Aleco

Four Common Hearthstone Mistakes And How To Prevent Them

Sign in to follow this  

15 posts in this topic

oYz9Yfr.jpg

These four mistakes Hearthstone mistakes come up all time on the ladder, but they can be easily avoided by adopting new some heuristics.

Decision trees in Hearthstone grow very tall. Most of these decision trees grow far too tall for us to ever traverse them completely before our turn timer expires, especially if we find ourselves in a situation we've never been in before. For me, that happens just about every game. Practice can help reduce the number of situations we've never been in before, but at some point we'll need to adopt a few heuristics along the way to help us make decisions in a timely manner.

In this guide, I'll walk through a number of very common mistakes I see on the competitive ladder, which to me are obvious examples of poor heuristics at work. My hope is that we can learn some newer, smarter heuristics by asking ourselves why these misplays are so common, and that we can use these new heuristics to avoid similar mistakes in the future. With that said, please keep in mind that it is sometimes correct to make these mistakes, because there are exceptions to every rule in Hearthstone. The goal of this article is to outline examples of bad Hearthstone heuristics so we can replace them with better ones, not to claim that the so-called mistakes I outline below are the wrong thing to do 100% of the time.

With that out of the way, let's begin!

 

Mistake #1 - Missing Hero Powers
177.png677.png

 

Example Situation

It's my Aggro Secret Mage opponent's turn 8. I have control of the board and the only hope for my opponent is to burn me out. They cast a Firelands Portal to my face, play The Coin, and Frostbolt my face. On their turn nine they play an Arcanologist, the secret from it, and ping my face with Hero Power, stranding 2 Mana and 1 damage forever.

Why It's A Misplay

The reason to Fireblast over Frostbolt on turn 8 is obvious - you're never going to get that Fireblast back. The Frostbolt will always be there for you on a future turn (with certain exceptions, such as Counterspell), but a Hero Power unused is a Hero Power lost. If you're reasonably sure that the Mana will be there for Frostbolt on a future turn, then playing Frostbolt instead of using your Hero Power is permanently stranding one point damage in a game where every point counts.

This mistake can also come up whenever a player passes on their Hero Power for a 2 or 3 Mana spell which doesn't effect the board, such as a Secret or card draw spell, so long as they would have had the Mana to cast that spell next turn anyways. The Frostbolt over Fireblast play just happens to be the most common of these mistakes, as Aggro Mage is a relatively popular deck in the current ladder environment.

Why do players make this mistake?

My best guess is that it comes down to a misunderstanding of the Hero Power as resource. Just like Mana, cards, and your life total, your Hero Power is a finite resource. The number of times your Hero Power can be used in a given game (excepting cards like Auctionmaster Beardo) is equal to the number of turns you get in that game (minus turn one, I suppose). Each turn your Hero Power goes unused is a tick of that resource you'll never get back.

This view of the Hero Power as a finite resource will do you about as much good as a screen door on a submarine if you're getting beaten down by an aggro deck, where the only thing that matters is playing for board. However, there are a number of decks and matchups where this heuristic is a useful one. A Fatigue Warrior stalling things out in the late game or a top-decking Face Hunter in need of those last few points of damage could be in a position where they need to use their Hero Power every single turn in order to win. Though you probably won't miss out on more than one or two Hero Powers per game due to mistakes like the one I outlined above, those one or two Hero Powers can often prove to be the difference between victory and defeat.

 

Mistake #2 - Playing 1 Drops To Die

49646.png76926.png

 

Example Situation

I'm on Cubelock and I'm going first. I play Kobold Librarian on turn one and pass. My Warlock opponent plays Mistress of Mixtures and passes back.

Why It's A Misplay

Assuming both me and my opponent will Life Tap on turn 2 (which we did), I will end up one card and 4 life ahead of my opponent on this exchange. The Deathrattle trigger on the Mistress of Mixtures will heal me for 4 (2 damage from the Kobold Librarian and the 2 damage from Life Tap) while my opponent is still at 30 life. Meanwhile, the Kobold Librarian drew me a card with its Battlecry. Now we start a new game of Hearthstone on turn 3 where I'm at 30 life, my opponent is at 28, and we have an even number of cards in our hands despite the fact that I went first. Advantage? Me!

Playing the Mistress into the Librarian on a future turn won't yield us better results. For example, if you play the Mistress on turn three you would just end up healing back the 4 points of damage you took from the Librarian's 2 extra attacks, and you'd still be down that card. Playing it later than that would result in an even greater net loss of damage. The move here is to pass the turn.

Another misplay cut from the same cloth as this one would be to play a Grimscale Chum into a Northshire Cleric, a Mage/Rogue/Druid Hero Power, or a Vilefin Inquisitor. In all of these scenarios, what you are signing up for is a situation where an on-board play from your opponent will put you in an unfavorable position. Wouldn't it be better to hold on to the Grimscale Chum until it can be played alongside a Gentle Megasaur, Coldlight Seer, or Rockpool Hunter? It will probably generate more damage over the course of the game if played in combination with those cards.

To be fair, there are a number of games where playing Mistress of Mixtures into Kobold Librarian is the correct move. For example, you might be playing against a Zoolock and be in the unfortunate position of having nothing in your opening hand which can interact with the board until turn 5. In the Cubelock vs. Zoolock matchup, card advantage is far less important than extra damage from the Librarian. We should be able to find a way to win the game eventually so long as we can survive to the part of the game where we play a million Voidlords, so we should make plays that preserve our life total as much as possible. On the ladder you often won't know if your opponent is on Zoolock or Control Warlock if all they've done is play a Kobold Librarian, but the numbers will tell you that its safer to assume Cube or Control than Zoo.

Why do players make this mistake?

