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Rating  49

Contributed by

Luís Magalhães

Guide Type

Last Updated

October 28, 2015

Table of Contents

Hearthstone Mastery: Goals and Game Plan

Greetings! Luís here – though if you come across me in Hearthstone, you’ll meet me as “Ash”.

I’ve been playing games all my life, and writing about them for most of it. But one thing that has been increasingly on my mind over the past few years is the psychology of gaming, the mental states and strategies that can drive a player from beginner to master.

I’m not a Hearthstone master – yet! I intend to be, and I’ll be applying the strategies I’ve learned while mastering other games. If you are reading Hearthstone Players, there’s a good chance you’ve been amassing really good tactical info about the game. Following the strategies I outline in this and future articles – all proven time and again by top performers in several fields – will get you the most bang for your buck from those articles.

So let’s start by…

Step 1: Reality Check and Goals


Mastery begins here. Choose your target, play a Steamwheedle Sniper, and Steady Shot to victory.

 

Or, in other words, finding out where you are and where you want to be.

So where are you? Have you just started Hearthstone? Have you been messing around with it for a while, playing some games here and there, crafting some cards, not paying attention to whether you win or lose? Or maybe you’re at a point where you are diligently keeping track of your stats, know your Win/Loss ratios with and against each kind of deck?

It’s not important. But it is useful.

It’s not important because what I’m telling you is that, no matter your current skill level or resources, you can reach your goal. It’s useful because knowing your starting position will let you craft a better Game Plan (more on that later).

So we come to Goals – both the most fun and most daunting part. Over 5+ years of coaching people across several areas, I’ve found that most people are really afraid to set goals. Mostly because of this: they are afraid they’ll pick goals that are not realistic without realizing it, and then they’ll fail at reaching them.

This is nonsense, and I’m here to tell you why: unless your life or health is at stake, setting a goal is a no-fail endeavor. Even if part of your goal revolves around reaching it on a certain time frame, and you don’t make it – guess what, you at least acquired experience, valuable data that you can use to craft a better goal and a better Game Plan – and have another go at it.

So based on your starting point, choose a goal. Don’t worry about over-reaching. It’s way better to over-reach and fail that to under reach and succeed – long-term, you usually end up ahead with the former.

Everyone will have their own goals, but for the sake of inspiration, here are a few common examples:

  • To reach Legend on the ladder (most common)
  • To reach Top 100 Legend
  • Consistently going infinite in the Arena
  • To get good enough to beat all your friends
  • Gathering enough dust to craft X deck
  • Achieving 65% win rate with X deck.

 

A coveted prize. Is this your ultimate goal?

Of course you should be mindful of not deliberately setting yourself up for failure. Let’s say you are a decent player but never really took the ladder seriously, and you decide that your goal is to get from Rank 19 to Legend in one week. Well, I’ve not done the maths, but going by zhandalyhs’ awesome guide, that’s not nearly enough time. Is it impossible? Hell no! In any game where luck is a factor (and, directly or indirectly, it is on most) anything is possible. Who knows, the first 100 people you go up against might all D/C or concede (incidentally, if this happens to you, I would recommend you go out and buy a lottery ticket. Just sayin’).

But it is unlikely. With goal setting, you should try for the sweet spot between the guaranteed and the seemingly impossible.

Ultimately, I think it’s up to each player to craft his or her goals. But if pressed for some advice, I’d say the following:

  1. Focus on fast wins first, then big wins.

    Example: “Get good enough to beat friends 80% of the time” —> “Reach Rank 10 – 5” → “Reach Rank 5 – 1” –>  “Reach Legend” –> “Reach Top 1000 Legend” → “Reach Top 100 Legend”

  1. Timed goals are good because it’s harder to stop working on them once the going gets rough. You can’t just say “oh, I’ll do it next month instead” once you hit a roadblock in the middle of the month.

Hearthstone has a monthly ladder so it’s actually very easy to set up monthly goals, and I encourage you to – with following the caveat: get into your mind that if the final day arrives, and you didn’t get there, you have gotten a TON of experience and are a better player for it – you win anyway!

