How It’s Played #1

Subzerowins is back, and with the first proper installment of How It's Played! Now with Kung-Fu action answers!


Subzerowins is back, and with the first proper installment of How It’s Played! Now with Kung-Fu action answers! Let’s get right to it:

Question One

GR writes:

First of all, I wanted you to know you had a fantastic idea with this article. As for my question, what happens when the mulligan timer hits 0? Do you keep your entire hand or do the cards marked with a X get “mulligan’d?” Thanks a lot!


What a great first question! This is exactly the kind of question a million people are wondering about and 999,999 are too embarrassed to ask. I was not sure of the answer right away, so I did some testing. The answer is thankfully a simple one: Any cards you have marked with a big red X are sent back as if you clicked confirmed. They are replaced just like any normal mulligan. Any cards that aren’t clicked remain in your hand as if you intended to keep them. And now…photo montage for verification!

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Question Two

BK writes:

Is “What should I play here?” a valid question to send in?

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ANSWER: This is definitely a valid question. Sometimes, the answer is “it depends” but sometimes we can sort out the right play

Pretend you have infinite time to make the choice. How would you begin to craft the right answer? You would make a decision tree. Professional players go through this process. When you start, it may seem like it takes forever, but as you practice more it will go faster.

Step one: start with the “givens.” These are the factors that won’t change no matter what choices you make. For example, this is turn eight. Accordingly, you have a base of eight mana crystals to work with. Because you have the coin, you have, at most, nine mana. You have eights cards in hand and no way to draw any more. While you have more cards in hand than the opponent, you are behind by three life and, more telling, have zero board presence. By comparison, your opponent has a massive 7/7 creature and four 1/1 bombs that have a pesky deathrattle effect.

Step Two: Now we just detail each of the options that you have given the above factors that cannot change.

Step two – A: using mana efficiently often means playing your biggest cost card, and using any extra mana on cheaper cards. Your biggest minion is the eight cost sneeds-old-shredder. It is a large body as a 5/7 and when it dies it summons a random legendary. When you are behind you need to take chances, and sometimes random legendary can help.

Pros: It uses all of your mana, which is good because you don’t get a special prize for saving mana for later. If it dies, you can maybe get some help from a legendary which might help turn the board around.

Cons: It dies immediately to the opponents 7/7. Worse yet, random legendary isn’t as fun as it seems given how far behind you are. tirion-fordring might be nice. malganis would also stop some of the bleeding. Another sneeds-old-shredder would be funny and somewhat helpful, and malygos could help in conjunction with your other cards. mekgineer-thumermaplugg could be helpful given the fragile nature of the bombs and how it would create dangerous targets for your opponent’s deathrattle. The rest of our orange gemmed friends would be a bit of a letdown.

Step Two – B: Summon the sludge-belcher and have three mana left. This would either be used to heal for two or use the-coin and cast auchenai-soulpriest. You have the option to use the circle-of-healing to damage the board (but I wouldn’t in this scenario)

Pros: sludge-belcher has five toughness, and turns into a 1/2 taunt after it dies. It can absorb more than five damage, too. For example, if dr-boom attacks the belcher it absorbs seven damage. The resulting slime can then block an attack from a bomb and maybe another, or else some deathrattle damage. The heal also helps, as does the soulpriest acting as a goalie to block some bomb shots.

Cons: The dr-boom drops the sludge easily, and the bombs could even make short work of the creature. Using the coin the cast the Soulpriest wouldn’t be the best use either, as it would likely die and cost you the ability to use the circle-of-healing combo later when it wouldn’t kill all of your minions for free

Step Two – C: Cast voljin, stealing the seven health from the dr-boom (making Vol’jin a 6/7 and Dr. Boom a 7/2). With your remaining mana either heal yourself or use the coin to cast auchenai-soulpriest. This would kill his entire board, and would either wipe your board or cause you to take some heavy damage.

Pros: This wipes his board clean. He has two cards in hand so maybe it would be tough for him to recover. You might also keep one of your minions depending on random rolling of bombs, so maybe you’ll be better off than even. You are also at a high enough life total to be able to get hit with some of the bombs safely. Given how far behind your board presence is, it is nice you have a “bring it back to square one” option.

Cons: It costs a lot of your resources and you could take a lot of damage.

Step Two – D: Cast holy-nova

Pros: It has a nice animation, and kills four of his minions and heals you for two.

Cons: Everything. It kills four of his minions, but without any targets for the bombs, you will get hit with all of the explosions. Bombs can do between one and four damage, averaging 2.5 damage (1+2+3+4 divided by the total amount of outcomes [4] is 2.5). You will heal for two, but take 4×2.5 damage so you will likely lose eight life in this scenario. The least you can lose is two life (2 heal-4 bombs rolling a 1). The most you can lose is fourteen life (2 heal-4 bombs rolling a 4). None of these scenarios seem great when your opponent will have nine mana, three cards, and a 7/5 on the board on his follow-up turn.