Your role in the matchup is key to understanding whether or not you should play to the board (and sometimes into less-than-favorable trades), or to hold onto your minions and play for card advantage. In the Cubelock vs. Cubelock matchup, the game is way more likely to come down to card advantage than chip damage. The Mistress of Mixtures might not seem like an important resource, but it has value as a 2 health minion for Defile clears and is an extra card in hand to cheapen the cost of Mountain Giant. This is to say nothing of how rewarded you get for holding on to that Mistress if you topdeck a Mortal Coil for the Librarian in the next few turns. That said, I don't think the reason I see this misplay so often is because my opponent's don't understand their roles in matchups. I think they happen because players go on auto pilot use bad early game heuristics. Having made this mistake on numerous occasions, I know from firsthand experience how easy it is to fall into the trap of thinking "it's good to play to the board early" or "I should be using all of my Mana", and plop down a 1 drop on turn one without hesitation.

A better way to think about the early game would be to weigh every option available to you. In early game situations such as this one, we are dealing with a very limited number of alternative decisions to playing that Mistress of Mixtures. If we took the time to ask ourselves "what alternatives do I have to playing this minion right now, and are any of them better?",  I think we'd find that the only alternative we have is to not play the Mistress of Mixtures, and that it is in fact the smarter play. 

 

Mistake #3 - Not Respecting Combos

Twilight_Drake(360).png

 

Example Situation

I'm playing Combo Dragon Priest, and my empty-handed Dude Paladin opponent draws a Vinecleaver for turn. He has 2 Silver Hand Recruits and a Righteous Protector on board right now, and he can make 3 more Silver Hand Recruits this turn between the Vinecleaver attack and his Hero Power. He has lethal set up next turn if he can draw something like Sunkeeper Tarim, but I have a 4/6 Twilight Drake in play. He attacks my face with everything (the VinecleaverRighteous Protector, and 2 Silver Hand Recruits), puts me down to 10, and passes the turn. I proceed to draw a Potion of Madness, play it on the Righteous Protector, heal the Twilight Drake up to 8 health, and cast double Divine Spirit into Inner Fire for the 32 damage OTK.

Why It's A Misplay

If I was the player in the Murloc Paladin's seat, that Potion of Madness topdeck would make think about throwing my laptop out the window. In reality, this was a situation where my opponent was able to play around all but the most ridiculous of combos by attacking the Twilight Drake instead of my face. My 6 health minion was able to become a 32/32 with my Hero Power, two Divine Spirits, and in Inner Fire, but it would have taken me a lot more effort than that to pull off an OTK if my Drake was at 2 health after a Vinecleaver attack. Assuming my opponent was at 30 life, I would have needed to find 4 more points of health for my Twilight Drake through some combination of Power Word: Shields and Kabal Talonpriests to be able to OTK with a 2 health minion. 

I'll let you in on a little secret, Combo Priests always have the combo. Well, not always. But in a number of situations (especially when you're ahead) its a good idea to play as though your opponent's hand and draws are the perfect combination of cards to kill you. If you have a significant lead on board, you're ahead in life, and the only way for your opponent to kill you is with their combo, see if there isn't a way to take away the combo from them if it doesn't change your clock significantly. Many aggro players do a good job of combining their cards in a way which maximizes damage output, but they don't know when to pivot their role in the matchup and become the "control" player, or how to play things safe with a lead.

In the situation I described above, the opportunity cost for my opponent to attack my Twilight Drake was practically nothing. If my opponent attacks my Drake down to 2 health and topdecks a Sunkeeper Tarim, a Level Up, or a Lightfused Stegodon into +3 attack, I'm just as dead from 10 life as I am from 14. The attack to the face doesn't set up any kills with Dire Wolf Alpha or Dark Conviction, so there's practically no downside to attacking my Twilight Drake with Vinecleaver to substantially limit the number of  OTKs I have. There's also an argument for sending a couple of minion attacks at the Twilight Drake to finish it off, as this line would do a much better job of playing around Duskbreaker.

Why do players make this mistake?

Combo Priest OTKs have both won and lost me many, many ladder games. From my experience on the Combo Priest side of the table, I often find myself thinking: "Please don't attack my minion, I have the kill next turn if that minion keeps all of his health!". When I play against Combo Priests, my inner monologue goes a little more like this: "If he has the combo I should clear board and not attack face. Does he have the combo? Nah, I'll attack face. He had it?! What a luck-sack!". Sound familiar to you?

One of the most useful heuristics for navigating combo decks from both sides of the table is the concept of playing to outs. I discuss this concept at length in my Legend in the Making series, but I'll do my best to summarize it here.

In the example game described above, the cards my opponent failed to account for in their decision-making process were the combo pieces I need to kill him (Potion of Madness, 2 Divine Spirit, and an Inner Fire) and the cards he needed to kill me (Sunkeeper Tarim, Level Up, and Lightfused Stegodon). The cards I can kill my opponent with are my outs, and the cards my opponent can kill me with are my opponent's outs.

When it comes down to scenarios where the game is likely to end in the next few turns, try to identify which cards can win the game for you outright if drawn off the top of your deck (your outs), and which cards  would win the game for your opponent between their hand and draws (your opponent's outs). Try to construct a sequence of events out of your opponent which leads to you losing the game, then see what can be done to prevent that happening. Next, try to construct a winning sequence for yourself and see what can be done to maximize the chances it occurs (this is generally much easier and less time consuming than seeing things from your opponent's perspective).

In this particular example, there were a couple of plays my opponent could have made which would have both prevented lethal and set up lethal of their own. These plays are ideal, but there won't always be a perfect intersection between winning and not losing. When considering outs for both you and your opponent, you'll often need to make a judgement call as to whether you should attempt to maximize your own chances of setting up lethal, minimize your opponent's chances of setting up lethal, or go for something in the middle of both to play around a specific card.

