Priority Targeting - Aggro Strategy

Posts: 26
This thread is a both a guide and an strategy to be fine tuned by the community. This strategy might seem obvious to some and others may have stumbled on it, regardless it is a strategy that can be utilized by all players who use aggro decks. By posting it here it can help new players who are looking for ways to improve there game. This thread will also allow more experienced players to input there thoughts on this strategy and fine tune it. I will be constantly reading through comments and feedback to edit and fine tune this guide. I am very open to feedback and more or better ideas for this guide so don't be afraid to make a suggestion because I will read it and take it into consideration : D Now that the introduction is over lets get to the meat of this thread.

Priority Targeting

What the priority targeting strategy does is help you decide when you should or shouldn't destroy an enemy minion and when you should and shouldn't go for your opponents face, Basically what target or targets on the board should be your priority. Seems simple enough but knowing which of these choices to make while playing an aggro deck is the difference between a loss and a win. If you spend to much time killing your opponents minions you could be giving you opponent the time they need to set up huge taunts and damage dealers and end up late game against a Druid who will just wipe your field with AOE and set up a huge taunt with a couple other creatures behind them. On the other hand if you spend your whole time running your face into your opponent you give them the opportunity to set up a mass of minions buffing each other as they prepare to swarm your face.

This idea comes from classic burn deck strategy in magic the gathering, I played a decade ago, now retired but that is when I was introduced to this idea. Though there really wasn't a name given to this strategy it was just the basic burn deck strategy so there was no reason to give it a name. The reason I am giving it one is because damage dealing and aggro in hearthstone is very different from magic and in order to prevent confusion a new name for the adaption would be fitting. (here is a link to an article that discusses burn deck strategy and I will be using some of the ideas explained in this article throughout, so if your interested in learning more about the origin of this strategy and how it was original used and differs you can refer to this link http://www.toptiertactics.com/19956/magic-2014-dodge-and-burn-deck-guide/ )

Now here is a basic list of rules to follow, of course depending on the situation these rules may be broken or ignored all together but I will go over that later. (If you read the article referred to earlier you will release some similarities)

If it’s not an immediate, undestroyable threat, don’t counter/destroy it
If you can afford to lose life, hold back on your sweepers
Damage to the face is good if it’s massive or lethal; otherwise, hit minions

Rules explained

These rules are in order of how important they are, which is why rule 1 and 3 seem to contradict each other, rule 1 is just more important. Which leads me to the explanation of each rule.

Rule 1, If it’s not an immediate, undestroyable threat, don’t counter/destroy it. What this means is that if there is a 1/1 minion on the board, there is absolutely no reason to use a card like Eviscerate, Kill Command, or Soulfire to take it out, let alone a hard removal. A 1/1 is only 1 damage to you every turn, and if your playing aggro you can output way more damage then that single minion so wasting your time with it is pointless. Now that doesn't mean that all 1/1 minions or weaker are to be left alone, cards like Patient Assassin, Blood Imp, Nat Pagle, and Doomsayer might not be outputting much damage but their mechanics and abilities can really hinder you or greatly benefit your opponent, so you need to deal with them immediately. Basically threat can come from both damage and card abilities, deciding whether or not that damage, ability or both makes something a priority is what is important.

Here is a list of things to take into consideration when deciding how threatening something is, the order is once again sorted by what is most important. (THIS LIST ASSUMES YOUR PLAYING AGGRO, this list would be different for a control deck)

1. If I do not counter or destroy it I am going to lose on my opponents next turn, this is the obvious one but the most important

2. Taunt, remove it every time. (you cannot deal damage to your opponent with your minions if there is a taunt in your way, In a majority of games most of your removals and damage spells will be used to get taunts out of the way for your minions to attack)

3. How much damage can be done to me with that? (1-3 damage of course depending on the situation is not threatening)

4. How much does it hinder me vs. how much does it benefit my opponent? (does the minion provide threatening buffs to your opponents minions, help him play or gain cards, and hinder your minions and/or ability to make plays)

5. Is this minion something I am going to be able to deal with in the future or will it get buffed by its abilities and be much harder to deal with or cause me to much harm. (enrage buffs fall under this category)

A prime example of a minion that I see a lot of aggro users spend to many resources on is Harvest Golem. Do not get me wrong he is a great card and you could even argue he should be used in almost any deck, I even use him in my aggro decks. The thing is, Harvest Golem is only 2 damage, over time yes it is more but to spend 2 cards/minions to remove 1 minion is not a very good use of your resources. The fact of the matter is in an aggro Harvest Golem is a card you can kill at your leisure. 4 damage should be no problem for an aggro deck, so until you need to take him out let him be and maybe your opponent will even kill it for you by throwing it into your creatures that are already out. If that happens(which it does a lot) then your minion has now spread more damage around the board then before.



