Hello new players, and welcome to Hearthstone! You've chosen a great game for online & mobile, one that offers loads of fun without spending a single cent. And the game has a solid New Player Experience, providing quite a bit of free resources within the game to build your collection and compete effectively.
In order for you to hit the ground running with the knowledge to compete effectively, I've developed this guide to help you understand how to get started the right way, step by step. Unless otherwise noted, we'll get you started using Mage, the first class every HS player learns during the game's tutorial.
Let's start with Phase 1, which take you from the Tutorial through your first few games on Ranked ladder, as well as hitting Level 10 with your Mage deck and snagging lots of goodies to build your collection.
Phase 1 — Getting Off to a Good Start
1A) Your goal in Phase 1 is to unlock as many game features as possible. Your first step here is to complete the Tutorial missions with your Mage starter deck. This should take a half-hour or less.
1B) Finishing the Tutorial unlocks Solo Adventures. At this point the only Solo content you have available is Normal Practice Mode. Use your Mage deck in Normal Practice Mode to unlock the other 8 character classes. Playing 5 games in Practice Mode rewards you a Classic card pack; 3 more Practice games to finish unlocking all 9 classes rewards you 100 gold. Doing all of them should take about 2 hours.
1C) Unlocking all 9 classes let you unlock more Solo Adventures content:
Expert Practice Mode
Icecrown from the Knights of the Frozen Throne (KFT) set
Dungeon Runs from the Kobolds & Catacombs (KnC) set
Monster Hunt from The WitchWood (TWW) set
Puzzle Labs from The Boomsday Project (TBP) set.
On 12/13/18 Blizzard will add new Rumble Run solo content as part of the Rastakhan's Rumble (RR) expansion. Once that happens, I'll update this guide accordingly.
1D) Go to the Game Shop and use 100 gold to buy a Kobold & Catacombs (KnC) pack. You will also receive the legendary minion Marin the Fox. (You'll need to access the Open Packs screen to get Marin, though you can crack the KnC pack later.)
1E) Play four games on Ranked ladder; the first one will award you a Classic pack while the next 3 will award you 100 gold. You can just keep using the Mage starter deck without making any substitutions; for these quests winning doesn't matter, only completing the games. Also completing the "play 3 games" quest will unlock daily quests.
1F) If you haven't already done so, hit 10th level in Mage class, which will earn you another Classic pack. This is also a good time to upgrade your Mage deck by removing both copies of Murloc Raider, Wolfrider, Oasis Snapjaw and Nightblade, then add in 2 copies of Frostbolt, Frost Nova, Water Elemental and Flamestrike.
1G) After you hit 10th level, also log out & log back in. Doing so now will give you the one-time Rastakhan Rumble login rewards: 6 RR packs, a free "Loa" class legendary (e.g., Halazzi the Lynx in Hunter) and two "Spirit of" cards from the same class (e.g., Spirit of the Lynx in Hunter). Players are still experimenting with these, but some (such as Jan'alai the Dragonhawk in Mage) are already proving powerful cards worth building decks around.
1H) Before we really get cranking on Ranked ladder, let's finish getting as many easy freebies as we can.
Play the Prologue section of the Icecrown / KFT solo content. You don't need to build a deck for the section, one will be provided for you. The mission's "on rails" meaning you can't help but lose to The Lich King, but then you can't help but win against Tirion. Afterward you will receive a free Death Knight hero card; as with the Loas, some of these (e.g., Rexxar, Jaina and Gul'dan) can be the foundation of some strong decks.
You'll need to advance one of your classes to Level 20 to unlock Tavern Brawls. These events apply different rulesets each week and they can be quite fun. They're free to enter and the first time you win TB for that week, you receive a free pack, usually a Classic pack. Your Mage deck is already at Level 10; taking it to Level 20 will require several hours. (Of course you could level up one of your other classes from Level 1 to 20, but that will probably take all day, or several shorter sessions.)
Beat all 9 heroes in Expert Practice mode and you'll receive 100 gold. With the changes you made to the Mage deck, it should be good enough to beat every class, though some may take more than one try.
Raise all of your classes to 10th level and you'll receive 100 gold. Good news, you can level your classes painlessly and with good game variety via the Solo Adventures content, especially Dungeon Runs (all classes) and Monster Hunt (for Hunter, Mage, Rogue and Warrior). Raising each class should take 1 to 2 hours.
Reaching Level 10 with every class will also unlock Arena Mode. This is HS's drafting-cards format, and good news, your first Arena ticket is free. Each Arena run awards a variety of prizes, and at bare minimum, even with 0 wins, you will get one pack from the most recent expansion (currently, Rumble) plus another reward.
