Game Theory Question – Midrange/Control and Runebreaking

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curious1 1 week ago
I’m new to this game, just been playing 2 days but played hearthstone a lot before. I’m trying to get a feel for the strategy beyond my limited intuition and notice there are very few articles covering advanced non-face/aggro strategy concepts, particularly related to advanced runebreaking strategy. If I could get detailed answers from anyone at legend rank or so it would be much appreciated.

I notice games can easily swing in my favor or against me regardless of who’s ahead simply due to breaking runes which lead to giving/receiving card advantage. The questions rely on whether or not to break a rune when you have established board control as a midrange or control deck.

The scenario assumes you have now gained complete board control and tempo, however you have no drain minions or health cards. Also assume you have about 4 or so Drain creatures and a couple or so snakeskin necklaces in your deck that haven’t been drawn, about 40 cards or so are remaining. Assume you’re around turn 6. Specifics aren’t necessary I’m just after the general ideas and thinking on what to do.


1) If your life is low (eg: 7), and opponent’s life is high (eg: 30 with no broken runes) and opponent has let’s say 5 cards in hand, you have 2 cards, you can do about 10 damage this turn from your minions. They have no minions. Would you face and break runes, or would you keep ignoring face until such time as you draw a drain card? (obviously you’d still deal with any minions they play). Does their card advantage play into your response to this scenario?

READ's a new guy xD

Now, If above answer is to wait until once you draw this drain card, then when you do get this drain card would you face only with the drain card (breaking as least runes as possible to heal), or would you face with all minions? Assume a drain of about 7 attack. Instead, if your answer to the above scenario is to go face regardless of your 7 health, then my question is, aren’t you concerned their card advantage or prophecies may be able to now better establish board presence that you can’t deal with (you have only 2 cards plus board control), and they can then face you? Is facing them really the better solution to survive?

2) Same scenario as above, but now they have 0 cards in hand, and you still have 2. Does the answer change? If so how?

I understand there’s so many dynamics affecting these answers (eg: do you have guard minions on the board, is their deck capable of charge or burst damage, etc), but listing out every specific scenario isn’t possible. I also deliberately didn’t mention the 2 cards you had, so you can see if your answer would change depending upon if they were silence, creatures, or whatever else they might be. Instead I’m just after very general strategy concepts in runebreaking which I fully understand will depend upon many factors not covered, not answers to any specific scenario.

Many thanks from anyone suitably qualified to answer these questions! Please list your rank and experience too. I’ve only been playing 2 days but have gotten to rank 5 already, so would greatly appreciate answers from someone at legend rank or so who has experience with non-face decks and who can really get to the ideas behind my questions. Runebreaking is a completely foreign concept to me and I have no intuition behind the surely deep meta surrounding it.

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DarkVaati 1 week ago
Hi there!

First of all, as you requested, I’ll say that I’ve been playing ESL for almost a couple of months now; I made it to Legend Rank ~#300 last month with Midrange Scout, and this season I’m currently sitting at Rank 1 with Midrange Spellsword; I don’t think I’ll push for legend, since there’s no real gain. That said, I don’t honestly think that I’m particularly good at the game, but anyway I’ll try to give some answers from my point of view.

In my opinion, the approach to rune breaking is highly dependant on the exact game scenario, including the board state, your opponent’s deck attributes, the cards in your hand and the life totals. It’s really easy to screw up a game by making a bad decision in this matter, and giving general patterns is not always easy. Even so, in general terms, I’d say that I try to be very cautious with rune breaking when facing aggressive decks, since I want them to run out of steam before I can actually start to push for the victory. If my remaining life total allows me doing so, I’d much prefer to stale the board and skip my attacks until growing a confortable enough position from which I can win in a couple of turns. Alternatively, I’ll try to be much more aggressive against greedy decks, sinceanyway I’m probably going to be in a losing position the more the game extends.

Now, let’s go to your scenarios. My first thought is that running Snakeskin Necklace is wasting deck slots for an awful topdeck, but since that’s not strictly related to the topic I’ll skip it.

First case. Turn 6; your life total is 7; your opponent’s life total is 30 (so your opponent is the agressor); your hand consists of 2 cards; your opponent’s hand consists of 5 cards. Simply put, in this case you probably already lost. Most likely, your opponent just needs to vomit his hand in the shadow lane for an easy win, even if you have a couple of guards, since he may be holding some removal. I’d definitely go for the face and pray, since he’s got plenty of cards and options anyway.

then my question is, aren’t you concerned their card advantage or prophecies may be able to now better establish board presence that you can’t deal with (you have only 2 cards plus board control), and they can then face you?

Precisely because I’m concerned that he may be able to establish a board presence next turn I can’t deal with, I need to try to close the game as soon as possible. Waiting for a card I won’t even probably draw (and which needs yet another turn to attack and give me some life) won’t help me against an aggressive deck. That said, everything is dependant on the opponent’s colors (hence removal options) and my guards.

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Second case. Same scenario, but now he’s out of cards. Everything changes in this case, because now you actually are in a winning position which may reverse if your opponent draws enough threats or hits a couple of profecies in a single turn. As before, everything depends on my opponent’s deck (burst potential) and my exact board state (guards) and hand (guards, silence, spot removal), but my general strategy would be staling the game for a couple of additional turns to grow an even bigger board, then probably break the least runes possible to set up for lethal and winning in my next turn.

curious1 1 week ago
Absolutely invaluable advice DarkVaati, it really opened my mind to a new way of thinking about it. Thanks!

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