  1. Stick to one goal. Your time, brainpower and willpower are all limited. Don’t waste mental and logistic resources to work on Top 100 Legend, going infinite in the Arena, and becoming an awesome YouTube commentator at the same time. You can achieve all those things! But one at a time.

Set your goal and commit to it! You can always adjust it down the line, or change it altogether if you’re just not feeling it anymore. But for now, pick it and focus on it.

Step 2: Develop your Game Plan


If your opponent coins one of these in on turn 1, you better have a plan for how you’re going to play that match.

Now that we have goals, we come to the part that sets the winners apart from the losers.

Remember, you know what you want. That already puts you a cut above most players, those that simply dabble here and there. Now this next step will place you among the elite. You’re going to have a plan for getting where you want to be.

I’ve witnessed failure from many people who knew exactly what they wanted. The reason is this: they went out and dabbled, without a clear plan of what to do. It’s that simple.

Who is most often the loser in Hearthstone? It’s the player that is too late in deciding what his win condition is. It’s the player that flits around between beatdown and control, hesitant to commit to a path because he’s never 100% sure of how his opponent will play. As a result, he spreads his resources too thin, wastes cards on a strategy he is not committed to, and then when he loses he realizes “oh, I should have gone all out with X”. Yes, you should have.

Commit this to memory: “A bad plan is better than no plan.” Way, way better.

Charging blindly might feel all heroic and stuff, but you’ll get stomped. Hard.

Take your reality check and your goal, sit down, and think about how you are going to get from one place to the other.

Have a decent entertainment budget but little time? Consider hiring a coach or subscribing to premium material to accelerate your learning.

Have plenty of free time but a limited budget? Besides playing a lot, make it a habit to record your games and review them for mistakes. Watch famous players stream.

Should you schedule your play? Some people are aghast at the thought of setting a schedule for play. But you know what? Professional sports players set aside time for practice.

This isn’t because they love playing Tennis so much – believe me, even when you love your job, you wish you weren’t doing it about 30% of the time – but because they realize that even when they love doing something, they’ll end up not doing enough of it if they don’t schedule.

Now I’m not saying you need to be a Hearthstone Pro – that might be your goal or it might not – but whatever your goal, you will benefit greatly for deciding on a set schedule to work towards it.

The key factor here is stickiness – if your goal is to climb the ladder, for example, you shouldn’t just flirt around with the meta deck du jour – choose a couple that research shows are solid, that you like to play, and play the heck out of them, making minor adjustments as needed. Consider your favored play style. The experience you’ll acquire will trump any slight meta advantage others may or may not gain.

So now that you’ve committed to a goal, take the next step. Figure out:

The three key things that will give you the most value for your time / money

Example: Putting down cash for some card packs VS grinding the Arena; paying for coaching VS pouring over match recordings of the Top 20 players.

What are the best tools to achieve your goal

Example: Picking a couple of decks and sticking with them; using add-on software to register your win/loss ratio.

The specific times and amount of time you can block out to work towards your goal

Step 3: Profit! I mean, Action!


See this guy? He didn’t over think it, he didn’t read a whole article on Hearthstone Players and then just not commit. He took action, and sometimes… he gets Redemption and HE LIVES!

You know where you are. You know where you want to go. And now you also have a Game Plan that bridges both. You have a map for Hearthstone Mastery – as you yourself have defined it.

So is it “insta-win” now? No. But you are better armed than 99% of the players out there, and over the next few articles I will assist you in gradually upgrading that Game Plan. Now all that remains is taking action on what you just read.

Believe me, that is the most important thing. As a coach I’ve found that the people who achieve their goals are the people who take action, who develop their Game Plans and go ahead, even when their plans are not perfect (spoiler: they never are).

The people who read articles like this one or all the others on this site, and sagely nod, feeling smarter and more informed, but then don’t take action on what they read – those are the ones that never get anywhere.

So, in the spirit of promoting action, here is your assignment for today:

  1. Decide what kind of player you are, and where you want to go with your Hearthstone playing. Be as ambitious or as realistic as you desire.
  2. Make a Game Plan according to the formula above.

In my case, I always aim to get my games to “free to play” status whenever possible.

So I decided early on to set the goal of consistently doing well in the arena, setting for myself the target of reaching 4-3 or above 90% of the time.

