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Card Advantage in Hearthstone

Last updated on Nov 14, 2013 at 22:35 by Vlad 8 comments

Table of Contents

One of the many factors that play a part in defeating your opponent in Hearthstone is achieving and maintaining card advantage over them. Card advantage refers to the situation where you have more cards in your hand than your opponent does in theirs (while, of course, not being completely overwhelmed on the board). This allows you to have several ways of playing each turn, meaning that you will have the choice of picking the best possible way to deal with your opponent.

Keeping in mind that, by default, each player receives a new card from their deck at the start of each turn, there are two ways in which you can generate card advantage: making sure your deck has good drawing power, and making sure that you get the highest possible value out of your cards, thus forcing your opponent to play sub-optimally. We are going to look at each of these two concepts.

1. Drawing Power

As a rule, if you wish to succeed, your deck must contain ways to draw more cards into your hand than what is provided by default each turn. This is because as you gain more and more mana each turn, and as your deck normally will not contain very many high-cost cards, you will eventually run out of cards to play. This means you will be in a situation where, each turn, you are forced to play the card you have just drawn, which is obviously not ideal since it severely limits your options.

There are some neutral minions that allow you to draw extra cards as part of their properties. For example, the Loot Hoarder draws a card for you when he dies, the Acolyte of Pain draws a card for you each time he takes damage, and the Gadgetzan Auctioneer draws a card for you each time you cast a spell.

There are also many class-specific minions and spells that allow you to draw additional cards. Mages can draw cards thanks to their Arcane Intellect spell, Rogues can do so by using their Sprint spell, and so on.

There is no simple rule for how much drawing power your deck should have, except that you should have "enough". You can usually tell quite quickly while playing if you have enough drawing power or not. If you are regularly running out of cards, then it is probably a good idea increase your deck's drawing power.

Whenever you are evaluating whether or not to use a spell to draw more cards, you need to always keep in mind that you are "wasting" a card to do this. Therefore, a spell like Arcane Intellect (draws 2 cards) is a decent source of drawing power, while a spell like Mind Vision (draws 1 card) is quite poor (especially since the card you draw comes from your opponent, meaning it is unlikely to synergise well with your other cards).

2. Maximum Card Value

While having ways to draw more cards from your hand than the default is important, it will not ensure card advantage on its own. It is equally important that you play the cards you do draw as efficiently as possible. The way you play your cards can alter their value greatly. Playing your cards to their maximum potential will ensure that you are constantly using fewer cards to deal with your opponent than they are using to deal with you. This means that with each turn, you are able to keep more cards in your hand, and therefore to have an appropriate response to anything your opponent might play later on.

In general, you should always be looking for ways to 2 for 1 (or even higher). This means you should try to make one of your minions take out 2 or more of your opponent's minions (at the same cost level). Here is an example.

Let us assume you are a Rogue, and you have Assassin's Blade and SI:7 Agent in your hand. On the board, you have a (damaged) 4/4 Chillwind Yeti, and your opponent has a 3/2 Acidic Swamp Ooze and a 3/5 Sen'jin Shieldmasta. Here are two different ways you could play your turn.

  1. Place your SI:7 Agent on the board, attack the Sen'jin Shieldmasta with your Chillwind Yeti (leaving both at 1 health), and then equip your Assassin's Blade to finish off the Shieldmasta.
  2. Equip your Assassin's Blade, play the SI:7 Agent's Combo ability against the Shieldmasta (damaging it down to 3 health), kill it with your Yeti, and then kill the Acidic Swamp Ooze with your Assassin's Blade.

The end result of the two situations is that the Sen'jin Shieldmasta is dead, you have taken 3 damage, your SI:7 Agent is on the board, and your Yeti is down to 1 health. However, in the first case, the Acidic Swamp Ooze is still alive, whereas in the second case it is not, and the opponent has no more minions on the board.

This is just one example of how playing correctly (using the SI:7 Agent's Combo ability) can allow 1 card to cause your opponent to use 2 cards in exchange (the minion killed by the Agent and the minion or spell the opponent will use to kill the Agent).

Many other ways to increase the value of your cards exist. A common way of doing so is buffing the stats of one of your minions in order to allow it to kill a much stronger or more expensive minion.

Of course, these types of outcomes are not always possible, but you should make it a habit to try to extract as much value as possible from every card, in every situation.

3. Conclusion

We plan on greatly expanding this article once the Hearthstone Beta progresses further, as well as after its release. Until then, we hope that we have managed to give you a good idea of how to achieve card advantage in your games.

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