In-Depth Drafting #1: What would you pick?

Hi guys, welcome to In-depth Drafting.  In this article I am going to present to you a situation I found myself in during a Warlock draft. Making the right choice in an Arena draft requires a good strategical understanding of the game/your deck/ the Arena Meta, etc. The aim of this article is to try […]


Hi guys, welcome to In-depth Drafting.  In this article I am going to present to you a situation I found myself in during a Warlock draft.

Making the right choice in an Arena draft requires a good strategical understanding of the game/your deck/ the Arena Meta, etc. The aim of this article is to try show you what sorts of questions you need to ask yourself when faced with a tough decision.

I believe that understanding how you would go about deciding which pick is best is a very valuable toolkit to have at ones disposal. And so dear reader, I would encourage you to focus more on the method(s) I use to solve the problem rather than studying the conclusions I come to.

This article is going to borrow (in terms of delivery, style, and format) a lot from In-depth turn analysis. So if you are a fan of that series you might like this as well (by the way guys, I haven’t forgotten about that series, I will do one soon, I promise). 🙂

As always, feel free to like, comment or leave a question for me below.

Alright, so thats basically everything I wanted to say in the introduction. Let’s get to it, shall we?

The Situation

Class:  Warlock

Pick number:  26/30

Our Pick Options: Doomguard, Wild Pyromancer, and Siphon Soul.

Our Deck: (See attached image…if text is too small try opening image in new window/tab).

Okay so I have two questions I want you to consider:

  1. What card would you pick and (rather more importantly) why?
  2. You have 3 picks after this one, what sorts of cards would you be looking for? 

Have a think about what you would do. My analysis is contained within the spoiler below. I have chosen to write about this particular pick because I don’t feel that the ‘correct’ decision is entirely obvious (but maybe you disagree).

Smashthings’ Analysis

[spoiler title=”Smashthings”]

Alright so how do we decide what’s best? Well,  I think the first step is to try and bullet point a few strength and weaknesses of each card.

Siphon Soul

What are the advantages of drafting Siphon Soul?

  1. The ability to remove the opponent’s biggest threat often comes in handy. Moreover, the deck currently only has one big removal spell (i.e.Demonheart).
  2. Because of things like Life Tap and Hellfire, the three heal is often relevant.

Okay, but what are the downsides to picking this card in this particular situation?

  1. Since we have Earthen Ring Farseer and Antique Healbot the Heal we get from Siphon Soul is probably less relevant that it normally would be.
  2. What do we want to target with the card?

Think about point (2) for second: What do we specifically aim to counter by drafting Siphon Soul?

  • If our Paladin opponent makes a massive minion with Blessing of Kings we can probably deal with that via silence (i.e. Ironbeak Owl), and thus we probably don’t *need* Siphon Soul for this application.
  • What If an opponent has something like Sea Giant?  Well, combinations like Darkbomb  + Demonheart or Darkbomb + Reckless Rocketeer can deal 8 damage for a comparable amount of mana.

It would seem that our cursory overview has not really flagged up any ‘super-obvious’ threat that we need Siphon soul to combat.

Okay so let’s now summarise the findings: While the health is nice we are not in desperate need for it. Moreover, we are probably doing okay for removal as well; for combating buffed minions we have an Owl and other big things can be taken out with Darkbomb + minion attack combo’s. In conclusion then, while the card is decent and is by no means a terrible pick-up the fact remains that this card does not strike me as absolutely critical to our success.

Next question: “Is Doomguard any better?”



  1. As a Demon, this card has a lot of synergy with a number of our previously drafted cards; Demonwrath, Demonheart, Voidcaller. The Voidcaller synergy is especially noteworthy since this combo is incredibly powerful.
  2. Related to the above, we don’t have that many demons in the deck (2 in total), which makes those demon-related cards a lot more situational than they otherwise could be. Ergo, by drafting more demons (such as this Doomguard) we increase the consistency of all our other demon-related cards.
  3. We are low on 5-drops right now (3 minions), which means that Doomguard is good for our curve.
  4. Drafting Doomguard adds burst to the deck and may function as a secondary win condition as a result. For example: Turn 7 Darkbomb + Doomguard is 8 damage from an empty board, Turn 10 Doomguard + Demonheart is 10 damage ‘from nothing’ (but does require a little luck vis-a-vis discards).


  1. We have a high(ish) curve. This typically means that if we try to play this guy on curve we are going to lose two cards most of the time.

