In-Depth Turn Analysis #16: We roll Huffer and go Face, Right?

Hi guys! Welcome to Episode 16 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: Hybrid Hunter This week’s contributors:  Smashthings, Stonekeep This episode we shall be playing a game on Ladder with Hybrid Hunter against a Mage. This position was […]

Introduction

Hi guys! Welcome to Episode 16 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: Hybrid Hunter
  • This week’s contributors:  Smashthings, Stonekeep

This episode we shall be playing a game on Ladder with Hybrid Hunter against a Mage. This position was actually a reader submission, ‘Rienzo’ wanted our thoughts on a game he played. By the way guys, this series is always on the lookout for interesting positions, so if you have something be sure to let us know in the comments section of this article.

Okay, Let’s begin!

About This Week’s Deck

The deck used in this episode is:

[spoiler]

You can learn more about Hybrid Hunter by checking out HSP’s current list of guides here.

[/spoiler]

The Situation

Okay, so let’s look at the position shall we?  (If it looks a little weird to you that is because the game was played on a mobile device).

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.

YOUR MANA:    3

NUMBER OF CARDS IN HAND (OPPONENT):  4

YOUR HAND: Kill CommandFreezing Trap, Ironbeak Owl, Quick Shot, Acidic Swamp Ooze

KEY CARDS USED (YOU): Knife Juggler, Mad Scientist

KEY CARDS USED (OPPONENT): Flamecannon, Mana Wyrm, Unstable Portal

ANY OTHER NOTES:

This game so far:

TURN 1: (Mage) Pass, (Hunter) The Coin + Knife Juggler.

TURN 2: (Mage) Flamecannon, (Hunter) Mad Scientist.

TURN 3: (Mage) Mana Wyrm + Unstable Portal, (Hunter) –>WE ARE HERE<— 

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.

Vote Now!

As you lot should know by now I’m always on the lookout for ways to make my articles more interesting and fun. So today I thought I would add a little poll. Before reading the analysis, go now and vote for what you think the best play is by clicking here.

This is mostly intended as a bit of fun, but I thought that some of you might be interested to know what everyone else thinks of the position.

If this little feature is well received I see no reason why  I cannot add it to most future episodes. So if you happen to like the idea, let me know in the comments below (as well as by voting, of course!).

Smashthings’ Analysis

[spoiler title=”Smashthings”]

Winning with Hunter is easy:

Step 1) Go Face

Step 2) Roll Huffer

Step 3) Win

…End of Episode. 🙂

Of course the above is said in Jest but it is perhaps worth mentioning that aggressive Hunter decks have a reputation for being brainless ‘easy-to-play’ decks where the only skill involved is being able to click on the enemy face and the ability to roll a Huffer. I guess the third skill is being able to cope with the shame playing Hunter brings to ones family.

Well, hate to break it to you guys but to play the Hunter deck at high level does require skill, this episode will hopefully demonstrate that. Okay, let’s begin!

So the usual first step is to list as many plays as we can think of and then weed out the trash:

  1. Pass
  2. Hero Power
  3. Ironbeak Owl (Targeting the Wyrm)
  4. Acidic Swamp Ooze
  5. Freezing Trap
  6. Quick Shot (Wyrm / Face)
  7. Kill Command (Wyrm / Face)

Of these seven plays I think we can dismiss #1 almost instantly. Although there are times where Passing is preferable to Hero Power this position is simply not one of them. Okay, 6 plays now remain:

How Good Is Hero Power?  

Hybrid Hunter is a deck where you want to squeeze lots of usage out of your Hero Power. Indeed, this style of Hunter is rather unique in that its one of the only decks in the format where your Hero Power is actually a large part of your win condition.

With that said, I don’t think we should Hero Power at the expense of playing cards. There are of course situations with this deck were you prefer to play Hero Power instead of a 2-drop, but normally you prefer Hero Power over playing cards in those situations where playing cards would result in having lots of unused mana on the next turn (FYI, ‘Mana Efficiency’ is very important for this deck). This is clearly not going to be the case here.

The problem with Hero Power in this case is that it does nothing to fight for the board (which, against Tempo Mage is reasonably important) and moreover it doesn’t allow us to be ‘mana efficient’ (on this turn or the next).

How Good Is Ironbeak Owl?

This play strikes me as remarkably bad since the play manages to achieve almost nothing.

The Mage has four Mana next turn which means that Hero Power + 2-drop is always going to be an option for them.  Alternately they could kill off the Owl with the 1/3 and play something like Flamewaker, or maybe just slam the 1/3 into Mad Scientist setting up Hero Power/Arcane Missiles. In short, this play gives the Mage a variety of options, and giving your opponent options is rarely a good idea.

As a random side note, “denying the opponent options” is actually a key principle  used in AI design when developing General Game Playing Algorithms; denying the opponent options just seems to be a good strategy for winning *any* strategical game, not just Hearthstone. 

