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July 9, 2017

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Using Health as a Resource in Arena


Hello everyone. Today I want to dive into a topic which is well known by seasoned Arena veterans and may be unheard of for newer players. Today I want to talk about your hero’s health in Arena, how to use it as a resource and worry about losing health less. This guide is aimed at newer players yet even moderate or seasoned Arena players can learn as well. The article is aimed at Arena yet similar principles apply in constructed play too. We will cover how to use health as a resource and exchange it with other resources such as tempo and card advantage. On top of that we will talk how much can you push your life total until you risk dying and much more.

Importance of health

In hearthstone only the last hit point matters. There is no difference whether you win with 30 or 1 hit point remaining. In both cases the win is equal. Therefore out of the 30 health that you start with only the last 1 matters. Other 29 hit points can be used as a resource to help gain an advantage over your opponent. Often times newer players are too concerned about their hero’s remaining health. The most common problem is that newer players think of the loss in a short term. In some situations it’s a good idea to sacrifice some health on the current turn, so that you will save more health in the later turns. For example on paper Flame Imp will seem like a bad card because you don’t want to deal  3 damage to yourself. But if you look in the long run, the 3/2 body could trade with a 4/3 minion. If you hadn’t played Flame Imp in that scenario, you would have lost 4 health. But now you only lost 3 and also got a good trade. This of course seems like a very basic example, however it’s good to help illustrate the point. There are many scenarios like this and you will encounter many of them in your Arena games. Often times a play may lose 5 health on the current turn but may save 10 in the long run. If you don’t take the play which sacrifices 5 health so save 10 later, it may be the cause of the loss in some cases where the opponent won just by a shiver of health. When thinking about life as a resource, the most important thing is to think long term rather than next turn or two.

Health in Arena

Arena is a whole different kind of beast when compared to constructed play. Due to randomness of 3 offered cards during the draft, Arena decks tend to be way less aggressive than constructed ones. In constructed you can freely choose the cards you want to put into your deck and of course if you decide to make an aggressive deck in constructed, you won’t put big late game cards into it because it doesn’t help your win condition. In Arena you can’t avoid cards that are off from your win condition. Even if a player decides to go and draft as aggressive deck as possible, chances are he will still get many late game or defensive cards because simply this is the nature of Arena. Because of the randomness decks tend to be way less aggressive in Arena as mentioned. Less aggressive decks mean that your health isn’t as valuable as much because it won’t be threatened as much. Therefore in Arena you can use health freely compared to constructed where you always need to watch out for aggressive decks and high burst damage. This allows to use health as a resource even more so in Arena. Another important thing is that in Arena aggressive decks have way less burst damage from hand. In constructed, players will often put high amounts of burst damage into their decks so they can finish off their opponent once their board is gone. In arena burst isn’t that much of a factor and as long as you can dodge the common damage spells from each class you can safely go down to single digit hit points without worrying about dying.

