Opening Moves: Ahead or Behind
Over the past three days, we’ve found a win condition, built a deck to support it, and successfully chosen an opening hand during the mulligan—now, it’s time to put all of that planning into practice as the game begins.
As the game begins, how your individual turns will play out is dictated by whether you are playing from ahead or behind—or, simply put, whether you are winning or losing given the current game state. When the game starts, the player who goes first is theoretically ahead, since they get to “ask the question” first with their initial play. If they get on the board, the player going second now must “answer” that play, and who is doing the asking or answering will shift and change over the course of the game from there.
Evaluating your opening hand, you’ll have some judgements to make about how to proceed. What are you anticipating from your opponent? Is your best play to go aggressive, or do you need to hold on to cards to maximize their value later? Before your first card ever hits the board, you need to know where you intend to take the game, and tweak your game plan as your opponent responds in kind.
When you're ahead, you need to convert your lead into a win before your opponent reaches their win condition. Push to deal damage before they can clear the board. If your opponent needs minions to buff, keep their board clear so they can't catch up effectively.
Thinking critically, even in this early stage before you’ve started to introduce new variables from your opponent, is a great way to improve your odds of winning. Suppose you’re going second against a Warlock who has played a Flame Imp on his first turn. Do you have a way in your hand to remove it from the board? Is doing so the right use of that card, given what else you are now expecting from the Warlock having seen it?
There are also gambles and risks to consider. Maybe you use The Coin to play a Novice Engineer, since that’s the only play you have available. Would you have been better served to risk taking some chip damage from the Flame Imp to keep The Coin? If your Warlock opponent ignores your Novice Engineer to do extra damage, maybe your gamble will pay off, and you can utilize another minion or spell in tandem with it to kill the Flame Imp next turn. Or, maybe you gave them an easy way to cycle with Mortal Coil…
This is all just in preparation for the very first turn—so don’t miss Day 5, when we’re going to look at how you can navigate a couple of critical scenarios over the first five turns! We round out the early game and the end of Opening Moves week tomorrow.