hearthstone Hearthstone Arena Guide: From Beginner to Infinite #2: Your Resources

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Welcome to the second of L0rinda's Arena mini-guides. This guide talks about the various resources you have at your disposal in Hearthstone.


The purpose of these mini-guides is to not only to teach you how to play better Arena, but also how to self-improve outside of the guides. I am currently covering the basics, but will be ramping up the difficulty in the future.

Hearthstone is a game of resources. The player who manages their resources the most efficiently will end up winning the game more often than their opponent. Three of the main resources you have are cards, mana, and your life total. In this article I'll be taking a basic look at the importance of these.

If you missed part one of this series, which talks about the Vanilla Test, it can be found here.

Card Advantage

If you have more cards than your opponent, you have more options. However, for those cards to really be efficient, they usually need to be on the board. There is no point dying with seven cards in your hand and then complaining that you had card advantage. You have to find a way to turn that advantage into a win.
The way that card advantage is generated is usually more complicated than simply casting an Arcane Intellect. Let's take a look at an imaginary board state.


In this position, it is possible to cast Eviscerate on the opponent's Ironforge Rifleman. This would be a 1 for 1 trade (one card of yours for one card of your opponent's). However, by attacking it with one of the minions on the board, you can remove an opposing card without losing one of your own. This is usually referred to as a "free kill". It is not completely free of course, as your minion also takes damage, but your minion will either take another card to kill, or live to do at least two more damage again on the next turn. Minions are efficient because they are a source of repeated damage. In general, spells can only be used once. It is for this reason that players will often talk about the importance of board control. Discussing how to maintain that control will be a theme that comes up many times in the future.

Mana Efficiency

Most cards in Hearthstone have a cost of roughly what they are worth. Many really bad cards would be playable, or even good, if they cost just one mana less. This means that any time you waste a mana crystal, you have done a bad thing. If at the end of turn five one of the players has spent 14 mana, and the other has spent 12 mana, it is likely that the first player is in front. He has simply done more powerful things.

You may have heard people talking about the "mana curve", which is a phrase that originated in Magic: The Gathering. The idea is to make sure that you don't miss out on spending mana. To do that you use a card cost distribution that will often look something like this in a Hearthstone equivalent:


Mana works differently in Hearthstone, and so the actual curve part doesn't apply quite so much, but it's a useful phrase, and still reasonably descriptive. A big trap in Hearthstone is to use the graph feature that I used above. You should learn to count cards for the turn they are played, not for their mana cost. I will be using the phrase 2-drop to mean cards that are played on turn two, not cards that cost two mana. If that sounds confusing, take a look at Ancestral Knowledge. This card costs two mana, but you would not be happy playing it on turn two. Not only does it not advance your board position, but it also messes up your turn three. Remember what I said about dying with seven cards in your hand? This play would help you do exactly that. On the other hand, Gilblin Stalker is a card you'll almost always want to play on turn two. Then there's Frostbolt. Assessing where cards like Frostbolt belong on the curve is something I'll talk about in the future, and is an important part of the drafting process at higher levels.

The main thing for now is that you'll want between six and nine 2-drops. The newer you are to the game, the higher that number should be. You'll be able to get things on the board and interact with your opponents. If you start dying because you're running out of cards, start to take higher casting cost cards more often. If you're dying with cards in hand, make sure to take cheaper casting cost cards, and stop trying to get so much out of the ones you have!

Life Total


You don't get bonus points for winning by more in Hearthstone. This means that you can go all the way down to 1 life and still win the game. In classes that use a weapon, your life total is a measure of how many times you can hit enemy minions. In Warlock, it is a measure of how many cards you can draw with your hero power.

However, you can use your life total in other ways. Sometimes you can take a turn to develop your board, and let your opponent do a lot of damage to you, rather than just playing an Antique Healbot to delay the inevitable. You will see this referred to as "playing to win, rather than playing not to lose" and it is a key concept for the future.

Part three of the series can be found here.
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These mini-guides are pretty helpful, because I find Sottle's arena guide too long and abstract, that's what was missing on that site.

Please keep writing!

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To echo the above comment - please keep these up!  I'm fairly new (4ish weeks in) and hungry for all the help/knowledge I can find.  I've played around on other Hearthstone sites, but this kind of article is what keeps me coming back to Icy-Veins!  As well as all Sottle's great decks & tips.  Thanks!

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I like reading even simple guides like this.

I haven't been playing Hearthstone hardcore, i had just played a little when it came out.

These days though i am really getting into it and i must say that even the smallest info is worth gold.

Good work, keep em coming :)

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Seconding the above poster, I love these 'simple' guides.


"If you start dying because you're running out of cards, start to take higher casting cost cards more often. If you're dying with cards in hand, make sure to take cheaper casting cost cards, and stop trying to get so much out of the ones you have!"


Golden! I feel that I know that intuitively after so many TCGs, but to have it laid out in such simple terms - brilliant. OP should be making some money with his words if not already doing so, imho.

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