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Hearthstone Guide: How to Build the Best Decks with Basic Cards, Starter Strategies and Tips

In our third Hearthstone how-to, we check out the classes and some great beginner decks you can build with only the basic cards.

By Cassandra Khaw. Published 2 months ago

It stands to reason that most of the splashy, gold-trimmed Legendary cards would require you to either fork out some pixelated gold or real-world moolah. After all, Blizzard's running a free-to-play card collectible card game, not a charity. But don't let that scare you. While time and effort will eventually guide you to a treasure trove of rare cards and craftables, it's entirely possible to go ahead and sorta run amok with only the most basic of cards. In our third Hearthstone how-to, we're going to keep to the totally-not-intended-but-somehow-turned-out-that-way-and-that's-okay "get something for pretty much nothing" narrative and check out beginner-friendly decks.

(For those curious about our last two how-tos, we've talked about a) common terms in the game and b) ways to get money without spending any money. Fake Hearthstone money, mind you. Not the kind which buys physical copies of video games.)

Druids

Druids are beastly. Which is probably why they're dominating the current Hearthstone meta. However, the class isn't without issues. Malfurion Stormrage, for all his versatility and penchant for snowballing along metaphorical ramps, starts with what many consider the worst starter deck of all of Hearthstone's many classes. But while common wisdom would suggest that you invest some dust, time and/or gold into building a proper Druid set, it's still entirely possible to claw your way through Ranked Play with these basic decks.

Icy Veins' Basic Druid Deck

The basic idea behind this deck runs concurrent with what you'd expect of any Druid deck: cards which provide an early-game mana boost, powerful minions which can take advantage of said resources, and a smattering of other cards to help deal with various situations as the player ramps up towards mid-late game.

  • 2x Innervate
  • 2x Claw
  • 2x Mark of the Wild
  • 2x Wild Growth
  • 2x Acidic Swamp Ooze
  • 2x Novice Engineer
  • 2x River Crocolisk
  • 2x Shattered Sun Cleric
  • 2x Wolfrider
  • 2x Chillwind Yeti
  • 1x Sen'jin Shieldmasta
  • 1x Gnomish Inventor
  • 2x Swipe
  • 2x Starfire
  • 2x Boulderfist Ogre
  • 2x Ironbark Protector

All Basic Spellpower Druid

This deck's straight from a chap who goes by the alias questcg on the Hearthhead website. Unlike the previous Deck, questcg's selection of cards is considerably more focused on spellpower. Swipe, a card which deals 4 damage to one enemy and 1 damage to all other opponents, takes on a pivotal role here. With the careful application of spellpower-enhancing minions, Swipe can be transformed from "great" to "face-smashing." Which is, coincidentally, precisely what you should be aiming to do with this deck.

  • 2x Kobold Geomancer
  • 2x Dalaran Mage
  • 2x Shattered Sun Cleric
  • 2x Wolfrider
  • 2x Chillwind Yeti
  • 2x Ogre Magi
  • 2x Sen'jin Shieldmasta
  • 1x Darkscale Healer
  • 1x Gurubashi Berserker
  • 2x Innervate
  • 2x Moonfire
  • 2x Mark of the Wild
  • 1x Wild Growth
  • 1x Savage Roar
  • 2x Swipe
  • 2x Starfire
  • 2x Ironbark Protector

Priest

If you've spent any amount of time in World of Warcraft, you're probably already acquainted with what Priests can do. Ordinarily, they're quiet individuals, content to hang around and dole out globs of sweet, sweet healing energy. But these aren't your grandfather's priests. When incensed, they'll whip out maces, righteous vengeance and that god-forsaking mind control. Unsurprisingly, Priests in Hearthstone are tonally similar. Many of their tactics hinge on health management and healing -- there's an infamous combo which can potentially destroy a Hero in just one turn. Additionally, Priests have access to a wide range of mind-bending options: cards that clone other cards, cards that can steal other cards, cards that can instantly drop anything that is not a 4-Attack critter.

