Hello again! I’m Octocat and this is part two of my guide on habits you’ll have to overcome in order to reach Legendary!
This is a follow-up to my last guide, which details five common habits amongst Hearthstone players that you might not realize as problematic; here are five more which will hopefully help you further your ladder climb even more!
Quick disclaimer: This guide is not written for experienced players! It is aimed at newer players that perhaps aren’t sure why they’re struggling, with the intention of teaching them what may seem obvious to more seasoned veterans!
1. Discarding Valuable Cards
Whether it’s your favourite legendary or just a high mana cost card, you can’t keep hold of it during the Mulligan! At the start of each game you are given the option to discard the top 3 or 4 cards in your deck (depending on whether you start first or second), and more often than not, poor choices during the Mulligan can have a drastic effect on the game and often determines the way the game will pan out! Strong early game is extremely important.
So how exactly do you Mulligan wisely? This depends on several things. Firstly, and most importantly, look at what class your opponent is playing! This will require some knowledge of the current Meta, but if you’re aiming for legendary, that should be priority for you anyway! If you’re playing ranked and you come across a rogue, there’s a good chance given the current Meta that it’s a Miracle Rogue.
Consider early Miracle Rogue gameplay – usually they’ll aim for cards like Backstab, Deadly-Poison etc. to start with, so in this case you might choose to keep minions with 3+ health to avoid Backstab, for example.
Even if you aren’t clued up about the current Meta, you can use existing basic class knowledge to help you choose wisely! If you’re against a Mage, Rogue, Druid or Warrior for example, you should be deterred from minions with 1 HP. If you’re facing a hunter you’ll probably want to keep your AOE spells as they are primarily an aggressive class with lots of minions.
Another thing to consider when discarding cards is whether or not you have the-coin. The coin allows you an extra mana crystal whenever you want to use it, so you may adjust your mulligan accordingly. Some decks will have specific Mulligan preferences that they’ll aim for each time; a zoo warlock might want to start every game with a Flame-Imp (no coin) or a Blood-imp and Voidwalker (with coin).
It’s all highly relative and dependent on the deck you are playing, but as a rule of thumb, always go for stronger early game and good tempo above holding onto stronger cards you’ll need later.
Remember: High value cards are dead cards when you’re holding them early game.
2. Not Paying Attention On Your Opponent’s Turn
When you’re playing Hearthstone, or any turn based game, it’s easy to pay attention during your turn and tune out during your opponents – but this is much more of a hindrance than you might first think, so here are a few things you should be paying attention to that will help you progress.
Firstly you should pay attention to your opponents Mulligan! You can see in the background of your own Mulligan how many cards they are discarding and how many they’re keeping; this can usually give you a good indicator of how strong their starting hand is. If they haven’t chosen to discard any cards they probably have a strong starting hand and you may want to change your own Mulligan strategy to something more defensive!
Another important thing to pay attention to and analyse is each and every play that your opponent makes, as this can give you a good idea of what kind of plays they’re going to make in the future. Again, this depends on your knowledge of current Meta. An example would be a Warlock spending their first few turns using their hero power to draw cards – this would heavily indicate a Handlock deck, so you would save your removal cards and play accordingly so that when the giants came out, you’d be prepared. However, if you were against a Warlock that by turn 3 already had a few cheap minions on the board, you can assume that you’re against a Zoolock and play accordingly to that.
When it comes to reading the board, the more you know about current meta, the easier it will be for you to predict your opponent’s planned moves! You may be knowledgeable enough to be able to guess what their exact deck contains, or maybe you’ll just have a rough idea of whether you’re playing against an aggro or a control deck, either way, knowledge is power, don’t pass it up by assuming that your turn is the only time you need to be paying attention.
Remember: Keep your eyes on the board at all times! The more you know about your opponent, the easier it will be to defeat them.
3. Using Spells To Damage Enemy Health
Various classes have damaging spells available to them, but most specifically here I will be talking about spells that are “do x amount of damage” – not specified to a minion (shadow-bolt) or an enemy hero (mind-blast). Examples could be Mage’s Fireball or Warlock’s soulfire.
Unless you are playing a deck specifically designed around using spells this way (e.g., Mage Blast deck), or are situationally using a spell as a finisher to kill the enemy hero, it is usually unwise to waste them to chip away at the enemy HP. Using Fireball on your enemy on turn 4 “just because you can” is a terrible waste!
