Hearthstone Terms and Concepts

Hearthstone Terms and Concepts by Hayl_Storm

Deck Types

– Aggro: The deck that seeks to take initiative and close out the game. This archetype is obviously well established and pretty straight forward. One distinction we have to make, however, is that Aggro does not always mean fast or swarm style. “Stompy” or “Big Aggro” are slower decks that still fit into this category: their goal is to set up in the early game and then play bigger than average threats through the rest of the game. Chillwind Yeti is a good example of a “Big Aggro” type of card because he will usually be the biggest body on turn 4.

– Control: Another well established deck already in Hearthstone. The control deck plans to survive and win out with a smaller number of more powerful threats in the late game. You are a Control Deck if you only play Ragnaros/Ysera/Lord Jaraxxus as win conditions and the rest of your game is just surviving until one of these big threats can win the game for you. In the beginning of Hearthstone there was a bit of confusion surrounding this archetype as it was often confused with the next category.

– Midrange: Many of the decks which get classified as “Control Decks” are actually Midrange. To be fair, the line is not hard and fast; however, there are still some distinctions to be drawn. A midrange deck is characterized by trying to gain incremental value on every play: a prime example would be Argent Commander or the buffing creatures. If your deck is built to play solidly throughout the game and bury your opponent in incremental advantage, you have a Midrange deck. The defining aspect of a Midrange deck is that it has to play Control vs. Aggro and Aggro vs. Control if it wants to be successful.

** Aside: Some of the confusion between Control and Midrange is that the midrange deck will often try to “control” the board with bigger creatures/better value spells. This will be elaborated later, but just because you are playing a controlling role in one game does not make you a Control Deck.

– Combo: This is the hardest category to build because true combos are hard to find as game designers usually kill them before the game launches. Hunter OTK is the best known Combo Deck we have had to date. Hunter OTK is the less frustrating of the two true Combo branches: interactive and non-interactive. Non-interactive combo is something I would be surprised to ever see in Hearthstone but — in the interest of fully covering the topic — it would be described as “do x+y+z and you win the game.” It may seem like Hunter OTK is like this, but since your opponent does actually have ways to stop you if they set up for your big turn, it is still an interactive combo: Taunts or Ice Block for example usually prevent this combo from winning outright.

** Another aside: Based on how Hearthstone is designed — with no real to act on your opponent’s turn — I don’t think any broken/non-interactive combo will make it past R&D. They exist in some Magic formats but only because the combo player has to determine when it’s safe to make their play because their opponent may always have counterspells etc.

– Aggro-control: This is an archetype more possible in Hearthstone than Magic because of how combat interactions work. An Aggro-control deck will revolve around smaller threats but locking your opponent out quickly. These decks will be slower than pure aggro, but will have more game against a wider variety of decks. I can see weapon based classes fitting this role most easily: they can attack with creatures and control the board with their weapons. Most of the decks being classified as “Board Control” are variations on the Aggro-control theme: their goal is to control the board and lock out the opponent while getting progressively better trades.

– Tempo: Tempo is one of the hardest archetypes to build. Tempo is a non-conventional archetype in that it mostly does away with Card Advantage. The goal of Tempo is to get one or two fast threats out — Mana Wyrm being the perfect example — and then prevent your opponent stopping it for the rest of the game. Tempo cards are often things like Freezing Trap or Frost Nova, these cards will never gain Card Advantage, but if you only need to buy your Mana Wyrm an extra turn or two then it’s fine. The ideal form of a Tempo Deck would be composed of creatures Mana Wyrm/Faerie Dragon/King Mukla and then be filled with spells like Sap/Counterspell/Conceal/or Frost Nova.

General Terms

– Board Wipes: Cards like Flamestrike or Holy Nova that deal damage to multiple targets. Many Hearthstone discussions use the term AOE which — while not inherently wrong — does not apply to TCGs as well as it does to Starcraft because the “area” concept is a bit weird. One could make a case for calling Cone of Cold or Explosive ShotAOE, but they are better described as having splash damage or being “multitarget removal”.