My Game Plan was to invest all my mission gold in Arena runs, and to religiously follow Icy Vein’s Arena Tier guides until I knew the value propositions of the cards by heart. Finally, I decided that I would play exclusively Arena for 1-2 hours before bed (or in bed, after the iPad version was launched).

This was my starting Game Plan, and it served me well, but of course I adjusted and added to it along the way. You will too. More importantly, it got me to a place were I don’t even need to consider spending money on card packs. This framework works. It will work for you, too.

Share your Goal and Game Plan  in the comments below – and don’t be shy about it, because 99% of the time others will be there to help you out with advice or inspire you – or add me on twitter @Luis_maga and let me know if I can help.

So tell us: what is your goal for next month?

Enjoyed this article?



Luís has been obsessing over video games for far too long, and as a result has card flavor text imprinted over his childhood memories. After retiring from MTG play, he now plays Hearthstone for fun. Follow him on Twitter @luis_maga

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6 Comments

Leave a Reply

  1. Icaro says:

    I’m returning to the game after a year and I want to make gold fast enough to buy the LoE. Any tips?

  2. Luís Magalhães says:

    @sarkhon, nice, that is a powerful goal! So what about a Game Plan? Have you studied the top 100 players, seen what they do that you don’t? Is it just more time on the grind, or have they developed some different tactics? How about metrics? Have you been registering your win/loss ration on different deck match-ups?

    These are just a couple of things bouncing of my head right now. I know the most common answer is “I don’t have the time”, but remember, when you don’t have the time for the grind, you need to focus on the *quality* of the grind.

    • sarkhon says:

      My issue comes with early season laddering. I get so bored of the early season ladder that I find excuses to not grind it out..

      I have plenty of time to grind out games, it’s really just the “willpower” to grind early season in aggro v. aggro, curve v. curve meta. It’s just so bleh. If I can find an early season deck I really stand behind, like the old 2 mana buzzard, 3 mana uth, undertaker hunter deck, then I’d be perfectly fine, and getting to legend before the last day of the season would be a breeze. It’s just all the decks, the aggro decks that make climbing “short”, are soooo boring. My solution this season is to focus on playing decks that I want to play, vs. decks that can climb quickly.

      I do measure my w/l with specific decks, I know hunter is by far my best class, and that Priest is my worst class. I’m fairly good at everything else in between. I typically change decks when I hit the 50% W/L or start getting woefully close, or when I notice a huge meta shift.

      The way I’ve noticed the top players, they just grind games constantly. They find ways to almost make the game less about each individual game, and more about the actual “session” of grinding.

      Goals:

      1) Spend at least 2 hours grinding ladder a day. Aim for progress. At signs of deteriorating play (i.e., 3 consecutive losses), take a 5-10 minute break, evaluate what is occurring, and make a judgement call on whether continuing the session is worth it.

      2) Track “ladder” progress vs. individual deck performance.

      3) Play fun, interesting, competitive decks that I enjoy. Face Hunter = boring, Freeze Mage = fun!

      That’s how I’ll hit legend before the end of the season, that way I can actually make some effort in the legend rank to grind it to top 100.

      • Luís Magalhães says:

        Sounds like a solid plan. I agree that you should play decks that you find interesting over decks that make you quit due to boredom. At the same time I’d advise you to stick it out for a bit if you feel there are very good gains to be had for playing a “boring” deck for just a couple of days – a fast climb up the ladder could make your playing much more pleasant later on.

        5 min break + reevaluation after 3 losses is a really great method. Let me know how it works out for you! :)

  3. sarkhon says:

    I’ll bite.

    Every season I make legend. Every season I make it the last day of the season. I seem to struggle with either early ladder, or once I hit rank 5~ I go from winning everything to going back to the 1 win 1 loss grind. At the end of each season, I switch to hybrid, midrange, or face hunter, and manage to hit legend with 70%+ win rate.

    So, my goal is: I want to hit legend next season, early enough, that I can make a serious push for top 100 legend. I’ve beaten streamers, I’ve done well in the few tournaments I’ve played in, but I can’t accomplish any of my bigger goals until I consistently can hit legend before the last day of the season.

    Any help with a plan would be awesome :)

  4. Luís Magalhães says:

    Don’t be shy. :)