Becoming a Hearthstone Legend: Using Stats to Your Advantage

By ·April 13, 2017 1:22 pm

With over 50 million players getting involved since its creation, and many more following tournaments via live streaming, Blizzard Entertainment’s Hearthstone is a game that has found an audience that takes to heart the challenge of competing in a game that at first glance appears devilishly simple to play. In case you’re unfamiliar with the general concept of Hearthstone, players start with a deck of 30 cards. They also have a hero power to boost and the challenge of building a good deck to defeat their opponents.

Sounds pretty straightforward until you start to delve into the nuances that make this a game which, if carefully strategised and practised, can see top players rack up impressive winning percentage statistics. There is no shortage of sites that proclaim to be able to help new players set up their starting decks in the best way, but in order to become a Legend, you’ll need to understand many different parts of game strategy, consider which sort of deck suits you and your playing style, and how you can take advantage of the ranking system.


How to get a Good Deck

When it comes to Hearthstone strategy, there are competing tips on how to put together a winning hand. The original players of the game had to work out for themselves what constitutes a good deck, with a particular focus on how many 1- and 2-mana minions are required to get off to a solid start whilst not becoming overwhelmed later in the game. Many new players these days simply Google “best Hearthstone deck” but don’t understand what might be making particular decks so successful – and naturally may not be very good at playing them.

One way to avoid just looking at the stats blindly is to look at comparisons between decks in terms of win percentage. One example of this is Pirate Warrior, which has had win percentages as high as 60% over a four-day period, and a win percentage of almost 75% against rogue and a only just above 50% against shaman. That’s in the current meta though, bound to change as we spend more time playing Un’Goro. Of course, following an idea blindly because it’s worked for others only gets you so far. Playing the game to work out the best strategies for you is always far more beneficial. You can also use a tool like the Hearthstone Deck Tracker to gather stats on how you have performed in your matches, looking at this data to improve.

“Played: Minivilles” by Hubert Figuière (CC BY-SA 2.0)


Statistical Probabilities

The idea of using stats and working out the probability of what will happen next is used in many games by savvy gamers. Take card and dice game Machi Koro: this game is based on working out the best strategy for buying new industry cards in order to earn money. Winner of several awards, including second place at Boardgames Australia’s 2015 International Game category, this title uses four different types of cards: some pay out on your go only, some pay out on anyone’s turn yet yield fewer coins, and others involve stealing coins from other players, boosting your coin tally whilst reducing someone else’s. It is crucial to have an understand of the probabilities here in order to acquire a winning pile of coins, especially considering the option of rolling two dice instead of one.

Blackjack also revolves around the same basis of calculating odds. Different game variations offer different statistics and probabilities, whether playing online or offline blackjack. Multi-hand blackjack, popular on online operators like Betway Casino, allows you to play more than one hand per game, placing different demands on players. Looking at traditional blackjack, this knowledge ranges from realising that a card with a value of 10 is the most likely to be drawn (as there are four types of card per pack that have this value), to the basic idea that there is a 4/52 chance (or 1/13 chance) of another particular card, like a 2, appearing. This is the basic level of understanding statistics-based blackjack strategy but there are far more detailed rundowns in sources such as The World’s Greatest Blackjack Book, which helps players understand the choices they are faced with.

“Blackjack” by Images Money (CC BY 2.0)

This basic strategy helps you to know what you are facing and when to pull back and when to push forward for the win. Top blackjack players are aware of when to surrender and when to split because they know the odds. While this is a similar dilemma for those who play games like IDW Games‘ Machi Koro, it also bears similarities to Hearthstone, where striking a balance between investing in the early game stage and late game stage is crucial.

In Hearthstone, having too many 1- and 2-mana minions will see you start strongly and then fade, while in Machi Koro the same applies once the game progresses to the point where players are rolling two dice and the more expensive yet higher payout industries come into play. In fact, much like Hearthstone, playing blackjack is all about learning to deal with the hand you are given by calculating your and your opponent’s odds. It is important to ask yourself whether your opponent will have taken up the option of deploying two of the same 1-mana minions in their deck or whether they will have decided to try to draw them later on in the game. This partly comes down to working out the probability of drawing a particular card from your deck.


Why are the Top Players So Successful?

Just as there are players who can make a living from games like blackjack, there are players who make serious money from Hearthstone. One player, Sebastian “Ostkaka” Engwall, has earned around $123,500 since he started. Top pros have win ratios of around 80%. One thing that they do is use their stats to see where they need to add that element of surprise to their decks so their behaviour is not as easy to predict. The lesson to take from all of this is that you should keep a note of odds and stats. Are there any other strategies you use when playing Hearthstone? Let us know in the comments below.

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