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Basic Deck Building Tips/Strategy


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#1 Moshne

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Posted 21 August 2013 - 05:15 AM

I've been getting a lot of questions about deck building as people are being forced into playing new heroes for dailies. I won't begin to claim that I know "the best" way to make decks, but here are some basic things that have helped me. (For context, I've ground up every class to 10. Some with Arena help, but mostly through "Play.") My observations are a combination of playing a fair number of hours here, combined with a lot of playing Magic, but I won't pretend to be an Expert in either game.

I'll post several of my own tips and try and compile those from others. I want to try and get the deck building conversation out of the General Thread so all the good information doesn't get lost.

Starting Out:

To start, I generally start on "Hero" page after creating a new deck. You probably want some idea of how you intend to win, and each Hero has a theme of some sort you can exploit. For the most part, the class cards are going to be pretty decent and worth using. Not in every case, but we are talking basics. Generally I'll end up with 12-18 Hero specific cards, with a collection of spells focusing on removal of my opponent's creatures and maximizing whatever the "Class Gimmick" is.

Note: You won't have all your Hero cards immediately, you'll get them while you level. It may be frustrating to begin with, you might want to try grinding against the AI rather than players to start out with if you want uniform difficulty.

Next, I'll take a look at the "Mana Curve" of the deck. This is the bar chart that shows up when you mouseover the name of your deck. This will be a bit of a mess at this point. Your end goal is to have a decent mana curve generally peaking in the 3-4 point. You probably don't want more than 2-3 cards over 6 mana. I'll frequently have 0-1 unless there is a particular Hero card that is especially impressive.

Now go to your neutral creatures list. With your current mana curve chart in mind, look to creatures to fill in the gaps. I'll try to find creatures that play to my current strategy, and the rest will have Taunt. I'll generally try and keep 1/3-1/2 of my creatures with Taunt. Hamlet wrote a nice explanation of why Taunt is especially valuable so I won't recap it here: http://elitistjerks....p3/#post2325682

At the end of your curve you'll probably want something that looks like this for a basic deck:

[Mana Cost: Quantity]
0-1: 4
2: 6
3: 9
4: 7
5: 2
6: 1
7+: 1

I want to stress this is very basic, and not a "one size fits all" design. My shaman deck is actually much more heavy in the 1-2 drop range. My hunter also tends to fit this model. My druid, on the other hand, is a bit higher, emphasizing 4-5 drops due to the mana ramping from Wild Growth and Innervate, plus having good value in the hero ability so not casting anything for a few turns isn't a big deal. A deck that is on the cheaper side is probably better than one on the more expensive side unless you have a good strategy in mind for the expensive deck (Like the Druid example.)

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One final disclaimer: All of these tips/suggestions/ideas are meant as generalizations. In game, plenty of good cards become really bad, and bad abilities are suddenly really useful. Like all CCGs, this is a game of percentages. You build your deck to give you the best odds of winning, but nothing is scripted. Adjust your game based on your opponent.

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#2 Moshne

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Posted 21 August 2013 - 05:15 AM

Class Specific Tips:

Druid:

Don't Be Afraid to Take Damage to Kill Creatures: Your Special gives you one armor and the ability to pick off weak creatures. If you don't kill it, and take the damage associated with it, that creature is going to hit you anyhow. Kill it so it only does it once.

You Get a Lot of Free Quick Mana: Wild Growth and Innervate will let you skip weak points in your mana curve. Your Special is also very strong, so you can afford to not cast early on without getting too far behind. Also, Wild Growth will let you draw a card if you hit 10 mana crystals without using it, so there is little downside to running it. (Thanks Hamlet for this discovery)

Hunter:

Draw Lots of Cards: Take advantage of the Beast synergies in your deck. The Scavenging Hyena and Starving Buzzard work really well for you. You'll probably want to make your deck nearly exclusively beasts unless there is a non-beast that is particularly compelling. Protect your Buzzard, it is probably going to win you the game via card draw.

Your Special Is Deceptively Bad: This seems unlikely to newer players. The Mage one only does one damage, this one does TWO? The key here is it only targets your enemy player. That same two mana is likely going to do more damage via the creatures you'll summon with it. Don't waste too much mana on it unless you have nothing else to spend it on.

Mage:

Spell Power is Good, but Not Everything: Don't take the bait and fill your deck with nothing but spell power creatures. They are very fragile and have a massive target on their backs. I tend to put one taunt creature for each Spell Power. If it is worth putting in the deck, it is worth protecting.


Paladin:

Your Special Combos Really Well: Knife Juggler, Raid Leader work really well with your every turn 1/1 that you can spawn. On his own, the vanilla 1/1 is pretty weak, but you can really make it work.

Secrets: Not every secret is good. Even the good ones are bad in large quantities. I'd wait to add them to your deck until you have an idea of what makes you weak and how you are trying to win, just putting all of them in your deck will make you really defensive and give you weak draws.

Priest:

Abuse the Cleric: Northshire Cleric can net you a ton of draw. You can really play games if you have Acolyte of Pain in the deck as well. (Acolyte attacks something with 1-2 power, you draw a card from him taking damage. Heal the acolyte, draw a card from the Cleric ability.) This requires some taunt guards, but you likely would already be using heavy taunting creatures in a Priest build anyhow.

