Hello fellow Hearthstone players. I am known as Senbonzakura and I play Hearthstone since June 2015 and I reached legend rank every month. Maybe you’ve seen some of my guides on hearthpwn website or maybe you played against me in ranked ladder, or possibly even in one of StriveWire or Zotac tournaments in which I used to participate. However, you most likely haven’t heard of me, but I still want to share my Hearthstone experience and tips with anyone who is interested.
Keep in mind that not all steps have to be in this specific order but most of the time they will be. Also, can skip some steps based on how experienced you are (if you are a beginner or just stuck on that rank 1 every season).
STEP 1: Choosing Your Deck
Think about your preferred playstyle. For start don’t just think about what you want to play. Think about what you would be most comfortable with and what deck would be the easiest for you to start with. You might really like control decks but you might perform better and be more comfortable with aggro or midrange decks. Just do some proper thinking and see what you want to start with. Keep in mind this is just the start. In the future when your skill and experience increase you might become better with the deck that you really like.
After you are done with thinking I suggest browsing the internet and just look at as many deck lists as possible of the style you chose you would start with. While looking at those lists try to first think of a general idea of the deck. Try to picture in your mind how that deck would win and what is the purpose of each card. While you are looking at the lists you will probably get some ideas of your own and ways how to combine some cards. This is what I recommend you do. Just pick one list then think about it and change couple things that you think would make it stronger.
STEP 2: Pimping Your Deck
Now that you chose your deck start playing with it. Don’t worry about winning or losing for now. What you should pay attention to for now is how useful each card is. If there is a card that just sits in your hand most of the time and does nothing just replace it, even if it is an awesome card that makes a difference in 5% of the games and is useless in other games it should be taken out. We want to win majority of games not just 5%. Also, if there is a minion that just dies and doesn’t usually bring you any benefit, just replace it! Don’t be afraid of changes. Meta in Hearthstone changes frequently and not all cards will always perform well. Also, never keep any card in deck just because of nostalgia or because you like it or because it’s a golden legendary you got in the pack. Play the best cards, no one cares how shiny they are.
If it happens that your type of deck just doesn’t work anymore in the meta then you will have to go back to step 1 and choosing different deck. However, drastic changes like this happen very rarely. Usually (but not always) just a few cards can be changed to fit the meta.
STEP 3: Prepare Your Mindset
It is very important to approach the game with winner rather than whiner mentality. After each match you have to analyse why you won or lost. Always be as realistic as possible, and be a huge self-critic.
When you win you have to see how close it was. Did you just dominate the game or did you get extremely lucky. Maybe you got a perfect draw to dominate that game. Maybe your opponent just had no luck and got terrible hand. Maybe you just barely won because you drew the exact cards you needed when you needed them. Analyse all this as much as possible because you might want to change few things in deck even when you win your games.
Don’t blame the RNG. It makes no sense, it is a part of the game. Sometimes it will be on your side and sometimes it won’t. Of course sometimes your opponent might get the right card from unstable portal and you won’t be able to counter it. However, most of the time I see people complain about knife-juggler shots or boom-bot or similar things. My advice is to simply always expect RNG to be against you completely. For example: your Knife Juggler will always miss all the targets you want it to hit while opponent’s Knife Juggler will hit the best target for them. Make sure you are prepared.
STEP 4: Opponents and Ranks)
This one is tricky. I personally suggest that you completely ignore the rank of your opponent. Doesn’t matter if they are rank 25 or rank 1 legend. You have to beat everyone anyway. The reason I say it’s tricky is because there are 2 different behave how people who pay too much attention to ranks react when they encounter someone who is much higher rank than them. One group of people will be a lot more focused and try even harder and bring the best possible play in order to beat that high ranked player. However, other group will be very nervous and end up making unnecessary mistakes.
The reason I prefer just not ignoring the rank is because you should bring the best play every match no matter who your opponent is. Always relax and keep in mind that you can beat everyone. Anyway, after reaching legend once or even before that most players stop caring about the ranks.
Be ready for big losing streaks! This is another extremely important thing. It happens to everyone that everything just keeps going wrong quite a few games in a row and you lose a lot. Don’t worry about this. In the long run you will end up winning more games than you lost. You will always comeback from the losing streak if you just keep playing. The possibility of this happening is why quite a few players have something called “ladder anxiety”. It means once they reach certain rank they will play much less or they won’t play at all because they won’t want to lose. Sometimes they are not even aware they have this condition. Of course it sucks to drop from rank 1 to rank 4 but the only thing that can be done to fix it is to keep playing. Ranks and wins will come and those who don’t give up will reach legend. Another way to think of this is to simply ask yourself if you deserve the rank you have. And since you are supposed to aim for legend that means you do deserve it. So to prove you deserve it you simply have to keep playing and don’t worry if you lose.
STEP 5: Be Familiar with the Meta/Popular Decks
This one is quite straight forward. You just have to keep playing as much as possible and increase your experience. While playing always keep in mind what cards other decks have, what do they have to do to win the game. Also it’s very important to know how to adapt your plays based on what deck they have. Against some decks you will want to be more aggressive while against some other decks you will want to take it slow. At this point I would also suggest searching for all the meta decks online and studying their decklists and in your mind imagine all the scenarios and how to beat them.
