Endgame Moves: Finessing Fatigue

Endgame Moves: Finessing Fatigue

Early this year, we kicked off our Opening Moves series, where we took a closer look at the early game of competitive Hearthstone. We followed up in July with Midgame Moves. This week, to celebrate the end of the year, we’re bringing you Endgame Moves. Today, we’re diving into the details of fatigue damage.

As anyone who has ever played a long, grindy game of Hearthstone knows, after you exhaust your deck you start taking fatigue damage every time you draw. Fatigue damage stacks, inflicting one damage for the first non-draw, two for the second, and so on. Thus, when a match “goes to fatigue,” even minor misplays can spell defeat. Thankfully, we’ve got HCT Summer Champion Raphael "BunnyHoppor" Peltzer —who recently earned his doctorate! Congrats, Dr. BunnyHoppor!—here to spell out what you need to know concerning this crucial aspect of the extreme late-game.

“I've played a lot of what people call concede decks,” Bunnyhoppor said: “Control decks that end with either you or the opponent conceding.” These decks run more removal than threats and are designed to deny your opponent any ability to gain an advantage. "If both decks are built this way, the ultimate question to ask your opponent is, how do you handle fatigue?”

Be Prepared


It might seem obvious, but if fatigue is on the horizon, try not to draw extra cards. “Oftentimes fatigue will go to seven or eight damage,” Bunnyhoppor said, “so drawing a card is basically like inflicting seven or eight damage to yourself—not worth it!”

Contrary to popular belief, the fatigue game starts at the beginning of a match. “It's very important to consider at the start if you're able to win the fatigue matchup,” he said. “Although that evaluation … isn't always that easy.”

Control vs. control contests often end in fatigue. In the current meta, the most prominent matchup where this occurs is Odd Warrior vs. Big Spell Mage, according to Dr. Hoppor. “Neither deck has more resources than the other can deal with, so it goes into fatigue at some point,” he said.

While most common in the control mirror, it can be correct to pilot midrange decks into fatigue versus control, especially when your opponent has already used their win condition. “Malygos Druid is a good example of this,” said Bunnyhoppor. “Druid is a class that draws a lot … [so] they generally draw faster than you. If they use their Swipe or Moonfires as removal spells, and you realize they cannot kill you anymore with their threats, you might want to push the battle to fatigue.”

Fatigue battles are not exclusive to slower decks. “It can happen with two aggressive decks that go toe-to-toe with each other as well,” said Bunnyhoppor. “The most aggressive deck doesn't always have to win by pressure, it can also win by fatigue. That is something you should always keep in mind.”

Run of the Mill

Mill decks—decks designed to burn through your opponent’s deck, forcing them into fatigue far earlier than normal—are a thing, but not much of one, in Bunnyhoppor’s estimation. “I've never experienced an effective mill deck,” he said. “Especially in [an] open deck-list format, mill decks have never been that great because your opponent knows your win condition.” (Togwaggle Druid is the exception, but Bunny does not consider this to be a true mill deck.)

Everyday I’m Shuffling


Every card you can add to your deck during a game will put more space between you and fatigue. But it is essential to time the play of cards that shuffle more cards into your deck in a way that maximizes their value—and protects them.

For instance, in the previously mentioned matchup between Odd Warrior and Big Spell Mage, “The Mage will always keep a Polymorph for Direhorn Hatchling to prevent the Warrior from shuffling an extra card into their deck,” said Bunnyhoppor. So, to counteract this play, “The Warrior will use cards like Faceless Manipulator to make two Direhorn Hatchlings in the same turn, very late in the game.”

Thanks for reading! We hope that the next time you find yourself in fatigue, Dr. Bunnyhoppor’s words will ring in your ears. Be sure to return to PlayHearthstone.com/Esports again tomorrow for our next missive in the Endgame Moves series, about combo decks!

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