By DjBigRuss

Hey Everybody! I’m DjBigRuss, and I’m very excited to be one of Team Archon’s newest writers!

For my first article, I wanted to share some tips that have helped me to improve my Hearthstone game since I started playing in Closed Beta. These tips are mostly focused on Constructed and Tournament play, but some are applicable to Arena as well. Everyone always has room to improve their technical play, so if you are new to Hearthstone, or even a seasoned veteran, you should be able to take something away from this article.


1. Pay attention during the Mulligan phase

One of the most overlooked phases of Hearthstone happens at the very beginning of the game. The mulligan phase is important because it not only sets you up for the first few turns of the game, but is the first opportunity to gain information about what your opponent is playing.  

First, you need to focus on your own mulligan. Not every mulligan is as simple as trying to get a 1, 2, and 3 drop in your opening hand. You need to know your deck inside and out. What cards in your deck do you always want to see against the opposing hero? For example, if you have Harrison Jones in your deck, you almost always want to have it against Warrior or Paladin. Knowing exactly what to mulligan will take practice, and you will get better at it with time.

As you contemplate your own mulligan, it is important to pay attention to what your opponent is doing as well, since you can easily gain additional information on what they're playing. If you are playing against a Druid or Warrior player, and they keep any cards at all then you can assume they have Wild Growth or Fiery War Axe respectively. When playing against a Warlock, if they mulligan their entire hand, it can be generally assumed they are Handlock or a Midrange/Control variant. Knowing this can help to prepare you for the rest of the game.



2. Play at your own pace

One of the things that varies the most between pro players is how quickly or slowly they take their turns. As a general rule of thumb, you want to play slower when learning a new deck or archetype so you can think through your turns and gain a better understanding of how a deck functions. During tournament play, a lot of players take their time so they don’t make a mistake in a high-pressure situation. However, as your familiarity with a deck increases, there are advantages to playing faster.

When you play faster on your own turn, it gives the opponent less time to react to your plays, and less time to think about their own plays. On the flip side, playing faster makes you more prone to making mistakes. When you play slower, it gives you more time to think through your plays, plan out your turns, and make fewer mistakes. However when you play slower, you give your opponent more time to plan out their turn, you risk overthinking your own plays, and you risk “getting roped” and running out of time on your turn. Finding the pace of play that fits your playstyle is the most important thing, and will help lead you to more success.



3.  Be aware when hovering over your cards

The biggest way to gain information in Hearthstone is to pay attention to your opponent’s hand during their turn. Players often hover over their options when they are trying to figure out which card to play during their turn. If you have knowledge of your opponent’s decktype, this can be invaluable information throughout the game. You will often see your opponent hover over their card while targeting one of yours as well. In such cases it is very likely that your opponent has some sort of targeted removal for your cards, so he's giving you more information to plan out your future turns.

With all that being said, you do not want to give away information to your opponent. The best and easiest way to avoid doing this, is to have your hand off the mouse (or screen) while you are thinking through your turn. That way you will only hover over the cards that you play. Some pro players, like Firebat, hover over cards they can’t play on purpose in order to give false information. If you feel confident in your play, this is an option to consider when you are trying to confuse your opponent on ladder or in a tournament.



4.  Becoming familiar with your deck

There are a lot of benefits to becoming familiar with a particular deck or class. Some players are known for only playing one decktype or class, and they are very proficient with that decktype or class through experience. However, with the current Conquest format as the standard for high level tournament play, you need to become familiar and proficient with more than one deck. So how do you go about this?

When you first start playing a new deck, the best way I’ve found to get familiar with it is to play 3 or 4 games in casual mode. This way you can practice different mulligans, different situations, and different cards without worrying about your rank. Once you decide to take your new deck into ranked mode you may find that you aren’t having the success you hoped for. If that’s the case, you can either switch out some cards and go back into casual mode, or take a break with the deck and switch back to something you are more comfortable with for a few games.



5. Stay focused while you play. Do your best to avoid tilt.

One of the biggest reasons I make mistakes when I play Hearthstone is that I am distracted by something else. I’ve tried playing Hearthstone while watching a stream, Netflix, or just reading an article online. If you multitask you tend to miss your opportunity to take advantage of some of the tips I mentioned above. If you’re like me, the best way I’ve found to stay focused is to only have Hearthstone opened, as well as some of my favorite music.  

In case you missed Shevek’s interview with Zalae about conquering tilt, it’s an excellent read and can be found here. In addition to Zalae’s advice, the best way I’ve found to avoid tilt is to take a short break when you feel yourself getting frustrated. I often find myself the most frustrated when I make a misplay, so I like to take a few minutes to cool down, and analyze the previous game so I don’t make the same mistake twice. When you find yourself getting frustrated with a particular deck, I find it helpful to switch to another deck that you are more familiar with, and continue laddering with that.



I hope you are able to find at least one of these tips helpful! If you have a tip that you would like to share with the community or have some feedback, feel free to leave that in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

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