So you’ve moved past the need for a beginner’s guide and are ready to climb the ladder. Or maybe you’re rank 5 and just need that final push. Regardless, here are some tips to remember as you’re climbing.
Know Your Opponent’s Deck
First things first, understand all of the common decks in the meta. If you don’t know what your opponent is playing, your odds of winning go down significantly. If your opponent is a Freeze Mage, you need to know from the first minion they play, so that you can act accordingly, as your gameplan will be very different from how you would face a Tempo Mage. You also need to understand the likelihood of each deck in the meta, so that you can mulligan properly. For example, if you’re against a Paladin, the odds that they are an aggressive Paladin (Aggro or Secret) is incredibly high at the moment, likely over an 80% chance that they are aggressive rather than midrange or Murloc. So even though you don’t know for sure, you should still mulligan as if you are certain that your opponent is Aggro or Secret, being ready to counter their early plays. A good rule of thumb is that when you aren’t sure what archetype your opponent is playing, mulligan as if they are an aggressive deck, because if you assume they are slow and keep late game cards, if you are wrong you’ll just lose. Whereas if you assume they are fast and you keep early game cards, you’re still fine.
Don’t Lose Faith in Your Deck
This is the biggest mistake that most players make on their way up the ladder. If you’ve run your deck for a while and seen that it does quite well, understand that it’s a good deck. Don’t switch away from it simply because you lost three games in a row. Hearthstone is a game of chance, and occasionally you will lose several, or even many, games in a row. Don’t switch decks as soon as you start losing, you’re a lot better off sticking with a deck you know than one you don’t, regardless of how many you’ve lost before that.
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… But Also Understand the Meta
Don’t lose faith in your deck, but you also need to understand that certain decks are just bad in certain metas. For example, Handlock has been one of the best decks in Hearthstone’s entire existence. However, right now it does very poorly because of how many tech choices oppose it, and how fast the fast decks are. You may have – as I did! – achieved Legend with Handlock a few seasons ago, but it simply isn’t the strongest deck and if you run it you have to understand that you’ll be fighting an uphill battle against the odds. That being said, don’t simply not play your favourite deck because some numbers tell you not to. If you truly believe you can achieve Legend with Camel Hunter, go for it, if you truly know the deck and can pilot it well, you can achieve Legend with pretty much anything.
Do not get Discouraged!
This is easily the biggest problem that anyone has on their way to Legend. Even players who have achieved Legend several times in the past can find the climb frustrating. You have to understand that no matter what deck you are playing, a large percentage of your games are simply unwinnable. Nothing you can do will change that, and obsessing over your losses will just get you discouraged. Look back over your games and understand what you could have done better for next time, but don’t beat yourself up about it. For every game you had no chance of winning there will be just as many where you have an easy win. And then the ones in the middle where you have to outplay your opponent, those are where the Legend material players truly shine. So don’t beat yourself up if you make a mistake, simply learn from it and don’t do it next time. When you lose to an Aggro Shaman with a perfect draw, don’t be upset, just remember that next time you’ll face someone who doesn’t draw any of their early game cards. It can be very discouraging especially for players who go on streaks of losses, but remember that eventually a streak of wins will follow it up. Play enough games and you will get where you belong, so learn from your mistakes and make that place Legend!