Hearthstone Diary #2: The Enemy Rope and How to Overcome Panic Attacks
I tend to panic on a lot of things. Sometimes it also happens during a Hearthstone game when I’m in a critical condition AND I see that time is running out. It’s way different when I’m playing Magic: the Gathering where I have around an hour to play BO3s so I can think all I want at some parts of the match. Hearthstone, on the other hand as an online game, gives you the burning rope PLUS the dundundun background music does not help to calm skittish people like me. Sometimes I hear Leeroy Jenkin’s voice saying, “Times up, let’s do this” and I either get lucky and win anyway OR make a horrible, horrible misplay that I wouldn’t have done in the right mindset.
I’m still a work of progress in this area; I’ve been improving but then this situation gets magnified on stream. Last night, I played Tavern Brawl on my debut stream. This week’s Tavern Brawl is so heavy on RNG and I got rekt–I made a lucky comeback anyway. It’s so RNG-heavy that it makes me feel really sorry when I win just because I got really lucky with my hero power (random hero powers yo). Hey, Tavern Brawls are supposed to be fun so I didn’t really mind getting rekt but still, a worried ‘bear’ saw me under pressure.
The boyfriend a.k.a. my bear/no.1 fan wrote me a ‘love letter’ after watching me unravel under pressure on stream. Yes, this is a love letter disguised as tips on how NOT to panic when the timer runs out during games.
Background: I met him at the Hearthstone ladder when I was a noob who accepted every friend request I get from the opponents I played with. We both started playing Hearthstone around the same time so we actually grew as players together. He plays a LOT of other games and he’s quite good at most of them (I heard he’s good at poker but I haven’t seen that yet). One thing I noticed is he remains unperturbed even when he is in stressful situations. It probably came with training since he’s a doctor by profession (i.e. you cannot afford to panic in a life and death situation). Needless to say, he’s the ‘calm’ while I’m the ‘storm’ in the relationship.
After reading his letter, I figured that the tips he sent me might also help other players AND remind me at the same time… so here goes…
HOW NOT TO PANIC WHILE PLAYING HEARTHSTONE
Dear _____ ,
I saw how you tend to panic in critical conditions (and when you’re not ahead on board presence) so I decided to write a few pointers for you… And I wanted to make an excuse to write you. Haha.
You make really good decisions at Magic: The Gathering and those show in your results, so I was wondering why you have a hard time translating that to Hearthstone. The answer is simple: time limit. One minute and 30 seconds is a daunting time limit but I think it’s necessary (if I wanted to beat you maybe I should tech Nozdormu – why didn’t anyone do that against Patron?). I’m going to give you tips on how to make your decision making process faster (or more efficient, I think that would be the better term).
1. Have a game plan
Always have a plan in mind. Know what you aim to do before you take your turn. That’s why Face Hunter is easy and effective – you know that you aim to go for the face while getting the most out of your mana and cards. Every turn you know what to do already (save for some special situations, of course). Are you trying to go face? Do you need to clear the board? Having this out of the way saves you a lot of time so you can focus on the execution when your turn comes up.
2. Plan ahead and take your time doing it
This begins with mulligan. Take the time to decide what you’re going to do from the mulligan, then of course mulligan accordingly for it. Do I need to keep the owl? Should I have UTH in hand or could I draw for it later? Always keep that in mind. Next is the more crucial point. I always wondered why some players take a while to pass the turn at turn 1 even if I’m pretty sure the deck he’s running doesn’t have one drops. Then I found myself doing the same thing. Turn 1 is important because that’s when you plan out what to do for the succeeding turns.
Take that minute and a half to plan everything before ending your turn. Your turn = your thinking time more than anything. Execution only takes a few seconds.
3. Steal your opponent’s time
Lifecoach is actually doing you a favor by roping – he’s giving you more time to refine your plan and actually think up a way to deal with what he’s dishing out this turn. Make adjustments on *his* turn and not yours. Observe what he is doing and “react” accordingly. The other side of the coin and completely opposing what I’m advocating is taking your turn real fast. If you have everything figured out (like face usually does) and know how you’re going to go about it, and basically know ALL the steps to finishing the game, take your turn real quick and if possible, execute your moves in the shortest time possible (simultaneously if you can) and promptly end your turn. This will give your opponent less time to think and less time to react to your play. Guys who move then think then move again give you more time to adjust, but if you can play it out in your mind then do everything in one fell swoop then he wouldn’t know what hit him.
4. Know what you need
A way to “reduce the RNG” of card games is to know what you need. For example, I’m a face hunter on a taunted board and I’m looking for 3 damage. I know that I need quick shot or kill command to do it. So instead of going “let’s see what we’re getting and we’ll work from there”, my mindset is “if I get this card then I win, if I don’t then I’ll work with what they give me”. It also helps your empty hand: “If I draw shredder then I will play it next turn, If I don’t then I’ll go with the juggler I have if my draw isn’t better”. Having that in mind will reduce your reaction time to your card draw thus shaving some thinking time.
TL;DR use the time given to you. Abuse it. In the end it’s not really about the time that you save but rather about freeing your mind. If you don’t have to worry about your next turn then you can turn your attention to the endgame or to your opponent’s play or to thinking of possible scenarios. (Or message your bear on Facebook :p he knows that you ‘disappear’ when you’re in the middle of a game unless you’re winning or losing terribly.)
There, lengthy but I hope that helps. I know you don’t really like to be “taught” but give it a good read and see if it matches up with what you already know.
If anyone else would read this they wouldn’t label this as a love letter, but in our unique situation this is one of the ways I can show you that I love you.
(I posted the letter with or without his consent anyway 😛 Haha, sorry, Bear. :*)
Hearthstone is supposed to be fun so have fun. When I started to gain followers in the HS global community I started to feel the pressure of competing for the top spot and I forgot that it’s supposed to be fun. I get reminded by Paulo from time to time that I didn’t become good at what I do because I was too damn serious; I became a better player because I was having fun. I used to lose a lot of stars whenever I get upset therefore I needed to work on that. I even sought the help from other Hearthstone pros on how to deal with ladder anxiety and I wrote about it on Tempostorm. If playing does not make you feel good, then what’s the point?
This is quite a long read but you’d prolly see that one of the reasons why I love Hearthstone is because it has brought a positive change in my life. I met a lot of wonderful people through this game and now, I’m learning how to be patient and be calm under stress. Educational much? LOL. It also feels good to have your friends cheering you on.
My debut stream went relatively well–I had to censor myself. Is it alright to swear sometimes? LOL. Anyway, thank you to those who dropped by at my channel. Here’s to more streams and achieving ‘grace under pressure’.