In-Depth Turn Analysis #10: Your Traps are Annoying, Rexxar
Hi guys! Welcome to Episode 10 of In-Depth Turn Analysis. For more information about the series and/or to see a list of previous episodes please click here.
- This episode’s deck: Freeze Mage
- This episode’s contributors: Smashthings, Darkfrost, Modded
Today we will be looking at a rather crazy game I (smashthings) played on ladder as Freeze Mage playing against Rexxar.
In an unusual turn of events, this episode also contains an additional bonus puzzle for you to mull over: Yeah I know, I spoil you kids rotten.
Okay, Let’s begin!
About This Week’s Deck
The deck used in this episode is:
You can learn more about the deck by clicking on the following link:
Okay, so let’s look at the position shall we? (right click open in new tab will allow you to see a larger version of the image)
In actual games, positions have context beyond the deck you are using. In an effort to make this series more realistic and less ‘puzzle-like’ let’s talk about a few cards that have been used in the game so far and any other little bits of information that seem relevant.
YOUR MANA: 10
NUMBER OF CARDS IN HAND (OPPONENT): 2
KEY CARDS USED (YOU): Please see the tracker on the right hand side of screenshot: (greyed out = those cards have used, green text = copies of that card are in hand)
Armed with this information, you must now start to think about the needs/peculiarities of both the position and the match-up. Get busy thinking! In the next section we will see what some of us at HSP thought about the position and what they think is the best play.
So this weeks position is both obvious and tricky at the same time. Let’s start by stating the obvious and move onto the more tricky and subtle ideas afterwards.
- Obvious thing #1: Leeroy Jenkins must be killed this turn, since Leeroy + Hero Power + Bow Charge = 11 damage and we only have 10 health.
- Obvious thing #2: If one of the secrets trigger, then the Hunter gets an extra charge on the weapon. In which case, the Hunter has a ‘Two Turn clock’
e.g. Bow Attack + Hero Power // Bow Attack + Hero Power = 10 damage over Two Turns
- Obvious thing #3: Without minions doing damage to face, we have a ‘Three Turn Clock’ (in the best case).
e.g. double Fireball + Ping // double Fireball + ping // Pyroblast = 36 damage over Three Turns.
- Obvious thing #4: With minions doing damage, we have a ‘Two Turn Clock’, just like the Hunter.
e.g. double Fireball + Ping + Antonidas Face // double Fireball + ping = 31 damage over Two Turns.
- Obvoius thing #4: Since we need minion damage to win the race, we are going to have to trigger those traps (be it now or later).
So our objectives for this turn seem to be:
- Kill Leeroy Jenkins.
- Do some amount of Face damage (this game is a race, and if we are to win that race doing face damage is a must)
- Consider our defensive options (e.g. not triggering Explosive Trap this turn).
Okay, so let’s consider objective one first:
What do we do with Leeroy?
At first glance we have three basic ways to deal with Leeroy:
- Minion Attack
I think we can almost instantly dismiss blizzard here on account of the fact the Fireball does the same job for less mana AND gets replaced with another Fireball due to Antonidas’s ability. Which leaves us with two options.
One possible option this turn is just to double fireball (one of which would be cast on Leeroy), Mad Scientist pass. But as I mentioned earlier without minion damage we are unlikely to be quick enough to win the game, which obviously means that at some point we are probably going to have to trigger the traps. Now, with this play we could trigger a bunch of the traps next turn with Mad Scientist; we get it boucned back (via Freezing Trap) and then do mega damage with Alex + Archmage.
This sounds cool, until you realise the drawback: we do not know the order in which the secrets were played! The ordering of the traps matters in this case since Explosive Trap —> Freezing Trap means that Mad Scientist would die before triggering Freezing Trap. Whereas Freezing Trap —> Explosive Trap means can hit face with the big dudes. In my opinion then, this play is not bad but there are some risks involved.