In summary, drafting Doomguard potentially adds a win condition to the deck (which should not be underestimated), fits the curve, and forms a symbiotic relationship with all our other demon-related cards.  But on the downside we are probably losing cards if we try to play it on curve (unless of course we get lucky with Voidcaller).

Now that we have looked at both Siphon Soul and Doomguard we need to pit these cards against one-another and think about what is best for the deck.  In my view, Doomguard adds consistency and powerful combos to the deck. Meanwhile Siphon Soul is merely another removal whose job can be done by a variety of our other cards.

A subtle point to note is that I previously said that Darkbomb + ‘Big Minion’ is able to full-fill the role of Siphon Soul. Well, Doomgaurd is another big minion! Ergo, Doomguard (sort of) does the job of Siphon Soul!

In short, I consider Doomguard better than Siphon Soul here, it just adds a lot more ‘punch’ to the deck.

Onto the next question!  “Is Doomguard better than Wild Pyromancer?”

Wild Pyromancer


  1. We lack 2-drops at the moment, this card helps with that. Even if we don’t get the spell synergy a 3/2 on Turn 2 is decent.
  2. We have a number of low cost spells to use with Pyromancer (e.g. Pyromancer + Darkbomb = Swipe)
  3. We could use it to trigger our Raging Worgen.


  1. Doesn’t work well with a few of the minions currently in the deck (e.g. Murloc Tidehunter).
  2. We have already drafted a lot of removal (single target and AoE); Do we need more?
  3. Owing to its 2 health, doesn’t synergise well with our AoE.
  4. Dread Infernal; Does the job of Pyromancer?
  5. Given our lack of 2-drops, in a lot of games we will probably feel forced to play this out just as a body (as opposed to saving it for spell synergy).

In summary, it seems that Pyromancer adds a lot of early-game power to our deck. It’s a 3/2 body than can transform our spells into little AoE bombs.  I think the Murloc Tidehunter anti-synergy is marginal and easily played-around (so we can mostly ignore that downside).

So this leaves us with the sole question of whether the extra removal power is needed in this deck. It may slowly start to dawn on some of you that this ‘Doomguard vs Pyromancer’ actually requires a depth of understanding.

Decisions, Decisions…

Whenever you find yourself confronted with a difficult decision so late in the draft (such as this one) you should always consider how you intend on playing your deck:

  • How will you mulligan?
  • How will you try to win the game?
  • What are your plans for the early/mid/late phases of the game?

Answering these questions will also help you figure out what you want to try and achieve with the next 3 picks. I shouldn’t need to explain why knowing ahead of time what you would like to draft ahead of time can come in useful. 🙂

Even though its just one card, this pick could have profound implications for how we play the early-game phase with this deck.

The ‘Pro-Doomguard’ Argument:

With only 3 picks left in the draft we are always going to be short on 2-drops, adding one 2-drop to the deck is like adding a tear to the ocean (i.e. insignificant). In a nutshell, Pyromancer cannot solve the 2-drop shortage and so therefore maybe we should look for an alternate strategy; By drafting Doomguard our plan will be to just ‘sacrifice’ the board and then try to come back into the game at a later stage with board-clear (e.g. Stranglethorn Tiger + Turn 6 Shadowflame is a strong board clear combo) and/or powerful Voidcaller combos.

The Pro-Pyromancer Argument:

In the next 3 picks, we are likely to be looking for early drops (at this point we would probably prefer to draft average/weak 2/3-drops over quality 5/6-drops ). We currently have 3 decent plays that cost 2 or less (i.e. Zombie Chow, Murloc Tidehunter, Puddlestomper), if we draft pyromancer and get just one more in the remaining 3 picks then that would bring us up to 5. And with 5 ‘pro-active’ 2-drop cards (in conjunction with our small removal suite; 2x mortal coil, 3x Darkbomb) we stand a reasonable chance of getting a good start. In short, if we pick Pyromancer now (and get a little lucky later) then we might end up with enough early game to avoid falling behind.

Okay so now we are starting to see how this pick could change how we play the deck early on. The plan with Doomguard is just to accept that our early game is weak and instead of trying to fix that problem the idea is just to rely on removal and AoE to stabilise and then win the mid/late-game. Picking Pyromancer meanwhile symbolises a desperate attempt to avoid falling behind in the first place.

Alright, so what’s the pick?  I think I’m going to opt for Doomguard and with the next 3 picks we will value low-curve minions fairly highly. Getting one ‘big fatty’  (i.e. 8+ mana minion) would also be nice. Removal and mid-game minions (e.g. 5/6 drops) will be valued comparatively low.

