The Thought Processes Of A Serial Hearthstone Loser

By Alec Meer on August 1st, 2014 at 5:00 pm.

I’m pretty new to Hearthstone, Blizzard’s none-more-slick digital card game. I’ve just about clawed past the point where I’m randomly spamming stuff and hoping for the best, and now have a custom deck I’m continually tweaking and a few solid wins under my belt. Now I’m no longer facing total greenhorns, it’s a different game. I’m losing a lot. This doesn’t particularly depress me, as I know the key is learning, and I know that I’ve got a whole lot of that left to do. It’s rare for me to not run a mile at that kind of prospect, but Hearthstone’s doing a great job of pulling me back and making me battle human opponents – years-long entrenchment is slowing being eroded. I’ll probably do a few videos while I continue to learn the ropes, but let’s start with one that reveals my exact thought processes during a particularly embarrassing match, which involved an epic comeback from my opponent.

I’m playing Rogue, and while I have a few non-free cards in my deck I’m a long way short of way I need to make something really punchy, like the fabled Miracle Rogue deck. I’ll get there, but right now I want to focus on learning what other classes are going to throw at me, and best practices for what I do have. I’m happy to be told about the damn-fool mistakes I make here, because that’s only going to help me get better. Unless you say it in a really mean voice. Then I’ll probably give up videogames forever, change my name and move to Borneo.

That is quite frustrating to watch through again. I might do similar with a match I actually won, just to massage my own bruised ego.

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33 Comments »

  1. killias2 says:

    Warlock Zoo is easily the best deck for beginners. It’s cheap, and it might be the best deck regardless of how cheap it is. Oh, by the way.. it’s cheap.

    Otherwise, you might want to work towards a Tempo deck of some sort (Warrior, Rogue). They tend to be a bit more mid-range, which means less dependence on legendaries.

    Control and long-game decks are the expensive ones: control Warrior, freeze Mage, Handlock, etc. They all require a good number of epics and legendaries to even be viable. Miracle Rogue is basically in the same place.

    • dontnormally says:

      This man is right- the deck you are striving towards is expensive. Zoo is a nice, cheap, easy (to play and to modify) deck.

    • Mitthrawn says:

      Make a murlock deck. Incredibly fun to play, super cheesy- like zergling rushing in starcraft. Incredibly fun to play, o fun to play against.

  2. WarderDragon says:

    Don’t make a miracle rogue deck. Don’t make a warlock zoo deck. Just don’t.

    They’re great decks, sure, but you’ll be doing yourself a disservice – you might win more, but you’re not going to learn why you’re winning more from playing one, and you’ll miss out on the fun of playing your own deck, not someone else’s. A better option is to look at these top decks and try to figure out why they’re built the way they are and how the cards work well together, then try to apply that to your own custom-built deck. You’ll learn far more about the game and become a better player that way.

    • Rizlar says:

      It is kind of annoying that once you get past a certain matchmaking skill level everyone just uses the same decks that they probably found on youtube. The card crafting kind of encourages this, since you can craft a reliably powerful deck, while there seems little point in experimenting with the random cards you get if you just want to win.

      Haven’t played Hearthstone in a while since I don’t like the idea of just reading up on successful strategies. My most recently successful deck though has been a warrior enrage-heavy deck with my lucky drop legendary Grom Hellscream.

      • Harzel174 says:

        If you want uniqueness, originality, and the room to flex your skill and knowledge of the game… play Arenas. They’re extremely rewarding, albeit not as epeeny, and exist for primarily that reason. Constructed play is designed to be about min/maxing decks, and it’s inevitable that things are going to get same-y at higher levels. But, to its credit, there’s usually a new deck or two that float through the meta every month to change things up a bit, or at the very least, tweaks and changes to the cookie-cutter decks that reflect the current meta.

        This is probably a poor time to be learning the ropes though, what with Naxx only halfway in. Lots of new cards aimed at changing up the meta game atm.