Rule 2, If you can afford to lose life, hold back on your sweepers. This rule is much simpler then the last one. Sweepers refer to your heavy hitters and big damage spells such as Leeroy Jenkins, Argent Commander, Old Murk-Eye, and Unleash the Hounds. All of those cards can be strong damage dealers, and should be saved for when you need them to secure a win or take out big threats. The last thing you want is to have played most of your big hitters just to have the entire field wiped and now you have no cards in your hand and no way to kill your opponent or deal with his cards. Basically, save your sweepers for priority targets, big minions, threats and winning the game. Do not over extend by playing everything you have just because you can. This is a common mistake among new players.

Rule 3, Damage to the face is good if it’s massive or lethal; otherwise, hit minions. This is another simple rule, if all you have on the board is 3 small minions who can only output 4-5 damage while your opponent has a couple minions themselves rather then just running into your opponents face just take out the couple of minions they have so that you do not have to worry about those minions getting buffed or your opponent play 3 more minions next turn and now you have a swarm of enemy minions to deal with and not enough mana and minions to do it in one turn. Even though your playing aggro having board control is not a bad priority to have, it can give you the opportunity to set up for swarm of buffed minions or safely play a minion who buffs all your other minions while on the board.





Conclusion

This strategy is not class specific, or does it only apply to one type of aggro deck, but can be used in every aggro deck. Once again this strategy is meant to help you decide what target or targets on the board should be your priority. How you win the game is up to you and your deck build, whether it be a swarm of murlocs or Hounds, or even a shadowstepped Leeroy with a cold blood buff. This strategy is meant to help you survive and make it to your winning plays when using an aggro deck, to make sure your opponent does not lock down control down on the board because you have been ignoring their minions to much and to make sure your not paying to much attention to your opponents minions so that when you do get that massive damage out your opponent is actually low enough that it is lethal.

Hope you all enjoyed the read, I know it is long but it is all great info. Please post feedback and ideas to add onto this, or things to change in the guide I will be reading and editing this thread !
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Posts: 80
I am assuming if there are obvious favorable trades that you are leaving on the board you should remove them if possible, even if you aren't in immediate danger? An example of what I mean is:

On board for you:

2/2, 2/1, 1/1

On board for them is:

3/1, 2/2

I am assuming in that situation the correct play is crash your 1/1 into the 3/1 and then attack face with the other two.
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Posts: 1
Yes, in the case where you can make an obvious trade up, it is always better to trade a weaker minion for a stronger minion. The only exception for this is if you give up lethal in order to clear one of their minions out. It seems so obvious, but many beginning players simply miss out on a win because they re so preoccupied with clearing the board. But in the case of trading a 1/1 for a 3/1, the payoffs always outweigh the one damage setback.
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Posts: 267
I'd say the biggest guide line is asking yourself the following question: "what's the worse that can happen if I do x play?" and then weighting the risk/reward of all of your best plays. Of course, you should know each class's cards and how each deck plays.

02/07/2014 10:49 AMPosted by infidale
I am assuming if there are obvious favorable trades that you are leaving on the board you should remove them if possible, even if you aren't in immediate danger? An example of what I mean is:

On board for you:

2/2, 2/1, 1/1

On board for them is:

3/1, 2/2

I am assuming in that situation the correct play is crash your 1/1 into the 3/1 and then attack face with the other two.

I'll use this as an example. In this situation if you're thinking about going face with the 2/2 and 2/1 you have to think about stuff like "should I trade the 2/1 instead if he can kill it for free next turn with hero power or some other common card? Can he buff the 2/2 if I don't kill it now? Should I trade one of my minions to make his UTH/AoE worse? Do I have lethal on him soon if I just go face? Can he kill me if I just try going for lethal?" And so on.

As you manage to think of and answer more of those questions you'll see yourself becoming a better player.
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