How might this ‘pick Doomguard’ decision affect my Mullgian? Well, given that we expect to lose control of the early game our Mulligan decision should focus on reclaiming the board once its lost. Therefore, we should strongly consider holding onto Voidcaller (if we have another demon in hand), Darkbomb, and AoE (Demonwrath, Hellfire).

I bet a number of you don’t really think about how you intend to Mulligan/play the game during the drafting stage. But, this is the sort of thing top-level Arena players will consider, and such considerations may bolster your win-rate by fractions of a percentage point (a tiny gain like that might not sound worth it, but hey!  It all adds up). 

Okay so I think that covers just about everything I was thinking about when I made this pick.

Smashthings out![/spoiler]

Hearth Arena’s Analysis

Getting a second opinion on all Hearthstone matters is often useful.  Heartharena is a website that has a snazzy little algorithm that can help you figure out what to pick (I would strongly recommend beginners use tools like this to help them draft). It’s evaluation considers not just the ‘raw-power‘ of the card but also other relevant factors such as  ‘mana curve’ and things like ‘synergy’ as well.

I fed the algorithm my deck in order to see what it thought was the best pick:


“I want them all! But we have to make a choice. Normally I would pick Siphon Soul. However, Doomguard synergizes well with our deck and we seriously need a big drop. I suggest you pick Doomguard in this situation.”

So as we can clearly see, Doomguard is Hearth Arena’s preferred choice.  Notice that the base score for Pyromancer is 56, this has been boosted rather significantly to 100 (no doubt because the computer understands our dire need for 2-drops and just how powerful that spell synergy could be). Nevertheless, the computer values Doomguard a little bit more than the Pyromancer.[/spoiler]

…In the End…

How did I do with the deck? Click on the spoiler to find out!


In the next three picks I draft Flame Imp (nice!!), Floating Watcher (okay), and Lord Jaraxxus (fantastic!!).  So this left me with a rather powerful deck, which is why I was ever so disappointed to only go 4-3 with it. Immediately afterwards I draft a garbage Warlock deck (it had crappy cards like Raid Leader and Secretkeeper in it) and went 5-3 with that one. This just goes to show you how much luck in involved in Arena.

Anyway, one loss was  against a Rogue; I spent a lot of my early game tapping (as planned) but then got super-punished by a Turn 4 Clockwork Giant. Yep thats right; I lost because the stars lined up and this trash tier epic got a once in a lifetime chance to shine (can you tell I’m still salty?).

One loss was to a Priest:

In this position I played the Volcanic Drake and then passed the turn. I didn’t Life Tap because I thought at 7 health I could potentially die (e.g. Holy Fire + Wolfrider or Holy Fire + Holy Smite) but at 9 health against a Priest (with no board) I figured I should be safe, which is why I preferred to play the Drake over Healbot.

But in true Hearthstone fashion I got punished for thinking; I lost the game because on a previous turn the Priest used Thoughtsteal and got Doomguard + Demonheart from my deck. My own win condition used against me! Yeah, I’m still super salty about this one.

As for the third loss, well, why not watch what happens yourself:

When you do this sort pick analysis you should always consider what would have happened if you picked differently during your games. By making a point to remember how well a pick works out you can improve your decision making for the next draft.

So for example, in this game I top-deck a Doomguard a turn too late (if I had him just one turn earlier he would have been exceptional). On the turn I did top-deck him however Wild Pyromancer would have been immediately useful (i.e I could clear that 3/1 minion) and if I had this choice I may have preferred it over the play I actually went with (i.e. Tiger to set up the Hellfire). At the very end of the game we see that I can’t deal with the Divine Shield on Force-Tank-Max. Doomguard was a dead card here. This is clearly a situation where Siphon Soul would have been exceptional.   So, this is a pretty interesting game due to the fact that we can see how all three picks could have been useful (at different times) and how the game could have been completely different as a result.

There is another lesson to be learned here though, earlier I said that “It would seem that our cursory overview has not really flagged up any ‘super-obvious’ threat that we need Siphon soul to combat”, Big Minion + Darkbomb should be able to clear most things just as well Siphon Soul. Well, now we clearly see a situation where Big Minion + Darkbomb fails and Siphon Soul shines.

With this said, I am happy with the overall performance of Doomguard, this is a game were it was worse than the other two picks but it also performed significantly better than the other two picks would have done in a few of the other games.  [/spoiler]


Fin!  Hopefully this article will help you during your next draft; with a better understanding of what goes into making a drafting decision you should be able to make better calls.

Feel free to leave a comment letting us know what you think. And if you like it, don’t forget to leave a thumbs up!