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Understanding Hearthstone: A Beginner's Guide

Remember when I said Zerg Rush was going to be a weekly article? Yeah... Funny story about that... (sweats nervously)

I'm in love with Hearthstone right now. In all honesty, I'm not even a huge fan of card games, online or otherwise, and aside from the occasional bizarre game of Yu-Gi-Oh!, and staring at packs of Magic: The Gathering cards through the window of some gaming shops, I've steered clear from them for quite a while. Even still, after being pushed to install Hearthstone, I found myself completely hooked within the first few games. The cards you start with are fairly good and well-rounded, and some are among the best in the game, and you can earn gold for every match you play, as well as fun daily challenges, that allow you to unlock pack after pack of random goodies. If there's a card you really believe you want, you can even disenchant your other cards to craft new ones, resulting in the creation of a deck tailored to your own individual playstyle.


My own set of daily quests. A card pack only costs 100 Gold, people!

With Hearthstone, the control scheme is fairly simple to use. Click and drag to throw a minion out, or click and drag out a spell and then target it. Right-click to cancel. Easy enough, right?

However, as with all card games, their are a lot of systems and different mechanics put in place to make the cards, and plays, more varied and interesting. Let's go through all the main sets of stats in a card, shall we? I'm simply using the Spellbreaker card here because I love it, almost as much as the Blood Knight. I love you, Blood Knight. Please never leave me.


The first thing up here, in the top left corner, is the Mana cost. This tells you how much Mana Crystals it will expend to play the card in a turn. You start off with only one of these Crystals and gain one extra Mana Crystal per turn. This is fairly straightforward, to be honest, but it's worth getting out of the way quickly. If you could just spam out cards over and over again, then the game would be over real fast. There are three different types of cards within Hearthstone as of now, minions, which are treated as creatures and can be ordered to attack, with a set amount of health, as well as single-use spells and secrets, that can do varying things, ranging from decimating your opponent's board to healing and buffing your own minions into some real monstrosities.

On the bottom left corner of a minions' card, it shows the card's attack value, which dictates how much health it can take off of something when it attacks. Bring something down to 0 health, it's dead, simple as that. Do keep in mind, however, that unless you're biting the other player in the face, the card will most likely bite back, hitting the card in return. If a minion will die from an attack of any description, a skull-and-crossbones symbol will appear when you mouse over them with that attack. Or you could just use math. Whatever works.

On the bottom right, there is the minion's health, which dictates just how much punishment a single card can take before being destroyed. Cards can be buffed or debuffed to change the way their health and attack is used or the amount within, so be careful! Ideally, without their other abilities being taken into consideration, one point of Mana should translate into one of each point, of both attack and health, to make the card worth it, or have a ton of points in one or the other. (Cards like the 2 damage, 7 health Oasis Snapjaw spring to mind).

In Hearthstone, however, the real fun comes from the flavour text in the center. For example, this Spellbreaker has a Battlecry on it, making it do something when cast. Might as well go over that too!

Battlecry: As shown above, a card with a Battlecryability does something when you put it out on the board, in the case of the Spellbreaker silencing a minion and removing all buffs and debuffs from it. These are some of the most varied cards in the game, and there are a ton of different Battlecries to use.

Taunt: A Tauntminion forces the other minions, or the enemy hero, to attack it instead of any other unit. If multiple minions have Taunt, then the other player can take their pick on which one to hit. Taunt cards are usually focused on being a strong defensive option, with a high health pool and enough attack to ward off those that think they can take them out. Taunts for everyone!

Charge: Charge minions can attack the turn they are played, instead of having a period of one turn after being played to attack. Minions with Charge usually have high attack values, allowing them to burst down their opponents in the blink of an eye, and can be used for removal (Meaning it is used to take other cards out of the game easily). Charge cards can be really scary sometimes, particularly if they are buffed before they hit you. Charge is seen pretty much everywhere, same as Taunt.

Deathrattle: Are you tired of your minions dying and doing nothing? Well, aDeathrattle is the card for you! With a Deathrattle, the creature's own demise will trigger a special effect, allowing it to serve you, even in death. There's not really much else to say about this, but take my word for it... Deathrattle is awesome. Deathrattle is mostly class-neutral, butfavorsthe likes of Warlocks and Warriors, and other board-control baseddecks within Hearthstone.

Combo: Cards with this special property are, at the point of writing this, completely exclusive to the Rogue class, and will have a bonus effect if you've already played a card. Some Combo cards already have an effect, that is made more powerful when you use something first. Simply put, think of a combo in a fighting game. The first hit doesn't do all that much, but every hit afterwards really adds up.

Divine Shield (ugh) : Divine Shield allows the minion to absorb one hit of damage, no matter how strong, and suffer no ill effects whatsoever. Divine Shield, despite only lasting for a single hit, can greatly increase the chances of a card surviving and being able to beutilizedto it's full potential. Divine Shield is extremely strong, so don't think light of the single hit. Divine Shield is often seen for the Paladin class.

Enrage: Cards with Enrage gain a bonus effect after they've taken damage, most commonly a bonus in damage or other status effects and abilities. You can use some abilities to damage your own units, mind you, so you can trigger these yourself if you're feeling in the lead with a game. Enrage is stopped by healing these cards back to full health (So long as they're missing HP, it works), so sometimes to get your Enrage cards working to the best they can, they need to be on the precipice of being destroyed. Enrage is most commonly used for Mages who can trigger it, and Warriors.

Windfury: Windfury allows a card to strike twice every turn, doubling it's damage output based on it's attack. Windfury shouldn't be taken lightly, and can be lethal if unchecked, when +3 Damage turns into +6 every turn. Windfury is a very powerful buff for offensive cards, and can allow you to completely wreck face if you're so inclined. This is most commonly seen on Shamans.

Stealth: Stealth cards are unable to be targeted, both by targeted spells and minion attacks, until they land their first attack. However, Area-of-Effect damage will still hit them, and most likely destroy them. Stealth cards are good for patient, methodical players, and can also work like a Charge card would, being almostguaranteedto land their next hit. Stealth cards have high burst damage as well, like Windfury.

Overload: Overload, a mechanic exclusive to the Shaman class, is actually a debuff of sorts, giving you less Mana Crystals to use on your next turn. Overload cards are typically insanely good for their cost, but limit what you can do on your next turn. You still gain full Mana Crystals the turn after, like you would normally, unless you play more Overload cards. It's really good for a single, monstrous turn, or if you drew bad cards for the next turn.

Still here? Haven't gone to sleep yet? Fantastic!

In Hearthstone, there are many seperate classes, Hero Powers, and cards unique to each Hero, and these will be covered at a later date. Until then, I hope you enjoyed this guide!
I probably spend more time "researching" in games than I did writing it, to be honest.


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