The tutorial is the initial experience designed to introduce players to Hearthstone. It is composed of six 'missions', and must be completed before the player can play Hearthstone properly. The tutorial comprises a kind of introductory game mode with reduced gameplay and helpful instructions. There is no option to skip the tutorial.
Once the tutorial is completed the player is taken to the main menu for the first time, and awarded the "Win 5 Practice Games" quest. The player is then able to play Hearthstone as they wish, although they are encouraged to start with Practice Mode. While the tutorial is over, additional guidance is provided on each new screen and during the player's first match, explaining features such as the mulligan and The Coin, effectively resulting in an extended tutorial in the game's native environment. The tutorial is the first and most critical part of the game's new player experience.
The tutorial is presented the first time a player opens the game in any region. While the tutorial is designed to only be played once, by playing in a new region or on a new account, the player can repeat the experience. There is currently no way to replay the tutorial for any given collection.
Each 'mission' takes the form of a battle against a special enemy hero, or boss. The player controls Jaina Proudmoore, and the story follows her as she learns the basics of Hearthstone. Compared to normal play the tutorial is heavily directed, with the player's actions limited to a few possibilities. Basic game elements are added with each mission, slowly introducing the basics with helpful tips and instructions. Each mission also features substantial dialogue between Jaina and her opponent (see boss pages for transcripts).
Between each boss encounter, a unique "Mission Progress" interface ("The Journey Begins") is displayed, listing the defeated bosses and providing a review of the main element of the last encounter's lessons. If the player loses a match, after the Defeat screen they will immediately return to the Mission Progress interface as it appeared following their last victory. Challenging a boss for the second time may produce a different introductory message, highlighting the likely cause of the player's failure.
The tutorial features only Basic cards, and boss cards unique to the tutorial itself. Each mission rewards copies of a new card; however, since all Basic cards are automatically included in the player's collection, this is purely to highlight that the card will feature in the next encounter.
Differences from regular play
Several changes to the usual rules apply during tutorials to provide flavor, simplify gameplay, and/or make the missions easier than facing a regular opponent:
- The coin flip and deck order is scripted, not random, and mulligans are unavailable.
- Bosses' decks contain unique, unobtainable cards, and have no restrictions on size or multiples of any card. (This is however normal for boss encounters.)
- Neither hero has a Hero Power until the fifth mission. The last boss's power is much stronger than standard ones.
- The second player does not receive an extra card until the third mission and beyond.
- There are no starting hands in the first mission, while it is only two cards in the second and third. The player always goes first.
- The Coin is never added to any hand.
- The first five bosses start with 10, 20, 25, 26, and 20 health, respectively.
- The player does not have the option to concede.
- Active emotes are not accessible.
Additional restrictions on player decisions are in place at first, and are gradually removed as the player progresses through the tutorial.
- Certain targeting options in the first mission must be made as directed.
- Until the third mission, the player cannot end the turn with mana still available to play a card. (The message "Not yet! You have more cards to play!" is shown.)
- Until the fourth mission, the player cannot end the turn without attacking with all minions possible. ("Not yet! You can still attack.")
- Except during the fifth mission, the player cannot cast Fireball, Polymorph, or Fireblast on themselves or their own minions. ("Save that for the enemy!")
- Because of these restrictions, it is impossible to lose the first or second missions.
The player receives written and spoken advice throughout all missions (see below), but is not forced to follow it except as described above.
Guidance and displays
Each mission provides substantial guidance both through Jaina's spoken dialogue and through visual cues such as arrows, highlights, and text tooltips. These are provided either in addition to or in place of the tooltips and visual cues seen in regular play.
- Red arrows frequently appear to highlight the correct action or which target to interact with.
- When playing the first minion, the friendly side of the battlefield is highlighted to indicate where to drag the card.
- Written tooltips frequently appear unprompted to explain specific mechanics, such as "Your used Mana Crystals refill each turn."
- Trying to play cards without enough mana results in Jaina explaining "I need to wait a turn for my mana to recharge."
- The fifth mission sees the word "Cost" superimposed above the player's Hero Power.
- Extra interface elements appear in some places. For example, during the second mission, a quickly fading "+1" Mana Crystal graphic appears at the start of each turn, and "You have X mana." appears underneath the "Your Turn" display. The fourth mission highlights enemy Taunt minions with a special explanation.
Various standard tooltips and guidance systems are also altered during the various missions:
- During the first mission, mousing over minions in play causes their Attack and Health icons to grow in size, and reveals special tutorial tooltips for their Attack and Health, but does not provide the usual magnification effect.
- Mousing over a minion with an ongoing effect produces the alternate tooltip, "Powers / This minion has a power that lasts until he dies."
- During the first mission, mousing over a hero produces a special tooltip for their Health.
- During the first mission, mousing over a card in the hand causes the usual magnification effect, but also features special tooltips for the card's cost, Attack and Health. Later missions only add a tooltip for the cost.
- During the third mission, mousing over a card in the hand or the battlefield that has a special ability produces a unique animated version of the usual ability tooltip, which spins round once before flashing.
- Mousing over your or your opponent's deck during any mission produces the message "You draw a random card from your deck each turn." or "Your opponent draws a card each turn.", respectively. Deck size is not stated.
- The history does not display any cards until the third mission.
- The number of cards remaining in each hero's deck is not visible until the sixth mission.
The following bosses are fought in sequence.
- Defeat Hogger! "Play minions and use them to attack Hogger. Deal enough damage and you win!"
Hogger has three unique minions, as well as one unique spell. Player actions are tightly controlled, making the encounter impossible to lose. Fighting him illustrates the basic mechanics of playing minions and spells, attacking, and taking damage, specifically focusing on Attack, Health and mana cost.