A variation on the above play is Fireball Leeroy and then go face with both minions (the first of which to attack is bounced back). and then maybe Fireball face again, and/or develop a Mad Scientist. The downside to this variation is that triggering the Explosive Trap will give the Hunter a number of ‘outs’ (more on this later). For example, with the Mad Scientist out we have three minions on board, thus a top-decked Unleash the Hounds would be lethal. All things considered, I am not keen on making a play that increases the number of outs the opponent has, if I can help it. But that remark begs the question: Is there better play?
The play I like on this turn is:
Fireball Face –> Attack with Alexstrasza (gets bounced) —> Kill Leeroy with Antonidas (*6 mana left*)
This play does a little bit of face damage, triggers Freezing Trap (but not Explosive Trap) and kills Leeroy. Why I like this play will become clearer as we go along.
I mentioned at the start of my analysis that this position is both simple and subtle. The simple aspects of this play (e.g Killing Leeroy) are easily understood. But questions such as; “Why is it important to not trigger Explosive Trap this turn?”, “Why bounce Alexstrasza and not Antonidas?” require a deeper level of understanding. Which I will endeavour to explain below.
QUESTION #1: “Why do we want to trigger Freezing Trap BUT NOT Explosive Trap?”
Let’s think about Explosive Trap for a second.
Bow + Hero Power + Explosive Trap = 7 damage.
So if we trigger Explosive Trap this turn we go down to just 3 Health; and this would mean that we would die to a ‘no-beast’ Kill Command or a top-decked Quick Shot, Wolfrider, Arcane Golem, etc. Whereas if we are at 10 life the Hunter would need something specific in order to win, such Beast + Kill Command.
Ergo, there is an immediate risk of death should we trigger the Explosive Trap; we give the Hunter at least two ‘outs’, possibly a lot more depending on his exact list. But at 10 life, there is a reasonable chance that we live.
Take care to note however, that this is not to say that triggering the trap is the wrong decision necessarily (this maybe the sort of position where we have to make ‘high risk plays’), at this point in time I am merely pointing out the risks involved.
Talking of risks, what about Misdirection and Snake Trap? Notice that if we killed Leeroy with a Fireball and went face with our minions then a misdirection would either win the Hunter the game or our minions would end up attacking one another. As it so happens, my suggestion to Kill Leeroy with Antonidas not only plays-around Explosive Trap but also a possible Misdirection as well!
On the downside though, attacking Leeroy with Antonidas is weak to Snake Trap, meaning that the Hunter could probably win with a top-decked Abusive Sergeant.
The point to note here is that there is not a play available to us that perfectly plays around all the possible traps that also achieves our other goals. In such situations, you need to make an educated guess based on known deck lists and your knowledge of the meta. In this particular case, I have seen Aggro Hunter use misdirection and Freezing Trap in the last few weeks (thus I should play-around these cards), but I have never seen Snake Trap in such a deck (thus I should not play-around this card).
In short, not triggering Explosive Trap and/or a possible Misdirection greatly reduces the number of possible ‘outs’ the Hunter has. Admitedly the recomended play is weak to Snake Trap but this fact in unlikely to matter.
Okay, but why attack with Alexstrasza first?
Question #2: Why Alexstrasza?
We want to attack with Alexstrasza first because we want the card back in our hand in order to heal back up. “But Smashthings! Freezing Trap makes minions cost 2 more mana…So we can’t play an 11 mana Alexstrasza next turn!”.
This is of course true, we can’t play an 11 mana Alexstrasza next turn, but we can play a 10 cost one. And that’s where Emperor Thaurissan comes in! And so, without further ado, here is the play (in its entirety) that I consider best:
Fireball Face –> Attack with Alexstrasza (gets bounced) —> Kill Leeroy with Antonidas —-> Play Thaurissan
So this play has a few cool features: Thaurissan not only gives us the option to heal ourselves next turn with Alexstrasza, (a card which is ‘extra cool’ here since Alexstrasza’s Battlecry negates the Explosive Trap damage) but it also gives us offensive options too. For example, we can ‘Triple Fireball’ next turn.
