[Ed. Note: Last week Anthony discussed what makes a good ladder deck and this week continues his analysis of Hearthstone deck selection with tournament decks.]

So, you’ve been climbing the ladder, making your mark, and have gotten a good handle on the decks that you’ve been playing and the decks that you’ve been playing against. You’re looking more and more into ways of playing competitively, and you find the World Championships that have been happening this past weekend. You then discover Fireside Gatherings, and you want to try your hand at them, or you may have found an open tournament online and figured, “Why not?”

The tournament scene tends to be quite different than the ladder. The most obvious thing you’ll notice when you enter a tournament is that you’re generally required to register multiple decks. Usually it’s five, and sometimes it’s seven. The other thing that’s different is the format that most events run, which is Conquest.

But wait, that’s a lot of decklists! Why do you need so many!?

Rounds in tournament Hearthstone are separated by individual games, and each individual game usually requires you to play a different deck if you win, assuming you’re playing Conquest. For example, if you’re playing Zoolock in the first game and win, you cannot play that deck for the rest of the round (You can if you lose, however. Check your specific tournament rules, as this isn’t always the case). This can throw a huge curveball to players that are used to just playing one deck and climbing the ranks with it.

And then there are the bans.

Both players are allowed a single ban before the match starts. This adds a whole new layer of strategy that seems innocuous at first, but could easily make or break your tournament run. But first, let’s tackle the first obstacle, choosing your decks.

Generally, you want to choose decks that compliment each other, and compliment you as a player. If you’re a strong aggressive player, then choosing Zoolock, Tempo Mage, and Secret Hunter are good choices, but something like Midrange Hunter will also work well too, as it’s just a super solid deck that can cover the matchups your aggressive decks cannot. Similarly, if control is your thing, having Control Warrior and Freeze Mage is a good start, but again, Midrange Shaman that’s tuned to beat the hyper aggressive decks can cover the weaknesses of the rest of your lineup.

Now let’s understand bans.

Bans are a huge dynamic that has a major effect on your deck selection and metagaming. Choosing a ban can have drastic effects on your match, for better or for worse. When making deck selections, having bans in mind is key. You don’t want to bring Midrange Shaman as a core part of your strategy if you know it’s just going to get banned every round.

Or do you?

You can opt to bring a deck that is widely regarded as the best deck in the format if it alleviates the pressure your other decks will have. This creates a bit of a catch-22, where your opponent has to choose to ban a great deck, or a pivotal one in your lineup. This also applies to you, however, and it’s important to keep bans in mind when building your decks. If three of your five decks are soft to Zoolock, then banning Warlock should be your go-to. To go a bit deeper, if your lineup isn’t particularly great against control, and your opponent has Warrior and Mage lined up, then banning Warrior may be the correct choice as of this writing, as Control Warrior is quite a bit more popular than Freeze Mage.

This is where the caveat comes in. What happens when you ban a class, but it turns out that you still can’t perform against a similar expected archetype of a different class? What happens when you ban Druid to fight against [Malygos] combo, but their Rogue is also [Malygos]? This is where having a contingency plan is important. A ban doesn’t always mean that your matchups are completely shored, so if you’re still facing a control deck that’s crushing your lineup, maybe having something like Zoo would be a good way to combat that.

Tournament Hearthstone is a completely different animal, and these are just a few ways that you can approach the dynamic. It’s a great way to improve different aspects of your game, and with tournaments feeding into bigger prizes and higher stakes, it’s a great way to get more out of the game.

(As with anything involving tournaments, please contact your tournament organizer for any variations in the rules, as every tournament can be formatted differently)

Anthony has been competing in games for the better part of his adult life and is dedicated to improving his game, improving his community, improving himself as a person, and most importantly having fun and enjoying himself while doing so. You can check out his stream to find out which video game is the latest to catch his attention.

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