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August 30, 2013

Set Hearthstone To: Understanding Silver and Gold

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Written by: Phil Bickle
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If you’ve been playing Hearthstone like me, that is, experimenting with every class with multiple decks and trying out all sorts of wacky things, then one thing is for sure; Your win record sucks! Luckily that’s currently not a big deal as there isn’t really a point to being high levels, which leaves you free to flop around in the silver and gold leagues as you wish! With all my time spent flopping around in these areas I thought I would write about my experience with the meta and hopefully give you some insight into playing better and maybe even pushing yourself into upper the diamond league. Though, with the card pool you likely have, I don’t suggest it, not quite yet.

Read on for a bunch of segregated thoughts about playing in Silver and Gold! They also assume that you have not yet spent money in Hearthstone, so keep that in mind.

Aggro is (almost) Unplayable

Sure ‘Murlock Shock’ Shaman (click here to see Force show off the deck http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOjCH_o8tQw) is easy to build and a decently powerful deck, but unless you have all the cards and the ability to draw better than most, you will still lose nearly every game to this:

Taunt Gang

All you try to do is blitz, and these buzz kills are in the way

Ironfur Grizzly, Sen’jin Shieldmasta, Booty Bay Bodyguard and Lord of the Arena are all cards that everybody has access to, can be used with any hero, and fit right on curve one after the other. Unless you got the god draw, they will stop your aggro deck in it’s tracks! Merlock Shock can break through some percentage of the time but any other aggro deck you try to make at this point will just fall flat without the guaranteed turn 4-5 kills that require some amount of really good epics to pull off with consistency. As you go up in ranks aggro becomes more playable as people “upgrade” from the four cards listed above, and you upgrade from Raid Leader being one of the best aggro cards in your deck. In Silver and Gold Leagues however, you will have tough luck getting anywhere with an aggro deck of any kind. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t try playing them, or that it’s an utterly worthless strategy. Just be ready to have some mostly vanilla Taunt creatures ruin your day.

Be Afraid of Bloodlust

CS2_046Bloodlust is hands down the most powerful card in the basic set. Assassinate will always be a staple card no matter how far the game goes and double Innervate on the draw will cause some crazy and arguably broken turn 2-4 plays. However, neither of those even come close to the raw power that Bloodlust has! If you’re not careful a Bloodlust can, and will, end any game on the spot. It may not kill you on the spot but it will put you so far behind catching up without some seriously lucky draws is a total shot in the dark. With Shamans also getting free totems whenever they want and some other really good minion buffs like Windfury, a Shaman with three or more minons and five or more mana crystals has a good chance of killing you whenever they want. Keep them off their minons without sacrificing too many of yours is your only hope, and when you build a deck always ask “can this beat the basic shaman deck?” You may find that too often the answer is a firm no.

Play Novice Engineer, for Pete’s Sake!

EX1_015Do you have a deck currently made without two Novice Engineer in it? Go fix that! While Bloodlust may be the best card in the basic set, Novice Engineer is one of the most solid creatures in the entire game. Turn two or turn twelve, it is never a bad card to top deck. If there is one rule to that spans across all card games, both traditional and collectable it is this: Never give up a card if you don’t have to. While Novice Engineer is a relatively weak creature on the field, keeping you at card parity while also thinning your deck is an invaluable trait. In fact, many times you would love to spend two mana just to draw a card. Warlocks do it all the time and pay an extra two life on top of that! Novice Engineer isn’t a creature that replaces itself. It is a card draw spell that also get’s you a creature. Any deck you build, start with two unless you have a really good reason not to (chances are, you don’t)

Save the Coin

GAME_005

This expands much farther than just the lower leagues, but is solid advice anyways. If you lose the flip and get the coin you don’t have to use it right away. In fact, using it right away is putting yourself at a disadvantage! Save The Coin for a turn when you really really need it. Think back to how many times you’ve said “if I just had one more mana…” and had already used your coin. I so often see The Coin used to “power out” a turn 1 Novice Engineer, or gain 2 Armor, or make a Dagger and later just know they could have used it much better on turn 6 to swing a close game in their favour. That isn’t to say using it on turn 1 is always a bad play. If you have a deck that you want to cycle through as fast as possible to get your key cards then by all means toss out that turn 1 Engineer. Most of the time though, your deck doesn’t need that extra draw that early. It’s better to start slow than be sorry later.

You Are Going to Lose to Legendaries

EX1_383

If there is one complaint about the overall structure of hearthstone it’s that some of the Legendary cards are just so far above anything else it can be extremely discouraging to play if you havn’t dumped $80 into the game for two juicy 40 pack bundles. Even having one Legendary will push and deck from “okay” to “good”. If someone plays Tirion Fordring and you were already behind there is no harm in scooping and queuing up for another match right away. As time goes on and you get better cards this should be less of an issue, but right now there are very few basic cards that can handle most of the legendaries in the game.

But what if you don’t want to scoop? Well then the best advice, besides getting out your wallet and dusting off your credit card, is to learn to play the Rogue class, and taking the time through trial and error to make the best Rogue deck you can. Between Assassinate and Sap, Rogues have two of the best catch all answer cards to anything your opponent can play. Shamans have Hex and Mages Polymorph, but neither have the reliability of drawing answers like the Rogue. Difficult to learn requiring knowledge of all the cards in the game, how other heroes play and the basic deck archetypes you will see, as well as a hint of luck with your draws is is the price to pay for arguably most reliable hero in the game. Remember: Using removal on the wrong minion at the wrong time will lose you the game.

Rogue Toolkit

Use your Gold on the Arena

If you want more packs, pay money! That is the simple rule with Hearthstone. It takes way too long to get the 100 gold for one pack to ever make it worth grinding out. 150 gold for the arena however, is a steal! Even if your record ends up being 1-3 (W-L) you still get a pack, 20-40 gold and 10-50 essence. If you can make it up to 7 wins before losing you will basically get yourself 40-100 essence and 150 gold for another go, as well as a pack! Playing the arena also improves your skills by forcing you to learn classes you normally don’t use and use cards you don’t have experience with yet. It is much more efficient (and more fun, in my opinion) to play the arena with gold than to just buy packs.

That’s all I have for today. Stay tuned next week where I put my losing in the silver and gold league to good use as I go over the basics of playing every class in the game.

Feel free to comment or get with touch with me on twitter (@phbickle) to give your feedback, and also head on over to the Utopian Chaos forums to discuss this article here: http://forum.utopianchaos.com/forumz/thread-2943.html



About the Author

Phil Bickle
Phil is a former designer on Kingdoms CCG and a long time card game fan. Starting at a young age with the Pokemon Trading Card Game and later Yu-Gi-Oh! you can now find Phil Drafting MTG every Monday and Friday night while also trying out every new dTCG on the market.




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