You Asked, We Tried…
As some of you my be aware, recently I posted a short little article that asked for your suggestions. Today I want to present to you what I hope is a step in the right direction. In the article you are about to read I have tried to incorporate as many of those ideas as I realistically could.
If you followed that article with interested, then I would recommend reading the contents of the spoiler below. For anyone that doesn’t care about how this article came into being feel free to skip the spoiler since it have absolutely nothing to do with actual content of the article.
I want you guys to know that I read every single comment. Over the last few days I have been trying to put everything I have learned into action.
On the Survey, here are a few comments that inspired the content you are about to read:
- “…I think one more “weekly” series to join with the Deck of the Week would be great. I enjoy weekly series above random articles because I can “plan” for them and they are pretty stable coming out.”
Your wish is my command! If this article proves to be popular the aim will be roll one of these bad-boyz out each week. I also plan to keep the formatting and style as similar as possible too.
- “Multiple views and opposing arguments, one-sided writing lacks depth.”
In this Article/Series, the aim is to get about three writers to jot their own opinions down independently of each other, and we might even take the arguments to the comments section. Do we get a tick in this box, then?
- “…I’d find it very useful to be presented with typical situations where there is a better play than the one I think, and being taught how to recognize that play. This could look somewhat like Mr Shine’s puzzles, for instance, but focusing on simpler, illustrative configurations.”
“…I think a discussion of possible lines of play in various situations could be very helpful!”
“…Any information that could help players like me find those “best” plays would be worth a lot in my opinion!”
Yes, lots of you expressed an interest an interest in seeing specific turn analysis. This series aims to produce such content.
And lastly, there was a lot of Premium members that felt a little ‘disillusioned’ by the publishing process.
Moreover, plenty on non-subscribers where unsure whether membership was worth it. With this series I aim to help alleviate some of these grievances. Each week (I am of course assuming that the response to this article justifies the production of a series) we will be producing one of these articles but we will be alternating between membership type (e.g. Week One shall be ‘Free’, Week Two shall be Premium, Week Three will be ‘Free’ …and so on). Both the free and Premium versions will be the same in terms of depth, quality, and so on. By doing things this way, the hope is that non-subscribers get a better sense of what you can expect from membership, should you choose to join. Meanwhile, we also hope to keep our premium members happy by giving them a regular decent bit of paid-for content.
Only time will deal whether these plans soar sky-high or sink like a lead balloon. In either case, I hope you guys recognize that we are trying![/spoiler]
Hi guys! Welcome to week 1 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.
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 weeks position.
Without further ado, this weeks deck is:
Okay, so this is my baby. I’ve been working on this deck for over a month and I love it. I love the fact that it is a rather unique take on Priest; It’s such a shame that games with it take 20+ min and I have a full-time job. If this were not the case, I’m pretty confident I could this thing to legend.
But anyway, I digress. How strong the deck is/isn’t is actually irrelevant to the present discussion. All what matters is that — for whatever reason — this is the deck being played and now we must endeavour to understand it. In the spoiler below I have embedded two Youtube videos, by watching them you should gain a pretty good insight into the deck, just watch until bored): 🙂
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 MANA: 8
NUMBER OF CARDS IN HAND (OPPONENT): 4
KEY CARDS USED (YOU): Other than Emperor Thaurissan, no key cards have been used.
KEY CARDS USED (OPPONENT): The opponent has thus far only used cards like Feral Spirit, Haunted Creeper, etc. Dr. Boom is the first big minion he has played. Fire Elemental, Hex,Earthshock have not been used.
ANY OTHER NOTES: Pyromancer has been buffed with Velen’s Chosen. Emperor Thaurissan was played on a previous turn (hence Ysera is 8 mana).
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.
Click on the writer’s name below 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 understanding.
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?
The first thing I noticed when looking at my deck list is that it has A LOT of quality Hex targets. As such, I want to bait Hex on less valuable, but still (in the Shaman’s mind) Hex-able targets. Most Priests don’t play Sneed’s Old Shredder and Ysera, so the Shaman is unlikely to save a Hex for those specific tagets. A big Vol’Jin will likely draw the Hex if the opponent has it, and then Ysera will close the game in short order. I’m ahead on card and board presence, so I want to shut the door before my opponent can get back into the game.
