An Introduction to Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft Part 3: Deckbuilding

By: Dylan Hardy

Welcome back to Part Three of my Introduction to Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft! This week we will be covering deck building and choosing cards that suit your play style or theme for your deck.

Deckbuilding is one of the most interesting and satisfying parts of Hearthstone. Building a deck, testing it against other decks and tweaking until reaching near perfection is such a fulfilling feeling in Hearthstone. Doing this is also a great way to learn the game from the view of another class or deck’s perspective.

Today’s article will start off with the basics of deck archetypes and carry on into the specifics to ensure that your idea for a great Hearthstone deck can be optimized!

Deck archetypes are essentially the basic strategy you came up with for your deck. If your Hearthstone deck was a play, your deck archetype would be the idea or plot of it so to speak. There is a huge variety of archetypes in Hearthstone, from Aggressive decks, to Midrange decks – even as unusual as Control Pirate Mage decks. Essentially if you can come up with an idea for a deck and the cards exist and work well enough, you can make it.

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Once choosing an archetype for a deck it allows you to focus on a certain style of play, allowing you to develop as a player as well. Sticking with a certain playstyle allows you to learn the fundamentals of the game as well more quickly. By changing up the types of deck you use, you will find a style that you will prefer, and through this learn a lot more about yourself as a player in Hearthstone.

When bringing up the topic of deck building, players must become masters of the mana curve. A proper mana curve ensures that your deck is balanced properly enough that at all stages of the game that you will have cards to play. To put it bluntly, a great deck will have a great mana curve. At first you might have noticed that higher cost mana cards are better than lower, but lower cost cards can be played at any stage of the game. Through experimenting with mana curves you’ll finally find out what works for your deck and from this your deck will develop. If you find that your two six cost mana cards aren’t working out in your deck, you can swap them out for lower cost cards until you find the balance that works.

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There is a lot of skill and experience that goes into deck building – but even more luck. Let’s make it simple, if you can’t draw the cards you need to win a game, you’ll have a hard time to win against an opponent who is getting the cards they need. Sometimes you’ll get your high cost minions in the first couple of turns. Other times you’ll get two cost mana cards on turn ten. That’s just Hearthstone in a nutshell. The biggest thing is no matter how great of a deck you construct, there will be times when you will have no cards left in your hand and will be forced to top deck – a method of playing cards right off the top of the deck into play. To avoid this certain decks, use cards that allow players to draw from their deck, leaving you with a constant flow of cards. There’s also the Warlock class which allows you to use his hero power to draw a card at a cost of two lives. Other cards allow you to look at the top three cards of your deck and choose one to add to your hand. There are plenty of ways to avoid top decking and it all comes with practice and experience in deck building. All and all there will be times when lady luck and RNG is not on your side and you’ll be forced to top deck. Hearthstone is never perfect for anyone, and that’s something to always remember to avoid getting frustrated early on!

So we’ve gone over deck archetypes and general strategies of deck building in Hearthstone. Now let’s get into adding those cards into your deck! There are a bunch of different types of minion cards that fit in nearly every deck you can possibly imagine in Hearthstone. When building a deck in Hearthstone it’s important to identify cards that synergize – work well together – with other cards or the general strategy of the deck you chose to create. Let’s take a look at 5 different types of minions in Hearthstone:

Beasts: Typically have great synergy with the Hunter and Druid class. Cards like Unleash the Hounds, a Hunter specific card, summons a number of Beasts on your side of the field, which can synergize with cards you have that only work on Beasts, like Houndmaster.

Murlocs: Synergize well with Paladin and Shaman classes. Murloc Knight is a Paladin card that summons a new Murloc every time you use your hero power and synergizes well with other Murloc cards that benefit from other Murloc cards being on the field or being summoned.

Dragons: There is a number of cards that work well with the rather small number of dragon cards in Hearthstone. Typically, Dragon specific cards deal with having a Dragon card in your hand, like Blackwing Corrupter – a card that inflicts three damage to a target of your choice if you’re holding a Dragon.

Demons: Work amazingly well with the Warlock Class. Warlocks have a number of cards that are Demon specific. Cards like Sense Demons and Sacrificial Pact work well because they help get your Demon cards on the field and heal you, benefitting players who use a number of Demon cards in their Warlock decks.

Pirates: Typically Pirates synergize well with the Rogue class. a number of cards that are Rogue specific cards work well with Pirates, such as Shady Dealer. There are also Pirate cards that benefit off of weapons, something a large number of Rogue decks use in Hearthstone.
Totem: Totems are specific to the Shaman class. The hero power of the Shaman class allows you to summon a totem to the battlefield for a cost of two mana and there are cards that are class specific for Shaman that allow you to power up your totems for devastating results.