How much health you need

Now the question arises – how much health is enough? Clearly you don’t want to be at 6 health against a Mage because you will get killed easily by Fireball. So how low can you go before worrying? First of all when deciding whether you should use health as a resource, look at how much damage opponent has on the board. 20 health means nothing if your opponent has 30 damage available to hit your face next turn. Damage on board includes minions and weapons that your opponent has. If you have any taunts on the board you can reduce the damage your opponent has since he will need to spend a part of it dealing with the taunt you have, unless he has a hard removal for that taunt. Once you know how big of a punch the opponent will pack for the next turn, you should always consider the class your rival is playing. Some classes have a lot of damage available from hand, whilst others can only deal very small amounts of damage from hand. Of course how much you want to play around depends on by how much ahead or behind you are in the game. Naturally if you are behind you usually can’t afford to play around certain cards, especially if they are epic. On the other hand if you are way ahead in the game and there is nothing to risk, you may want to reduce the possibility of a strong card completely turning the whole game upside down. Generally speaking if you aren’t ahead by a lot, you shouldn’t play around epic cards or 2 card combos by your opponent unless you have a specific read that your opponent has them. For example if you Play against a Paladin you might not be able to afford to play around both Truesilver Champion and Consecration which would deal 6 damage from hand. Instead of that you may opt to play around just Truesilver alone ignoring the possibility of consecration alongside it. Once you have figured out how far ahead you are, you should consider the common damage dealing cards the opponent can have and you will know how low can you go with your health before risking losing a game to a lucky draw. For example Against a Mage you should play around at least 7 damage which is Fireball plus a hero power. Against a Druid you should play around 4 from Swipe. I wont name exactly all the classes since the cards rotate in and out of standard and new card with more burst potential may come out in a future set. An important thing to note, however is that you shouldn’t think only about the upcoming turn. If you are with 8 hit points remaining against a Mage, he can always set up a 2 turn lethal by using his hero power for one turn and then killing you with Fireball plus a hero power in the next turn. Same goes for Hunter’s hero power. Once you have 10 health you should know that you only have 5 turns to live. This means you will either need to finish the game in less than 5 turns or find a way to heal yourself. Of course as many other things in Arena having a feel of how low you can push your health total will come with experience. Nonetheless I hope these guidelines help.

Exchanging health for card advantage

With certain cards and abilities you can exchange health into card advantage and vice versa. First of all there are simple examples like Life Tap which sacrifices health and tempo in exchange for card advantage. Weapons are a great example of exchanging health into card advantage. Gorehowl is an extreme example of this, often giving 3 or 4 cards in exchange for only 1 plus a ton o health. There are also more interesting ways of interchanging health and card advantage. For example say your opponent has a board. You can choose to AoE it or you can wait until opponent develops more. By choosing to wait you will take damage to face but in return you will get more value from your AoE. This way you indirectly convert health into more value. Whether you should convert health into card advantage should be decided by the deck archetype you are playing. In a control deck or in certain classes like Priest you will often want to convert health to card advantage as much as possible since that is your win condition. On the other hand converting card advantage to health is simple. Simple healing spells like Healing Touch or minions with healing attached to them sacrifice card advantage in exchange for health. Most of the time these types of cards are often considered bad in Arena. As we have covered before, health isn’t as important in Arena since there are a few to none truly aggressive decks. Because of this card advantage is a way more valuable resource. This means most of the time you won’t want to exchange your card advantage into health.

Exchanging health for tempo

Health can also be exchanged for tempo just like it can be exchanged for card advantage. As previously mentioned there are minions who sacrifice your hero’s health for bigger stats like Flame Imp or Unlicensed Apothecary. Weapons on top of providing card advantage, can also provide tempo. Even though at the start weapons are anti tempo when you play them, for the next turns they provide damage that requires no resources but health. For example if you play a Fiery War Axe on turn 2 and kill a minion you didn’t get a big tempo swing or got too much value on that turn. The kicker is that next turn you will be able to deal 3 damage essentially for free without using any mana or additional cards. The only thing that you will be reduced of is your hero’s health. Converting tempo to health is easy too. Firstly you can just play simple healing cards which we covered earlier. On top of that you can play understated minions which heal. The problem is that as we’ve mentioned, health isn’t important in Arena which means you will just be playing understated minions if you choose to play these minions with healing in them such as Cult Apothecary. Whilst it isn’t recommended to draft these type of cards, having 1 or 2 of them in a deck doesn’t hurt.


Well that concludes our topic for today. Health is a topic I wanted to talk for a while and whilst this guide was aimed at newer players, if you aren’t one I still hope you learned something you can apply in your Arena games. Don’t worry I will be getting into more advanced Arena stuff in the future. As always thanks for reading and stay tuned for more Arena articles in the near future. Until next time.

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A Hearthstone player and Arena enthusiast since 2014. Article writer since 2015. An Arena coach since 2016. If you're interested in Arena coaching send me an email at

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