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February 2, 2017

Table of Contents

In-Depth Turn Analysis #11: The Lion, the Witch, and the Patron


Hi guys! Welcome to Episode 11 of In-Depth Turn Analysis. For more information about the series and/or to see a list of previous episodes please click here.

  • This week’s deck: Grim Patron Warrior
  • This week’s contributors:  Smashthings

In this episode we will be studying a tricky position I found myself in on Ladder (Rank 3) versus a Hunter.

Okay, Let’s begin!

About This Week’s Deck

The deck used in this episode is:

The deck I am using is obviously Grim Patron Warrior. Lot’s of different lists exist, this is my one. For those interested, from Ranks 5-3 I am currently 16-5 with this particular list (i.e. 76% Win Rate).

To learn more about the Grim Patron in general see here.

The Situation

Okay, so let’s look at the position shall we?

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.



KEY CARDS USED (YOU): Acolyte of Pain x1, Fiery War Axe x1, Whirlwind x1, Cruel Taskmaster x1, Unstable Ghoul x1, Frothing Berserker x1

KEY CARDS USED (OPPONENT): Haunted Creeper x1, Eaglehorn Bow x2, Animal Companion x1, Hunter's Mark x1, Loatheb

ANY OTHER NOTES: I bumped into this particular player twice in a row on Ladder. In the First Game (which I lost), he was playing a version Hybrid Hunter that included Ragnaros the Firelord as a late game finisher. Given the short period of time between games, it is highly likely that he queued up with that same deck.

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.

Smashthings’ Analysis

We can see the Lion on board and we can see the Patron in hand. I guess that makes me the Witch haha!  I hope you guys appreciate how difficult it is coming up with witty titles for these articles :). Anyway…

Alright, so as already mentioned we are facing some sort of Hybrid Hunter. Generally speaking, this is considered a bad match-up for Grim Patron and far worse still the current position we find ourselves in is rather dire: 11 life staring down a Savannah Highmane is not where you want to be!

For regular readers I must sound like a rather tired record, but this does need saying; “Bad Match-up + Bad Position = Outlandish Risks”. I cannot stress this concept enough; When playing from behind, it is often the case that ‘safe plays’ are simply not good enough.

Things are not all bad however; Grim Patron is a very bursty deck and thus doing 24 damage in a turn or two is easily possible. Moreover, we actually have a good set-up to do the necessary burst damage; We have a bunch of the cards we need (e.g Warsong Commander,Grim Patron, Whirlwind), and a 4/1 Death's Bite equipped. Basically, the hand is pretty good (we even have cheap removal for Highmane) but the problem is that those combos cost a lot of mana and due to the on board threat we do not the luxury of time (i.e. we cannot afford to wait).

Let’s imagine for a second that we had infinite mana this turn, what could we do?

Well, I could play everything (with charge), clear the Highmane (execute the first half, Patron the 2/2’s), and go face with the Axe for even more damage, more Patrons, and more armour. And with such a play the Hunter would basically need to win on his/her turn or lose the game.

But obviously we don’t have infinite mana, so that play is out question. But I mention the play because it does showcase what we  need to try and do. But how?

Well, ideally we would like to play Warsong + Patron + Execute in a single turn, but unfortunately this costs 9 mana. On this turn we have 7 which means that this combo only becomes affordable the turn after next, by which time we are probably sleeping in our grave. Rather tragically though, this combo probably represents the only way we can win the game (other than disconnects or SWAT raids on the Hunter’s home :) ).

Okay so we have identified that the win condition is the above combo but it simply costs too much mana. In such situations, there is a very simple technique worth learning: If a combo costs too much mana, try splitting the cost over multiple turns and you might just be able to pull it off!

For example, if we execute Highmane now that means I have to spend one less mana next turn; ergo the 9 mana combo is reduced to 8 and is thus affordable on the next turn!

