In-Depth Turn Analysis #21: Blizzcon (2015) Day Two
Hi guys! Welcome to episode #21 of In-Depth Turn Analysis. To see my discussion of day one please click here. For more information about the series and/or to see a list of all previous episodes please click here.
I type this sentence shortly after watching the day two 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 two 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 to 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 it’s 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: Jab vs Kno
YOUR MANA: 6
NUMBER OF CARDS IN HAND (OPPONENT): 3
MATCH-UP: Tempo Mage vs Midrange Druid (?)
ANY OTHER NOTES: Mage played a Secret Last Turn, The Druid has not tested for it yet.
ESTIMATED DIFFICULTY: **
Okay so in this position we don’t have too many options, either we do six damage to the face (with Force of Nature) or simply Hero Power pass.
Remember also that Tempo Mages run a varierty of secrets; sometimes its Effigy, sometimes its Mirror Entity, and sometimes its Counterspell. As the Druid you need to be very mindful of all three possibilities.
Okay, so let’s consider using Force of Nature here:
(1) It tests the Secrets (if it’s Counterspell we don’t get a swarm of Angry trees. If the spell resolves we know to play-around Mirror entity next turn).
(2) It gives us a clear plan to win the game.
(3) We have 6+6+7 mana’s worth of stuff in Hand. If we draw cards with Ancient of Lore then that means we are likely to have so much expensive stuff in our hand that we are never going to be able to play everything. Ergo, by using the Force now we get in 6 “free” damage.
(4) If we want to win the game with Savage Roar + Force of Nature, we must test for Counterspell at some point during the game. Why not do the testing now?
Okay so let’s look at a few of these points in a bit more detail. Let’s suppose the Secret in play is Counterspell. If we knew this for a fact we might be tempted to pass the turn and then use Ancient of Lore for cards next turn and trigger the secret with something a cheap, such as an Innervate. But in real games you don’t know what the secret is, thus doing nothing with the idea of triggering Counterspell with something drawn from Lore is both slow and risky (the risk being that the secret is mirror entity).
Also, how does using the Force now provide a clear game plan? Well the idea is that we drop the Mage to 15 life. This means that if we deal just one damage to the enemy hero before turn 9 we set up the combo finish.
Suppose for instance we play force of nature (it resolves) and next turn we draw a Druid of the Claw or some other small/low-cost minion. In such a situation we could Hero Power face (now at 14 life) and trigger the Mirror entity (if you charge the Claw you can just trade with his 4/4). This means on turn 8 we could draw cards with Lore and if we draw into Savage Roar we threaten to finish on Turn 9.
If we don’t get a small minion (or something else useful) then we will be forced to draw with Lore on Turn 7 (giving our opponent a 5/5 in the process). But even in this situation we stand a reasonable shot at winning since if we can find a way to deal one damage to the Face on Turn 8 (e.g Hero Power and/or Swipe) we once again set-up the turn 9 combo finish.
Basically, the key point is that all the while we have our opponent in combo range we can win even if we lose control of the board . Meanwhile, if we don’t do the six damage now then we don’t push the opponent into combo range which means that our only way to win is to fight for board control (which will be very difficult to do with Mirror Entity in play).
With this said, Using Force of Nature right now does have a few drawbacks.
(1) It’s a very inefficient use of a card (compare with Mind Blast)
(2) Casting the spell limits future options.
Of these two drawbacks I consider (1) to be sort of irrelevant; sure we get little value from the card but nobody is arguing that this is a good play; the question before us is whether it preferable to doing nothing.
The second drawback is really instructive though. there is a subtle point I’m sure plenty of you missed:
“What if the secret is Mirror Entity?”
Here’s the thing, if you play the Force of Nature and its Counterspell that means you can drop Lore next turn without worrying about giving the opponent a 5/5 minion.
But what if its Mirror Enity? The subtle difficulty is that if you burn a copy of Force of Nature now then you cannot use the second copy to clear minions without forgoing the combo win-condition.
Suppose you Force of Nature on Turn 6 and the opponent plays a bunch of small minions. You suspect Mirror entity. In this case you clearing the minions with the second copy of Force of Nature costs you a win condition. The only option (assuming no decent top-deck) is drop the Lore and give the Mage a huge tempo boost from Mirror Enity.
Okay, so now let’s suppose the exact same scenario but this time you pass on Turn 6. Now you can play-around the Mirror Entity AND clear some of the Mage’s board by using Force of Nature of Turn 7. You can clear the board with F.O.N here because you have the second copy in hand for the combo finish.
Basically, the gist of the problem is that by playing Force of Nature on Turn 6 you have painted yourself into a corner; next turn you have no choice but to burn a win condition OR give the Mage Mirror entity value.
In conclusion, this play is not as simple as it might seem; Doing the six damage (potentially) sets-up the combo finish but on the flip-side you also create a situation where (barring good top-decks) you are greatly limited in what you can do; using Force of Nature now means you cannot play-around the Mirror Entity on Turn 7 (not without forgoing the combo win-condition anyway).
All things considered I think the correct play is to just go for it. We play Force now in order to set-up the big combo finish. My main argument in favour of this play is that though-out the analysis you may have noticed that I said “barring no decent top-deck” a few times. The fact of the matter is that drawing ‘well’ is always a possibility.
