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December 18, 2016

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5 Tips on How to Improve Your Ladder Experience


For a lot of the players, grinding ladder is the most important part of the game. Getting the stars, the ranks, and finally the high Legend position. But when a match is played, one player always has to lose and let’s be honest, being that player sucks. Some bad RNG here, unfavorable matchup there… A small losing streak is enough to start getting tilted. You know that feeling when you just know that you shouldn’t start the next game, because you’re still mad at the RNG, but you do it anyway? Or when your daily quests are piling up, but you don’t really want to start playing the ladder, because you remember your last big losing streak? You don’t want to lose again or repeat the same games, the same matchups over and over again?

Most of us do experience those things from time to time. Even the high Legend players have the same problems. I have a lot of ladder experience – after all I’m grinding it for 18 seasons already (and even before the season system was introduced). I’d like to share a few tips that helped me to overcome the ladder anxiety/tilting and make my Hearthstone experience much more pleasant. Those are not exactly “how to get Legend” tips – but enjoying the ladder and getting to higher ranks is actually correlated!

I’ll share 5 tips that helped me to start liking the ladder more. I still have some moments of doubt, I still get ladder anxiety from time to time, but I’ve learned how to deal with it much better. If you’re interested, read further!

1. Play the decks you enjoy

It seems obvious, right? But it’s really not. When it comes to the grind, most of people are taking the “best deck”, not “the deck I like” approach. And don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong in netdecking or playing flavor of the month. But ask yourself a question – “do I really want to play that?”

I found out that playing the decks you actually enjoy can bring better results than the decks that are “best”. Obviously, I’m not talking about the completely crazy decks that just don’t work. But there are A LOT of viable decks out there. A lot more than you’d think. Actually, the meta right now is really healthy. Every class has some viable choices – some of them even 3-4!

But what do I mean by “bring better results”? First of all, when you play the deck you enjoy, you are in completely different mindset than when you play some deck just to grind the ladder with. Wins are much more rewarding (not in terms of ranks, but for yourself) and loses aren’t that bitter.

Another thing is that you usually know the decks you like better, which can actually lead to bigger win rate. FotM decks are often traps – yes, if you knew how to play them perfectly, they can be better. Patron Warrior is a good example. After BRM, a lot of people have jumped on Patron Warrior bandwagon, because it was considered the best deck. But most of those people failed, because they didn’t know how to play it well. If you have a lot of experience with let’s say Tempo Mage and you didn’t play Patron Warrior much, jumping on that deck can actually REDUCE your win rate instead of increasing it. Between viable decks, win rate difference is really small in general. The skill is what matters more than the actual deck you play. And you’re usually more skilled with the decks you like.

The truth is, you can grind the ladder, especially lower ranks (up to 5) with pretty much any deck, as long as you’re good at playing it. Take advantage of that and play what you like and know best.

Also, another small advice I’d like to give – jumping from the deck to deck isn’t really good. In my opinion it is best to pick one deck and then stick to it. Unless it’s doing really terribly in the meta, switching it just because you lost 2 games is not really a good idea. When you jump around 5 different decks, you become less focused. Especially if you don’t use any kind of tracker and have to memorize every deck. And the fact that you’ve played against 2 or 3 counter matchups in a row is just variance – it happens even if you play the deck that counters the meta.

P.S. If you actually enjoy playing the decks that are FotM, I don’t see a problem! The tip is mainly targeted at players who force themselves into playing what’s “good” instead of what they actually like.

2. Control your emotions

Like I’ve said in the introduction – Hearthstone is the game where one player needs to lose. Even the best players top around 65% win rate (overall, not on the winning streaks), you can’t always win. And let’s be honest – losing is rarely pleasant. Losing means bad emotions. Even more in Hearthstone than in a lot of games. Because as we all know, a lot of loses aren’t your fault. You can play the match perfectly and still get countered or just screwed by the bad RNG – draws, Boom Bots, low Lightning Storm roll, whatever. Those loses play on your emotions. You get angry much easier, you get tilted and that’s bad.

The truth is – your emotions and your mindset have a huge impact on the way you play. When you’re more angry, you start playing more recklessly, which rarely pays off. You become distracted from the match itself, because you still think about the past game(s). And while thinking about your past games is definitely not a bad thing – you shouldn’t do that when you already play a new one. This way instead of focusing on what to do now, you start thinking about what you should do last game.

