Everyone makes mistakes.
Some are easy to spot, and as soon as the game ends you are kicking yourself for your obvious misplay. Some, however, are more subtle. The game will end and you’ll be left wondering where you went wrong. This article goes over the most common mistakes I see that can cost players games without them realizing it. I see these mistakes at rank 15 and I see them at rank 3, and it isn’t obvious WHY they are mistakes until someone explains it to you. If you are a player struggling to hit legend, I hope some of these can help you turn a few losses into wins and help you on your journey.
Playing Armorsmith Too Early
Armorsmith is one of the best cards against aggro. A turn 2 (or even turn 1 with coin!) Armorsmith against a deck full of 1 health minions is a two-for-one that gains you 2 or 3 life, which is insane. In slower matchups, however, such as Handlock, Malylock, or Control Warrior, an early Armorsmith is actually detrimental to your gameplan.
Control matchups are about big minions. As Control Warrior, one of your best ways to deal with a big minions is Shield Slam, and you need a big armor total to make it effective. Using Armor Up turns 2 and 3 instead of Armorsmith allows you to Shield Slam when you need to, such as on turn 4 when your opponent plays an 8/8.
In the Warrior mirror, NEVER play an Armorsmith as your first minion. This somewhat applies to Acolyte of Pain as well, but he’s a fine first minion if you have a way to draw a card from it immediately (like if your opponent was kind enough to play an Armorsmith for you to kill with the first swing of Deaths-Bite!). The best case scenario is that your Armosmith deals 3 damage and then absorbs an attack from your opponent’s 4 or 5 drop. The worst case scenario is that it gives your opponent a convenient target for the first swing of their Death’s Bite so the second swing can kill your turn 5 Sludge Belcher. Make them hit your face if they want a Whirlwind from that Death’s Bite!
What you should do with Armorsmith in the control matchup is save it for combo plays that give you 5+ armor, ideally with both of your Armorsmiths at the same time. The best time is to drop one or both Armorsmiths is behind a Sludge Belcher or when Dr. Boom is on either side of the field. In either of those situations there will be a lot of attacks aimed at your other minions (or your opponent’s Boom Bots if they are the one that dropped the good doctor) that will rack up your armor.
Life total doesn’t matter too much in the control mirror, but if you end up at 50 or so life from good Armorsmith plays the opponent will be forced to make aggressive plays to not die to fatigue, which will allow you to exploit their overextension with Brawl.
Sequencing as Face Hunter
There are two types of matchups as Face Hunter: matchups where CARDS matter and matchups where SPEED matters. Matchups where cards matter are the ones where the opponent has tons of healing and can run you out of gas: Warrior, Priest, Control Paladin, and other decks like that. Matchups where speed matters are aggro mirrors where you are racing the opponent: Hunter, Flamewaker Mage, Aggro Paladin, etc.
As Face Hunter you usually want to optimize damage over the next 2-3 turns, but the difference between these two matchups most often materializes on turn 3 and 4. In CARD matchups, you are going to run out of cards eventually since your opponent has the potential to survive past turn 8. As such, you want to hero power every turn that you can. The ideal turn 3 is a 3 drop or 1-drop plus hero power. A 2 drop isn’t good because you want to play 2-drop plus hero power turn 4. You don’t want to play a 3-drop on turn 4 because you want to play 3-drop plus hero power turn 5. Even Leper Gnome + Steady Shot is better than Wolfrider turn 4 against Control Warrior.
In SPEED matchups you just want to throw out all of your cards as fast as possible, because if you are hero powering you will fall behind on board and die before you can use all of your cards. Turn 3 2-drop is fine. Turn 4 Animal Companion is better than 1-drop hero power because it forces your opponent to answer it.
Playing Shield Block Incorrectly
This is probably the simplest one on this list. Armor is strictly better than health – it doesn’t get reduced to 15 by Alexstrasza, it can go above 30, and you can use it to fuel Shield Slam as a hard removal spell for one mana. As such, you want to preserve armor over health by attacking with your weapon before armoring up.
Shield Block gives armor, but it also draws a card, so people want to play it as soon as possible. However, in aggro matchups like Face Hunter you want to gain as much life as possible over the course of the game. As such, Shield Block with less than 5 mana prevents an armor up that turn, and you could have used that Shield Block later in the game. If you aren’t searching for plays for the next turn or two, then just hero power and wait to play the Shield Block when you can maximize your life gain.
Another reason to hold Shield Block and not just run it out turn 3 is armor combos. Often, you will be under pressure and not have any armor when your opponent plays a big minion you need to remove. Shield Block + Shield Slam conveniently gets you the armor you need to kill anything short of Ragnaros the Firelord, and draws you a card to boot! Hold on to this “combo” late game against control decks, and avoid playing the Shield block at all if the game is going to go into fatigue. The 5 life gain will be outpaced by fatigue damage pretty quickly!
Holding Tech Cards Too Long
You don’t need to be at 22 health or below to play Antique Healbot! If you have no other minions in your hand in the late game and are at a high life total, you probably aren’t going to need that healing anyways, so throw out the overcosted 3/3 and put some pressure on the opponent!
The same goes for Harrison Jones. Against Patron Warrior, yes save him for a Death’s Bite so you don’t get combo killed by Frothing Berserker/Grim Patron, but against other weapon classes you sometimes just need the 5/4. Oil Rogue, for example, isn’t going to let you destroy a buffed weapon and is going to destroy it themselves with Blade Flurry. So throw out that Harrison any time you have 5 mana and they have a weapon equipped – you get to draw a card or two and he makes them use up an Eviscerate for removal instead of burst damage purposes.
The thing about tech cards is that they are great in a specific situation, but often that perfect situation isn’t going to occur, even in the matchups the tech cards are meant for! If you have to choose between doing nothing and playing your tech card for less-than-optimal value, play the tech card! You aren’t going to win the game doing nothing, and people have learned to play around the cards that cripple them to some degree anyways. Plus, you can always set them up for the blowout by playing a Big Game Hunter on an empty board to bait them slamming a big minion for the second BGH nestled safely in your hand to destroy. 🙂
There is always room to improve your play, from the small things to entire strategic approaches to matchups. I hope you’ve learned something today, or at least considered why the autopilot plays you make might not always be correct. Good luck out there on the ladder!
Please don’t hesitate to ask any questions in the comments, and all comments are appreciated. Thanks for reading!
Until next time,