Let’s dive into one of the most-asked questions about one of the most popular online CCGs: is Hearthstone pay-to-win?

Hearthstone has been around for ages, and its monetization systems have changed a couple of times, that's why today we will answer if the game is pay-to-win or not.

If you are thinking about starting a Hearthstone account or returning to the game and you are afraid it has become pay-to-win, check out this article. I've included some tips and links to guides that will help you along the way.

Hearthstone: Pay-to-win or Free-to-play?

To begin answering the question, we first need some ground definitions. By Pay-to-win we make reference to the ability to gain an extreme advantage by spending money that could not be easily replicable for players who are not spending.

In Hearthstone, pay-to-win is associated with having decks with many Legendaries, which are the most expensive cards in the game. The opposite term is free-to-play, which refers to games in which non-spending players still compete in an even plain field with no substantial disadvantages or that they can be compensated by putting time into the game and grinding those resources.

So, in order to prove that Hearthstone is not a pay-to-win game we should be able to compete at somewhat the same level as a spending player. With only the top 1% of players reaching legend, that could be a good indicator of competitiveness.

Well, it is 100% possible to hit Legend without spending money on Hearthstone. But don't take it from me, Trump, Disguised Toast and Bunnyhoppor are only some who took the challenge throughout the game's history and proved that Hearthstone is not pay-to-win.

"It is possible to make it into Legend completely free to play. Hearthstone is technically not pay-to-win at all."

Bunnyhoppor, current Hearthstone World Champion about pay-to-win

The Free-to-play challenge

To prove that Hearthstone is not pay-to-win, Bunnyhoppor recently took a challenge and got from zero to legend in 14 hours of gameplay without spending a cent. On top of showing this is possible, he made a guide, including useful tips, that is linked below.

To add to the point, Bunnyhoppor told the story of when he won his first big event being a free-to-play player:

"The first time I won a Hearthstone Major I had not spent a single cent on the game. I did my dailies, played Arena runs and build up my collection."

Bunnyhoppor, 2022 Hearthstone World Champion

After that, he decided to spend money on the game to speed things up. Essentially, we can experience the entire game and compete at the highest levels with or without spending real money, but what we trade for money saved is time spent.

Hearthstone free-to-play tips

Especially oriented to new Hearthstone players, Bunnyhoppor made a video summarizing his run to Legend debunking the pay-to-win myth. Below you will find his video and the key points he makes.

How's the process of setting yourself up for success the fastest way possible:

  1. If you know the game, you can simply skip the tutorial
  2. Start by unlocking classes in the Prologue
  3. Browse stats sites like HSReplay and find cheap decks to craft
  4. Level up your class of choice in Solo content to get free cards
  5. Check out Adventures, Book of Mercenaries and Book of Heroes, they can give you extra packs
  6. Don't skip apprentice ranks (they have many rewards)

Furthermore, here are some more advanced concepts for the following stets:

  • Don't skip apprentice ranks (they have many rewards)
  • Don't dust your legendaries, that will allow you to play more decks in the future
  • If you are an experienced player, you can get extra resources by playing Arena
  • Search for cheap decks that can be competitive. Check out stats sites and ask streamers
  • Use HSReplay to sync your collection and see what decks can you build

esports.gg Hearthstone Guides

On top of these tips, we have written some guides that will help you in your Hearthstone free-to-play crusade (if you want to jump on that train). At the least, if you are a spending player, there is no harm in knowing how the most efficient way of using that money and managing your collection.

I hope that by now you understand why Hearthstone is not taken as a pay-to-win game, and how many people successfully play the game being free-to-play. There is no shame in spending money on a game you enjoy, that can speed up your progression, but it is healthy to know that regardless of how much you spend, there are no unfair advantages in the Tavern.

That's all for now. As always, stay tuned for more Hearthstone news and updates.