In-Depth Turn Analysis #20: Blizzcon (2015) Day One
Hi guys! Welcome to episode #20 of In-Depth Turn Analysis. For more information about the series and/or to see a list of previous episodes please click here.
I type this sentence shortly after watching the day one group matches of the 2015 Blizzcon Championships. As you might expect there where a number of interesting games and complex positions to muse over: In this short article I’m going to quickly study a three positions, each of which taken from day one of the championships.
Normally in this series I take a single position and go into a lot of depth but today I thought I’d try and writing something quickly and get it published while the games are still fresh in everyone’s minds. In short, because I’m working quickly, and because I want to cover multiple positions the analysis shall be a lot less in-depth than it normal for the series but I hope it is nonetheless instructional and enjoyable.
Also in a new twist I have graded the 3 positions according to how easy I think they are to solve. One star (*) means its suited to beginners (Ranks 15+), Three Stars and above (***) is suitable for intermediate and advanced players (e.g. Ranks 6 +).
And finally I’d like to point out that my analysis contains spoilers.
WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD!!
Okay, Let’s begin!
Position #1: Lifecoach vs Kranich
YOUR MANA: 10 (with 3 remaining)
NUMBER OF CARDS IN HAND (OPPONENT): 3
ESTIMATED DIFFICULTY: *
Okay so let’s start things off with a really easy puzzle.
Since there is only two cards in the hand and one of them is completely useless it should be obvious to everyone reading that the only decision Lifecoach has is whether he wants to use Savage Roar on this turn or not. If he does use Savage Roar Lifecoach has a further two options (1) Go Face, (2) Clear the Oasis Snapjaw .
Going face with Savage Roar this turn is clearly terrible. Why? It doesn’t set up lethal nor does it reduce the chances that the Hunter (played by Kranich) has lethal. Once we dismiss this play that only leaves two options for us to study:
OPTION 1: Kill the Snapjaw
With Savage Roar we have two ways to kill the beast; one is to trade the Bloodfen Raptor and then finish off with the Hero. The other way is to Trade all of your minions into it, which avoids taking 2 face damage. By the way guys, please to remember that the Snapjaw IS a beast!
OPTION 1 (A) Killing Snapjaw with your Face + Minion
If you take two damage to your face you go down to 7 life, which puts you in range of Hero Power + any playable Beast + Kill Command.
Moreover, you only push the Hunter down to 16 life by attacking with the Aspirant. Next you would turn you have 5 damage on board and 1 card draw. Basically this means to win next turn you would have to deal 11 damage with one card — which is basically impossible.
In short by using your hero to trade into the Snapjaw you don’t set up lethal and you still die to a variety of Hunter cards. Even if you top-decked Ancient of Lore you would be forced to put into ‘heal mode’ (even though you desperately need cards). Such a play might drag the game out for 1 or 2 turns but to me it seems extremely unlikely that this could be a winning play. Because of the way the Hunter deck is built the Druid simply cannot win ‘the long game’ here: The Hunter’s damage will simply out-race the Druids defences. If you heal minions and damage will get you, if you Taunt up Hero Power and Spells will get you. In short, in terms of imediate impact this play is weak to Kill Command. In terms of long-term strategy the Druid needs to find a way to quickly end the game, and this play does not do that either.
OPTION 1 (B) Killing Snapjaw ONLY using Minions
Okay, so what if kill Snapjaw by trading in all of our minions? In this situation we are at 9 life, which puts us just outside of Beast + Kill command range. Unfortunately however we are still a number of turns away from winning. And as I said earlier, the longer the game goes the more it favours the Hunter. So yes, the play is safer but also it doesn’t offer the Druid a way to win the game.
In short, both of these options manage to stall the game for a few turns but fail to set up any sort win condition of your own.
OPTION 2: Go Face, Do Nothing
With the Face play you die to Kill Command + Hero Power, You also probably lose to a Houndmaster. But here’s the thing; this line of play does provide a clear way to win the game: You can win the game if the Hunter is unable to kill you or defend against your potential burst damage. For example, by keeping Savage Roar in hand the Druid can win the game with Force of Nature.
In short, with this play there is a high chance you die next turn but on the bright side this play has a clear path to victory.
All things considered this is an example of ‘playing to win versus playing to not lose‘. During the game Lifecoach passed the turn because he felt that this ‘high risk’ line of play was ultimately more likely to win the game when compared the other seemingly ‘safer’ options. Remember guys, always play to your ‘outs’!
Position #2: Ostakaka versus LoveCX
YOUR MANA: 9
NUMBER OF CARDS IN HAND (OPPONENT): 2
MATCH-UP: Freeze Mage vs Warlock Zoo
ANY OTHER NOTES: Warlock has 7 minions on board.
ESTIMATED DIFFICULTY: ***
So okay, this is one of those positions where there are lots of options but one play stands out as being far superior to everything else.
