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Hearthstone Rulebook

The Hearthstone Rulebook for High School leagues.

Updated over a week ago

Important: The 2024-2025 Rulebook and Match Instructions updates are underway. Check back here in the future for more information! Once finalized, all changes will be communicated to our community through a separate Summary of Changes article. Thanks for your patience!

The Overall High School Competition Rulebook can be viewed here.

Introduction and Purpose

These Official Rules (“Rules”) of the PlayVS High School Esports League apply to each of the teams who have registered and met the requirements for the 2023-2024 school year, as well as their head coach, assistant coaches, vice principals, athletic directors, Starters, Substitutes (collectively “Team Members”), and other members.

1. Game Rules

1.1 Definition of Terms

1.1.1 Game. An instance of competition that is played until a winner is determined by one of the following methods, whichever occurs first: (a) completion of the countdown timer or objective achieved, (b) Team Surrender, or (c) Team Forfeit.

1.1.2 Set. A series of games. The winning player will receive a win tally in favor of their team for the match.

1.1.3 Match. A group of series (or "sets"). The winning team will either receive a win tally in a league format or advance to the next round in a tournament format.

1.1.4 Phase. A section of scheduled league play that comprises a season. There are four distinct phases: preseason, regular season, playoffs, and finals. Each phase has its own league format.

1.1.5 Season. Scheduled league play will occur over an approximately three-month period of time.

1.2 Roster Requirements

1.2.1 Roster Submission

Team members must be eligible to compete on behalf of their school as listed in Section 2 of the High School Competition Rulebook.

In Hearthstone, each team may have a maximum of six (6) players, broken down into three (3) starting players on the Roster, and three (3) substitutes on the Bench. No individual may simultaneously hold two or more roles as listed above. All players and coaches are expected to be present physically or virtually for all official PlayVS matches.Both the Roster and Bench must be finalized prior to the Roster Lock Date.

1.2.2 Substitutions

Players on the bench may be used for any match their team is competing in within their assigned league. Eligible substitutes for a match will be displayed on the Bench tab of the team’s roster card. Only the players shown on a team’s Bench can be used as substitutes in an official PlayVS Match.

Once a Game of Record is established, substitutions are not allowed. Once the game is complete with results recorded, player substitutions may be made before the start of the following game.

If a player on the starting roster cannot compete in the match and there are no available Substitutes, competition may continue without that player as long as it does not put the opposing team at a disadvantage.

1.3 Game of Record

A Game of Record (“GOR”) in Hearthstone is established in the following conditions:

1.3.1 Players see their opening hand for mulligan.

Once GOR is established, game restarts will only be allowed under limited conditions as listed in Section 7.4 of the High School Competition Rulebook.

1.4 Stoppage of Play

During any pause or stoppage, players may not leave the match area unless authorized by their coach. Coaches should communicate any disconnections or pauses inside PlayVS’s Match Lobby chat.

1.4.1 Directed Pause

At any time and their sole discretion, League Officials may order the pause of a match. Teams may complete the current game and finalize the results before pausing if necessary.

1.4.2 Game Disconnection

If a player disconnects from the online match after a game of record has been established, they will have 10 minutes to reconnect or the game will be forfeited in favor of the connected team.

For all disconnects, the connected team must provide a screenshot showing the disconnection lasted longer than 10 minutes.

1.5 Match Format

Format: Best-of-Five (Bo5)

Mode: Standard Conquest

Team Size: 3 Players

Each team will compete in a Standard Conquest match consisting of a Bo5, with the winner of each game determined by the player that defeats their opposing team’s hero, and the winner of the match determined by the team that wins three games, each with their own unique deck class.

A team can only bring one deck for each class. Each player will be the “Pilot” of one of the three decks the team prepares for the match. Each pilot will be in charge of deciding the moves in the game while the other two teammates watch and help with strategy. Teammates can take notes and help the pilot with their decisions during each game. Each time a team wins with a certain class, they will no longer be able to use that class for the remainder of the match. For more information, see 1.6.1 Conquest Match Flow

This format applies to all four phases within a PlayVS season: Preseason, Regular Season, Playoffs, and Finals

1.5.1 Preseason

This phase consists of each team enrolled in the league competing in official practice matches. The results of these matches do not impact a team’s standings. However, this match is strongly recommended to properly test equipment and player game connections.

1.5.2 Regular Season

This phase consists of each team competing in a season format against opponents within their region. Ranking in the league will be determined by each team's win-loss ratio.

1.5.3 Playoffs

This phase consists of eligible teams competing in a single-elimination tournament until only two teams remain. Winning teams will advance to the next round of the Bracket while losing teams will be removed from the competition.

Playoff Eligibility, Bracket, and Tiebreaker information can be found in Section 5.2.3 Playoffs of the High School Competition Rulebook. More information about Tiebreakers can also be found here.