But unfortunately the coarse rarely runs smooth: Using Execute on this turn requires us to either use the Weapon’s deathrattle and/or charge out an Armorsmith. The problem with charging out an Armorsmith to enable the Execute is that the Warsong Comamander is very vulnerable (its likely the that Hunter will use the 2/2 Hyena’s to pick it off), and that means we are not likely to get out the charging Patrons we ever so desperately need next turn.

Another option is: play Patron + Weapon (to face) + Execute. But once again the problem we face is that one of those 2/2’s easily clears the 3/2 Patron, which means any source of three damage from hand (e.g. Quick Shot) will leave us without one half of our win condition.

Okay, so let’s briefly sum up the discussion so far: Due to the speed at which the Hunter wins we need to be quick, and unfortunatly for us the only way back into the game is powerful Patron combo’s. Crucialy, these combos (due to the hefty mana requirement) cannot be performed within a single turn. Ergo, we need to spread the cost over multiple turns. But how to do that? We can’t play Patron, we can’t use the Axe, nor can we use Execute on the current turn.

By the process of elimination we stumble across what I consider the only play in the current position:

Warsong Commander + Sen'jin Shieldmasta (goes face).

As mentioned right at the start of this analysis; bad positions = high-risk plays. And here the risk is this: we have played one half of our win condition…If Warsong Commander dies we are almost certain to the lose the game.

But what if the Hunter does not have that crucial 3 damage? What if the Hunter smacks into Sen’jin and plays a bunch of small minions? Well, in such a scenario we could execute the injured lion, throw out the Patrons and Armorsmith. Ergo, we clear the board, do damage, and heal up! And maybe, just maybe we could we the game on the following turn.

Yes, such a play is high risk, but I think such a risk is justifiable because (a) all other plays are considerably worse, and (b) if it works the pay-off it huge!

In conclusion, this is not a complex position with multiple options (which is why my analysis is on the shorter side than usual), but this position does nonetheless demonstrate a crucial idea; when all other plays fail, it is often correct to just gamble like crazy and pray to the stars that it works.

Some of you might now be wondering: “Did Smashthings win this game?” To find out just watch the video in the “…in the end…” section of this article. But with that said, whether the risk actually worked or not is irrelevant: regardless of the result, taking the risk was clearly the best play.

That’s all she wrote folks!

…In the End…

In this section we show/tell you about what actually happened during the game. Click on the spoiler to find out!


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!

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  1. patrissimo says:

    Ok, I’m not a very good patron player, but considering your strategic points, what about just playing Senjin & Armorsmith, and not attacking face? The idea is to be able to kill the highmane with 3 dmg from Senjin (opponent’s attack to clear it) + 1 from whirlwind & 1 from armorsmith next turn. By saving the 1 mana execute, you can do your warsong+patron (all that you need) next turn, without risking warsong this turn.

    Specifically, if he clears the senjin w/ the highmane and plays some stuff, you play warsong/patron, hit face with weapon (3/2 & 3/3 patrons), finish highmane w/ armorsmith, then bounce the 3/3 patron twice off the hyenas, now you have 3/2, 3/3, 3/3 patrons available, and 3/1, 3/1 used. Also you get a fair bit of armor, (5 I think).

    Downside is, if he just KCs the senjin, you can’t combo next turn and you are dead. But your play gets destroyed by KC too (KC the senjin; highmane into the warsong commander).

    Anyway, I’m probably missing something; would appreciate feedback on the play.

    • Smash says:

      hmm… Again, this is not a play that I considered. But its certainly an interesting play worthy of consideration.

      Let’s compare each play:

      Your play (pro) : *Keeps Warsong in hand.
      Your play (con) : *It’s not clear when/if we get to use Execute (since next turn Warsong + Patron = 8 mana).
      *It relies on us being able to kill Highmane (without execute).

      My play (con) : *We lose if Warsong dies.
      My play (Pro) : *We have more flexibility next turn (i.e. more mana to play with…e.g. squeeze in Hero power, execute, etc).
      * +3 Face damage (but is this relevant? I’m not sure).