Doctor Draw

The Doctor Draw basic Priest deck is arguably the best example of its kind. At least, thats what the general Internet says. I'm not inclined towards disagreeing, however, as this deck apparently succeeded at reaching 1-star Masters without too much effort. This deck is built on a trifecta of ideas: cheap removal spells, high-health minions and ruthless deployment of Northshire Clerics. (Northshire Clerics let you draw a card whenever a minion is healed and, well, there are a lot of heals in this deck. So, yeah.)

  • 2x Novice Engineer
  • 2x River Crocolisk
  • 2x Ironfur Grizzly
  • 2x Shattered Sun Cleric
  • 2x Chillwind Yeti
  • 2x Gnomish Inventor
  • 2x Sen'jin Shieldmasta
  • 2x Darkscale Healer
  • 2x Holy Smite
  • 2x Northshire Cleric
  • 2x Power Word: Shield
  • 2x Shadow Word: Pain
  • 2x Shadow Word: Death
  • 2x Holy Nova
  • 2x Mind Control

Zephyr's Masters 3 Priest Deck

Similar to the Doctor Draw deck, Zephyr's version uses the Northshire Cleric to draw cards out quickly and easy. Unlike the Doctor draw deck, however, this one enjoys the company of bigger, badder end-game cards. As the match progresses, this deck migrates accordingly, eventually culminating in a face-off with heavy hitters like the taunt-capable Lord of the Arena and the Gurubashi Berserker, who get progressively angrier (and scarier) each time they're thumped.

  • 2x Holy Smite
  • 2x Mind Blast
  • 2x Shadow Word: Pain
  • 2x Shadow Word: Death
  • 2x Holy Nova
  • 2x Mind Control
  • 2x Northshire Cleric
  • 2x Novice Engineer
  • 2x River Crocolisk
  • 2x Shattered Sun Cleric
  • 2x Sen'jin Shieldmasta
  • 2x Darkscale Healer
  • 2x Gurubashi Berserker
  • 2x Lord of the Arena
  • 2x Stormwind Champion

Mage

According to the latest report on Hearthstone's meta game, Mages are now but a shadow of their former selves, their muscle crushed under the latest waves of nerfs. Nonetheless, that doesn't necessarily mean you should immediately shun poor Jaina Proudmoore. As you might have already guessed, Mages are big on spells. Enchantments that can turn even the most imposing of enemies into fleecy, disgruntled sheep? Explosive, board-wide nukes that can cut swathes through the opposition? Mages have 'em all, baby.

Giantkiller's Free Basic-Only Deck

A mid-range deck that neither stresses on the aggressive tactics nor banks on the mage's ability to control situations, this is a deck that, according to its creator, "does a good job of building a strong board presence while gaining card advantage though high-value cards, strong trades, and use of your Mage hero power, Fireblast."

  • 2x Arcane Explosion
  • 2x Frostbolt
  • 2x Acidic Swamp Ooze
  • 2x Kobold Geomancer
  • 2x Novice Engineer
  • 2x Arcane Intellect
  • 2x Shattered Sun Cleric
  • 2x Wolfrider
  • 2x Fireball
  • 2x Polymorph
  • 2x Chillwind Yeti
  • 2x Gnomish Inventor
  • 2x Sen'jin Shieldmasta
  • 2x Gurubashi Berserker
  • 2x Boulderfist Ogre

DerMef's Basic Mage Deck Revised

In some ways, I suppose, this is what you'd call a "community effort". The original deck is based on something a Hearthstone player called DerMef created. The revision, on the other hand, can be credited to someone called pinycone, who swapped around a few key units in order to create something faster, cheaper and potentially capable of a strong early game. (Also, this was compiled by a completely random third party so there's that too.)

