In-Depth Turn Analysis #4: By Fire be Purged!

This week, we'll be looking at a unique situation and break down the best/optimal play with input from several Legend players!


Hi guys! Welcome to week #4 of In-Depth Turn Analysis. In this series we take a screenshot of a complex position and several writers discuss possible plays. In order to get the most from the series I would encourage all reader’s to do background research (if applicable) and think about what they would do before reading the opinions of the HSP writing team. It would also be a good idea to get a piece of paper and scribble down your thoughts on the position. By doing this you will get some insight as to what you may need to work on in order to improve.

To Read Last week’s instalment, Click HERE. (note: Premium membership required)

This week we will be looking at Mech-Mage game played on ladder by player myself. As you will soon see, the game didn’t quite go to plan!

Okay, Let’s begin!

About This Week’s Deck

You might now know what deck your opponent is playing, but in every game you should know what deck you are playing. Therefore, before we show you the position let’s have a quick look at our deck.  If you have not seen/played a deck like this before I would recommend that you play a few games with it yourself and/or learn about the deck (e.g. Watch videos of the deck in action, and/or read articles about it, etc). If you take the effort to learn how the deck is supposed to work you will probably come up with a better answer when you study this week’s position.

Without further ado, this weeks deck is:


Before anyone asks, I was just using this to complete a quest. It takes a bit of inspiration from a deck Reynad played in a tournament which he won.


You can learn more about the deck by clicking on the following links:


Because the deck I was using isn’t supposed to be a ‘proper’ deck, I’m going to show you a few games Reyad played with his Blingtron deck (which is quite similar, but you know, actually designed to win games).


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): Blingtron, basic small minions.

KEY CARDS USED (OPPONENT): Injured Blademaster x2, Wild Pyromancer, Holy Nova, Cabal Shadow Priest

ANY OTHER NOTES: The Priest has one charge of a Stormforged Axe. He got this weapon due to my use of Blingtron.

Also, please ignore the history on the left; for this week’s puzzle assume the Archmage Antondias has not attacked yet.

Unfortunately I did not record this game and so therefore my memory of what happened during the game is a little sketchy (to say the least). Nonetheless, the above ought to be good enough. Basically, the Priest was able to counter more or less everything I did, which is how I managed to get to the above position.

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.

Our Opinion(s)

Click on the writer’s name to read their opinion. It is worth noting that all writer’s submit their opinions independently. This has the unfortunate consequence of repetition, but that’s not always a bad thing: hearing the same idea expressed in several different ways can help the understanding. Another advantage of repetition is that it can help highlight how Legend Players think in general: If all of the writers analysing the position focus on a particular aspect, then that ought to serve as a good indication that this is a skill/understanding that most Legend Players posses. In short; if you want to hit Legend, focus on the similarities in our thoughts rather than the differences.

The main reason we have gone down this route is that it prevents various forms of ‘group think’ and ‘conformity bias’. Sometimes everyone will agree on the play and then there will be other times where there will be several opposing views. The last thing to be said is that, even though most of us are strong players, we are all still human and we all make mistakes.

Okay let’s have a look what us writer’s think, shall we?

[spoiler title=”Smashthings”]

Click Here to see what Smashthings has written on our website.

Okay, so some of you may a picked up on a theme by now: every position we pick to study is supposed to be not only hard to find the right move but also illustrative of some important principle. This week shall be no different.

Okay so let’s get to it. As usual with my answers in this series I will first talk about “strategical aims” before talking about specific moves. Let’s get started!

Strategical Aims

Okay, so the question of strategical aims usually boils down to “What needs to happen, from this point forward, for us to win the game?”

As I mentioned earlier in this article the game has not gone well; its been one of those games where the Priest was able to perfectly counter everything the Mech-Mage was able to muster, and as a result it’s turn 9 and the Priest is at max health with decent control of the board. And to make things even worse, it is us that is close to death! Rather fortunately though Priest decks typically lack a lot of burst and so therefore should we manage to stabilise and control the board (which won’t be easy!) our low life total ought not to be too much of an issue.

