The lights are on
Hearthstone has moved into open beta, and while the game is
one of the most accessible digital collectible card games out there, it can be
challenging to jump into blind. Hearthstone’s mechanics are easy enough to
learn, and the in-game tutorial (combined with low-impact PVE matches to unlock
heroes and cards) is an excellent introduction.
So you’ve already played the
tutorial and you’re looking to dig into the game, but you’re having trouble
getting past Angry Chicken rank? Playing with friends who are also learning is
a great way to earn some experience and unlock the basic cards, but what if you
want to try casual or ranked play? What if you want to get started without
spending any money? If you know the basics and what the stats on cards mean,
we’ve got some suggestions for you.
It’s certainly possible to reach legendary (top rank) status
without paying, as Reynad recently displayed with a
Warrior deck. But you have to play quite a few matches to put the gold and dust
together to get some quality options going. Let’s take a look at some of the
great basic cards and common cards that you have access to immediately.
This is one of the great 2/3 options out there. It can trade
with dangerous 3/2’s, turn into a dangerous threat after fighting a 1/1 or 2/2,
and can be triggered with things like a Mage’s class skill and the Warrior’s
One of the better 3/2 options out there because the opponent
will have difficulty removing it. Played early, it can cause serious problems
for decks that will rely on turn 4 or 5 removal spells in order to hit it.
Almost any way things go down, the Loot Hoarder is going to
provide you with an edge. Assuming the worst-case scenario (where it’s removed
via a hero ability), you’re still trading 2 mana for 2 mana because it replaces
the card. In many cases, this little guy can provide actual card advantage by
trading with a small drop.
3 mana may seem like a lot for a 2/3, but unless your
opponent is willing to waste a silence ability, this creature is the definition
of insane value. It’s possible to trade with up to three or more of an
opponent’s smaller creatures with a well-played Harvest Golem, and there are
other ways to abuse the deathrattle effect on the cheap. Can combine with
Paladin’s Redemption secret on the cheap for some additional deathrattle fun!
Shattered Sun Cleric
This creature is important because it provides three points
of power and an immediate boost on entry. A solid 3-mana option.
With no abilities, the Yeti’s 4/5 frame is the definition of
raw value for mana. Almost always trades up.
Dark Iron Dwarf
You get one less toughness than the Yeti for 4 mana, but a
relevant entry ability that can drastically alter combat.
While not quite as pure as the Loot Hoarder, the potential
card advantage here can be higher for the added cost. You may be able to take
out several small creatures with this and it won’t even cost a card to play.
Pushing out your big creatures fast can have serious game
impact. On turn two, one of these will let you frontload a Yeti. You can even
do it on your first turn with the coin!
This is an efficient way to take out a small creature or
finish off the opponent. Just an efficient and versatile one-mana spell.
Wrath’s versatility gives you the edge. On a one-health creature
it won’t cost you a card, can kill larger things for 2 mana, and gains value
from spell power creatures too (once you can afford a pair of Azure Drakes).
This is one of the best removal spells currently available
in Hearthstone. Take out a big creature, an army, or both at the same time.
Druid of the Claw
Again displaying the versatility of the Druid’s arsenal,
this will mostly be used as a 4/6 with taunt. However, there are plenty of
situations where the fast 4/4 can come in to take out an immediate threat or close
out a game.
This is one of the hunter essentials. Against smaller armies
you can allow the opponent to overextend and use your hero ability safely
knowing that an attack will result in serious board chaos.
This is an important card, possibly the most important
Hunter card, and learning how to play it is essential. There are few situations
where you’re going to want to roll out its fragile body on turn 2, it is often
better to wait for a turn where several other beasts can be played afterwards,
in order to ensure you’re getting value from its powerful ability. Combos well
with Unleash the Hounds.
Unleash The Hounds
This card has seen a lot of changes, and I think it’s just
perfect in its current form. You can combine this with Starving Buzzard and
some other commons/basics like Timber Wolf.
Essentially the deal with this card is as follows – You’re
going to get a beast worth four at the cost of three, but since you’re getting a
great creature for the price it’s going to be somewhat random. All three
potential beasts are a great bargain for the cost.
As removal or a way to deal lethal damage to an opponent,
this is a great Hunter staple.