STEP 6: Thinking Ahead
You always have to think ahead in your games. Always plan what you and your opponent will play in the next 2 turns, and also keep the turns after that in mind. You have to predict what your opponent will play and prepare the answers to their plays. This looks straight forward but it is actually very complicated and small decisions usually decide the outcome of the game.
As I just mentioned, you have to think about the next 2 turns but you also have to think of your opponent’s entire deck. For example if you have wrath and darnassus-aspirant in hand when you play Druid against Mage. If he plays mad-scientist on turn 2 or turn 1 coin, you should know that the secret is most likely mirror-entity and you have to know that if your deck is a standard combo midrange Druid you have mostly really strong minions and Aspirant. Even though normally when you encounter 2-attack minions you would play Aspirant because it gives you the advantage, in this case you have to think ahead and use Wrath on the Scientist so you can activate Mirror Entity with your Aspirant. This is just one of many examples of how crucial it is to always think ahead and always know what cards standard meta decks have.
You always have to do your best to counter anything your opponent plays. That’s how you win the game. Don’t be afraid of sacrificing some of the minions or even set yourself at slight disadvantage in the current turn if you know that it will bring you advantage in the following turns. All this requires a lot of experience and the best way to learning it just to play as much as possible until it becomes completely automatic and you don’t even have to think about it.
STEP 7: Answering Strong, Specific Cards
piloted-shredder is a card that is extremely strong, especially against less experienced players. It is pretty much 2 cards in one. There are few ways of dealing with it but most important is that you don’t waste too many cards on him. Always expect a 3/2 or 2/3 minion to pop from deathrattle so think really hard about how and if you want to kill him.
Sometimes the best thing is to completely ignore the Shredder and just let him attack you first. The reason for this is that if you kill him on your turn but you can’t kill deathrattle minion then that minion attacks you on opponent’s turn you end up losing way too much tempo and most of the time it will snowball to you losing the game. However, if you think you can afford killing him then do it.
Another way of dealing with Shredder is simply silencing him. Silence is always worth it because he ends up being 4/3 for 4 mana which is quite weak. Downside is you spend Silence but that’s usually acceptable.
Taunt and Freeze are also extremely strong against Shredder. But that goes for any strong minion.
sylvanas-windrunner is a card that can be extremely tricky to deal with sometimes. First thing that you have to look for is if you have any 5-attack minions that can one-shot her. If you don’t then most of the time the best solution will be to completely ignore her for a turn and see what happens. However, if you have a board full of weak minions on board it might be better to kill her and let her steal one of your weak minions.
As I mentioned, it’s usually the best to ignore her but you have to be careful. You have to think if there are ways for opponent to kill their own Sylvanas and that way activate the deathrattle effect. Priests can do this with shadow-word-death and warriors can do it with brawl and shield-slam. Warriors can also use cruel-taskmaster or inner-rage, or deaths-bite whirlwind effect as well as normal whirlwind, so even if you have a 4-attack minion you should be careful. Now that you are aware of this you have to think of exact play the opponent will make to see what minion he would kill and what he would steal and this way decide if you will kill Sylvanas yourself or will you let the opponent do it.
The best solution is Silence if available, of course.
freezing-trap is sometimes extremely difficult to deal with. You should read the text of Freeze Trap as “instantly kills the first minion you try attacking with”. Keep in mind that there are exceptions that I will mention later! Problem with this trap is that people sometimes either don’t play around it enough or they play around it too much. Sometimes you have to wait a turn to activate it with one of your “expendable minions”. However, problem with this is if your opponent just keeps killing off your minions and you end up having only one minion on board whole game until you lose. If you believe this will be the case just activate the trap right away.
Now the exceptions that I mentioned is that if you run more of a control style deck and you can actually go to late game against hunter. This way if you have something like shieldmaiden or antique-healbot you can actually use Freezing Trap to your advantage. Overall, this trap is sometimes very complicated to deal with and against hunter you have to always activate it at the right time. This requires experience but more than that it just requires the knowledge of your own deck.
There are more strong cards around that are sometimes difficult to deal with but I believe that these 3 cards I mentioned are the ones that make people misplay the most.
Step 8: Gaining Experience
This is the most simple but most time-consuming step of all. You just have to become experienced in order to master all the previous steps and to be able to reach legend on regular basis. It is very straight forward. Play as much as possible. If you lose don’t worry, just keep playing and adjust things as you see fit. Legend rank will come if you keep playing and improving your skill.
I hope that this guide helped at least someone. I will write more guides, and please feel free to ask me any questions or ask for any guides so I can write them. You can also, add me on Battlenet NA server. My battle tag is Senbonzakura#2265. I usually hover around 200 friend limit but I tend to remove people I don’t know well and they have been inactive for more than a 2 days so I can add other people. Any feedback on this guide is very welcome.