In conclusion, I think that play I suggest is a good mix of offence and defence: Not triggering Explosive Trap / Misdirection greatly reduces the number of cards the Hunter could draw into that would outright win. Moreover, bouncing Alexstrasza greatly harms the Hunter in terms of tempo (unless it is lethal, any damage spells cast on our face are simply wasted. Ergo the Hunter has little to play and will probably just pass the turn), and slows his clock significantly. Offensively speaking, we develop a 5/5 to the board, drop him to 24 life and now have the possible option of casting ‘triple fireball’ in a single turn (but unfortunately we are still just shy of lethal…remember that Antonidas is at 1 health, thus explosive trap kills him before he does damage)
In essence, this play forces to the Hunter to find 5 additional damage on his turn or lose the game.
First things first: Lets us rule out some bad plays:
- Since both Ice Blocks and Ice Barriers have been used up the Mad Scientist is useless in this situation.
- Blizzard is a bad play since you can achieve the same with Fireball (and that card costs 2 less mana).
- Pyroblast is also a bad play since it does less damage than 2x fireballs and costs 2 more mana.
With the rubbish plays out of the way, we can start talking about the good plays and/or the stuff we need to do. For example, in this situation you always kill Leeroy, so that probably means we are spending 4 mana on Fireball: 6 mana left.
Next, we need to test for traps. In this situation the traps will most likely be an Explosive Trap and a Freezing trap. This is because we are up against a Face hunter. So considering these traps our options are:
- The ‘Three Turn Kill’.
- The ‘Hope not to die’ play.
Okay, let’s look at all of these options in turn:
#1: The ‘Three Turn Kill’
To set up the ‘Three Turn Kill’ we are going to do the following:
- Trigger Freezing Trap by attacking Alexstrasza into Leeroy
- Fireball Leroy
- Attack Face with Antonidas
- Play Emperor Thuarissan
And then on the next turn:
- Heal yourself back to 15 (via Alexstrasza).
- Hit face again with Thuarissan and Antonidas setting him to 15.
And then on the third turn:
- With minions + Fireballs, we should enough damage to finish off the hunter and show ’em who’s boss.
Explanation: With this play we will be probably get out of the Hunter’s range (once we play Alexstrasza) thus we just need to survive one turn. If this play works our chances of winning will go up significantly since we will have the required damage to win the game in 3 turns: The hunter is not going to have enough resources to burst us down from 15 and then on the next turn we can win by attacking the hunter with Alexstrasza and then using the two Fireballs.
- Using Alexstrasza in this way buys us more time; we stay alive longer and we also threaten to win the game.
- Even if Alexstrasza is killed we will still have the damage and time required to kill the Hunter.
- A ‘Three Turn clock’ might not be fast enough.
- We have to hope that the Hunter will not have the 3 required damage to kill us the next turn.
In short, this play is a gamble but if it succeeds then we have a pretty high chance of winning the game.
#2: The ‘Hope not to Die’ Play
The ‘hope not to die’ play is:
- Attack Antonidas into Leeroy (triggering F. Trap)
- Attack Face with Alex (22 life remaining)
- Fireball the Hunter (16 life remaining) and then Fireball Leeroy as well.
- Ping the Hunter (15 life remaining)
And if the Hunter does not kill us:
- Alex + Fireball + Ping Face. We win the game.
Explanation: This play requires the same assumption that the hunter cannot kill us on the next turn and we plan to kill him in two turns. We are guaranteed to win the next turn if it works out unless the Hunter can play another Freezing Trap.
- We set up a ‘Two Turn Clock’.
- We need the damage from Alexstrasza. If the mighty dragon is unable to attack the Hunter’s face (e.g. another Freezing Trap) we will lose that game no matter what.
- Just as before, we have to hope that the Hunter will not have the 3 required damage to kill us the next turn.
In short, this play is a big gamble since we lose the game if Alexstrasza is countered. But on the plus side, this play allows us to finish the game very quicky. I consider this play is almost as good as play #1.
In conclusion, the best play here would be play #1; We get to kill the hunter in 3 turns and we only need to survive a single turn without dying.
As always, we need to thoroughly evaluate the situation we are in in order to choose the best course of action.
What deck are we playing? Freeze Mage, and a pretty standard one by the looks of it.
