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A Beginner's Guide To Hockey Stars

We show you the ropes in Miniclip's latest mobile hit, Hockey Stars.

Miniclip has been making insanely addictive flash and mobile games for 15 years. And with their newest release Hockey Stars, they've proven that they haven't lost a step.

The Basics

Hockey Stars is a free-to-play mobile game that has a lot in common with a previous Miniclip game, Soccer Stars. The basic idea is it's a multiplayer game, with you and your opponent each controlling five discs that stand in for hockey players. The goal, of course, is to knock or shoot the puck into your opponent's net. You can do this either by shooting your disc into the puck, knocking it into the goal, or if your disc is close enough to the puck, you can take possession of the puck and shoot directly without moving your puck.

The game proceeds kind of like a turn-based game of air hockey, except that you have five paddles instead of one. This adds a surprising amount of strategy and depth to the game, since you can't move while it's your opponent's turn. If you're out of position, or mess up a shot, a skilled opponent will be able to take advantage and score. 

Of course, since it's a mobile game, there are in-app purchases and ads. Lots of ads. But if you can get beyond that, Miniclip has created a truly fun and surprisingly strategic game here. So let's help you get better at it.

Play Patiently

A common mistake in both Soccer Stars and Hockey Stars is to play aggressively, trying to force shots and create opportunities for wild ricochet goals. Don't do this.

To succeed at Hockey Stars, take on an opportunistic mindset. Play it safe, and only go all-out for a shot if you're sure it'll find the net. This is especially important on the faceoff if you get the first shot at the puck. A full-power shot here often leaves you out of position, and the puck in a place that's less than ideal. By the same token, if your opponent begins the match with a wild shot, take advantage. Play opportunistically and patiently, catching your opponent out of position.

The idea here is that if you can extend the match long enough, you'll often be gifted with easy goals-- that is, as long as you haven't been caught out of position yourself. And hey, speaking of which...

Don't Get Caught Out Of Position

In Hockey Stars, there are plenty of different formations that players can begin games with. The standard one, and in my opinion, the best one for beginners, is a simple plus, with one disc in goal. As tempting as it may be, seriously, DO NOT MOVE THAT PUCK OUT OF GOAL. Protect the net, and even if your goalie is the only disc you have with a shot on goal, let the timer expire and forfeit your turn, hoping your opponent messes up.

Ideally, you'll be set up somewhat like the blue team is up above, with 2 of your discs protecting the goal. Personally, I like to have one disc hanging out around center ice, and the remaining two attacking the net, but your formation will vary and should be dependent on your opponent's positioning. Notice how most angles of attack are covered by the blue team, and notice how out of position the red team is, even though they have 2 discs covering the goal. Think about the vectors your opponent can shoot from, and cover them.

There's No Such Thing As A Wasted Turn

Just because you can shoot the puck doesn't mean you should. Do not hesitate to spend a turn getting your discs in a proper defensive position. Carefully and gently positioning your discs so that you have a strong defensive front and an intimidating offensive presence will allow you to more play more effectively and more patiently -- and will allow you to take full advantage of those times your opponent just flings the puck towards the net willy-nilly.

This way, you'll position yourself so that these shots will land close enough to your discs to allow you to take possession of the puck and shoot. Not only does this allow for added accuracy, but the ability to shoot without moving ensures that you won't mess with the positioning you've spent so much time creating. 

All this is to say, if you don't have a shot, don't take it. Spend your turn improving your positioning, or simply allow the timer to expire and do not use your turn. Your opponent will probably mess up on their next turn, so just take advantage then.

In-App Purchases Aren't Necessary To Have A Good Time

Sure, in-game cash is hard to come by in Hockey Stars, but at most levels of play, people really do play with the standard teams-- and even if you come up against somebody who's using a better team, solid strategy will beat out slightly boosted stats. Hockey Stars shines most when it's played kind of like Checkers or Chess, like a strategic board game, so don't feel pressured to shell out for more in-game coins or cash.

Published Jun. 7th 2016

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