How to play Hearthstone… for the absolute beginner

If you have an interest in “competitive” gaming and frequent this blog often then you’ve probably already seen the guide I wrote for anyone who wanted to start playing League of Legends, and if you haven’t then you totally should. I love more serious games, I come from a competitive dancing background so turning things into a competition is in my blood. I love that I can sit down, in my PJs, and play a game that gives me that same thrill, drive, focus and ultimately, achievement as competitive dancing. When you play a competitive game your only barrier is literally yourself, at the end of the day it doesn’t matter if you’re a woman, if your health isn’t great, if you aren’t athletic or if you aren’t an academic overachiever. All that matters is YOU and finding the right game to suit you… oh, and making sure you have a PC/Console to play said game on.

A decent internet connection is also usually needed…. until Hearthstone came along.


What’s Hearthstone Arielle?!

Hearthstone is a free-to-play, turn-based, online collectible card game. Yes I know, it’s a mouthful. But it’s that mouthful that makes Hearthstone the absolute gem that it is. Firstly, because of its turn-based structure you don’t have to have the best internet connection in the world to still be able to have an enjoyable experience. Secondly, the thing that makes this one of the most accessible competitive games around is because Hearthstone is available for PC, Mac, IOS and Android, oh and it’s cross-platform. So basically that means if your BFF is home from the office sick and playing on her PC, you can still play with her, while on your lunch break using your phone. (See mom, I’m not being a bad influence and keeping people out of work – I told them to play while on LUNCH. Huh!)


Now that you fully understand how great of a game we are dealing with, and that you really should only play this while at home or on break, I present to you: How to play Hearthstone for the absolute beginner.

First things first, let’s talk about what exactly a turn based, collectible card game actually is:

Hearthstone is a game that’s played between you, and a single opponent. To start off each of you will choose a Hero to play and a correlating 30 card deck.  From then on you will each take turns putting your cards out onto the table in the hopes of getting your opponent’s health down to 0 thereby winning the game. Each Hero has a starting health of 30 and each card that you play uses a certain amount of mana, so this is a game where you need to balance your health VS your opponent’s health and your Mana VS your opponent’s Mana in order to become a champion.

And BAM, you have the basic principle of the game down, you are now officially on your way to becoming a Hearthstone GOD!

Okay, so you now know what the point of the game is, but what about if you want to start playing? @hat’s step one? Well, step one is picking a character you want to play (from here on out called and known as, a Hero). Each Hero represents a unique ‘class’ (class is a word which here stands for ’type of character’, you can think of classes as roles in traditional sport). Each class has a unique set of cards that are special to it, meaning each Hero caters for a different style of playing.

See, it’s just a few new words to learn for a very simple premise. You’ve got this. Overall there are 9 different Classes available and multiple different Heroes for each class, but for the purpose of this guide, we’re only going to talk about one Hero per Class. This is where things start sounding confusing, but just breath and trust me, it’s easy. Let’s start:


Class: Druid

Hero: Malfurion Stormrage

Druids are known for having decks with very powerful Taunt Minions (Minions, Secrets or Spells are what we are going to be calling the cards that you play from here on out) and cards with a lot of “Choose One” effects. If you play a Minion with ‘Taunt’ on it, it basically just means that your opponent needs to attack that Minion and kill it before it can attack any of your other cards, or Hero, and remember if your Hero dies, you’ve lost. Choose One effects are just cards that let you pick a special ability before you play them, think of it as being able to pick a special skill for your child before it’s even born. Every single Hero that you play has a ‘Hero Power’ this is a special ability you can use that doesn’t require a card. The Druids Hero power lets them shield themselves from damage while also giving an attack power to themselves. They are also able to accumulate Mana (the stuff you use in order to play your cards – basically the petrol of the Hearthstone world) a lot faster than other Classes allowing them to access high-mana-cost cards earlier than their opponents.


Class: Hunter

Hero: Rexxar

Hunters are known for having a lot of beast cards in their deck. Beasts each have different abilities, some of them will automatically spawn another Beast when played, or when killed.  Some of them will gain power if they are surrounded by other Beasts on the table, but all of them are strong. Hunters also have a selection of bows and deadly traps in their deck. These are cards that when you play them will give you the option to ‘shoot’ another card on the table or the enemy Hero for a certain amount of damage, these aren’t abilities that go off on random instead they are abilities that you choose where they fire.  Hunters never miss their mark. Their Hero power is a bow that shoots the enemy Hero doing 2 damage.


