In-Depth Turn Analysis #12: Hungry, Hungry Demons
Hi guys! Welcome to Episode #12 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: Demon Zoo
- This week’s contributors: Smashthings, Lucky, Sixis
Today’s position is taken from a game played in the Archon team league: Eloise (Demon Zoo) vs Ostkaka (Druid).
And as a special present to you guys for being so lovely, we got a bunch of pro-players to provide opinions this week.
Okay, Let’s begin!
About This Week’s Deck
The deck used in this episode is:
Since this game is from a tournament, we also know what the Druid was playing as well. Here’s both decklists:
You can learn more about the deck by clicking on the following links:
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.
YOUR MANA: 4
NUMBER OF CARDS IN HAND (OPPONENT): 6
KEY CARDS USED (YOU): All cards you have played this game are on board.
KEY CARDS USED (OPPONENT): Wild Growth x1
ANY OTHER NOTES: Druid still has The Coin.
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.
In the Hearthstone community Aggro decks often have a reputation that they are easy to play and require almost no thought. Therefore, I thought I would showcase a situation were the ‘Demon Zoo’ player (namely; Tempostorm’s Eloise) has a number of options.
In this poisition I don’t think finding the right play is not too difficult. In fact, I’m going to hazzard a guess and say that 80% of our readers will find the right play. But, rather cruicially, I suspect that a number of you will be right but for the wrong reasons. And remember, understanding is a lot more important than being right. And so, with this is mind, before reading on I want to invite you to think about why you like any particular play.
Okay, so what are the possible plays here?
- Life Tap + 2-drop
- Double 2-drop
- Power Overwhelming + ( Void terror/ 2-drop / Life Tap )
- Void Terror
And once we have made on of those plays, we have two more things to consider:
- Should trade into the Piloted Shredder (and if so; how?)
- Minion placement; do we set-up for Void Terror and/or Defender of Argus?
Alright, so let’s study these options in sequence:
Play #1: Life Tap + 2-drop
I don’t like this play one bit. Whenever you make a play that involves drawing cards it’s always a good idea to ask yourself what you are hoping to get; in this particular case nothing strikes me as immediately useful nor is there anything that we could play next turn that would be ‘super amazing’. In short; I don’t think we need cards right now.
The second problem with Life-tap concerns the nature of the Match-up: We are the aggressor with the lower curve deck. This typically means that if the Druid can slow the game down then the Warlock is likely to lose. Thus, when playing Zoo (in this particular match-up) ‘anti-tempo’ plays are often losing plays.
In short, the nature of the match-up demands that we constantly apply early game pressure and win with our ‘tempo lead’. Since Life Tap generates less tempo than some of our other options, we should dismiss this play.
Play #2: Double 2-drop
In this match-up there is no reason to save Acidic Swamp Ooze, and so therefore the double 2-drop play looks reasonable at first glance: We get a decent amount of power on the board and we haven’t sacrificed important ‘tech cards’ for that power (against Weapon-based classes however, this would not be the case).
Moreover, we have a 2/1 on board which means that if the knife (spawned from Knife Juggler) hits the Piloted Shredder (50% chance) we have a rather nice trade to consider; we could opt to kill the first half of Shredder and then maybe use the rest of our minions to kill the newly spawned 2-drop. We could also kill the Haunted Creeper for even more knife juggles.
I think that there are (3) problems with this play:
Firstly, the 1/3 taunt (Voidwalker) is really good here since it means that getting immediate value out of the shredder is difficult; the Druid wants to trade (see 2nd point below) but will struggle to get good trades due to this taunt being on board.
As a random side note, one of the best ways to ‘play around’ a Voidcaller is just to play weak minions (i.e. minions whose attack is 3 or less) since by doing so it can take 2-3 turns before the Warlock finally gets value out of the deathrattle. Basically, small minions prevent the Warlock from getting an immediate (and often huge) tempo swing.
In this position, the idea is similar: The 1/3 taunt prevents the shredder from doing anything immediately powerful; it could be 2-3 turns before the Druid gets max value out Shredder (by which time, it could be too late to save the game). In short, what I am saying is that the little 1/3 taunt is providing us a lot of tempo in virtue of the fact that it denies the opponent tempo via good shredder trades.
Secondly, let’s refer back to the nature of the match-up once more; we are the aggro player, thus the Druid must play defensively. Ergo the Druid, on his turn, is likely to initiate trades, and if we do that work for him then that means we miss out on face damage. Indeed, I suspect that the Druid would be ecstatic to see us slam 5+ damage into his 4-drop! In such a situation Shredder functions (in effect) as a removal card and an Antique Healbot!
Thirdly, we only have a 50% chance of the knife hitting in the first place (unless we kill creeper). But even if we win the RNG role there are other potential problems that could occur if we do kill the Shredder, for example, we would make ourselves incredibly vulnerable to a Doomsayer (and that’s not the only random 2-drop that would be good for the Druid!).
