Common Mistakes: The Trap of the Best Case Scenario

Welcome to a series about common mistakes players make.  Look at this card: Is this better than ? Nope,   is strictly better, anyone can tell you that. So why is it that so many people act as if their is really a Quicker Shot? It’s only natural to want to use each card to its full […]


Welcome to a series about common mistakes players make. 

Look at this card:

Is this better than quick-shot? Nope,  quick-shot is strictly better, anyone can tell you that. So why is it that so many people act as if their quick-shot is really a Quicker Shot?

The Trap of the Best Case Scenario

It’s only natural to want to use each card to its full potential, but this can easily lead you into a trap where that houndmaster you didn’t fireball on turn 4 kills you. The reason for this is tempo, that often misunderstood concept by ladder climbers everywhere.

This is not an article on tempo, but the gist of tempo as far as this article goes is this: If you died with a bunch of cards in hand that you could cast instead of hero powering, you probably messed up your tempo game.

What made you mess up your tempo was refusing to use cards for subpar scenarios. You reaaaally want that swipe to hit 3 things, so you hesitate to swipe that lonely goblin-blastmage. A few turns later you died with 5 cards in hand. If you filmed the game you would realize that if all those hero powers you played were big-game-hunter that hit no target or keeper-of-the-grove on 4 health minions you might have dragged the game on for a bit and maybe turned it around.

quick-shot is the poster child of this trap. Players will routinely use 2 cards sub optimally to get the benefit from quick-shot, which funnily enough leaves you down on cards.

I’ve only mentioned damage spells up to now, but this applies to all types of cards. Playing a turn 2 knife-juggler into a flame-imp feels terrible- just one unleash-the-hounds or imp-losion and you can turn the board around- but it’s the correct play if you don’t have another 2 drop.

One way to think about it is the cascading effect minions have in the game. If you have control of the board you get to determine how trades happen. This decision power is often worth many cards, as you can make sure your 4/4 eats a 2/3 and then a 4/4, instead of trading the 4/4’s as your opponent would like.

Board control is so important it might be worth using your big-game-hunter to gum up the board. After all, you might not live to turn 7 if you just hero power turn 3. earthen-ring-farseer when at full life? Check. A void-terror that needs to go hungry? Still gets in there for 3. Turn 3 savage-roar to kill a knife-juggler? It’s you or him, choose wisely.

Example In Action

Take this situation from the ATLC. What’s your play? Kolento is playing dragon priest with 7 cards in hand and RDU is playing hybrid hunter, essentially face hunter with piloted-shredders and savannah-highmanes.

Click on ‘Show Spoiler’ below for more!


A priest with 27 hp on turn 6 is not exactly a great place to be, but look at that damage! Your hand has 12 damage. If you shot it all at Kolento he’d be at 9, and that’s not counting on your minions getting any more hits! Anyway, if the game goes long you are not the favorite, as the priest will set up huge taunts that make you sad. You are an aggressive hunter, the decklists runs arcane-golem, how can you not shoot it face?

Well, what does RDU do next?

Why? Tempo and board control. RDU is counting that by killing the cabal-shadow-priest his minions will get in more damage than that sweet [card]kill-command going face. Not only that, but if RDU relinquishes board control now all the (non-charge) minions he might draw in the future are dead draws because the priest can just kill them and heal up. This play gives the option to RDU to keep fighting for the board if he draws minions or to go full face in the next turns if he draws spells.


Another One?

Modorra, that was easy. That play was close to optimal already! Alright, how about this?

What would you do? Click on ‘Show Spoiler’ for the results.


Surely the play is shield-block. The only other play is frothing-berserker and that’s using a combo piece in a combo deck, which you need to win. Well…

This is common knowledge to any patron player. You need to survive to the late game where your patrons can take over. But shield-block gives you more life than a frothing! Yes, but a frothing-berserker will probably eat a few minions, removing pressure off the board. Armor can put you out of lethal range later, where as a frothing-berserker can be ignored when staring down at lethal. Also, there is the chance that your opponent will clear the frothing-berserker with a sub-optimal tempo play, putting you slightly ahead of where a shield-block would.


What about Value!

Modorra, why are you telling us to make these bad plays? Haven’t you watched Trump? What happened to value?!

Value and Tempo are the two forces tugging at you during a hard choice. I reaaaally want to keep my fireball to wreck this Handlock’s face when he drops molten-giants, but that twilight-drake is going to dominate the board for a few turns if I hold onto it. Not an easy choice.

Think about it in a different way: Tempo buys you the time to get more cards and lets you wait to find a better moment to use those cards. Is it worth it to drop your azure-drake into a truesilver-champion to die if it means your emperor-thaurissan has a better chance of sticking on the board? Using cards suboptimally can be a way to buy time to use other cards well. Ultimately, what it comes down to is that players over estimate the value of cards in their hands and under value board control.

In the play above Lifecoach has a deaths-bite meaning all those 1/1’s are going to die anyway. Dropping the frothing-berserker is literally wasting a card, but it’s still the right play. Because Tempo.

What Have We Learned?

When deciding what to play always keep in mind how do you win the game. Do you need control of board? If your plan involves minions you do. Make sure you don’t lose it because its easier to maintain control than to gain it back again. Do you need to survive until the late game so you heavier curve can take over? Don’t die early, even if it means playing a si7-agent without him backstabbing anyone.


This has been my first guide for Hearthstone Players. If you liked it please hit the upvote button! Please let me know what you liked and found helpful, as well as what you’d like to see in the future.

If you want to see more stuff made by me you can find video guides and coaching videos over at Enter the Hearth!