- Reward: Arcane Intellect ("Oh yeah!")
- Get Millhouse! "Expend your Mana each turn to crush this annoying gnome!"
Millhouse Manastorm, unlike most bosses, has no unique cards. He uses most of the same spells as the player, but no minions. Players have slightly more choice in their actions compared to Hogger, but winning is still guaranteed. Each turn Millhouse plays removal or direct damage spells, and boasts about how he will soon have enough mana to play a very powerful 10 mana card. However, he is defeated before he is able to do this. This encounter is intended to teach about Mana Crystal accumulation and mana usage, and also hints at the value of minions compared to spells. It also contains the first minion ability (Raid Leader) and corresponding enchantment.
- Reward: Novice Engineer ("This is quite impressive.")
- Lorewalker Cho: "When minions fight each other, they *both* take damage."
- "Kill enemy minions before they become a problem!" (Second attempt)
Lorewalker Cho comes with two unique spells and two unique minions. Unlike the first two bosses, this fight can be lost, but is still very easy as long as some cards are played each turn. It is designed to teach how to trade minions effectively, and to focus on enemy minions and not just deal face damage. It also contains the first usage of Battlecries and healing effects. With mostly unrestricted actions, this is the first fight where it is possible to exhaust the heroes' decks.
- Reward: Wolfrider ("Hot hot hot!")
- Hail to the King: "Don't understand a card? Mouse-over it!"
King Mukla brings a minor unique minion and spell, plus the very powerful, unique Mukla's Big Brother. This demonstrates the value of Taunt minions, in conjunction with the strategy of rushing the enemy instead of smashing weak minions into a superior one. Despite this, it is not difficult to kill Mukla's Big Brother and then win. Most of the tutorial restrictions on gameplay are lifted at this point. This is the first opportunity for the player to use Taunt, Charge, heals and buffs on their own minions. The encounter also introduces mousing over cards for extra information, featuring a unique animated version of the usual ability tooltips.
- Reward: Polymorph ("You are on a roll!")
- Welcome to the Jungle: "Kill his minions or he'll overwhelm you!"
Hemet Nesingwary introduces Hero Powers, with the player gaining access to Fireblast for the first time, and Nesingwary using the functionally identical Shotgun Blast. The encounter teaches the use of Hero Powers and tactical value of Fireblast. Nesingwary has one unique minion type - Crazed Hunters
- Reward: Reckless Rocketeer ("That was incredible.")
- The Betrayer: "This fight is totally not fair. Blame the terrible game designers."
Illidan Stormrage is the final tutorial boss. The encounter features the first weapons, and teaches the player about their use and Durability. By far the hardest of the tutorial matches, the encounter is still easy for experienced players. Illidan has two unique minions, one unique spell, and two unique weapons, as well as a powerful Hero Power.
- Reward: Arcane Missiles ("Magnificent!")
The following are the decks used by your hero in each of the following missions, in order. In the first two missions, restrictions force the player to kill the boss before more cards can be drawn.
- Main article: Tutorial boss cards
As well as various regular cards, the tutorial features 23 unique cards and Hero Powers not available in regular play.
The original design goal of the tutorial was to teach players just enough to start playing Hearthstone. Eric Dodds explains, "As long as the player has learned enough to actually start playing the real game, we didn't want to teach them anything else [in the tutorial] ... rather than teaching them everything that they needed to know to play the game ... in the long run." This was intended to get players through the initial learning stage "quickly and painlessly", with players learning more advanced rules once they were playing the game proper, and "having a good time figuring it out".
The developers hold ongoing testing to improve the tutorial as part of the new player experience. During the testing hundreds of new players are filmed trying the game; the developers then watch the sessions and ask the testers about their experiences. This type of feedback has been used to "tweak" the tutorial since the game's alpha.
One of the most critical mechanics taught by the tutorial is Taunt. Previously one of the most common reasons new players left the game, according to Ben Brode a "shocking percentage of players" used to finish the tutorial without understanding Taunt, or even "get stuck" in the King Mukla encounter due to the mechanic. Ambiguous emotes - "I must attack that minion with Taunt" - are cited as the main issue, and have since seen updates.
- Until August 2016 the Jaina hero in the tutorial had only 27 Health, instead of 30. This was a remnant of an earlier plan to have players level up as they progressed through the tutorial, increasing their maximum Health and hand size each time.
- The tutorial features the only set of bosses so far in which each boss is collectible as a legendary minion card. Each boss can be found in the Classic set, with the exception of Hemet Nesingwary, who was released in the Goblins vs Gnomes set. Adventures frequently reward minion card versions of a handful of featured bosses, but never the entire roster.
- The Millhouse Manastorm encounter's main mechanic (Millhouse waiting to have enough mana to play a very powerful spell) refers to the original design for the card, from the game's alpha. Millhouse originally had a Battlecry that generated a MEGA-BLAST!!! card for the player; a 10 mana legendary spell which dealt 5 damage to all enemies.
- The tutorial features only cards of free rarity, with the exception of Goldshire Footman, which is common. This may reflect that Goldshire Footman was added to the tutorial late in development, or possibly that an error was made in setting its rarity. The tutorial also features every free neutral card in the Basic set, and every free mage card, although Arcane Missiles features only as reward for defeating the final boss.
- The game's strings list Lorewalker Cho as the 6th boss, following Illidan (the order is otherwise unchanged). This may reflect the original design of the Tutorial.
- Ben Brode was playing the indie action RPG Bastion during the period in which he was building the Tutorial. This inspired the creation of the innkeeper.