Heroes of the Storm is free to play — provided you know the best ways to earn in-game gold.
Gold collection in Heroes of the Storm is slow for a reason: Blizzard wants to make money. But you may not need to spend as much as you think.
If you read my first tip guide for Heroes of the Storm beginners, you'll remember my advice about trying as many different characters as possible. A handful from each class will be available to you for free at the outset, but as you battle your way through misty spiderwebs and cracked stone gateways, you will doubtless get curious about the other fighters you meet. How can you, a lowly novice, earn enough gold to unlock the characters you want ... without having to concede and dig out your credit card?
Play the tutorial
If you've been playing Heroes of the Storm since it first came out and you don't think you "need" to play the tutorial, well, you've made a huge mistake. Completing the tutorial will net you 1,000 gold. Also, it's easy to skip the dialogue and cut-scenes in the tutorial, but they're kind of adorable.
Once you level up your main account to 6, you'll unlock the option to do daily quests. For example, playing 8 games in a day will net you 800 gold, even if you lose every single match. You might not have that kind of free time on a daily basis, though.
Luckily, the 8-game daily quest isn't the only money-making method available. The smaller daily quests on offer may even allow you to kill two birds with one stone. For example, if one of the proffered dailies benefits playing as a hero from a specific franchise and another benefits playing as a particular class, then you can knock out both quests at once by selecting a character who meets both criteria. Ka-ching.
Level, level, level
You've probably already noticed that every time you gain two new levels on your main account, you get a huge gold influx. You might not also realize that leveling up each of your individual heroes' levels to 5 will also give you a little gold boost. You should be playing as all of the available characters anyway to get a sense of the game, but don't abandon them before they reach level 5 or you'll be losing out on some money.
Don't be afraid to lose
What's more, don't be afraid to branch out from "Training" and AI-only matches. Playing with the AI can be a relief for new players, because it's easier to win and less stressful to let down your robot teammates, but you'll only net 10 gold from winning against AI opponents. By contrast, you'll get 20 gold for each game you lose in a Quick Match, and 30 gold if you win, so it's worth trying your luck and playing against human opponents. If you're trying to go the distance and unlock your entire 8-game daily, for example, maximize your potential winnings by playing online instead of going solo.
Try before you buy
Heroes of the Storm lets you give every character a test-drive before you pull the trigger; this is also a great way to try out different types of characters and classes without having to spend any gold (or any real money, for that matter). The test matches allow you to level up whenever you want so that you can explore different aspects of the skill tree, plus you can face off against different enemies types using varied power-ups — all without in-game consequences, for better or for worse. The "try" button can feel a little bit like a tease, especially if you're busy test-driving when you "should" be grinding, but at least it'll help you with your purchasing decisions once you've earned enough to consider the available options.
Stimpacks don't add up
If you ask me, Heroes of the Storm stimpacks are not worth the expense, but you should do the math yourself to decide. The stimpacks cost real-world money in exchange for a slight gold bonus to wins and losses, but you'd have to play a lot of matches before you started seeing significant gains. I'd say you should only buy a stimpack if it's on sale, or if you're planning to play HotS for several hours a day, every single day, for the duration. Does earning a few hundred gold over the course of that many hours feel "worth" your real-world money? Unless you're playing tons of matches per day, the cost-benefit ratio on these items just doesn't add up, if you ask me.
Friend 2 Play
Guess what! Just like HotS, friendship is free — except friendship unlocks all sorts of cool benefits without requiring any gold. Playing with friends is the most stress-free, time-flies-when-you're-having-fun method of gold collection that there is in HotS. You'll be collecting gold at the same slow rate, to be sure, but joking around with buddies makes matches feel like time well spent, and less like a grind-heavy part-time job.
Other advice for novice gold farmers?
Which get-rich-quick methods did you use when you first started playing Heroes of the Storm? What characters did you save up for first? And who do you still wish you could afford?