In-Depth Turn Analysis: Dragons vs Old God
In-Depth Turn Analysis is as series started by Smashthings back in 2014. Since he quit Hearthstone, it was discontinued and forgotten. I’ve decided to pick it up, because it’s really interesting and fills a niche between articles for beginners and more competitive ones.
If you aren’t familiar with the series, don’t worry – it’s quite easy. Just imagine you’re in an interesting or difficult spot in one of your matches. What if, instead of having 75 seconds to analyze everything, your time would be unlimited? Decisions in Hearthstone are often very chaotic. You might be driven by intuition (which isn’t always right), you might miss something, you might make a big misplay, because you didn’t have time to think about every possible outcome.
In order to take most from the series, before checking out my analysis, you should think about the scenario yourself. What do you think is the best play? Comparing your answers to my analysis can then teach you something or even spark a discussion if you disagree with my points. Feel free to comment if you do!
So before I start, I have one request for you guys. If you stumble upon such a scenario during one of your games, please make a screenshot and send it to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and it get featured in next episode of the series!
Dragon Warrior vs N’Zoth Control Warrior
Screenshot taken from the HWC Quarterfinal Series between che0nsu and Cydonia. We’re analyzing the situation from the che0nsu’s point of view, that’s why I’ve “censored” the Cydonia cards. Control Warrior is at 17 health if that’s hard to notice because of the black box (sorry!) and he has 6 cards in his hand right now (will have 7 after the draw). Still, since we’re trying to put ourselves in the player’s situation, we know each card in both decks, since they were published before the Finals. I’ll also write down cards played so far by each of the players.
- che0nsu’s Dragon Warrior – Alexstrasza's Champion, Fiery War Axe, Frothing Berserker, Blackwing Corruptor, Drakonid Crusher, The Curator
- Cydonia’s N’Zoth Warrior – Shield Slam, Shield Block, Infested Tauren, Sylvanas Windrunner, Gorehowl (currently equipped with 5 damage), Ragnaros the Firelord (on the board).
Let’s start with a few important points. So far, Dragon Warrior was dominating the game. Playing threat after threat, drawing cards etc. He has more resources left in his hand. Cydonia has dropped a preemptive Ragnaros against che0nsu’s empty board (he cleared The Curator with a weapon). A few things we have to think about. First – Control Warrior hasn’t played any Executes and Brawls yet. He also might have a second Shield Slam, but to be fair, he won’t likely be able to use it on anything (0 Armor, no upgraded Hero Power, one Shield Block already used, only Ironforge Portal can activate the second Shield Slam). He also has 5 damage weapon ready to swing – but his health total is really low, so it might be pretty hard to do so.
There is a Ragnaros on his side of the board. And there are two options – kill it or ignore it. There are two ways to play around Ragnaros – either kill him or play multiple minions and hope he won’t hit the best target (and even if he does, that’s usually not THAT big of a deal, because you still have other things in play). And Dragon Warrior can do either of those.
Another thing that’s worth noting is Revenge. Cydonia runs two and hasn’t used any of them yet. Right now it’s bad, because he’s still at 17 health. But taking him down to 12 or below might be a bad idea, because then the Revenge activates. Even if you play around it and put him e.g. to 13, he will probably still be able to activate it by hitting a minion first with a weapon, but then he loses extra health.
Let’s start the analysis.
Blood to Ichor + Execute + Azure Drake
You kill the Rag with Execute, which is a really clean kill in this case. Then for the rest of your mana you play Azure Drake, which cycles further into your deck and brings you closer to Grommash Hellscream finisher.
- You deal with a Rag.
- You don’t play into Execute, Revenge or Brawl
- You cycle.
- With second Blood to Ichor + Execute combo in your hand, no can easily kill another big threat.
- Control Warrior has a 5 damage Gorehowl equipped which kills your Drake. He gets down to 13, but you’re only left with a 2/2 on the board – you might lose the tempo you need.
- You aren’t in a desperate need of drawing a card. You have a nearly full hand and it will take at least 2-3 more turns before you run out of steam.
Sir Finley Mrrgglton + Blood to Ichor + Execute + Kor’Kron Elite
This play is similar to the last one, but instead of the Azure Drake, you develop Kor'kron Elite and Sir Finley Mrrgglton. It’s more tempo than the Azure Drake, but it also has its own problems. P.S. You always should play Sir Finley Mrrgglton first – that’s just a good habit to develop. Picking a certain Hero Power might alter the rest of your turn. It’s very unlikely in this case, but just a general thing to do.
- You put 3 bodies instead of 2, which are harder to remove.
- You immediately push for 4 damage with Kor’kron.
- You get to pick a new Hero Power and you can already play with that in your mind. E.g. if you pick Hunter’s one, you know that you might push for damage, because you negate Warrior’s Hero Power with your own. If you pick Warlock’s, you might go all-in and not care about Brawl, because you can always refill your hand etc.