        • Rizlar says:

          Yeah, I played a fair bit of arena at launch but the gold buy-in and the desire to start tinkering with decks got in the way.

          • Arathain says:

            Speaking as a habitual cheapskate, I play Arena far more than I play Contructed, and I’ve never paid real money for it. If you don’t play for multiple hours at a stretch, or play every day, then all you have to do is do your daily quests. An Arena run is usually done over the course of two to four days, depending on time and how well it’s going. By the time that’s done I usually have enough gold to dive straight into another run, especially if I was able to complete a quest or two during the run.

            The better I get, the more Arena I can play, since it takes longer and I get more gold. Eleven wins is my current record.

      • killias2 says:

        I think that, as more cards enter the game, you’ll see more varieties be viable. All in all, we’re still quite early with Hearthstone.

    • Cooper says:

      This wasn’t a miracle deck. It’sa basic rogue deck with most of the basic cards in it. Totally viable at low-ranks.

  3. Bostec says:

    I have nothing to contribute except LOOOOOOSSSSSEEEEERRRRRR.

  4. Ravenine says:

    If you’re going to play a Rogue, treat your health pool as a resource, not something you should hoard. I would have cleared a bunch of the early stuff with face (for instance, Backstab the Grizzly, hit it with face, use the SI:7 to deal two damage to his face; next play I would have Backstabbed the shield away, killed it with daggers, SI:7 to his face for three). Also, playing the Ooze just to get a combo out of the SI:7 was a misplay. I know combos are fun and all, but against a weapon-heavy deck, that Ooze’s value is sky-high.

    Health is a resource and you should spend it if you can in order to maintain board superiority. I’d get some Blade Flurries in that deck if you can, they’re great for clearing boards easily. Azure Drakes and Gadgetzan Auctioneers are also great, but then you’re slowly moving toward the Miracle road. Word of caution: Miracle is one of the hardest decks to play (properly, that is).

    I say all this because I have over 300 ranked wins on a Rogue with a 60%ish+ winrate. Highest rank I’ve gotten was 10, but I have no particular desire to kill myself reaching Legendary.

    Finally, what killias2 said: Zoo is a great place to start, cheap deck to craft, practically plays itself and is favored in quite a few match-ups.

    • domogrue says:

      I mean, you can play Zoo if you’re a HUGE JERK WITH NO ORIGINALITY.

      But yeah, all your points are spot on, and the first big steps to really picking up the game is how you maximize the value of each card. Read up on Card Advantage!

      • Ravenine says:

        Agreed, Card Advantage is possibly the most important aspect of the game, other than having a deck that exploits synergies to do something specific. Streams are a great way to learn how and why and when to play something.

        P.S. Good luck on your road to Legend, domogrue.

        • ScoutAbout says:

          I would love to see an article on good streams to watch. I’ve tried to watch streams to learn but most seem to assume a level of knowledge or ability that I just don’t have at this point.

    • Tenerim says:

      I agree with Ravenine, your health pool is a resource to be used to maintain board control. Also often the most correct way to clear stuff is by using the least amount of cards (i.e getting good use out of hero power) since having card advantage gives you more options and greater flexibility then your opponent. Word of caution, while health is a resource most decks higher up in the ranks have really high burst potential (i.e from having nothing on board to 20 damage to face in one turn) thus it is good to learn which classes commonly use this type of burst and knowing the limit of their reach. For instance for druids a really common combo is the 9 mana Force of nature + Savage roar = 14 damage from empty board. Thus against druids your health is only a resource if you are above that threshold or if you have a taunt out. Since you like rogue I’d have to agree with people who previously commented and suggest going for a Tempo/Mid range build before tackling miracle, or watch a couple of famous streamers that uses miracle to get a feeling for how to correctly asses different situations.

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      I’d also add, it’s usually not the best idea to daggers and stab the face on turn 2. Just keep the two charges of the weapon. The reason for this being you then have 1 extra damage with knives on the next two turns. If you use a charge on turn 2, then one on turn 3 you either have a weak play + daggers on turn 4, or you can’t use daggers.

