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RCC #3: Weapons Expounded – Part 1

crazerk

In this week’s RCC, we will be talking more about weapons!

In this column, Ranked Climb with crAzerk (RCC, for short), our resident writer crAzerk will share his insights into the game of Hearthstone via strategy articles, blogs about his own ranked experiences, and other write-ups. These are catered to both new players as well as the average player of Hearthstone.

Please leave any suggestions/requests for future articles in the comments below, or contact crAzerk directly at atqhteo [at] gmail [dot] com.

This article begins a short two-part series aimed to teach players how to properly utilize weapons in Hearthstone. Enjoy!

Weapons

Images from Hearthstone, Blizzard Entertainment

Introduction

Weapons are a crucial element for several classes in Hearthstone, but new players often misuse them; being afraid to attack the board as they fear losing HP. This two-part series aims to help you better understand what weapons can do for you, and how to use them optimally.

In this first part, I will share some general weapon usage tips; in the second, I will go through the specific weapons for each individual class.

Weapons Expounded
1. General Weapon Usage
2. Class-specific Weapons

Table of Contents
1) What is a weapon?
2) Health as a resource
3) When do I use weapons?
4) What do I attack?
5) What do I NOT attack?

What is a weapon?

While this may seem like a silly question to ask, for the purpose of this series, I am defining weapons slightly more broadly than its literal meaning, as the same principles apply.
For this series, a weapon is any card that allows you to attack with your Hero (excluding spells). Thus, on top of the usual Stormforged Axe or Fiery War Axe which you are accustomed to, this definition includes cards such as Claw and Rockbiter Weapon, which buffs your hero to attack.

Weapons usually have great value – Fiery War Axe provides 6 damage for 2 mana, Gorehowl a potential 28 (!) damage for 7 mana, and Rockbiter Weapon 3 damage for 1 mana.  Thus, they are highly effective tools to eliminate opposing threats on the board, allowing you to have a stronger board control. The tradeoff, however, is that you will take damage from enemy minions. This will lead us to the next point; health is just a resource.

Health as a resource

This is a very important concept that new players need to grasp before fully appreciating the strength of weapons. Health, just like cards or mana, is just another resource at your disposal. It doesn’t matter whether you’re at 30 Health Points (HP) or 1 HP, as long you bring your opponent to 0 HP before you hit it yourself, you have won the game (Some obvious exceptions apply, such as being aware of damage spikes certain classes possess, e.g. Pyroblast)

What this means is, trading health to gain advantages on the board is perfectly fine. As a new CCG player, I found this a little hard to understand at first, and thus couldn’t play Warlock optimally (A good example of trading health to gain an advantage – card advantage, in the case of Life Tap). But once you get over this mental hurdle, you will realize weapons are excellent tools to gain board advantage, at the expense of some HP.

When do I use weapons?

You have understood that weapons are great help to gaining board control, and that health is a tradable resource. So, do not get fussed up over losing a couple of HP to swing that heavy axe. Two questions then naturally arise – How many weapons should I include in my deck (whether constructed or arena), and when should I equip them?

As for which weapons to choose, there is no hard and fast rule, though future installments of this series will touch on the more specific weapons. The number of weapons really depends on what kind of deck you are running; I personally like to have a cap of 4 weapon cards in my decks.

Most of the time (80%), you should only equip a weapon when you are going to attack immediately with it. This is so as to avoid getting Oozed before you even attack, plus it adds to the surprise element and acts in a Charge-like manner. Exceptions to this rule may include when the opponent has already played both Oozes (in Constructed) or when you are trying to utilize a Battlecry/Enrage mechanic involving weapons (e.g. Bloodsail Raider, Dread Corsair, etc)

What do I attack?

Knowing when to attack what is of great importance. Ideally, you want to:

  • Remove the largest damage threat
  • Deal maximum lethal weapon damage
  • Protect your minions

E.g. (I am using generic figures for the examples to simplify matters. I will also not be explaining order of killing; e.g. to avoid potential card draw, as they are beyond the scope of this article)

Removing the largest damage threat

Your opponent has a 4/3 (i.e. 4 damage, 3 HP minion) and 2/3 minion on the board, while you have a 3 damage weapon in hand (e.g. Fiery War Axe) and a 3/5 minion on the board. Who do you attack, with what?