– Bounce: The term for “return a creature to its owner’s hand”. This is very common in Tempo decks but do note, this is Card Disadvantage. Bouncing is far worse than killing a creature because they get to keep their card: be careful building with these.

– Burn: “Deal x damage to y.” Fairly straightforward, we just have a word for it. Also see, “burning them out” or “reach”: these are things an aggro deck would do if they get you close to dead and then finish you off.

– Cantrip: Anything that has the text “draw a card”. These cards are obviously good because they replace themselves; therefore, gaining card advantage off of them is fairly straightforward as you are already “card neutral” if you will.

– Clock: This is term is rarer but is an important concept nonetheless. The “clock” your threats represent is how fast you can kill your opponent if unanswered. On an empty board and at 12 health, an Argent Commander is a 3 turn clock. This is most important to Aggro and Tempo decks, but a Control may consider it in the context of “what kind of clock/how much pressure am I under?”

– Curve: or Mana Curve, how your spells look when you sort by mana cost. This is most important to aggro decks, but each archetype has its own type of curves: Aggro will tend to be short and high whereas Control will be longer with more top end.

– Filtering: Filtering is going through some portion of your deck and picking what you need now. Similar to cantripping, this is card neutral, but you can gain an incremental advantage by getting the right card if you do this right. This is a very powerful effect for Combo decks and some Control decks. An example would be Tracking.

– Going Off: A Combo deck “goes off” on the turn they kill you. This one is fairly straightforward.

– Ping: An action where you deal only a single point of damage to a single target — Mage Power or Shiv — to finish it off, let a weaker minion trade with it, or kill a low health high attack minion.

– Ramp: Ramping is the process of using a card to gain resources in the future. This is mainly the function of Druid cards and can be built into a strategy of its own. The function of ramping will allow you to play more — or larger — threats faster than may be anticipated. The Coin is — in essence — a one off ramp spell.

– Synergy: First of all, this is not synonymous with combo. A “combo” is something that will win the game when it hits — Hunter OTK for example — a synergy is a set of cards that work together to be bigger than the sum of their parts: an Enrage minion plus Cruel Taskmaster for example. This is a subtle difference but it’s important.

– Top Deck: This term comes in a two forms: either getting a Top Deck, or playing off the top. It originates from physical card games and refers to the top card on your deck. When you “need a Top Deck xxxxx” or your opponent “got the perfect top deck” it means that the situation on board swung because of the card that was just drawn. When you are “playing off the top”, you are playing with no cards in your hand and are relying on whatever your top card is to make plays.

Other Concepts

– Beatdown vs. Control: This is one of the most important concepts in 1v1 TCGS and you should read this: Who’s the Beatdown, by Mike Flores

This article is relevant to almost any type of gamer, but in essence it states that in every matchup there is a Beatdown and a Control player. This is what was referring to above when discussing the Midrange archetype. It doesn’t matter if you are control in 99% of your match ups, sometimes when decks line up you have to be the Beatdown in order to win. To elaborate upon the Midrange comment, it is called Midrange because these decks are built to be between Beatdown and Control in most match ups and pick whichever is appropriate.

– The Vanilla Test: A cool test that Magic players use. It states that “if this rules text was blank, how is this card?” Monk alluded to it in the second trends article with Shattered Sun Cleric, and this is the perfect example: a 3/3 for 3 is perfectly fine, and in the cases where the rules box is not blank? that is pure upside. This test also works in reverse: that Ancient Watcher is a 4/5 for 2 is too good, so we expect a downside.

– Card Advantage: This is a very commonly discussed term, but it is not always properly described. The most controversial example is Novice Engineer. When you cast this card, you get a 1 for 1: you get one card of value — through the cantrip — for the one card you used to cast it. This is a reasonable baseline for the Novice, but does not make it great on its own. The reason why Card Advantage is a bit weird right now is because the “Value of a Card” is not yet an established in Hearthstone. In my opinion, a 1/2 on its own is not worth a card; therefore, to be able to trade up or get additional value out of the Novice to call it a 2 for 1. Azure Drake on the other hand, is a “straight up” 2 for 1 because it replaces itself and you get a big body on the field from it. Casting Flamestrike to remove two of your opponent’s minions is the cleanest example of a 2 for 1 that exists in Hearthstone and should be the standard for explaining this concept to new players: you cast one card to undo what your opponent did with two cards.

