In-Depth Turn Analysis is as series started by Smashthings back in 2014. Since he quit Hearthstone, it was discontinued and forgotten. I’ve decided to pick it up, because it’s really interesting and fills a niche between articles for beginners and more competitive ones.
If you aren’t familiar with the series, don’t worry – it’s quite easy. Just imagine you’re in an interesting or difficult spot in one of your matches. What if, instead of having 75 seconds to analyze everything, your time would be unlimited? Decisions in Hearthstone are often very chaotic. You might be driven by intuition (which isn’t always right), you might miss something, you might make a big misplay, because you didn’t have time to think about every possible outcome.
In order to take most from the series, before checking out my analysis, you should think about the scenario yourself. What do you think is the best play? Comparing your answers to my analysis can then teach you something or even spark a discussion if you disagree with my points. Feel free to comment if you do!
So before I start, I have one request for you guys. If you stumble upon such a scenario during one of your games, please make a screenshot and send it to me ([email protected]) and it get featured in next episode of the series!
Questing Rogue vs Token Druid
Screenshot was taken by /u/Alegaiti from Reddit – thank you a very much for allowing me to use it!
A quick overview of the situation before starting the analysis. Alegaiti is playing a Miracle Rogue deck with Questing Adventurers (I’ll call it Questing Rogue from now on) deck, it’s semi-popular on the ladder and tournament recently. Here’s the Alegaiti’s list. And here is another example list – Tom60229’s Questing Rogue. We aren’t sure what kind of Druid his opponent plays. Violet Teacher, however, suggests that it’s some kind of Token Druid. There are a few different versions going around the ladder, so it’s impossible to determine exact list yet. But here is an example Token Druid list if you’re not familiar with those – Muzzy’s Token Druid.
First of all – it’s very early in the game. I’ve decided to go with such a situation to showcase that even on turn 2 you might have many different, difficult decisions and sometimes whatever you do turn 1 might determine the outcome of the whole game. You can see every card played so far on the screenshot – Druid (going first) has passed his turn 1, Rogue (going second) has dropped a turn 1 Swashburglar. Druid followed with turn 2 Innervate + Violet Teacher and now it’s the Rogue’s time to answer.
A few key difficulties here. You really want to remove the Violet Teacher, because it might snowball very hard. But what is the most efficient way to do that? Can you do that and save the coin at the same time? Or maybe developing minion presence is more important? I’ll try to analyze everything and give you the best answer.
Violet Teacher is very scary minion when you face a Druid. But the opponent will be at 3 mana next turn, so it’s fair to assume that he won’t cast too many spells next turn. By just Hero Powering this turn, you can set up for a stronger next turn.
- Assuming enemy won’t hit the 1/1 with Violet Teacher, there is a potential to a huge snowball potential next turn. Play Questing Adventurer, Coin, Backstab the Violet Teacher, Living Roots the Violet Teacher + hit it with the dagger or a 1/1 (both if enemy has played Power of the Wild. Now enemy just has to answer the Questing (which is 5/5 at this point) or it’s going to snowball out of control.
- Another potential next turn is a big Edwin vanCleef – do the same thing you did with Questing, but play Edwin instead at the end of the sequence. You end up with an 8/8 Edwin, which you can boost to 12 attack next turn thanks to the Cold Blood. Enemy needs Mulch or he’s busted.
- If enemy has a great hand – e.g. Living Roots + Power of the Wild, he might snowball the game instead, buffing the Teacher to 4/6 and spawning four 2/2’s. The chances of having exactly that are quite slim, but it’s still possible. That either completely negates all your advantage (e.g. the 2/2’s can trade into big Edwin) or even straight up lose you the game if Druid also has a good follow-up.
- If enemy is a good player, he will very likely hit the 1/1 to play around Backstab and Shadow Strike, leaving you with no clear way to kill the Violet Teacher – in a bad spot.