Okay so this play gives the opponent options (which is bad), the owl also dies very easily which means that this play doesn’t achieve much in terms of board control either. Can it get much worse? Well Actually it can, here are two more drawbacks:

  1. Without a Beast in Hand and with the sole Beast on the board to die shortly Kill Command is a lot less useful (in the immediate sense).
  2. The opponent has yet to play the minion he/she got from Unstable Portal. We do not yet know what this minion is, and so therefore it might be prudent to keep the Silence ‘on standby’.

So yeah, playing the Owl has a lot of downsides, it would seem.

How Good Is The Swamp Ooze?

In this particular match-up we do not expect to get any value out of the Battlecry and so therefore the Swamp Ooze is merely a 3/2.  Is playing a 3/2 good here? Probably not.

The problem with developing a 3/2 onto this board is that once again the Mage has options; the Mage could just trade into the 3/2 but actually I think killing off the Mad Scientist is more likely to be better. In this case either we must find one damage to kill it or the Mage can trigger our Freezing Trap with the injured Mana Wrym on the next turn…And I think that triggering Freezing Trap plus killing our 2-drop is a considerable amount of value to get from a 1-drop minion.

In short, the problem with this play is that it simply does not pose any significant threat to the opponents board.

How Good Is Freezing Trap?

This play is remarkably better than all of the other plays discussed so far; This play fights for board control in a relevant way and manages to protect the Mad Scientist, and by protecting the Scientist we get to push for more damage.

There are however, two key drawbacks:

  1. If the Mage has a spell to kill the Mad Scientist with the Deathrattle will not trigger (since the deck only runs 2x Freezing Trap).
  2. The are better targets for Freezing Trap than one drop minions.

Point (2) above hints at the idea that maybe we can find a better target for Freezing Trap if we are patient. For example, bouncing a Flamewaker back to hand costs the Mage a lot more tempo than boucning back a Mana Wyrm. Furthermore, a 6 mana Flamewaker is probably too slow to be replayed whereas a 3 mana Wyrm could be placed on the battlefield once more.

In short, the play does deal with the immediate threats but is probably a short-sighted (and therefore bad) play; To win the game we probably need to generate more value from the Secret than this.

How Good Is Quick Shot?

Firstly I should point out that it would be terrible to go face with the spell here; compared with Hero Power you only do one extra damage, and a card is worth a lot more than that.

So okay, what if we Quick Shot the 2/3 Wyrm?

This play has most of the advantages of Freezing Trap (i.e. controls the board) without the drawbacks; Killing a 2/3 with Quick Shot is a reasonable use of that card.

And moreover, by holding onto the Freezing Trap we have a number of potential ways to deal with any ‘beefy’ four-drop the Mage may play.

In short, this is a perfectly acceptable play. The question is; “Can we do any better than this?”

How Good Is Kill Command?

What’s better: Quick Shot or Kill Command?  Well, the answer might be Kill Command.

What advantage does Kill Command have over Quick Shot? Well, it is very important that you understand why this play might be better, I say that because it is easy to come to the correct conclusion but arrive at it via a very faulty thought process. For example:

“I want to hold onto Quick Shot because Quick Shot can draw a card”

Such reasoning is, as far as I am concerned, almost entirely incorrect. While it is of course true that Quick Shot may draw us a card in the future it is important that we consider this a very minor perk and not the primary motivating factor: If Kill Command is the better play, then it is because the play allows to be more ‘mana efficient’.

The key advantage of Kill Commanding the Mana Wyrm is that it allows us to use all of our Mana Crystals on this turn. More importantly than this however is that such a play provides a nice number of very efficient plays on the next turn: (e.g. Swamp Ooze + Quick Shot, Freezing + Quick Shot,  Quick Shot + Hero Power, etc).

In short, using the more expensive and ‘clunky’ card now allows us to be more flexible and efficient on future turns as well. And as I alluded to earlier, giving yourself options is almost always a good idea.

Some of you may lament the loss of 5 face damage; When playing Hybrid Hunter it is often the case that every point of damage matters, and so therefore you maybe reluctant to throw away such a powerful burn spell on a 1-drop.  Against this charge, I offer two defences:

  1. Even with a Beast, Kill Command (‘To Face’) only does two more damage than Quick Shot (‘To Face’)
  2. By being mana efficient and by being flexible, it is possible that we might “find” that lost two damage elsewhere.

Of the above two points, it is the second one that you should focus on because it is by far the most instructive.

For example:

Scenario #1 Scenario #2
Turn 3:

Quick Shot 2/3

Turn 3:

Kill Command 2/3

Turn 4:

Kill Command 3/3

OR

Play 3/2

Turn 4:

Quick Shot 3/3

+

Play 3/2

 

In both Scenarios we have assumed that the opponent plays a 3/3 minion on Turn Four and in both Scenarios we kill the 2/3 Mana Wyrm on Turn 3.  In Scenario #2 we can kill the 3/3 ( with Quick Shot) and develop a threat at the same time (3/2 swamp Ooze).  In Scenario #1 however we cannot develop and kill at the same time (on Turn 4) and so therefore we must make the choice.

