Hi! I’m Asmodeus, multiple times Legend and infinite arena player. I’m also the author of The Complete Guide for Hearthstone Player. I specialize in learning and improvement and today I’d like to share with you how to think outside the box and how you can apply it to Hearthstone.
The term “thinking outside the box” comes from 1970s when psychologist J. P. Guilford started to study creativity. One of his famous tests was the nine-dot puzzle from which the term originated. See if you can solve it yourself (you’ll find one of the solutions at the end of this article).
Some people are naturally better or worse at this kind of thinking, but it doesn’t mean that they can’t learn it. There is a specific, methodical approach that will help anyone be creative with their problem solving.
Break Everything Down to Basics
In order to avoid getting stuck in the box right away, you should first consider any problem at the most basic level. In the case of 9-dot puzzle, you can compare the number of dots to the number of lines you can draw to see the minimum of dots that each line has to go through. You can then draw out every single possible line through the dots and count them etc.
While breaking Hearthstone down to the very basics, you have to consider a lot of different categories.
There are ways to win the game:
- dealing 30 damage to the face
- getting enemy to fatigue faster
- defending and having more value in the deck
- playing cards faster than your enemy
- drawing a powerful combo that can finish the game etc.
There are rules of building a deck:
- you can start with 30 cards
- you can have max 60 cards in the deck during the game
- you can have max 10 cards in your hand
- you can have 1 of each legendary and 2 of each non-legendary card at the start of the game
- you naturally will draw 1 card per turn etc.
There are ways to deal damage:
- attacking with a weapon
- attacking with a minion
- using hero ability
- forcing fatigue damage
- direct damage spells
- indirect damage spells
- forcing enemy to attack with his weapon etc.
There are ways to counter damage:
- removing minions
- destroying enemy weapon
- freezing enemies
- healing spells and abilities etc.
And there is of course much more. The more basic and simple, the better. Even if it seems redundant, it’s still very helpful to list all the obvious things you can think of and look at them from the outside. Knowing something, and thinking that you know something are two different things, and this is the easiest way to check that. What you will need to consider depends on your goal and the problem you’re trying to solve, but being aware of all the specific ways to do something is much better than aimlessly wandering through your mind in search of a solution.
Learn More About It
How well you understand the basics and how many things you can think of depends on your knowledge about the game. If you take a look again at all the things I’ve been listing above, you’ll notice that some of them might not be obvious for a player who is new to the game. If you want the list of things you know to grow larger, you’ll have to upgrade your knowledge about the game. The more you learn, the easier it will be for you to think creatively because you’ll have more information at your disposal and more tools to use.
Take advantage of the resources like Hearthstone wiki, which are being constantly updated with new information. If you have doubts about certain mechanic from the game, chances are, there were other people who wondered about the same thing and tested it. Check the Advanced rulebook on Hearthstone wiki to see the incredibly detailed breakdown of various card interactions.
Realize What’s in the Box
Now that you know how to get out of the box, it is safe to take a closer look at what constitutes the box in Hearthstone. We have the deck archetypes, popular decks and popular cards.
Most deckbuilders know about the various archetypes:
- aggro (ie: Aggro Hunter, Aggro Druid)
- tempo (ie: Tempo Mage)
- mid-range (ie: Midrange Druid)
- control (ie: Control Warrior)
- mill (ie: Mill Rogue)
- combo etc. (ie: Pre-nerf Patron Warrior)
Every time they try to come up with a new deck, they’ll immediately start limiting themselves to one of those archetypes. This is a very unnecessary constraint. You should first create the deck and only after you do it, find out which archetype it fits in, if any at all.
Popular decks and popular cards are played so often for a reason. They work and they’re good, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any other possible decks and card combinations which could be equally strong or even better.
People familiar with StarCraft Brood War scene will be aware that even long after any patches were implemented, people were still innovating and coming up with the new strategies completely out of nowhere. Every year some people would claim that the game has been figured out and every year someone would prove them wrong.
With Hearthstone getting content updates about 2 times each year, we can be sure that people will find new decks and better ways to play the game.
Deconstruct Popular Decks
After learning how to break things down to their basics to get a fresh look and a new perspective, you can now take the existing decks and break them down to see how and why they work. You can use this knowledge when you’re building or adjusting your decks.
In the deck we want to deconstruct, among other things, we need to take a look at:
- the curve
- most important cards
- draw mechanics
- win conditions
- strong vs. weak points
In the case of control warrior deck for example, we have a very slow curve, and that lets the deck get away with very limited amount of draw (commonly it’s acolyte-of-pain, shield-block and harrison-jones).
Slow curve means also that there isn’t much early game but to compensate for it, we see a lot of armor and health gain as well as cheap removal.
What are the most important cards? It depends on a matchup but certainly deaths-bite and brawl are crucial to the strategy of surviving through mid game when the deck is weak otherwise.
What is the win condition? Having a lot of value, so that your 30 cards will beat 30 cards from your opponents deck and all you need to do is live long enough to play them. Additionally you have the combo of alexstrasza + grommash-hellscream to set up for a 2 turn kill if you’re not pressured too hard.
Now if you’d like to build a control deck, you have a good idea of what to include and how to deal with the weak stages of your game. You can do this with any deck. Just think about the most basic functions of the deck and how it deals with them to learn about the best ways of building a deck.
Thinking outside the box is a skill that anyone can learn. You can use the method described above and just come back to basics over and over again to see how and why things work a certain way. This will help you find creative solutions to the problems and will give you a specific path to follow while innovating.
Share your opinions and post your questions in the comments, I’m always happy to answer them.
You can also find more of me through my social media:
If you haven’t scrolled down before, there is one of the solutions to the 9-dot puzzle as promised!