What deck is our opponent playing? A Hybrid Hunter of sorts, made very obvious by the Leeroy Jenkins in play, in addition to the previously played Houndmaster and Dr. Boom. As such, the Secrets in play are most likely to be Freezing Trap and Explosive Trap (with a low possibility of Snake Trap). I want to reiterate how important it is to be able to read between the lines and correctly predict the deck archetype. If we assumed that this was Face Hunter from the Leper Gnome played earlier (and the Leeroy on the board), we would have to play around all kinds of possible burst damage from hand (e.g. Wolfrider‘s, Arcane Golem, etc), but consequently not plan on big threats down the line such as Savannah Highmane. If we assumed that this was Midrange Hunter with just a ‘teched-in’ Leeroy, we might incorrectly not take any non-Huffer charge minions into consideration.
What is the current state of the board? We are on a clock. Without any Secrets of our own to slow the Hunter down, we have to bring him from thirty to zero before he can bring us from ten to zero. If we assume that one of the Secrets is Explosive Trap, the Hunter currently has thirteen damage available to next turn (not including any damage from hand). We have a 5/7 Archmage Antonidas and an 8/8 Alexstrasza in play. However, only one can deal damage assuming one of the traps is Freezing Trap.
What is the current state of the hands? Our opponent has three cards (including the one that he will draw at the start of his turn), and we have seven cards. Our hand consists of the following cards: Four burn/removal cards, one AoE spell, a mediocre 2/2 for two mana (we have used up all four of our secrets), and a 5/5 that makes all your cards cheaper next turn.
What cards can we expect from our opponent? Since we have determined that this is a Hybrid Hunter (albeit not a standard one), we can make a list of cards that would give our opponent additional damage straight from their hand and actually would see play in this deck (we don’t need to play around Cobra Shot). Possible outs include: one Wolfrider, one Kill Command, one Quick Shot, one Huffer, one or two Unleash the Hounds and one Arcane Golem. Other cards that we can expect our opponent to have that will not instantly provide damage include: two Piloted Shredders, one Loatheb, two Savannah Highmanes, and one Leper Gnome.
How will we win this game? We need to kill our opponent outright before he does the same. Since we can’t OTK him, we have to find a way to set up lethal without letting him kill us. Due to the nature of the Hunter Hero Power, it would be preferable to kill him in as few turns as possible.
Alright, now let us look at the plays we need to make. Since he has more damage currently in play than we have health, we need to remove damage before we can consider going on the offensive. Then we need to work on chipping away at taking chunks out of our opponent’s health. We only have a few turns to accomplish this. Let’s make a list of our objectives and possible plays.
Objective #1: Don’t die.
- We need to remove damage from our opponent. We can’t steal or destroy Explosive Trap or disable his hero power, which leaves us with killing Leeroy Jenkins (fortunately for us, the largest available source of damage). We have three ways to kill him: Fireball him, cast Blizzard, or trade into him.
- An additional possible way to not die is to bounce Alexstrasza back to our hand using the Hunter’s Freezing Trap, then using Emperor Thaurissan to make it a playable ten mana so that we could heal up to fifteen life.
Objective #2: Set up lethal.
- It’s obvious that this is accomplished by dealing damage to our opponent, but how we choose to deal that damage is more complicated. We can make it easier to process if we break it up into two parts: Deal as much damage as possible (and survive) this turn, and then to maximize damage output over the next couple turns. The only way to increase damage output over the next couple turns is to drop Emperor Thaurissan so that we can cast three Fireballs for eighteen damage in a single turn as opposed to two for twelve.
The ideal play (in my opinion):
Let’s look at this gameplan step by step:
- Kill Leeroy Jenkins. Fireballing him is the only logical play to make, as it will replace itself, Blizzard costs two more mana, and trading into him brings our damaged minion into range of being picked off by Explosive Trap. Not to mention it would also trigger Snake Trap, forcing us to spend more mana killing the Snakes just to not die on the Hunter’s next turn.