This play is not as passive as the last one, but still leaves the Violet Teacher intact. It saves the coin for the next turn and threatens a pretty smooth kill on the Teacher next turn.
- Gives you 2 more power on the board to work with and nearly guarantees that you will have a way to kill Teacher next turn if you also Backstab it right away and hit it with a 1/1 (3/2 dies to Living Roots in your hand).
- If Huckster dies, it gives you another card that might potentially change your play.
- You save the Coin for the potential next turn combos and if things go right you will be able to get a big minion out. Minions will be smaller without a Backstab, but it will still be a big board presence.
- 2/2 is very easy to kill for the Druid. Living Roots, Wrath and Feral Rage deal with it right away. Raven Idol into a spell also has many possible good outcomes.
- Just like the last time – leaving Violet Teacher intact is pretty risky. If Druid has the Living Roots + PotW I’ve been talking about, he can kill the 2/2 and play PotW. That would leave Violet Teacher at 3 health – outside of the range of just Living Roots, meaning that you would be forced to Dagger Up and fall behind on the tempo heavily.
Backstab + Coin + Edwin VanCleef
While you again leave the Violet Teacher alone, now it is the enemy that has to worry – with 6/6 Edwin VanCleef on the board, you put a big threat and you are rather sure that Teacher will die somehow.
- That’s a middle ground move. It’s not a passive play that gives enemy a snowball potential, but it’s also not a big snowball turn from your side.
- If enemy has no way to kill Edwin and ignores him, you should kill the Teacher quite easily while getting even further ahead on the tempo.
- Punish potential from the opponent is very small – even the worst case scenario isn’t that bad.
- Enemy has more ways to kill Edwin now. Usually you force Druid to have Mulch, now he can also kill it with Living Roots + Hero Power/Wrath/Feral Rage + Violet Teacher hit.
- If he decides to ignore Edwin and go for the big Violet Teacher turn, you still have no way to kill all the 2/2’s efficiently.
Kill the Violet Teacher (Backstab + Living Roots)
Killing Violet Teacher is a safe move. You deny the Druid’s snowball potential and you still set up yourself for a quite nice next turn. You can also coin out the Undercity Huckster to utilize your mana better, but I don’t think that it’s worth it with such a hand.
- You neutralize the Violet Teacher threat right away, meaning that Druid has no way to snowball the game from his Innervate play at this point.
- You most likely make Druid’s turn very awkward. If he had Wild Growth in the hand, he’d most likely play it last turn. You don’t play any minions, so Wrath or Feral Rage are also useless. One Innervate was already used, so it’s not likely that he will Innervate out a 5-drop. The best Druid can realistically hope for is to topdeck a Wild Growth or play Raven Idol/Living Roots + Hero Power.
- You save up a Coin that works really well both Edwin and QA.
- You float 1 mana and end up with no on-board tempo or weapon equipped. Luckily it’s not that big of a deal since Druid is very likely to pass his turn anyway. But if the ends up getting a second Innervate + 5-drop or Wild Growth, being behind on the tempo is not a good sign.
- You use two cheap spells that combo insanely well with Edwin and QA, reducing the snowball potential next turn. You will likely have to wait at least one or two more turns before getting a big turn with them.
- You end up with no flexible removal in your hand left. Cold Blood can serve as a removal, but only if you have a minion on the board, which you don’t in this case.
Kill the Violet Teacher (Living Roots + Cold Blood)
It’s a second scenario that involves killing Violet Teacher. By playing a Living Roots (to spawn two 1/1’s) and Cold Blood on your 1/1 to kill Violet Teacher, you end up with a safe play that also gives you some on board tempo. Instead of using Living Roots, you can play Coin + Huckster, but like I’ve said last time, I don’t think that using a Coin here is worth it.
- You deal with Violet Teacher smoothly while utilizing all your mana and saving a Coin.
- Cold Blood is often a dead card in the early game and you get a lot of value out of it.
- You save Backstab, which might come handy pretty soon + it’s a great card to combo with Edwin or QA.
