Hello again my friends! I hope this article finds all of you in good spirits and fine health. As for me, as always I’m hard at work to provide you all with an extra nuance of in-game mechanics you can utilize to further hone your craft. I’ve noticed there is a lot of mass confusion (dare I say even hysteria) out there with regards to when it’s advantageous to give your enemy a nice Chuck Norris double-round-house kick to the kisser followed by one to the nards versus devouring a minion like a great white shark ripping into a sea-lion on shark week.
Knowing the fundamental difference between going face and playing for board control, is an absolute essential skill needed if you’re planning on morphing into the Hearthstone giant your little heart wants you to be. The problem with adding this gag into your bag of tricks is, this is a very elusive skill to capture and an even harder one to master. Lucky for you though, you’ve got me to guide your sweet cheeks to glory. So, come on in and pull up a chair next to the hearth while I marvel your mind and astonish your senses.
Argument # Uno: Minion Trade
Unfortunately, trading minions during game play with your opponent isn’t at all like trading baseball cards–its more like choosing between which one of your children you love more (Okay, so it’s not quite like that, but I’ve always had a flair for the dramatic). As a rule of thumb, it’s always better to have two smaller minions on the board than it is to have one exceptionally powerful one. This is why: hard removal spells like polymorph or hex can only affect a solitary target, ergo the more minions you have on your side of the board the more of an irritant you become to your opponent. Additionally, this also puts your opponent on the ropes causing him to have to drain further resources to deal with your board and tempo control.
Lets look at an example to further put this concept into context. Pretend you’ve got two minions on your side of the board (1) bloodfen-raptor and (1) senjin-shieldmasta. Your enemy on the other hand has one minion, a lone river-crocolisk flapping in the wind. Behind door number one you could destroy River Crocolisk with your Bloodfen Raptor having utilized a one-for-one trade, leaving you with trusty Senjin Shieldmasta at full heath, continued board control,tempo still swinging in your favor as well as a 3 damage rush assault to your opponents face thanks to Senjin’s attack prowess . Let’s take a gander at what lurks behind door number two. If you run trusty Senjin into the River Crocolisk you’re left with a slightly damaged taunt as well as a full health Bloodfen Raptor, continued board control and the same 3 damage to your opponents face this time thanks in no small part to the Bloodfen Raptor. Of your two available choices, which one is correct?
If finishing off you’re opponent’s minion means sacrificing one of yours, it’s better to use the stronger likely more valuable creature instead. At face value it seems counter productive to weaken your stronger creature but the end result is what matters–that you continue to have both creatures in play while your opponent has none. Consider further, what the life span/expectancy is of any given minion. The vast majority will serve their meager purpose for a turn if your lucky, possibly two if you’re really frisky, and three if you’ve rubbed a rabbit’s foot, kissed a horseshoe, captured a leprechaun, and licked a rainbow. Point: because the majority of minions will not be on the board long, find every way possible to get the most from them. If you can milk one single minion into trading into a enemy’s minion AND cause your opponent face damage also, consider yourself ahead of the power curve. If that same minion can be further milked for more besides, (ie draining a removal spell from your opponents hand) keep an extra pair of undies handy my friend, those smaller ones aren’t gonna fit those twearkin’ cheeks of the Hearthstone giant you’re becoming.
Now, you need to know there are a couple of exceptions to this concept. Should that powerful more versatile minion meet his untimely demise to a cheap hero power or an area-of-effect spell on the next turn because he took damage killing off your opponent’s minion, then it’ll pay dividends in the long run to keep the higher minion’s health high and sacrifice the lil’ dude instead.
Furthermore, its important to always be aware of and constantly be considering every card’s value as well as the benefits you can derive from them. A weakened ragnaros-the-firelord can fall victim to a Polymorph spell just as easily as to our comparatively lowly’ albeit, still annoying Bloodfen Raptor. What’s important here, is that you begin to use your minions efficiently and start to stir those drowsy-bloodshot-eyed brain cells to question the value you’re deriving from every play. Can the job be done in a cheaper, more cost-effective way? Can the job be completed upon the next turn, even though it means taking some damage now, or possibly losing a minion this turn?
The quicker you begin to start mastering efficient, productive play the quicker a Hearthstone giant you’ll become.
Argument #2: What Gel’s With Spells?
I often get this question a lot, “Is the use of a spell used more efficiently on an enemy minion, or on enemy’s face?” Good question. On the basis that a damage-dealing spell can only do its damage once, compared to a minion who potentially can hit an enemy or an enemy’s resources multiple times, it’s almost always more a better use of your resources to burn a minion than it is to roast an opponent. Not only will this cause your enemy’s strategy to tailspin, it’ll also simultaneously cause tempo to swing in your favor, and allows your minions to continue on with their hijinks.
However, there are few instances where it would be more advantageous to use a spell to cause direct damage to an opponent. Should using a spell propel you forward and across the finish line, then obviously in this instance go face. Some spells also provide you with a bonus effect like frostbolt that deals damage while also freezing an opponent for a turn, causing them the lack of weapon usage. In this instance utilize this bonus effect to bide enough time to field a nasty minion on your side of the board or to go in for the kill.
Argument #3: Hoard for Board
Sometimes in life you just have to give a little to have a lot. Every so often in Hearthstone you have to allow your enemy the satisfaction of taking one in the face (Yo’ face to be exact). One of the initial problems many new comers have is giving into the temptation of throwing everything but the kitchen sink at an opponents minion(s), even if that means throwing away all of his/her cards in the process. The second problem many have, is allowing that gnawing feeling of panic in their little panty-waste hearts to push them into thinking that they need to have something–anything–on the board at all times.
