Exploring Win Condition in Arena
Hello everyone. Today I want to cover a topic which many players are familiar with but not everyone. I will be looking at win condition in Arena. Most intermediate and veteran players are already familiar with this topic so beginners will find this guide the most useful. Yet experienced players can also find something to take away from it. I will be exploring what is win condition, how to determine your game plan and how and when to change it if needed.
What is win condition?
First of all what exactly is win condition and why is it so important? You can think of win condition as your game plan. Throughout the whole game you want to have a game plan in your mind and think about the whole picture. Once you have a game plan in mind, make plays which get you closer to your win condition. For example if you’ve determined playing for card advantage is the best game plan you can do, you will want to make favorable trades which contribute towards winning with card advantage. It’s important to stick to your game plan, unless it turns out there is a better one. If you’ve decided to play aggressively, don’t be aggressive for one turn and passive for the next one. Keep working towards your win condition unless you decide there is a better one to work towards.
The importance of win condition
Having a win condition is very important and greatly increases your chances of winning. Every deck in Arena is different and each one has something about it that is better than average. Whether it is a lot of removals or lots of damage from hand, most decks have something strong about them compared to an average arena deck. You want to utilize these strengths and use them to win games. Before even queuing to a game you should have a game plan for the deck you’re playing. Without a win condition you doom yourself to make inefficient use of your cards by not using them for a clear goal. Playing for tempo for one turn, going for card advantage for the next one and so on wastes resources. Therefore you always want to have at least some sort of win condition in your mind. Even if it’s not clear, you want at least a vague idea of your game plan.
Deck archetypes are closely tied with win condition. There are 3 main types of decks in Arena. Those are aggressive, mid-range and control. There are many deck archetypes, however these are the main ones. If you can’t figure out an exact win condition that you should be going for, at least think whether your deck is aggressive, mid-range or control. Once you have that in check it’s going to be a lot easier to manage resources and decide when you should be on the offense and when to play defensive. For example you have just drafted a Mage deck with 4 AoE spells. Just from that you can judge that most likely you are going to be playing control and generating card advantage with those AoE spells that you’ve drafted. If in this scenario where the deck is clearly orientated towards controlling the board, you decide to play aggressively it’s not going to end well. If you go that route, most likely you will end up with removals stuck in your hand and having no minions to pressure the board. As you can see it’s important to tell what archetype your deck is out of the 3 main ones. You can go even further by deciding which sub archetype your deck is. Say you’ve decided that your deck should be played aggressively. The next one should be whether you should go all face and finish off your opponent with damage from hand or try to control the board whilst chipping away health from opponent’s health total. Same goes for other archetypes like control. You can play attrition or classical control. Either completely run opponent out of resources going very late into the game or control the board until late game and drop huge minions one after another which opponent won’t be able to keep up with. These sub archetypes go even deeper into what your game plan is going to be. It is a good idea to try figure them out too, however at the bare minimum you should figure out what your deck archetype is from the 3 main ones.
Individual cards and combos
Sometimes Individual cards and combos can be so strong that they become a win condition on their own. Top tier cards like Deathwing or Ysera can win games on their own. If you have powerful cards like these you may want to alter your game plan to make sure you’re able to reap the massive benefits. Still don’t rely on individual cards 100%. After all it is a card game and you may never draw the cards that you base your game plan around on. Instead of being a win condition they should compliment your game plan. For example you have a Pyroblast in your deck and overall an aggressive deck. With Pyroblast in there you may want to control the board a bit more so you have enough time to draw into your Pyroblast to finish off the game. In the example you don’t change your entire game plan because of the card. You only alter it slightly to make use of the powerful cards in your deck. Obviously if you have more than 1 powerful card which serves a similar purpose, you can rely on them more. For example if you have 3 Vicious Fledgling, it can be reasonable to try to hard muligan for them.
The same idea applies to combos to a certain extent. There are many combos and some are powerful enough that you should include them to your game plan. For example Unleash the Hounds combined with Cult Master can turn a game around. Having this combo in your deck lets you be more free when using up cards. Knowing you have a way to refill your hand easily, you can make trades which exchange card advantage into tempo without worrying about running out of cards. Of course it is even harder to execute combos than draw individual cards. It helps if you have few different combos with the same card. For example you have Equality, Consecration and Wild Pyromancer. Now you have a much higher chance of getting equality combo off because you have 2 activators. Combos also include synergies between tribes. Having a can influence your game plan if you have many beasts in the deck. Or you managed to pick up a few Servant of Kalimos which are so powerful they can change the flow of your deck.
And lastly you have to consider that having many cards of the same type can affect your game plan. For example if you have a lot spells that can deal damage to face, you may want to consider being super aggressive since you will be able to finish off the game easily. Or if you have many hard or AoE removals, may want to consider playing control more since you won’t be able to pressure the board easily with minions. Or say you have many minions. In that case you must be controlling the board very hard because once you get behind there will be no way to come back. Knowing how to alter your game plan based on the cards you draft is hard and comes with experience.
Playing towards your win condition
By now you’ve set up a game plan for your deck. Now comes the part where you have to execute it. Simply whenever you are making a play, make sure to have your game plan in mind. If you’re debating between a few good plays for a turn, think about which one puts you closer to your goal and go with that one. If your win condition is card advantage, make use of your cards and minions by making favorable 1 for 2 trades. If your plan is to rush opponent down, make sure to keep pumping threats with big attack on the board to threaten your opponent’s health total. Here is an example to help illustrate it. You have a Chillwind Yeti on the board. You can either attack the opposing Naga Corsair and trade 1 for 1. On the other hand you can attack opponent’s Bloodfen Raptor. If your win condition is card advantage, you should almost always kill the Bloodfen Raptor for free. If you are playing for tempo, you should consider trading 1 for 1 with the Corsair. Trading 1 for 1 with the Corsair is way less risky because your opponent could have 2 damage from hand which would punish attacking the Raptor. The decision mostly comes down to what your win condition is. Overall you have to keep your game plan in your mind when deciding between plays all the time.
Changing your win condition
I’ve mentioned before that you should try to stick with your game plan. However there are cases where you will want to completely switch up your game plan. Even if you have an aggressive deck, there will b decks that are even more offensive than yours. In those cases you will have to change your game plan to control. In some cases the reverse happens. Many times you control the board but it starts to slip away. Then your best bet may be to go face with everything and try to finish off your opponent before he can generate an even bigger advantage. In all of these cases you had a game plan going in to the game, however the best play was to shift focus into a new win condition. In constructed a whole deck is built having a win condition in mind and every card helps achieve it. In Arena you will get many different kinds of cards which aren’t all necessarily completely in sync with your game plan. This makes it way easier to shift your game plan in Arena than constructed. When playing you always want to find the right time to make the shift. If you do it too late, you will screw up your chances of winning. And as mentioned before you want to try to stick to a game plan as much as possible. This is because if you shift it too many times, many resources are going to be wasted.
That’s all for today. Win condition is an important part of any Arena deck and with this knowledge I’m sure your Arena play will improve. I hope you’ve taken away what you needed if you’re an experienced player. Thanks for reading. Stay tuned for more Arena articles in the future. May you have the best of luck in Arena. Until next time