Understanding Win Conditions
Put simply, ‘Win Conditions’ are how your deck wins the game. When you’re building anything from a Face Hunter to a Control Warrior the most important thing to be aware of is how your deck wins the game. It is critical that all card selections and subsequent play choices are informed by how you and your opponent want to win.
The ability to make all your decisions in a game whilst thinking about how it facilitates your own victory – or denies your opponents – is critical to success in Hearthstone.
Win Conditions and Deck Building
To best grasp how understanding win conditions can inform deck building decisions I’ll use a couple of examples. First, let’s look at the standard Control Warrior deck list and a specific card choice.
Control Warrior looks to win the game by stalling in the early-mid game through efficient removal. They then take advantage of this stalled game state with massive late-game minions to out-value their opponents.
This card has become a staple in most modern Control Warrior lists, often as a substitute to Acolyte of Pain. At deal 3 damage, gain 3 armor this card fits very well into Control Warriors plan to stall/survive the early game.
More significant than this though is its strength at denying the Win Conditions of an aggressive meta-game. With a surge of aggressive, early-game and board-centric deck lists on the ladder, Bash became a critical card in Control Warrior for the Post-Patron meta.
When tempo and controlling the board state are still the primary win conditions for the meta-game it is easy to see how Bash can greatly outperform other options like Acolyte of Pain.
Next, let’s look at the standard Midrange Paladin list and Coghammer.
This archetype operates in a similar way to Tempo decks and is very good at controlling the pace of the game. Like most midrange decks they look to leverage a consistent early curve to control the early board. In the mid-late game this deck looks to use cards like Tirion Fordring, Dr. Boom and Quartermaster to aggress on its opponents.
Coghammer is a fantastic card at controlling the enemy board state. Coghammer capitalizes on an early board advantage to establish a dominant early game position. As a result, this card fits very well into the Midrange Paladin early-game. It is typically run over a second equality.
Like Bash, to best understand the strength of this card – and why you would run it over a second equality (or anything else) – you have to examine the win conditions of your opponents.
Despite the meta-game slowing down there are still a lot of aggressive decks on ladder that rely on early board advantages to win the game. Coghammer specifically denies these decks their ideal early game,and in turn, their win condition.
In an aggressive meta, Coghammers strength at establishing early board control makes it a staple addition to the standard Midrange Paladin list.
Win Conditions and Gameplay
The most important thing to be aware of when considering the right play in any match-up from mulligans to securing lethal is the win conditions for both you and your opponent. To help you best understand how Win Conditions can inform gameplay (particularly mulligans) I’ll be using another deck example.
Rogue is a class that thrives against board-centric archetypes. With fantastic early removal and board clear options Oil Rogue is fantastic at controlling their opponent’s board state. Oil Rogue will look to control the board in the early game, develop strong mid-range minions in the mid-game and then leverage those minions with burst damage for lethal in the late-game.
For convenience I’ll talk about how Oil Rogue plays and mulligans against the two aforementioned deck lists.
Mulligans and Play vs. Control Warrior
Oil Rogue will look to mulligan and play in a very unique way against Control Warriors to best play around the win conditions of their deck. Control Warrior has a large amount of early removal that matches up very well against Oil Rogue’s early-mid game threats. This when combined with their weak early board state means you should mulligan all early minions and spells.
Oil Rogue has a finite amount of damage available to them and as a result Control Warrior will typically look to employ their secondary win condition, grinding you out of cards. The most important thing for the Oil Rogue in this matchup is card draw or establishing large weapons. You want to develop multiple midrange threats (or a big Assassin’s Blade) in the mid- late game (turns 5-9) and start to burn the Warrior over multiple turns. Without drawing Sprint it is extremely easy to run out of steam.
It is not uncommon to hold off playing SI:7 Agent on turn three in this match up. Instead you often wait until you can develop another minion or get more value out of the combo effect. The first few turns can often be spent attacking face with your hero power.
When playing vs. Control Warrior I mulligan everything except Sprint, Azure Drake or Assassin’s Blade. You can keep Preparation if already holding sprint and Sharpsword Oil if already holding Assassin’s Blade.
Mulligans and Play vs. Midrange Paladin:
Oil Rogues ideal mulligans and play vs. Midrange Paladin is much more ‘conventional’ than control Warrior. As previously stated Oil Rogue thrives versus board-centric archetypes, and has fantastic early removal options to deal with the Paladins minions. Keeping these low mana spells in the mulligan is important when trying to manage the Paladins early game plan.
The win condition for Midrange Paladin is based on leveraging an early-mid game board advantage with late-game threats. The ability Oil Rogue has to control the Paladins board whilst developing their own effectively denies Paladin their primary win condition and makes the game very difficult for them to win.
When Playing vs. Midrange Paladin I keep the following: Backstab – Fan of Knives – SI:7 Agent – Deadly Poison – Blade Flurry
The variance in mulligans and core gameplay is massive in these two match ups and is entirely due to an understanding of their win conditions.
Well that’s the end of the article today, hopefully this has helped you get a firm grasp on how to think about and apply win conditions to improve your game!
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