Let’s get this out of the way at the top: there’s no shame in 'netdecking'—using card lists found on Hearthstone websites. Unless you’re some sort of undiscovered pro in the making, the most effective way to climb the Hearthstone ladder is by using a deck that has already been tested and refined against the meta. When it comes to picking your new deck, there’s a daunting array of resource sites to choose from, the best of which include card choice breakdowns, mulligan guides, and detailed playing advice. I’ve been relentlessly net decking since the game out of beta—for a while I even kept a Google doc of everything I’d tried—and here I'm going to share the sites that have worked best.
What we’re looking for are sites that are:
- Comprehensive, so you can be sure to find something that suits your chosen class and playstyle.
- Contemporary, because if you try to play months-old decks the meta will have changed and so will the deck’s viability. And, most importantly:
- Trustworthy. Is Rektinator#2546’s #1 EU Beast Mill Shaman really as good as he claims? We need proof. A screenshot showing Legend rank is a start, but more relevant will be a detailed breakdown of the deck’s winrate by the most commonly faced matchup.
With that in mind, these are my go-to Hearthstone deck destinations, ranked roughly in order of usefulness.
Hearthstone Top Decks
What I like best about Hearthstone Top Decks is its combination of simplicity and reliability. The decks are sorted into ‘Tournament’ and ‘Ladder’, and obviously it’s the latter we’re most interested in. They're mostly drawn from what pros and popular streamers are playing, and—as you can see from the Brian Kibler Dragon Mage list—get regularly updated to include recent card changes the player has made. The site design is also unusually clean compared to its competitors, with a list of the current top meta decks placed prominently in the top right of the home page.
Okay, yes, it’s Reddit—but /r/competitivehs is not like other subreddits. For starters it’s strictly moderated. Additions along the lines of ‘should I craft Boom or Sylvanas’ or complaints about ‘cancer’ decks are deleted immediately. Posts are expected to be accompanied by detailed explanations of card choices and how to handle common matchups. It’s not unfriendly, though. Once you get used to the lack of memes and the slightly elitist vibe, it’s a great place to learn from high level players. It’s influential too. Trump mentioned running a deck he’d found on /r/competitivehs in a tournament, successfully so, and I’ve seen pros post decks on /r/competitivehs first. Here’s Hotform explaining his Tempo Mage recently, and an older post from Chakki in which he talked about using Defender of Argus in Hunter. That deck saw me streak from 10 to 5 in a night. Well worth checking in here regularly if you want to stay ahead of the meta. Just remember that you're expected to be a ‘Spike’—The Magic: The Gathering archetype for a player who treats winning as serious business.
Much as people might poke fun at the ‘become legendary’ tagline, there are two very good reasons to visit the Tempo Storm site. Firstly, it’s got one of the best deck builder tools around. Once you’ve uploaded your list, there’s a simple interface for adding mulligan guides and thoughts on common matchups. That means its decks are usually nicely detailed. More important for our needs is the second reason to visit: the weekly Meta Snapshot article. It’s created by a panel of high ranked players representing experts in each class. The idea is not to show you what’s being most played right now, but to give you a sense of the decks which will perform best in the current meta. So if it’s all aggro, then Dragon Priest becomes a Tier 1 deck. To be honest, you don’t need to concern yourself too much with the voodoo that goes into how the report is compiled (though in our interview with Amensiac he discusses the methodology), what matters is that the 24 decks listed are reliable and refined, with handy suggestions on how to adapt them further. It’s very popular, so you can expect to face these exact lists a lot on ladder.
Probably the most popular of the net deck sites, and therefore one of the most capable of influencing the meta. What I really like about Hearthpwn, beyond the strong pun and its the sheer depth here, is that it’s provided a platform for innovative deck brewers to make a name for themselves. Guys like Spark and Crusher have become renowned for creating interesting lists that are tuned to perform on the ladder rather than in tournaments. The up/downvote system also makes it easy to see which decks are currently hot, and the best ones tend to be accompanied by detailed guides. It’s also worth dipping into the comments below where the best decksmiths will respond to questions about their creations.
Uniquely for this list, Hearthstone Players includes some content which is for subscribers only. (Look for the articles marked with an orange star.) Given that plenty of people aren’t prepared to pay money for card packs, they’re even less likely to want to throw down $2.95 a month for a strategy site subscription. That’s a pity, because the quality of the guides is consistently strong. Also, there is plenty of free content here too. When I was looking to help a friend who wanted to improve at playing Zoo recently, I went to Hearthstone Players first and quickly found four different guides. As you can see, the depth is excellent.
Hearthstone Top Deck
Not to be confused with Hearthstone Top Decks—only one letter in the URL is different—this site focuses more on recent lists played in competitive tournaments. There’s nothing in the way of playing advice, though, and bear in mind that tournament decks are often designed to win specific match ups, a luxury you can’t rely on when climbing the ladder. Nonetheless, a handy source of insight if you plan to play in tournaments.
Other resource sites
Team Liquid’s Hearthstone site is a bit busy for my taste, but worth bookmarking for the occasional article from the players on Liquid’s roster, like this card evaluation from Neirea. There’s also a useful library of guides, which includes the ‘Starting Stone’ series, which gives insight into how to play each class, but could do with updating to include the post-vanilla card expansions. The best thing about Liquid Hearth, though, is the matchup chart created by the site’s director, resident stats guru, and sometime caster Monk. It’s based on tournament winrates, but will give you a strong sense of which matchups the deck you’re considering playing is favoured in. You can also find Trump’s hugely influential Arena card tier rating here, but again it’s badly in need of an update.
For more up to date Arena power rankings, you’re better off using this site, which enables you to plug cards in as you’re drafting and the algorithm will rate the best choice of the ones you’ve been offered. I saw Arena expert Kripparian say a while ago that he thought the picks were solid, so that’s high praise.
Amaz’s team’s site doesn’t have the best deck library, but has started adding some interesting guides to its strategy section. I particularly liked this article giving advice on how to deal with Secret Paladin’s Mysterious Challenger turn. (Beyond running out of time and rage quitting.)
Trump is the grandee when it comes to helping out Hearthstone beginners, and recently put together a video series explaining how to play many of the most popular ladder deck archetypes. If you’ve wanted to play Handlock for a while, this is a great place to start.
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