While it may be tempting to Weapon the 2/3 and kill off the 4/3 with your 3/5 minion as your Hero takes less damage, that would leave your 3/5 at 3/1, and very vulnerable to a large array of potential removals.  The optimal trade would be to Weapon the 4/3, and kill off the 2/3 with your 3/5, which leaves your 3/5 minion at 3/3, as high as you could have in that trade.

An exception may be when your Hero’s HP is already in critical state (e.g. below 10) – the former trade MAY be favorable then.

Deal maximum weapon damage

Your opponent has a 3/1, 2/3 and minion on the board; you have none, and no AOE cards in your hand. You have a 3 damage weapon. Who do you attack?

A slightly more tricky situation. If we abide by our previous rule, we should attack the 3/1. However, this results in 2 ‘wasted’ damage from our 3 damage weapon, and the 2/3 will be harder to remove later, especially if your weapon is out of durability or gets Oozed. It is generally the better move to attack the 2/3 in this case, and hope you can remove the 3/1 with something else later (maybe a 1/2?)

What do I NOT attack?

When you can’t deal lethal damage to a minion

Your opponent has a 4/1, 3/6 minion on board. You have a 1/1 minion on board, and a 3 damage weapon. Who do you attack?

This was a trick question – the optimal move here, in general, is to not attack. While you should definitely trade your 1/1 for the 4/1 (good value for you; Weapon on the 4/1 to protect your 1/1 is not good as the 3/6 removes your 1/1 anyway next turn), the maximum weapon damage dealt to the 3/6 will not be useful as it doesn’t kill it off.

You may think that you can just attack again next turn, and it’ll be 3+3 = 6, but your opponent can do variety of things to thwart that, such as buff it up, heal it, even flipping it back into his hand. It’s generally the better move to pass on the attack, and wait till you have lethal damage on the minion.

The enemy Hero

You should not attack the enemy hero UNLESS:

a) Your HP is too low to continue attacking minions with your Hero;
b) You want to heal up with Truesilver Champion;
c) You are going for the kill either this turn or next turn; or you’re rushing a minion-light deck (e.g. Frost Mage)
d) You are equipping a new weapon (e.g. You’re using the default Rogue weapon, and you have 2 excess mana this turn to re-equip it anyway. You want to play a Bloodsail Raider, and want to replace your Fiery War Axe with an Arcanite Reaper to get a stronger Battlecry Boost) and there are no better targets on the board;
e) Druid Hero power/Any other one-turn-only attack, with no better target

You should be saving durability to attack minions – if you attack the enemy hero pointlessly, think of this way – you are letting your opponent trade HP to remove your weapon.

A minion with above 6 damage

If you swing into a 10/5 Ancient of War when you can trade a 5/3 minion for it, it’s not clear who got the better end of the trade. While you kept your 5/3 alive, you took a large 10 damage swing, which may put you in a dangerous position. For high damage minions, spell removals are preferred, and you need to weigh the pros and cons of trading that amount of health for whatever minions you are protecting.

E.g. against a Druid, he just played a 10/5 Ancient of War. You have a 2/1, 2/4, 1/1, 2/2 on board, and a 5/1 weapon. Who do you attack?

In this case, even if you swing your weapon and keep your minions alive, they are wide open to Swipe, or even Starfall, and suddenly your board is almost empty and you paid 10 HP for it. It may be the better option to just run your minions into the 10/5 to remove it, though of course it depends on what follow up you have.

Conclusion

I hope this first part of the Weapons Expounded series was useful in helping you understand how to better use weapons. You will notice I frequently use the term ‘in general’ when I suggest optimal moves, and that is because there are always exceptions to any recommended move, and there are just too many of them to cover.

In spite of this, I believe these guidelines will still serve to help players make the right decisions, and through their own experience, they will start to learn when exceptions may occur for these guiding principles.

In the remaining two segments, I will go through the weapons of each class and give some brief advice on how to utilize them well. The same principles elaborated upon in this article applies for all weapons! Stay tuned for Part 2 next week!

-crAzerk#1308

What do you all think of this guide on Weapons? Let us know in the comments below!

Stay tuned to Hearthstone Alley, or our Facebook and Twitter for more quality Hearthstone and community news!

Image Credits: Blizzard Entertainment, Jeremy, crAzerk

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This entry was posted on January 19, 2014 by in Ranked Climb with crAzerk.

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