Mech: Mech creatures are by far the creatures that synergize with the most cards and classes in Hearthstone. Mech creatures work amazing well together. Mechwarper allows you to lower the cost of all Mech creatures that you can play, allowing you to play multiple mech creatures at a time. One of the best decks in the metagame for Hearthstone right now is Mech Mage, a Mage specific deck with a bunch of Mech creatures that control the pace of play and work together for amazing burst damage.

General or non-classed: The most typical creatures are not type specific at all and can be utilized in any deck.

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Now other than the type of cards listed above there are also a bunch of cards that seem to play off of each other. For example, in typical Aggro decks, Abusive Sergeant give a friendly minion plus two attack for one turn. This means that if you play this on a creature with charge, such as Wolfrider, you can attack for five damage instead of the regular three for one turn. The more you play Hearthstone, the more you’ll be able to identify and think up different combos that work like this. On top of this there are creatures with passive effects such as Knife Juggler –  a card that deals one damage to a random enemy when a creature is summoned on your side of the field – that benefit from minions that summon other minions when put into play, such as Dragonling Mechanic or the Spell Card Muster For Battle.

There are also a bunch of cards in Hearthstone that can be used in different circumstances to benefit you for different situations. Let’s take a look at a couple of these situational cards:

Secret Cards: Secrets are a special type of Spell Card that is put into play and are activated after a specific condition is met. There are a number of different cost Secret cards for different situations. Knowing when and what people play when they are behind or ahead will get easier the more you play. On the flipside of this, building a deck around secrets can be extremely beneficial, with one of the best decks in Hearthstone being a Secret Deck. At this date, Secret Paladin is the second best deck in Hearthstone.

Removal Cards: Removal cards do exactly as the name suggests, it removes cards or their effects. One mechanic that can be used to remove card effects is Silence – a card effect that removes all effects of the target minion. Silence generally comes from the Priest class, with a number of class specific cards being able to silence minions. Other than this, there are two basic minions that come to mind that can also silence minions, those cards being Ironbeak Owl and Spellbreaker. There are also cards that can just straight up destroy a minion by being played or a certain condition is met. The Rogue class has the Spell Card Sap, that allow you to return a minion back to the owner’s hand. Every class in Hearthstone has at least a couple Removal Cards that are class specific. This allows everyone to use these cards, allowing players to be as open with deck building as they want. Creating a deck that works will require you to have some of these removal card. A lack of these cards can be detrimental to you and your play, making removing monsters on your opponent’s side of the field a pain.

Weapon Cards: Weapon cards aren’t in every deck and not all deck archetypes use Weapons even if the hero has them at their disposal. However, there are certain deck types that use Weapon Cards – there are even decks created by people whose strategy is to defeat their opponents with Weapon Cards only. Weapons are fantastic utility cards, allowing players to remove creatures from the field at a cost of life or to deal damage to your opponent. There are even some weapons that have effects themselves. By learning how to incorporate weapons into decks takes some tweaking as there are so many Weapons to try in each deck. Once you find that balance, Weapon Cards can be the difference from removing a nagging creature on your opponent’s side of the field or can even give you enough damage on your side of the field to give you lethal.

Buff Cards: There are a number of cards in Hearthstone that buff creatures when certain conditions are met. They can be class specific cards, such as Divine Spirit, which doubles a minion’s health or basic cards such as Raid Leader, a card that increased the attack of every minion by one. By using these cards and spells, you can deal a large amount of damage to your opponent’s side of the field in a very short amount of time as long as you have enough mana. A good example of a fantastic Buff Card is Savage Roar. Savage roar increases all of your character’s attacks by two this turn. If you combine this with a Spell Card called Force of Nature, you can attack for FOURTEEN damage on turn NINE. This is one of the best combos in the game right now because of how much damage is outputted by this one Buff Card.

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After you have created your deck, and have played a number of games with it, you’ll begin to notice trends. You’ll notice cards you’re not using, how it plays against certain other types of decks or even see a combo that you want to use yourself. The biggest thing to remember is that each deck has its strengths and weaknesses. No deck is perfect no matter how much time you put into it. By keeping in mind everything that was written above here, you should be able to tweak your deck until you get it just right! No matter how many different combos and combinations you want to use in one deck remember that you only have thirty cards to deal with. Choose wisely!

Well this concludes the Introduction to Hearthstone Series! I hope that the information that gave everyone leads you to a successful start up of the game! Now that the basics are done, I will be starting a weekly Metagame Mondays feature where I will be taking a closer inspection at the Hearthstone metagame with a deck featured every week! To start off this series I will be starting with Secret Paladin. Be sure to come back next week to learn more about one of the best and frustrating decks in all of Hearthstone!

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