Heal Your Guards: This seems fairly obvious, but your heal can heal your creatures, not just you. Coupled with some high health Taunters and you can build some walls around yourself that last for a few turns. Prioritize the highest toughness taunters, and you can alway swap their power to the toughness for an attack via Inner Fire.




Rogue:

Draw Lots of Cards (2): This is a standing tip for every class, but it is crucial for the rogue. Combo requires you to cast two spells per turn to work. You can't do this late game if you out of steam. Prioritize cards that draw you extras and abuse the Combo abilities, especially Head Crack if you are lucky enough to have one.

You Aren't Actually a Melee: Despite having arguably the best weapons, your best abilities are your spells. You have fantastic removal and with Combo your spells can hit or massive amounts without having to load your deck with Spell Power abilities. If you are playing a rogue because of flavor, you might initially shy away from these abilities, but they are crucial.

Shaman:

Emphasize Windfury - Windfury allows your creatures to attack twice. Combined with Rockbiter casts you can easily make a creature hit for 10 in a single turn, and late game you can swing for 20+. The trick is to keep your stuff alive via Taunt creatures.

Don't be Scared of Spamming Totems: For two mana you will get one of the following totems: Searing Totem (a 1/1), Stoneclaw (0/2 Taunt), Wrath of Air (0/2, Spell Power +1), Healing Stream (0/2, Heals everyone on your side 1 at the end of your turn.) Every one of these is worth 2 mana.

Your Totems CAN attack: Don't be scared of taking your 0/2 and turn it into a Windfury attacking beast. I've gotten several kills from a Stoneclaw totem swinging for fatal from either a Rockbiter cast, a Dire Wolf buff or Flametongue Totem. They also benefit from Bloodlust.

Warlock:

Your Special is Really, Really, Good: I see newer players being scared to press this button because you lose health. Why would you want to just give your Hunter opponent a free Special of his own? Be conscious of your health totals, but if you have a low enough mana curve in your deck you can get a lot of advantage by drawing more cards than your opponent.

Your 1 Drops are Great
: Both the Voidwalker and Imp are very strong. 1/4 Taunt for 1 is a lot of protection. Your Imp with Stealth upping everyone's health? Fantastic. You probably don't want to attack with it without a very compelling reason.

Warrior:

Your Armor Stacks Infinitely: Your special is effectively adding two Health to your Hero's health pool, and it doesn't cap out.

...You Gotta Break Some Eggs: Enrage really needs you to take damage. Your opponent isn't going to nicely just deal one damage so you can counterstrike back on them for loads. Sometimes you need to hit your own creatures to get the perks. Whirlwind and some Battlecry effects might be best used on yourself, just be careful. Acolyte of Pain is really good in your deck because of this as well.

Also, abuse Taunt to protect your weakened Enrage creatures.

Don't Get Discouraged: I found the warrior to be the toughest for me to grind up. He gets lots of good abilities as he gets closer to 10. You'll probably lose some matches as the Warrior isn't as obviously powerful as some and it might take some time to get used to the unique class synergies and how to use them without killing your own creatures.

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#3 Moshne

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Posted 21 August 2013 - 05:18 AM

Glossary of Terms:

You'll see a lot of jargon that comes from other CCGs in this and other threads. I'll try and define them here.

Aggro: Strategy based on lots of small creatures swarming your opponent.

Burn: A strategy based on dealing damage via spells rather than creatures.

Board Wipe: A spell that kills all, or nearly, all your creatures. (You might see them called "Wrath Effects")

Cantrips: These are cards that cause you to draw a card in addition to their normal effect.

Control Deck: Deck built around eliminating or reducing the effectiveness of your opponent's strategy to win. Generally slower and based on counterspells and removal of creatures, sometimes life gain.

Counterspells: Not a terrible relevant concept in HS. Counterspells are abilities that prevent an opponents spell from being played. Jaina has a Secret that does this and a few heroes have reactive secrets that effectively fill the role. (Such as killing creatures when cast.)

Goldfish: The concept of how many turns your deck would take to win if you had no interaction from the opponent. "I have a 4 turn goldfish" means you would win in four turns.

Mana Curve: This is the breakdown of how much your deck costs. Think of it like a bell curve, with the middle being the balancing point of your deck. There is a visual Mana Curve in game when you mouseover your deck name in Play, or at the bottom of your screen as you build in the Arena.

Mana Ramping: Speeding up the rate at which you get Mana Crystals.

MTG;M:TG: Magic: The Gathering. 20 year old, still thriving, TCG that most newer games are inevitably compared to.

"On the play/On the draw": Going first, going second respectively. On the draw meaning you get an extra card to begin.

Overextend: When you put too many creatures down and invite your opponent to do a board wipe.

[X] Drop: This is shorthand for how much a card costs. "1 Drops" are cards that cost one mana, "5 Drops" are 5 mana, etc.

