Hi! I’m Asmodeus, multiple times Legend and infinite arena player. I’m also the author of The Complete Guide for Hearthstone Player. Today I want to explain how to use tech cards in Hearthstone and what are the consequences of putting them in your decks, because despite their big upsides, there are certain drawbacks to using them.
Tech cards can boost your win rates in certain matchups but sometimes it’s difficult to balance the pros and cons. You always need to look at the entire spectrum of your ladder opponents and consider when it is worth to include those highly specialized tools. This article will help you make better decisions with regards to tech cards and hopefully make the entire subject clear to you.
What are tech cards
Tech cards are simply those cards which you add to your deck purely to counter your opponent’s strategy. You wouldn’t play them normally, but in response to what your enemy does they can be very powerful and swing the matchup in your favor. Outside of their niche, they’re usually subpar because of their low stats and high mana cost which has to compensate for their powerful effects.
Sometimes people consider health gain and taunt cards like the antique-healbot or sludge-belcher to be tech cards, but for the purpose of this article I will focus on cards which belong under more strict definition of a tech card. Specific tools with unique mechanics which are stronger than the average card of that mana cost when played in the right situation.
In later part of this article we will go over the most useful tech cards one by one and examine when is the best time to use them.
When to use tech cards
One of the best ways to determine if you need to include a tech card into your deck is to take a look at your win rates for each specific matchup. If you aren’t tracking your stats on ladder you should definitely start doing it. There is a lot of software and websites that can automatically keep track of your games, and having the ability to look back at those stats is very helpful. If you find that there is a certain class or deck that gives you much more trouble than others, that’s a good time to consider adding a tech card which works against it.
Always try to choose cards which complement your deck instead of working against it or adding too much redundancy. If your deck is full of 5 mana cards and plenty of card draw maybe you should consider using acidic-swamp-ooze instead of harrison-jones. You should also consider making adjustments to your deck after adding a tech card. For example – if you want to improve your matchup against paladin as a Zoo warlock, by adding the blood-knight you can also replace one of your 1-drops for argent-squire to benefit from blood-knight ability in more than just one matchup.
Always pay attention to how you’re losing games. It’s one of the best ways to improve your decision making and your deck. Are you losing mostly because the enemy clears your board with powerful AoE spell like brawl or flamestrike? Then a loatheb can help with protecting your board. Are you losing to big threats that can quickly deal massive damage to your hero, such as fel-reaver? big-game-hunter could help with that. Remember that just because you lost to something very decisively, doesn’t mean that it’s going to happen often, so try to avoid adding tech cards in order to counter something that’s not very likely to happen.
In the previous paragraphs I’ve listed some situations where tech cards can do a great job at countering what your opponent is doing but those situations don’t happen every game. The most obvious drawback of tech cards, is that they’re usually below average outside of those specific scenarios. When kezan-mystic steals an ice-block, it’s spectacular and can win you the game right then and there but when you don’t draw it at the right time or when you’re playing against a deck with no secrets, it’s just a 4 mana 4/3, which is pretty bad.
Tech cards are situational and as with all situational cards, they will sometimes sit in your hand while you wait for a right moment to play them. This artificially reduces your hand size, which limits your useful options. Drawing a situational card also means that you didn’t draw a potentially good card that could have been played instead. It makes your deck less consistent in those games where the specific effect of your tech card is not applicable.
Whenever you have a tech card stuck in your hand, try to predict the chances that you’re going to be able to use it to it’s full potential. If it seems unlikely, you should just play it, even as a simple, overpriced minion. It’s a common mistake among new players to desperately save their situational cards and fall hopelessly behind on board, when just playing them without their powerful effect would be enough to keep them in the game.
One of the most popular tech cards and certainly one of the most consistent. It becomes worth playing even against a weapon with one charge left, making it simply a great bonus when you manage to destroy a bigger weapon. Removing the weapon is especially important against classes that like to keep their weapons for their additional benefit like the deathrattle effect from deaths-bite or the active ability on eaglehorn-bow. The mana cost is significant so when the draw mechanic is not so important to you, consider using acidic swamp ooze, as it is better in terms of tempo, when we don’t consider the draw and better in matchups where your enemy doesn’t use any weapons.
- consistent in the matchups it targets
- has big potential against weapons like the doomhammer, blood-fury or lights-justice
- poor stat distribution – 4 health means it will die to much cheaper creatures and spells
- only about half of the classes use weapons
One of the very few cards in the game that can stop your enemy from unleashing spells and spell combinations. This card is also very versatile for a tech card and has fairly good stats. One of the ways to use loatheb is to play it after you develop a strong board, which would be otherwise vulnerable to a board wipe. Another way to play this card, is to drop it on the board in anticipation of a spell combo. For example you can stop druid’s force-of-nature+savage-roar or defend yourself from mage’s burst after he used an alexstrasza on you. This card is often underestimated because it’s effect is not always apparent. You can’t really see what spells you’re stopping because you don’t know for sure what’s in your opponent’s hand.
