Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Even More Hearthstone Drafting

Last week I streamed a third Hearthstone draft and actually managed to include both video and audio for the entire thing. It was a warlock draft where I went 'classic aggro'. This seems to be a deck type I naturally lean towards as 3 of the 6 drafts that I've logged on the Heartharena site have turned out as classic aggro. I went 5-3. I want to get better so I figured I could do two things to try to figure out what went wrong with the deck. If winning 62.5% of my games can be considered 'wrong', anyway! I can replay the losses to see if I made any mistakes or if I felt I needed different cards in those matches, and I can feed the draft through Heartharena a second time, always pick the recommended card, and see what I could have had.

The first loss was against a mage where I saw several minor misplays in terms of what cards I was playing and when I was trading. Things were still going pretty well, and he had a blizzard to somewhat stabilize. Then I made a brutally bad play with recombobulator. I swapped out my frozen 4/3 instead of my terrible 1/7. It turned the 4/3 into another 1/7 leaving me with a post-blizzard board of 1/8 taunt, 1/7, 0/1 stealth, and 3/2. Life totals were 30 for him and 16 for me. We both had 4 cards in hand, but I had that board and he had nothing. 2 of my cards were spare parts, 1 of his was a spare part. But I was still ahead in cards. He goes +2 cards on his turn with arcane intellect and a 4/2 that killed my 3/2. I go up 2 cards on my turn with hero power and a 3/3 that killed his 4/2. He played a 5/5 and a 2/3 taunt. I felt by this point that he didn't have flamestrike since he had a couple decent spots to play it thus far. So I went all in and went up to 6 creatures on board. He cast a topdecked flamestrike and that was pretty much that. (Hearthstone orders the cards in each players hand so I knew the flamestrike was his most recently draws card.) And then he had 8 points of burn/charge damage to finish me off. I died with doomguard in hand, which I never played because I didn't want to discard 2 cards. I was also playing all my spare parts as fast as I could for some reason...

Bottom line? I made plenty of mistakes that degraded my position turn after turn. Which put me into a position where I had to overcommit to the board and I got blown out by a sweeper. A topdecked sweeper to be fair. So I was a little unlucky. But if I play well I don't need that luck at the end.

My second loss featured me throwing away some removal killing an imp master that was down to being a 1/1. I also burned my coin to degrade my own board with void terror. He had a flametongue totem to power his board up to kill my 6/4 terror and I rarely started my turn with a creature in play to attack the totem. I did have a 50/50 shot one turn to kill it and get back in the game but my bomber killed something other than the totem or the taunter which was holding off the one 3/3 I managed to stick on the board. The taunter being a totem which he was only 25% to pull out. So really I had an 87.5% chance of stabilizing the game and maybe I win from there. But I failed those rolls and got blown out by flametongue totem.

Bottom line? I've noticed I have a problem dealing with flametongue totem and the randomness of some of the cards is a little frustrating.

My third loss really, really brought that last point home. One turn I had a pair of 4/3s that give me a random 2 drop when they die. He killed them and was left with a 2/3 on his board afterwards. My random creatures? A 1/1 with no game effect and a 1/1 that drew me a card when it died.

I just took a look and there are 67 minions that cost 2. 45 of them have 2 or more power, though 1 can't attack so he doesn't count. Of the smaller creatures 13 of them have abilities that let them contribute at least 2 damage to the fight. All told, 6 of the creatures might as well be blanks, 34 deal with a 2/3 on their own, 24 of them are worth 2 damage, and 3 are worth 1 damage. I hit 2 of the 3 that are worth 1 damage.

Put it all together... You're a little under 92% to be able to at least deal with a 2/3 when you get a pair of random 2-drops.

Ok, fine... Hit the 8% there. Moving along... A few turns later I played a bomb lobber with 2 targets in play. A 1/3 and a 3/5 taunt. Bomb the taunter and I get to murder my opponent. I bombed the 1/3. I still got to kill the 3/5 taunt but I had to choose where to put 3 damage. On my 3/3, killing it, or on my 4/5 windfury. Which brings it in range of a few priest kill spells. I knew how powerful 4 power creatures were against priest, and I know how powerful windfury is against an empty board... But I chose to keep the 3/3. He had a spell that did 2 to a target. I then went for a recombobulator on my 3/5 for 5 with him having a 3/5 on the other side of the board. 20 of the potential options deal with a 3/5 and live. 10 of them die to a 3/7 without killing it. 21 of them trade. I hit a 6/3, which was parity. This isn't exactly bad luck since I turned a loss into a trade, but I sure could have used a kill. In retrospect, why recomb this turn? I could have waited for him to attack his 3/5 into my 3/5 and then recomboed. I guess I like having the 3/2 in play, but I had a different 3/2 I could have played that turn at the cost of 3 life.

Finish things off with missing an attack where he was practically guaranteed to make the same trade I did, lifetapping with a nearly empty deck when that 2 life was critical the next turn, and misplays of both doomguard and void terror, and him having double holy nova by turn 7. I had him to 1 in the end. Getting 1 more damage from any source... Slightly better luck, one fewer misplay and I win.

Ok, what changes would Heartharena have made with my deck? It would have dropped the second blood imp, the second mortal coil, annoy-o-tron, the tinkertown tech, baron rivendare, booty bay bodyguard, and windfury harpy. It would have added in power overwhelming, voidwalker, murloc tidehunter, youthful brewmaster, jungle panther, tinkmaster overspark, and stranglethorn tiger. It would have lowered my low curve even lower and would have given me a card to combo with the void terror. Brewmaster with my 2 lobbers and kodo would have been a good draw early or late. And while overspark is a pretty bad legendary it turns out rivendare is abysmally bad. There were even a couple times when turning my opponent's only creature into a 5/5 would have been an upgrade!

How about what I took over what? At pick 4 I took windfury harpy over murloc tidehunter. The harpy was really good against priest (except I misplayed it) but otherwise I was never happy to draw it or play it. There would be times I would be happy to play the murloc. (Basically only turn 2 (maybe 1), but every game will have a turn 2 and not many games will be against priest.)

At pick 9 I took annoy-o-tron over yourthful brewmaster. I think I was thinking my deck was pretty slow at that point (thanks windfury harpy) so having a cheap drop to absorb two attacks would be nice. But when it comes right down to it I'm rarely sad to see my opponent play an annoy-o-tron. A little annoying, especially if my board is all 2/1s, but rarely does it swing cards or tempo in any big way. Brewmaster is a bigger body early and comboes with kodo and recombobulator which I already had.

At pick 12 I took booty bay bodyguard over voidwalker. It's a little weird, but a 5/4 taunt is actually much worse than a 3/6 taunt. You'd think having the same total stats should mean they'd be pretty comparable but the 5/4 dies to flamestrike and it's pretty easy to trade up against. It dies to a 4/2, or a 3/2 plus a ping. The 3/6 gets to hold off a lot more stuff, especially 3/2s, 3/3s, and 4/3s which are pretty common sizes. So taking the bodyguard is consigning my deck to having a mediocre expensive card. That's not good. The 1/3 taunt for 1 is fairly mediocre too, but it's a mediocre play that I can play with other creatures.

At pick 13 I took a second blood imp over jungle panther. I drew both imps a couple times and it was not good. Normally an imp and a creature means the creature gets a health. With 2 imps and a creature there's only a 25% chance you'll even get a benefit from the second imp, and a similar 25% chance you'll lose the benefit of the first imp! So the second imp adds no extra value, it just adds variance. An imp late is pretty bad, and any deck capable of killing the first one can probably kill the second one too. (AE pings) Jungle panther is a 4/2 stealth for 3 and I've been very much undervaluing stealth as a mechanic. I've been watching a lot of Hafu's drafts and she values stealth pretty high. And I can see why that would be. The games I lose I sometimes find myself playing creatures that just get traded off over and over again. It would be nice to get something to live in order to attack, say, a flametongue totem.

Pick 19 was mortal coil #2 against stranglethorn tiger. See above for my undervaluing of stealth. I've started putting a higher value on the tiger and it's been working out pretty well. The second coil cycles (assuming there's something with 1 health) and it's cheap so having extra ones is quite fine, but the tiger is just stronger I think.

Pick 20 was the legend debacle. I really do think the tinkmaster is too random, but baron was worthless every single time I drew him.

Pick 21 was tinkertown vs power overwhelming. In my deck the website agreed with the tinkertown, but for the other deck it was drafting it prefered power overwhelming. I guess losing the annoy-o-tron really decreases the chances of a turn 3 powered tinkertown. And I never even thought that I could use power overwhelming on a creature, kill something, and then eat the creature with void terror to get the +4/+4 permanently. I had someone do that to me in another draft and it was a huge problem. And it actually gives void terror a decent play.

So what can I take from this draft? I need to value stealth higher. I need to value mediocre expensive drops lower. (And I guess by extension, raise my valuation on good expensive things so I have a late game.) I need to figure out how to play doomguard and void terror. I have work to do on squeezing maximum damage out of each attack. And there are cards with a lot of randomness to them, I need to accept that and deal with the current board state, not lament the fact I just hit the 8% lottery.

I have done 3 drafts since I rewatched those games. I got 5 wins, 3 wins, and 11 wins in those drafts. Sadly the 11 win draft was done offline since I didn't feel like streaming but still wanted to draft. It turns out having 2 flamestrikes, 2 fireballs, 2 polymorphs, a flamecannon, a frost bolt, good creatures, and a legendary that has some impact on the game is good!

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