Tom “RhiRhi” Ince has been a keen competitor in the UK Hearthstone scene for a while now. He’s hoping to push for Legend this summer, but in the mean time, he tells his thoughts on deck-building in Duel, as a veteran of the format.
Eliot Miller: I’m talking to the winner of the TBG Cup, Tom “RhiRhi” Ince! How are you doing today Tom?
Tom “RhiRhi” Ince: I’m doing great thanks! Yourself?
Eliot Miller: Yeah, good. Are you enjoying your new Razer keyboard?
Tom “RhiRhi” Ince: Yeah, nice and clicky, I like it. *tappity tap tap*
Eliot Miller: So what is your experience in competitive Hearthstone? How many events have you been to now?
Tom “RhiRhi” Ince: Well apart from your events, I’ve been to a few Fireside Gatherings at Fraggers in Manchester, I’ve been to Insomnia Gaming Festivals and competed in the Hearthstone tournament there, and I’ve done a couple of online cups. So I’ve got a general knowledge of what competitive Hearthstone is like.
Eliot Miller: How many Insomnia LANs have you been to?
Tom “RhiRhi” Ince: I’ve been to 5 Insomnia LANs, this summer i55 will be my sixth.
Eliot Miller: So how would you rate yourself as a player?
Tom “RhiRhi” Ince: Well on the Ladder I’ve maxed out around Rank 3. I’ve never really had the time to push for Legend. I’m pretty good at making decisions. Once you know the entire card base, understand what kind of deck their playing, then you can know what style you should be playing against that.
Eliot Miller: At the TBG Cup we were using the Sideboard format, “Duel”, for the second time around – you were of course at the first event where we used this format – how does your knowledge of the card base then fit into a sideboard format?
Tom “RhiRhi” Ince: With the Sideboard format, you can obviously only bring in one deck. You’re basically locked into that deck and you’ve got to use the sideboard to tech against certain match-ups you’d maybe be unfavourable against.
A good example might be say, you’re playing against a Handlock as Priest, you need to tech into double Big Game Hunter or Lightbombs. Or if you’re against Face-Hunter, you need to tech in Deathlord’s just to completely stop aggro.
Eliot Miller: So both times TBG has run events in this format, you have played Hunter. Is that simply because Hunter is your preferred class?
Tom “RhiRhi” Ince: On Ladder its probably my favourite class, because the games are quick and they’re often decided in the first two the three turns. It depends heavily on your opening hand, but it fares well against a lot of classes. Especially control and slower decks, you can just punish them by really early face damage and finishing them off with a Kill Command.
A lot of classes can’t deal with the amount of pressure you can put on so early.
So its a very good deck, and the Hybrid form I was bringing, fares well against Mid-range-y decks as well. Because when you start dropping Shredders, Loatheb and Highmanes, they can’t deal with all these creatures, and heal-up, and taunt. Its a really strong deck, and its really good against a lot of classes in the current meta.
I feel Hunter is great, and very versatile in this format
Eliot Miller: I’m looking at the decklist you brought to the TBG Cup, as well as the deck your brought last time. What for you are the big changes?
Tom “RhiRhi” Ince: I think with my last deck I brought Undertaker. Obviously since the nerf of Undertaker, I’ve dropped that side of the deck, and as a result some of the Deathrattles have been dropped. I’ve still got the Creepers in there, and the Leper Gnomes, just because they’re efficient. Creeper is sticky, so Glaivezooka has a target for that. Leper Gnome just does face damage, its a good one drop.
Eliot Miller: One slight difference I do notice is that you had Loot Horders on your Sideboard previously. Was card draw not a problem this time around?
Tom “RhiRhi” Ince: Well with Hybrid-Hunter, as you’ve got a higher curve, it doesn’t really matter as much to get the draw in.
It is quite limiting having one deck, but “Duel” forces you to think a lot more about what you’re going to bring
Eliot Miller: So if TBG were to run another sideboard event, would you bring Hunter again? Would you make any changes to the deck?
Tom “RhiRhi” Ince: I like Hunter right now, as I said its a strong class against most classes. A lot of Aggro decks you can dictate the tempo and the speed of the game, which is an advantage against a lot of matchups. But, I do like playing other classes, I’ve been playing a lot of Patron-Warrior recently, quite a lot of Hand-lock. I feel Hunter is great, and very versatile in this format.
Eliot Miller: Obviously, you played in the previous event where we used the Duel format, and we’ve made a few alterations since then. The sideboard has been increased from 10, to 12 cards. Also, instead of altering your deck before you played your first match against an opponent, you can now only alter the deck after the first match, in which you would play your “Core Decklist”.
As a veteran of both versions of Duel, where these changes improvements?
Tom “RhiRhi” Ince: I feel it was a good improvement, because it forced you to have the first match with the deck your brought. It was basically like a blind pick, even though over the course of the day you found out what other people were playing. Then you knew what kind of match-ups you were going into, and by the Finals I knew pretty much, everyone else’s decks. Especially that Velen-Mind-Blast-Priest. That was quite interesting.
Eliot Miller: Its interesting you mention Rez’s Priest deck there, because he said that actually he teched out the Prophet Velen + Mind Blast most games. But then everyone still knew he had that in his decklist. Did that affect the way you sideboarded against him?
Tom “RhiRhi” Ince: Not really. In my second match against him, I think I took out both Freezing Traps and both Mad Scientists. I’ve got double Ironbeak Owls, they can silence through the Velen’s Chosen and the Deathlords. I teched in a Hunter’s Mark as well, just to help me get through the Deathlords. Because once you get through those, that’s the main barrier against face-damage.
Eliot Miller: So are there any changes you would like to see to the Duel format next time around?
Tom “RhiRhi” Ince: I think it was a really good format to be fair. I really enjoyed the format. It is quite limiting having one deck, but it forces you to have to think a lot more about what you’re going to bring or sideboard. I think coming into it again….I didn’t expect to face any Mages. So I didn’t bring Kezan Mystic. I think I might bring Kezan next time. I just teched to Mid-Range or Face-Hunter, I didn’t bring any key tech cards which might have helped me in some, certain match-ups.
Eliot Miller: But then you won! So maybe you made the right decision.
Tom “RhiRhi” Ince: Just a strong core deck, and made solid decisions.
Eliot Miller: So you were saying before, you haven’t really had the time to push to Legend. Is that something you’re going to try and do?
Tom “RhiRhi” Ince: Yeah, I’ve got summer holiday from University now, so I’ve got 2 months to have a go at it!
Eliot Miller: Excellent. Well best of luck Tom, and thank you for taking the time to talk with me today.