In-Depth Turn Analysis #18: The Tiny Little Things

Hi guys! Welcome to Episode 18 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: Ramp Druid This week’s contributors: Smashthings Today is going to be a tiny little episode, the position is taken from the ATLC Team League.Thjis was Playing Druid […]


Hi guys! Welcome to Episode 18 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: Ramp Druid
  • This week’s contributors: Smashthings

Today is going to be a tiny little episode, the position is taken from the ATLC Team League.Thjis was Playing Druid against Trump‘s Zoo deck.

Okay, Let’s begin!

About This Week’s Deck

Normally I would post a link to the deck in this section, but at the moment I don’t know Thjis’s exact list (it seems to be a Ramp Druid of some kind), however we don’t really need to know much about his deck on this occasion. You’ll understand why when we check out the position.

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.



YOUR HAND: Swipe x2, Keeper of the Grove, Azure Drake, Piloted Shredder

KEY CARDS USED (YOU): The Coin, darnassus-aspirant


ANY OTHER NOTES: You Have a 3/3 Shade of Naxxramas on Board.  You can see your opponents hand, but try to not let that influence your decision.

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”]

So as I mentioned at the very start of the article this is going to be a tiny little episode, its short because there is not a lot to talk about. Nonetheless, there is a lesson to be learned here, and that is: The tiny little things matter.

Okay, so let’s check out our options:

  1. Pass
  2. Use the Shade of Naxxramas to kill Voidwalker, then use Hero Power
  3. Hero Power + Pass
  4. Hero Power (attacking 1/3)

Of these options we can instantly dismiss #1 so that leaves 3 plays to look at.

Shade + Hero Power

So this play kills the 1/3 taunt and leaves a 3/2 on the board. We can then Hero Power and go face. There is almost no point to attacking the Imp Gang Boss because that just spawns a 1/1 token and can kill it next turn with Swipe anyway.  In short, we don’t get a lot of value out of our Hero Power.

Worse still, the Shade of Naxx is now uncloaked and as a 3/2 is easily taken out by the Imp Gang Boss.

In short, this play is not that appealing, Attacking the 1/3 gives our opponent a very efficient trade. But is there a better play?

Hero Power Pass

This is the play Thijs made during the game. This play is the sort of thing you do when you have no decent play to make. As it so happens even though this play achieves nothing I think that it is still better than above ‘attack with Shade’ play because killing the 1/3 is not essential (right now) but more importantly a 3/3 in Stealth is worth a lot more than a 3/2 uncloaked Shade.

For example, next turn the Shade grows to a 4/4, if you want to you can trade it with Imp Gang Boss. Meanwhile revealing it on this turn means that Imp Gang Boss trades with you.

Okay, so this is the Play Thijs went with and it is clearly better than uncloaking the Shade. But we still have to answer the question:

“Is this the best play possible?”

Well, in my opinion Thijs missed a tiny little trick, which I shall now discuss.

Hero Power the 1/3

Before I start explaining why I think this play is the best I want to stress that this is a tiny little thing; the difference in power between this move and Thjis’ preferred option is marginal and in 98% of games it would probably make no difference at all. Nonetheless, pro-level Hearthstone is all about finding those fractions of a percent improvements. Over the course of enough games, tiny little things can impact your win-rate, and that’s why we should study such things when we are presented with the opportunity to do so.

Alright so what does attacking the 1/2 achieve exactly? Well, I like this play because it affords us greater flexibility on future turns for an almost negligible opportunity cost.

By now you should be asking yourself two questions:

  1. What is the “opportunity cost” in this case?
  2. In what way(s) is this play more “flexible”?

The first question is the easiest to deal with; the opportunity cost is basically 1 health (or to be a tiny bit more precise; 1 armour). Compare this play with the Hero Power pass play. In that case we had 28 effective health, with this play we have 27 health. The difference is one health, that’s the price of “flexibility”. Simple stuff, right?

Okay next question:

“How are we more flexible and why should we care?” 

The first thing to note is that at 2 health a new Turn Four play becomes possible: Keeper of the Grove for 2 damage and then kill something (e.g. Imp Gang Boss) with the 4/4 Shade.

This new play is good in terms of tempo but is probably just worse than Piloted Shredder in most cases since you really want to save Keeper for a prime target (such as Voidcaller) in this match-up. In order to be happy about making this play you would probably have to top-deck the second Keeper of the Grove.

So far it seems as if that “flexibility” I was talking about really isn’t worth much. And I would agree, if this were the only option attacking the 1/3 opened up I would probably prefer the 1 health on my Hero as well.

However, I think this play does potentially open up more options on future turns. The problem is that you have to look as far ahead as Turn Six before this play yields any sort of benefit: If you Swipe on Four then the Taunt Drops down to 1 health, which means if you Swipe again on Turn 6 it dies in this variation. Whereas in the other line we discussed it would still be alive as a 1/1 taunt. And that’s potentially a very big difference.

Alternately imagine the Druid drops Piloted Shredder on Turn 4.  In this case on Turn 6 you can now Swipe some other minion and follow-up with Hero Power on the Taunt. So once again doing that 1 damage on Turn 3 allows you to push through that pesky taunt efficiently on Turns 6+.

Let’s take a quick look at Turn 6 from the game:

Let’s imagine for a moment that Thjis made my play on three but apart from that everything played out exactly the same. This would mean that in the above position the 1/2 Taunt would be a 1/1 and the Druid would be at 6 health as opposed to 7.

As we can clearly see then, my play would have made no difference to the outcome of the game what-so-ever. The only thing my play would have allowed the Druid to do is use the Swipe the face (whereas during the game Thijs had to swipe the 1/2 Taunt), an extra 3 damage to the Warlock wouldn’t have changed the outcome of the match in any way.

So as a matter of fact my proposed play would have made no impact on the game, but in an alternate universe could my suggested play convert a loss to win?

I think the answer to that question is yes, and I think one way to see that is to imagine that instead of Top-decking a Wild Growth suppose that Thjis top-decked a Wrath instead. In this Scenario the Druid could Swipe + Wrath the Doomguard, killing it.

  • If the Druid ‘passed’ on Turn 3: there would still be a 1/1 Taunt on the board blocking the 6/6 Shade of Naxx (but on the bright side, you have 7 health, lol). In this case you can either kill the 1/1 Taunt with the Shade or leave 4x 1/1’s on board.
  • If the Druid attacked the Taunt on Turn 3: …Then the Taunt dies when you Swipe the Doomguard. This potentially opens up the possibility of going face with the Shade, dropping the opponent to 18. Now sure, being at 6 health with 3x 1/1 minion on board is scary, but if you get a bit lucky and the Zoo top-decks are garbage twice in a row then maybe Ancient of Lore for Heal and attacking with it + Shade on the next turn could produce a lethal.

In Conclusion

I think that the difference between Hero Powering the 1/3 or not is really small but with that said small things can (and frequently do) make a difference, so we were right to study it.


…In the End…

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


Here is the Twitch Vod. The game in question starts at 1:14:30



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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