 

Mistake #4 - Setting Up Board Clears

Grimscale_Chum(49685).pngDefile(62840).png

 

The Situation

It's turn 4 and I'm on Murloc Paladin against an unknown Warlock. I have a Vilefin Inquisitor and a Hydrologist in play, both with full health, and my hand is looking juicy. I have a Grimscale Chum, a Murloc Warleader, and a Gentle Megasaur. I play Chum into Warleader to set up the huge Megasaur turn, attack everything to face, and pass.

Why It's A Misplay

Playing the Grimscale Chum gave my opponent the 1 Health minion they needed to set up the full clear with Defile. They would have needed Hellfire to clear my board if I hadn't played the Chum, which means that giving them 1 Health minion effectively doubled their chances of being able to clear my board.

Defile is one of the trickiest cards to use in Hearthstone - we shouldn't make it any easier on our opponents than it needs to be. Sure, sometimes they won't have the Defile or the Hellfire and you'll just win with Gentle Megasaur on turn 4, but in this particular scenario, why not hedge your bets and wait on the Chum? They'll still get blown out by Megasaur next turn if they don't have a Hellfire, and if you play into Defile you give your opponent a clean 4 for 1.

Why do players make this mistake?

I tend to make mistakes like this one when I get tunnel-visioned on making value plays and lose sight of the big picture. It just doesn't "feel" right to play our Murloc Warleader before our Grimscale Chum, it leaves value on the table. However, that doesn't mean it's the wrong move. We're very likely to win this game if we don't get our board cleared, and the reward of the Grimscale Chum's Battlecry is far outweighed by the risk of playing it.

I think most players have a natural bias towards big, flashy plays that set up kills as quickly as possible if everything goes right, but that they don't slow down to think about what happens if things go wrong. A heuristic which can help remind us to slow down and consider our options in these scenarios might sound something like this:

The strongest play is not always the best one.

The "best" play for any given situation probably starts and ends by considering the unknown variables - the cards left in your deck, the cards your opponent is likely to play, etc. It's tempting to see the explosive potential in a play that's right in front of you and just go for it, to say "let's see what happens" and accept the consequences if things don't work out. I'd by lying if I said I never played straight into board wipes just to see if I could set up a turn 4 kill, but in a few of this situations it was actually the right move!

There are a number of times where, as an aggro player, the correct move is to just go for it and accept the consequences if your opponent has the board wipe. However, there's a big difference between those situations and the one I outlined above. You won't always be presented with a choice between "going for the win" and "GOING FOR THE WIN!". Whenever you have to opportunity to assemble a board that is capable of winning the game, what do you really stand to gain by putting even more minions on it? Do you get to win more? Last I checked, "big wins" didn't count for extra stars on the ladder.

 

Summary 

 

  1. The Hero Power is a finite resource. Use it or lose it forever. Its almost always better to Hero Power than it is to play a 2 or 3 Mana spell if you could just play that spell next turn (or the turn after).
  2. The first few turns of the game are really important - don't auto pilot them and throw away cards for free. There are very few options available to you in the early game, so take your time to carefully consider all of them. Playing your minions is not always the best option available to you.
  3. When you have a lead as an aggressive deck, it's often a better idea to protect that lead and to become the "control" player than it is to push damage to face. Try to think about late-game situations in terms of specific outs from both you and your opponent, and use those outs to guide where your damage should go.
  4. Winning is good enough! Committing more resources to the board than you need to win can set yourself up to get blown out by board wipes.
  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I disagree with the third one.  Not sure what the math says, but my intuition tells me that the chance you have exactly those 4 cards to kill him are far less likely then the outs he gives up by wasting 4 damage, such as +1/+1 with the stegadon, or +1 attack with the maul if you have a target creeper and no divine spirit, probably some others.  I think it is far more likely that he loses to a duskbreaker draw then a 4 card combo.  If he still had some gas, then by all means, limit your opponents outs, but in top deck mode that tends to be bad. This is also affected by other things, such as number of shadow visions and combo pieces you have played and how you read your opponents hand ofc.

Edited by VaraTreledees

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
47 minutes ago, VaraTreledees said:

I disagree with the third one.

I think both of your opinions are viable and it can be different every game.

Nice one, a lot to read but worth it, thanks @Aleco :) And I have a nice experience from a game today with my Paladin, I'll make it short with less not needed detail but you'll get my point, I guess :)

I was ahead on board as well as having a lot more health than my opponent. Then things changed. My opponent cleared my board and is now having strong minions on the board which could do at least 12 damage next turn. I was thinking: "what's the move?" and after several considerations I chose to attack his face with my Val'anyr (which was already at 1 durability) so he knows I have a Val'any buffed minion in my hand (at least good for the mind games :D) I made a dude with my hero power and passed. On his turn he attacked, as expected, my face then played 3 more minions. On my next turn I played (as planned) Equality + Consecration followed by a Val'any buffed Righteous Protector and making another dude. From that point my opponent was not able to recover. Doing nothing besides hitting his face and making a Silver Hand Boy for one turn and taking the damage he was showing on board won me the game.

Not as detailed as Alecos explanations but you get me, right? ;)

Edited by Caldyrvan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 minutes ago, Yridaa said:

Trump-trading.

Is that something like wife-sharing just with the US President instead? ... But who wants that? :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, Caldyrvan said:

Is that something like wife-sharing just with the US President instead? ... But who wants that? :D

Ah damn, no. I wasn't trying to be edgy or make a political joke. There's a Hearthstone streamer called Trump:

https://www.youtube.com/user/TrumpSC

 

He did a lot of insightful video's such as teachings (Similar to how Aleco does the "What's the move?" vids) and whatever else most hearthstone streamers do. He was adamant on trading for value even if he saw like a two turn lethal and make trades even though he's playing an agro deck for years (Trump is officially the first hearthstone pro actually! (Definitely not the most succesful!)).