Okay so we are not trading with the shredder. Next Question: “What about minion placement?” Well I think would play Knife Jugler + the Ooze to the left of Voidwalker (with Ooze next to the creeper); I like the idea of having the 2/1 on the wing since this is the most likely Void Terror target (and by having it on the wing we always have the option of eating one or two minions). Furthermore, I like the idea of having Ooze and Creeper next to each other since that means that if we top-decked an Argus we can protect the Knife juggler with a wall of taunts.
Note also that the Ooze being on the right of Creeper gives us better Void Terror options should Creeper’s deathrattle trigger (e.g. we can choose to eat one or both 1/1 spiders).
In conclusion: If we go for the double 2-drop play my recommendation would be that we shouldn’t trade into Shredder (regardless of where the knife/knives land) because trading is not how we win. All things considered, double 2-drop and face with everything strikes me as a decent play.
With that said, there is one clear disadvantage to this line of play and that is that the current board state has nothing worth casting Wrath on; drop the Juggler and suddenly the Druid has something worth killing with spells. This in and of itself is not a problem, but it is worth pointing out that since we only got one knife Juggle this turn it seems reasonable to think that we could get more value out of the card on a later turn (e.g. Turn 6 Imp-losion and/or wait for a moment when we want to trade Haunted Creeper).
Okay, so double 2-drop is a reasonable play with only one drawback. Unless we can find something better this will be our play, which of course begs the very simple question: “are there better options?”
Play #3: Power Overwhelming + something.
Okay so, I have already dismissed Life Tap and I have also pointed out that trading with the Shredder is not particuly good for us. Ergo, what can we use Power Overwhelmingfor on this turn? Well, it would seem that the only two things we can do with it are:
- Bonus Face damage
- Buff Void Terror.
I think its pretty nonsensical to Power Overwhelming something and then just play one of our 2-drops (why lose a minion & card just to do 4 damage to the opponents face?). Thus, if we are going to Power Overwhelming this turn, its probably best to do it in order to buff the Terror.
But buffing Terror with Power Overwhelming actually has a few difficulties: Firstly, it makes us vulnerable to cards like Big Game Hunter and Keeper of the Grove. Moreover, we also need to be mindful of the fact that if we did try to trade with Shredder (e.g. Power Overwhelming on the 2/1) then the resulting Terror could end up being in Swipe range (since it would be an 8/4). Thus, if we want a powerful Terror then we either buff the Haunted Creeper and trade (making an 8/5 terror and spawning the 1/1’s) or we make an 9/8 by buffing the 2/1 and going face.
I think all of the plays outlined above suffer two basic problems:
- The buffed Terror can be countered in a number of ways.
- Going Face/ trading with Power Overwhelming gets poor value from the card.
Expanding on point (2) above: it might be better to save Power Overwhelming for a more opportune time. For example, if Druid of the Claw is played next turn then by holding onto the card we have an easy way of pushing through Taunts and/or Coin/Innervate plays (e.g. Power Overwhelming on 2/1 = 6 damage).
Play #4: Void Terror (without Power Overwhelming)
With this play we must ask ourselves what Terror wants for dinner. If we eat the 2/1 then the resulting 6/4 is easily dealt with (e.g. Swipe or Wrath 1/3 + Shredder trade). If we eat the Haunter Creeper are out of swipe range but not Swipe + Coin + Shapeshift.
And if we eat multiple minions then we have probably ‘over-invested’ into minion not likely to live for very long (e.g. Silence, Shredder + removal spell, etc).
Overall, I consider this the worst possible play in the current position.
Play #5: Voidcaller
Voidcaller is a rather simple play here: it’s mana efficient and if it dies we get a vanilla 3/3 on board. I really like this play for a number of reasons:
Firstly, I mentioned earlier that one of the best defences to a Voidcaller is to drop small minions. Well in a similar fashion one of the best times to drop a Voidcaller is when the opponent has a 4/3 minion on their side of the board. This is because in such a situations you get value out of the caller’s 3/4 body (because you can trade) AND get value out of the Deathrattle. Basically, dropping Void Caller (sort of) turns Piloted Shredder into a liability!
Secondly, The Druid is likely to be VERY SCARED of Voidcaller. If the Druid has Keeper of the Grove in hand it has to come out now (because of the aforementioned Shredder trade). This potencially makes the Druids turn awkward in terms of mana (playing a 4-drop on Turn 5, is likely to waste one mana, unless he wants to use coin/Innervate). But far worse still; using silence does not remove damage from the board.
Thirdly, With Void Terror in hand, we stand a chance at just winning the game next turn (with the right top-deck). For example, if we got Mal'Ganis then we could Terror our own Voidcaller (possibly in conjunction with Power Overwhelming) for a chance of having two massive minions on board. Sure, the Druid could BGH one of them, but then the other is likely to live. Doomguard would also be very strong.
Fourthly, When compared with the double 2-drop play, Voidcaller offers us more flexibility next turn (i.e. 4-drops are harder to play than 2-drops).
Long story short, this is my play. It seems to have more upsides than the double 2-drop play. The last thing we need to consider is how we are going to deal with Shredder and minion placement.
As mentioned earlier, when playing double 2-drop I thought it best to just ignore shredder. Well now we have even more incentive to ignore shredder: Keeping the 4/3 alive makes Voidcaller a very dangerous threat.
