arena-play-by-play

The Arena Play by Play series covers a complete Arena run with very detailed commentary – more so than the video format would allow. With almost every ingame event showcased on a separate screenshot, you can be sure you won’t be missing out on anything! This also allows for a more extensive commentary than a video would. All the plays will be documented with pictures except when noted: I set my recording software to take a screenshot every second. (That means around 6-700 per game for me to go through and choose from.) I hope you will find it informative and entertaining!

Find the other parts here: Part 0 – Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3

Another day, another player who is trying to end our flawless win streak in the Arena. If you recall, I was fortunate enough last time to turn the whole game around with a single Flamestrike – I’d rather not resort to similar measures this game. That wasn’t a joke, by the way – my reluctance to use said card will reach ludicrous levels as the game progresses.

Thrall is back, under a new alias.
I don’t want any of these in my opening hand. Here’s hoping we avoid another one of those trademark slow starts!
No dice. I’m starting to suspect that I haven’t drafted as many 2-drops as I should have. At least I’ll have the coin.
My opponent does nothing on his first turn (thankfully) and I get my hands on a Mana Wyrm (thankfully).
Just like last game, I’m planning on buffing the hell out of this thing on the next turn…
…if it didn’t die immediately!

What the hell is up with Shamans and their excessive hatred of this card? Fair play to them, it was well worth removing in both cases, but isn’t really considerate and I’m sure the hearthstone PETA community will be all over them after reading this article.

What now though? I make the questionable call and coin out the Murloc Warleader – because my only other minion in hand would have to wait for two more turns, I decided it is better to just have something out on the field to avoid getting ran over. I have a Fireball in hand if something nasty arrives on turn 4 and I should be able to kill any 3-drops with this minion and the Fireblast.

Oh, I very much like your invention indeed!
Seriously, who hid all the low-cost cards? Did they immigrate to MTG or something?

The point of redraw cards like the Novice Engineer is to simply make your deck smaller and more reliable: this ability is a lot more important in Constructed, but it’s still no slouch here either. This card had dropped a lot in popularity since it’s been nerfed from being a 1/2, as a Loot Hoarder is clearly a superior choice now, but there is still some merit in picking it. Nonetheless, I’m very glad to see it as it is very easy for me to remove.

I could Fireblast it, but I’d rather draw some more cards, especially considering how I’m really lacking, you know, playable minions.

Finally, something! Now I won’t have to waste my next turn!

I kill the Engineer with my Murloc and eagerly await my opponent’s next move. If he plays something big like a Yeti, I have a Fireball. If he plays something smaller, I can trade the Warleader and then play the Harvest Golem.

Sometimes even the best laid plans – or the screenshots, for that matter – just don’t work out: an Unbound Elemental has been followed up by a Rockbiter Weapon which was enough to leave me stranded for now…
…at least until this card came along.

Unbound Elementals can get really dangerous if the Shaman gets to play a few Overload cards: as such, I’m not going to say no for an immediate solution. The Frostbolt and my hero ability are enough to take this creature out and I’m going to be able to play the Berserker next turn.

Never mind, this needs to go.
We may have many secrets, but our next move is really obvious: playing the Berserker would just be idiotic against a 7-damage minion and I’d rather avoid taking said damage to the face either – it’s time for some fireworks.
Boom!
Boom! …with a body attached to it.
Are Yetis always late from work or is it just me?

These are the key turns in Arena. Whenever your opponent plays a minion that you cannot get rid of, you have to really carefully consider your options: if you can’t set up a proper way to remove the threat and its follow-up the upcoming turn, you may very well lose the game. This particular situation is also quite the conundrum. I have no way to remove the Fire Elemental and whatever I play against it will just be killed by it. Playing the Kirin Tor Mage and the Harvest Golem seems like a non-ideal solution as a Lightning Storm could wreck me. I do have some catch-up mechanisms in the form of Blizzard and Flamestrike, but note how even those on their own would be unable to take down this beast.

