Best Hearthstone Tips and Tricks to Win Ranked Play

Wizards, goblins and gnomes...oh my!

Hearthstone reigns as King of the digital TCG world, for many reasons. One of which, is you get to do things like obliterate the enemy Goblin with an animated burst of Arcane Missiles, or your own exploding Goblin (exploding barrels included). 

A more practical reason is its incredibly easy Ranked Play system. You begin the ranked season on par with most of the player base, will gain and lose rank at the same pace as them, and your ranking resets at the end of each month. That’s the bread and butter of it.

Pretty simple right?

Here are the essentials needed to understand this system. There are 25 ranks in Hearthstone, and you’ll descend through the ranks as you win matches. Each rank has 5 “stars” to earn prior to moving up a rank. Win a match, gain a star. Lose a match, lose a star. No mind-blowing mathematics involved. Thankfully.

There are small caveats to the statement above, and they are:

-       You will not lose stars for losing a match at ranks 20 - 25

-       You’ll gain a bonus star once on a three-game win streak and will receive bonus stars for each match win until your streak is broken.

-       Bonus stars will not be awarded for ranks 1 – 5

Other than that, it’s as straightforward as it gets. Win a bunch, gain a bunch. Lose a bunch? Well, it might be time to look at your play style and tactics.

Let’s peek under the hood and dive into some tips and tricks to start racking up those stars in ranked.

Core Gameplay Tips

Ready to take the exploding goblin we met earlier, and send him off into a fiery barrage against the opposing gnomes? Never forget, goblins and gnomes are mortal enemies after all.

The following are core Hearthstone tips, that will work and be applicable in any meta. More importantly, they’ll help you rack up the wins and cleave through the ranks.

Forget the Enemy Health (For the Beginning At Least)

A TCG crime you’ll be prone to committing in the beginning of your Hearthstone quest for domination, is focusing only on the enemy hero’s health.

Yes, the condition for victory is to reduce your opponent’s heath from the starting value 30 to 0, but it is not accomplished by mindlessly attacking and damaging their hero out of the gate. What is my primary focus during any given match then, you may be asking yourself? A fantastic question, who’s two-word answer is the key to all TCG victory: The Board

The field where both players deploy their minions is referred to as ‘The Board’. If your Hearthstone journey were to be considered a war, and each match a battle, the board is your battlefield. Let’s take a deeper dive and discuss some core principals and tips to deepen your understanding of board control.

Board Control

The key to victory in any trading or collectable card game is board control. The core philosophy behind board control is your minions must be utilized in a way that minimizes the effect on the game your opponent’s minions will have. In most games, the board is developed for the first 50 to 75% of the game, with the player that maintains the most advantage making plays that ensure victory in the late game.

Your minions (hello again exploding goblin barrel) are the major players in establishing board control. Your aim here is to not just blindly attack your minions directly at your hero, but instead to use your minions in an efficient way to kill off your opponent’s minions. In card games, this is known as trading. Your goal when trading minions is to look for overvalued plays as often as possible.

One example of one such trade may be a weaker two mana minion you play, destroying a stronger four mana minion your opponent plays. This can be done by using damaging spells to weaken the opponent’s minion, using your hero power to accelerate your trading potential, or simply utilizing damage your opponent suffered to his minion in past turns. In instances like this, your two-mana trade for a four mana minion acts as a value move. You’ve reset board position while spending two less mana than your opponent.

Other forms of board control will stem from your spells. Each hero class has their own set of spells they can use. These spells will help to either give you a card advantage over your opponent, or to weaken their higher cost minions so your lower cost ones can swing in and finish the job.

Focus on keeping the board clear and gaining even a slight advantage over your opponent every turn. Efficiency should be your mantra here. I will not make bad trades. I will not make bad trades. I will not…you get it.