Step Two – E: Cast sylvanas-windrunner and heal yourself for two

Pros: It develops a strong card in Sylvanas and, if your opponent plays badly AND gets unlucky, you can steal a 7/7

Cons: It is never wise to hope your opponent is worse than you. This option is very slow and leaves you open for a strong attack to your face with no great follow up. Or a cautious opponent might just kill your Sylvanas and hope you steal a bomb (4/5 chance to do so, assuming no other plays or trickery left in opponents hand)

It is my opinion that A and C are the strongest of the options. I like C the best, as it gives you the best chance to turn the game around. When you are behind in a game, it is about finding chances to win – even if they are remote.

Question Three

Follow up: Also from BK

There’s only a three card difference from what I ran last season in Legend. I was 70% against hunter. I don’t know what is going on.

ANSWER: The meta changes frequently. This is just a fancy way of describing the types of decks that are being run on any given server on any given day. Some decks are popular for one reason or another, and therefore some decks may be very good today and bad tomorrow.

Let’s simplify this out to explain this phenomenon quickly. Assume for a minute that your ancestors played a caveman version of hearthstone. There were only three decks available – Rock, Paper, and Scissors. Rock beats Scissors, Scissors beats Paper, and (for some reason) Paper beats Rock. If 50% of the decks played on your server are Rock decks, what deck would you want to play? Paper! If 95% of the decks are Scissors, you break out the great Rock deck you just made.

Hearthstone works in the same way. Let’s say the counter to a traditional Freeze Mage deck is Control Warrior. If half the decks you see in ranked play are Freeze Mage, it is time to use that armor up button.

So, back to your question…lots of things are going on!

Maybe those three cards make a difference and change the flavor of your deck to something that is more easily countered by the decks you are playing against. Maybe the type of hunter you faced is different than the type of hunter you are facing now. Facehunter is different than mid-ranged hunter which is different from control hunter. Also, as new cards are released the landscape shifts even further from last season. Even though all of the cards of Blackrock Mountain aren’t out, any new card interaction changes the whole scope of what decks are viable.

Also make sure to use a tracking program if you aren’t already doing so. I don’t know if that 70% figure quoted is from actual data or just an educated guess. But once you start tracking you’ll know for sure and you can tell when the deck you are using is or isn’t working – and why.

Question Four

LZ writes:

What happens when you return a creature to the opponents hand and the hand is full?

ANSWER: If you return a creature to the opponents hand and the hand is full, the creature dies. If you return a creature with deathrattle and they have full hand, creature “dies” and death rattle triggers. So watch out if that matters given your current board state.

Question Five

“Sirjoe” writes:

I have a question. It is about adapting a deck. At the moment I’m playing Warrior Control. I have made an adaptation, due to the fact there is more early aggro at the moment, like “facehunter.” Adding piloted-shredder and for the tempo I added the emperor-thauissan. My question is how do I replace some cards in a deck.

I would like to play a second “Piloted Shredder” to establish early game.

ANSWER: It is tough to answer without seeing a full deck list. My advice would be to not stress out and just start tinkering with your deck. If you are struggling with early aggro, cards like zombie-chow and some cheap taunt creatures might be the best way to go. emperor-thaurissan costs six mana. While he may help turn seven by making your whole hand cheaper, you might already be dead by turn seven if you are losing turn one through six. There is a nice variant of warrior that uses unstable-ghoul. Maybe that creature will slow down some of the early plays of your opponent.

Question Six

OK – many of you took the bait about the Infinite damage explanation


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Here, the enemy priest used piloted-shredder. It has a deathrattle to summon a two cost minion. He also had an auchenai-soulpriest, which turns healing you do into damage. I killed his Shredder and it gave him a mistress-of-pain. This card, whenever it deals damage, seeks to restore that much health to your hero.

I, seeking justice and glory and all that is good, damaged his mistress-of-pain. It attempted to heal my unlucky foe for one. Soulpriest converted that to damage. This, however, is somehow attributed to Mistress of Pain NOT the Soulpriest. Because Mistress of Pain did one damage to the enemy hero, it tried to heal another point but only resulted in another point of damage to the opponent. This looped until the enemy died a painful infinite death.

Call to Arms!

“How It’s Played” will be your opportunity to send in all of the reader questions that have been building up during your playtime in Hearthstone.

Are you curious how certain cards interact? Curious about the game? Curious about the people who play the game?

This is you chance to get all the answers you’ve been seeking!

Email me at [email protected] with the subject line “How It’s Played” – Every time I get a critical mass of questions to write an article, I will post all of the answers. Still not sure what a critical mass means? Ask that question and it will count toward the next article!

Until we meet again,


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