This is Hexar from team Don’t Kick My Robot here to discuss the most important thing I’ve learned from card games. As a current provincial champion of Magic The Gathering and avid card + video game player, there was an article written 15 years ago that really stuck with me. It is my opinion that everyone taking Hearthstone seriously should read it immediately as it applies to most games of strategy.
The original MTG article is that this article is based on “Who’s the Beatdown” – by Mike Flores
Every game has two different decks; an aggressor, and a controller. The aggressor wants to end the game as quickly as possible with a flurry of cost effective spells and creatures and the controller wants to limit this by removing your creatures and slowing the game down.
This role will change throughout the course of the game and it is your job to identify your role every single turn.
Some ways to figure out which deck you are is to look at the following:
- More card draw, higher chance to be control (excluding lifetap)
- Cheaper creatures, higher chance to be aggro (Control decks more expensive)
- More Utility/Removal spells, higher chance to be control
At times you may think your deck is a control deck and your opponent might also think he has a control deck. This however, is never the case. One person is going to win the game. They can be at 1 life or 30 life, but if your life total is 0, it’s irrelevant and knowing when to apply pressure and when to stop pressure is very important.
Standard Rogue versus Standard Druid:
Likely the druid is going to be the control deck in this situation, the cards have more utility and higher costs in the druid deck and the rogue deck has much more damage and a way lower curve. This means it is the druids job not to attack the rogue’s face but to clear the board and establish card advantage without taking tons of damage. Contrasting to this, the Rogue doesn’t want to be attacking the druids creatures when avoidable, and wants to use as much pressure to kill the druid as quickly as possible. Example, the rogue and druid both have 3/3s on the field, the rogue might want to get rid of the 3/3 to keep the board clear for other threats, however the druid is likely going to want to make the same trade. It is far better for the Rogue to get in the 3 points of damage before trading creatures. However if the Druid has Defender of Argus, that’s going to make the Rogue look silly, but it means the Druid is now operating as the beatdown and the Rogue is backpedaling on control.
OTK Warrior versus OTK Warrior:
Less obvious one, but one of you is always the beatdown and one is the controller. One of you will assemble your combo first, one of you will not. This means that you need to assemble your combo first, or you need to figure out another way to win. Putting a constant stream of pressure on your opponent will significantly reduce the time they have to find their combo. Furthermore, if they are using all their spells to remove your threats, you are slowly building up more cards in your hand as the game goes on and can aggressively combo kill before your opponent has a chance to stabilize. If you’re opponent takes the aggressive role, you must control the game yourself to prevent this from happening.
MurLOCK versus MurLOCK:
Another less obvious one. One Warlock has to continually apply pressure and try and kill their opponent outright, while the other has to trade creatures and stop the bleeding as much as possible. However since the control player has access to more mana and more cards, if they trade successfully eventually they will have a superior board position and need to switch to the aggressive deck. You need to analyze what your opponent is going to do. Are they going to Soulfire your face or your creatures? Is Leeroy Jenkins + Power Overwhelming going to win the game for them? Can you play around it? Who can life tap more effectively? Knowing when to switch roles is equally as important as knowing your role from the beginning, for if you continue to incorrectly assign roles, your opponent may draw out of it.
As you can see, if you want to have great success at this game you’ll need to master two things: Knowing what role you are, and knowing when to change. There’s a term often used called inevitability which means that eventually one player is going to win…Whoever has inevitability has the power to drag the game til the bitter end as they will emerge the victor. The other player can’t let this happen and is better off taking risks than waiting the game out.
In conclusion I leave you the following tips to use in general when playing Hearthstone or any card game for that matter:
- If you don’t know your role, pick one, change when/if necessary and learn from your mistakes.
- Mirror Matches can likely be assumed the player going first is the beatdown.
- If your opponent incorrectly assigns the roles, do not switch with them, but use to your advantage if possible. Always maintain the correct role.
- Play to your outs, if you know your only chance to get back to parity is if you draw swipe, and you have 12 cards in your deck with swipes remaining, it is perfectly acceptable to set your board up in a way that will you bring you back in it if you draw the card you need.
- Faking a role is a great strategy if you know what you’re doing. For example: Pretending to be the control deck and then going Leeroy, Power Overwhelming+Soulfire for Lethal. If your opponent thinks your a control lock, this is a great way to take advantage of the situation.