How do I get better at HearthStone’s Arena?

In Fall 2015, I discovered HearthStone and HearthStone’s subreddit. It has been a great source of help and advice at the beginning, and for a few months now I’ve been trying to give back to the community by helping beginners who had questions about how to get better at the game.

The four questions that were asked over and over were:

  • I’m a new player, how do I get into the game? How can I stop sucking and climb over the 18-20 wall? More generally, how can I improve my gameplay?
  • What should I do with my gold or real money? Packs? Arena? Adventures? Which ones? What should I do with my dust?
  • How do I get better at Arena?
  • What should I craft?

I’ve also read the advice that many people provided there, and wanted to compile what I found the most useful in a quick post for future reference.

Read guides and watch streamers

The best thing to ease into Arena is to read a bit about it. There are a few good resources on icy-veins at http://www.icy-veins.com/hearthstone/arena-guides

Then, watch streamers (either live or VOD – because of my schedule constraints I only watch VOD, so that’s what I’ll link to here). The ones that were referenced the most often in the discussions were:

You’ll learn a bit about the way you have to think in Arena. And like many things, it works best if you watch actively: pause before a pick (in a draft) or the beginning of a turn (in a game), and decide how you would play (and why). Then unpause and see their choice and their explanation.

Use tier lists intelligently

The go-to references for tier lists are:

You usually use them through add-ons like:

  • Hearthstone Deck Tracker‘s plugin Arena Helper (uses The Lightforge list) which displays each card’s value on top of the HS screen
  • HearthArena which adds an algorithm to evolve the card values based on your previous picks
  • ArenaDrafts companion app which has the possibility of sharing your drafts through the interactive mode, that way someone can help you along the draft.

I definitely recommend using them (especially at the beginning), but do so intelligently:

  1. Decide what would be your pick on your own, and why you would pick this. Try to find a reason. It can simply be “because I love the card”, “it has great stats / mana ratio”, “it sucks the less of the three picks because _____”, etc. But formulate your thinking.
  2. Then look at a tier list, and see what the card rating here. Try to understand why your picks differ. Does the tier list gives a high value to the card because it is stat efficient (eg Chillwind Yeti), but you’re late in the draft and desperately need a 2-drop, which is why you picked a lower value card? In other words, does the current state of your deck from the picks so far justify getting lower card value?

It doesn’t matter if you’re wrong at this stage. The goal is to learn.

Play with a friend in co-op

Playing with a friend forces you to think through your plays, to be able to rationalize what you think and justify your decisions. While this is valid for any game mode, it works especially well in Arena where you have a single short-term goal (get those 12 wins).

Subreddits r/grinninggoat and r/arenahs are arena focused subreddits and there are always people looking for coop partners, so don’t hesitate to have a look there 🙂

Record your drafts and games

And most of all, record your draft + games to review them later. I recommend using Hearthstone Deck Tracker (+ Arena Helper plugin for the draft) on Windows and ArenaTracker on Mac, and I wrote a guide if you need help using them. Then, discuss them with other experienced players.

Zero to Heroes lets you do just that. You’ll get to learn tons about how to play the game, especially since the advice will be directed at your mistakes and take the previous plays into account, and not simply generic advice on the net. For illustration, these are two quick examples of games that got reviewed, and a draft.

And finally, don’t dwell too much on losses. Even infinite players have 1-3 runs.

Have fun!

Seb