      That 1 damage is extremely unlikely to get you the win, pinging off one damage to help with board control early is much more beneficial, so keep 2 charges of your weapon if your turn 2 play is daggers. The only reasons not to do this is, 1 – If you have no turn 3 play either at which case you might only have the option of hero power. 2 – If you are playing a rushdown strategy, but it’s unlikely you would be using the hero power on turn 2 if you are playing a rush deck as it will be built around early minions.

  5. Wulfram says:

    Play ranked, it’s better at getting you appropriate opponents than casual.

  6. domogrue says:

    “Bear, that’s quite a powerful one”

    As someone who’s aiming to climb to legend at the expense of friends, family and health…

    Ha. You’re cute.

  7. supermini says:

    Playing a miracle rogue deck if you don’t know what you’re doing is a great way to start losing even more. It’s not exactly a ‘pick it up and win’ deck.

    Go for something cheap and aggressive, like zoo.

  8. Cooper says:

    Overall pointers:
    1. Play efficiently. The golden rule of Heathstone is to remove opponents cards with as few as possible and to play in such a way that makes the opponent use more cards than you do. Your worry about how many cards they have shows you know this, but you make some inefficient trades very early on that put you behind.

    2. Play slowly. A few times you point out the mistake you made just after you click ‘End Turn’. Hearthstone gives you quite a bit of time to take a turn so always play the turn out in your head before you actually take any action. You often start playing a turn, realise you have made a mistake half way through or just at the end. If you’d taken a few seconds to talk the move through, you’d have realised this.

    ————

    Step by step stuff:

    Good start. The Mulligan was probably the right call to keep those cards.

    You were probably right to keep the Ooze. Save Ooze’s for Paladins and Warriors, only save against Shaman if you have something else to play and just play against everyone else.

    Grizzly dealt with fine.

    Turn four less good. You remembered to go for the face before using Shadowstep, which is good (a lot of players forget) but you spent two cards to get rid of one of theirs. Hearthstone is often about efficient trades. You want to spend less cards to deal with their cards.

    This is a time where the 3 damage from using your hero power to remove the shield but save you a card would be worth it. I’d have played:
    - Attack face with agent
    - Hero power to remove shield
    - Shadowstep
    - Agent combo power to remove

    Ooze followed by agent combo was a difficult call. Probably should have saved the Ooze as you’re over four mana, which is when the Paladin’s Truseilver comes out. Just the Agent, no combo + Hero power would have been fine here.

    It was the right call to Hero power + Deadly poison the Peacekeeper, but as Deadly poison brings your hero’s damage to 3 you basically used the 3-mana card Fan to remove a 1/1 that didn’t come from a card. You’re behind on cards by this point so Agent to remove the 1/1 and then Deadly poison to remove the Peacekeeper and then Ooze to the face would have reduced how far behind you are on card count.

    Assasinating the shielded taunt was the obvious option. And if you’d been playing conservatively with cards you wouldn’t have pulled the assasinate at the exact right time, so you got lucky there…

    When you are faced with a secret, try to trigger them in a way that reduces their impact. When you played Defender, you knew that it was not Repentance (reduce summoned minion to 1 health). The next one you could trigger is Noble Sacrifice. The 4/5 taunt can only be dealt with by Ooze + daggers or Ooze + Agent. So whatever happens you need to keep Ooze in play so you can’t risk triggering Noble sacrifice with that.

    Ooze + Agent removes both of them from the board, so you want to remove the taunt with Ooze + daggers and take the 4 damage hit. Which means you want to trigger noble sacrifice with the agent. So the order should have been Fan, Defender, Agent to trigger noble sacrifice then daggers then Ooze.

    Now, this of course goes out the window if the secret is not noble sacrifice. You’d burn both Agent & Ooze if the agent hits the taunt. But everything about the way the board is setup suggests that is the most likely secret he had played. It’s also the most common Paladin secert to be used, so the odds were good.