How about making it killable by Flamestrike then? I don’t expect this opponent of mine to play into the AoE like the last one did, but I can set up a contingency plan that would also allow me to clear things up with said card. I play the topdecked Yeti and ping the Fire Elemental: if the Shaman plays a few more minions, I can just burn his board and if he trades for the Yeti, I’ve avoided falling back too far.

Ceci n'est pas une Flamestrike setup – at least that is what I’m trying to tell him.
Ceci n'est pas complete bullcrap – at least that is what he’s trying to tell me.
The healed Elemental destroys my Yeti and I have to take a Cleric as a consolation prize.

That totem summon was a coin toss – the taunt totem would have stopped my Yeti from reaching the minion and the healing totem got it out of Fireblast range. This is a really unfortunate turn of events, but I can still prevail. With the Flamestrike in my hand as well, I decide to be a bit wasteful with my other AoE to avoid taking 6+ damage the next turn: it was time for a blizzard.

In retrospect, I don’t particularly agree with this move as it doesn’t develop my board at all – not to mention the fact that I essentially used a 6-cost card to deal 3 damage. I could have just pinged the 2/1, played the Golem and prepared to kill the Fire Elemental with the Cleric’ buff and another Fireblast. That’s the cost of falling behind like I did on turn 6: you completely lose the initiative. Recovering it was more important to me than being resourceful, but I’ve probably taken it too far in this case.

Erm?
Erm???

Seeing this, my paranoia immediately kicked in. Giving Windfury to a crappy card like Mana Addict? Dumping a lot of derpy cards on the board on turn 8? This must be a setup for Bloodlust! Sound the alarms! Evacuate the tavern! Burn everything…!

*erm* Perhaps we should take a look at what I’ve drawn into first.

This does not help!

Do I regret throwing away the Blizzard? Yes and no. I’m in a worrying situation now but if I left the Fire Elemental alive, then it would have gotten the Windfury buff instead of the Mana Addict, which would have 12 damage to my precious face.

Speaking of damage to my precious face, the possibility of getting totally wrecked by Bloodlust is real. Let’s do the math: 3+3=6 damage from the Windspeaker, 0+3=3 from the totem, 2*(1+3+2)=12 from the Mana Addict – a ludicrous 21 damage overall with 4 unspent mana on my opponent. (Note how the Mana Addict gets an extra 2 damage from casting a spell for the duration of the turn.)

There can only be two reasons for making such a play (giving Windfury to a card that does 1 damage): you either have no good cards at all or you are getting ready to kill your opponent. If it is the latter, I need to remove this board or face the consequences.

In retrospect, I probably should not have taken the risk. I have 7 cards in hand and my opponent only has 3 – I could have probably gotten away with the extremely lenient use of AoE spells. But as you can probably tell by the wording of this paragraph, I didn’t do so. Why? My – optimistic – assumption was that if my opponent really was going to kill me, he would have hit me in the face with the Fire Elemental instead of trading. That probably isn’t a good enough justification for my play though.

After some consideration, I’ve played the Golem, buffed it with the Cleric and then fireblasted the taunt totem. Another mistake: playing the Gurubashi Berserker and buffing that would have been a clearly superior solution. My mind was probably still occupied with the “what could have been” of last turn.

Derpy plays were made.

I’m now 99% sure that my opponent does not have Bloodlust in his hand. I still decide not to Flamestrike this board (after all, it’s two 2-cost minions, a 3/3 and a totem), because if my opponent doesn’t topdeck the card (assuming he has it in his deck at all), then I should be fine. Now I saw his earlier play for what it was: a desperate move due to a lack of strong minions to fall back on.

Needless to say, a single spell would’ve meant 6 damage by the Mana Addict. I understand my stubbornness about clearing the board, but it would have probably still been a safer play.

Instead, I play the Azure Drake. You know, in case I do ever feel like using the Flamestrike, it might as well do 5 damage I guess. (What the hell was I doing this game? Last I checked, I was really risk-averse. This is anything but.)

Should be nice later on. However, I ended up floating two mana – perhaps the Assassin would have been a better play. Or, you know, Flamestrike, just so be on the safe side. I use the Cleric to remove the Stoneclaw Totem and end my turn.

This is why the Dark Iron Dwarf is so strong – it lets you trade up while maintaining a strong base statline. The Windspeaker kills the Drake – something it had no right to do.
Also, remember that Stoneclaw Totem? Well, it’s back now!

Despite the fact that a Bloodlust would mean instant lethal (7+3+3+2*6=lots), it seems like the risk-averse part of my brain has permanently switched off for this game. I’m finally getting ready to remove this board by playing the Tiger and a 6/6 Frostwolf Warlord… but is it too late?

Screw the totem.
Well, there goes the strongest minion on my board. Again, this reassures me that my opponent is not fishing for the kill.
Ouch! This is what I get for holding back for so long…

The Healing Totem has the guts to kill the frog – such impertinence – while the Mana Addict and the Dark Iron Dwarf work together – to do 8 damage to my face and to kill my Cleric, respectively.

I finally snap out of it. Needless to say, that 6/6 has to go, terrible trade notwithstanding.
I give up my Tiger to finish off the Champion and play the Raptor alongside the Argent Squire.
The giant green stopgap is back again…
…alongside the third incarnation of the Stoneclaw Totem and a 3-drop.
Is it the time to misuse another AoE yet, mom?

Not sure what the hell I was doing in this game. I do have a decent excuse though: the fact that holding back with the Flamestrike did actually work out in the end, I only took a relatively small amount of damage in the process and I also caught a Stormwind Champion, a card I may not have been able to kill otherwise. In retrospect, however, I do think that my reasoning behind this dumb stalling operation was flawed, even if it led to fruition in the end.

Now that I got back to my AoE-ing ways, I’m not about to stop. My opponent only has one card left in his hand so if I clear this mess, I will probably be able to finally take control. Makes sense: I can kill the Fen Creeper with the Blizzard and the two minions I have, while the frozen 3/1 will be a good Fireblast target the next turn. Yes, the next turn: if I do want to take control of this board, I’m a lot better off playing the Kirin Tor Mage this turn instead of killing something that will be just sitting frozen for a while.

My opponent seems to get quite lucky with his totems.
Great timing!

Like I’ve said before, if your opponent can clear your board without using no cards, you’re probably in trouble. However, as I really don’t seem to be on top of my game in this particular match, I decide to make things unnecessarily risky again. Instead of killing the Earthen Ring Farseer with my Squire and a Fireblast after playing the Giant, I decide to play both the Giant and the Berserker. Not only does this put me in Mind Control Tech territory, it is also completely unnecessary. Even if I get a 2-for-1 with the Kirin Tor Mage.

What is up with me, really?

I could end up paying a really heavy price for my carelessness if my opponent has a Lightning Bolt or something similar. You see, after trading the Farseer for my 4/1, I’ll have to use the Giant to kill the Abomination, or else the Berserker loses too much health. However, that means that my Sea Giant will only have 2 health left at the end of the turn. With that Wrath of Air Totem, even an Earth Shock could be devastating.

What the hell are you doing…?!

Never mind, it looks like Shamans eventually end up brainfarting in this arena run, no matter what! What on earth was he thinking? That extra 3 damage on me means absolutely nothing at the moment, but it allows me to just nuke everything. The Kirin Tor Mage kills the Abomination, which in turn 1) destroys all his minions and 2) enrages my Berserker, which then can still attack him.

Of course, if he had no way to remove a 2 hp Giant, then both scenarios will most likely lead to his downfall, but this was definitely a bad move. There is no way I was in lethal range in this position.

I draw a Faerie Dragon, but needless to say, the first order of business is to fill the screen up with green goo.
Mission accomplished.

I finish off the Farseer with a Fireblast (at long last), then maximize the pressure with the Assassin.

Also, it’s time to finally swing back after playing catch-up for so long.
Seeing this, my opponent gives up immediately.

Well, here we are with a hard-fought but perhaps undeserved victory. Even though my decision-making about the area of effect cards turned out to be flawless in retrospect, I can’t help but think that I took a lot of unnecessary risks over the course of this game, even if it all worked out in the end. Have no fear: I can assure you that I didn’t make similarly derpy decisions in the upcoming game. Hope to see you there!