For argument sake let’s suppose you play Turn 4 Kill command (on the minion) in Scenario #1. When we compare with Scenario #2 we ought to realise that on Turn 5 we get to push for 3 more damage than we can in Scenario #1.  In other words we have “found” that lost damage by being efficient (developing minion + clearing board).

In Conclusion…

In my opinion the top 3 plays are Kill Command, Quick Shot, Freezing Trap. And I rank them in that order.

While I think that the difference between using Kill Command or Quick Shot is rather small I do think we have to give the edge to kill command; being able to curve out better and give ourselves more options on future turns outweighs the potential benefits of holding onto a powerful burn spell, I think.

Smashthings Out![/spoiler]

Stonekeep’s Analysis

[spoiler title=”Stonekeep”]

[Smashthings]:For Today’s episode I asked Stonekeep to offer a second opinion. I specifically asked him to study the issue of “Quick Shot vs Kill Command”. Ergo his oppinion does not really mention the downsides to using Hero Power and so on…

I assume that the enemy is a Tempo Mage because of the cards he has played: Mana Wyrm, Flamecannon and Unstable Portal. It could also be some other kind of aggressive Mage build, but all of them are based around tempo. This means that we are in a ‘tempo heavy’ match-up.

There is no question that you have to clear the Mana Wyrm. If you don’t, he kills your Scientist for free and is left with a 2/1 Mana Wyrm. Since have no way to cleanly deal 1 damage you either have to let him proc the Freezing with it (the value of the trap would be really low then) or get rid of it with one of your spells anyway – and since you don’t have really thrilling plays this turn (for example, if you had Animal Companion, I’d consider going for the 1/3 Leokk roll) and a lot of removals in your hand – getting rid of it now is a good idea.

The question is – how to deal with it? Given the situation, the deck you play and the deck opponent plays, I’d Kill Command the Mana Wyrm over Quick Shot-ing or using Freezing Trap.

First reason is mana, playing on the curve. When you play Hunter in a tempo match-up, staying on the curve and using all your mana is really important. Playing Quick Shot here floats 1 point of mana. It also means that if next turn for some reason you are forced to play the second removal (Kill Command), it would again float 1 point of mana, losing you even more tempo.

The second reason is your hand. Next turn would be much cleaner if you’ve used Kill Command on Turn Three. You’re gonna have 4 mana. With four 2-mana cards in your hand (and your Hero Power also being at 2 mana, obviously), it leaves you with a lot of options. Kill Command would be really hard to squeeze in until turn 5, and by that time you have two turns to draw into a good Turn Five play.

Now, we have to think about what enemy can do next turn. Besides the card from the portal (which is completely random and therefore cannot be played-around), Tempo Mage doesn’t have that many options:

  1. The first option is playing Piloted Shredder on curve.
  2. The second one is Flamewaker + 1 mana spell (either Mirror Image or Arcane Missiles).
  3. The third one is another small minion (Mana Wyrm, Mad Scientist, Sorcerer’s Apprentice) + removal/ping.
  4. …And the fourth option is obviously portal minion.

Let’s assume you’ve played Kill Command on Turn Three. Now, going through enemy options: –

  • If he picked option 1: You could play Freezing Trap, Ooze and ignore the Shredder. Or maybe even Owl + Quick Shot, depending on how you want to play the game.
  • If he picked the second option you’d be in pretty bad shape. But if you had Kill Command in your hand you’d still be in a bad shape – you’d have no beast to activate Kill Command on Turn Four. So in this case it doesn’t matter which card you used on previous turn.
  • If opponent picked option  Quick Shot is better on Turn Four since you would be able to remove the small minion + play your own Ooze, instead of wasting another whole turn on removal with KC.
  • Option 4 is a mystery, like I’ve said. It’s not possible to play around Unstable Portal outcome.

Third reason is that your hand is rather low-curve. Unless you draw some big drops, you’re gonna blow the hand by turn 5-6. This means that there is a pretty significant chance that Quick Shot is gonna draw you a card, giving more steam to work with (really important with such a low curve start). I’d actually consider keeping it for the draw if you don’t draw anything big next turn. Generally keeping your Quick Shot to draw from it is a bad idea, but if you’re gonna dump your whole hand so early, it might actually work.

Another argument against keeping Kill Command is that the only beast you have in your hand is Owl, which is situational. You don’t really want to Owl “nothing” just to activate the Kill Command’s 5 damage. Something like a Haunted Creeper would be much better, more flexible KC activator.

Also, you wouldn’t be able to activate 5 damage until turn 5. Probably the most popular Turn Five play is Sludge Belcher. Kill Command is really good against it, but on the other hand, you have the Owl in your hand to deal with it – you don’t need the KC. But before Turn Five anything can happen and I’d have to write way too much about it, so I’ll just stop it here.

Both options have their merits. Good sides and bad sides. But given the current situation, I’d opt for using the Kill Command instead of Quick Shot. I think that Smash is gonna go through all the other options, so no need to explain them either 🙂 [/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!

[spoiler]

Sorry guys, no video this week. All we know is that the Hunter went for Quick shot and was able to win the game a number of turns later.

[/spoiler]

Conclusion

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.

And if you like it, don’t forget to leave a thumbs up!