 

He made those trades because on paper they were value trades (i.e. sending a 4/6 into a 5/4 so he keeps a 4/1 on the board and the opponent loses the minion) however he started to lose sight of the big picture and it simply ended up with him making value trades and never going face unless there was nothing else to hit. This netted him the "Trump trading" (apparently not as famous as I thought it was!) hearthstone meme where you trade for value even if you're an agro deck and can get a quick lethal.

 

I'm sure someone like @Aleco can explain Trump-trading much better than I did if he's familiar with the concept/Trump. And I was honst about my initial post, I think it deserves a worthy spot in the "mistakes and how to prevent them" list! Especially a big "mistake trap" for those that love value trades (like Trump).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
28 minutes ago, Caldyrvan said:

I think both of your opinions are viable and it can be different every game.

My problem isn't with the advice, it is the example.  Playing around your opponents outs when reasonable to do so is always a good decision.  The example, however, I feel was poor.  First off, we don't have enough information to make a truely informed decision based off of what was provided, we don't know how many historians and duskbreakers aleco has played, or how many potions of madness or shadow visions, mass dispell, tar creepers (or how long cards have been sitting in aleco's hand, you can get a read on how many combo pieces priests have sometimes this way) neither do we know what the paladin has left, we don't even know if the protector on the field has divine shield.  This makes the example a general one rather then a specific one, and I think that for a general example saying that an aggressive deck who is running out of steam should give up some of his outs to play around a 4 card combo is categorically wrong, and more to the point perpetuates the single biggest mistake I personally see in Hearthstone, and that is playing to not lose as opposed to playing to win.  Now there are plenty of corner cases in which it was absolutely right to play around the combo but again, we can't tell with the info provided if this is one of them.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, Yridaa said:

Ah damn, no. I wasn't trying to be edgy or make a political joke. There's a Hearthstone streamer called Trump:

Hahahaha, I was just joking, from the wording it was too tempting for me. Maybe it's just my weird mind :D

@VaraTreledees For me, Alecos words don't feel dogmatic and it's pretty clear that plays/decisions at not always the same. Considering all the variables, possible plays, cards played by you as well as cards played by your opponent, number of cards in hands etc. he could write several pages about a single move or decision. I think he wanted to (if I'm wrong tell me) provide useful insight without writing multiple walls of text, no one wants to read that, getting tired at some point or ignoring the article completely :)

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, Caldyrvan said:

Hahahaha, I was just joking, from the wording it was too tempting for me. Maybe it's just my weird mind :D

@VaraTreledees For me, Alecos words don't feel dogmatic and it's pretty clear that plays/decisions at not always the same. Considering all the variables, possible plays, cards played by you as well as cards played by your opponent, number of cards in hands etc. he could write several pages about a single move or decision. I think he wanted to (if I'm wrong tell me) provide useful insight without writing multiple walls of text, no one wants to read that, getting tired at some point or ignoring the article completely :)

I'm glad someone feels this way! I've been receiving some comments over on reddit as well which imply that I may be saying that all of these decisions are not being made in a vacuum. To be fair to people who feel this way though:

Quote

That is, of course, unless you should be making these mistakes, because there are exceptions to every rule in Hearthstone. But that's beside the point, isn't it? Let's begin.

That's the only real qualifier I write at the beginning of the article to say that nothing I'm saying here are totally hard and fast rules. Perhaps I should expand on this or emphasize this a bit more.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One mistake I’ve seen quite a bit whilst playing a lot of wild and standard combo-maly druid recently is being so focussed on stopping your opponent win in one way you give them another easier win. You can be sat there digging through your deck for your combo pieces and playing spreading plague to stall when suddenly you find lethal with branching paths attack buff because the opponent didn’t trade into your scarabs.

Sometimes it might be valid play, e.g. a paladin who’s only hope of winning is maintaining as much of their board as they can for buffs the next turn, but often it’s just focusing so much on one thing you forget everything else, e.g. he can’t play his combo while he has those scarabs on board is valid logic... until branching paths is lethal (since its more likely I’ve drawn any remaining branching paths than drawn all the cards required in a 5+ card combo).

It can work in reverse too, missing your branching paths lethal because you’re so focused on staying alive to draw the combo.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Very nice article Aleco.

I did take me down memory lane to some not so perfect games I have played

And Thanks to the rest of you for the detailed criticisem and examples.

What I get out of it is "never autopilot".

What was a fantastic play last game may not be it this game. 

I would expect we all (almost all?) could agree to that. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mistake #5: (most common for me!!)  playing too fast and missing one of your action:

Worst ever was Patch not being played when he came into play.
Else you also have attacking the wrong minion because the previous one you attacked was killed and the enemy board's reorganized. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Slam said:

Mistake #5: (most common for me!!)  playing too fast and missing one of your action:

Worst ever was Patch not being played when he came into play.
Else you also have attacking the wrong minion because the previous one you attacked was killed and the enemy board's reorganized. 

Haha that change of target when you play while enemy board is reorganising can hurt. I’m more prone to Mistake #6: playing too slow and not leaving enough time for animations to finish my turn correctly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/16/2018 at 4:02 PM, VaraTreledees said:

I disagree with the third one.  Not sure what the math says, but my intuition tells me that the chance you have exactly those 4 cards to kill him are far less likely then the outs he gives up by wasting 4 damage, such as +1/+1 with the stegadon, or +1 attack with the maul if you have a target creeper and no divine spirit, probably some others.  I think it is far more likely that he loses to a duskbreaker draw then a 4 card combo.  If he still had some gas, then by all means, limit your opponents outs, but in top deck mode that tends to be bad. This is also affected by other things, such as number of shadow visions and combo pieces you have played and how you read your opponents hand ofc.

u missed the point or didn't read the whole part or it's a bait post. He explains that he has lethal the following turn either way, but chipping the dragon down cuts the opponents chances of winning via the three card combo.