- You play into a Brawl a bit. While it’s still not a great Brawl for the Warrior, as long as the 4/3 dies, it’s going to be decent.
- What’s even more important that you kinda play into the Revenge. Warrior just needs to attack the 1/3 and he’ll be at 12 health – in the 3 damage Revenge range. This way he clears your whole board and still has 7 more mana to do stuff.
- Kor’kron is the fastest minion in your hand and you might use it later to get a “surprise” lethal later.
Sir Finley Mrrgglton + Azure Drake + 2x Blood to Ichor
This play might seem weird at first, but the point is to deal with the Rag by playing as many minions on the board as possible. Most of them are quite small, so it’s not a big deal if Rag hits them.
- While not “playing around Brawl”, you make it quite weird for the opponent. Not only he has a high chance to destroy his own Rag, but most of the minions on your side are small, so it’s not a high value Brawl at all. Unless Rag survives.
- Even in the worst case scenario – e.g. Brawl into Rag surviving, it’s still damaged, so you can Execute it next turn.
- You play around Revenge – even hitting Azure Drake with a weapon puts Control Warrior at 13, so 1 damage over Revenge range.
- You don’t put too much immediate pressure. If Control Warrior kills your Azure Drake and Rag hits a 2/2, you’re left with a 1/3 and 2/2 on the board.
- If you don’t force out a Brawl this turn, such a board state might make next turn Brawl much better. For example – if you decide to drop Kor’kron + Fierce Monkey next turn, now Control Warrior gets a quite good Brawl (there is a high chance that your small minion will survive).
- You use both of your Blood to Ichors, so you’re left with no good ways to activate Execute (and you have 2 in your hand) or to activate Grommash Hellscream once you draw it.*
- You don’t guarantee a 9/9 Drakonid Crusher next turn if Warrior can clear the board without taking damage AND Armors up.
- Ragnaros might be the best Execute target in the Control Warrior’s deck and you have a clear way to do that.
*You might get Mage’s Hero Power with Sir Finley to negate that disadvantage. So if you play Sir Finely first and you get Mage’s Hero Power, you can go for this play without worrying about activators so much.
Sir Finley Mrrgglton + Fierce Monkey + Kor’Kron Elite
Once again, you leave Rag alone, but you play 3 minions on the board. You can probably count on the opponent killing Fierce Monkey with a weapon, so now you’re left with 3 Rag targets and only one hit is bad for you (4/3).
- Just like the last time – if Control Warrior decides to Brawl, the odds are in your favor. There is only one bad outcome – Rag surviving. One outcome is mediocre – Sir Finely Surviving. And two outcomes are good – Fierce Monkey or Kor’Kron surviving.
- You put pressure on the opponent. He’s left at 13 health and probably will take 3 more from the Fierce Monkey. So if he has no way to gain more Armor (second Shield Block or Ironforge Portal), you finish the game once you draw Grom.
- To activate Revenge, Warrior can’t just hit the 1/3, because it’s behind the Taunt. So he needs to kill a 3/4 anyway.
- Revenge is still good, even if he needs to take down a 3/4 first. For 2 mana he kills 1/3 and 4/3.
- Kor’kron is the fastest minion in your hand and since you don’t have any other Charge minions in your hand, you’d prefer to set up lethal with slower minions first.
- Ragnaros might be the best Execute target in the Control Warrior’s deck and you have a clear way to do that.
Sir Finley Mrrgglton + Blood to Ichor + Weapon Swing + Drakonid Crusher
It’s the only play that utilizes weapon, but to hit a face rather than to kill something. You can make a 9/9 Drakonid Crusher here, which is a really big threat. Then you play 2 small minions to minimize the chances of Rag killing your big guy in case opponent has a way to deal 1 damage to it.
- 9/9 doesn’t die to a Rag shot right away, Control Warrior would need something extra to kill it.
- This play sets up potential lethal. Opponent is as 14 health, you have 12 damage on the board. You have 4 more damage in your hand. So even in case he Armors up, you still might have lethal. That would require Control Warrior to not gain any extra Armor, not kill the 9/9 and Rag to hit the face, but still, you MIGHT have lethal next turn.
- Brawl’s odds are in your favor once again and it’s even more risky. If 9/9 wins the Brawl and CW will have no way to kill it, you’re in a great spot.
- Revenge alone is a 50/50 to clear the board with Rag shot. It deals with the small guys right away and puts 9/9 into the Rag’s range.
- Execute punishes this play. Especially Revenge + Execute – it clears the whole board and leaves the Control Warrior with 5 more mana to do stuff.
