My favorite games of Hearthstone are the ones that go completely off-script. In this week’s episode of WTM, I’m delighted to report that things go completely off-script.
Situation #21: Elementary, My Dear
We left things off last week on turn 4 with our Spiteful Mage deck. We’re up against a Murloc Paladin, a board-centric deck that wins games by sticking Murlocs and overpowering their opponents with synergy.
Our deck also relies on tribal synergies, but packs far more value than our opponent’s Murloc Paladin deck does. Our gameplan in this matchup should be built around leveraging that fact. We obviously need to fight for board control and prevent our opponent from sticking too many Murlocs, but we should be able to pick up some 2 for 1s along the way with cards like Fire Plume Phoenix, Bonfire Elemental, Blazecaller, and Mind Control Tech. If we can use these cards to handle our opponent’s board, we should be able to deplete them of resources and eventually run them over with card advantage.
Okay, so there’s the gameplan. How do we best execute it on turn 4?
We can start by eliminating all plays which don’t put an elemental on the board this turn. Seeing as our hand is quite full, Coining out Aluneth next turn seems like a bad idea. Leeroy Jenkins is also a poor play for obvious reasons. This means that we’re very likely to play the Bonfire Elemental or Tol’vir Stoneshaper next turn (depending on what we do this turn), so we’ll need to set that up this turn with an Elemental.
With that in mind, let’s quickly review all the reasonable Elemental plays which are available to us:
Quickly reading over these lines, the Spellbreaker play jumps out to me as weaker than the others. It doesn’t buy us nearly as much board presence as the other plays do, and it forces us to use the Coin for relatively little tempo. We can scratch this one off the list.
To determine the best of the remaining three lines, we should begin by considering which cards our opponent is likely to play next turn. Enviousmtg wrote a very detailed and thoughtful response to this situation, which correctly began by identifying that our opponent floated 2 Mana on his pivotal turn 4. This basically rules out Call to Arms (he would have played it), Blessing of Kings (would have been excellent on either minion), Unidentified Maul (could have been used to clear Tar Creeper), and Spellbreaker (would have played for the board better than his Hero Power) as potential cards in our opponent’s hand.
Given that we’re unlikely to see any of those cards on our opponent’s turn 5, what we’re much more likely to see is some kind of Murloc play. Murloc Paladin typically doesn’t run any 5 drops, but it does run a healthy number of 2 and 3 drop Murlocs which buff each other. Assuming our opponent doesn’t draw Call to Arms off the top, we want to make the play this turn which does the best job of contesting Murloc + Hero Power or Murloc + Murloc.
This rules out option #4 (Fire Fly, Flame Elemental, ping Righteous Protector and clear it with the Tar Creeper), as the 1/2 Elementals do a poor job of tussling with 2 and 3 Health Murlocs. Now all we’re left with is option 2 (Coin out Bonfire Elemental) and option 3 (Tol’vir Stoneshaper and Coin out Flame Elemental). I think both of these lines are justifiable, but I have to give the edge to option 3, playing the Bonfire Elemental.
If we play the Tol’vir Stoneshaper now, our opponent will be able to pop its Divine Shield with one of their remaining 1/1s. We’d much rather have our Stoneshaper trade its Divine Shield for a Murloc, or have it come down on a turn where it can protect another minion and set up some favorable trades. If we play the Bonfire Elemental now and the Stoneshaper next turn, we are much more likely to set up a situation where our Stoneshaper is trading with Murlocs or enabling our Bonfire Elemental to trade into their board aggressively.
Between our hero power and the Spellbreaker in our hand, it seems very likely that a Bonfire Elemental played this turn will be able to trade into any minion our opponent plays next turn while drawing us a card in the process. Given what we know about our opponent’s hand, Bonfire Elemental plays to the board just as well as Stoneshaper does, and allow us to advance our gameplan of playing to the board while outvaluing opponent.
Situation #22: Let’s Even the Odds
My favorite games of Hearthstone are the ones which go totally off the rails. I like to think of myself as an instinctual and improvisational player who thrives in these kinds of situations, which is part of the reason why I love to play off-meta decks. The more off-meta your deck is, the easier it is to create a situation your opponent has never seen before, which forces them into a spot where they’ll have to improvise. This is exactly what I attempted to do to my opponents on the ladder with Even Shaman, but in this game, it’s what my opponent ended up doing it to me:
Aah, yes, the classic Odd Warlock vs. Even Shaman matchup. This was the very first time I had encountered an Odd Warlock on the ladder, and in just my second game with Even Shaman to boot. Talk about having to improvise!
Deck Code: AAECAfe5AgYgvQGrBooHps4CzfQCDNMBmQLyBfsFwAfZB/AHkcECm8sClugC9uwClO8CAA==
Credit for this list goes to isthisdudesrs and his guide to Even Shaman on reddit. I started with his list and made some small changes to it, though I’d recommend using his list over mine for generic laddering. As to our opponent’s deck list? Your guess is as good as mine!
Our opponent played a Kobold Librarian on turn one, tapped on turn 2 (for no damage), played a Tar Creeper on turn 3, and a Stonehill Defender on turn 4. We have 4 Mana and plenty of options available to us.
So… what’s the move?