A common misconception of Card Advantage is using it to describe “cards in hand” or “minions on the battlefield”. The correct way to think about Card Advantage is to image a scoreboard where players are scoring points for being more efficient with their resources in card form. The central tenet of Card Advantage is that cards are a resource, just like Mana Crystals or life. A player is winning in terms of Card Advantage if and only if they are being more efficient with this resource.

– Expected Value: Expected Value is a term used across many games but is most common in Poker. Expected Value is a property of a play that can be calculated by considering the average outcome of any play or series of plays. Most often, Expected Value is calculated in reference of what percent chance a play gives you to win the game: here is an example.

If you are a Mage and you have only draw step left to win the game — by virtue of Ice Block — and three cards left in your deck — which you know to be Pyroblast, Fireball, and Leper Gnome — the Expected Value of making a play resulting in putting your opponent with 6 life is 66% whereas a play resulting in your opponent going to 10 life is only 33%.

Other Hearthstone Articles
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds Useful Tips
Stellaris Beating The Contingency Guide
Overwatch D.Va Micro Missiles Guide
Destiny Legendary Guns Comprehensive Guide
Destiny Savathun’s Song Nightfall Guide
Destiny Ghost Shell List By Type and Location
Starting To Dress Well In-Depth Guide
How To Grow Any Instagram Account Guide
Mobile Legends Split Pushing Guide
Mobile Legends Outplaying Your Opponent Guide
Mobile Legends Using Skeleton King Effectively Guide
Mobile Legends Advanced and Hidden Mechanics
Mobile Legends Items And Stats List
Mobile Legends Zhao Yun Guide
Mobile Legends Yi Sun-Shin AP/ADC Hybrid Guide
Mobile Legends Tigreal Guide
Mobile Legends Tigreal Tips and Builds
Mobile Legends Saber Tips
Mobile Legends Saber Guide
Mobile Legends Ruby Glorious Legends Guide
Mobile Legends Ruby Tank Build Guide
Mobile Legends Ruby Guide
Mobile Legends Ruby Tips
Mobile Legends Roger Guide
Mobile Legends Rafaela Basics and Fun Builds Guide
Mobile Legends Rafaela Tips
Mobile Legends Rafaela Ice Build Guide
Mobile Legends Natalia Solo Queue Guide
Mobile Legends Nana AD Carry Build
Mobile Legends Nana Support Build
Mobile Legends Moskov GL Guide
Mobile Legends Moskov Guide
Mobile Legends Miya Solo Q Carry Guide
Mobile Legends Minotaur Guide
Mobile Legends Lolita Guide
Mobile Legends Layla GL Guide
Mobile Legends Karina Guide
Mobile Legends Kagura Guide
Mobile Legends Johnson Guide
Mobile Legends Harley Quick Guide
Mobile Legends Gord Build
Mobile Legends Franco Guide
Mobile Legends Fanny Tips
Mobile Legends Fanny Hybrid Guide
Mobile Legends Eudora Epic Guide
Mobile Legends Eudora Guide
Mobile Legends Estes Guide
Mobile Legends Jungle Cyclops Fast Guide
Mobile Legends Cyclops Legend Guide
Mobile Legends Clint Guide
Mobile Legends Chou Legend In-depth Guide
Mobile Legends Chou Legend Guide
Mobile Legends Bruno Build Guide
Mobile Legends Bane Guide
Mobile Legends Alucard Rank Burst Build Guide
Mobile Legends Alucard Guide
Mobile Legends Alice Guide
Mobile Legends Alpha Guide