Clearly then, since Mech-Mage is a tempo/aggro deck, the situation we face is dire and it should be obvious that at this point we cannot win this game in the usual ‘mech mage fashion’.  Therefore, We need to come up with an entirely new game plan and/or we ought to consider high-risk plays (whereas if we were ahead or equal, we would probably dismiss high-risk options as being unnecessary).

In short: Our deck has failed and we are losing terribly. In order to win we probably need to ‘think outside the box’ and/or take exceptional risks.

What Are the Options?

Okay, let’s enumerate our options:

  1. Face with Everything!  (i.e. Fireball face x2, hit face for 5 with Archmage Antonidas).
  2. Go Control (i.e. Kill Ragnaros the Firelord with double Fireball. Then you either pass or cast Time Rewinder).
  3. The Half-way house (1) (i.e. Kill Ragnaros the Firelord (single Fireball + Archmage Antonidas hit). Then follow-up with something (e.g. Harvest Golem).
  4. The Half-way house (2) (i.e. Cast Duplicate/Harvest Golem. Then cast Harvest Golem/Fireball (targeting what?) and Hero Power (again, targeting what?)
  5. Some other option I have not spotted.

Okay, let’s analyse these plays:

Play #1: Face with everything!

Okay, lets count the Damage: 5 + 6*2 = 17 (this turn). Because we casted two spells, this means that next turn we can also hit hard: 6*2 + 1 (1 damage from Hero Power) or 6*2+3 (=15) if we are lucky enough to top-deck a Frostbolt. In other words, we have a minimum of 30 damage and a max of 37 damage (e.g. If we top-deck Frostbolt AND the Priest is unable to stop Archmage Antonidas attacking his face once more).

Of course, we must remember two things (1) that Priest has a minimum of two heal (from Hero Power)  and (2) Because of the way Archmage Antonidas works, the Priest is easily able to predict how much we can hit for (in other words, our burst damage won’t come as ‘a surprise’).

Given that the Priest knows our potential damage capabilities, I think it is a reasonable expectation that the Priest will heal up for at least 2 points (the Priest would probably prefer to play ‘Heal up and Pass’ than drop Ysera, for example!) , which would force us to top-deck Frostbolt or for the Priest to not be able to deal with Archmage Antonidas (remember that Ragnaros the Firelord gives the Priest at least a 50% change of killing it). Moreover, we are also assuming that he/she cannot set up lethal should Ragnaros the Firelord hit face. The Priest already has 2 damage (from the weapon) and thus would only need 4 damage in hand for the win.

In short: this play is high risk, for us to win a we need a lot of good RNG. But as I mentioned in the ‘strategical aims’ bit above, because we are so far behind we ought not dismiss high-risk plays outright.

Play #2: Go Control.

Okay, so we kill Ragnaros the Firelord with double Fireball and then go face with Archmage Antonidas. That part of the turn is easy, the really hard question is what should we do next. To steal from Shakespeare: “To Time Rewinder, or not to Timer Rewinder. That is the question.” 

Play #2.1 (no rewind)

Let’s suppose we don’t bring Archmage Antonidas back to the hand. In this case I feel that we are taking a risk: If the Priest deals with Archmage Antonidas (for example, with Shadow word: Death. Which is, incidentally, inot that unlikely for the Priest to have in hand given how many turns have passed and that so few cards in my mech-mage variant are capable of  ‘baiting out’ the Shadow word), then I do not really see a way to win.  But if, on the other hand, the Priest does not have a way to kill Archmage Antonidas then we actually have good wining chances!

For example, Notice that if Archmage Antonidas survives we could opt for ‘face everything’ line of play. This is, in my opinion, a crucial point to understand: by playing control this turn does not prevent us from making the ‘face everything’ play later.

In short: just like the play #1 (Face with everything!), we are taking a risk here. Essentially, it is a gamble on the probability that we top-deck Frostbolt (not forgettting the other stuff that needs to happen) vs the probability that the Priest has Shadow word: Death (or some other removal for Archmage Antonidas). Personally, I would prefer to take the second sort of risk, which now therefore means we can finally dismiss play #1.

Play #2.2 (with rewind)

Okay, but what about playing Time Rewinder?

