Hello everyone,

Today I was doing some house cleaning and came across a few notes I made during a climb to Legend I made in the past. Among them was a comprehensive list of questions I made that I would use occasionally as reference for learning purposes. Hopefully someone finds this to be an useful complement (or alternative) to other available checklists. Obviously, this is not useable in every single game, and you probably want to limit its usage to one game per day or so; I’d imagine it’s more useful for analyzing VODs (including your own replays) with the help of the pause function.


Start of the match

  1. What is my win condition? How can I win against the deck my opponent is most likely to be playing?If possible, observe your opponent’s mulligan first to gather more information. A simple but important bit of information that you can obtain from this step is how good their hand is. For example, against a Hunter who keeps their whole hand, you should brace yourself for an explosive and aggressive start.
  2. Do I need to win, or do I need not to lose? Which cards do I need to accomplish the role I assigned to myself?It is not always easy, but the earlier you can determine if you need to play to win (to be the aggressor) or play not to lose (to be the control player), the more likely you are to win. If you are playing Control Warrior versus Hunter, you will most likely want your early removal to survive their aggression. However, determining your role at the mulligan phase is rarely this easy; still, knowing what decks are popular at any given time will give you an upper hand.
  3. After the mulligan phase, and now that I know the cards that are in my starting hand, what is my initial game plan? What is my opponent’s possible game plan based on the information I inferred during the mulligan? How should I change my initial game plan in order to either counter or play around theirs?

During the match

General Considerations

  1. Check for lethal. Consider if the opponent might have lethal soon.
  2. What’s my best play during this turn?
  • What is the opponent’s game plan like during each turn? Are they being the control player or the aggressor?
  • Do I want to play for tempo or for value?
  • Can I (or do I want to) clear the board?
    • If yes, does that leave me in a good spot, or will I spend too many resources?
    • If no, how much can my opponent screw me over with their current board versus mine?
  • What cards do I need to play around considering how the board state will be next turn? Do I want to bait out those specific cards?For example, consider if your plan so far involves leaving a board full of 4 health minions versus a Mage’s turn 7, unless you can recover effectively from Flamestrike. In that case, maybe you are fine with giving the Mage a 3-for-1, especially if any of those minions already traded with another one to get one Flamestrike out of the way…
  • What can I do to disrupt my opponent’s turn?Continuing the turn 7 Flamestrike example, having minions with more than 4 HP will make the deal seem much worse for the Mage, or you could play Loatheb and deny most removal (and/or burst) outright.
  • Which minions/spells do I want to develop this turn after considering all of the above? After defining my play, in what order do I need to play my cards?You should give priority to RNG effects: if you are going to draw a card, do it right away; if your play depends on a juggle hit, get the effect off first of all; etc.

If you and your opponent are even…

  1. Take calculated risks, especially in unfavoured matchups or if you find yourself playing the role of aggressor.
  2. When you are the control player, do your best to stop the aggressor while keeping your health high enough (doubly important if they might have burn left in their deck), so that you can turn the game around when they run of steam.
  3. If you are the aggressor, consider how you can win before the opponent stops your aggression. You will want to take risks more often than when playing control, or else you might just lose.You want to keep the armor of that Control Warrior low, you certainly do not want to play into a Priest’s Circle of Healing + Auchenai combo, and it might be best to save removal for their big threats if possible to buy you time to dish in that last amount of damage and close the game. DENY DRAWS!! It’s always important, but doubly so in this case. Don’t let the control player find answers, unless you are very confident that you can close out the game soon.

If things go south…

  1. Can I survive next turn?Even if you cannot, avoid pressing the concede button. Perhaps your opponent will miss lethal.
  2. If yes, what are the outs that will help me turn the game around?It does not matter if it’s something that will buy you more time to slowly shift the situation like a heal or a taunt, or a combo piece that will win you the game outright.
  3. How can I play in order to maximize those outs?Prepare that 1/10 lethal. Trade as much as you can while preserving your health if you need to buy another turn or two. Even if the game looks lost, you never know if your opponent’s next draws will be much worse than yours!

If things are looking good…

  1. Play around chances that might turn the game around in your opponent’s favour.Don’t play into Mind Control Tech. Avoid board clears more aggressively even if your opponent would not usually have them (for example, Flamestrike in Mech Mage). If your opponent is topdecking, think about which cards they might draw and avoid the worst case scenario – if you can, taunt up to avoid that win-stealing Leeroy, use healing to keep yourself out of Pyroblast range, etc.
  2. With those considerations in mind, try to win ASAP.You don’t want to give your opponent enough time to turn the game around by topdecking Deathwing.

After the match

  1. Analyze replays. Focus on finding what you did well on, and what needs improving.
  • Which plays went well? Why did they go well? Were they the best play? Or were you just lucky that they were good plays in a particular case?
  • Which plays had poor results? What was the best play in that case? Was the best play a good play in the context of the match?
  • Which seemingly bad plays turned out to be good in this match, and why? Maybe those “bad” plays are actually good in the scenarios you performed them at!
  • Which seemingly good plays turned out to be bad in this match, and why? Maybe those “good” plays are actually bad in the scenarios you performed them at.
  1. If possible, try to have someone else look at the replays so that your decisions can be analyzed from a fresh perspective.

TL;DR

Presented as is, the above wall of text might not come across as a checklist. However, since its purpose was to aid me in thinking hard during a couple matches a day to improve my play, I thought it was important to explain everything as much as possible to myself. However, by taking only the bits I bolded, we obtain something much closer to a checklist, albeit still somewhat long…

Start of the match

  1. What is my win condition? How can I win against the deck my opponent is most likely to be playing?
  2. Do I need to win, or do I need not to lose? Which cards do I need to accomplish the role I assigned to myself?
  3. After the mulligan phase, and now that I know the cards that are in my starting hand, what is my initial game plan? What is my opponent’s possible game plan based on the information I inferred during the mulligan? How should I change my initial game plan in order to either counter or play around theirs?

During the match

General Considerations

  1. Check for lethal. Consider if the opponent might have lethal soon.
  2. What’s my best play during this turn?To consider: your current beatdown role; if you want to go for tempo or value; the state of the board before and after the turn; which cards to play around; how to potentially disrupt the opponent’s next turn; what you want to play; in what order your need to play your cards.

If you and your opponent are even…

  1. Take calculated risks, especially in unfavoured matchups or if you find yourself playing the role of aggressor.
  2. When you are the control player, do your best to stop the aggressor and turn the game around.
  3. If you are the aggressor, consider how you can win before the opponent stops your aggression.

If things go south…

  1. Can I survive next turn?
  2. If yes, what are the outs that will help me turn the game around?
  3. How can I play in order to maximize those outs?

If things are looking good…

  1. Play around chances that might turn the game around in your opponent’s favour.
  2. With those considerations in mind, try to win ASAP.

After the match

  1. Analyze replays. Focus on finding what you did well on, and what needs improving.Determine why certain plays went well and why others didn’t. Try to discover if a play you thought was bad might actually be good, and vice versa.
  2. If possible, try to have someone else look at the replays so that your decisions can be analyzed from a fresh perspective.

Thanks for reading, and hopefully I did not goof up the content and formatting too much! Feel free to call out anything in the comments, since the objective of this guide is to help fellow players improve.



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