Mobile Legends Solo Q Guide
Mobile Legends How to Climb the Ladder Guide
Mobile Legends Solo Ranked to GL Guide
Mobile Legends Marksmen Tips
Mobile Legends Useful Tips
Mobile Legends New Player Mistakes to Avoid
Mobile Legends Tips for Ranked Games
Mobile Legends Basic Tips and Guide to Playing Better
Mobile Legends Lane Management Guide
Mobile Legends Picking Your Main Role Guide
Mobile Legends Team Composition and Set Up Guide
Clash Royale Ladder Climbing Psychology Guide
Clash Royale Sparkynado Guide
Fortnite Character Tier List
Vainglory Reaching Bronze Guide
Clash Royale Spell Bait Deck Guide
Clash Royale Princess Ultimate Guide
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds Hidden Mechanics and Tips
Clash Royale Cannon Cart Guide
Overwatch Soldier 76 Training Complete Resources List
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds Solo Guide from Rank 500 Player
CS:GO Max FPS Nvidia 3D Settings
Overwatch D.va Self Destruct Detailed Guide
Overwatch Finding the Correct Sensitivity Guide
Overwatch Aiming Better Complete Guide
Overwatch Choosing Crosshairs Guide
Albion Online PvP Combat and Weapons T4 Transition Guide
Albion Online Mage Weapons Guide
Albion Online Warrior Weapons Guide
Albion Online Hunter Weapons Guide
Rocket League Skills Needed To Rank Up To Gold
Albion Online Gathering Complete Guide
Albion Online Gathering Beginner to Expert Tips
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds Solo Player’s In-Depth Guide
Overwatch Playing With Sombra On Your Team Guide
League of Legends Riven Kit and Combos Complete Guide
Clash Royale Terminology and Dictionary
Overwatch Grandmaster Roadhog Guide
Overwatch Sombra Tips and Guide
Vainglory Heroes and Roles Guide
Brawl Stars Bo Guide
Mobile Legends Lapu-Lapu Best Build Guide
World of Warships Yorck Guide
Brawl Stars Beginner’s Guide
Clash Royale How to Datamine Guide
Clash Royale The Log In-depth Guide
Clash Royale Trophy Pushing and Tilt Avoiding Guide
Clash Royale Snowballing Strategy Guide
Overwatch D.Va Advanced Guide
World of Warships Operations 5 Stars Guide
Overwatch Beating Legendary Uprising Full Guide
Overwatch Headshot Hitbox Guide
CS:GO Being An In Game Leader (IGL) Guide
CS:GO Improving For All Players In Depth Guide
Overwatch Pharah Rocket Aiming and Predictions Guide
Overwatch Pharah Target Priorities Guide
Clash Royale Knight In Depth Guide
How To Pay Less For Clothes Guide
Light Jackets Comprehensive Men’s Fashion Guide
World of Warships Torpedo Reaction Time List
Clash Royale Using Off Meta Decks Guide
Clash Royale Freeze Spell Ultimate Guide
Clash Royale EsoPa Miner Poison Deck Guide
Clash Royale Macro Play and Decision Making Guide
Clash Royale Why Are Low Elixir Cost Cards ‘Better’?
Clash Royale Lane Sealing Guide
Clash Royale Card Synergies Ultimate Guide
Clash Royale Building A Draft Challenge Deck for 12 Wins
Overwatch Winston Complete Guide
Steam How to Download Older Versions Of Games
Yu-Gi-Oh! Flower Cardians Guide
World of Warships New Captain Skills Guide
Overwatch Zenyatta In-Depth Guide
Heroes of the Storm Alarak Guide
Heroes of the Storm Nazeebo Guide
Heroes of the Storm Lucio Beginner’s Guide
Pokemon Go Defeating Blissey Guide
FIFA 17 Getting One Million Coins Guide