- Two 1/1’s aren’t really a great board presence. If Druid ends up Hero Powering on t3 anyway, you just give him a target to kill (or to cycle Wrath).
- There is no clear follow-up next turn. Just dropping Undercity Huckster on t3 is okay, but it’s not the most optimal thing.
- It leaves you with pretty much no chance to snowball the early game, because there is no way to drop a big Edwin or QA next turn.
Alegaiti ended up going for the move I have only mentioned – a Cold Blood removal, but using Coin + Undercity Huckster instead of the Living Roots. I feel like this play was slightly suboptimal, because 2x 1/1 is very comparable to 2/2 in that scenario, but saving a Coin is important with a hand like that. I really like using Cold Blood as a removal, though.
When it comes to the play I’d pick, I’ll first talk about the ones I wouldn’t. Play #1 – Dagger Up and Play #2 – Undercity Huckster are way too greedy. While both might potentially snowball the game, they’re both risky. Especially Play #1 – in that case the Druid would need to not play around Backstab/Shadow Strike and hit face instead of 1/1 and have no Violet Teacher follow-up to make it work. Play #2 is slightly safer, but still pretty risky – a good hand from Druid might negate the whole advantage you’ll be gaining that way.
Then the Play #4 – Kill the Teacher (Backstab + Living Roots) – out of the two removal plays, I feel like Play #5 – Kill The Teacher (Living Roots + Cold Blood) is superior. It utilizes the mana better, it uses the card that will be less likely good in the next few turns and it leaves some board presence, even if it’s pretty insignificant. So even if I decided to remove Violet Teacher, I’d pick Play #5 over #4.
That leaves us with Play #3 – Backstab + Coin + Edwin VanCleef and Play #5 – Kill the Teacher (Living Roots + Cold Blood). I think that those two are the strongest ones in their respective categories – leaving and killing Teacher. They both pretty much guarantee it dead. Play #5 kills it right away, while Play #3 makes a bigger immediate board impact. So while the Teacher will be probably dead in both cases, which one is better really depends on the opponent’s hand. Killing Teacher completely stops any snowball potential. If enemy hand is the Living Roots + Power of the Wild I’ve talked about, that would be really bad. I mean, with 6/6 on the board it wouldn’t be a nightmare, but it would still be bad. But what if enemy has no valid spells in the hand? What if he can’t immediately snowball? Then the Edwin play is better, because you get immediate board impact, you kill the Teacher easily, it didn’t get out of control and you have a big tempo lead, which is exactly what you want as a Rogue.
But one thing tells me that killing a Teacher is a better play here. If enemy Druid Innervates it out on turn 2, it’s pretty likely that he has some kind of follow-up. You wouldn’t Innervate it into a possible clear with no extra value against Rogue who is pretty likely to have some way to kill it (especially since he’s on the Coin). It seems like a high-risk, high-reward kind of play – Druid player is willing to sacrifice one of the win conditions early, because he hopes that you have no answer for it. At least that would be my reasoning in this case. However, there is also a chance that Druid has no good follow-up for the Teacher and he Innervated it out to have some board presence or in hope for some top deck. He might also have a card like Raven Idol and he hopes to get some extra value out of it.
So while I wouldn’t mind going for either of those plays depending on the read of the opponent’s hand, my read is that the Druid has something to follow up the Teacher, so removing it would be best move in this kind of situation. And Play #5 still leaves some snowball potential around turn 4-5. Big board flood with the Teacher is one of the easiest way for the Rogue to lose this matchup, so I wouldn’t take any unnecessary risks so early in the game.
That’s all folks. I hope you’ve enjoyed another episode of In-Depth Turn Analysis. If you disagree with any of my analysis, feel free to leave a comment in the section below. Once I have some free time, I’d be glad to discuss everything with you! And if you want to be up to date with my articles, you can follow me on Twitter.
Good luck on the ladder and until next time!
If you’re interested in the series, you might want to check out the previous ones: