Every day this week, we’ve had a little bit of wisdom to share with you on the earliest stages of a game of competitive Hearthstone—from deciding on a win condition all the way up to your early game strategy after the mulligan. Today, we close out the week with some cards hitting the table, as we discuss the first five turns of the game.
With your deck defined, fleshed out, an opening hand drawn, and an idea of which foot you’re starting on, the first five turns play a definitive role in shaping the outcome of your game. Aggro decks often empty their hands entirely and win or lose as early as the fifth turn. Tempo decks—looking to get strong board presence combined with removal, but with less pressure on their opponent’s health total early—need to clear up aggressive enemy boards, or be chipping away at a more control-oriented opponent’s life total. Control and combo decks will be trying to stabilize and draw to the high-value plays they need to make in the mid-game to outlast faster decks, or dig for their win conditions early on in games that look to go longer.
Turning Up the Heat
Is my opponent playing to set up specific cards? If they don't utilize their mana, can I rule out the possibility they have certain cards in hand? Evaluate the game state. If you're in danger of falling behind, play ambitiously and take risks; if you're ahead, focus on denying options for your opponent.
Every deck’s early game play will be characterized by which resources the player is expending to move towards their win condition. Aggro decks will use up their cards quickly; tempo decks are willing to trade a little bit of life and some (but not all) of their cards for board control; control decks will pay with their life (literally!) for card advantage as they hold out for board clears and ways to gain life or armor.
Navigating these early turns correctly is crucial. For example, if two aggressive decks meet, there are a ton of moving parts to every turn that each player must consider. You want to deal as much damage as possible to your opponent to win the race, but as you exhaust your hand, taking a critical trade on the board to protect your life total and deal more damage over time (at the expense of a few points on the turn you take the trade) might be the difference between winning and losing.
And there you have it! We’ve reached the end of Opening Moves week. Hopefully these short daily lessons have given you a peek into what complexities the early game in Hearthstone has to offer. Let us know what you thought of the series in the comments, and stay tuned for more Hearthstone esports content in the weeks to come.