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How To Play

Itching to pick up a deck and start playing? There’s no better way to learn than to simply download Hearthstone now and get started! And if you still have unanswered questions after the in-game tutorial, the pages in this section will help you catch up on anything you’ve missed.

Board Overview
Playing Hearthstone
Beginner Lessons
Build A Deck
Your Hand
You draw a card from your deck and add it to your hand each turn. A glowing green border indicates that the card can be played right away, glowing yellow borders indicate that you’ve met a special condition to play that card, and no glow means you can’t currently play that card. You can hold up to 10 cards in your hand at any given time.
Your Hero
Hey, it’s you! On the bottom left of your hero portrait you’ll see how much damage you deal when directly attacking with a weapon. At the bottom right is your current health. If it drops to zero, you lose.
Your Hero Power
Here’s your Hero Power, a special ability unique to your class that you can use every turn. As a Rogue, your Hero Power equips a dagger from some unseen location. Ah, Rogues. Nothing in their pockets but lint and knives.
Your Mana Crystals
The cards you play cost mana, which you hold in mana crystals. Your mana replenishes at the beginning of each turn, and you’ll gain one additional mana crystal each turn up to a total of 10.
Your Weapon
Here’s where you hold your weapons. A weapon’s damage value is visible on the bottom left. Each time you strike, the weapon durability on the bottom right will decrease by one until the weapon is broken and disappears. Make your swings count!
Your Minions
These are your minions. Once played, you can command minions to attack the opposing hero or minions. It takes one turn for a minion to be ready to attack, and you can only play a maximum of 7 minions.
Enemy Hero
That’s the enemy right there. Clobber their health with minions and spells until you bring that hero down to zero!
Your Deck
Here’s your deck. Hearthstone decks contain a total of 30 cards which you’ll draw from until the game is over or you run out. We’ll go into how to create a deck yourself, or using Hearthstone’s smart deck builder, a bit later.
Turn History
This detailed summary of the most recent moves will come in handy for all those “What just happened to my health... and why are all my minions chickens?!” moments.
How To Play

Board Overview

Everything you need to know about Hearthstone’s game interface can be shown in one screen. Don’t believe us? Check it out:

Pick Your Starting Hand

The match begins with a coin toss to determine who goes first, followed by both players drawing their starting hands: three cards for the coin toss winner, four for the other player. And because going first does offer a slight strategic advantage, the player going second also gets The Coin: a special zero-cost card that temporarily increases your mana by one! You can choose to replace as many cards from your starting hands as you like, this is known as a mulligan. Once both players accept their hand, the match proper begins.

How To Play

Playing Hearthstone

Let’s walk through the first few turns of a typical game of Hearthstone.

Draw a Card

You draw a card from your deck at the start of each turn, and some cards allow you to draw additional cards during your turn.

Play Your Cards

Working with one mana crystal isn't much, but there are plenty of impactful low-cost plays you can make on your first turn. As an example, let’s play this Argent Squire minion. Minions can't attack the turn they are played, so the squire is taking a nap until it's her turn to act.

Attack

Our opponent played a minion, and now it's our turn again. With two mana crystals, we can summon another minion, play a spell, or use our Hero Power. Decisions, decisions... Our Argent Squire is also ready to attack now; we can attack our opponent, or we can take out his minion. Since our squire has Divine Shield, which cancels out the next source of damage, we could take out the opposing minion without sacrificing our own.

Use Your Hero Power

Rogues can summon daggers, so let's grab a knife and use this weapon to take out our opponent's minion, saving our squire's shield. Weapon-wielding heroes can target heroes or minions, but watch out: each attack costs one point of durability, your hero may take combat damage, and once your weapon runs out of durability, it's gone for good.

End Your Turn

Satisfied with our play, we end the turn. Now it’s up to our opponent to find answers to our threats and adapt their tactics. Will they develop their board by playing more minions? Will they focus on removing ours? Will they bide their time until they can spring a deadly combo on us? Turn by turn, each match becomes more challenging, complex, and fun. What will your strategy be?

How To Play

Beginner Lessons

Pull up a chair and let's chat about some of the basic (and not-so-basic) thing you may need to know on your journey to becoming a Hearthstone master.

Character
Getting to Know Your Cards

By now, you know that cards in Hearthstone can loosely be broken down into minions, spells, and weapons. You also know that some cards are straightforward (“Deal 6 damage.”) and that others have specific effects and conditions. Let’s look at some of these card effects and how they can be combined to put an elegant beatdown on your opponent’s board.