      For the past 5 min I have been trying to think of cards that counter your play. There are a number of them, but most those cards also counter my play aswell (e.g. Kill command, Owl etc counter both plays).

      The only card(s) that your play seems weak to (that my play is okay against) is Houndmaster (since you can’t execute next turn) and Freezing Trap. But with that said, my play loses to stuff like Quick Shot or E. Bow and yours does not. Thus its not true to say I’m ‘playing around’ more stuff than you are.

      I certainly like this idea more than Soslick’s play… But is it better than my own suggestion? I don’t know, it is very hard to say.

      • patrissimo says:

        Thanks for the reply. Houndmaster is definitely a weakness for my play. In your play, Houndmaster on a 2/2 hyena lets the 2 hyenas clear your senjin, leaving a 4/1 hyena and 4/3 houndmaster behind. The hyena will be killed by our death’s bite whirlwind, so it’s not bad. In my play, there is an 8/4 highmane that we have to deal with (and the 4/3 houndmaster), probably by executing, which means no patron combo.

        I doubt that the hunter would use freezing trap in that situation.

        The thing that I feel may give my play the edge is that it doesn’t signal combo to a good player. Playing warsong in order to do nothing with it (charging a senjin to face is irrelevant) really telegraphs “Hey, I have more combo pieces than I can do for 8 mana next turn, I’m going to put out this warsong and if it lives, get to do an 11 mana combo w/ 3 of it paid this turn, and maybe OTK you or at least mount a major comeback”. There’s no other reason to play a bare warsong when the effect is basically useless that turn. Which means the hunter knows to try hard to clear the warsong and set up a non-patronable board; not playing < 3 attack minions.

        Whereas my play looks more like simple desperation – "I'm almost dead, I can't handle this board; I'm putting up a taunt and an armorsmith who will get at least 1 armor from the taunt being cleared, in hope of drawing a combo piece or survival next turn". The hunter may well choose to press his advantage by playing < 3 attack cards to get extra damage on board to finish you off before you draw your combo. Something like haunted creeper, leper gnome, abusive sergeant.

        Not sure if those plays by opponent actually let us survive and/or kill him, but I think he's more likely to make the wrong ones.

        • Smash says:

          Houndmaster does not effect my play since I execute and Patron on the same turn (i.e. Houndmaster is never played on a 2/2).

          But on the other points I believe you are correct; playing warsong telegraphs our intentions moreso than your play does.

          But…When comparing the two plays It is still not easy to say which one be better, my play is riskier but there are rewards to be had for example, something we have yet to mention is armour gain: assuming Highmane attacks Senjin, armoursmith gains about 5 amour (and then dies) in your play. In contrast, I gain about 7. A difference of 2 amour doesn’t sound like a lot until you remember that my play has some spare mana next turn (so we could top deck something useful….) and that the smith is still alive.

          But anyway, I think this discussion has basically run its course. Other readers can read the comments and make their own decision as to what they consider correct. :)

  2. Smashthings says:

    video clip is now up :)

  3. sosick says:

    we must play senjin, so we have 3 mana left. I dont know why we need to go face with senjin this turn, and imo we need to play execute this turn (we cant play it next turn, we want to play warsong + patron). Your play is very risky, and I think that we can find here more stable option).

    So I would like to play here:
    1. armorsmith for 2 (5 mana left)
    2. go face with weapon (villain 20hp, we 11+1a, arm 1/3 and lion 6/4)
    3. execute lion for 1 (4 mana left) => two beast 2/2
    4. play senjin for 4 mana (no mana left)

    what we can get here:
    – he cant kill senjin next turn without using his resources like weapon or qs/kc so its good for us
    – best option for hybrid here is to play kill command on senjin, go face (we get 1a!) and if he go face, then we can make our combo without deathrattle)
    – if he just attacks with his beasts, senjin is still 3/1 and we get 2a, so we have 11+3a and its quite stable, we can still neutralize ss with our armor
    – we still have our win condition, and we dont risk that he easily kill warsong. if he use resources to kill senjin it means that he wont use it against warsong or us, which is quite good

    • Anonymous says:

      You don’t have a win condition anymore. You used death’s bite to enable execute on the highmane. All you have on your turn now is the warsong and the patron, and no confirmed whirlwind effect.