Class: Mage

Hero: Jaina Proudmoore

Mages are masters of the Arcane, Fire, and Frost.  They are your spell casters. When you play a Mage you will most likely see a bunch of ‘spell’ cards in your deck. Spells are cards that have an effect, be it a card that damages your opponent or freezes their Minions in place on the board, spells are single use cards that once you cast them, disappear. They also come with a collection of Secret cards.  Secrets are cards that you play on yourself that only you can see until your opponent triggers one of them.  These Secrets cover very many different things, from making you immune to attacks to redirecting damage.  They are a Mage’s secret weapon. A Mage’s Hero power is a Fireball that you can cast on whatever you want and that deals 1 damage, but be careful, you can target your own Minions as well.


Class: Paladin

Hero: Uther Lightbringer

Paladins are often seen wielding weapons and casting Divine Shields on their Minions. Weapons are cast onto your Hero and they allow your Hero to attack and do damage as if they were a Minion. Divine Shields are cast onto Minions to basically make them immune for one attack, meaning it takes twice as long to kill them. Divine Shield mixed with the Paladin’s Hero power lets them summon small Minions onto the table without having a card, making them a pretty formidable opponent. They also have a range of Spells on hand to Heal themselves and Smite their enemies.


Class: Priest

Hero: Anduin Wrynn

Priests are your typical Healers. Their Hero power allows them to restore 2 health, not just to their Hero, but to whatever they choose. They have the ability to take over Minions that you play on the table as their own, or to play spells that make you damage yourself or your minions, all while having a deck of cards with powerful restorative powers. They might not have the strongest minions in the game, but they are able to keep them alive for much longer than the other Heroes can.

Class: Rogue

Hero: Valeera Sanguinar

Assassins rely on rapid attacks and weapons. The Assassin’s Hero Power lets them equip a dagger which they can then use to attack with their Hero. They have minions which carry vials of poisons on them, meaning if you attack them, or they attack you, you instantly die. Their minions commonly have wind fury, so they can attack more than just once and then Assassins still utilize combinations. Combinations are effects on their Minions that get activated by certain events happening at the same time, making them little killing machines.

Class: Shaman

Hero: Thrall

Shamans are the masters of the elements. Their Hero power lets them summon random totems onto the map, these totems all give off special effects. These effects range from healing effects, to Taunt totems (the ability to force you to attack and kill it before anything else), to improving spell damage. Shamans also have the unique ability to ‘overload’ your Mana, meaning when it’s your turn to play you can play fewer cards before your Mana is exhausted. Their deck has a lot of low-cost Minions making it easy for them to overwhelm their opponents.

Class: Warlock

Hero: Gul’dan

Warlocks are all about sacrifice. Their Hero power allows them to sacrifice some of their own health in order to draw a card.  This means that straight from the beginning they can have a massive advantage card wise. They can sacrifice their own minions and cards for other perks as well.  They do all of this with the goal to overwhelm their opponents. Warlocks are all about having a card advantage and flooding the board with all their High Power but low cost cards. A lot of their cards require sacrifice to play, but the reward is often time worth the pain.

Class: Warrior

Hero: Garrosh Hellscream

Warriors love to use weapons and massive attacks to dominate their opponents. Their Hero power lets them gain 2 armor for their Hero each time they cast it, making them an exceptionally sturdy Class. They are known for having Minions with Enrage on, meaning if the minion takes any damage without dying then they become Enraged.  Enraged Minions get special abilities, like extra attack damage, or getting windfury which means they are able to attack twice instead of once. Warriors decks are damage decks and that combined with their Shielding cards and Hero power mean that they can very quickly become unstoppable.

So let’s break it down and recap:

  • You and your opponent each pick a Hero/Class to play.
  • You each get a deck of cards that correlate with your chosen Class.
  • Then you each take turns playing one of three types of cards:  Minions, Secrets or Spells.
  • Each card uses X amount of Mana and the goal is to take your opponents health down to 0 while protecting your heroes health at the same time.

And just like that, you understand how to play Hearthstone.

Now to say that that’s all that there is to the game would be lying, but these are those first few baby steps that make the rest of it so much easier to learn and take in. Hearthstone is one of the games with the best tutorial systems around and when you start playing they take you through everything else that you need to know step by step. It’s one of the most casual yet rewarding, easy to pick up yet intricate to master, competitive games out there, and if I were you, I wouldn’t waste any more time reading this post, I’d go download it right now and start playing.… and who cares if it isn’t lunch time yet… Brunch is a thing.


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