In-Depth Turn Analysis #11: The Lion, the Witch, and the Patron

Hi guys! Welcome to Episode 11 of In-Depth Turn Analysis. For more information about the series and/or to see a list of previous episodes please click here. This week’s deck: Grim Patron Warrior This week’s contributors:  Smashthings In this episode we will be studying a tricky position I found myself in on Ladder (Rank 3) versus a […]


Hi guys! Welcome to Episode 11 of In-Depth Turn Analysis. For more information about the series and/or to see a list of previous episodes please click here.

  • This week’s deck: Grim Patron Warrior
  • This week’s contributors:  Smashthings

In this episode we will be studying a tricky position I found myself in on Ladder (Rank 3) versus a Hunter.

Okay, Let’s begin!

About This Week’s Deck

The deck used in this episode is:


The deck I am using is obviously Grim Patron Warrior. Lot’s of different lists exist, this is my one. For those interested, from Ranks 5-3 I am currently 16-5 with this particular list (i.e. 76% Win Rate).

To learn more about the Grim Patron in general see here.[/spoiler]

The Situation

Okay, so let’s look at the position shall we?

In actual games, positions have context beyond the deck you are using. In an effort to make this series more realistic and less ‘puzzle-like’ let’s talk about a few cards that have been used in the game so far and any other little bits of information that seem relevant.



KEY CARDS USED (YOU): Acolyte of Pain x1, Fiery War Axe x1, Whirlwind x1, Cruel Taskmaster x1, Unstable Ghoul x1, Frothing Berserker x1

KEY CARDS USED (OPPONENT): Haunted Creeper x1, Eaglehorn Bow x2, Animal Companion x1, Hunter’s Mark x1, Loatheb

ANY OTHER NOTES: I bumped into this particular player twice in a row on Ladder. In the First Game (which I lost), he was playing a version Hybrid Hunter that included Ragnaros-the-Firelord as a late game finisher. Given the short period of time between games, it is highly likely that he queued up with that same deck.

Armed with this information, you must now start to think about the needs/peculiarities of both the position and the match-up. Get busy thinking! In the next section we will see what some of us at HSP thought about the position and what they think is the best play.

Smashthings’ Analysis

[spoiler title=”Smashthings”]

We can see the Lion on board and we can see the Patron in hand. I guess that makes me the Witch haha!  I hope you guys appreciate how difficult it is coming up with witty titles for these articles :). Anyway…

Alright, so as already mentioned we are facing some sort of Hybrid Hunter. Generally speaking, this is considered a bad match-up for Grim Patron and far worse still the current position we find ourselves in is rather dire: 11 life staring down a Savannah Highmane is not where you want to be!

For regular readers I must sound like a rather tired record, but this does need saying; “Bad Match-up + Bad Position = Outlandish Risks”. I cannot stress this concept enough; When playing from behind, it is often the case that ‘safe plays’ are simply not good enough.

Things are not all bad however; Grim Patron is a very bursty deck and thus doing 24 damage in a turn or two is easily possible. Moreover, we actually have a good set-up to do the necessary burst damage; We have a bunch of the cards we need (e.g Warsong Commander,Grim Patron, Whirlwind), and a 4/1 death’s Bite equipped. Basically, the hand is pretty good (we even have cheap removal for Highmane) but the problem is that those combos cost a lot of mana and due to the on board threat we do not the luxury of time (i.e. we cannot afford to wait).

Let’s imagine for a second that we had infinite mana this turn, what could we do?

Well, I could play everything (with charge), clear the Highmane (execute the first half, Patron the 2/2’s), and go face with the Axe for even more damage, more Patrons, and more armour. And with such a play the Hunter would basically need to win on his/her turn or lose the game.

But obviously we don’t have infinite mana, so that play is out question. But I mention the play because it does showcase what we  need to try and do. But how?

Well, ideally we would like to play Warsong + Patron + Execute in a single turn, but unfortunately this costs 9 mana. On this turn we have 7 which means that this combo only becomes affordable the turn after next, by which time we are probably sleeping in our grave. Rather tragically though, this combo probably represents the only way we can win the game (other than disconnects or SWAT raids on the Hunter’s home 🙂 ).

Okay so we have identified that the win condition is the above combo but it simply costs too much mana. In such situations, there is a very simple technique worth learning: If a combo costs too much mana, try splitting the cost over multiple turns and you might just be able to pull it off!

For example, if we execute Highmane now that means I have to spend one less mana next turn; ergo the 9 mana combo is reduced to 8 and is thus affordable on the next turn!

But unfortunately the coarse rarely runs smooth: Using Execute on this turn requires us to either use the Weapon’s deathrattle and/or charge out an Armorsmith. The problem with charging out an Armorsmith to enable the Execute is that the Warsong Comamander is very vulnerable (its likely the that Hunter will use the 2/2 Hyena’s to pick it off), and that means we are not likely to get out the charging Patrons we ever so desperately need next turn.

Another option is: play Patron + Weapon (to face) + Execute. But once again the problem we face is that one of those 2/2’s easily clears the 3/2 Patron, which means any source of three damage from hand (e.g. Quick Shot) will leave us without one half of our win condition.

Okay, so let’s briefly sum up the discussion so far: Due to the speed at which the Hunter wins we need to be quick, and unfortunatly for us the only way back into the game is powerful Patron combo’s. Crucialy, these combos (due to the hefty mana requirement) cannot be performed within a single turn. Ergo, we need to spread the cost over multiple turns. But how to do that? We can’t play Patron, we can’t use the Axe, nor can we use Execute on the current turn.

By the process of elimination we stumble across what I consider the only play in the current position:

Warsong Commander + Sen’jin Shieldmasta (goes face).

As mentioned right at the start of this analysis; bad positions = high-risk plays. And here the risk is this: we have played one half of our win condition…If Warsong Commander dies we are almost certain to the lose the game.

But what if the Hunter does not have that crucial 3 damage? What if the Hunter smacks into Sen’jin and plays a bunch of small minions? Well, in such a scenario we could execute the injured lion, throw out the Patrons and Armorsmith. Ergo, we clear the board, do damage, and heal up! And maybe, just maybe we could we the game on the following turn.

Yes, such a play is high risk, but I think such a risk is justifiable because (a) all other plays are considerably worse, and (b) if it works the pay-off it huge!

In conclusion, this is not a complex position with multiple options (which is why my analysis is on the shorter side than usual), but this position does nonetheless demonstrate a crucial idea; when all other plays fail, it is often correct to just gamble like crazy and pray to the stars that it works.

Some of you might now be wondering: “Did Smashthings win this game?” To find out just watch the video in the “…in the end…” section of this article. But with that said, whether the risk actually worked or not is irrelevant: regardless of the result, taking the risk was clearly the best play.

That’s all she wrote folks![/spoiler]

…In the End…

In this section we show/tell you about what actually happened during the game. Click on the spoiler to find out!




And that conclude’s this week’s instalment of In-depth Turn Analysis.  Feel free to leave a comment letting us know what you think about the position, the series, our opinions, etc.

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