      • sosick says:

        Sorry, but I disagree. If warsong got killed then you don’t have a win condition. That’s the point.

        I wrote that villain would have two 2/2 beasts, he may play another minion, we can get a good draw. Anything can happend. I don’t see why we need to risk a lot here.

        From the other hand (and from my experience with patron), you don’t need deathrattle db to win games. Your hero power can neutralize hunter steady shot, so how

    • Smashthings says:

      Hmm… I think this play is pretty decent, but here are my concerns:

      Hybrid Hunter is a very aggressive deck, and most of the burst damage cards have not been used (e.g Quick Shot, Kill command). So my concern is that 11 life is too low to play slowly.

      Its fine saying that Hero power negates Steady Shot, but what you missed is that this is two mana everyturn, and that means weaker combos (e.g. Hero power means no Patron + Warsong next turn).

      Moreover, By using DB now, you forgo a lot of burst damage.

      In short, you feel that we can get away with playing slowly and I feel that we need to win very quickly. My play allows us to win within 1-2 turns, your play probably wins the game in 3-4 (assuming you can survive 3-4 turns!).

      To be honest, your play is something I did not see when I made the Analysis. And moreover, I’m not 100% convinced that I am right here. Maybe we can play slow and win. I honestly don’t know. :)

      • Anonymous says:

        sosick’s solution was the exact solution I came to before reading your analysis, Smash. I didn’t consider your solution, but the way you explain it it makes sense. I agree it’s really difficult to say which is the stronger play.

        It’s worth remembering that with sosick’s play you’re also getting extra armor off Armorsmith, so you have more than just your hero power padding your life total if you opt to go the slow route.

        My main concern with your play is that the opponent hasn’t played Ironbeak yet, which means if he has it he only needs any source of 3 or more damage in hand to win the game immediately. That’s a pretty severe risk.

        • Smashthings says:

          Indeed, my play is very high risk (3 dmg, owl etc all counter), but as I mentioned in the analysis I think “Bad Match-up + Bad Position = the need for high risk plays”. This idea is central to my feeling that playing slow loses the game.

          I also think sosick values death’s bite a lot less than I do: when playing the game I considered that card a central part in winning the game, whereas sosick seems to think its not neccessary.

          And sure, you get extra amour with Sosick’s play, but you can get the armour next turn with my play anyway (stay tunned, I’m uploading the game to youtube right now).

          Furthermore, okay sure Warsong survives (because it is in your hand) so you have combo next turn. But without the deathbite is the combo actually worth anything? Its merely one 3/3 (if the hunter trades the 2/2’s and doesn’t play anything small).

          In a funny sort of way, Anonymous, I have already had this discussion with Sosick today. See the comments section of this article:

          His suggestion in that position suggests using Inner Rage for card draw. My criticism of that is/was: “hey, if you burn inner rage for cards you have a lot less combo damage potential”.

          So we have two completely different situations but the basic principle we are debating remains the same (do we value the combo-power of DB/Inner Rage, or do we sacrifice that power for other objectives (e.g survivability, card draw) ?

          In short, the critical question we need to ask ourselves is this:

          Question) How powerful do our combo’s need to be when/if they trigger?

    • patrissimo says:

      This is what I came up with too, though I don’t know if it is better. One nice thing about leaving the senjin at 5 health (rather than playing it before the weapon hit; and getting an extra armor) is that it encourages the hunter to remove the senjin with KC or QS+hyena, leaving some hyenas up for patrons.