So knowing I’m going to Vol’jin the Dr. Boom, how do I deal with the Boom Bots? Wild Pyromancer can clear them with any spell, so the obvious play is to Vol’Jin the Dr. Boom, then Holy Smite it to finish him off and clear the bots.
But wait! If we do that the two Boom Bot triggers might kill our Wild Pyromancer and destroy our overwhelming board control! For example, both bots could hit Wild Pyro, then the opponent could Hex + Fire Elemental to clean up next turn and leave us vulnerable to burst or Ysera getting killed by the Elemental plus a couple burn spells. As such, it is prudent to hit a Boom Bot with Acolyte of Pain first. After all, it’s always good to draw cards before making further plays to open up more options. If the bot hits Wild Pyro, heal it up before playing Vol’Jin into Holy Smite, and otherwise heal the Acolyte to try and get a couple more draws off of the remaining Boom Bot and any future minions the Shaman plays.
It is tempting to Velen’s Chosen the Acolyte of Pain, Holy Smite the Dr. Boom, and attempt to draw a million cards, but this line is incorrect because we already have everything we need to take dominating board control and win the game on the follow-up. It is always important to consider your opponent’s follow-up plays and consider the worst case scenario (Hex + Fire Elemental into Al’Akir + Rockbiter) so you don’t lose a game in which you are very far ahead.
Playing Ysera is also incorrect because she is our game-ending trump – the card you want to play last so it sticks and wins the game for you. There is no reason to deploy her before you bait out one or both Hexes or when she might die to damage on board.
In summary my play is:
- Attack Acolyte of Pain into Boom Bot
- Heal Wild Pyromancer if he is hit by the bot’s deathrattle, otherwise heal Acolyte of pain
- Attack face with Wild Pyromancer
- Vol’Jin Dr. Boom
- Holy Smite Dr. Boom[/spoiler]
Let’s look at the options: –
- You could play Ysera but that’s pretty bad in this instance as you are not dealing with the Dr. Boom, and he could easily hex it and you’re screwed.
- Lightbomb kills everything on the board, not a good option
- Vol’jin looks interesting, you can either Vol’jin + Smite, which then leaves you to deal with the boom bot explosions. This will most likely clear at least one of our mobs. You can also Vol’jin, hit Dr. Boom with the Acolyte and then Velen’s chosen the Wild Pyro, which will clear the whole board. This seems like the best option in terms of the board, as the Wild Pyro will be 7/8 after, while Vol’jin will be 6/6, meaning that the boom bots have to get pretty lucky to kill one of your mobs.
- Playing Sylvanas is not very good as you would need to smite the Dr boom to clear, and consequently your Wild Pyro may die from the boom bots. However, this line of play could steal you a Dr. Boom if you play Sylvanas first and the boom bots explode on Sylvanas.
So it seems that the two best options involve Vol’jin. The Velen’s option will give you a better board, but the Shaman could run two copies of Hex. That said, he only has 4 cards in his hand (I would also look at how many cards are in his deck to determine the odds of him having Hex). It then depends on whether Smite or Velen’s Chosen provides more value now or later on.
In conclusion, I’d probably go with the Vol’jin + hit Dr. Boom with Acolyte and then Velen’s chosen the Wild Pyro.[/spoiler]
Before I start with my analysis I want to make two basic claims. The first claim is that I had an unfair advantage over the other writers. Firstly it’s my deck and thus I have a better understanding of how to play it. Secondly, I picked the example. And I picked this position with a specific lesson in mind. Ergo, my analysis will probably sound quite different from that of my colleagues.
In my opinion every turn of the game you need to ask yourself two distinct questions. The second of which is: “What plays can I make this turn?” the usual way of answering this question is to enumerate the options and weed out the bad ones (‘search tree pruning’).
So thats the secound question you should ask yourself each turn, you might be wondering then, “What’s the first question we should ask?” Well, I’ll tell you want it is in a moment, but for now all I will say is that the reason that it is the first question you ask is because it can cut down a lot of work when it comes to the answering the second question. By the end of my explanation, all will be understood, I promise. 🙂
Okay so let’s get busy answering the second question, let’s enumerate all the basic possibilities:
- Lightbomb (but which copy? the 6 mana copy + heal is mana efficient, but you are also likely to draw 2-3 cards with the acolyte, thus using the 5 mana copy gives a better chances to draw into a play. We could draw into a Dark Cultist, for example). Moreover, given that we have two copies in hand it certainly seems like a good idea to use one of them!