I know it can be hard. I’m a pretty emotional player myself. I get angry and tilted too fast. So I know it from my experience – the more I think about the past games, the more angry I get. The more angry I get – the worse I play.

I can’t really give much advice on how to clear your mind, because it varies from person to person. Try to do something that calms you down. When it comes to me, taking breaks really helps – read the next tip if you want to know more.

And I know that not all players are affected by emotions to much. Some are getting over the past games really fast and they don’t even need to do anything about that. That’s really good actually, if you’re one of those players you should have much easier life when laddering!

3. Take breaks

That’s my best way to fight the bad mood when laddering. Don’t play too many games in a row, ESPECIALLY when you’re on the losing streak. Once I lose 3 games in a row, I take a break. This way I can actually think about the past games without that impacting my new games. I get myself a tea, go on a walk, surf the internet, watch some YouTube videos, whatever. I just do something non game-related. After I get back and start playing again, I don’t really think about the past games anymore. I’ve already analyzed them and usually already forgot what I was angry about too.

Time is a really good medicine when it comes to the tilting. When I start a new game after some time, with a clear mind, I really see the difference. Right now I rarely play more than 10 games in a row and believe it or not, it made grinding the ladder much easier and more enjoyable.

Last month I’ve tried to grind top 100 in Legend. It was last day of the season and I was around top 200, so I thought that I don’t have time for breaks. And that was a pretty big mistake. I was doing rather fine, but when I went on a losing streak, it became worse and worse. I got tilted very fast, started losing game after game and ended up around rank 3000. It was pretty soul-crushing, but after re-thinking everything I took a long break and when I came back with a clear mind, I climbed back to top 200 easily. After all I didn’t achieve my goal, but I’ve seen a huge difference in my performance and at least came back where I’ve started.

4. Be patient

Hearthstone really requires being patient if you want your ladder experience to be positive. There are couple of things I’d like to talk about that.

First, the grinding patience. Win streaks are awesome, but you don’t always get them. Sometimes you start at rank 3, play for three hours and end up at rank 4. You need to be patient on the ladder. Don’t be upset that your rank is not moving up. If you’re good enough, you’re surely gonna grind the higher rank given some time.

Second, “starting the new game” patience. Jumping straight into the new game after the last one isn’t always the best thing to do, like I’ve already said. Take your time. If you want to analyze the last game, do that BEFORE starting a new one. I know that clicking the “Play” button  right away is tempting, but sometimes it’s better to wait a little.

Third, patience in the actual game. For example, I’m a really fast player. My turns rarely go for longer than 20-30 seconds. But when I’m tilted, I play even faster and thus I make a lot of mistakes. And you know what? Once I realize those mistakes, I get tilted even more. Play your turns slowly. Analyze every option. Count your damage, because when you’re tilted missing lethal is easier than ever. When you take things slower, you’re gonna win more games – trust me.

When it comes to the Hearthstone, patience really is a virtue. Thus, I really recommend you to take your time and don’t rush things.

5. Be aware of the meta

That’s REALLY important part of the ladder. The tip is mainly to boost your ladder performance, but since ladder performance often means overall ladder experience, it’s a thing you should be aware of.

The meta. Which classes are popular. What archetypes people play. What is good against them. Knowledge is power, especially in the game like Hearthstone. Your performance in the game is only one part impacting your win rate and the preparation you do before playing is a whole different thing.

But, how can you know which decks are popular in the meta? Playing the game is obviously one way. You can’t really miss that the Secret Paladin is popular right now, when you play every second game against it. You can read the meta reports (Team F2K is doing one on our site!) or other articles. You can also check the popular guides on /r/competitiveHS (that’s a great source of knowledge!)

So, once you know which decks are popular, you can adapt. Play the decks that are good against those or just “upgrade” your favorite decks. Add tech cards, remove cards that are bad against them. If weapon classes are dominating – Acidic Swamp Ooze or Harrison Jones are gonna boost your win rate. Mage and Hunter with Secrets? Kezan Mystic. Decks that flood the board? More AoE spells or Wild Pyromancer. And so on and so on.

If you don’t want to play the FotM decks, because you don’t enjoy them – you should make your decks better against those.

Another thing is that knowing which archetypes are popular help in the game itself. If you know what you play against, you have much easier time doing the mulligan (because you know which cards you want). Let’s say if Handlock was the top meta deck right now, you’d know that keeping Big Game Hunter against Warlock is a good move. Just like if you play against Paladin, you can keep AoE in your opening hand right now if you know that he’s gonna flood the board.