  • 2x Mana Wyrm x2
  • 2x Frostbolt x2
  • 2x Sorcerer's Apprentice x2
  • 2x Arcane Intellect x2
  • Ice Barrier
  • 2xFireball x2
  • 2x Polymorph x2
  • 2x Water Elemental x2
  • Flamestrike
  • 2x Acidic Swamp Ooze x2
  • 2x Novice Engineer x2
  • 2x Shattered Sun Cleric x2
  • 2x Chillwind Yeti x2
  • 2x Mogu'shan Warden x2
  • Azure Drake
  • Archmage
  • Stormwind Champion x2

Rogues

Generally speaking, rogues are yet another one of those classes which require some initial investment before they can truly shine. Like their World of Warcraft counterparts, Rogues in Hearthstone thrive on poison-tipped daggers and fast, hard-hitting combos. Heck, to date, they're the only class capable of utilizing the combo mechanic - a fact you should completely use to your own advantage. Needless to say, mastering these combos is an essential skill. A good Rogue can easily put the pressure on early in the game. Can you picture a world where you have three 2 attack creatures out by the second turn? Rogues can.

Rolia's Spell Power Rogue Deck

Once again, it should be stressed that Basic Decks should not be viewed as end-all solutions. Certainly, this spellpower-centric Rogue Deck is far from the most ideal creation. However, that doesn't stop it from being entertaining. The creator of the mod advises dragging out the match for as long as possible, using spells and weapons whenever necessary, before finally unleashing "a big finisher with any remaining minions and spells."

  • 2x Acidic Swamp Ooze x2
  • 2x Bloodfen Raptor x2
  • 2x Kobold Geomancer x2
  • 2x Novice Engineer x2
  • 2x Shattered Sun Cleric x2
  • 2xWolfrider x2
  • 2x Chillwind Yeti x2
  • 2x Ogre Magi x2
  • 2x Sen'jin Shieldmasta x2
  • 2x Backstab x2
  • 2x Deadly Poison x2
  • 2x Shiv x2
  • 2x Fan of Knives x2
  • 2x Assassin's Blade x2
  • 2x Assassinate x2

ch3p3's Basic Rogue Deck

A simple deck for a simple beginning, ch3p3's basic Rogue deck doesn't attempt to do anything really fancy. Instead, it focuses on maintaining a good variety of minions on the board while increasing the overall damage of spells with the help of spellpower-enhancing creatures. There are the usual suspects as well, of course: removal cards and the omnipresent, venom-tipped weaponry.

  • 2x Voodoo Doctor
  • 2x Acidic Swamp Ooze
  • 2x Kobold Geomancer
  • 2x hattered Sun Cleric
  • 2x Ogre Magi
  • 2x Sen'jin Shieldmasta
  • 2x Darkscale Healer
  • 2x Stormwind Champion
  • 2x Backstab
  • 2x Deadly Poison
  • 2x Shiv
  • 2x Fan of Knives
  • 2x Assassin's Blade
  • 2x Assassinate
  • 2x Sprint

Shaman

There's nothing like a Shaman to keep the board unpredictable. Of all the available Hero Powers in the game, the Shaman's Totemic Call is easily the most random as there's no guarantee as to which of the four shamanic totems sit will manifest when the ability is used. Still, that doesn't stop Shamans from being scary. With a great selection of buffs, powerful minions and crowd control cards, the Shaman's arsenal is diverse enough to account for every opponent. As an added bonus, they've also got a knack for dishing out vicious amounts of burst damage and rapidly changing the momentum of the game at any given moment.

ch3p3's Basic Shaman deck

Sharing is caring, right? The budget Shaman might lack some of the class's greatest spells but that doesn't mean he can't still dish out some damage. ch3p3, who seems to have a knack for building basic decks, proposes this combination of cards. The deal here seems to be to hold out till about mid-game, where you can take advantage of the delightful synergy between your cards - all those little +1/+1 cards can add up, especially when paired with Bloodlust and/or those terrifying Fire Elementals.

  • 2x Voodoo Doctor
  • 2x Acidic Swamp Ooze
  • 2x Razorfen Hunter
  • 2x Shattered Sun Cleric
  • 2x Chillwind Yeti
  • 2x Sen'jin Shieldmasta
  • 2x Frostwolf Warlord
  • 2x Stormwind Champion
  • 2x Ancestral Healing
  • 2x Rockbiter Weapon
  • 2x Flametongue Totem
  • 2x Hex
  • 2x Windspeaker
  • 2x Bloodlust
  • 2x Fire Elemental

Ghosted's Basic Shaman Deck

Mowing through Ranked on a budget is hard, especially when you're running a basic Shaman deck. Though common wisdom dictates that it's probably a good idea to start crafting cards when possible, it's not impossible to inch through the ladder as a cheapsake. According to Ghosted, this deck has seen conflict at a Three Star Diamond level. While the deck can be played aggressively, it also has staying power towards middle and end game. (P.S: Two Bloodlusts? Just silly.)