- Holy smite Dr.Boom, then hit with the Pyromancer, killing it.
- Play Ysera
- Play Slyvannas (we could even try stealing Dr.Boom by Holy Smiting her!)
- Play Velens chosen (But on what minion…and when?)
- Use Vojin on Dr.Boom…Finish it off with Holy smite/minion attacks.
- Combine several of the above plays into a single turn.
- Do something else not listed here.
To make matters even more complicated, we have minion attacks, Hero Power, probabilities, move orderings and counter-attacks to consider. I’m going to hazard a guess and say that my colleges considered most of these different options and found good reasons for dismissing all of the bad plays.
Sometimes in such positions, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of options; it can be a struggle to see a path forward. But as I mentioned right at the beginning of my explanation there is a question that we should always ask ourselves before we start enumerating the possible plays, I shall tell you what that question is now: “What are the strategical aims of the turn?”
By asking the wrong question first we got overwhelmed in the detail so much so that we struggled to see the forest for the trees. As a matter of fact, the position is deceptively simple: once we know what needs to be accomplished we will realise that most roads lead to Rome.
Okay, so what are strategical aims here? Well, as it turns out, 24 life is a decent amount to have and better yet we have a considerable lead in cards. The only advantage the Shaman has is that his board is a bit better but that is not a problem since we are to move.
On this turn the ‘strategical aims’ mostly boil down to two simpler questions: (1) What needs to happen in order for the Shaman to win? (b), How can the Priest lose? These two questions are obviously two sides of the same coin.
The answer? The Shaman needs a miracle. At this point in the game the only way the Priest loses the game is if he/she is impatient and/or reckless. Leaving Dr.Boom and his bots alive is an example of a needlessly reckless play. For example, it actually gives the Shaman possible outs (e.g. Bloodlust + Windspeaker = 26 damage). More realistically though, the Shaman just casts Hex + Big Minion and claims the board. We might be fine due to having Lightbomb in hand, but why take the risk when we don’t need to?
Okay, so I think we can all probably agree that killing Dr.Boom is the best play. But how? and this is where the earlier concept of ‘strategical aims’ can once again help. The Priest will win this game so long as (a) we have board control (b) we have card advantage.
Notice that the Shaman has only 4 cards in hand and we have 7, with a possible 1-3 more cards coming from the Acolyte. We know that we must kill Dr. Boom but the sheer number of cards we are ahead means that we don’t need to find a ruthlessly card efficient answer: We could burn 3 cards on Dr.Boom and still be winning!
This is, I think, an important point. By enumerating all the possible plays we lost sight of something really simple: we are so far ahead in this position that any ‘reasonable move’ probably wins the game. In short: We don’t actually need to find ‘the optimal play’ !!(should such a thing even exist).
So now we know we can relax. All we must do this turn is find a way to clear the board (while maintaining a board of our own –and this is where Lightbomb fails as a play) and that answer need not be particularly efficient. My recommended play is to take out a boom bot with the Acolyte, and just kill Dr.Boom with Voljin + Holy Smite combo.
Is this the optimal play? Who cares! The simple fact is that this play is easily strong enough to win the game. [/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!
In the game I actually misplayed slightly, I should have healed Pyromancer to save it from potential bomb-bot RNG.
The video starts at the 5 minute mark rather than starting right at the position we have just analysed (which is 7 min into the video). The reason I did this was because I had to make a number of other tricky decisions during the game (which you may find educational) and it also helps a bit with context. Anyway, hope you enjoy! 🙂
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!
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:
- Submit an interesting position (can be Arena, but with that said the focus of this series shall be on constructed)
- Submit a high quality image in a format we can use (Imgur links are fine).
- Don’t constantly repost the same position.
- Supply all the ‘extra data’ we need. Deck Lists (Imgur link is fine), cards played, etc.
- If you have a Youtube video or a permanent twitch VOD with how the game ended that’s a bonus but not necessary.