- Send Archmage Antonidas to the face. This will trigger a Freezing Trap and possibly Explosive Trap (if it entered play before Freezing Trap did). We don’t need Antonidas anymore, his job is done.
- Send Alextrasza towards the face. This will trigger Explosive Trap for sure if present and not triggered by the previous step. This will leave the Hunter at twenty-two life.
- Drop Emperor Thaurissan. This will allow us to push for lethal with three Fireballs next turn.
And then on the next turn (assuming we survive, of course):
- Swing for the face with Emperor Thaurissan, triggering Freezing Trap if one was played last turn. The Hunter is at twenty-two or seventeen life.
- Swing with Alextrasza towards the face, the Hunter is now at fourteen or nine life.
- Cast Fireballs at the Hunter’s face until he explodes.
With that out of the way, let’s consider some plays I rejected:
This play as well as the other one both require that the Hunter not kill you next turn. This one plays around a possible Loatheb from the Hunter, as the play I suggested will lose you the game if Loatheb comes down to prevent a burst of Fireballs. However, I rejected this play due to the fact that since this is a Hybrid Hunter. This play means that your opponent will have an additional turn, and if their next turn doesn’t kill you, it may be something that can kill you on the next. With the Alexstraza play, you would not be able to remove more than one minion in a turn, making you very vulnerable to cards such as Piloted Shredder, or worse, Savannah Highmane. This also gives them another turn to draw into burst damage. I’d rather my opponent have exactly one or two outs (Loatheb and a second Explosive Trap, though often Hybrid Hunters only run one), as opposed to any sticky minion or combination of two minions.
Not tripping Explosive Trap this turn:
This play greatly reduces the chances of dying on your next turn, but it has several ramifications. You cannot do the play I recommend as you will be short on damage and would be forced to go with the Alextrasza play, which I already stated that I do not agree with. Also, the only way to guarantee that you don’t trip Explosive Trap is to attempt to trade into Leeroy (as attacking face would trigger it if it were played before Freezing Trap), which would horrendously backfire if there was a Snake Trap in play.
That’s my analysis, I hope you found it helpful!
Dr Boom Bonus Puzzle!
Because I luv you guys soo much I thought I would give you an extra little gift this week. The following position is taken from the the same game but at an earlier time. In the screenshot below YOU ARE PLAYING AS THE HUNTER!! (and its your move)!! Since you obvoiuslly cannot see the Hunter’s hand, I just want you to focus on what attacks you would make with Dr. Boom. (Mage Secret = Ice Block)
A while ago now I wrote an article asking for your opinions, that article also contained a link to a survey. When examining the results of that survey the finding that surprised me the most was that the majority of HSP readers had never beaten rank 7 on ladder.
Now, normally I would not bother writing anything about the position above because the correct play ought to be obvious. But with that said, this game was played at Rank 8 on ladder and somehow my opponent managed to completely misplay the turn.
So, here is a rank 8 player misplaying an ‘obvious’ turn and most of you haven’t beat Rank 7. That’s got me thinking; maybe stuff that seems so ‘obvious’ to me is not actually that obvious to the majority of our readers. And this, my friends is the sole reason I am talking about this position.
Okay, so what’s the correct play here? (note that in what follows I going to assume the hunter has no cards to play).
Well, the Hunter should know I am a Freeze Mage by this time in the game. As I see it, the Hunter is three short steps away from victory:
- Step 1) Test for Secrets.
- Step 2) Pop the Ice Block
- Step 3) Win Next Turn
Okay, let’s study these steps in a little bit of detail:
STEP 1) Test for the Secret:
So here I would attack face with the 1/1 Boom Bot. If the secret does not trigger you know its Ice Block. You don’t attack with Dr.Boom (first) because if it is Ice Block you want to drop the Mage to as little health as possible before triggering the secret.
STEP 2) Pop the Block:
Okay so the next thing to do is trigger the Ice Block, and as mentioned, you want to drop the Mage to as little life as possible. You have a few choices here:
(1) Hero Power + The other Boom Bot to Face + Dr. Boom to Face.
