L0rinda

hearthstone Hearthstone Arena Guide: From Beginner to Infinite #3: Why The Board is Important

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Welcome to the third of L0rinda's Arena mini-guides. This guide talks about the board, and why it is important.

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You will likely have heard that the board is important in Arena. In this article, I will explain why that is, and how you set about trying to win a game with that in mind.


The first two parts of this series covered the Vanilla Test, and Your Resources.

One thing that many people do not consider when playing is how they intend to win the game. After you have played a lot of Hearthstone, this becomes second nature. At first though, it is a struggle to know exactly what you are trying to achieve. There are many ways to win games, and as you get better you'll get better at spotting them. One of the main ways you win games is to set up a situation like the one shown below:
 

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Note that I have deliberately removed the hands, as they are a distraction from the theme I am trying to explain. The Paladin can have more cards in hand than the Mage, but the Mage gets to control the trading to press home her board advantage and gain the cards back. Conversely, if the Paladin is out of options, the Mage will win through damage to the face very rapidly. There are many ways to try to head towards this goal, but nearly all of them involve getting control of the board at some point. I have listed some pointers that should assist you in getting towards this position.

- Use your damage spells to remove troublesome minions: The repeated damage from your unchallenged board late in the game will eventually do more damage than firing a spell at your opponent's Hero on turn two. In the example given, killing a minion with Frostbolt might have prevented the Chillwind Yeti from dying. That Yeti is now threatening to do four damage every turn.

- Use weapons to kill minions: The damage you take is relevant, but is nowhere near as relevant as many new players think. If you're killing a minion that was going to hit you in the face, the damage taken is actually no more than it was going to be anyway. If you're killing a minion that would have killed one of your minions, you are allowing your minion to continue to threaten your opponent.

- Heal minions, not yourself: Following on from the above reasoning. You are trying to get an overwhelming advantage on the board. At the end of the game, it often will not matter if you are on 15 or 18 life. Having a Spider Tank that survives because it is 3/4 and not 3/1 could be crucial as it will get to deliver its three damage repeatedly.

- Work out how much is enough: One way you can lose when you build a board like this is through your opponent having Area of Effect (AoE) spells. To learn all of these, go to the "My Collection" page, click on "crafting", and type "all" into the search box. This will bring up a list of all of the cards that impact the entire board. If you feel you have enough damage on the board, and can keep some back in your hand to stop your opponent wiping you out, you should do that. How much is enough is something you will learn with experience.



Minion Shapes


Not all minions are created equally. The Vanilla Test gave a baseline for evaluating minions. You will have noticed that the minions shown in that article have Attack and Health stats that are very close together. Let's look at two four-drop minions to show why that was.
 

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I have explained above why the healing part of the Tournament Medic is not particularly valuable, so let's see which of the two minions has better stats. After all, they both add up to nine. The best way to show which is better is to imagine them attacking each other. After the first attack, the Tournament Medic takes four damage to become a 1/4, while the Chillwind Yeti is still a 4/4. After the second attack, the Tournament Medic is dead. Have a think about other minion shapes to get a feel for which ones work well. Remember that in the instance of something like Magma Rager, it might die to a Hero Power or a very small minion before it gets to attack another 3-drop.


Using Mana


I have mentioned before that if you use all of your mana, then you have done more powerful things than if you do not. You will try to address this in the draft, but even after the game has begun you can still do things to optimise your mana usage.

Firstly is the Mulligan. A lot of games at all skill levels are won in the Mulligan phase of the game. Look at your opening hand and plan how you think the game will unfold up until turn four. If you feel you are going to waste a lot of mana on a given turn, Mulligan to try to fix that problem. The later turns require less fixing than the early ones, as you will have drawn more cards by that point. The most crucial thing is to have something to do with two mana that isn't using your Hero Power. There are so many examples that general rules are not going to help much, but think about all of the cards in your hand and when you intend to use them. Avoiding falling behind on board is far more important than having that powerful looking Avenging Wrath stuck in your hand for six turns.

Secondly, is The Coin. The Coin is very versatile. The best way to use it will usually be to fix holes in your mana curve. If your opening hand is 2-drop 4-drop 4-drop and an expensive card, you will probably want to plan to play a card on turn two, followed by coining out something on turn three. If your cards cost 2,2,3,4, then you will be able to coin something out on the first turn and still have plays every turn from that point onwards.

Hopefully this article will help you to understand not only how to try to get ahead on the board, but why it is important. I will remind you until you are sick of it, that all rules are breakable in this game, so make sure you understand why I am suggesting various things. If you do that, you will eventually be able to create your own plays that stray from the suggestions in these articles.


Part four of the series can be found here.
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About the "Heal Minions", I feel like there are exceptions, such as trying to stay above 6 against mage or above 4 against drood. This also won me several games, where opponent healed minion instead of his own face. 

Glad that you made a section about the stat distribution, I hope that players will finally realise that Tournament Medic is trash.

So, nice guide, keep it up :)

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About the "Heal Minions", I feel like there are exceptions, such as trying to stay above 6 against mage or above 4 against drood. This also won me several games, where opponent healed minion instead of his own face. 

Glad that you made a section about the stat distribution, I hope that players will finally realise that Tournament Medic is trash.

So, nice guide, keep it up smile.png

I agree entirely.

There are always exceptions, and not just a few exceptions but a lot of them.

That being said, if people can get to grips with the basics first, then they can work out the exceptions more readily. "Hey I needeed 3 more life that game, I should have healed face" is more easily remembered (IMO) if it's breaking some rule or other. I'm aiming to give people a sense of grounding so they can build on that themselves rather than cover everything. (Though I'm hoping to cover a large chunk of "everything" before I'm done tongue.png )

Edit: Keep the feedback coming guys. If it wasn't for the feedback I probably wouldn't have the stats section here, and it all gets read and noted.

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Another good article!

Your advice about AoE is not quite correct, using your way we don't see basic AoE.

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Another good article!

Your advice about AoE is not quite correct, using your way we don't see basic AoE.

Thanks. I will tidy this up shortly to make it more accurate!

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Another good article!

Your advice about AoE is not quite correct, using your way we don't see basic AoE.

If you go to crafting and click "Show Uncraftable Cards" you can.

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Loved the guide again but I have a question about a single line - "Avoiding falling behind on board is far more important than having that powerful looking Avenging Wrath stuck in your hand for six turns."

 

It doesn't seem particularly relevant to the greater point, just curious on your thought process here. 

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Basically saying that although Avenging Wrath is very powerful, you should throw it away in favour of trying to get a card you can cast that impacts the game more quickly.

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