Midgame Week: Playing to Your Outs
Four previous days of Midgame Week has led to this. You’ve counted lethal, survived your opponent’s turn, tracked their hand, and figured out how to pilot your deck without a clear win condition still available. The ultimate midgame question, then, is this: how do you make sure you’re playing to win, not just delaying the inevitable?
There’s a surprisingly wide gulf between winning and not losing yet. A very kind Jace “DrJikininki” Garthright, best known for his 2017 Americas Winter Playoffs victory, lends us his guidance today to distinguish between the two, helping you to “play to your outs”—making sure you’re still working towards a game-winning play.
“It’s important to ask yourself every turn—how can I win this game?” DrJikininki says. “Some games, you may have a very slim chance to win, but recognizing when you are in that situation and adapting is a very important skill.” He cautions against what may seem instinctual, which is to make the "safe" play each turn. “All players have a tendency to make plays that would be considered safer,” he says. “Plays as simple as trading into minions on the board to live for an extra turn.”
But the concept of playing to live isn’t how you should play. “Use critical thinking about the potential reach in your opponent’s deck,” DrJikininki says. “Taking slim percentage chances is what you have to do sometimes!” His advice makes sense—evaluating how a given line of play sets you up to win later is incredibly important.
Getting there takes time, so DrJikininki echoes what others have said: practice. “Next time you play a game and are in a losing position, ask yourself—what hands can you beat? What play with your hand leads to you winning the most often? This will help you out more than just playing a large number of games.” He notes that understanding the variables—your deck’s reach, your opponent’s deck’s reach, whether or not either deck can afford to play a value game, and more—all factor into those questions.
That’s it! We hope you’ve enjoyed this series of educational snippets from pro players across the competitive Hearthstone landscape, and that Midgame Week inspires you to take your game to the next level.
Which of this week’s skills do you think is most important? What advice would you offer other players looking to learn more about how to level up their play? Offer up your thoughts in the comments and stay tuned for even more pro player insight right here on playhearthstone.com/esports.