Hello everyone! This is the first article in the 3 part series. The first one's target audience are new players, intermediate players for the second one and experienced players for the third. In each of those articles I'll list 5 common mistakes that group of players makes. I'll try to explain why those are mistakes, why you shouldn't do that and how can you avoid them.
By "new players" I mean people who have recently started playing Hearthstone - between a few days and few weeks. They mostly play with Basic cards and if they play Ranked, they usually don't break rank 19-20.
The categories are pretty flexible. The truth is that every player struggles with different things and this is just generalization. If you don't find anything useful in one part, you should check out the others! So, let's start with the list.
1. Using Removals to Damage Enemy Hero
I'll open with this one, because I think it's one of the most serious mistakes. When guiding my friend through the low ranks (and by low I mean 25-20), I've found out that a lot of players are doing this.
New players might not be familar with the term, because it's almost 2 years old now, but that's the so-called "Dennis" move. You can probably read it from time to time, especially in Twitch.tv chat. The term comes from a player that Kripparrian (HS streamer and caster) was playing against. He was playing Priest and his opening move was... Holy Smite to the opponent's face. He made a lot more mistakes throughout the game, but that one was most memorable. You can watch the whole match here, actually.
So, the general mistake is that a lot of new players use removals - Frostbolt, Swipe or weapons like Fiery War Axe just to deal damage to the enemy Hero instead of keeping those to clear the minions.
Why is it wrong to do that? The reason is pretty simple. You're wasting one of your most precious resources - cards - and you don't gain anything back. You don't put pressure on the opponent by doing that. If you deal 3 damage on turn 2 it really means nothing. Especially if you don't play an Aggro deck, it won't get you anywhere. Just like in Dennis' example, you use your removal and then opponent plays a 2-drop. Then you don't have a way to kill it and it's going to deal much more damage in the long run, not to mention that in the end it might even trade into something. So yeah, don't do that.
Another this is that even if you'll eventually end up dealing face damage with it, why not just save it and do it when you actually have lethal and need it? Keeping cards like that in your hand is much more flexible. If enemy drops something you can kill with it - go for it. And if not, it can just sit in your hand until you get enemy down to low health and then finish him off with your spell/weapon. Not only it gives you more options, it also has an element of surprise. Enemy doesn't know what cards are you holding and it gives you an advantage.
One thing I need to clarify that using damage spells or weapons on the opponent's Hero is not ALWAYS the wrong play. For example, you might use Frostbolt against the Warrior to freeze him and stop the weapon's attack. If opponent is at 18 health and you have the combo (Force of Nature + Savage Roar) in your hand as a Druid, you might Swipe his face just to get him into the range. But the main use of those, ESPECIALLY in the early/mid game, is to kill opponent's minions.
2. Playing the Cards Just Because You Can
Oh, that green glow around the card. You know that you don't really need to play that card right now, but it's so tempting. After all you have the mana and it's going to be wasted if you don't use it. Right?
That's a very bad line of thinking. While there are some decks that just want to play something every turn and utilize every point of mana, generally it doesn't work like that.
Before playing a card, you need to think: Do I really need to play that right now? Is it worth to do that? Will it get me closer to the victory? Do I play into something by using it?
So let's say that you already have a pretty big board presence, but all your minions are low health. You play against the Paladin. You have another 3/2 minion - do you drop it? It won't make your trades better. It won't threaten lethal next turn. But it will play into opponent's Consecration, giving him much more value. The answer is easy - you just don't play it. If there is a risk that it's going to get removed for free and there is no real reward for doing it, don't do it.
While not as common in lower ranks, cards like Brawl or Lightbomb are serious considerations. Sometimes you just don't want to play the extra stuff just because you have the extra mana.
This point kinda overlaps with the last one. For example, you finish your turn as a Rogue and you still have 2 mana and Eviscerate in your hand. Do you play it? If your opponent isn't close to dying, if the play won't have any merits, don't do it. Even if you'll need it later to kill the enemy, you'll just do it later.
3. Overvaluing the Face Damage
I know, I know. A lot of new players are doing it, because it's the easiest thing to do. After all, the game is about killing enemy. It means that you want to hit enemy Hero with your minions until he dies. In reality, however, things aren't that easy.
One thing I really need to stress out. Face damage is LEAST IMPORTANT, unless you play an Aggressive, "face-hitting-oriented" deck. But even if you play deck like Face Hunter, which is probably the deck that wants to hit enemy Hero most of all, sometimes trading minions is the correct play.
The player with more health isn't necessarily winning the game. Damaging enemy Hero won't win you the game unless you're sure that you can get him to 0. If you can't - it doesn't matter whether he's at 1 or at 30 health. You need to think about what gives you the best outcome in the long run. Yes, you have to think couple of turns ahead. For example: You have a 1/2 and 3/2 minion on the board, while enemy has a 2/1 minion. You have really three options to consider (let's assume you can't deal 1 damage from your hand). First one is attacking enemy Hero with both of your minions. The second one is trading the 1/2 minion into opponent's 2/1. The third one is trading a 3/2 into the 2/1. The third option is obviously dumb, so we don't even think about it. Now, you can hit the face or trade with the 1/2. If you hit the face with both - you get 1 more damage this turn. But when opponent gets into his turn, he gets a PERFECT trade. He kills your 3/2 minion with his 2/1, plays something and you're left with 1/2 on your board.
