Building Decks – Creating a Winning Hearthstone Deck
Building decks in Hearthstone can be tricky Standard rotations, Wild meta changes, Arena archetypes, and dozens and dozens of Tavern Brawls have all passed through the gauntlet of Hearthstone’s storied history. Plenty of decks have gone down in the hall of fame, be they Secret Paladin, Face Hunter, Wallet Warrior, or Mech Mage.
Even though they have different archetypes and gameplans, they follow some similar principles. When building decks, they may be similar in terms of the cards they contain, however, they may have a completely different method of play. The game started the minute you started the process of deck building and now its time to fill it right.
If you love building decks just as much as playing and want to get better at it, read on. If you’re sick of playing decks other people have made and want to be a good deck builder like them, read on. Hell, if you’ve played everything that the community websites have to offer, and you just want to make something new, keep reading on.
Understanding General Card Game Archetypes
The deck types that have always existed in all card games and continue to be persistent in their core game design. They exist traditionally in conflict, where they have “general” matchups. They are as follows.
Aggro: Focuses on aggression and offense, with a typically linear gameplan. Kill the opponent and kill them as fast as possible.
Control: Focuses on defense and survival, making the game last longer. Typically, these decks benefit the longer the game goes, with high-power cards at the end of their curve that allows them to turn the corner, with the cards lower on the curve allowing them to survive to that point.
Midrange: Focuses on both offense and defense, allowing the deck to play whatever role needed in a game. Generally, the most versatile decks, with not too many polarizing matchups.
Combo: Focuses on powering out individual interactions and card synergy that either win the game on the spot or come close to it.
The separation of card types by class in Hearthstone allows for even more exploration of these concepts. There are also more subdivisions and categories that we could delve into, like Tempo, Token, and the mixture between all the archetypes (like Combo-Control and Aggro-Combo), but we won’t focus on that.
Now, we’ll get into the Hearthstone principles that are specific to the game.
Having a Solid Gameplan: No Half Measures
If you’re building decks, it can be easy to focus on too many different angles of attack. Remember not to be afraid to experiment with different potential “bad” cards. After all, Doomsayer is a mainstay in plenty of the best Warlock decks, now, and he was once unplayable.
Let’s look at Elemental Mage. A playable deck, but has gone through many iterations before it landed on the mid-to-low tier version that we have today. Some elementals care about the spells you cast, and some elementals care about elementals, and even more individual synergies.
If you focus your efforts in too many different directions, you either have weak spells in the late game or some poor elementals for your creature synergy. The current best iteration consolidated its gameplan into ‘Frostlord Jaina,’ ‘Blazecaller,’ ‘Pyros,’ ‘Baron Geddon,’ and, surprisingly, ‘Archmage Arugal.’
There are not too many bad spells, and instead of focusing on uber-synergy, it focused on a solid gameplan: get to the late game, stabilize with elementals that have bonus ‘lifesteal,’ and beat out aggressive decks with value cards like ‘Fire Fly.’
Instead of playing generic ‘Frostbolts,’ ‘Fireballs,’ and ‘Flamestrikes,’ it plays ‘Book of Specters,’ ‘Ruby Spellstone’ and ‘Primordial Glyph’ for value. It’s able to lean on the RNG with big-butt elementals to survive for them to matter.
Therefore, decks like ‘Face Hunter’ end up being so good, even though their general card quality is lower than some other decks. Since their gameplan is so linear, there is very little room for miss plays at low, medium, and high skill levels.
Blast your opponent with charge minions, and when that fails, hit them with ‘Kill Commands’ and ‘Explosive Traps.’ That’s mostly it. Don’t get cute with ‘Build-a-Beasts’ and ‘Putricide’; they have a life total of 30, reduce it to 0 or less.
Getting the Dust to Build
There are a few bullet points to getting the resources to make these decks, some of them being more obvious than others. Of course, people tell you never to miss a daily task and to do every Tavern Brawl, but there’s a bit more to it than that.
Don’t hang on to bad legendaries unless you “really” like them. I’ve had to dust a Gold Lorewalker Cho, knowing that I’d never use him except as a one-of in meme decks that he’s not even good in.
Don’t hang on to gold cards, especially those of higher rarities. The higher dust that you get from them makes it worth it, giving you more copies of cards you need. I do miss that Gold Cho, but I’ll get him back one day.
Whether you’re a free-to-play or hard spender if you can skimp on legendaries, do it. If you want to make Wallet Warrior, this doesn’t really apply, but if you want to make Big Druid without The Lich King, it’s very doable.
Don’t play Arena if you don’t need the pack. Currently, I’m building decks such as Even Warlock. I don’t need any mech cards from it, because I’m not playing Mechathun, so I am holding off on Arena. I’m better off spending that gold on the actual packs that have the cards I need rather than getting the chance at some dust from a Mecha-Legendary.
Building Decks on a Budget
The vanilla cards and class cards are mainstays of Standard and Wild and always will be for a reason—you can do very well with these cards, and don’t necessarily need to delve into the expansions to make a winning deck. Here are some build-around cards that are incredibly strong and can help start you off on your experimentation.
Timber Wolf, Dire Wolf Alpha, Houndmaster, Tundra Rhino, Animal Companion, Kill Command. These Hunter cards will always be good, and Beast Hunter can easily get you to at least rank 10 with good play. Or for a complete RNG push that relies on one card, can use Spell Hunter.
The Odd/Even Legendary Cards can change your whole playstyle. With these legendaries in hand, building decks will center around your hero power and gaining the Odd/Even buff from them.
For example, if you got an improved Armor Up on Garrosh. Well, it’s time to make a control deck with big-butt taunt minions! The idea when building decks on a budget is to ensure that you capitalize on those cards you currently have. There is always another option.
“Eh, go for Whizbang.” The Whizbang option uses a new legendary minion that will give you one of 18 decks when you start the game, two for each class. They are subpar and aren’t suitable for high-level tournaments. However, crafting Whizbang means you get access to eighteen fun decks to toy around with.
This is especially awesome when you are on a budget because it can help in figuring out what you like to play because that’ll influence the kind of deck building you will want to focus around. The more opportunities that you have to play different decks, the better. Since you won’t know you like a combo until you give it a shot!