Rest assured my little pad-a-wans, there will be instances when drastic times will call for drastic measures. Every so often taking a few hits to the face is OK in the early game, as long as the end result means you’re building up enough card synergy to become a nasty little threat on the next turn. In Hearthstone, it isn’t enough to be satisfied with the here and now and consistently take a reactive approach living turn-to-turn. Start to anticipate both your moves as well as your opponents moves 2-3 turns down the line. Look closely at what’s in your hand, how much mana you have available, what cards you’ll play next and what cards can set your board up 2 turns from now.Be cautiously optimistic about your mana availability and consider, analyze and reconsider every possible move available to you before you make it. Often times your initial intuition isn’t always the best option.
Argument #4: ‘Roid Raging Minions
Unless for some reason you have an absolute pressing need to utilize all of your mana on your next turn, always withhold buffing your minions until after the turn you field them on. Doing otherwise will tip your hand, and allow your opponent to better understand more of your strategy than they need to. It’ll also cause the enemy to blow your buffed up little dude right into minion heaven, before you have the opportunity to sneak in for that ‘roid rage damage.
Wait. Do you hear that? I did. That squeaky little hamster wheel churning in your mind; that chittering little rodent getting in his cardio. That one tiny noob brain cell is saying,”Hey, Killswitch, this is a pretty neat way of sifting out an enemy removal spell.” After I reach back, wind-up and backhand you, I’ll say this: You’re burning through two of your resources (1) the minion and (2) the buff, while your opponent on the other hand, is burning through just one of his, (1) removal spell. Chalk one up for the enemy.
Wait. Did you hear that? I did. Oh nevermind, that’s just the reverbating sound of my pimp slap across your face echoing through every individual molecule of sheet rock supporting your walls.
There are the rarest of circumstances where this particular scenario would be advantageous to your cause. However, it is an option and if it’s the only one available to you or if it will result in victory, bait that hook and cash in on the promise of your enemy burning through that removal spell.
Argument #5: The How and When of Weapon Usage
On average, you can expect to get about 2 swings out of each weapon from your hero’s arsenal. If you are packing heat, there also exists some cards that will provide your weapon with the option of powering up in attack or durability–assuming of course, that you’re running these buffs in your deck.
The rule of thumb here is, you should utilize your weapon resources strictly for bashing enemy minions to kingdom come. This whack-a-mole strategy as we discussed earlier, is based upon the premise that enemy minions are the bigger threat. In the long run, you’ll get further utilizing weapon resources to destroy your opponent’s minions, than you will getting a few direct damage points into your enemy’s face.
The contraindication to this rule is, go face-bashing if it means you’ll finish off your opponent by getting in that extra bit of damage your weapon provides. You’ll end up only using one card from your deck to equip the weapon, but it’ll provide as I stated earlier, two good whacks to your opponents minions (the 2-for-1 trade causing tempo to swing in your favor). Sure you’ll take some damage to the face in the process, but its a good trade if it means you’re clearing the opponent’s side of the board while actively engaging in developing your own.
Be wary of minions like harrison-jones and acidic-swamp-ooze, as these minions will crush your weapon the turn they’re played. Harrison Jones particularly is a wicked little tech card, because not only will he destroy your weapon he’ll also cycle through your opponents deck giving them card draw and also provide a thick 5/4 body on his side of the board. Bye, bye tempo.
Savvy, Hearthstone players will hold on to these cards especially if you’re playing as a potential weaponized hero class: Paladin, Hunter, Warrior, Rogue, or Shaman. They’ll bide their time even further if they can uncover the deck type and strategy your running. It’s wise to probe your enemy if you are running an arsenal of weapons in your deck, by playing a lower-value weapon that can be effortlessly sacrificed to draw out their weapon removal thereby, allowing your more dangerous blades and bows to survive when you need them.
Argument #6: Play all Hero Classes–Become Well-Rounded
The longer you play Hearthstone, the more you’ll see various hero classes rise and fall with popularity and competitiveness throughout time, but its important to note that EVERY class can be a viable, dangerous threat in the right hands–regardless of nerfs, popularity, meta, or competitiveness. By now many of you have already gravitated more toward one type of hero than others, mostly out of personal preference or game-play style. However, in order to reach those legendary ranks, obtain a regular income of gold, stretch your own card collection or become successful in the arena you’ll need to familiarize yourself with every hero class.
I recommend you take each hero to at least level 10 as a minimum, so you can unlock all of your collection’s basic card inventory. Realistically, you should strive to get every hero in your Hearthstone account to level 20, through competitive multiplayer gaming. Doing so will not commit you to a huge time investment, and the experience you’ll gain will prove to be invaluable down the road.
Becoming comfortable with every hero will reap rewards beyond your wildest imagination. Understanding key concepts within each hero class will not only help your growth within the confines of that particular hero’s mold, but it will also aid in understanding your opponents better. You’re reactions to scenarios will improve, your game play will become more polished, and ultimately victories will start falling your way with more regularity.
The purpose of this article, (as with all my articles) is to provide you with the upper hand going forward; consider me that bald-commie-Vadka-loving-KGB Russian olympic gymasitc coach who purged through his mother’s womb wearing a wicked scowl, a pair of size 13, double-wide boot camp issued combat boots, a silver whistle and flashing a double-edged gooey birdie–one to Dr. Yusef for disturbing his slumber and one to mommy, for indulding in that extra cupcake one night prior. Oh, you’ll pay for that fatty…you’ll pay!
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