Hearthstone - best basic decks, free decks, beginner's guide

Essential starting advice and the best decks that won't cost you a penny to play.

Blizzard's free-to-play competitive card game Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft finally left beta a little earlier this year, and since then it's captured the obsessive minds of millions of PC and iPad gamers alike. It's certainly a rare lunchtime in Eurogamer's office where half a dozen people aren't playing the game, and so we thought it was about time we put together a new player guide that you can use to quickly get acclimatised to the game.

We've started out with a brief guide to the most fundamental basics of Hearthstone - how the game plays out, the different types of cards, and so on. Next, we've put together a breakdown of each Hero class's playstyle, the most popular cards you're likely to encounter for each class, along with a completely free deck that you can use to start your own climb up the game's ranking system. Finally, we've created a Gold guide that will help keep the chase flowing, and narrowed our experience down into half a dozen general tips that will significantly improve your success rate as a new player.

Hearthstone - beginner's guide, classes, Hero Powers, card types, game modes
First things first, our starter guide will help you get to grips with the very basics of Hearthstone. We'll walk you through how a match plays out, what makes one Hero different from another, the different types of cards available in the game, and how you can get more of them for your collection. We've also outlined the different play modes available in the game.

Hearthstone - best free Druid deck, basic deck, Druid cards
Ready to answer the call of the wild? Hearthstone's Druid class isn't the easiest one to get to grips with, but it's great fun if you like to control the flow of a game, and set up your meatiest minions for greatness. Our guide to the class will help you understand some key cards in the Druid's arsenal, and our completely free-to-play deck will help you get to grips with the Druid's combat.

Hearthstone - best Hunter basic deck, free deck, Hunter cards
The Hunter's recent re-balancing has caused it to fall out of favour somewhat, but it's still an unquestionably powerful class. Even if it's not a class you intend to play much, you'll do well to take a look through this section of the guide for a simple way to avoid the worst of the Hunter's annoying Secrets system.

Hearthstone - best free Mage deck, basic deck, Mage cards
If your combat preference involves flinging magic all over the place like a complete lunatic, then the Mage class will likely be your favourite. It's also got some of the best removal spells in the game, and we'll show you the right way to play them all to your best advantage. You'll be surprised at how far our free Mage deck will take you too.

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Hearthstone's nine classes each bring something very different to the table.

Hearthstone - best Paladin basic deck, free deck, Paladin cards
Like the Hunter, the Paladin makes use of a handful of Secrets that you need to know your way around if you're to beat the class in battle. We've got a guide to some of the most common cards you'll encounter when playing both with and against the Paladin, along with a free deck that will help you acclimatise to this very versatile class.

Hearthstone - best free Priest deck, basic deck, Priest cards
While not as potent as it was during Hearthstone's beta, the Priest class is currently enjoying a bit of a renaissance thanks to some new card synergies discovered by the community. Many of those cards will be out of reach of the newcomer, but we'll show you how to get to grips with the fundamentals of the Priest. Even we were surprised at how highly we were able to rank with our free-to-play Priest deck.

Hearthstone - best Rogue basic deck, free deck, Rogue cards
Because of its combo system that relies on multiple cards being played at once, the Rogue can be an intimidating class for the newcomer to get to grips with. If knowledge is power, though, it pays to walk a mile in this class's shadowy shoes, and our completely free deck will help you gain an understanding of the tricks to watch out for in combat.

Hearthstone - best free Shaman deck, basic deck, Shaman cards
If you're determined not to spend a penny on Hearthstone, the Shaman can be a tough class to master. Its starter cards lack some of the oomph afforded to other classes, and the Shaman's unique Overload system takes a little while to get used to. It is possible to rank well with the class regardless, and we'll explain how to play our showcase free Shaman deck.

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Don't make the same mistakes we did. We've got some essential tips that will help you get ahead of the competition.

Hearthstone - best Warlock basic deck, free deck, Warlock cards, zoo, rush
Thanks to its unique card-drawing ability that allows it to gain more cards at the expense of Hero health, the Warlock typically favours decks built around playing lots of low-cost minions nice and quickly. Our deck, based on the popular "zoo" format, plays precisely to these strengths. We've also got some essential tips for what to do when you find yourself on the wrong side of this puppet-master.

Hearthstone - best free Warrior deck, basic deck, Warrior cards
The Warrior's weapons speciality, combined with a Hero Power that allows the class to effectively increase its health pool, makes this a very tricky class for the newcomer to play against. We've got a guide to some of the most common cards you'll face when playing this opponent, along with a free-to-play Warrior deck for when you feel like turning the tables on some other victim.

Hearthstone - gold farming, quests, rewards, cap, achievements
If you want to get your hands on plenty of new cards for your deck-building endeavours, you're going to need to get hold of plenty of Gold and crafting dust. Follow our Gold-making guide to get your hands on some easy cash early on, and keep the money flowing as you play the game.

Hearthstone - tips, tricks, weapons guide, minion trades, board control, spells
Everyone makes the same mistakes when they start playing Hearthstone. We've got half a dozen vital tips that - with practice - will help you become a much better Hearthstone player, much faster. If you're struggling to improve your win/loss ratio, we can help you push through to the next level of understanding.

Naxxramas walkthrough

Our guide to the new Naxxramas content is live now. Use the links below to access all of the decks and strategies you need for beating the new bosses - even on Heroic mode.

Hearthstone: Naxxramas - details, bosses, new cards, pricing, class challenges
Absolutely everything you need to know to get started with the new Naxxramas Adventure content.

Hearthstone: Naxxramas - Arachnid Quarter, Anub'Rekhan, Grand Widow Faerlina, Maexxna
Our complete walkthrough for the first wing of Naxxramas, with strategy guides for knocking down all three bosses without breaking a sweat.

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