Persistent Effects

Some minions have abilities that persist for as long as the minion is in play. For example, [[Raid Leader]] has an ability that grants all your other minions +1 attack, while [[Young Dragonhawk]] has the Windfury keyword, which enables them to attack twice each turn.

Activated Effects

These require a specific set of circumstances to come into effect. Some examples of activated effects are:

  • Battlecry - A minion’s battlecry is triggered when you play that minion from your hand. For example, [[Elven Archer]]’s battlecry allows you to select a target to receive 1 damage.
  • Secrets - Secrets are spells that trigger when certain conditions are met on your opponent’s turn. For example, the [[Spellbender]] secret activates when your opponent casts a spell on a minion.
  • Deathrattle - A minion’s deathrattle is triggered when that minion dies. For example, the [[Loot Hoarder]]’s deathrattle lets you draw a card when he dies.
  • Persistent Effects - Cards like [[Windfury]] or [[Blessing of Kings]] create effects that persist for as long as their target is in play (or until the target is hit with a Silence, which removes any persistent effects).
  • Many, many, more – Hearthstone is an ever-evolving game which introduces new keywords, minion abilities, and unique spells all the time. We’ve shown you a few examples here, but there’s much more for you to explore and discover in the tavern.
Combinations

Some card effects can be combined for devastating effect. For example:

  • A [[Young Dragonhawk]] tickles your opponent twice with 1 damage and the Windfury keyword, but adding [[Blessing of Might]] turns this diminutive dragon into a dominating drake.
  • Playing a [[Mad Bomber]] is risky, seeing as he can end up doing more damage to you than your enemy. However, having minions like [[Acolyte of Pain]] or [[Gurubashi Berserker]] in play could turn the Bomber’s volatility into an unexpected advantage.
  • The [[Knife Juggler]] alone signals bad news for your opponent but combine it with a minion like [[Violet Teacher]] or [[Imp Master]], and you can quickly stir up some serious trouble.
A Few Helpful Tips

Between the mage who wasted her last nuke to take out a taunt minion instead of finishing off the opponent or the warrior who got himself killed by swinging his axe at a minion that was maaaaaybe a little too big for him, I’ve seen it all. So, I’ve compiled a few basic tips to help you bring your game to the next level.

Don’t overbuff

Buff cards can be powerful, but if you have a ton of buffs in your deck and only a few minions to play them on you’ll be a sitting duck. Likewise, if you keep buffing the same minion over and over, you risk turning it into a high-value target for spells that remove a minion from the board.

Don't waste damage

Casting [[Arcane Missiles]] on the first turn to deal 3 damage to your opponent is, in most cases, a waste of a great card. Wait until you have an opportunity to make a good trade for maximum value.

Don’t try to be too clever with your deck

If you build your deck with various unique combinations, you’re much more likely to run into problems if you don’t draw the right cards in the right order. Focus on a few strong synergies and a solid overall strategy instead. We'll go more into what makes a good deck in the "Building Your First Deck" section.

Take your time

You’ve got a whole 90 seconds before the rope eventually burns down and you pass your turn. Take some time to think through your available options before playing your cards. You may discover an awesome play you almost overlooked!

Don’t hang on to your cards for too long

Now that I’ve told you not to overplay your buffs and not to waste your spells, I’m going to tell you to also not sit on your cards for too long. If you have a spell or a minion that can get you the advantage now, use it!

Keep an eye on your opponent's health

So, you’ve spent your turn figuring out perfect sequence of attacks and spells to clear your opponent’s minions and put yourself in a great position to start dominating the match. You press end turn and that’s when you realize: your opponent had 12 health, and you had 13 damage worth of spells in your hand. Always keep an eye out for potential lethal damage to save yourself the heartbreak of losing a sure victory.

Card Advantage

Sometimes, you’ll find yourself in a position where you can easily play your whole hand while your opponent is still holding on to close to the maximum of 10 cards. Unless you can win the game this turn, my advice would be: Don’t. Why? Card advantage.

Simply put, card advantage is your ability to play your cards. The more cards you hold in your hand, the more likely you are to be able to play a card that’s suitable for the current situation, so if you are holding more cards then you have card advantage. Likewise, having more minions on the board is also considered a form of card advantage. If you outnumber your opponent, you are better able to maneuver and play your cards for maximum effect.