  • Well, let’s suppose that on the Priest turn they do something fairly weak, such as cast Dark Cultist, Hero Power and then pass.
  • We respond with: Duplicate + Archmage Antonidas.
  • Now let’s suppose the Priest kills it, trigging Duplicate.

Earlier on in the stategical aims section I mentioned the idea of developing new game plans. Well, here it is! by Duplicating Archmage Antonidas we have a new way to win the game: At this juncture in the game we make the radical step of renouncing our ‘beatdown role’ and instead decide that it is us that aims to be the control deck!!

I cannot stress enough how much of a drastic change of pace this is. Instead of following the usual mech-mage game plan, now the idea is to overwhelm the Priest with powerful minions (namely, the 3x Archmage Antonidas) and our card advantage (which we get simply by casting spells). Even if the Priest Mind Control‘s one of them, we just fireball + Hero Power to clear the board, drop the Harvest Golem and then on the following turn just drop the third Archmage Antonidas. By which point, the Priest is probably out of answers and thus the shear amount of control we can exert over the board (not forgetting the burst damage our Fireball’s represent) just wins the game.

This is, I think, a highly educational line of play because of the concept(s) it teaches: Dear Reader, you would do well to study it in detail. But is the play any good? Well, notice that play has its share of risks too; here the risk is that we can get away with making 2-3 really slow turns. If for example, the Priest doesn’t play Dark Cultist but instead played something like Ysera then there is a good chance that Archmage Antonidas + Duplicate is just too slow. If the Priest drops Sylvanas Windrunner, the Archmage Antonidas + Duplicate is simply unplayable. Moreover, we have also assumed that the Duplicate will trigger on Archmage Antonidas; Mind Control or sylvanas windrunner + Death combos would put that dream to bed.

In short: whatever we do it looks like we are taking some sort of risk. However, of all the plays discussed so far I think the hyper-control ‘time rewinder play’ is the most interesting and probably the best option. Moving on…

Play #3: The Half-way house (1)

So I called this play a ‘Half-way house’ because this sort of play tries to strike a balance between control and aggressive strategies. The play is…

  • Fireball Ragnaros the Firelord, cast Duplicate + Harvest Golem and then attack Ragnaros the Firelord with Archmage Antonidas.

I’m not going to say much on this one because I consider it terrible. The net result is that we clear the board and pose our own threat (i.e the Harvest Golem). The problem is that at 30 life at this stage of the game the Priest is unlikely to care about our little 2/3. We do have 4x Fireballs which is nice, but as I say, 30 health is just too much for this to matter (remember also that the Priest could be healing for 2 health in-between our Fireball volleys).

In short, I think Archmage Antonidas represents the only way to win the game and this play simply removes that chance.

Play #4: The Half-way house (2)

So this is another ‘halfway house’ strategy. The difference between this and the above is that we are not going to try to kill Ragnaros the Firelord this time. Lets look at two basic options…

  • Hit Ragnaros the Firelord with Hero Power and go face with the Fireball. We then make the choice between playing Duplicate or Harvest Golem.

As I said, the idea is to mix control with aggression, by Hero Powering Ragnaros the Firelord we have the option of doing the same next turn and in conjunction with a Fireball we can kill it. That’s the ‘control aspect’ of the play, the ‘aggressive aspect’ is in us casting the free fireball straight to the dome (since it doesn’t set up lethal, normally you woudn’t Fireball face, but since it’s ‘free’ why not?). We could then drop a Harvest Golem to try to absorb a Ragnaros the Firelord hit, but personally I do not like this play since I fail to see precisely how it sets up a win; At least by casting Duplicate we have a way forward (which I discussed in detail above). But the problem in this case is that Ragnaros the Firelord still lives and so therefore we do not have the time to drop Archmage Antonidas number 2. Unfortunately, our follow-up play probably needs to be Fireball + Hero Power to kill Ragnaros the Firelord and then drop the Harvest Golem: I don’t think we can win this game.

  • Hero Power Ragnaros the Firelord. Then cast Duplicate and Harvest Golem.

So this play is very similar to the above except that instead of casting Fireaball we decided to play the Harvest Golem. I don’t like this play. Actually, my reaction is stronger than that: I hate this play. At least if Duplicate triggers on Archmage Antonidas we have a win condition, but now by casting Golem we risk duplicate triggers on this rather worthless minion. Sure, we could swarm the board with them next turn, but at 30 life I doubt the Priest will care.

In short, we should probably make the choice to go ‘all face’ or ‘all control’: trying to find a balance between the styles just leaves us in ruin.

In conclusion…

 After studying this position in-depth I think the ‘hyper-control option’ (i.e. kill Ragnaros the Firelord with double fireball and then following up with Time Rewinder) represents the best chance at winning. With that said, I can defiantly see an argument for keeping Archmage Antonidas on the board and simply hoping that this is no clear.

Anyway, hopefully some of you guys found this analysis helpful. 🙂


[spoiler title=”K3lv”]


Click Here to see what K3lv has written on our website.

Option 1: Attack face with 2x Fireball and Archmage Antonidas

This option will bring the Priest to 13 health. Assuming that the priest heals using his hero power in the next turn, you will need to find 15 damage the following turn in order to win. This is possible if your Archmage Antonidas survives the next turn; however, the odds of Archmage Antonidas surviving the turn is a coin toss based only on what is on the board, as the Ragnaros has a 50% chance of removing it. The priest may also draw into Shadow Word: Death, though this is unlikely given the number of cards in his deck.

The priest has the following ‘outs’ in this situation: Shadow Word: Death (2 copies) and Holy Fire (usually 1 copy), which is a 20% chance assuming he has 15 cards left. Note that Mind Control is not a problem in this situation, as the Priest will have no mana to heal, meaning that they are dead to the 2 Fireballs + Hero power.

However, if the Archmage Antonidas is removed, you will need to topdeck Frostbolt the next turn in order to find lethal. This is rather unlikely, as the odds are 2 in 17, or approximately 12%. Furthermore, they could draw into any heal spell (e.g Light of the Naaru, which would put them out of lethal range; though again, this is unlikely given the number of cards left in the deck.

Note that if Ragnaros hits your face, the Priest has a potential lethal with Holy Fire.

Effectively, this option turns the game into a coin toss; if Ragnaros hits Archmage Antonidas, your odds of winning are slim but if it misses, then you win the game provided that they do not have a Holy Fire in their hand. However, this option plays around Mind Control.

Option 2: 2x Fireball to remove Ragnaros and hit face with Archmage Antonidas

This option will remove the Ragnaros while leaving the Priest at 25 health. Given that Archmage Antonidas is on the board, we would expect that the Priest would use their hero power to heal, bringing their lifetotal to 27. This means that it would be impossible to kill the Priest in the next turn even if Archmage Antonidas survives the turn.

However, this play does remove the threat of Ragnaros on the board, which gives you a bit more breathing space, and forces the Priest to regain board control in order to find lethal.

The priest has the following ‘outs’ in this situation: Shadow Word: Death (2 copies), Holy Fire (usually 1 copy) and Mind Control (1 copy). Assuming that they have around 15 cards remaining and that the priest has not played any of these cards, the odds of them drawing these outs are 27%.

Note that the priest definitely does not have Shadow Word: Death in his hand, because he would have used it otherwise {Smashthings Edit: Actually this is not true; because last turn Antonidas was stealthed (via a ‘Spare Part’) we have yet to ‘test for’ the Shadow word…But K3lv didn’t know that when he wrote his opinion!}. However, he could have Mind Control in his hand, as the priest only had 9 mana on that turn. The odds of having Mind Control (assuming that they run 1 copy) by turn 10 is around 40%.

Hence, this option seems to be slightly better than the previous option, as they need to draw into their removal to win the game, which is an unlikely outcome. The odds of the priest having Mind Control in his hand is also an unlikely outcome. This option would set up for a potential lethal over two turns.

Option 3: Duplicate and attack face with Fireball and Archmage Antonidas

This option will bring the Priest to 19 health, while putting a Secret onto the board and obtaining another Fireball from Archmage Antonidas. Assuming that the priest heals using his hero power in the next turn, the priest will be on 21 health, which would put them out of lethal range.

The Secret in this situation has the following benefits:

  • Your opponent will expect a Mirror Entity, given that it is Mech Mage. Hence, they would be reluctant to play a high value minion in anticipation of Mirror Entity, which allows you to keep the threats on board under control. But with that said, since the priest will have 10 mana, they can probably afford to play around Mirror Entity by playing a low value minion followed by a high value minion.
  • If Archmage Antonidas is removed (either from Ragnaros or spell removal), it will duplicate two copies of it. However, duplicating an Archmage Antonidas in this instance is a bit slow, as you probably cannot live long enough to re-establish board control.

Another problem with this play is that if the Ragnaros hits your face (along with the weapon hit), you can die to Holy Fire. Furthermore, the 3rd Fireball generated from Archmage Antonidas does not add much value, as we can only cast 2 Fireballs in a turn. .

Option 4: Duplicate, attack face with Fireball and Archmage Antonidas and Time Rewinder the Archmage Antonidas

This option is not viable, as you will have no board presence. Furthermore, you only have a maximum of one additional turn to live, and it would be impossible to find lethal.


It is a toss-up between Option 1 and Option 2. If I had to make this decision with the time allowed in a game, I would pick Option 1. However, having spent more time thinking about the possibilities, I think that Option 2 will give you a better chance of winning the game.


[spoiler title=”Modded”]Click Here to see what Modded has written on our website.

First of all, we need to evaluate our current situation so that we can make the appropriate decision regarding the correct play.

What deck are we playing? Mech Mage; a later-game variant (highlighted by Dr. Boom and Antonidas and the amount of one ofs on the <5 mana section of the deck).

What deck is our opponent playing? Control Priest; probably a mid-late game variant, could be a late game variant but unlikely as it has not made any recent appearances in the meta.

What is the current state of the board? We are losing. It is turn nine, opponent is at full life, whilst we are only at fourteen (and we’re the aggressive deck!) We have inferior board presence, having only a 5/5 versus an unscathed ragnaros-the-firelord and the opposing hero has a 2/1 weapon equipped.

What is the current state of the hands? Our opponent has four cards (counting the one he will draw at the start of his turn), we effectively have four as well (a Spare Part doesn’t count in my opinion). Our hand consists of : Two removal/burn spells, one minor threat, one pseudo-card draw.

Now we can begin to paint of picture regarding how the rest of the turn will play out. Firstly, we need to guess what plays we might expect from our opponent. If this is the latest-game version of Control Priest, we can expect things like Ysera down the road. However that particular variant hasn’t had ladder success recently, so it’s safer to assume it’s a bit faster control variant, possibly running the likes of sneeds-old-shredder and possibly even a single mind-control. Both variants run a single shadow-word-death and holy-fire so we must expect those down the line as well. We don’t have to expect a second cabal-shadow-priest as two isn’t necessarily standard, but definitely not outside the realm of possibility. Lightbomb is another possibility but less than likely in this scenario (a point one should think about, though not give a ton of weight).

Secondly, we need to determine the path to a win. Playing the control game won’t work in our favor as the Priest will have a stronger late game as well as hit fatigue later (and win due to healing). The other two options are to go for aggressive board control or go full-out towards the face. Now let’s look at which option our hand supports best. Time Rewinder would be a huge tempo loss as a 5/7 for eight mana by itself is pretty pathetic (one to bounce the minion, seven to replay it). harvest-golem is a nice minion, but incredibly low-impact with only two attack, also a terrible choice should our opponent have access to a second Cabal Shadow Priest. duplicate pales now, as it generates ZERO tempo in the short-term, and both possible targets are poor tempo plays currently. This leaves us with two fireballs, which thanks to Archmage Antonidas will replace themselves. These can both be used to instigate pressure on the opponent or to relieve the pressure currently on yourself.

It’s now clear that the Fireballs are to key to our potential success, but which stance should we take? Let’s compare what I consider to be the two most optimal plays (I’ll discuss the other plays I rejected immediately following):

Face Play: Smack the Priest’s face with both Fireballs, then hit it with Archmage Antonidas.

This will leave your opponent with thirteen life. This sets up for lethal next turn, as even without Antonidas two Fireballs + ping is thirteen damage (or if you topdeck and use frostbolt over hero power that’s fifteen damage). This invalidates a Mind Control play as you’d have guaranteed lethal next turn, and makes big (non-taunt) minion + heal risky as it would mean that you’d still have lethal if Ragnaros hits your face instead of Antonidas. This play is risky as it assumes that your opponent won’t be able to remove Antonidas and then heal out of burst range (or that you’ll topdeck a Frostbolt to negate the heal from Priest’s hero power). Your opponent not removing Antonidas on the previous turn doesn’t necessarily suggest that he or she doesn’t have Shadow Word: Death in hand, as Ragnaros was probably meant to kill it. {Smashthings Edit: remember that I said last turn Antonidas was stealthed…But Modded didn’t know that when he wrote his opinion!}

Aggressive Board Control Play: Kill the Ragnaros with both Fireballs and then hit the Priest’s face with Antonidas.

This means you have no way to kill our opponent on the next turn, but now you only have to worry about threats/removal from the cards in your opponent’s hand. If your opponent plays minions you can keep clearing with double Fireball + hero power whilst whittling down the Priest’s life with Antonidas and hopefully you draw into your dr-boom soon. This play removes the coin flip that leaving Ragnaros in play would cause, but it gives the Priest more turns to draw into answers.

You may ask why I don’t consider using TimeRewinder on Antonidas? It lets us get extra mileage out of the card and sets us up for a perfect Archmage Antonidas into Duplicate play next turn. The problem with this play is that we are the aggressor in this matchup, trying to be the control deck here lends favor to the Priest as we shift to trying to beat a Control deck at its own game. Time Rewinder destroys any tempo advantage we have, as it both removes a 5/5 body from our side of the board and puts a mana-inefficient body into our hand. This gives the Priest the initiative as he or she no longer has to deal with any threats from us, and now gets to apply pressure. It’ll be two more turns before we can try to be aggressive if we take this route.

As I’ve already mentioned, I think that any other plays are vain as Harvest Golem is risky and low-impact if ignored, and Duplicate’s only decent target would be a Harvest Golem since Archmage Antonidas is simply too slow for additional copies to prove helpful in this matchup.

In Conclusion

In this circumstance I would go with the Face Play since we haven’t seen Shadow Word: Death or Holy Fire yet, meaning he will eventually have an answer to Antonidas. On the other hand, if the Priest had used either card earlier I would go for the Aggressive Board Control Play as I’d be concerned with a Ragnaros snipe as opposed to in-hand removal.


…In the End…

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


As I mentioned earlier, I unfortunately didn’t record this game. But I can describe to you what happened: I went for the Double fireball  + Time Rewinder play, and lost 4-5 turns later. Unfortunately for me, the Priest was able to drop Sneed’s Old Shredder, which proved to be a pretty strong counter to my “control everything with Fireball” plan. Sneed’s kept on chipping away at my life and I never found the time to kill it, nor did I find time to play the duplicated copies of Archmage Antonidas. 

In short, I don’t feel as though I made a bad call, but it was rather unfortunate that in the 4 cards the Priest had one of them was Shadow Word: Death, and another was the Sneed’s. 

I also have a confession: I forgot how Archmage got to 5 Health: I killed a Zombie Chow that turn, so in the position I showed you Archmage had already attacked!  Ooops!



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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Reader Submissions

If you have a position you would like us to look at please do post a link to it in the comments below.  If you would like to submit a position we would ask however that you follow a few basic rules:

  1. Submit an interesting position (can be Arena, but with that said the focus of this series shall be on constructed)
  2. Submit a high quality image in a format we can use (Imgur links are fine).
  3. Don’t constantly repost the same position.
  4. Supply all the ‘extra data’ we need. Deck Lists (Imgur link is fine), cards played, etc.
  5. If you have a Youtube video or a permanent twitch VOD with how the game ended that’s a bonus but not necessary.