- You “waste” a weapon hit. There might be a better way to use it soon. And you don’t have a second Fiery War Axe in your hand to follow-up anyway.
che0nsu has decided to take the Play #5. He played Drakonid Crusher and 2 small guys while leaving Rag alone. Cydonia has played 2x Ravaging Ghoul + swinged a weapon into 1/1 to take a 50/50 Rag shot. Sadly for the Control Warrior player, he missed the shot and Dragon Warrior had 9/7 left on the board. If Rag hit a 9/7 the play would be heavily punished and the game might have gone another way. In the end, since Cydonia had no clear way to kill a 9/7 and had to go for a Brawl next turn (which he also didn’t win), he died very soon. But the game might have ended differently if that 50/50 Rag hit killed a minion.
I would probably taken a different route. But I’ll start by analyzing each play shortly. First of all – is it worth to kill Rag here? It’s about risky play vs safe play. Killing a Rag is a safe play. It decreases the number of potential punishes. Even if enemy won’t have a way to clear your biggest minion, he can still get lucky and Rag might hit it. But at the same time, since you have to use 2 mana on the Execute this turn, your turn is weaker. Leaving the Rag alone is risky, because it can end up poorly for you. But at the same time, what I like about leaving Rag alone is that it allows you to play into the Brawl without really playing into it. Control Warrior has much less incentive to Brawl the board while he has his own Rag on it. But once again – it’s a risky thing. If Control Warrior ends up Brawling and Rag wins the Brawl, it’s another big punish.
When it comes to plays that kill the Rag – I think that Play #2 (Sir Finley + Kor’kron) is superior to Play #1 (Azure Drake). If you kill the Rag, you want to put as much pressure as possible. Azure Drake is guaranteed to die to a weapon. Then you’re left with no minions on the board and Warrior has 9 mana to develop. On the other hand, if you go for Sin Finley + Kor’kron, if Control Warrior decides to weapon down the 4/3, few things go your way. He took 8 damage from your Kor’kron, which is nice and you threaten a Grom lethal next turn. You’re also left with a 1/3 + 2/2 on the board – while it’s not much, 3 damage counts when your opponent is so low. Plus you know what new Hero Power you will get and you can adjust your play. You also guarantee that you will be able to drop a 9/9 next turn.
When it comes to plays that don’t kill the Rag. Play #3 (Sir Finley + Azure Drake + 2x Blood to Ichor) is the play I dislike most. It seems most unnecessary. I mean, playing multiple bodies against Rag is good. But then you put yourself in an awkward spot for a few reasons. At least 2, maybe even 3 of your small minions are guaranteed to survive. So if you can’t really play anything next turn, because you will REALLY play into the Brawl. But what I don’t like even more is using 2x Blood to Ichor here. With 2x Execute in your hand and you waiting for a Grom draw to finish the game, using both of your activators just like that is weird.
So for the best play that don’t kill Rag, it’s between the Play #4 (Sir Finley + Fierce Monkey + Kor’kron Elite) and Play #5 (Sir Finley + Blood to Ichor + Weapon Swing + Drakonid Crusher). Out of those two, I prefer the first one for a few reasons. Both plays are okay against Brawl, both plays get semi-punished by Revenge, while Play #5 has another punish – Execute (or 2x Ravaging Ghoul as a semi-punish, but that’s not something you play around). You play the biggest minion in your hand while the opponent hasn’t played any Executes yet. It’s pretty likely that he has one by this point – he didn’t have a great opportunity to use it on the prior turns anyway, so you have no reason to think that “he surely doesn’t have it, because he would have used it already”. Play #4 also activates the next turn Drakonid Crusher while saving the weapon. Play #4 doesn’t set up lethal, but that lethal is very improbable. Rag would have to completely miss, opponent would need to not have a way to kill ANY of the minions, gain Armor or Taunt up. So it’s a lethal basically against Control Warrior passing a turn and Rag still missing.
Overall, I think like this turn was really, really hard to play, because different lines of play were so close to each other. If I was in the che0nsu’s spot, I would probably choose between Play #2 and Play #4. In the end, I think that I would decide to kill the Rag. I don’t think it’s worth to just leave him on the board. It’s too risky for almost no reason. Since you plan to Execute him next turn anyway, you just give him one free shot. I would understand leaving the Rag if you had a higher chance to set up lethal or something, but in this case, it doesn’t accomplish that much.
So in the end, I would go for the Play #2 (Sir Finley Mrrgglton + Blood to Ichor + Execute + Kor’kron Elite). What would be your play?
That’s all folks. I hope you’ve enjoyed another episode of In-Depth Turn Analysis. If you disagree with any of my analysis, feel free to leave a comment in the section below. Once I have some free time, I’d be glad to discuss everything with you! And if you want to be up to date with my articles, you can follow me on Twitter.
Good luck on the ladder and until next time!
If you’re interested in the series, you might want to check out the previous ones: