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!
RenoLock vs Beast Druid
Screenshot was posted by /u/j1maf on the /r/CompetitiveHS’ “What’s the play weekly” thread. Since I have only this one screenshot, I can’t analyze the cards played and make a decision based on that. So for the sake of theorycrafting, we assume that the opponent still has burst left in the deck (stuff like Druid of the Claw
While we don’t know the exact deck lists, we can assume that both players are playing to standard lists. I’ll link the meta (well, off-meta in case of the Druid) lists.
- Kolento’s RenoLock
- J4CKIECHAN’s Beast Druid
And here’s the catch. Even though the game is played in Gadgetzan, Druid is not playing a meta deck. Beast Druid is almost never seen on the ladder (I’ve played maybe 2 or 3 games against the deck since Gadgetzan went out) and that’s why making a play might be so difficult. A lot of the skill in hearthstone comes from practice – if you play the same matchup over and over again, you get better and you start to see the patterns. However, playing against the deck that you don’t see too often means that you have to make tons of assumptions, you have to adapt your strategy to what he does, even though you haven’t been in that spot before etc. That’s why I found this one interesting and wanted to talk a bit about it.
Overall, the game looks quite miserable for RenoLock. He’s at 11 life, without Reno Jackson
Then, besides bursting, there is another card we need to take into the account – Menagerie Warden
Life Tap (+Sylvanas Windrunner)
You can start the turn with Life Tap
- Tapping gets you closer to the Reno Jackson. You can even draw him this turn, which is basically game over – once you’re ahead on the board and at 30 health, Druid has no way to kill you.
- You might draw another useful card. Cards like Defender of Argusor Faceless Shamblercan also make you much more safe while preserving the tempo. If you draw either Earthen Ring Farseeror Sunfury Protector(or even Dirty Rat), you can also play it alongside the Imp Gang Boss. There are a lot of cards you want to get.
- Shadowflameis the only board clear that doesn’t hurt you, so saving it for a potential board flood (Druid has spent his last turn playing Swipe+ Wrathto clear the board, which means that he might plan to reload right now). If you drop Sylvanas, Shadowflame gets even better next turn.
- You’re really low. Right now you’re technically at 6 health, so out of range of a single card like Swipe, Druid of the Clawor Savage Roar. Your opponent would need 2 cards to kill you, if you tap and the draw is poor you’re now at 4 health and you die to way more cards (Druid doesn’t need 2 card combo to kill you now).
- Even if you don’t put yourself in the lethal range this turn, Druid’s Hero Power is 1 damage per turn, so assuming he Hero Powers your face every turn (it’s a solid assumption), 4 vs 6 health is a huge difference if you don’t draw any healing or Taunts.
Just Sylvanas Windrunner
Playing Sylvanas without tapping means that you don’t utilize all your mana and possibly miss a chance for a better card to play this turn, but you’re not dealing 2 extra damage to yourself, so you’re not putting yourself under so much danger.
- You’re technically at 6 health after this play, which is relatively safe. Druid can still kill you with a lot of stuff, but you’re 1 health outside of the range of immediate death to 4 damage moves right now.
- Sylvanas Windrunnerlines up really well against the stealthed Stranglethorn Tiger. If your opponent can’t kill you, he might have a really hard time playing his turn. If he trades with the Tiger, it’s like a Taunt minion, which is great in this scenario. If he goes face with the Tiger, he can’t play anything else, or you get an easy steal.
- Sylvanas Windrunneralso counters the potential Menagerie Wardenmove really well. If he trades the Tiger first, he loses the best Warden target – if he copies it, you kill a 5/5 and steal the Tiger.
- Sylvanas also sets up for a solid Shadowflame. Let’s say if the Druid drops The Curator, you can Shadowflame the board and steal the 4/1 Taunt – it’s not great, but it’s still a board clear + forcing a Hero Power from the Druid.
- While the play is safer, you’re really behind and playing safe is not always a good idea in those scenarios. Sometimes a more risky move might give you a higher chance to win. Depending on what exactly you have left in your deck, taking a (for example) 1/3 chance to get ahead might be better than just hoping that your opponent won’t draw any burn.
Shadowflame + Imp Gang Boss
The safest play possible. You keep yourself at the 11 health by clearing the Tiger, so you’re 99% sure that you’re not dead. However, Druid gets the board initiative, since Imp Gang Boss doesn’t really contest stuff that well.
- You don’t die. I mean, it’s still possible, but highly unlikely. Druid would need some 3 cards combo to kill you.
- You should have answers for whatever he does next turn. If he plays a bunch of small-ish minions, you can Abyssal Enforcer– since you saved yourself 5 health by killing the Tiger, you should be able to afford the 3 health loss from it right now. If he plays something big, you can Blastcrystal Potionit. The only situation which would really screw you is Druid playing 2 Midrange minions, like 2x 4-drop or Innervate + 2x 5-drop, but that’s unlikely.