Now, onto another core concept in Hearthstone that is applicable regardless of the current meta. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Having a Card in Hand Doesn’t Mean You Must Play That Card

That big juicy Fireball burning a hole in your hand? Suffering from visons of your opponent’s begging for mercy as you fire a barrage of Arcane Missiles at their hero? Slow down Speed Racer. The adage holds true in card games. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Just as we discussed minion trading and efficiency as our mantra, we experience the same with the cards in our hands. Think of your spells as a limited resource, which you can only access once to twice per match (depending on how many copies of a given card you have in your deck). And don’t forget, there isn’t a guarantee you’ll even draw a second copy of a spell you’re playing two of.

Keeping with our theme of efficiency, think of what value playing your spells will have on the current game state. Holding an Explosive Trap that will do two damage to all enemy minions? Maybe hold back if your opponent has just two minions on the board. Holding a Druid spell that will re-summon all your minions that died this game? Think twice before playing it if you’ve only lost three minions so far.

It can be hard to hold onto a spell that has beneficial effects for your hero, but it will be worth it. Think of the spells as an investment. Yes, you can cash in now. But why do so when you know there is a strong chance the payout will be much larger at a later stage.

This can be a concept that takes some time, so practice your patience and control in some casual play before diving into the ranked world. Take your time and learn when your spells will provide you with the most value.

When you do play that Fireball finally, you’re free to don your bathrobe and pretend to be Merlin in his finest hour. Not that I’ve ever done that. Seriously.

Learn Your Deck Inside and Out

Did Jimmy Hendrix just grab any old guitar and head out on stage? Doubtful. His guitar was an extension of his hands, of his body. Maybe you can dial the obsession down just a tad, but the same concept holds true of you and your deck. Learn this baby inside and out.

This is an often-overlooked aspect when discussing early card game strategy, but it is incredibly important. Your deck is a living and breathing entity, which you must fully understand.

Synergy is the key element here, and there is one way to fully understand it. Practice.

If you’re playing a card because it looks cool or you like the name (I’m looking at you Youthful Brewmaster), the tide of battle may not go your way as often as you’d like. Same goes for the abilities your cards bring to the table when you play them.

We don’t want to play a card that give +1/+1 to all our Demons, and only play a few other Demons. We want a deck concocted of the most gnarly and sickly Demons out there. Again, we’re keeping efficiency and value in mind. Scroll up to find our Hearthstone mantra.

To understand how your deck performs in different situations and game states, you must play your deck as often as you can. Make minor tweaks as you go, try out different cards to see how they work, but keep the core of your deck intact.

Each deck has its own playstyle, its own path to victory that it carves out. You’re the general behind the army. Know your army. Know your troops. Stick with a deck for an extended period, and you’ll find yourself making decisions mid game you didn’t know you were capable of at the beginning of your Hearthstone journey.

So, What Now?

Go play.

Build some decks. Try out some minions. See what spells work. Figure out which hero speaks to you the most. (seek medical attention if they actually begin speaking to you).

All kidding aside, Hearthstone is a game that is so vast and accessible that everyone can play. The barrier to entry is nonexistent. To play at a high level, or even a mid-tier level, will take some dedication and practice.

Stick with it, read more guides, and keep experimenting.

Grab a mug of ale, pull up a chair, and fire up the laptop. Hearthstone is not going anywhere anytime soon, and we’re here to help you carve out your place in history as one of the greatest. And for what it’s worth, you can add me if you ever see me in game, I’ll be glad to play some friendly matches.

Salsashark1113 on battle.net. That’s me.

In the meantime, check out these other articles to increase that yearning for Hearthstone knowledge (which directly correlates to battlefield dominance):

Until next time folks, stay nice and warm near the hearth.

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With his Norse decedents to guide his hands, Brian writes with the wrath of Odin, the wit of Loki, and the care free spirit that having way too many lives in Mario gives you. Oh, and his beard is red
Gamer Since: 1990
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Skyrim (Again!)
Top 3 Favorite Games:Mass Effect, Civilization IV, Sid Meier's Civilization V
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