Ladder Timing – Balancing Efficiency, Having Fun and Getting Better
When you’re new to any game you want to have fun. When the fun-exclusive part goes away, you want to be competitive. Hearthstone is kind of a mixed experience in that matter, and being competitive also requires that you have fun in any play mode you choose: Constructed (Ladder) or Arena. If you want to reach legend, well, it takes more than just fun.
Most players will tell you that trying to reach legend takes hard work, that not everyone will do it, that you need a lot of cards -or dust- if you want to be successful. I’ve seen a lot of guides focus on almost any of those topics, but I believe the time of the month when you should try to improve your rank in Constructed is equally important as a F2P/Low resources player. Hearthstone is a game of strategy, and it begins when you decide that you want to go for a couple of games today, or tomorrow, or whenever.
The race for legend doesn’t always go at the same speed. The first days of each season are filled with skilled players at low/medium ranks -because anyone can have a bad streak and end up at a lower rank than they should-, rushing through newcomers and gaining levels faster than you. If you don’t have a lot of time to play the game maybe you should wait a bit until the dust settles and have a better chance of improving your rank. That, of course, provided you devote yourself to thinking about how you want to play the game, if you have a favorite class, if you want to netdeck any of the pros lists, and so on.
Experience vs. Efficiency
Netdecking is a common practice between newcomers. You often find a couple of tested/efficient decks online, try to craft whatever you can to fill the holes behind the general strategy of the deck and rush to the ladder only to find yourself crushed by other players. Was it because of the cards you put in it or because of your skills? Did you do something wrong in every match?
Do you know how to play that deck?
Someone, somewhere, found a couple of cards that worked nicely together and decided to build a deck around it, trying to fill the gaps and holes on the general strategy of those cards and adding a few class favorites along the way. By doing so, the player became extremely involved with the creation of the deck, and learned to identify weaknesses and bad matchups that could happen in the ladder. With a bit of logic reasoning and luck, maybe that deck becomes popular enough to have thousands of minds working on improving it, and refining the decklist for every specific combination of rank and meta. If you just copy a deck you’re missing the experience of building the strategy -and building a stronger meta for the rank you’re playing in the process. Nevertheless, netdecking is a way to use your playing time more efficiently if you’re just focused on ranking up.
The fabled Hearthstone ladder ranks
If we combine this variable with the season timing you should check before jumping into the ladder, we find two extreme ways of playing: The way of the learner and the way of the no-brainer. Both have their pros and cons, and while most people will argue that playing without learning the game and its perks is impossible, I’ve seen people get lucky enough to play without thinking about what they’re doing in every match and still getting a good rank just before quitting because they achieved what they wanted. Often the difference between both ways of playing is the time the player wants to put into the game.
Not everyone wants to play a game long enough to become a pro, and there’s a considerable amount of players that just want to finish a “personal quest” before moving on to other games. These players are often at the low/mid ranks of the ladder and, if they’re netdecking, they could pose a significant challenge to the experience-focused player. Combine this with the pros that fell a few ranks in the ladder before the beginning of the season and we find ourselves an extremely challenging environment for the newcomer in the early days of every season.
And here comes the decision: do you want to learn more about the game or do you want to be time-efficient while playing?
If you want to be on the experience side, be advised: you’re going to put lots of time into the game, you’re going to lose a lot, and you’re going to need a large collection. But at the very least, you’ll be more consistent, you’ll make smart choices, you’ll improve at a steady rate and you’ll find the game more challenging every time. You will also rank up easily with every passing season and, if you ask me, you’ll have tons of fun in the process.
If you want to be on the efficiency side, choose your target, find the easiest way of achieving it and measure the resources you’ll need to do so. Plan your game time accordingly and that’s it. Stick to your schedule and you’ll get there.
If you’re leaning towards the experience side, you might start on the ladder right as the season begins, you’ll face experienced players and learn more about them and their playing style. if you want to be efficient, maybe the best time to try ladder is in the last two weeks of the season, when the ranks are a bit more solid, playerbase-wise. Either way, don’t forget to have fun. If you’re not having fun, if you don’t enjoy the game, you’re wasting resources.
While this is not a guide on how to hit ladder, it should help you clarify a few questions that pop up in your head as you start to wonder if you’re doing things correctly. Remember to always paint the big picture -the road you want to follow in the game- before taking any steps. If you do so, you’ll have a better chance of finding the holy grail of CCGs: being good, being efficient, being wise and having fun.
As it is with any opinion article, this is extremely subjective, and the longer the discussion goes the richer it gets. Remember to leave your comments and/or feedback about this article in the comments section.
If you want to check some HSP guides about hitting legend click the link below!
See you guys in the ladder!