Edited by shot

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, shot said:

u missed the point or didn't read the whole part or it's a bait post. He explains that he has lethal the following turn either way, but chipping the dragon down cuts the opponents chances of winning via the three card combo.

It isn't his point I am disagreeing with, it is the example.  He needed exactly those 4 cards for the kill, while the paladin was in top deck mode, ie no cards in his hand.  I think it would be far more likely that the paladin loses by running out of steam from a board clear then getting otked to a 4 card combo.  He had outs that he would lose out on by bumping the twilight drake, so it is, in my opinion, correct in this instance to go all face. Now if he had absolutely no outs he losses out on by bumping, it is the correct play.  If he had more cards in hand, it would have been the correct play.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Similar Content

    • By Stan
      Here's a roundup of all Midgame Moves for Hearthstone that have been published last week. The series is aimed at educating players and covers a variety of topics.
      Table of Contents 
      Part One: Do I Have Lethal? Part Two: Am I Dead? Part Three: Reading Your Opponent Part Four: When the Plan Falls Apart Part Five: Playing to Your Outs Part One: Do I Have Lethal? [Return to Top]
      Blizzard (Source)
      Welcome to Midgame Week! Previously, during Opening Moves Week, we looked at how Hearthstone pros navigate the first phase of the game—everything from choosing your win condition and building a deck to how to mulligan or play your first turns. In Midgame Week, we dissect the sequence of decisions a pro player makes each turn as they look to advance to the late game—and victory.
      The first question you should ask yourself every turn in the midgame is one that will come as no surprise to Hearthstone aficionados—can I win right now? Do I have lethal? To dig into that, we asked Raymond “rayC” Cipoletti of Panda Global for advice.
      “Frequently, even at the highest levels of play, we see players missing lethal,” rayC says. “Whether it’s an easy lethal or the most complex puzzle in Hearthstone, there are steps you should take every turn to ensure nothing is missed.”
      The first step? Take a deep breath. “You need to slow down,” rayC says. “The most common reason for missing lethal is simply playing too fast. Take your time to analyze the board state.”
      Once you’ve done this, run through your choices. “Think about every single option at your disposal—especially if your opponent is low on Health,” rayC says. “Go through every scenario with the cards you have in hand. You have until the rope starts to burn to make your actions, so make use of that time!”
      Accounting for your outs is important, too. “When I play any given turn, I treat it like a math problem,” rayC says. “Remember order of operations from math class? Sequencing applies to every turn of Hearthstone.” Sequencing is a skill players must work at constantly, but rayC suggests doing things like drawing cards once you’ve established you don’t already have lethal before taking any other actions.
      Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, check your work. “When you finally spot lethal, re-count it,” rayC says. “Make sure the math adds up. You never want to commit to a play only to realize you were off, and potentially lose because of it.”
      Part Two: Am I Dead? [Return to Top]
      Blizzard (Source)

      To figure out whether your opponent is about to end the game is tricky. You have to evaluate the current board state, your opponent’s hand, what (if anything) you can do to prevent them from winning, and how that will impact your own game plan. For such a challenge, we asked the inimitable Edwin “HotMEOWTH” Cook—winner of the 2016 Americas Summer Championship—for help.
      Evaluating these variables is difficult, but sometimes your opponent will give you information. “It’s important to know when your opponent is showing signs of aggression or making riskier plays that might be setting up lethal,” HotMEOWTH says. “In a scenario where you are suspicious of your opponent setting up lethal the following turn, it’s important to track the cards they have left in their hand, cards left in their deck, and how much mana they will have available to figure out how much damage they can possibly do.”
      “One trick to find out if your opponent can kill you next turn is to track their hand and see if there are cards they have held for more than a few turns,” HotMEOWTH says. “If so, they might be holding onto dangerous burn spells or combo pieces.” (Hand-tracking is a skill unto itself, and the focus of tomorrow’s Midgame Week entry—so check back for that!)
      Mana considerations are hugely important as well. “Oftentimes, your opponent could have more than enough damage to win the game, but not enough mana to utilize all of those cards. Keep in mind whether you have to make the safest play—even if your opponent has held a few cards for a long time,” HotMEOWTH says. That’s especially great advice for facing off against aggressive decks.
      “If your opponent isn’t holding any specific cards, it’s still important to keep track of what’s left in their deck,” HotMEOWTH says. “What are the odds of them drawing a card that would allow them to win? Ask yourself whether you can afford to play safe and prevent it or not.” (We’ll also talk more about the strategy of playing to your outs later in Midgame Week.)
      Finally, your own Health is a crucial consideration. “When you’re facing opponents that are playing decks that can burst you down from a high Health total, it’s important to count the maximum damage they can do with their combos,” HotMEOWTH says. “For example, Druids can unleash large chunks of damage using Savage Roar with just a few minions on the board." If facing off against such a deck, he suggests playing minions with Taunt and making trades accordingly.
      Part Three: Reading Your Opponent [Return to Top]
      Blizzard (Source)

