Predicting Opponent Moves for Improving Hearthstone AI

  • Alexander DockhornEmail author
  • Max Frick
  • Ünal Akkaya
  • Rudolf Kruse
Conference paper
Part of the Communications in Computer and Information Science book series (CCIS, volume 854)


Games pose many interesting questions for the development of artificial intelligence agents. Especially popular are methods that guide the decision-making process of an autonomous agent, which is tasked to play a certain game. In previous studies, the heuristic search method Monte Carlo Tree Search (MCTS) was successfully applied to a wide range of games. Results showed that this method can often reach playing capabilities on par with humans or even better. However, the characteristics of collectible card games such as the online game Hearthstone make it infeasible to apply MCTS directly. Uncertainty in the opponent’s hand cards, the card draw, and random card effects considerably restrict the simulation depth of MCTS. We show that knowledge gathered from a database of human replays help to overcome this problem by predicting multiple card distributions. Those predictions can be used to increase the simulation depth of MCTS. For this purpose, we calculate bigram-rates of frequently co-occurring cards to predict multiple sets of hand cards for our opponent. Those predictions can be used to create an ensemble of MCTS agents, which work under the assumption of differing card distributions and perform simulations according to their assigned distribution. The proposed ensemble approach outperforms other agents on the game Hearthstone, including various types of MCTS. Our case study shows that uncertainty can be handled effectively using predictions of sufficient accuracy, ultimately, improving the MCTS guided decision-making process. The resulting decision-making based on such an MCTS ensemble proved to be less prone to errors by uncertainty and opens up a new class of MCTS algorithms.


Hearthstone Monte Carlo Tree Search Knowledge-base Ensemble Uncertainty Bigrams 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Intelligent Cooperating SystemsOtto-von-Guericke UniversityMagdeburgGermany

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