The best way to view these spells is as such: 4 damage from Soulfire to Gadgetzan-auctioneer is one of their minions dead, without having to trade your own minion/lose minion HP – that’s the benefit and game advantage you have caused by using that spell on a minion instead of using it on the enemy hero. Compare this to the same board, but you use Soulfire to do 4 damage to the enemy hero and you use your azure drake to kill the auctioneer. You are now down one minion – just like your opponent – and the only advantage you’ve gained is a slightly lower life total for the enemy. The logic applied here is very similar to when using a weapon.
Remember: You should not be killing minions to save one time use spells, but you should be using spells to save multi-use, game winning minions!
4. Assuming You Don’t Have Lethal Damage
It’s very easy in the midst of a game of Hearthstone to get carried away with board control, card draw, minion trading etc. – to the point where you end up with tunnel vision and don’t even notice the enemy’s current health total (or your own). It’s also easy to see a good play and go ahead with it, without stopping, double checking, and noticing that there’s an even better play – or – enough on the board/in your hand to do lethal damage to the enemy hero.
As a rule of thumb, you should check for lethal damage every single turn. This may sound ridiculous for the first few turns of the game when you are certain that you don’t have lethal damage, but it gets you into the habit of thinking that way, so it’s worth doing at least for a while. Make sure that you account for all of your spells, minions, buffs and other less obvious things like deathrattles (leper-gnome!)
Another way to make this easier for yourself is to familiarize yourself with your deck! This is another thing you should be doing anyway, but if not, this is a good time to start. If you’re comfortable with your deck and know exactly which cards you might draw, you will also be familiar with various combos and synergies that will help you win.
An example of this would be a Shaman deck with Doomhammer and 2x Rockbiter-Weapon. If you’re familiar with your shaman deck you’ll know this, and also know that if you happen to have these three cards in hand (and 7 mana), you are capable of doing 16 burst damage in one turn. You therefore know to keep an eye out for specific cards when your opponent reaches specific life totals.
Remember: Check for lethal every single turn!
5. Avoiding Unpleasant Plays
There are certain unfortunate times in Hearthstone where you are cornered into making bad plays that you’d ordinarily avoid (if possible). A valuable lesson to learn is that it is best to just get them out-of-the-way and try to regain an advantageous position as you go, rather than trying to play around it whilst digging yourself deeper into a hole! A bad play is better than no play, in most cases.
An example of this could be explained with Hunter’s explosive-trap secret.
Say you’re playing a Murloc deck and you have a lot of minions on the board, and you see that your Hunter opponent has played a secret. Given that you have a lot of low HP minions on the board, it seems likely that the secret is Explosive Trap. There are two options here; you could choose to attack the Hunter anyway, triggering the secret, causing you to lose most of your minions. You could also choose to stop attacking the Hunter and just keep skipping turns/ playing minions onto the board until you top deck a Coldlight-seer to buff the health of your other murlocs so that they’ll definitely survive the 2 damage. This would be a good play if you already had the Seer in hand, but skipping turns wasting damage to the enemy HP for the sake of what is actually only 3 or 4 murlocs and a blood-imp is extremely detrimental – by the time you actually draw the Coldlight Seer, your chances of winning have probably already diminished. It would have been better to just treat the secret as a self-triggered enemy AOE spell and deal with the loss as you would have done if a Mage had played a flamestrike, for example.
Similar examples could be a Paladin using his truesilver-champion whilst already at full HP (thus taking full minion damage or missing out on a heal), having to play defender-of-argus on only one minion, or having to play a card without using its effect at all – such as ancient-brewmaster on turn 4 as losing out on the effect is better than playing nothing.
There will come several occasions that you’ll have to make decisions around plays like this, and generally you have to come to realize that a bad or unfortunate play is better than none at all, as keeping up tempo is extremely important.
Remember: Making the best play you can (even if it’s not great!) is better than making no play at all.
Hopefully this second part to ‘Reaching Legendary: Habits You’ll Have to Overcome’ will help you further understand some reasons why you haven’t yet reached legendary, and guide you further up the ladder! Good luck to you all, feedback is definitely welcomed.