      While you’ve been navigating the game—thinking every turn about whether you have lethal or if you can survive your opponent’s next turn—you also should be monitoring the state of your opponent’s hand and deck. Matthijs “Theo” Lieftink, a two-time representative of The Netherlands in the Hearthstone Global Games (HGG), has strong advice for anyone looking to improve their hand-reading skills, including how to bluff your opponent’s reads.
      “Hand-reading is an important part of pro-level play, and you can get an edge if you are doing it better than your opponent,” Theo says. His advice? “Keep track of how many cards your opponent keeps in the mulligan.” If they’re still holding one of those cards into the midgame, it’s probably a critical tech card or a high-value element of their strategy. Of course, “It depends on what your opponent is playing,” Theo adds.
      To learn hand-reading, he suggests thinking about what the absolute best play could have been every turn. If your opponent didn’t make the optimal play—for example, playing a Flamestrike on turn seven to clear your board of four-Health minions—that tells you that they probably didn’t have the tools to do so.
      Countering your opponent’s hand-reading is the next level of difficulty. “Bluffing that you do or don’t have a certain card can be done in several ways,” Theo says. He suggests making plays that suggest a specific follow-up for your next turn is in-hand, whether you’re holding it or not. “The same thing can be done the other way around—making worse plays to pretend you don’t have a certain card in hand.” He’s quick to point out, however, that this can be risky—your opponent might play around the card you’re hiding anyway. “It’s important to know when you can afford to bluff,” he says. “Making ‘worse’ plays to set something up can always backfire.”
      A special thanks to Theo for his continued provision of expert advice! Hand-reading is an enormously difficult skill to learn, and it’s one that even the best players continue to work at every day.
      Part Four: When the Plan Falls Apart [Return to Top]
      Blizzard (Source)

      You had a grand plan. It was perfect. A flawless combination all but set up, waiting for that last crucial card—and then you realize that your opponent will win, unless you expend one of your key cards to stay in the game. Fear not! All is not necessarily lost, and Esteban “AKAWonder” Serrano of SK Gaming—a fixture of the European pro Hearthstone scene—will help you understand how to navigate what’s left when your deck’s win condition is scattered to the wind.
      Regardless of your deck style, AKAWonder says you must look for a new strategy if your original one has been derailed. “When you lose your win condition, you need to find an alternative plan to win the game," he says. "Most likely, your chances to win are lower than they were.” But so long as they aren't zero, you have a chance. He suggests looking for every point of win percentage you can, by any means possible.
      “In order to find an alternative plan, I think about different situations—denying my opponent their win condition, going to fatigue, or just creating pressure using minions,” AKAWonder says. He adds that certain cards can offer new outs all their own, like The Lich King.
      It’s not always easy, but practice helps. He says, “You need to find a new way to win—and the more you play a deck, the more alternative game plans you will discover for different matchups.” If you’re newer to Hearthstone, he says this is actually a valuable lesson to learn: “Your win condition is important, but not if you lose with it in your hand. Go for an alternative plan if the situation forces you to!”
      Sounds like AKAWonder recommends a whole string of keywords: you need to Discover new ways to play and Adapt to the situation! Every game is different, so playing with that in mind just makes sense.
      Part Five: Playing to Your Outs [Return to Top]
      Blizzard (Source)

      There’s a surprisingly wide gulf between winning and not losing yet. A very kind Jace “DrJikininki” Garthright, best known for his 2017 Americas Winter Playoffs victory, lends us his guidance today to distinguish between the two, helping you to “play to your outs”—making sure you’re still working towards a game-winning play.
      “It’s important to ask yourself every turn—how can I win this game?” DrJikininki says. “Some games, you may have a very slim chance to win, but recognizing when you are in that situation and adapting is a very important skill.” He cautions against what may seem instinctual, which is to make the "safe" play each turn. “All players have a tendency to make plays that would be considered safer,” he says. “Plays as simple as trading into minions on the board to live for an extra turn.”
      But the concept of playing to live isn’t how you should play. “Use critical thinking about the potential reach in your opponent’s deck,” DrJikininki says. “Taking slim percentage chances is what you have to do sometimes!” His advice makes sense—evaluating how a given line of play sets you up to win later is incredibly important.
      Getting there takes time, so DrJikininki echoes what others have said: practice. “Next time you play a game and are in a losing position, ask yourself—what hands can you beat? What play with your hand leads to you winning the most often? This will help you out more than just playing a large number of games.” He notes that understanding the variables—your deck’s reach, your opponent’s deck’s reach, whether or not either deck can afford to play a value game, and more—all factor into those questions.
      That’s it! We hope you’ve enjoyed this series of educational snippets from pro players across the competitive Hearthstone landscape, and that Midgame Week inspires you to take your game to the next level.
      Which of this week’s skills do you think is most important? What advice would you offer other players looking to learn more about how to level up their play? Offer up your thoughts in the comments and stay tuned for even more pro player insight right here on playhearthstone.com/esports.
    • By Stan
      Blizzard posted changes to game mechanics that will be implemented with with the Boomsday Project 12.0 patch.
      Highlights
      Ghostly Charger will no longer have the Beast tag. Ixlid, Fungal Lord is losing the Elemental tag. Shifter Zerus, Molten Blade, and Shifting Scroll will no longer keep any enchantments when they transform. Voodoo Doll's curse will be broken if you transform the minion that's already been cursed by Voodoo Doll. The transformed (formerly cursed) minion will not be killed when Voodoo Doll dies. Shadowboxer will be updated to deal 1 damage to a random enemy, whenever a minion is healed. Players will be able to disenchant the card for its full Arcane Dust value for two weeks after 12.0 goes live. Blizzard (Source)
      Dr. Boom’s bringing more than just mayhem to the Netherstorm. The 12.0 update will also come with several rule changes to Hearthstone’s gameplay. Read on to learn about another minion Type update, the copy a card rule change and the transform rule change.
      More Minion Type Changes
      There was a ton of feedback following the last minion Type update we posted, and after reviewing all of it, we realized that there were a couple more minions that needed changing. Here are our decisions following the full review of your feedback.
      Ghostly Charger

      We made a decision that, at least by default, spectral/undead/ghost/spirit versions of animals are not considered Beasts in Hearthstone. There are quite a lot of these sort of cards, most of which are already not Beasts, and changing them would have extensive balance implications.
      Ghostly Charger is one of those cards. Clearly a ghost in both its name and art, its Beast tag has also not been relevant in any significantly used interaction. As a result, we’re planning to remove the Beast tag in a future update.
      In the much rarer case of spectral/undead/ghost/spirit versions of Dragons, Murlocs, Pirates, and Elementals, they will still remain their Type. There aren’t a whole lot of these cards, but there are a few, and they’re already consistently their type. Examples of these are Ghost Light Angler, Cursed Castaway, Bone Drake.
      Ixlid, Fungal Lord

