening of beta, the lower levels of ranked play will be filled with other newbies. You can't go down in rank until you reach level 20, so there's nothing to lose, and playing in casual means you might encounter vastly more experienced players who just want to beat up scrubs for their daily quests without risking their ranking.

Tim Clark

With over two decades covering videogames, Tim has been there from the beginning. In his case, that meant playing Elite in 'co-op' on a BBC Micro (one player uses the movement keys, the other shoots) until his parents finally caved and bought an Amstrad CPC 6128. These days, when not steering the good ship PC Gamer, Tim spends his time complaining that all Priest mains in Hearthstone are degenerates and raiding in Destiny 2. He's almost certainly doing one of these right now.