October 30, 2015
Table of Contents
The Grind, Part I: Introduction
Hi guys, welcome to ‘The Grind’. The Grind is a four-part series aimed helping you to achieve the dream of ranking up to Legend (for the first time). As always guys, comments, likes, questions, etc are welcome.
I would like to start with a disclaimer: Most of the information contained in this four part series is based on real data, computer simulations, and basic maths/logic/probability, etc. While I have taken a lot of time and care in researching and writing this piece mistakes can of course happen, if you happen to spot an error, please let me know.
The four parts are:
- Part I: Introduction & General Tips
- Part II: Research & Self-Mastery
- Part III : Deck Selection
- Part IV: Psychology
Right now you are reading Part I. In this part I shall offer a collection of really basic tips and explain what this series is and who it is aimed at.
Lets begin, shall we?
Recently I created a survey asking for feedback (see here), one of the questions asked was “What your Hearthstone goals where”. Over 60% of respondents said they dream of hitting Legend (just once). Well, this four-part series is my attempt article at helping you to achieve the dream.
“Dreams can come true, mofo”
So you want to hit Legend this month? That’s cool, I’m here to help. But before we begin the guide proper I want to set out my expectations of you:
- You have plenty of time to dedicate to the cause (see below for how much time you need).
- You have a whole lot of determination and grit.
- You have previously reached Rank 6 (at least).
I expect you to have achieved Rank 6 at some point in your Hearthstone career, the reason I set the bar at rank 6 is because– to be frank– anyone who hasn’t achieved that level of play before probably lacks the skill required to hit legend this Season. If I’m describing you, it might be better just to bookmark this page and read it when you are ready ‘to grind’.
Make no mistake guys, hitting Legend for the first time is a difficult thing to do. If you have the skill, time, and determination then I can help you. But if you lack those things, well, hitting legend will just have to remain a pipe dream (for now, at least).
I think I’m in a rather good position to write this particular guide, and I say that for two reasons:
- I’ve hit Legend 3 times (Midrange Hunter, Kibler’s Undertaker Priest, Grim Patron Warrior)
- Hitting Legend is not something I find easy to do (ergo, I’m almost in your boat).
There are some players out there (e.g. Xixo) that seem to hit Legend every season without even trying; Well, I’m not that type of player. If I want to hit Legend in a season I must go into ‘try-hard mode’ and take the game seriously, I must dedicate significant amounts of time and I must, to some extent, choose be miserable.
Wait What!? Be Miserable? Yes miserable. If you desperately seek an explanation of what I mean by that I’m afraid you will have to wait until Part IV.
Why So Serious?
Said the Joker to the Thief:
“Why so Serious?”
At heart hitting Legend (for the first time) boils down a very simple idea:
TIP #1: If you want to hit Legend, you must be serious about it.
Everything I say in all four parts of this series is in some way linked to the idea of being serious; you could even say that I have written a treatise on all the different ways in which you can be serious. The success of your climb depends upon your willingness and ability to do what it takes. If you only learn one thing from this series, please let it be this.
So lets kick things off with two really short and simple tips.
TIP #2: Download a Deck Tracker
You can learn more about Deck Trackers here. There are two basic advantages to using a tracker:
- It automatically records stats (which is useful for identifying the meta …more on this in Part II).
- During games the program remembers what cards both you and your opponent has played.
These two things can genuinely help improve your win-rate. And no, Deck Tracking is not against Blizzard ToS and so therefore this practice will not get your account banned.
Hire a Coach
This section is about how you can be ‘serious’ in terms of your cash:
TIP #3: Hire a Coach
What can a coach do for you? Well, one must remember that while watching streams and reading articles is a great way to improve the advice those sources give is never specifically tailored toward your needs. But Coaching is! In short, a good coach within a fairly short space of time should be able to identify several weaknesses in your play that might take you weeks to discover by yourself. Once you know what your weaknesses are you can begin to correct them. You know, for example, what articles you need to read.
To give a personal anecdote, I was coaching a friend of mine in the ways of Grim Patron Warrior (pre-nerf…obviously). I noticed that a common mistake she was making was failing to play in accordance with the deck’s win condition. After the coaching I was able to link her to an article that could help her understand that error.
In short, good coaches can quickly spot errors/misunderstanding(s) in your play that might take you weeks to discover by yourself. If you are serious about hitting Legend I recommend that you at least consider buying a few coaching sessions (or if not proper coaching sessions, at least try to convince a high ranked player to speculate a game or two). If you do decide coaching is something you may want to try I have two more things to say:
- To get the most out of your coaching session(s) I would recommend that you do your research and preparation beforehand. Also, read this article.