      World of Warcraft uses a looser definition of Elemental than what we decided to standardize on for Hearthstone. In Hearthstone, an elemental is something that has been brought to life by being inhabited by an elemental spirit, but is otherwise not alive. These are easy to recognize: a Fire Elemental looks like a living creature made out of fire; A Water Elemental looks like a living creature made out of water.
      One of the biggest outliers to this definition are plant creatures. There are a ton of minions in Hearthstone that are some sort of plant. We’ve decided that these do not count as Elementals in Hearthstone. Examples of these include The Voraxx, Fen Creeper, Biteweed, Vilespine Slayer, Rotten Applebaum.
      Ixlid, Fungal Lord, is by this definition, a plant creature. Although we’re committed to consistency, there are also other criteria that we consider when changing card Types. One of them is how often a card’s current Type matters when it comes to interacting with other cards. Ixlid’s Elemental tag is not significantly used in current decks, so we’ve decided to remove it in a future update.
      We also looked at the following minions but decided against making any changes. We’ve included our thought process as to how we came to our decisions with these cards.
      Kindly Grandmother
      Kindly Grandmother/Big Bad Wolf looks like a Worgen (which are not considered Beasts) but is actually some other sort of wolf-like creature that is a Beast. The Beast tag is also extremely relevant to its gameplay, and defines most of the card’s intended usage. With this in mind, we will not be changing Kindly Grandmother’s/Big Bad Wolf’s Type. In the future, we’ll be more careful to make the art clear when it comes to Worgen or similar races.
      Arcane Giant  & Arcane Golem
      On top of Elementals and plant creatures, there’s another category of things that have been brought to life via magical animation. These are creatures like War Golem, Arcane Giant, and Avian Watcher—which are not Elementals.
      Arcane Giant, Arcane Golem, and The Curator are all examples of another sort of creature collectively referred to as Arcane Golems. These mechanical constructs utilize arcane energy as a power source, with The Curator being a Mech Type as part of his character in the One Night in Karazhan Adventure. This is actually subtly different from something like War Golem, which is carved from stone and then magically animated. While the “golem” definition refers to something that has been magically animated and is therefore neither a Mech nor Elemental, both Arcane Giant and Arcane Golem’s card art don’t clearly show them to be one or the other. Since the correct type for these creatures is so unclear, we will be leaving them unchanged for now, but would love to hear what you think.
      Bogshaper
      Bogshaper seems to be the same type of creature as Ixlid or Fen Creeper, and that would logically lead to removal of its Elemental tag. However, as mentioned above, we look at more than just the fantasy of a card when determining if it needs a Type change. While Bogshaper’s fantasy criteria checkbox is filled, it’s currently heavily utilized in the meta, and features in many decks, including that of the 2018 Summer Champion, Bunnyhoppor.
      We are holding off on changing Bogshaper's Type for now, but would love to hear what the community thinks we should do in this case. We’re also considering making this sort of change when a card rotates to Wild.
      Copy A Card Rule Change

      Card copies currently only retain enchantments when both the original card and its copy are in play—think Molten Reflection. In Update 12.0, this rule will be updated to match the one regarding enchantments being retained when a card transitions zones.
      Zones in Hearthstone are defined as areas where cards are hosted: your deck, your hand, in play, and in the graveyard. In Hearthstone, there is a general forward-moving flow through zones. Whenever a card moves forward in that flow (Deck -> Hand, Hand -> Play, Deck -> Play), it retains enchantments. If a card moves backwards in zones (Play -> Hand, Hand -> Deck, Play -> Deck, Play/Hand/Deck -> Graveyard and Graveyard -> Play/Hand/Deck), it loses enchantments.
      With this update, card copies will retain enchantments in the following scenarios.
      Cards that are resurrected currently do not and will continue not to retain any enchantments, unless specifically stated otherwise. If you copy a card from a deck to a deck, the copy retains enchantments. (eg. Archbishop Benedictus) If you copy a card from a hand to a hand, the copy retains enchantments. (eg. Mind Vision) If you copy a card from play to play, the copy retains enchantments. (eg. Molten Reflection) If you copy a card from a deck to a hand, the copy retains enchantments. (eg. Thoughtsteal) If you copy a card from a deck to play, the copy retains enchantments. (eg. Mindgames) If you copy a card from hand to play, the copy retains enchantments. (eg. Kobold Illusionist) Transform Rule Change
      When transformed, a Hearthstone card typically loses all of its enchantment. Most cards in game already obey this rule. However, there are four cards that we are changing to keep in line with the rule, as part of this consistency pass.

      Shifter Zerus, Molten Blade, and Shifting Scroll all transform in your hand at the start of every turn. Following the 12.0 update, they will no longer keep any enchantments when they transform. This includes things like hand buffs and Emperor Thaurissan mana-cost discounts.

      The impact on Voodoo Doll is a little different with the update. If you transform the minion that’s already been cursed by Voodoo Doll, the curse will be broken, and the transformed (and formerly cursed) minion will not be killed when Voodoo Doll dies. Silencing the cursed minion will also break the curse, in addition to silencing the Voodoo Doll.
      Shadowboxer Update

      Since the creation of the Lifesteal keyword, Shadowboxer has been a high risk card, in that it can trigger off of itself and deal up to 30 damage in one turn if you ever give it Lifesteal. Because of this, we have changed it to: Whenever a minion is healed, deal 1 damage to a random enemy.
      Once Shadowboxer's card change is live with Update 12.0, players will be able to disenchant it for its full Arcane Dust value for two weeks.
      These are all the changes that you’ll see come into effect with Update 12.0, in line with our commitment to consistency within the game. Let us know what you think in the comments below, or via Facebook and Twitter!
    • By Aleco
      Will these three new Treant cards see play in the meta? Or will they come up short like the hand-size cards from The Witchwood?
       