What about minion placement? Well, there is some possibility that next turn we are going to Terror our own Voidcaller. But with that said, we may also prefer to eat something else (if we don’t get a demon, for exampe). And so therefore, we want to position our Voidcaller in such a way that we give ourselves lots of flexibility next turn. Personally I quite like the idea of placing Voidcaller to the left of the Creeper. This gives us the options of making a 6/7 (note: no BGH vunerability!) but just eating the 3/4 or possibily a bigger minion by eating the 1/2 Creeper (or a spawned 1/1) as well. If we decide that we don’t want to eat the Voidcaller we could just play Terror to the right of the 2/1, giving us a 5/4 (FYI, Against Druid and Warrior I do like to eat 1/1’s since it leaves you less vunerable to Swipe/ Whirlwind). And lastly, should we top-deck Defender of Argus this placement allows us to buff Voidcaller and the Haunted creeper, which are probably the best targets for Taunt.
In conclusion the play is:
Drop Voidcaller (left of Creeper) –> Go Face.
I think that this play is the most flexible and most powerful option we have available on this turn. Alright, that’s me done, Let’s now go and see what the pro’s think!
Team HSP’s Lucky
The play I like the most is:
Voidcaller and going face with everything.
In this way we save Power Overwhelming (PO) for a good trade against a possible turn 5 Taunt (e.g. Sludge Belcher, Druid of the Claw) which is super valuable, moreover getting Voidcaller value ASAP (3/4 and eventually 3/3 for 4 mana is still great for tempo, topdecks aside) is also pretty good. It is also worth mentioning that Also Voidcaller is a scary card, which may lead to mistakes from the opponent.
If Voidcaller gets silenced by Keeper of the Grove the outcome is still good for us; We played a 4 mana 3/4, whereas he played 4 mana 2/4 (off-curve). If he kills Abusive with hero power he has to use the Coin, which is still probably decent for us (but not great).
Another possible play is PO on the Haunted Creeper then trade it into the Shredder, and then use Void Terror on the left. I don’t like it though, because the Void Terror becomes vulnerable to either Keeper or Big Game Hunter and we’ve used PO in a really inefficient trade. He probably will have an answer for the Terror, which then suddenly means that we have two weak 2-drops in hand and a useless and clunky Voidcaller as well as an unimpressive board.
Finally it’s worth mentioning the Juggler + Ooze play doesn’t seem great either. It’s very dependant on getting the knife on the Shredder when playing the Ooze (note that we don’t want to trade the Creeper because of Swipe). If Juggler hits face we can’t trade the Shredder with the 2/1 and he might play Keeper (for damage) on the Juggler. This would give the Druid good trades next turn (the 2/4 Keeper is likely to be useful, e.g. it can kill off the 3/2 Ooze and live to talk about it).
In conclusion, I like the Voidcaller play the most.
Team HSP’s Sixis
Tl;dr: I’d play Voidcaller and go face.
I think we can reduce the number of possible plays to 3:
- Knife juggler + Ooze
- Power Overwhelming + Void Terror:
If we play Knife Juggler + Ooze then we have a 50/50 on the Shredder. I’d say if you follow that line you should go face (Shredder is a Tauntless minions that has troubles trading down; moreover since we are an aggro deck there is no point in trading it).
- The Juggler is exposed to Keeper.
- The 2/1 Abusive easily dies to Hero Power.
- Playing the cheaper cards in your hand reduces your flexibility in the upcoming turns.
We could also Beef up the Void Terror. In this situation, we could trade the (5/6) Haunted Creeper with Shredder. This means that the Void Terror will be an 8/5 (above swipe) and this will also spawn 2x 1/1 Spiderling’s. If we get lucky, our 2/1 Abusive will be able to trade with the 2-drop Shredder spawns; We want to trade the 2/1 because it makes our final board state less vulnerable to Swipe.
But if we do get lucky (i.e weak Shredder drop) then the Void Terror will gives us a huge amount of board presence and will allow us to run away with the game if no answer is in the Druid’s hand.
- We are relying on RNG with this play; if Shredder spawns a 2/3 (or worse: Doomsayer, Millhouse Manastorm, Armorsmith, Mistress of Pain, etc) then we would have to go face with the 2/1 and we will have to hope that there is no Swipe in the Druids hand.
- This analysis is only taking into consideration the board state; if we also include the hand context we realise that saving the Power Overwhelming is strong if the opponent goes for the Turn Five Taunt.
We could also just drop the Voidcaller. Silence is not actually that powerful against us because we don’t have big Demons in hand. But If it is not silenced (Druid plays a Taunt, For example) then we might get lucky and top-deck a big Demon. If so we can sacrifice the Voidcaller (possibly with the Terror) and gain a scary board. Moreover, the 1/1 spiders make for perfect targets for the Power Overwhelming, thus whatever Taunt the Druid plays should be easy for us to deal with.
And what if there is a silence? Well in that case our opponent has one less counter in the deck for our ‘Power Overwhelming + Void Terror combo’.
In conclusion, Voidcaller is the play I like best. It should be played to the right of the spider because that means you have better choices as what minion(s) are you sacrificing next turn..
…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.
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