- If you are a Premium member of HSP you can get a 10% discount on coaching if you book through hearthstonecoaching,com
Time to Grind
So now I am going to calculate how much time it takes to grind to Legend. It is worth pointing out that I am not the first person to try to calculate this, indeed, if you check Reddit you can find numerous players using a variety of methods (e.g. Markov Processes, Random Walks, Computer Simulations, etc) to calculate how many games it should take (from X rank with Y win-rate) to hit Legend. Here are a few relevant Reddit posts I found (link 1, link 2, link 3), and here’s an excel spreadsheet . It is worth pointing out that there is considerable variance among the answers given and so therefore I recommend that you interpret all numbers as ‘ball-pack figures’ and assume a margin of error of +/- 10%.
Anyway, I thought I’d crunch the numbers myself. A long time ago I wrote some Python code that could simulate a Legend climb. For those interested, you can see and run the code in your internet browser by clicking here. (fyi, I’m a Python n00b. The code is not optimised in the slightest, but hey if you want use it/check it out feel free). The below table is the results I obtained after running a bunch of tests.
Rank 20-to-Legend (the numbers)
(From Rank 20-to-Legend)
(Mean / Median)
|Total Hours Required *
(Assuming 4 /7 / 10 min per game)
|47%||9344 / 6805||622 / 1090 / 1557||300|
|49%||2365 / 1884||157 / 275 / 394||500|
|50%||1431 / 1188||95 / 166 / 238||10,000|
|52%||786 / 702||52 / 91 / 131||20,000|
|55%||457 / 430||30 / 53 / 76||25,000|
|57%||358 / 342||23 / 41 / 59||30,000|
|60%||269 / 260||17 / 31 / 44||35,000|
|65%||190 / 186||12 / 22 / 31||45, 000|
Okay so hopefully this isn’t too complicated; the first column is the win-rate and the second column is the average amount of games (mean, median) it takes to hit-legend from Rank 20 with that win-rate. The sample size is the total number of simulations I ran, the higher the number the more accurate the figures are likely to be (note that for my code calculating the time to Legend is very resource intensive for low win-rates, hence I kept the sample sizes rather low). My code also checks to see if anyone fails to hit Legend within 100,000 games, with a win-rate of 47% every single one of those 300 climbs hit Legend (but please do note that this is purely academic; nobody can spend 1090 hours in a month playing Hearthstone). The third column takes the mean, assumes that each game takes X minutes, and then estimates the total number of hours required to hit Legend. For example, with a win-rate of 55% and games averaging 10 minutes each would take approximately 53 hours to hit Legend.
This table should hopefully make you realise just how much effort Legend requires; unless you can average 60% over 250 games playing an hour a night for a month is not enough. Okay, Now let’s re-run the numbers but this time starting at Rank 5:
Rank 5-to-Legend (the numbers)
(Mean / Median)
|Total Hours Required
(Assuming 4 / 7 / 10 min per game)
|47%||8501 / 5971||566 / 991 / 1416||1,000|
|49%||1707 / 1222||113 / 199 / 284||2,500|
|50%||1010 / 744||67 / 117 / 168||10, 000|
|52%||472 / 378||31 / 55 / 78||30,000|
|55%||241 / 209||16 / 28 / 40||25,000|
|57%||178 / 160||11 / 20 / 29||35,000|
|60%||127 / 118||8 / 14 / 21||40,000|
|65%||86 / 82||5 / 10 / 14||50,000|
*For those wondering, my code does award bonus stars if a player falls back into Rank 6 and then wins 3 games in a row.*
The table is basically the same as the first but for the fact we start from Rank 5. So for example, with a win-rate of 55% I would predict that on average you would need to play about 200-250 games. If those games take ten minutes each then that is about 30 hours of your time. But with four-minute games you may need to play for about half that time.
I feel a tip coming on!
Tip #4: Give yourself plenty of time: From Rank 25-to-Legend set aside about 50-90 hours, From Rank 5 allow yourself about 20-40 hours.
If things go really well you might not need all of that time, but its prudent to make sure that you have that amount of time available, just in case you need it. Also bear in mind that this figure is just the play-time. If you want to do research (e.g reading guides, watching streams, etc), a few Arena runs, Tavern Brawls, etc you would need even more time than these ‘ball-park figures ‘ suggest.