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#4 Moshne

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Posted 21 August 2013 - 05:50 AM

[reserved]

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#5 Benhameen

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Posted 21 August 2013 - 03:38 PM

0-1: 4
2: 6
3: 9
4: 7
5: 2
6: 1
7+: 1


It's still pretty early, but after 40ish games I feel these are a little low for Hearthstone for two reasons:

1) Guaranteed "land drops" means ramping is consistent and predictable.
2) Small opening hand size really hurts rush/aggro strategies.

When higher drops consistently trade for two or more lower drops I'm fine taking a little bit of early damage to take control mid-game. You don't want to do nothing until turn four, but if you're still dropping 2-4 drops late game (assuming your hand isn't empty) you're going to lose most of the time to an opponent that plays a 5, 6, and 7 drop.

I'm playing a curve more like this and doing very well in both constructed and Arena - about an 80% win rate. I lose to better card quality

0-1: 2
2: 5
3: 6
4: 6
5: 5
6: 3
7+: 3
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#6 Moshne

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Posted 21 August 2013 - 04:20 PM

I tend to run much more expensive in arena, similar to yours. In constructed I might be running a bit low on the curve, but I tend to prioritize card draw effects which makes casting multiples late game more productive. What heroes have you been playing the most? Shaman, rogue, warlock and hunter strategies have felt very good on lower curves. I run higher on Druid, Priest.

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#7 Arxkanite

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Posted 21 August 2013 - 05:14 PM

I also feel that the curve is too low for this game. When playing draw type decks I think it works great, because unlike other TCGs dropping a stack of 3 drops even late game can have devastating board presence. Likewise, you could also fill your deck with a lot of Taunt creatures and set your curve higher which would allow you to consistently drop powerful minions late game.

This is what I would recommend as a baseline curve that can be adjusted based on class and strategy.

[Mana Cost: Quantity]
0-1: 4
2: 4
3: 6
4: 8
5: 4
6: 2
7+: 2

#8 Nite_Moogle

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Posted 21 August 2013 - 05:28 PM

If you are new to TCGs, don't feel like you have to stuff all of the class-specific cards you won getting your class to level 10 in to your deck. A lot of them don't synergize well with each other, but work better with generic cards instead. There is no reason to have a creature that improves weapons when you have two copies of a "meh" weapon in your deck. Pull both those out and replace them with something else that complements the cards you enjoy playing.

Eh, my nostalgia goggles aren't as good as they used to be.


#9 diospadre

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Posted 21 August 2013 - 06:40 PM

What kind of curve are you guys running with Shaman? I haven't played yet but I assume that Overload monkeys around with cost a lot.

#10 malthrin

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Posted 21 August 2013 - 06:49 PM

Yeah, lower seems better for Shaman both for accommodating overload and to help you set up a good Bloodlust. Lower curve also gives you more flexibility to maximize totem creation if that's the direction the game is going.
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#11 Avair

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Posted 21 August 2013 - 06:53 PM

I need to see more of the available card pool to know how deck construction is going to play out. In WoWTCG, the decks tend to fall into the following archtypes:

1. Aggro (as many as 8-12 1 drops, with very aggressive 2 and 3 drops)
2. Midrange (Good efficency 3/4/5 drops)
3. Control (Early and/or mass removal, large hard to kill finishers)

For control decks to work though, you need lots of draw so that you can 1 for 1 their early creatures, then play your finishers. And unlike Magic, combo decks don't really exist, partially because of having completely uncombinable cards (i.e. can't combine a rogue and mage card in a deck)

#12 Caniki

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Posted 21 August 2013 - 06:54 PM

The entire cardpool is visible ingame as well as on wowhead and other sites. Control decks are always slow to come in to the meta, as they basically are responses to the meta. Aggro always happens first in a new game.

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#13 malthrin

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Posted 21 August 2013 - 07:05 PM

I'm not sure control is a metagame deck in Hearthstone. It seems like the obvious deck, actually. If every strategy is creature-oriented, sweepers and card draw is an obvious formula. You don't have to worry about mana or non-creature permanents - it's a lot harder to screw up.
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#14 Hamlet

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Posted 21 August 2013 - 07:17 PM

Wowhead's card DB is pretty handy (maybe put into OP?):

Hearthstone Cards - World of Warcraft

It's helpful to set the "collectible" filter in the dropdown, which selects out cards as opposed to objects that aren't cards (things that Magic players call "tokens" but Hearthstone doesn't distinguish them from cards). That's what you probably want to look at most of the time. This link starts with it set:

Hearthstone Cards - World of Warcraft


I haven't played with the deckbuilder much, but it seems pretty nice:
Deck Builder - World of Warcraft

#15 Avair

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Posted 21 August 2013 - 07:18 PM

Control decks generally rely on either mass removal, counterspells or 1 for 1 removal plus lots of card draw. To malthrin's point, if the format is all creatures, then wrath of god effects probably get you there. If there are effective decks that can kill you with direct damage, weapons or combos, then you are back to control decks being meta.

Case in point, WoWTCG turned down the available card draw in the recent sets, for example by making quests worse (i.e. no more draw a card for 0-2 resources). This made building general purpose control decks harder, because you couldn't just outdraw your opponent's threats.




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