by Will "GernBlanston" Thompson
If the faces of most e-sports personalities are to be believed, Hearthstone is a young person’s game. But that doesn’t account for all the parents out there who, while not dreaming of Blizzcon glory, at least dream of climbing the ladder or going infinite in Arena.
As a father and Hearthstone player, I am constantly balancing my time in front of the screen with my responsibilities. With a few years of TCGs under my belt and just a few months of Hearthstone, I’ve learned a few tricks to help stay focused on improving and having fun.
How much can you play? Can you get in 300 or more games in a month on ladder? If not, then you’re probably not going to hit Legend right now. Be realistic with your time and, just as important, be aware of your mental state.
Right when I get home from work isn’t a great time to play because I’m spent, not to mention that my daughter wants to play Weebles and I need to fix dinner. If you can find a set time to play each day, do it. A friend plays during his bus commute. I often play on the stationary bike or while my daughter falls asleep—though at that time I’m usually relegated to Druid, since her favorite hero is “the reindeer.”
In addition to time, keep in mind that you’re not always at your mental peak during your usual play time. If work was especially draining, today might be the day to dink around with a new deck in casual. Be flexible. While Hearthstone might have a ton of variance, life’s RNG is always going to deliver even crazier swings.
I often play while my daughter falls asleep, though I’m usually relegated to Druid, since her favorite hero is 'the reindeer.'
How much can you invest, right off the bat? If you want to be super competitive and have almost every meta deck right away, you’re likely looking at a $400 dollar investment, possibly a little more.
Lucky for you, Hearthstone is free to play (unless you ask Jaxox #neverlucky). Control decks are fun and, yes, golden Knife Jugglers are absolutely worth it (the knife spins), but starting out with a deck you can afford and building your collection slowly ensures you learn your first decks well.
If you’re coming at Hearthstone with budget limitations, just enjoy the ride. Cracking that Sylvanas you need in a pack from quest gold or disenchanting a golden Windfury Harpy to finally net the dust for that Lay On Hands will be something to remember. Make memories. Take screenshots. Savor the small stuff.
We all want to reach Legend every month, but is it realistic for you right now? As of this moment, Rank 5 is my Legend. I say that knowing my current abilities, as well as time and mental constraints. Do you want to be an infinite Arena player? If you’re at three to four average wins right now, maybe aim for hitting 50 wins over your next 10 runs.
Making matters somewhat worse, one of the few in-game rewards is that sweet, sweet orange cardback. But that doesn't mean you should ignore your personal milestones. Celebrate these incremental goals—crack a pack, use some dust. Hearthstone is a game and games are designed to be fun, in addition to whatever else we get out of them. Don’t make firing up Hearthstone be a trip to the salt mines. That’s what Facebook is for.
After a particularly brutal three-day losing streak during my second month of Hearthstone, part of me wanted to up and quit. Thankfully, VendiClique added me to the THL group and, despite my fears that I would horribly embarrass myself, I sought a spot on a team and was very lucky to get picked up (shout out to the dudes in Entropy).
Even if I hadn’t been drafted then, I’d have hung around and asked questions. THL is extremely well run and the folks at the top do an incredible job of making it welcoming for players of all levels. If THL isn’t for you, seek out a positive place with players that can assist you and that you can also assist. Sure, I usually sit at about Rank 12 and can’t figure how to best navigate the midgame with anything but Face Hunter or midrange Druid (note to self: go face), but I can definitely help a noob out with some card choices or in making better trades.
THL is extremely well run and the folks at the top do an incredible job of making it welcoming for players of all levels. If THL isn’t for you, seek out a positive place with players that can assist you and that you can also assist.
What about your loved ones? My wife doesn’t particularly find watching Hearthstone interesting (though I’m pretty sure Fallout 3 brought us closer together than just about anything), but my daughter loves the animations and characters. She sometimes sits and watches me play, telling me when my “job’s done” or that she really wants me to play Jaraxxus. Other times, she’ll play Play-Doh and I’ll roll up whatever shape she wants on my opponent’s turn.
Also, the game is free. Con one of your buddies into trying the game and walk them through the beginner stages and maybe buy them a few packs. My best friend lives in Seattle, but we talk about Hearthstone almost every day and I help him with what to disenchant and occasionally coach him through the lower ranks.
Podcasts are a great way for the time strapped to get a Hearthstone fix. Most Hearthstone podcasts are run by average folks just like you, but who also have a microphone. Noob Central’s AlecGWPodcast co-hosts Golden Wisp, a great source of news, strategy, and metagame rundown. If time is of the essence, give 1600 Dust a listen. In 20 short minutes, these guys cover what’s new in the game and throw in the occasional guest, such as KRUPS.
In short: Don’t isolate yourself. Look for those who can share the game with you. But not in Twitch chat. Never, never in Twitch chat.
Hearthstone is great. THL is awesome. Be excellent to each other. Don’t give up. Work hard. Have fun. Gaming doesn’t have to end at parenthood, after all the first draft of this was written with my daughter napping on my shoulder.
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