The Crack of Dawn & Card-backs
TIP #5: Early Start to the Season = Tough Opponents (this is good!).
My recommendation is to start playing the Season as early as possible. I say this primary for two reasons:
- As we have just seen, hitting Legend takes a lot of time. Starting the season reduces the chances that you run out of time.
- At the start of a new season you will hit a brick wall of Ex-Legend players at about Rank 16.
Let’s say for the sake of argument that you start the Season at Rank 20. Well, if you can quickly blitz out four Ranks within the first few hours of the Season then you will hit a wall of ex-Legend players I was just talking about, and they will probably crush you.
The alternate strategy is to wait a couple of days because doing so will make ranking up will be much easier (it will be easier because all those high-ranked players have all been promoted way up the ladder). In terms of Rank-per-hour-of-Hearthstone-Played, this is the most effective way to Rank up. So why am I against this strategy?
Well, as I mention in Part II, a good way to improve at Hearthstone is to play better players. Getting Reckt by Ex-Legend players at ranks 16-15 might sound bad but here’s the thing; if you are going to hit Legend yourself, these are the sorts of players you must eventually beat. Thus why not get some practice against them while the stakes are relatively low?
In short, you need experience playing against this calibre of player, you need to understand *how* Legend players think and play.
Okay, so maybe I have convinced you that It can be a good idea to test yourself early on in a season by trying to beat all those ex-Legends. The question is; “How do I tell If I am playing an Ex-Legend?” I feel a tip coming on!
TIP #6: Check-out the Card backs!
While this trick won’t catch every ex-Legend playing the game, it will catch a good number of them. Lots of Ex-Legends (such as myself) never change our card-back once we have unlocked the shiny brown one. So how can you tell if you are playing an Ex-Legend? just look the pack of cards across the table!
The next thing I recommend doing is getting a piece of paper and making a note of every player you face with this card back:
- Legend Card Back (Yes)
- Did you win Yes/No
Try to pay attention to your win-rate over time against these Legend Card Back players. Once you have a decent sample of games (at least 50+) work out your win-rate.
If your win-rate is 50+%
Recommendation: The good news is that you have what it takes; the bad news is that you have a massive grind ahead of you. My friend, all you need is time.
If your win-rate is a little bit below 50%
Recommendation: Something is wrong, it could be your deck or it could be your comparative lack of skill. Try to figure out where you are going wrong and correct it. If you fix the issue, plough on. If you can’t seem to fix it I suggest that you practice your fundamentals and try to push for Legend next season.
If your win-rate is far below 50%
Recommendation: A win-rate far below 50% probably has several causes, all of which will need to be addressed. I would advise you to spend the next 2-3 Seasons focused on improving your game rather than trying to push for Legend. Frankly, trying to hit Legend this Season will mostly like be just a frustrating waste of time.
And that concludes Part I of my Grind to Legend Series. Make sure you check out Parts II, III, and IV!
I sincerely hope this guide helps you hit Legend this season. If you have questions/queries please use the comments section below.
Summary of Tips
Here’s a quick list of all the tips in this article:
- If you want to hit Legend, you must be serious about it.
- Download a Deck Tracker.
- Hire a Coach.
- Give yourself plenty of time: From Rank 25-to-Legend set aside about 50-90 hours, From Rank 5 allow yourself about 20-40 hours.
- Early Start to the Season = Tough Opponents (this is good!).
- Check-out the Card backs!
References and Further Reading
‘THE GRIND’ SERIES:
- Smashthings, The Grind, Part I: Introduction
- Smashthings, The Grind, Part II: Research & Self Mastery
- Smashthings, The Grind, Part III : Deck Selection
- Smashthings, The Grind, Part IV: Psychology
ON DECK TRACKING:
- Stonekeep, Hearthstone Deck Tracker or How to Make Your Life Easier
- Epix37, Hearthstone-Deck-Tracker (Github Download Page)
ON NUMBER CRUNCHING:
- Randomechoes, What are your chances to get from rank 5 to legend within 200 games at a 50% winrate? (answer inside) [Reddit Post]
- Deimorz, Data on how many games it should take to get to rank 5 / legend with different win percentages [Reddit Post]
- kcizer, Expected number of games to reach legendary [simulation] [Reddit Post]
- kcizer, Excel Spreadsheet [Computer Simulation Results, (see above Reddit Post)]
- Smashthings, Legend Climb Simulator [Python Code]