This option triggers the Ice Block and leaves the Mage at 1 Health. Next Turn I (playing Mage) have only two ways to survive: another Ice Block or Alexstrasza (note that Ice Barrier won’t work due to the Hunter’s Hero Power).
In the case of Ice Block, maybe the Mage lives another turn and is able to clear Dr. Boom with the remaining mana. But then Hunter will win the game (over two turns) just by using Hero Power.
In the case of Alexstrasza, You have Dr. Boom alive and kicking. So you have at least 10 damage on board. Meaning you only need 5 damage (or possibly less, depending on boom bot RNG) in Hand to win the game.
(2) Boom Bot to kill 1/1 …and then …
With this play, you kill off one Boom Bot and the rest of your turn is decided by where the deathrattle resolves.
If the deathrattle deals damage to the Mage’s face then you can just trigger the Secret with Hero Power + Boom bot and then kill one of the 1/1’s with Dr. Boom (or If you only do 1 damage, Dr. Boom also goes face). With this play, the Mage is going to be at 1-2 life with Ice Block triggered. Which therefore means Hero Power is lethal next turn.
If the Boom kills a 1/1 then you simply Hero Power + other Boom Bot to face + Dr. Boom to face. This once again sets up lethal with Hero Power next turn. You might be tempted to kill the other 1/1 with Boom Bot; while such a play would ensure Freezing Trap value I would nonetheless consider this to be incorrect (why it is incorrect shall be explained shortly).
For what it’s worth I consider these two plays as being approximately equal (i.e. either option should win the game), there are of course other (considerably worse) plays the Hunter could make in this position. But for now, let’s look at what makes these two options great.
The Three Key ingredients:
- Both plays trigger Ice Block.
- Both plays bring the Mage into range of Hero Power.
- Both plays keep at least one Boom Bot alive.
I (playing Mage) actually won this game, and that is partly to do with the opponent misplaying this particular turn. If you watch the video in the “…in the end…” section you will see what the Hunter ended up playing and how I managed to counter. But for now, let’s just say that the Hunter triggered the block (with ease), and brought me into range of Hero Power. But what cost him the game was not realising just how powerful his boom bot(s) where.
I have mentioned numerous times before (for example, here and here) how the Boom Bots are strong against Freeze Mage; since secrets do not trigger on your turn, Boom bots counter all of the Mage’s board clear (e.g. Doomsayer, Blizzard, etc), provided that the Mage is at sufficiently low life (which was the case in this game).
If you do watch the game you will notice that I crawl back into the game by casting Ice Block + Doomsayer + Mad Scientist + Ice Lance (on Dr. Boom) all in one turn. One the next turn I cast Alexstrasza and have Ice Barrier active (gained from the death of Mad Scientist), leaving me at 15+8 Health.
What is crucial to understand is that I was only at 1 life when Doomsayer killed everything, and so therefore if a little Boom Bot was on the board this play would not have been possible. Here, let me show you:
With one Boom Bot alive I would been forced to Ping the Boom Bot. And since that requires two mana I now can’t play Mad Scientist (we start the turn with 9 mana). So Doomsayer + Ice Block + Ping + Ice Lance yields a 50% chance of instant death, with a further chance to lose the game if the Boom Bot hits Doomsayer for 3-4 damage (this is because a 3-4 health Doomsayer is easily killed by Weapon + Haunted Creeper). Assuming my Maths is correct, that equates to a 75% chance of losing the game.
With two alive Boom Bots? I calculate death being 98.5% certain.
So, hopefully you can see just how powerful Boom Bots can be against Freeze Mage; Had the Hunter played correctly it is highly likely that I would have lost this game. Anyway, that concludes my analysis for this Bonus puzzle.
…In the End…
In this section we show/tell you about what actually happened during the game. Click on the spoiler to find out!
The Youtube clip is of the whole game. ‘Bonus puzzle’ position starts @5:59. ‘Main Puzzle’ position starts @10:40.
And that conclude’s this week’s instalment of In-depth Turn Analysis. Feel free to leave a comment letting us know what you think about the position, the series, our opinions, etc.
And if you like it, don’t forget to leave a thumbs up!