Phase 2 — Stepping Out onto the Ladder
2A) At this point you should have 7 Rumble packs (6 if you haven't done your freebie Arena run yet), 3 Classic packs, 1 Kobolds pack (that you bought with gold) and 300+ gold. You should also have 3 legendary minions in your collection: Marin the Fox, a free Death Knight hero card, and a free "Loa" class legendary from the Rumble set. Finally your gold stash should be growing from daily quests, plus free Classic packs through Tavern Brawl.
2B) In Phase 2, you have two goals: Reach at least Rank 45 on the Ranked Ladder, and accumulate at least 10 card packs in the RR and Classic sets. You're already 3 packs away in RR, so you may well want to spend 300 gold to get those RR packs. Your next best "head start" is in Classic, and with Tavern Brawls and your Milestone Reward for achieving Rank 45 (3 Classic packs) chances are good that you'll accumulate 10 packs fairly quickly.
(The reason you want to accumulate 10 packs in a given set, then move onto another set is called the pity timer. Long story short, the pity timer is accelerated for your first 10 packs in a set, so you're guaranteed to open a legendary in those first 10 packs.)
2C) In order to make steady progress on Ranked Ladder, you're going to want to have some really good cards to "build around", and my recommendation is to build around your Death Knight hero card, with the RR Loa legendary forming the cornerstone of a second deck. Building around a key card just means obtaining cards that synergize with it. If you get Jan'alai the Dragonhawk, which has a VERY powerful effect keyed to the Mage hero power, you'll want minions that boost it, such as Spirit of the Dragonhawk, Daring Fire-Eater and Ice Walker.
2E) Once you have some dust, your best "bang for the buck" will be in crafting 2-card playsets of numerous common neutral minions. Commons cost just 40 dust each to craft, and since these are neutral, you can put them in any deck. Here are the ones I recommend by card set — you'll want to start with the Classic minions since they will never rotate out of Standard play; then expand with WitchWood, Boomsday and Rumble minions since they remain Standard legal until April 2020.
Classic: Argent Squire; Amani Berserker; Loot Hoarder; Acolyte of Pain; Raging Worgen; Spellbreaker; Fen Creeper; Stranglethorn Tiger; and Frost Elemental.
WitchWood: Vicious Scalehide; Swift Messenger; Rotten Applebaum
Boomsday: Bronze Gatekeeper; Rusty Recycler; Wargear
Rumble: Scarab Egg; Arena Fanatic; Dragonmaw Scorcher; Sightless Ranger; Amani War Bear
2F) Accumulating all these commons will take some time and dust), so just stay patient. Once you hit 10 packs in every card set, your guaranteed legendary cards will each add 400 dust to your efforts, unless of course they're strong enough to simply go into your decks themselves.
Phase 3 — Preparing to Graduate
3A) Your goal in Phase 3 is to "graduate" from the New Player Experience by reaching Rank 25 on Ladder. Doing so will let you play in Wild format, where every card set is legal, going all the way back to Hearthstone's earliest days. Reaching Rank 25 will also let you play Standard or Wild in Casual mode, meaning those games won't effect your ladder ranking, but thankfully any wins you get, cards you play etc, will still progress most daily quests.
3B) As with Phase 2, the card packs you accumulate (bought with gold, and/or Classic packs won through Tavern Brawl) will continue building your Collection, either directly if you open the cards themselves, or by adding more non-Mage and non-neutral cards to disenchant into arcane dust. In Phase 3, let's look at the key rare cards in each set you'll want to add.
Classic: Knife Juggler; Sunfury Protector; Wild Pyromancer; Mind Control Tech; Defender of Argus; Twilight Drake; Gadgetzan Auctioneer.
Witchwood: Phantom Militia; Lifedrinker; Witchwood Grizzly
Boomsday: Giggling Inventor
3C) As mentioned before, you will receive Milestone Rewards on reaching Ladder Ranks 40, 35 and 30, consisting of 3 Classic packs each time. And once you finally reach Rank 25, you'll get the unlocks I just mentioned, plus a "graduation present" of 2 packs each from Classic, Kobolds, WitchWood, Boomsday and Rumble.
By now you should have a good enough deck, and enough experience piloting that deck, that you can venture onto the expert ladder that begins at Rank 25. Keep playing, always clear your daily quests, get as many Tavern Brawl packs as you can, watch out for special events, and keep saving up gold. The next expansion will come along before you know it!
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