THE BEST LINE: Hero Power + Fireball (both to face), pass.
Okay to why is this play awesome? Well, firstly note that with 7 minions on board the Zoo player has incredibly limited options next turn; playing spells (such as Power Overwhelming) is possible but it should be noted that Warlock Zoo typically does not run many spells. As for minions, well, they cannot be played full-stop.
Please note that If instead of Hero Powering the face you killed a 1/1 the Zoo player might be able to play Loatheb on his turn, and that could potentially offer a chance to win the game (since there is lots of damage on board and you can’t play that manage spells in order to defend). Playing Blizzard also suffers this same problem. In short, freeing up space on the board for Zoo to play more minions does not seem like a good idea.
What is clever about this play though is that it requires both match-up knowledge and the ability to plan several turns ahead. On this turn Ostakaka simply counts up the damage and realises the Zoo cannot kill him from 25 life, not even with the help of double Power Overwhelming. Thus, it is perfectly safe to spend the turn not dealing with the board.
However, in order to see that this line of play is possible you need to understand that the follow-up play is Archmage Antonidas + Frost Nova. This adds a Fireball to your hand while also denying the Zoo player the ability to do anything (since the board is full of frozen minions). Next turn you finish him off with a flurry of Fireballs.
In conclusion, this not a very hard play to see or understand; but it is a good position to study because solving it requires that you plan ahead and identify novel opportunities (this play only works because 7 minions are on the board).
Position #3: Purple versus Pinpingho
YOUR MANA: 2
NUMBER OF CARDS IN HAND (OPPONENT): 3
MATCH-UP: Hybrid Hunter(?) vs. Ramp Druid
ESTIMATED DIFFICULTY: ****
Holy crap! It not often you get faced with such an extraordinarily hard turn so early in the game. At first glance it seems as if Purple has several good options to choice from. Let’s study them:
OPTION 1: Innervate + Keeper (killing Leper Gnome)
Pro’s: We get to very quickly deal with the Leper Gnomes (which is great since those guys are threatening A LOT of damage), we establish early board control
Con’s: We are playing as Ramp Druid and so every turn we don’t play Wild Growth is a wasted opportunity. By playing Keeper now we have no clear way of dealing with Mad Scientist (If Pinpingho gets a Freezing Trap (and some Face/Hybrid hunters to run this trap) then it could become incredibly hard to stabilise on board as Druid).
OPTION 2: Wrath
Pro’s: This play protects our life total and cycles a card.
Cons: We didn’t play Wild Growth, and as a result our options for next turn are limited (sure, we can Innervate Drake but if we do that we are going to take more damage as a result). Wrath is a flexible card that might be better used later (e.g. Killing a Huffer or a Wolfrider).
OPTION 3: Hero Power
Pro’s: This play is flexible, it reduces damage on board and generates card advantage.
Con’s: This play is slow, and we didn’t play Wild Growth
OPTION 4: Wild Growth
Pro’s: Turn 2 Wild Growth is what this deck is *meant* to do. With this play we get to curve out really nicely (e.g. Keeper next turn and Drake the turn after that).
Con’s: This play is a bit slow, the Leper Gnomes will do A LOT of damage.
OPTION 5: Innervate + Wrath + Hero Power
Pro’s: This play limits the amount of damage we end up taking from Leper Gnome.
Con’s: We didn’t play Wild Growth. With Wrath AND Innervate used up our hand is considerably less flexible than it could otherwise be (for example, its not clear what we do next turn with 3 mana). With this play we do not have a good response to the Hunter’s next threat (e.g. Knife Juggler on Turn 2)
OPTION 6: Innervate + Wrath + Wild Growth
Pro’s: This play reduces the damage on board AND plays Wild Growth, which allows us to curve out nicely.
Cons: Next turn our only good play is Keeper of the Grove (and our opponent might figure this out). Wrath is a really flexible card; it is probably a good card to save for later, if possible (For example If the Hunter rolls Misha Wrath can kill the 2/1 hiding behind it, Hero Power cannot.
OPTION 7: Innervate + Wild Growth + Hero Power
This option is basically the same as Option 6, but here we sacrifice a little bit of health in order to keep the Wrath in hand.
So yeah, it might only be Turn 2 but we are spoilt for choice. During the game Purple opted for option 7. After some thought I think that this line is best; I think it is really important to play Wild Growth a.s.a.p, but we also need to think about reducing the damage we are taking. I think killing a Leper Gnome is a must.
The means there are two playing in contention; options 6 & 7. I opted for option 7 in the end because I think that in the long run holding onto a flexible card (Wrath) for future use is likely to pay dividends. Furthermore, given the state of the hand I don’t think we need to draw a card this early, I think we can wait a bit.
Also guys Modorra also spoke about this position in his article that you can read here.
Day One VOD
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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