1.5.4 Finals Format

This match consists of the top two teams from each league. The Finals will be a series of Best-of-Five (Bo5) games. The team to achieve three game wins will be awarded the match win and will be declared the League Champion.

1.6 Special Rules

1.6.1 Conquest Match Flow

When a team wins a game, the deck used by the winning team is now locked and cannot be used for the remainder of the match. If a team uses a different account after each game, make sure that is communicated through match lobby chat, and the players swap into the appropriate accounts and challenge each other. If a team queues a class that had won previously, the game will need to be reset, with the team selecting a class in their lineup that has not won a game yet.

Conquest Flow Example: Team A brings a lineup of one Mage, Priest, and Warlock deck, while Team B brings a lineup of one Rogue, Shaman, and Warrior deck.

  • Game 1: Team A’s Mage deck defeats Team B’s Shaman deck. Team A may no longer use their Mage deck for the rest of the Match.

  • Game 2: Team A brings out Warlock, and Team B stays with Shaman. Team B beats Team A, meaning Team B can no longer use the Shaman deck.

  • Game 3: Team A chooses Priest and Team B chooses Rogue. Team B defeats Team A, which means they can only use their Warrior for the rest of the match.

  • Game 4: Team A goes back to the Warlock, and Team B must play on their Warrior deck. Team A wins, and both teams are now left with their last deck to play.

  • Game 5: Team A’s Priest deck beats Team B’s Warrior deck. Therefore, Team A wins the match!

1.6.2 Ineligible Cards

Due to the in-game effects that certain cards can have on gameplay itself, the following cards have been removed from play.

1.6.3 Ineligible Cards in Deck Submission

Teams that receive a shared deck from an opponent containing an Ineligible Card must contact PlayVS Support immediately before the match begins for further assistance.

In the event that an Ineligible Card is added to an individual player’s pilot deck and submitted as a part of the Sharing and Selecting Decks process, the offending team will receive an automatic game loss for each pilot deck that contains the Ineligible Card.

The offending team will then replace the Ineligible Card with any card eligible for use in PlayVS matches and reshare their previously illegal deck(s).

If all three shared decks contain an Ineligible Card, resulting in three automatic game losses, the offending team will automatically receive a loss for the match.

2. Player Equipment

2.1 Equipment

Each player on the Starting Roster must have access to school-provided equipment or must be permitted by the school to provide their own equipment in the following categories:

2.1.1 Computer/Android/IOS devices

2.1.2 Monitor (if competing via PC)

2.1.3 Headsets or Earbuds

2.1.4 Microphone (if players are competing remotely)

2.1.5 Peripherals for computer (if competing via PC)

2.1.6 Hearthstone downloaded on PC/Mobile Device

3. Match Process

3.1 Pre-Match Setup

Teams must adhere to Section 6.2 Pre-Match Setup as they prepare to join their match.

3.2 Match Setup

3.2.1 Create Lobby

Teams will use their in-game BattleTag (ie. Username#0000) to add each other as a friends on Once all competing accounts are added as friends:

  • Open Hearthstone

  • The Home team will click the Friends tab, and locate your opponent’s in-game name

  • Click their name, and select Standard

  • The Away team will accept the request

3.2.2 Sharing and Selecting Decks

Once in the match lobby, teams must share their three unique classes and decklists with their opponent in full. Once shared, decklists may not be changed for the remainder of the match.

3.3.3 Choosing Classes

Teams will select the class that they will be playing for each game from this lobby. Teams are not required to share which deck they are playing prior to entering the game.

Once both teams are ready for the game, click Play.

3.3 Match F.A.Q.

3.3.1 Spectating

Teammates and coaches can spectate the game from their respective players’ perspectives once both players have loaded in.

Coaches and players may not spectate both sides unless both Coaches have agreed to an observer by following section 7.7 Match Spectating from the High School Competition Rulebook.

3.3.2 In-Game Content Updates

Hearthstone is a live-service multiplayer game that may release new content patches with new and/or updated heroes and cards while the season is occurring.

Any heroes and/or cards currently disabled in-game by Blizzard will not be available for use during official PlayVS matches. All PlayVS matches will occur on the most up-to-date patch, and any available heroes and/or cards are eligible for use in PlayVS matches unless otherwise stated by League Officials.

4. Post-Game Process

4.1 Results

If the match is completed using PlayVS Match Assistant tool, then in-game statistics and results will be recorded at the conclusion of each game using the tool.

In the event that the PlayVS Match Assistant could not be used, then statistics will not be tracked, and the match results would need to be submitted manually within 1 hour of match completion. Players should take screenshots of the match results and share those with their coaches.

In the event of an error, coaches must contact PlayVS Support directly.


V 2.0 // 1/16/2024 - Reformatted per new Style Guidelines
V 2.1 // 3/18/2024 - Added 1.6.2 Ineligible Cards
V 2.2 // 3/26/2024 - Added 1.6.3 Ineligible Cards in Deck Submission

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