  • 2x Acidic Swamp Ooze
  • 2x Novice Engineer
  • 2x Razorfen Hunter
  • 2x Shattered Sun Cleric
  • 2x Chillwind Yeti
  • 2x Gnomish Inventor
  • 2x Frostwolf Warlord
  • 2x Stormwind Champion
  • 2x Ancestral Healing
  • 2x Rockbiter Weapon
  • 2x Flametongue Totem
  • 2x Hex
  • 2x Windspeaker
  • 2x Bloodlust
  • 2x Fire Elemental

Warlock

Ah, warlocks. How I love thee! It's an unforgiving class which often requires players to act boldly and know exactly when to draw blood. Many of the Warlock's abilities require sacrifice: a mana crystal, two point of health, a card or two, a dead minion or three. Lord Jaraxxus, one of the Warlock's Legendary cards, actually causes the total destruction of the Warlock themselves! (It replaces your Hero with a rather intimidating 3/15 creature.) Warlock decks seem to dance between two extremes: early aggression or late-game power plays. How so? Much of it has to do with the Warlock's Soul Tap, which, at the cost of your health, can assist you in gaining an early card advantage. Why wait for the next draw turn when you can simply call out a new card?

ch3p3's Basic Warlock Deck

Once again, we have ch3p3 with yet another bargain bucket Hearthstone deck. No early game this one, ch3p3's basic Warlock looks like it'd really enter its element sometime during the middle of a match. There are spellpower-enhancing minions to help boost the effectiveness of the Warlock's enchantments and a handful of creatures to offer buffs to the rest. I'd suggest working in a commenter's change for this particular deck and work in Drain Life over Hellfire.

  • 2x Acidic Swamp Ooze
  • 2x Dalaran Mage
  • 2x Shattered Sun Cleric
  • 2x Chillwind Yeti
  • 2x Gnomish Inventor
  • 4Sen'jin Shieldmasta
  • 2x Darkscale Healer
  • 2x Archmage
  • 2x Stormwind Champion
  • 2x Soulfire
  • 2x Mortal Coil
  • 2x Voidwalker
  • 2x Shadow Bolt
  • 2x Hellfire
  • 2x Dread Infernal

Paladin

Paladins are well-rounded heavy hitters with a variety of options at their command. With the help of Reinforce, Paladins can quickly amass an army with frightening speed and, more importantly, keep them alive and kicking with help of various spells and buff-granting minions. But there's not all Paladins are about. These armored warriors of the light come equipped with healing spells, great weapons and a variety of ways to flat-out stop damage (at least for a turn). Again, it's one of those classes which do best after you've put some effort into them but that shouldn't stop you from enjoying the Hero, anyway.

>F2P Paladin Deck

This F2P Paladin deck might not be able to get you a place in the annals of Hearthstone history but it's certainly a good starting point for anyone looking to learn the mechanics of a rush deck. The idea here is simple: get as many creatures as possible out, keep them alive, and let them grow into big, strong threats. Also, this deck stands as proof you don't always need to invest too much to have a great time.

  • 2x Acidic Swamp Ooze
  • 2x Blessing of Kings
  • 2x Consecration
  • 2x Dragonling Mechanic
  • 2x Frostwolf Warlord
  • 2x Ironfur Grizzly
  • 2x Lord of the Arena
  • 2x Murloc Tidehunter
  • 2x Razorfen Hunter
  • 2x Stormwind Champion
  • 2x Truesilver Champion
  • 2x Blessing of Might
  • 2x Novice Engineer
  • 2x Raid Leader
  • 2x Sen'jin Shieldmasta

ch3p3's Basic Paladin

That chap(ette) called ch3p3's really good with those basic decks, aren't they? Once again, we can't help but feature their take on the Basic Paladin. A slower deck compared to some, the deck features some bigger creatures and the potential for them to get way, way bigger. As an added bonus, there are ways to keep your high-rollers from instantly being mowed down and a few heals for good measure.