It’s an efficient removal spell that can be used to finish
off players or neutralize their weapons for a crucial turn.
There may be a Mage deck out there without two Fireballs,
but I haven’t seen it.
An excellent way to take care of giant creatures that are
too tough for your removal arsenal.
The big one-sided board wipe. Your opponents have to play
around this or they will walk into losses.
A great early game trap that will protect your smaller
creatures so they can keep getting in for damage and trade with opposing Faerie
Dragons and the like.
What’s better than divine shielding a creature? Getting a
2/2 out of the deal too! Many ways to set up big advantages with the shield.
Probably one of the best “removal spells” in the game…
You’ll get to take out two creatures and it won’t even cost you much life, or
send the attacks straight at the opponent.
Blessing of Kings
The swing this spell provides can topple decks that don’t
have any kind of hard removal (Which will likely be many of your entry-level
opponents). Dropping this on even a 1/1 can have serious game impact.
An excellent and well-priced board removal option and you
probably shouldn’t play a Paladin deck without two of these after you unlock
Hammer of Wrath
Three points of damage and a card, there’s not much
complexity here but it’s a great spell to have in a lot of situations.
Guardian of Kings
This one may seem unwieldy with a high casting cost, but it’s
actually quite perfect. You’ll get a substantial amount of board presence and
get a nice heal.
We all have horror stories of the early-game Northshire
Cleric card advantage setups. There are many ways to get value out of this one
and most Priest decks should consider it.
Shadow Word: Pain and Shadow Word: Death
Having both of these in your deck takes care of most of the
threats you’ll come up against. While you’re kind of stuck going against 4
power creatures, you’ll be able to take out expensive legendary cards like Nat
Pagle or Ragnaros with ease.
It’s a bit expensive for a 2 damage board clear, but the
added benefits of a group heal can make up for it. Especially if you have a
Northshire Cleric on board!
Used on your hero ability, this provides two valuable
attacks for three points of damage for only one mana. This makes it an ideal
ability to trigger other cards that rely on combo.
It’s two points of damage if you need it right away to clean
out an early threat or four later on when the opposing forces are bigger. It’s
also a great way to finish off a wounded opponent.
Two creatures for the price of one! Combos well with Deadly
Poison, Backstab, and many other low casting cost Rogue cards.
Don’t waste charges attacking the opponent unless you
absolutely have to. There’s considerable card advantage go be gained here,
allowing you to take out three small creatures for the price of a single card!
Play this one correctly and you’ll be able to realize some
substantial value. Play your other creatures first (Don’t be afraid to use your
hero ability to make some cheap totems) and then boost them to take out
opposing forces. Don’t plop this one down in harm’s way or on an open field.
It’s important to realize that this does give the opponent a
creature with taunt, small as it is – Get your big attacks out of the way first
or have a point of damage ready to clear it away. Critical removal spell for
dealing with large creatures.
This is a pretty amazing card, giving solid stats for 6 mana
and nice nuke attached, that can be used to clear away creatures on the table
or dish out damage directly.
Many Warlock decks
hinge on rush strategies that use many neutral creatures (Murlocs) and take
advantage of the Warlock hero power to draw cards and keep the threat level
high. For this reason it may be best to get a few cards under your belt to
facilitate this playstyle before going full Murlock.
This card may seem like it has a horrible disadvantage at
first, but paying nothing for the spell makes it well worth it as removal or a
finisher. Note that you can simply play it as your last card and ignore the
Fiery War Axe
An economical way to take out creatures or simply go for the
It can take some effort to get this to be a real blowout,
but all you need is one or two wounded creatures on the table to get a nice card
bump. Remember, your hero is counted towards the total number so if you have
to, grab a weapon and take a few points of damage by running into an opponent’s
creature before casting.
There’s a solid chance to go two-for-one with this card or
work it into some larger plays. Goes great with spell power.
This is sort of the perfect removal spell. Either you
eliminate your target, or you get a new card out of the deal.
Versatility is the key component here. You can boost your
own creatures to make them hit harder, or take out an opposing creature with
one health. It’s a bargain.
You get a weapon and a
creature? What a deal.
Here’s a great way to get in some fast points of damage.
Even if the opponent has a larger creature on the field, you can often swing in
and force them to use their attack on the Kor’kron.
Email the author Daniel Tack, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.