In season 63 (June 2019), halfway through the month, I finally broke into Hearthstone's Legend ranks within ladder play. Starting in the 800s, I oscillated between 373 (highest) and somewhere in the 1300s (lowest), before finishing the season in the high 400s. It took me over four years, over 18,000 ladder games (that's not a typo), and just over 250 games in the current season to finally make it. What follows are the lessons I learned along the way. Netdecking is normal. Some people feel that using decks made by someone else is somehow cheating, or dishonorable. I understand a special pride springs from winning with a deck we made by ourselves, but playing at the top of the ladder requires an optimal deck. Even one suboptimal card for the sake of "making the deck my own" can sink the chances of rising above rank 5. If you're one of the 0.01% of people who spend hours calculating probability curves and relative card values, go for it. The other 99.99% of us (seriously) should focus on learning to pilot current decks. Outside reading matters. The information at Vicious Syndicate provided a gold mine for me. I read several other guides about how to get better at Hearthstone, which especially helped show me the concepts that experienced players agreed on. This reading kept me from having to learn some lessons the slow way, and got me past a few stuck plateaus when I couldn't see what I was doing wrong. Every Layer of the Hearthstone Ladder Requires Certain Lessons. I remember struggling to get above rank 20. Then breaking through to 19. Then oscillating between 18 and 20. I remember what it took to break through 15, 10, 8, 6, and finally 5. The numbers may vary player to player, but the layers exist. Legend Actually Starts at Rank 5. I've played against current legend-rank players as a rank 5 player. Blizzard doesn't show us our actual ladder ranks, but if we can make it to rank 5, then getting to Legend rank is a matter of time. A lot of time. It Takes a Lot of Time to Make Legend. Playing at Legend level means a single mistake (or piece of extraordinary luck) can turn a game. Two mistakes in the same game are really hard to come back from at this level. Along with no more "hot streaks" of bonus stars for 3+ wins, win rates get more consistent at rank 5. I made a 56% win rate the season I made legend (starting at rank 5), which means it still took me a hair over 250 games to get there. Most win rates aren't that far above 50% to get to Legend, so I had an exceptional month. There were two other times over the years that I feel I could have made Legend, but I simply didn't have the time. Some People Play Better than Others. It took me over four years to finally make Legend. I saw another twinker do it in less than two months from the day he first started playing. It happens. That needs to be okay. I Didn't Change Anything in my Deck, and I Only Needed One Deck. I used the exact same control warrior deck, no card changes, for the entire month. Supposedly players change or "tech" a couple of cards if they feel that they will face a swath of certain decks, or even change decks if they feel the meta tide has shifted or something like that. Either that didn't apply to control warrior this season, or tech'ing in cards is overrated. To be sure, the meta didn't change much, so I didn't need to change either. Know the Meta. I didn't know how to play any of the other typical decks in them meta. But I learned exactly how they were going to play against me. That gave me clues as to which cards I should hold. Facing a rogue? I better find and keep an answer for Van Cleef. Did a mage appear? I have to get a Brawl ready for Khadgar. Mech Hunter? Anything and everything it takes to get through the first nine rounds. Each deck in the meta features an optimal way to play against it, so winning a game comes down to shaping what luck provides, into something serviceable. Also, some decks just counter you. That needs to be okay if you want to keep your temper. Play Slow and Steady. Players get in a hurry to make Legend. If you're the patient one, double-checking your arithmetic and thinking ahead about what cards to expect from your opponent, you'll find their one mistake that tilts the game in your favor. Heck, I lost a couple of easy wins because I literally misclicked a minion. Games at Legend Rank Play Like Games in Ranks 1-5. With the number of points won or lost at Legend rank, it's like Legend games up to 200 actually compose one more bracket of five levels, above ranks 1-5. Take a Break When You Tilt, Immediately After That Game. I don't think I'll ever forget the game that first had me at the doorstep of the top 500, and I played brawl with seven minions on the board to get rid of one major threat. The major threat survived. So the very next turn, I did my other brawl with four minions on the board, and the major threat survived again. That's utter bullcrap (and technically a 3.6% chance of happening). I was so upset and I wanted vengeance, and managed to rack up seven straight losses to land in the 1200s. Savor Your Best Plays, and Respect Your Opponents' Best Plays. That feeling when you hold on to your last Weapons Project for fifteen turns, then finally screw over that rogue's last Waggle Pick? God, so satisfying. That feeling when a mage traps you with Khadgar, four Mountain Giants, and what is probably a lucky Counterspell from that Mana Cyclone? Respect. Well played. When you can appreciate good plays (and dumb luck) from both sides of the board, you'll enjoy the game more, and you'll play better. While all the details matter, what helped me the most was enjoying the game. I'm all for making a goal out of reaching Legend, but I did so much better when I took my time to appreciate the nuances of the situations in which I found myself. Props @Yoube for pressuring me to start this game against my fear that it would swallow a significant portion of my gaming time (which it did), and @Chops for making me realize a couple of years ago, how much fun control warrior can be.