Basically my argument against force of Nature is to do with flexibility. Well, with the right top-deck our problems with flexibility could just go away. For example, any small minion gives us the option to play-around Mirror Entity, a draw like Savage Roar potentially allows us to play no minions for the rest of the game and a draw like Swipe potentially allows us to delay triggering the mirror entity for a few turns.
A second reason for preferring the use F.O.N of Turn 6 is the risk of Counterspell; if you pass with the idea of clearing minions on Turn 7 with Force of Nature (instead of playing Ancient of Lore) you get completely wrecked by the possibility of Counterspell.
Position #2: Jab vs Kno (again)
YOUR MANA: 5
NUMBER OF CARDS IN HAND (OPPONENT): 3
MATCH-UP: Mid-range Hunter (?) vs Mid-range Paladin
ANY OTHER NOTES: Hunter has a 3/1 Eaglehorn Bow equipped.
ESTIMATED DIFFICULTY: ***
Okay so in this position we have a number of options but after some thought you should be able to spot that only two plays are likely to be any good:
- Antique Healbot
On the downside Consecration floats one-mana but on the bright side we do get to clear the board. If we assume that the Secret is Freezing Trap then we can also (at the cost of giving the Hunter a bow charge) trigger the trap by attacking with the Mana Addict afterwards.
At first glance this play looks decent and straight-forward. But here’s the thing; decent & Straight-forward plays are not enough to make you Blizzcon Champion. One must ask:
Can we do better?
During the game Kno decided to play the Healbot after a good deal of thought. He also attacked a hound with his Light's Justice and the Mad Scientist with his Mana Addict. This leaves a 3/3 Healbot and a 1/1 against two 1/1 minions on board. With only two attack the Hunter cannot easily trade with the minions without either using the bow and/or damage from hand. It is very important to note that triggering Freezing Trap with the Antique Healbot is great news for the Paladin, and Jab knows this. Thus, Jab undoubtedly feels pressured to kill the Healbot.
Unfortunately for Kno Jab did have a Quick Shot in hand and so therefore the Hunter gets to keep his weapon. But what if this were not the case? If Jab (the Hunter) did not have this card in hand then it is likely that he would have been forced to use his 3/1 bow to kill the Healbot, which would give up the +1 durability.
In conclusion, I like Healbot here, it clears the board almost as well as consecration but it has a large upside due the fact (a) it forces the Hunter to deal with a 3/3 minion and if there isn’t a Quickshot in hand dealing with the 3/3 could cost a bow charge. And (b), by playing a minion ourselves we deny the Hunter the initiative (whereas playing Consecration allows the Hunter to play whatever he wants onto an empty board).
In terms of power I think the two plays are close, but I do think Healbot is slightly better. In chess there is a saying:
“When you see a good move, Look for a better one.” ~~ Emanuel Lasker (World Chess Champion, 1894-1921)
I think this saying is true of Hearthstone as well; Consecration was good move, but Healbot is (slightly) better. Finding the best move in any position will win you more games than simply playing good moves will.
Position #3: Nias vs Lifecoach
YOUR MANA: 10
NUMBER OF CARDS IN HAND (OPPONENT): 3
MATCH-UP: Face Hunter vs Handlock
ANY OTHER NOTES: The Secret in play is Freezing Trap.
ESTIMATED DIFFICULTY: *
With Two cards in Hand (one of which being utterly unplayable) there is not too much to do this turn. Basically, our only options are (a) What we target with Kill Command and (2) What Taunt we smack with the minions.
With 15 damage on the board and at 20 Life the position initially looks a bit scary, but the Freezing Trap probably protects you from 2 damage. Thus Lifecoach would need at least two cards (e.g. Darkbomb + Doomguard) in order to win on the spot. This is an important consideration because it means that as Face Hunter we do not have to desperately sacrifice a bunch of minions simply in order to survive. For example, we are not forced to Kill Command the Molten Giant this turn, which is great news.
We should also consider the Match-up; since Handlock is very good at putting out big Taunts Hunter usually needs cards like Kill Command to go face in order to win the game.
Long story short; Kill Command can (and probably has to) go face. The only question is whether we do it now or later. Why might waiting a turn be better? I have three words for you:
Yep, the problem with using Kill Command this turn is that if Lifecoach has it he could potentially heal up with Lord Jaraxxus. Talking of Jaraxxus…
“What should we do with our minions?”
Well, he’s the thing; as a Face Hunter we are really really close to losing this game. We don’t have a strong hand, nor do we have board control. Thus, our only chance of winning is to ignore the board and piece together just enough face damage from our spells and Hero power. Lord Jaraxxus has some something to say about that plan, however.
Notice the Voidcaller on the board? By attacking it there is a chance that Lord Jaraxus comes out. And that’s a great result since that means we have effectively removed an incredibly powerful heal from the Warlock’s hand. And once again, we can get away with making such a play because of at 20 life the Warlock is unlikely to have enough damage to win.
In the game this is the play Nias went with, leaving Lifecoach at 4 Health. Lifecoach added a few minions to the board and pushed as much damage as he could. Unfortunately for Nias he did not top-deck 2 damage, and quickly lost the game as a result. Nonetheless, his play offered the best practical chance of winning.
Day Two 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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