      Three new Treant-themed cards were revealed today by PCGamer:
       

       
      First up we have Dendrologist. The floor on this card is solid, as a 2 Mana 2/3 is passable in a pinch. The ceiling on Dendrologist is higher than you might think, as his Battlecry is quite strong. Druid might have more high-quality spells than any other class in the game (Wild Growth, Nourish, Ultimate Infestation, Branching Paths, Naturalize, and Savage Roar to name a few), which leads me to believe that Dendrologist will be a powerhouse if Druid gets sufficient Treant support in this expansion.
       

       
      3 Mana for 4/4 worth of stats is already a great deal on its own, and the added Treant synergy puts this card over the top. The fact that this card creates two bodies makes it even better in aggro decks that look to go wide and finish with cards like Fungalmancer. This is a very reasonable card to curve into on turn 3, and it hints that the Treant deck will likely be quite aggressive.
       

       
      Finally we get Mulchmuncher, a big fat Mech with Rush and a dangerously tempting Mana reduction effect. We know from experience with Corridor Creeper and Giant cards how strong it can be to play big Minions for low amounts of Mana, but it won't be that easy to reduce Mulchmuncher's cost. If the Mana Treants from Living Mana count as Treants for this card, then I can easily see Mulchmuncher as finisher in an aggressive Treant decks.
      Will these new Treant cards turn Force of Nature and Witchwood Apple into playable cards? Or do you think the Treant cards will fall flat like the hand-size cards from The Witchwood? Let us know in the comment section, and be sure to check out our Boomsday Hub for more spoilers from the upcoming expansion.
    • By Aleco
      The latest Hearthside Chat with Peter Whalen revealed Supercollider, Flobbidinous Floop, and Whizbang the Wonderful from The Boomsday Project.
       
      In the latest Hearthside Chat, Senior Game Designer Peter Whalen explained some of the themes (science) and inspirations (more science) for The Boomsday Project. In doing so, he spoiled three new incredibly exciting cards. If you're interested in watching the video (which is just 4:59 seconds long), you can do so right here:
       
       
      Card Reveals
       

       
      This card gets an "A" for flavor, as I don't think its possible to come up with a better design for a card called "Supercollider" in a science-themed set.
      This Warrior weapon has the potential to be a 2 or 3 for 1, as it can set up trades quite easily if you attack your opponent's largest minion with it. However, attacking your opponent's largest minion means you will also be dealing plenty of face damage to yourself, making high amounts of armor gain a requirement for putting this card in your deck. For that reason, Supercollider plays excellently with Baku the Mooneater, and I expect it to see play in Odd Warrior decks.
       

       
      Next up is another card with an excellent name, Flobbidinous Floop. This guy provides a Faceless Manipulator-style effect for Druid decks for just 4 Mana, which will almost certainly make him a combo piece in a variety of Druid decks. Between Innervate, Twig of the World Tree, and Biology Project, there will almost certainly a few new OTKs with Flobbidinous Floop. He can also be used in Big Druid decks one turn after playing a huge minion, such as Ysera, Hadronox, or The Lich King, to become a 3/4 copy of a card with a powerful effect. Expect to see plenty of Flobbidinious Floop in the new meta!
       

       
      Next we get Whizbang the Wonderful, which is one of the most unique and exciting cards in the history of Hearthstone. What does he do? Let me show you:
       

       
      Whizbang the Wonderful replaces your entire deck. He replaces your hero, and he names your new deck "Whizbang is Wonderful". When you enter a game with this deck, you will be randomly handed 1 of 18 recent deck recipes by Blizzard at the start of the game.
      Will Whizbang be competitively viable? Almost certainly not, but I think that question is almost entirely missing the point. By adding Whizbang to the game, Blizzard has offered new players a way to access 18 different for just 1600 dust! Though its unlikely these 18 premade decks will be 100% meta optimal, they will almost certainly be viable enough for newer players to climb the earlier ranks while playing a wide variety of decks and learning new cards. This is the closest thing that Blizzard will probably ever do to selling pre-constructed decks (something that many other cards games do), which in my eyes is a major step forward. Will tryhards be disappointed when they open Whizbang? Probably. But not every Legendary minion needs to be a home run for the hardcore audience. Whizbang is the new player's best friend, and will surely add much more joy to the game of Hearthstone than he takes away.
      What do you think about today's spoilers? Will Supercollider see play? Can you find any new OTKs with Flobbidinous Floop? And are you as excited about Whizbang the Wonderful as I am? Let us know in the comments what you think about these new cards, and be sure to check out our Boomsday Hub for more spoilers from the upcoming expansion.
    • By Aleco
      A callback to Annoy-o-Tron, this new Mech card could be a serious player in the meta.
       
      Episode 2 of "Enter Boom Labs" has revealed another new Magnetic card from The Boomsday Project, called Annoy-o-Module:
       

       
      A callback to Annoy-o-Tron, this guy gains Magnetic and 1/2 worth of stats for just 2 Mana! The stats and keywords this card instantly adds to another Mech seem quite strong when you compare it to Blessing of Kings, which adds 2 more Attack to a minion but does not add Divine Shield and Taunt. This card isn't awful when played on it's own, and it plays well in a deck with Corpsetaker. Annoy-o-Module checks enough for boxes for me, and I full expect it to see play in the upcoming meta.
      Episode 2 of "Enter Boom Labs" is short but sweet, and you can watch the full video right here:
       
       
      Do you think Annoy-o-Module impact the game as much as Annoy-o-Tron did? Let us know in the comment section, and be sure to check out our Boomsday Hub for more spoilers from the upcoming expansion.