FIFA 17 Bronze Pack Method Guide
Overwatch Pharah Tips Versus Hit Scans
Clash Royale Graveyard Basic Guide
Overwatch Sombra Map Viability Guide
Overwatch Using Whole Hog Guide
Battlefield 1 Tanker Tips and Tricks
FIFA 17 Useful Tips for All Players
Pokemon Sun and Moon Breeding Shiny Pokemon Guide
Overwatch Why You Are Not Getting Healed
Clash Royale Lane Pressure Comprehensive Guide
Clash Royale Countering Graveyard Freeze Combo Guide
Clash Royale Pekka Guide
Overwatch Advanced Tips from a Master Player
Clash Royale Bomber Guide
Clash Royale Goblin Barrel Guide
Overwatch Working With Your Healers Guide
Battlefield 1 Medic Guns Guide
FFXIV Savage Raiding Tips
Puzzle & Dragons Radar Dragons Guide
RuneScape Merching Guide
Pokemon Sun and Moon Post Game Activities List
Pokemon Sun and Moon Competitive Breeding Guide
Overwatch 3v3 Mode Comprehensive Guide
MapleStory V Matrix Optimization Guide for All Classes
LoL AD Carry Laning Tips
Clash Royale Deck Building Tips from Pros
Heroes of the Storm Tips for Ranked Play
Pokemon Go Tips for Playing More Efficiently
Overwatch Roadhog In-Depth Guide
Heroes of the Storm Abathur Advanced Tips
Heroes of the Storm Common Hero Mistakes
Overwatch Roadhog Tips and Tricks
Paragon Jungling Tips
Paragon Countess Build and Guide
LoL Leaguecraft 101 Summaries
Pokemon Sun and Moon Poke Pelago Comprehensive Guide
LoL How To Un-tilt Yourself Guide
Clash Royale Inferno Dragon Strategy Guide
Clash Royale Counter Elite Barbarians Guide
Battlefield 1 Destroying Heavy Tanks Guide
Clash Royale Electro Wizard Challenge Tips
Paragon Carry Role Murdock Guide
Paragon Countess Ability Penetration Guide
Paragon Bronze To Top 100 Advice
Paragon Complete Cards List
Paragon Ward Placement Guide
Pokemon Sun and Moon Making Most of Festival Plaza
Heroes of the Storm Rexxar Guide
Heroes of the Storm Climbing Out of Low Ranks Guide
Heroes of the Storm Zarya Comprehensive Guide
Pokemon Sun and Moon Island Scan Guide
Pokemon Sun and Moon Festival Plaza Guide
Pokemon Sun and Moon Bottle Cap Farming Guide
Pokemon Sun and Moon Get a Salamence In The Beginning Guide
Pokemon Sun and Moon Getting Perfect Chaining Smeargle Guide
Pokemon Sun and Moon Level to 100 in 2 Hours Guide
Pokemon Sun and Moon High Levels Experience Guide
Guild Wars 2 Ascended Gearing Guide
Dota 2 Playing A Good Support Early Game Guide
Dota 2 Support’s Items Complete Guide
Clash Royale Furnace Complete Guide
Clash Royale Graveyard Comprehensive Guide
CS:GO Becoming A Smarter Player Guide
Heroes of the Storm Map Strategies
Clash Royale Miner Complete Guide
Heroes of the Storm How To Lane Guide
Heroes of the Storm Beginner’s Complete Guide
Overwatch Junkrat Team Oriented Play Guide
Clash Royale Lava Hound Basic Guide
Overwatch Carrying As Support Guide
Battlefield 1 Important Tips
Overwatch Hero Meta Tier List
Rocket League Offensive Positioning and Rotation Guide
Repairing Your Credit Score Guide
Pokemon Sun and Moon Demo All Obtainable Items Guide
Destiny Skeleton Key Chest Loot Chart
Destiny PvP Guide to Getting Good
Destiny Heroic Wrath of the Machine Easy Guide
Overwatch Mercy In-Depth Guide
Dragon Nest What To Do After Level 93
Dragon Nest Leveling 1 to 93 Guide
Dragon Nest What Class to Play Guide