The main way to establish card advantage in Hearthstone is via draw effects from cards such as [[Arcane Intellect]] or from minions like the [[Gadgetzan Auctioneer]]. To keep card advantage,

Don't overplay your hand

Try to play only as many cards as you need in order to stay ahead. Avoid a situation where you completely exhaust your hand unless you are absolutely sure you can claim victory.

Trade Smart

Think about using your spells and minions as trading pieces on a chess board. If you sacrifice three of your pieces to get rid of one of your opponent’s, that’s not a good trade. Likewise, if you can take out three of his minions with one of your cards, that’s a good trade.

Use Draw Effects

Consider adding some draw effect cards to your deck so you can maintain a good pace of playing and drawing cards.

How To Play

Build A Deck

So, you’ve mastered the basic decks, come up with a few interesting ideas, and you’re ready to dig into your collection and make a deck of your very own. Creating your own Hearthstone deck is a fun and rewarding experience but if you’re not familiar with what goes into making a good deck, it could lead to some frustration when you take it into the tavern. Here are a few tips to get you started in the right direction:

Character
Choose a Central Theme

What do you find interesting, and what do you want the deck to do? Maybe it’s a Hunter deck that builds up a buffed board of brutal beasts, or a Mage deck that sneaks in some sly secrets, either way; it’s good to have a goal in mind when you start building.

Once you have a theme, consider your game plan. Do you want to empty your hand of minions in the first few turns and pray that they stay on the board? Or are you looking to control the game until you pull out a crazy finisher combo?

Once you’ve established a theme and a plan for winning the match (also known as a win condition) you can structure your deck to fit by:

Adding Core Cards

Next, just start adding cards. With your win condition in mind, start with class spells and minions that closely fit your theme then expand into neutral minions. Let’s use our earlier example of a beast-focused Hunter and think about what cards would fit best in a game where we want to fill the board with low-costs beasts that overwhelm the opponent. Some obvious choices might be [[Unleash the Hounds]], [[Animal Companion]], and [[Timber Wolf]], but also consider adding spells or weapons that keep you in the game long enough to see your plan come to fruition.

Adding Supporting Cards

Now that you’ve filled your deck with everything you think you’ll need to achieve your theme and win condition, it’s time to bolster that with some support cards. These are additional cards and spells that aren’t central to your theme, but help you draw your big finisher, keep you alive, counter popular decks on the ladder, or add in a secondary win condition. Some examples might be adding [[Acidic Swamp Ooze]] to counter weapon-heavy decks, [[Gnomish Inventor]] to help you draw the perfect card, or [[Deathwing]] for those desperate situations.

Adjusting Your Mana Curve

At this point, you’ve probably run out of space in your deck, and that’s ok! Now’s when we need to start making edits, and one of the best ways to do that is by considering your deck’s “mana curve.” A mana curve is the shape your deck would take, typically a bell curve, if you grouped your cards in order of cost. Aggressive decks typically have lots of low-cost cards, so their mana curve would be higher in the front. Decks looking to play the long game would have a more gradual curve with a handful of low-cost cards, more average-cost cards, and a few expensive cards to finish out the game. Consider your win condition and edit cards from your deck until you have a mana curve that you think is appropriate.

Playing and Editing

Now’s the fun part. Play your deck! As you play, you’ll find that you may have too many of some cards, and not enough of others. Or, you’ll find that you keep running into the same deck types and you need to make some adjustments to counter their plans. After a few rounds of playing and editing, you should have a solid deck that you can proudly call your own.

Good luck. We can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Try the Smart Deck Builder

While creating a deck is a tremendously fun and rewarding experience, it can also be kind of overwhelming. If you want to relax and leave it up to us, Hearthstone has a built-in feature that will create the best deck possible based on current trends and what’s available in your collection.

To use the smart deck builder, start by creating a deck with any class, using any number of cards. After clicking “Complete My Deck” or “Done”, the feature will intelligently fill out the rest of the deck for you based on what cards you’ve already chosen, using only cards from your existing collection. To give an example of how we might complete a deck, if you choose a Hunter deck and include [[Savannah Highmane]] and [[Play Dead]], the smart deck builder might create a Deathrattle themed deck. For more information on how the smart deck builder works, check out our blog.