The first decision you have to make when you fire up any game of Hearthstone is which cards you want to keep as part of the Mulligan process. In all of our deck spotlights, we've tried to give you a good idea of which opening plays are the strongest, but how do you know what you're likely to face in the early turns against each opponent?
Hearthstone is a game that, for the most part, adheres to a very strict metagame, one dominated by players who go to the internet to copy decks – net-decking as it's known. That means that you can often have a very good idea of what each Hero is likely to want to put into play in the opening turns, assuming they get the cards that they themselves want, of course.
Here's a look at what to expect from each Hero at present.
Common Hunter plays
You can expect to face off against an extremely aggressive opponent here, so you should aim for cards that can trade efficiently, or just remove the threat from the board completely. Don't neglect to build your own fighting force though, as the Hunter's Hero Power will eventually whittle your health down to nothing while you fiddle around.
Common Mage plays
In the current metagame, the Mechwarper is king, so it's really important that you can answer this bothersome minion as quickly as possible. A removal spell or a 3/2 minion will do very nicely here, and make sure you take it down fast. The more you can control the board against the Mage, the better you'll do overall.
Common Warlock plays
There are two common variations of the Warlock to keep in mind when you first see your opponent: the Handlock who builds huge hands of cards to build powerful minions with, and the Zoolock who seeks to field a lot of low-Mana minions to control the board and then race to the finishing line.
Generally speaking, you should assume you'll be facing off against a Zoo Lock, as this is the archetype that's most dangerous to leave unchecked in the opening turns. Common cards you'll face early on are Flame Imp, Voidwalker, Knife Juggler so look for methods for controlling these cards.
Common Warrior plays
Chances are the Warrior you're facing is going to be of the Control flavour, so anything you can keep in your hand that will help you deal with Acolyte of Pain (in one wallop) and Armorsmith are likely to prove useful here. Assume your opponent will have Fiery War Axe in hand, and that the first minion you plop onto the board has a good chance of dying.
Common Druid plays
Ramp Druid is insanely popular at the moment, so it's well worth keeping a hard removal spell in your hand to deal with a beefy threat that ends up on the board early on. Apart from that, try to build up a decent army of minions in the early turns, and if you have to trade them off against your opponent's minions, try to minimise the impact of a turn four Swipe.
Common Priest plays
Northshire Cleric isn't necessarily the most efficient turn one play from a Priest, particularly if the opponent – ie you – has wised up and packed in the means to dispatch it fast. Whatever you do, don't put a minion down against the Cleric that can't do three points of damage, otherwise you're just helping your opponent to feed their hand. Better to take the one point of damage until you have a decent answer.
Common Rogue plays
There are quite a few Rogue deck archetypes floating around at the moment, and so pinning down an all-in-one Mulligan guide when you're up against this Hero is quite tricky. With that said, SI: 7 Agent remains an extremely popular card to play in the early turns, and you can expect to see that basic dagger developed into something that will slow your tempo down considerably.
Common Shaman plays
Cards like Earth Shock are extremely popular in the opening turns, and can shut down your deck synergy pretty fast – particularly if you're relying on the popular Mechwarper opening. You can also expect to see Feral Spirit played on turn three, so a decent turn three or turn four minion can be essential for breaking down the defensive wall.
Common Paladin plays
The rules have changed a bit since the Paladin received Muster for Battle in the Goblins vs Gnomes expansion. It is now not only acceptable, but entirely sane, to hang onto your mass removal spell if you're lucky enough to have one available to you. The threat has to be eliminated immediately, and before Quartermaster can be brought into play. Otherwise you're looking for traditionally solid minions and spells that can deal with the likes of Knife Juggler and Shielded Minibot.