Misplays in Hearthstone often go unpunished.
Featured image via Bilzzard.

Misplays Are Rarely Punished in Hearthstone

Featured image via Bilzzard.


Misplays are something that everyone encounters. If you are unaware of the term or can’t figure it out from context, a misplay is when you make an incorrect or sub-optimal move in a game. Everyone makes misplays, but the real issue in Hearthstone is that misplays are rarely punished. Especially at higher levels.

Misplays and Professionals

The difference between playing perfectly and making a few misplays is enough to separate casuals and pros. The problem is, this is on ladder and takes into account hundreds of games. Any single given misplay often makes little difference to a given game. This is an odd thing to say, because obviously, misplays can drastically affect a game. Let me explain.

Especially at a professional level, a misplay is typically something that was done sub-optimally. For example, they trade inefficiently or miss a slightly easier clear. Sometimes they clear the board instead of hitting lethal. All of them are obvious misplays. However, they are also things that are small enough that they are easily recoverable. Which is the problem.

Hearthstone is too static

When your opponent misses lethal and leaves you at between one and ten health, it sucks. Because they messed up big time, and yet in almost every case, you’re still dead. Because of Hearthstone’s minion based combat, if someone misses lethal, their board is usually still full. Which means in order for their opponent to take advantage of the misplay, they must clear and heal. There aren’t a ton of cards that do that.

Because Hearthstone’s board clears are so inefficient, it’s very difficult to capitalize on a difficult situation. Twisting Nether is one of the only reliable ones, and even it doesn’t clear Deathrattles properly. On another note, healing is also incredibly uncommon, and also very useless usually. Reno Jackson is the best heal, but even he doesn’t help if your opponent has a big board.

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Close games and what we’re missing

Typically, the only time where misplays are truly punished is in incredibly close games. If you miss lethal and your opponent has two fireballs in hand, you can easily die. But those cases are few and far between. Typically one player takes control of the board, and the game is played on their decisions. If they miss lethal, their opponent still has to deal with the board. Which, once again, is incredibly difficult.

The real issue is that Hearthstone refuses to print cards that do punish misplays like that. And the only one that truly did, was nerfed into oblivion. Molten Giant used to be the king of punishing misplays. Especially if you had healing of some sort. Drop one or two Molten Giants, taunt them up, play Reno or even Jaraxxus if he’s discounted. That’s how to come back from a misplay. But no, that was removed.

Seatstory Cup

The reason I’m so aggravated by this at the moment is because of the misplays in Seatstory Cup VI. The tournament was great, I loved it, but there were blatant misplays that went unpunished. The worst for me was in the match between Torik and C4mlann. Here’s the picture of the situation:

Seatstory Misplay 1

It may not be obvious, but the best play for Torik is to steal the Azure Drake. Then use the spell power bonus on Holy Nova to clear the board and draw some cards – a huge swing that clears the opponent’s board while having a massive card advantage. Instead, he played Drakonid Operative and ended with this board state:

Seatstory Misplay 2

Notice him turned away after realizing how poorly he had played it. And yet, he won anyway. Torik made no play mistakes and actually took risky plays that were rewarded. And yet he lost.

Another example was during the finals, when Sjow missed lethal, but won the next turn anyway. As Reynad (casting) said, “there is no justice”.

Seatstory VI Cup BannerEdwin Van Cleef Banner
Dec 16, 2016
Grimy Goons Banner
Dec 13, 2016
Kun the Forgotten King
Dec 11, 2016
Dirty Rat isn't even that dirty. Literally unplayable.
Dec 9, 2016
Stephen Draper
Stephen has a degree in English from Brock University. He grew up playing video games and card games, always having an affection for strategy. He picked up League of Legends in early Season One and has since achieved Diamond rank multiple times. He also picked up Hearthstone in Beta and has since achieved Legend consistently. When he isn’t reading, writing, or gaming, he’s probably watching other people game.
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