The outcome? If you didn't trade - you've dealt 1 more damage to the enemy Hero for total 4 damage. Next turn you had 1 damage on the board = 5 in total. If you traded - you lost one damage, but ended up having a 3/2 minion instead of a 1/2. It means that if it survives until next turn, you might deal 3 damage again, resulting in 6 damage in total, compared to 5 AND the stronger board presence. And that's just thinking one turn ahead.
Having the board tempo and the ability to initiate the minion trades yourself is a big advantage, so use it. If you don't play a deck designed around dealing face damage, you should ALWAYS take the good trades. Even if you play a faster, Aggro deck - trading isn't wrong if it gives you more damage in the long run.
4. Overvaluing the Taunt Minions
Taunt is one of the first keywords that new player see. And it seems so strong when you first start playing. After all, enemy can't attack your Hero and is forced to kill your minion! One of my first non-basic decks was a pretty much full Taunt Druid deck. And I see that a lot of people are also doing it when they start playing.
Taunts are okay, but not as good as some people think. Taunts are very nice if you face a lot of Aggro decks. If the enemy's game plan is to go for your face, Taunts are great. If you have some valuable minions with strong effects you want to protect, Taunts are also cool. But besides that, they really aren't. Most of the decks new players use are very board-centric. They aren't some combo decks, but standard Midrange ones where the main win condition is to grind the enemy out, take the board control and then win the game, because they have no way to come back.
Taunt keyword is not free. If minion has Taunt, he obviously needs to have lower stats than the non-Taunt counterpart. Just like Sen'jin Shieldmasta vs Chillwind Yeti or Lord of the Arena vs Boulderfist Ogre. There are some Taunts with vanilla stats, but they are mostly class cards (like Anodized Robo Cub) or they have bad stat distribution (like Evil Heckler) - they also don't have any additional effect besides the Taunt.
What does it mean? It means that if one player has a deck full of Taunts and the second one has a very similar deck, with the same curve, but full of non-Taunt minions, the second one is most likely going to win. If both decks are board-centric, Taunt is a handicap, because non-Taunt minion have better stats or some additional effects. And if enemy doesn't plan to rush you anyway, but wants to trade, it doesn't matter whether your minions have Taunt or not.
I'm not saying that Taunts are bad. There are some Taunt minions that are really solid. For example, Sen'jin Shieldmasta is one of the best basic 4-drops in the game and if you manage to get Naxxramas adventure, Sludge Belcher is one of the best 5-drops. Taunts are solid if you face an Aggro deck, which often happens even at the low ranks. But realistically, you shouldn't put more than 4-5 Taunts into an average deck. More than that will more often be a handicap than an advantage.
5. Better Rarity = Better Card
That's another common line of thinking among new players. After all, rarities are there for something, right? It means that Rares are better than Commons and Legendaries are auto-includes in the deck.
The truth is that card rarity has nothing to do with card's strength. A lot of Basic/Common cards are one of the best cards in the game. On the other hand, a lot of Epic and Legendary cards are incredibly bad - they are too situational, too slow or overcosted.
Don't judge the card by it's rarity. When I was a new player, when I got a new shiny Epic or Legendary, I immediately put it into every deck. I thought that since they are much more rare, they are better. I've ended up running stuff like Mountain Giant or The Beast in my every deck, just because they were big and had a cool, purple/orange colored gem.
A very good example I can give is the Mini-Mage vs Jungle Panther. So, you're paying 1 more mana to lose 1 health and gain... +1 Spell Damage. It's completely not worth it, considering the Spell Damage is usually worth one stat point (e.g. Kobold Geomancer, Ogre Magi). It means that you're basically overpaying 1 mana. The card obviously sucks, but it's Epic and I bet some people put it into the decks just because of that.
While this one isn't directly gameplay-related, deck building has a BIG effect on the gameplay itself. If new player starts stuffing the decks with all the Rare (or higher) cards they get, let's face it, the deck will probably end up sucking. Well-rounded Commons are often much better choices than the average or situational Epics.
So, that's it for the first part. There is obviously a lot more to say on this matter. The truth is that new players are making tons of mistakes. We all were bad at the start, but experience taught us a lot of stuff. So if you're a new player and some of the things above concern you - don't worry! The more you play the game, the better you'll get.
Stay tuned for the next part, where I list 5 most common mistakes intermediate players need to avoid. If you have any questions or suggestions, leave them in the section below. Oh, and if you want to share your funny newbie story or tell us what was your worst mistake when you've just started playing Hearthstone, feel free to do so!