How to Build a Hearthstone Collection for Free


Hearthstone is an online card game made by Blizzard, the makers of Warcraft and World of Warcraft (among others), mostly based on the Warcraft intellectual properties. In the game, you collect cards (I’ll explain how that works below), and use the cards in your collection to build decks. There are several play modes, and it really is all a lot of fun. It’s available for all major platforms, PC, Mac, iOS, Android, etc, and your account can be shared across devices. It’s pretty easy to play, and the game has some built-in tutorials to teach you.

The game has a freemium model. You can buy packs of cards with “micro-purchases”, or you can play the game and win in-game gold, and use that to buy your way into cards. Each pack of cards has five cards, and there are 30 cards to make a deck. There are also three card sets so far (classic, Goblins vs Gnomes, and The Grand Tournament). In this article, I want to explain how you can build a large and useful collection without using any real money.

Getting Started

The 9 classes available in hearthstone.
The 9 classes available in hearthstone.

The first thing to do is to play the solo starter (against AI) game until you get to level 10 with all nine classes. This is the basic tutorial mode, and you’ll get used to game play and the different classes. From here, you need a card collection so you can win games against other human beings online. There are four online modes against humans:

1) “Ranked” mode, considered the most serious. In this mode, you build a deck from your collection and play against other human players. If you win games, you go up in the rankings; if you lose, you go down. This mode is by far the most challenging and time-consuming, as you need to keep up with the different decks that appear in the games “meta”.  I won’t explain how to win in “ranked mode”, as there are a ton of articles written about that online already, just do a quick Google Search. A high ranking each month will give you a few good cards, so playing ranked is a good idea, but can be frustrating if you are new: since you don’t have a decent collection, so you’re not likely to do well.

2) “Arena” mode, maybe considered the next most serious. This mode is the most important mode for building a collection, so getting good here is the key to the strategy outlined in this article. I’ll have some follow up articles on how to get really good. The basics are this: in the arena mode, you play 150 gold and draft a 30-card deck, which you use to play other players. Your Arena deck stays with you as you play opponents until either a) you lose a third game with that deck, or b) you win a 12th game with the deck. At the end of your Arena run you will get at least one pack of cards, and some other prizes, with better prizes if you won more games. If you win at least 7 games, you will always get 150 or more gold, meaning you can immediately start another arena run. If you win 3 or more games, you will almost always win a prize worth 50 gold or more. Since an Arena run costs 50 gold more than a pack, as long as you win 3 or more games consistently in the Arena, this is the best place to spend your gold. More on that below.

3) “Play” mode. Play mode is just like Ranked in its mechanics, but you don’t have the ranking mechanism. Because of that, it’s considered the least serious other than maybe Tavern Brawl. In this case, you build a deck with your collection and play against other players.

4) Tavern Brawl. The tavern brawl is a different game mode each week, with a different strategy. It’s kind of hard to sum up, as each one is different. In some, you build a deck from your collection, in others, the deck is provided for you. It’s a really fun mode.

There are three ways to get packs of cards, tavern brawl, arena and buying packs (with gold, as this is about getting a collection for free).

Play the Tavern Brawl every week

This is a very basic strategy.  You will get a free pack of cards after you win your first game for each week’s brawl. You will only get one pack for each brawl, though.

Get into the Quests->Gold->Arena Loop

For introductory players, this is a great way to accomplish two goals in the game: getting familiarity with cards, and building up a collection. Each account gets a daily quest from Hearthstone, the quests involving accomplishing some goal in Hearthstone matches against human players. Your goal is to beat those quests until you have 150 gold, play the Arena mode (more on that below), where you will always win a pack of cards and have the chance at winning prizes beyond that if you win enough games. There are three specific phases to this strategy:

Getting Gold

The main way to get gold is the daily quest. Most daily quests involve winning some number of “play” (2~7) matches against other players. Any mode against a person counts, so ranked games, unranked games, arena and tavern brawl all can be used to beat quests. The quests will give between 40-100 gold, though, I haven’t seen a 100 gold quest in a while, so it may have been phased out. Here’s the basic strategy for quests:

  1. If the quest is for 40 gold, you can mulligan it to get another quest. 40 is the minimum, so you might as well mulligan all the 40 quests. You are allowed to mulligan one quest per day.
  2. You only get to keep three quests at a time, after which you won’t get new daily quests. So, if possible, it’s good to beat a quest each day.
  3. You also get 10 gold for every three matches you win against other players, up to a maximum of 100 in a day. I think, I’ve actually never done it: it would mean winning 30 games, which means playing, what, 50+? It’s hard to get all that gold each day unless you aren’t working.
  4. Tavern brawl is some kooky fun mode each week. Some times you build a deck, sometimes they provide you a deck.

Spend gold

Choosing your hero in the Arena.
Choosing your hero in the Arena.

As I mentioned above, the best place for beginners to spend goal is in the Arena. In the Arena you are offered the choice of three heroes. As a general loose strategy, you should always pick Paladin, Mage or Druid (probably in that order) if offered to you. In general, these classes have strong cards that don’t rely heavily on the “synergy” between different cards in your hand, as you are unlikely to get many useful synergistic combinations in the Arena. Mage used to be the best, but the number of new cards out now has diluted the frequency the Mage class’s best cards show up with. After that, Shaman, Hunter and Rogue are next best, as they have winning strategies, but the cards here are more likely to rely on synergies. Warlock is probably next, followed by Priest and finally Warrior. You can win with these classes, but the odds are less as their best cards rely on synergies with other cards. This site, Icy-Veins, has a lot of great strategy guides for the Arena, including card lists that can help you draft a deck. I will follow up in more articles on how to best win Arena games.

If you get a really good collection going, you might want to save up to go to the other solo quests. There are three so far, Naxxramas, Blackrock Mountain, and League of Explorers.  They cost a ton of gold (like 2000 or more) but they give some of the best cards. The cards aren’t always necessary, though, until you get into the highest levels of competitive ranked play, maybe not even then.

Once you have a ton of cards, you can start crafting by disenchanting cards you don’t want and creating new cards (a topic for another time). Then you can start working up the ladder of the ranked area. That’s the “serious” mode that players are most into. The best decks are pretty expensive in dust to build, and they often require the cards from the solo adventures. Still, there are cheap decks that can get you pretty far into ranked play, and get you to where you can win the daily quest each day. If you are at this place in your Hearthstone collection, congratulations! You no longer need this guide.

Andrew Smith
About Andrew Smith 42 Articles
Editor-in-Chief Andrew Smith is a Seattle Native and University of Washington grad.

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