Elite Dangerous Weapon Damage Stats List
Elite Dangerous Fixed Weapons Guide
Elite Dangerous Circle Strafing Guide
Heroes of the Storm Low Tier Ranked Climbing Guide
Destiny Light Level Boosting Caps List
WoW Legion Mythic Dungeons Tips and Guide
WoW Legion Classes Overview Which to Pick Guide
Path of Exile Identifying Valuable Items Guide
LoL Vi Advanced Tips and Tricks
Yu-Gi-Oh! Ojamas Guide
War Thunder Best Tier 4 Grinders Guide
Duelyst Swarm Abyssian Guide
Duelyst Solo Challenge Solutions Guide
Duelyst Budget Lilithe Decklist and Guide
Duelyst Backstabhai S-Rank Deck Guide
Clash Royale Musketeer and Ice Spirit Techniques and Combos
Clash Royale Ice Golem Advanced Techniques and Combos
Overwatch Peripherals, Settings and Posture Guide
Overwatch Streamers To Watch for Each Hero
Destiny Power Level Past 365 Light Guide
Osu! Improving Yourself Guide
Destiny 365 Light Without Fireteam Guide
Evolve Competitive Perks Setup For All Roles
Evolve Hunter Tips and Advice
Evolve Assault Competitive Perks Guide
Pokemon Go Getting Maximum Coins From Gyms Guide
Clash Royale Giant Bowler Decks and Counters Guide
Clash Royale Lava Hound Ultimate Guide
Clash Royale How to Use Every Legendary Guide
Clash Royale Mega Minion Guide
Clash Royale Inferno Dragon Guide
Rocket League Ground Dribbling and Flicks Guide
Hearthstone How to Practice Effectively Guide
Destiny Wrath of the Machine Loot and Locations Guide
Destiny Wrath of the Machine Comprehensive Guide
Overwatch Lucio Healing Guide
SWTOR Warzone Mechanics Guide
Black Desert Online Grind Spots Etiquette Guide
MH Generations Monster Drops Getting What You Want Guide
Overwatch Playing Against Mei Guide
Overwatch Zarya Energy Guide
Pokemon Go Important Tips Guide
Overwatch Ana Healing Guide
Pokemon Go Countering Less Common Gym Defenders
Pokemon Go Countering Dragonite and Snorlax
Pokemon Go Base Catch and Flee Rates
Destiny Reputation Guide for Leveling
Summoners War Trial of Ascension Full Guide
SMITE Xing Tian’s Mountain Guide
War Thunder Flight Energy Guide
Clash Royale Sparky Elixir Management Guide
Overwatch Getting Good with Reinhardt Guide
Clash Royale Ice Spirit Strategy Guide
Overwatch Achievement Guide
Overwatch Healing Guide
Pokemon Go Weave DPS Best Movesets Guide
Pokemon Go Countering Grass Type Gym Defenders
Clash Royale All Tank Units Guide
Pokemon Go Holding Gyms For 5 Days Guide
Overwatch Lucio Speed Buff Guide
Overwatch Bastion Tips
Clash Royale Log Spell Guide
Pokemon Go Countering Water Type Gym Defenders
Pokemon Go Countering Fire Type Gym Defenders
Pokemon Go Buddy System Distance Per Candy List
Clash Royale Using Each Card on Defense Guide
Overwatch Genji Dragonblade Guide
Overwatch Reinhardt Guide
Overwatch Being Nano-Boosted by Ana Guide
Overwatch Mercy Detailed Guide
Evolve Renegade Abe Guide
Monster Hunter X Switch Axe Combo DPS Guide
Monster Hunter X Switch Axe Infinite Burst Combo Guide
Evolve Assault Unlock Priorities Guide
Evolve Support Unlock Priorities Guide
Evolve Medic Unlock Priorities Guide
Evolve Jack Guide
Black Desert Online Kunoichi PvP Guide
Brave Frontier Endless FG Guide
Overwatch Competitive Play Guide
Overwatch Pharah Beginner’s Guide
Clash Royale Sparky Troop Countering Strategies Guide

Leave a Reply