    Sprint, it turns out, was the right call. But, again, the luck of the draw can’t be counted on. I’d have played Maexanna because your side of the board was pretty sparse. Hero power to remove the 1/1 is the right call, especially as you note, Paladin’s have a lot of buff cards.

    That Pint Sized summoner was a bad call. Which you recognise the moment you click end turn! It’s basically a sacrifice to the Truesilver which can remove it and heal the dmagae taken in the process. Better options were Brewmatser (played first so you don’t remove anything) and then Shieldmasta or Shieldmasta + Summoner.

    The 3 power daggers on the next turn do allow you to go right for the face. but you have a Brewmaster. These are tricky cards. You want to be able to play them on a blank board OR when you want to re-trigger a battlecry. Otherwise they are awkward left in your hand. Brewmaster followed by Shieldmasta would have put you in a better position on this turn. This screws you on the next turn when you have enough to play Brewmaster after playing the ogre, but can’t safely do so.

    You make another order mistake with master of disguise. Taunt + Stealth = No taunt. You have to break stealth first. Master of disguise out first gets it on the board and allows you to keep the taunt. You recognise this when you talk about the battle cry. Again, just play more slowly.

    • Diatribe says:

      I agree with most of this assessment. There is a lot of room for improvement in your play. E.g., don’t throw out sinister strike unless you need it to set up/secure a kill or to trigger combo. One thing no one else has mentioned is that it should have been clear from turn 5 or 6 that this guy was playing a deck with a lot of big cards. That means you don’t expend resources to go for his face unless it’s going to put you in range of a kill. Using your poisoned dagger to hit his face was a giant waste of 3 damage that could have been used to kill another of his minions.

      In general, you don’t use your weapons to kill minions enough. The reason assassin’s blade is a decent card is because it can be used to gain massive card advantage by killing up to 4 enemy minions with 1 card. Finally, you should ALWAYS kill a big enemy minion with a weapon if you have nothing on the board, because that minion is going to hit you in the face anyway, so you won’t take any extra damage from killing it. (You should have killed the giant 9/3 taunt monster with your assassin’s blade. You’ll notice he hit you with it next turn anyway, and if you killed it you might have survived because you wouldn’t have had to worry about it the turn after.)

      A final piece of advice – your deck doesn’t know what it wants to do. You seem to both have a bunch of high cost cards and small cards you use to hit people in the face. If you are relying on your high cost cards, then you only really want to avoid dying early on until your big stuff comes out and wins you the game. You shouldn’t be expending any resources hitting the opponent in the face rather than making advantageous trades (e.g., don’t play the the SI:7 agent unless the combo ability kills an opponent’s card. Also take out the Shadowstep and cards that send things back to your hand as well as sinister strike.) Or, if you want to play a more tempo rogue type deck, you shouldn’t have a bunch of giant creatures in your deck because you want to be pressuring the opponent early and any big creatures should be enabling card draw (e.g., azure drake) so if the opponent kills it, you aren’t behind in cards. You also need lots of small cost cards in tempo decks so that you can keep constant pressure on the opponent during the game.

  9. Juuuhan says:

    Alec, you need to realize that Hearthstone is our generation of coin-ops machines and you need to spend more money and hope you get a lucky draw ;)

    Bet in 30 years or so if Hearthstone (Blizzards servers) survived we will be the ones standing in stores with our tablets screaming at “unlucky” packs.

  10. Syiavri says:

    I spent 400$ on HS before I realised I spent 400$ on HS. I have since stopped buying packs. I go to Hearthpwn a lot to see the decks people are using, but in the end I ended up playing my Priest and Warrior a lot, some classes I just cannot play well.. Hunter and Mage I am horrible with. I have taught my 11 year old to clear the board when he plays, and he’s beaten me once.

