The Eternal Struggle
So you’re at 10 health as a druid, you have lethal next turn and your mage opponent has a 1-health bog creeper standing in your way. The mage has 8 cards in hand. What do you do?
For most people, the question of “How low can I go?” is a common one. The eternal struggle of wether or not bashing your face into a big minion, just for that teensy bit of tempo, is worth it.
Well fear not friend, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s get started.
This guide is mainly for arena players.
For the purposes of keeping this article brief, we’re going to ignore constructed play. While most of the key points in this article will also apply to climbing that sweet but salt-covered ladder, there are a few more factors that ranked players must consider, such as:
- What deck you’re playing.
- What deck your opponent is playing.
- How low your health is.
How many times you’ve been topdecked in the last hour and whether or not they could possibly draw another MORTAL STRIKE ARE YOU SERIOUS I SWEAR IF I HAVE TO PLAY ANOTHER PIRATE WARRIOR I WILL MARCH TO CALIFORNIA AND PERSONALLY GIVE BEN BRODE SOMETHING TO LAUGH ABOUT
…. and so on.
But I digress.
Health is a Resource
It may feel scary or uncomfortable, but sometimes sacrificing your health is a necessary risk. Especially for new players, it’s hard to see the value in shedding your own blood, when the whole point of the game is to stay alive longer than your opponent. Part of overcoming this fear is understanding if the risk is worth the reward.
So how do you figure out if it’s worth it? Try asking yourself some questions about the play you’re making:
- Do I have a greater chance of winning than my opponent has of killing me?
- Does this play prevent me from losing this turn?
- Is the minion I’m trying to save worth more than the health I’m losing?
There are more questions we could ask ourselves, but it really boils down to the simple idea of whether or not it’s really worth it.
But let’s get back to that whole “Health is a resource thing.”
While you may think this concept is obvious, don’t be too quick to ignore this advice. Regrettably, I’ve had the misfortune of watching many innocent minions die by the hands of their miserly master, just to prevent 1 or 2 damage. It’s truly a tragedy.
The worst part? I see this from 12-win arena players and sometimes even famous streamers. Sure, sometimes you make a misplay, but that’s no excuse for forgetting the simple fact that health doesn’t matter. Seriously. It doesn’t. Use it as a tool to get board advantage, protect your minions, and look like an absolute boss.
However, while not caring about your health is important, there is a line.
Be Responsible With Your Resources
Some players take things too far when they utilize their health.
For example, if your opponent has 2 6/6 taunt minions and you have a full-charge Fool’s Bane equipped, you may want to reconsider taking 24 damage in one turn. While I appreciate your commitment to getting ahead on the board, I think you may want to try a non-weapon class.
There’s a limit to how much health you can utilize before it becomes a problem. While the example above is a bit extreme, it does illustrate a good rule of thumb when it comes to taking damage while removing a minion.
If the amount of damage you take when removing a minion exceeds the amount of damage you will take if you don’t, it’s generally a bad idea to utilize your health pool. This rule really only applies to high damage or dangerous trades. So using a “fiery win axe” to clear a 5/3 minion is totally fine provided it does not put you at severe risk of death.
However, there are a few exceptions:
- If you are attempting to gain early board control
- If you are protecting a high priority friendly minion
- If you are able to heal, gain armor, or play a taunt minion that would reasonably prevent fatal damage
- If you are not likely to win and you need to clear a minion to have any chance
There are a few more cases that we could add to the list, but generally these are the most common scenarios. Generally, based on how the game has progressed and how many wins you achieved in the arena, you will most likely be able to feel out the situation for yourself. When you get right down to it, your best ally is your common sense.
Also, one useful tip to keep in mind is that your opponent might not have a good idea of how to use health, so when you’re playing against someone, keep an eye on how they utilize their life total and adjust your play-style accordingly. Not only will you have better foresight on what trades and plays they might make, you might just be able to trick them into helping you find lethal.
In the end, try to remember these guidelines and really think about what works in the moment, because when you’re at the end and your opponent is being cocky and spam-emoting his “Greetings,” it will be that much more satisfying when you get the upper hand, slam down a Leeroy, and enjoy a celebratory warm cup of cocoa as they concede.
Just don’t forgot to shoot them a “Well Played” before they go.