Knowing enemy deck list also lets you play around the cards. You expect certain cards, so you can keep a way to deal with it or get a good enough board state to counter it etc. Knowing what you play against is really important.

Obviously, not everyone plays the meta decks, but from my experience – especially at higher ranks – once you see enemy class and a first card or two they play, you can usually already tell what deck they play. And even if you see only the class, you have a good chance of guessing what deck you face. Being aware of the meta and adapting to it is an important part of the ladder and it should boost your win rate significantly.

Bonus Tip: Use the Tracker

I really advise you to use the Hearthstone Deck Tracker (or any other Tracker you want, but there aren’t too many options and in my opinion this one is the best).

To learn what it is and where to get it, check out this article.


Those are 5 things that helped me to get better at the game, besides actually playing it. Some of them might sound stupid – how can taking breaks improve the way you play? But that’s true and those things actually work for me. I know that those tips won’t be helpful to everyone – every player is different, every player gets tilted in other way and some don’t even get tilted at all (honestly, I envy them). But if the ladder anxiety hits you hard – you can at least try the above tips and see if they’re gonna work for you.

I hope that some of them are gonna be useful for you too. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to leave them in a comment section below!

Enjoyed this article?

Playing Hearthstone since September 2013. Infinite Arena player. Hitting Legend rank on EU each season, with multiple high Legend climbs during the season and top 200-300 finishes.

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Leave a Reply

  1. ricardodias says:

    Hi Stonekeep,

    Great Job, thank you for this article!

    You said ” If you want to analyze the last game, do that BEFORE starting a new one…”

    How do you analyze your games? Do you always remember what trades were made in game and their turn?
    Sometimes it is confusing cause we start confusing some games… If we did that trade this last game or some games before…

    I am trying to find a software that really help me to do that. I know there is track-o-bot and that it takes track of what cards were played in a turn. But I want more than that. I want something that keeps track of trades made too.

  2. adrockindy says:

    Thank you for the article! I’m a newer player (since May) and have started getting frustrated! Feels like I’ll get nowhere fast, then have a short win streak. Bottom line, I play to have fun, not raise my blood pressure.

    • Stonekeep HSP says:

      Stick to that attitude, man! Having fun is most important, that’s the point of playing video games after all :) No need to be frustrated and rush things down – you’re still relatively new to the game, so you surely have a lot of room to improve. Just take your time and enjoy the game!

  3. direna says:

    Thanks for your words – Even I’m 40 and overall a very calmed person, I upset myself way too often playin’ HS – I never played a game that could be more anoying than this.

    But, I always try to remember myself, that I CAN’T always win. Climbing the ladder needs not just skill and a good deck, it needs times.

    • Stonekeep HSP says:

      Yeah, I know the feeling. Sometimes playing HS can be really annoying. But that’s a good attitude – you can’t always win. I try to be calm and take my time, I usually try to grind the Legend as fast as I can, but this season I’ve slowed down a little, didn’t focus on getting higher ranks that much, and the game suddenly was much more fun!

  4. tpeter says:

    god advice brother.. My temper is bad this season, Ive already broken a deck tray and a mechanical keyboard…

    • Stonekeep HSP says:

      Hahah, it reminds me of my bro. He’s a long-time Counter Strike player (he plays it for like 8 years now) and he has broken so many headsets and mouses because of this game.

      I’m not raging as much, but I also sometimes want to break things when enemy gets incredible RNG and wins because of something like 1/20 roll into a prefect topdeck.

  5. jbensonism says:

    Thanks for posting this!! I get tilted pretty quickly too.

    I just wanted to add on to what you said in #2. The past is place where you have no control and no way to change anything, so it’s really dangerous to stay there too long. You can change the present and the future so focus on that. Tying that in to #3 I think that your sub-conscious mind does a lot of the heavy lifting on learning from the past, you don’t need to waste your active conscious energy trying to decode it – because it’s much less efficient.

    I think that telling a friend about a bad beat, just to get some consolation or closure helps me too. I’d like to find a bad beat thread and just post all my terrible losses there.

  6. highjinx says:

    What’s the best tracker for those of who play on Macs? I’m using Track-O-Bot, but it’s pretty light.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Why is this a Premium article?

    • Stonekeep HSP says:

      For the same reason any other article is Premium – to add more content for our subscribers. That’s how the system works :)