    Something of note that I found, casual games are tricky because people are testing their decks on you, some decks that fail horribly in casual do wonderful in ranked. If you manage to get 150 coins, don’t blow it on a pack, do arena, learn the ropes, and you’re guaranteed at least one pack.

    Have fun!

  11. Post-Internet Syndrome says:

    I was going to weigh in on your play, but I see that others have already said most that needed to be said. Lots of solid advice for anyone interested in this game above. I’ll just add one little golden rule: Always play card draw first.

    It was mentioned above that you should plan your turns before you play (and once you get comfortable doing that, you should also consider what your next turn could be). If that plan includes cards that draws cards, play it first! (Unless circumstances prevent it.) The card you draw could change your plan.

    With that in mind, I would have used the fan of knives more liberally. It’s not a great card in general, but it does replenish itself, so it’s value neutral. With the damage from your dagger, you had several opportunities to remove enemy minions without spending valuable SI:7 agents for example.

    Nice video! For what it’s worth, I thought your deck seemed to be the stronger one, and you had the advantage quite often. You could definitely win matches with that.

  12. Stormworm says:

    I’d love to teach you to get better at the game. Decision making and talk about what cards are strong and why. You had three really strong minions, which almost always give great value when played. Shieldmasta, Boulderfist Ogre and SI:7 Agent. The agent being in my opinion, the best three mana drop in the game. You can definately get wins with that deck. Also, you have a lovely voice. :)

  13. Koozer says:

    Here’s some general advice that’s easier to remember than the (highly informative) walls of text above, and more generic: try to use cards that are worth less than theirs when trading blows.

    Give yourself an advantage by making sure they burn through their cards faster than you do, and keep the board balanced in your favour until the time you can smash their face in in a singular flurry of spells and minions.

    Oh, and don’t be afraid to kill stuff with your own face. The minion you avoid killing this turn will be buffed up to the eyeballs and smashing you in the face anyway next turn, like that Silver Hand Knight.

  14. BisonHero says:

    I think Rogue is easily the worst class, unless you very specifically play the top tier Rogue decks. At lower ranks, when your deck is mostly commons and a few random rares, Rogue is terrible. Also, like half of their class cards are unplayable garbage (Kidnapper, Patient Assassin is too easy to kill, Master of Disguise isn’t worth the trouble, etc.)
    The Rogue class mechanics are just bad, because you end up playing out all of your low-cost cards with only minor damage here and there to show for it. The entire class basically falls apart unless your deck contains 2x Azure Drake and 2x Gadgetzan Auctioneer. You can play Sprint, but it basically costs your whole turn (costing you tons of tempo), and doesn’t even gain you life like Lay on Hands does.

    Also, that guy Alec played was not even remotely a fair matchup, since his Paladin deck has enough epics in it, and he was playing it well enough, that he should’ve been many, many ranks above Alec.

  15. mpOzelot says:

    I started by playing rogue as well, and I sucked at it. Learned how to play through total biscuit’s lord of the arena videos ( just find the ones where he plays rogue), Arena is the way you learn cards btw. Also I feel like doing your own crappy deck is a much more compelling experience than just look up for one on a forum. I still suck.

  16. ajsheppard says:

    I logged in for the first time in many years to let you know that you are not playing with the scenery enough.

    Also… at your level Hunter has some easy/fun beast combos with unleash hounds plus buzzard plus hyena.

  17. Dobleclick says:

    There’s a mistake you commit in this video over and over again: Not using your hero power effectively! Making use of the hero power whenever possible and practical is one of the easiest ways to gain card advantage and ultimately control of the game. Specifically for weapons, USE THEM ON ENEMY MINIONS!!!!!! Remember that your health is a resource just like the mana crystals or your cards, and it is there to be spent wisely. Even when you were facing that 9-3 on the board, it would still have been the best move to immediately destroy it with your weapon.

    It’s the single most repeated mistake I see amongst Hearthstone beginners: Saving each and every single life point as if it were the holy grail, instead of using it as a resource for victory.

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