When wanting to rank up on the hearthstone ladder, it is all too easy to focus on having the best deck. While having a deck with many good match ups in the meta is very important, a more consistent way to increase your win rate is by making better (ideally the best) plays during the game. It’s no accident that weaker players struggle to rank up with the same decks that far stronger players took to high legendary ranks. Learning to make better plays not only rewards you through a higher win rate, but deepens your understanding of the game and of how you ought to go about improving.

Now that we’ve established that good play is important, we might ask how we should go about learning it. Watching pros play or reading good guides can help you, but at the same time you need to learn to analyze your own plays (and those of others). This is because, baring a personal coach, the person with the most potential to correct your misplays is, well, you. You need to start understanding the game better, so that you can make full use of your learning resources, begin to understand what you’re doing wrong, and learn to identify better plays.

With this guide, I at least want to introduce you to some of the thinking tools required to improve your play. In the first section, we will discuss what the “best play” is, and why it is often so hard to identify, even in retrospect. The second section will highlight several important advantages and gameplay principles, allowing us to discover the best strategy in a given match up or situation.

As for introductions, my name is Mats and I’ve reached legendary on EU this (season 4) and last season (with a peak ranking of 209 in season 3; I wouldn’t take this too seriously though, since it wasn’t quite at the end of the season). I don’t have any real TCG experience outside of Hearthstone, and I had to learn the game the hard way. I hope my analysis will help you improve, and hopefully do so a little faster than I did!