Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Intro to Hearthstone Mechanics

You have just beaten the tutorial, got some free packs of cards, there is sun outside and the day could not be any better. Then you decide to go and try one game against other players, not ranked. You know you do not have enough experience for ranked, but it surely won't hurt if you give casual a try. Is it not so?

And then you crawl out from the game, all bloody, beaten, your spirit broken. You ask yourself what did I do wrong, where did the game went awry? What could I do better? Or, if you are more on the touchy side, you blame it on the game and how it is a total pay-to-win. Whatever that means.

Well, today we have gathered to help those in need. My mission, simply to teach you a thing or two about Hearthstone. Maybe it will be of help, maybe not. Then again, I am not here to teach you how to play, but to teach you how to think when you play. And that is my sophistic lie for today... In any case, I will just introduce some of the key mechanics you are likely to come across in Hearthstone, and how to deal with them, and how to make the most out of them.

1. Battlecry: You have seen it by now if only you played at least more than one game of Hearthstone. Battlecry is the effect that takes place when the card that has it, is put in play. There are various effects that can come with the battlecry, but the essential thing to know is, that battlecry only takes place when the card is played. This means, there is very little you can do to actually counter it other than weather it through. It also means that summoning any card with a battlecry in the game via unconventional means such as with Repair Bot is suboptimal, as you lose the battlecry effect. And most of the cards with battlecry, are as good as they are because of it.

2. Charge: This effect is pretty straightforward. Unlike other minions that demand to rest for the time of the first round they are put in the game, minions with charge can attack immediately. What this means for you? Well, most of the minions with charge have relatively low amount of health, so you can take advantage of that with some sort of soft removal. You can also make use of creatures with charge in combination with cards such as Young Brewmaster. Thus, your minions with charge can attack twice in the same round. Something that is otherwise reserved for those that have windfury. In general Warriors have the cards that grant charge to others.

3. Windfury: Windfury makes it possible for a minion to attack twice in the same round. Meaning that it is advisable to take care of the enemy's minions with windfury as soon as they are put into play, as they will not be able to attack immediately. If you are playing a minion with windfury, it is advisable to play it when you have some minion with taunt on board already. Thus ensuring the survival of your windfury minion. Shamans have cards that grant windfury to others.

4. Taunt: This is pretty easy. Minions with taunt are like tanks in MMO games. They make it impossible for your opponent to attack directly anyone else but the minion(s) with the taunt. Why is that good? Because it ensures your opponent is not reducing your health, or clearing your board. Minions with taunt are like the brick walls that can be only broken, but not circumvented. There are exceptions, as most spells will still be able to circumvent the taunt. Suggestions? Use removal  if they are good taunts, if they are bad like for example Frostwolf Grunt, use your minions.

5. Stealth: Stealth makes the minions that have it untargetable until they attack. Most efficient way of dealing with the stealthed minions, is AOE removal, such as Flamestrike. The only hero that can make actual use of stealth beyond the obvious is Rogue. With the right cards you can put any other minion without stealth into stealth, thus preventing your opponent to actually deal with your board. It is to say that this leaves you open for attack, but Rogues in general posses godly amount of removal for that not to be major concern.

6. Divine Shield: Minion ignores the first damage it takes. After that, it is normal. This means, that most of the minios with the divine shield will trade in 2 for 1 fashion, which can make it an efficient war of attrition against some of you opponents. Paladins have the monopoly over Divine Shield, as they can use it to protect ther minions and ensure their survival with certain cards.

7. Deathrattle: Similar to Battlecry only that it is reverse. The effect of the card takes place when the minion dies. In general some of the most common cards with deathrattle you will see in your games at start are Harvest Golem,, Loot Hoarder, and Leper Gnome. You can counter the effect of deathrattle with a Silence, but I find it a waste of a good Silence. So, in case of this low-level deathrattles, just destroy them.

8. Silence: You know that old saying "Silence is golden"? Well, Silence can make any big threat, not so big after it is applied. Silence can be used to deal with annoying stuff such as Taunts, Divine Shields, Deathrattles, Windfurys, and many others. Do not waste Silence on minions with Battlecry, Charge, or trying to break your minion out of Sheep. It will not work. With the exception of Priest's Mass Dispel, it will not have an effect on stealthed minions either. In general, use silence to weaken a minion. On someone that is a direct threat or has a lot of buffs or flavour text. If the minion is blank slate, then do not waste your silence.

9. Combo: Again, something only Rogues make use of. In simple terms, you need to play a card before you can make use of a card with a Combo. It sounds more complicated than it really is. You will see rogues more often than not employing the use of a coin in combination with Defias Ringleader in order to use Combo and summon another Defias Bandit. There is no way to counter this mechanic. Well, if you succeed in forcing your opponent to top-deck then he cannot make use of Combo, but that is all.

10. Enrage: If a minions with enrage is damaged, then he gains additional power and/or abilities. Best way to deal with minions with enrage is to kill them before they get enraged. In simple terms, use brute force. You can make use of minions with enrage as they are often  prime targets for your opponent. They will in most cases draw fire on themselves. If you are playing Mage, you can even enrage your minions with your hero power.

11. Freeze: The minion or character that is frozen cannot attack next turn. This is something that Mages and in small part Shamans can make use of with their cards. Freeze is used to bring the game to a standstill. It is a sort of mechanic that gives you a chance to take back the control over the game. But if you lack the means, then it is simply avoiding the inevitable.

I hope this helps those new to the game. I have not explained everything, but this is the basis that should make it possible for you to grasp the flow of the game, and lead you to build a deck that is most suited for you. Believe me when I say it, not every deck, no matter how good it is, is suitable for every person. We are all individuals, that all think in their own way. What makes sense for me, might be irrational for you. So, I will always recommend to experiment on your own. I do intend to put up a list to a relatively simple beginner deck, but take that when it comes as a guidance, not as a actual deck to use.

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