  • 2x Voodoo Doctor
  • 2x Acidic Swamp Ooze
  • 2x River Crocolisk
  • 2x Shattered Sun Cleric
  • 2x Chillwind Yeti
  • 2x Sen'jin Shieldmasta
  • 2x Darkscale Healer
  • 2x Frostwolf Warlord
  • 2x Stormwind Champion
  • 2x Hand of Protection
  • 2x Blessing of Kings
  • 2x Consecration
  • 2x Hammer of Wrath
  • 2x Truesilver Champion
  • 2x Guardian of Kings

Hunter

The Hunter is the king of the jungle or, at least, lord of all Beasts. In general, it isn't uncommon to see Hunter decks built entirely of creatures as the Hero's privy to cards which make them work wonderfully together. Drew Timber Wolf? +1 Attack to all other Beasts! Pulled a Tundra Rhino? Awesome! Now your Beasts can Charge over your enemies. Have Starving Buzzards stacked up? Great! A card each time you pull out another Beast. Happily for those looking towards Hunters, you arrived at the perfect time: hunters were recently buffed with the latest patch. Though still not top-tier material, they're less likely to be squashed by a passing Druid these days, it seems.

All Basic Hunter Deck

Like the Beasts it commands, this Hunter deck is uncomplicated. Much of the idea here is to kill with numbers, to pull out as many Beasts as possible, buff them however you may, and let them run loose with the help of the thundering Tundra Rhinos. There are a lot of ways that this deck could potentially be improved, but it is, as such things go, a great starting point.

  • 2x Hunter's Mark
  • 2x Arcane Shot
  • 2x Timber Wolf
  • 2x Starving Buzzard
  • 2x Animal Companion
  • 2x Kill Command
  • 2x Houndmaster
  • 2x Multi-Shot
  • 2x Tundra Rhino
  • 2x Stonetusk Boar
  • 2x Bloodfen Raptor
  • 2x Ironfur Grizzly
  • 2x Silverback Patriarch
  • 2x Oasis Snapjaw
  • 2x Core Hound

Basic Hunter Deck

Straight from iheartu, we have what is arguably the most thoroughly explained Basic Deck yet -- not that that's terribly relevant to anything. This basic Hunter Deck is a little slower than the last one, with slightly bigger creatures and more stat-boosters.

  • 2x Arcane Shot
  • 2x Timber Wolf
  • 2x Bloodfen Raptor
  • 2x River Crocolisk
  • 2x Staring Buzzard
  • 2x Animal Companion
  • 2x Kill Command
  • 2x Ironfur Grizzly
  • 2x Raid Leader
  • 2x Razorfen Hunter
  • 2x Multi-shot
  • 2x Houndmaster
  • 2x Tundra Rhino
  • 2x Core Hound
  • 2x Stormwind Champion

Warrior

Unsurprisingly, Warriors in Hearthstone enjoy both a strong defense and a devastating offense. Weapons are a-plenty as are defensive cards and minions with a penchant for simply charging ahead. Inversely, while sickeningly adept at both inflicting and receiving damage, Warriors lack the other classes' gift for removal. Which, according to those who play Warrior, might well be only a small price to pay.

iheartu Basic Warrior Deck

ihearthu's take on a basic Warrior Deck uses both Taunts and Charges, with one serving in the defensive capacity and the other taking on an offensive role. There are some sly tricks to it as well: the Elven Archer's 1 point of damage stops looking so silly when utilized in conjunction with the Warrior's Execute card.

  • 2x Execute
  • 2x Whirlwind
  • 2x Elven Archer
  • 2x Stonetusk Boar
  • 2x Fiery War Axe
  • 2x Cleave
  • 2x Heroic Strike
  • 2x Frostwolf Grunt
  • 2x Ironfur Grizzly
  • 2x Wolfrider
  • 2x Korkron Elite
  • 2x Senjin Shieldmasta
  • 2x Arcanite Reaper
  • 2x Stormpike Commando
  • 2x Lord of the Arena

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