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Understanding Hearthstone deck types - Hearthstone

From aggro to tempo, here's everything you need to know about Hearthstone's different deck types.

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About John Bedford

John is Metabomb's Editor in Chief, and is responsible for all of the Hearthstone news, features and guides content on the site.

As you dig deeper into Hearthstone, you'll discover that decks tend to fall into one of a handful of categories. There are hundreds of cards in the game, but they're all balanced well enough that decks typically lend themselves to quite a small number of broader strategies. For the newcomer to Hearthstone, not to mention collectible card games as a whole, this categorisation of deck types can be confusing at first.

For this reason, we've put together a quick guide to all of the most common deck archetypes you'll encounter as you play. Whenever you stumble across a new deck, take a moment to consider why it's been allocated into its particular category. Doing so will not only help you understand the best way to advance towards that deck's win conditions during matches, it will also help you forge a balanced yet focused deck when it comes to your own unique creations.

Aggro decks

These decks are designed with one job in mind - bring the opponent down to zero health as quickly as possible, and with minimal time spent controlling the boad. Quickly played low-mana minions, spells and weapons are typically the order of the day here, although don't discount the decks that derive much of their damage from creatures like Chillwind Yeti either. By focusing their attention on cards that punch far above their Mana cost, these decks seek to get the most bang from each turn's buck.

Control decks

If you prefer a more economical, thoughtful and strategic approach to gameplay, you'll likely enjoy wielding a control-orientated deck instead. At every step of the early to mid-game, you'll want to deal with your opponent's threats as quickly as possible, leaving you perfectly poised to begin your own assault with a small number of powerful late-game cards. You'll likely need to bait out your opponent's hard removal cards - Polymorph is a prime example - to ensure that your late-game monsters live long enough to do their job.

Midrange decks

The lines are a little blurred between this deck archetype and the previous one, but you're likely playing a midrange deck if you're constantly trying to snowball your own threat, while efficiently dealing with your opponent's. This will likely involve using cards with added bonus effects, such as a Divine Shield, which will help you deal with an enemy minion while still leaving your damage dealer alive on the board. Don't worry too much about the confusion between Midrange and Control, as they share much of the same strategic philosophy, but just be aware of the finer points of difference.

Tempo decks

Tempo decks largely sacrifice card advantage in favour of increasingly powerful minions that become ever more irritating to remove. This style of play forces your opponent to waste cards rather than play to the board, allowing you to keep chipping away at their health with increasingly bothersome effectiveness. Think of Deathrattle cards that feed the Undertaker, or spells that feed Mana Wyrm. From a defensive perspective, cards like Freezing Trap belong to the tempo category too, as they frustrate your opponent's development of the board, while allowing your own fighting forces to tick merrily along.

Combo decks

These sorts of decks are typically slotted into one of the broader archetypes listed above, but there are certain strategies that lean so heavily on a specific win condition that they can arguably be defined separately. An example of a deck with a very specific win condition is the Miracle Rogue, which seeks to rapidly assemble an army of cards that can finish the bulk of an enemy's health in one turn. Another is the Druid's Force of Nature and Savage Roar combo that can remove nearly half an opponent's health in the late-game. As even these decks require elements of control to make it alive to the critical combo play, they're more usefully categorised under the broader definitions above.

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