- More turns = more time to draw a way to completely stabilize the board.
- You’re forced to play reactively and only answer. With only Imp Gang Boss on the board, you can’t really contest whatever Druid plays. You might be forced to play Blastcrystal Potion+ pass next turn, which is terrible, because it once again leaves you in a situation where the Druid gets the initiative.
- On the one hand, more turns = more way to draw Reno etc, but more turns = more time for the Druid to draw lethal. Going for a higher tempo play might mean that you close out the game within 2-3 turns, going for this play it’s almost impossible.
j1maf has decided to go for Sylvanas Windrunner
First of all – do you tap here? I personally would not. I think that the chances to draw something to stabilize are not worth it, because the drawback is that you die to a single spell. Being at 6 life vs less than 6 life is huge against Druid. You put yourself in the range of Swipe
So my choice would be pretty much between just Sylvanas Windrunner
I’ve read one of the answers that Tap + Shadowflame
So all in all, I think that going for the safe play (Shadowflame + Imp Gang Boss) is the best one here, just Sylvanas (semi-safe) is the second one and going for the risky tap is just unnecessary and gets punished too easily (if the draw fails, you’re ~90% dead next turn).
Dragon Warrior vs Aggro/Midrange Jade Shaman
Another play from the /r/CompetitiveHS’ “What’s the play” thread, this time around posted by the /u/Grimend. Once again, I’m basing my analysis only on this single screenshot.
Grimend is playing the Dragon Warrior – it might be a Pirate version, it might be a non-Pirate version. It’s hard to tell at this point, but I’d assume that he plays Pirates, because both Netherspite Historian
Here are the deck list examples for both of the players:
- Zalae’s Dragon Warrior
- Amnesiac’s Aggro Shaman / Bearnugget’s Midrange Jade Shaman
I really like turns like that. It seems like it’s very easy and straightforward, but it’s really not. There are actually 6 available moves here and we will consider 4 of them. I immediately throw away the Netherspite Historian
This time around, instead of going for the pros & cons of each play (because they would overlap a lot), I would just analyze the plays together. When it comes to this analysis, there are two things we want to think about. First of all – which card will be better to play right away – Alexstrasza's Champion
Maybe let’s start by listing things Shaman can do next turn. We have to assume that he has Patches the Pirate
Since Shaman has opened with 2x 1-drop, it’s less likely that he has more of them. Since he used the Coin on a 1-drops, it means that he has a clear turn 2 play. He wouldn’t go for this play with only a single 1-drop to follow, so he either has 2 more (which is very unlikely) or a 2-drop. 1-drop + Spirit Claws
The strongest, common turn 2 moves from Shaman in that case are Jade Claws
But, first of all. Is playing Alexstrasza’s Champion better than playing FWA here? Yes, and no. On the one hand, since both minions are at 1 health right now, it might be a good idea to play the Charger while you still can kill something without taking a lot of minion damage. Board control is most important. You can later Charge her into let’s say Feral Spirit
On the other hand, FWA is better, because it’s a weapon. Weapons are much harder to punish. Since Shaman lists rarely run Acidic Swamp Ooze
But let’s start with analyzing Alexstrasza. You have two ways to attack – Trogg or Buccaneer. In case of Jade Claws
Then, there is a FWA. What I like about FWA is that it might make opponent’s turns awkward. If he has a weapon or Lightning Bolt
FWA is better than Alexstrasza’s Champion against Lightning Bolt
Let’s summarize the pros and cons of each move and pick the best one. If you’re going for the Alexstrasza's Champion
So if I had to rate plays from best to worst, it would be 1. FWA -> Buccaneer, 2. FWA -> Tunnel Trogg, 3. Alexstrasza’s Champion -> Tunnel Trogg, 4. Alexstrasza’s Champion -> Buccaneer.
However, each of those plays is incredibly close. I’d say that 90% of time, no matter which one of the 4 you pick, it won’t change the outcome of the match. However, there is that 10% of time when picking the right move will give you the edge you need to win. And that’s why I love decisions like that – seemingly easy, early game decision can have a huge impact on the whole game, especially if you pick the wrong one and end up getting punished.
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 enjoy the series, you might want to check out the previous installments:
- RenoLock Comeback – N’Zoth RenoLock vs Dragon Warrior; Combo RenoLock vs N’Zoth Paladin
- Pay Attention, Class! – Miracle Rogue (w/ Questing Adventurer) vs Token Druid
- I Will Hunt You Down! – Secret Face Hunter vs Tempo Mage
- Dragons vs Old Gods – Dragon Warrior vs N’Zoth Warrior