- decent stats for the mana cost
- versatile effect
- can be used to counter game ending combinations of spells and buy you some time
- if the enemy has a strong minion to play on curve, loatheb doesn’t really do anything
Good, old ironbeak-owl. Main benefit of this card is the low cost which makes it easy to put in many decks. As a beast it also has some additional synergy with the hunter class. It’s another versatile card that can be used to silence negative effects from your own minions or positive effects from your opponent’s creatures. If you’re using it in your deck, you should always consider which cards in the enemy deck you want to target with it, so that you don’t waste it on something insignificant.
- low cost
- it’s a 1 health minion which means it dies to almost everything for free
Big Game Hunter
The archnemesis of dr-boom. This dwarf packs a punch. His battlecry offers an incredibly powerful effect for how cheap the card is. When we consider that his stats would naturally place him somewhere between two and three mana, we can see that paying only three points of mana for what he does is a really good deal. His main targets are dragons, giants and the infamous dr-boom
- low mana cost and acceptable stats
- potentially big tempo swing when killing a creature with his battlecry
- low health
- very limited target range for his ability
Introduced with Goblins and Gnomes expansion set, anti-secret tech. A very powerful swing card, which not only denies the secret from your enemy, but also plays it for you. Important thing to know about this card, is that battlecry always goes off before enemy secrets, which means you will steal mirror-entity and snipe. It’s especially powerful against freeze mage.
- incredibly powerful when the battlecry steals a secret
- can secure you a win against freeze mage by itself
- 3 health for 4 mana is really poor
- Only three classes normally use secrets in their decks
Mind Control Tech
This guy even has “Tech” in his name, so nobody should be surprised to see him on this list. He’s very popular in arena and was played in constructed by some people during the grim-patron warrior era. It’s often possible to play him right after your enemy drops dr-boom or when paladin plays muster-for-battle. Even stealing a single silver-hand-recruit is well worth the battlecry, but his main issue is that you have to let your enemy build a strong board in order to fully utilize the effect.
- decent stats for a 3 mana minion
- extremely powerful effect from the battlecry
- adorable artwork
- usually you have to be behind on board to make him effective
- condition for the battlecry is difficult to meet
The Black Knight
This is one of the cards that suffers greatly from SCS (Situational Card Syndrome). Even in current metagame you can get good value with the-black-knight, but the problem is that the card is pretty expensive and sits in your hand limiting your options for most of the game. Technically, you only need to deal 3 points of damage with it’s battlecry for the card to become worth playing. Which means that if you kill a Taunt the size of annoy-o-tron or bigger, you’re already doing well.
- you can get a good use out of the special ability in almost every game
- can swing the game when used against expensive taunts
- without the effect you pay 6 mana for a chillwind-yeti
- it’s expensive which makes it difficult to fit in your turns
With the rise of paladins in both, constructed and arena, people started to use the blood-knight here and there. It’s best to play it in decks which already have some minions with Divine Shield, such as other paladin decks or zoo warlock. Even against a single minion with Divine Shield, the value you’re getting just for three mana is ridiculous. If there was another card that worked like this, a three mana 6/6 with a battlecry: deal 1 damage, everyone would be all over it. Of course the blood-knight has a very limited applicability. You can really only expect paladins to play minions with Divine Shield consistently, but when the class is so dominant and it’s the matchup to beat, it’s worth considering.
- decent stats for a 3 mana minion
- can synergize with your own deck
- very few decks use minions with Divine Shield consistently
From the darkest shadows of your Hearthstone collection a terrifying beast emerges. nerubar-weblord is a card that might see a lot more play if the metagame after League of Explorers goes as expected. It’s strong against battlecry heavy decks and that’s what we expect to see after brann-bronzebeard becomes available. Decks that could benefit from it the most are slower decks such as control priest. He can buff it and protect himself from some powerful tempo plays which normally these kinds of decks are weak against.
- 4 health for 2 mana is a lot and makes it more sticky, which works well with the effect
- stops many strong cards (e.g., mysterious-challenger, dr-boom, alexstrasza, darnassus-aspirant
- protects itself from most common silence card as the ironbeak-owl uses a battlecry
- affects both players, so you need to adjust your deck
- later in the game, requires that you’re not behind on the board or it can be easily removed
Tech cards are great tools to tweak your deck and improve a specific matchup you want to target, but use them with caution. Consistent and versatile cards are played in every deck for a reason. Try to limit the situational cards in your deck or increase the number of cards you draw to keep the consistency of your deck. Thank you for reading!
Let me know what you think. Share your opinions and post your questions in the comments, I’m always happy to answer them.
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I’m available for Hearthstone coaching – you’ll find all the info you need here: Coaching with Asmodeus