Hi, I’m Danny Donuts, and today I would like to give a synopsis about teching in Hearthstone. With Whispers of the Old Gods released a little over two months ago, the current meta has become a bit stale. Most of the meta shifts are minor, and at this point the majority of deck innovations typically consist of only a few cards being modified. With such rigidity of the decks you will face on ladder, this is a perfect time to focus on teching your deck in order to counter your opponent and add some extra percentage points into your win rate. This is a relatively nuanced topic, and if done incorrectly can be a disadvantage. However, if you tech your match-ups correctly you can change the momentum in the game, even gaining an automatic win.
What is Teching?
According to the hearthstone wiki page a tech card is “a card added to a deck specifically in order to counter the current meta.” Typically, a tech card is not regularily played in a normal version of a deck. On its own the card may be understatted due to a conditional effect, like The Black Knight, which gives up stats to conditionally kill a minion with taunt. When he destroys a minion his value can be much higher than his cost, while if played without a valid target he is a Chillwind Yeti that costs two extra mana. Other cards can also be considered tech cards if they are not commonly included in the deck archetype that is being played, such as the inclusion of Doomsayer in midrange hunter.
Another aspect to teching, that isn’t mentioned frequently, is the surprise factor of using a tech card. Unless a streamer promotes using a tech, or a netdeck with the tech included is released, people may not expect an uncommon tech card and play into a compromising situation. For example, at one point I experimented with teching Shadowflame in a zoo deck to improve the matchup against other zoolock decks. Normally, in a zoo mirror the winner typically is the person who gets the most minions on board, so the strategy usually consists of flooding the board with as many minions as possible. Shadowflame is never seen in this deck, and therefore nobody plays around it. This allowed for me to punish other zoo decks who over-committed by clearing their board.
When Should You Tech?
There are a few factors that you should consider before including a tech card in your deck. The first, and arguably most important, is how broad the situation is where the tech is useful. A card like Acidic Swamp Ooze is useful against many decks in a weapon filled meta. Adding one in your deck will improve your matchup against many different types of decks, and it’s drawback is very minor; at worst you are playing a vanilla 3/2 for 2. On the other hand, adding a tech card that has a narrow scope can be incredibly valuable in certain matchups while exceptionally poor in others. One extreme example is playing Sacrificial Pact in a warlock deck. This card is only useful against one out of the nine classes, and is dead against the other 8. However against warlock decks this card can give you a large advantage through the huge tempo swing of killing a large demon, or in other cases, straight up win you a game by killing Lord Jaraxxus. If a heavy majority of the meta was comprised of warlock, then this would be an amazing tech card. However, in a diverse meta this card is generally not viable.
Secondly, you should consider the frequency and win rate against the deck(s) that you are targeting with your tech choice. This means that you should be tracking your game stats in order to get a more accurate reading. There are a ton of different deck tracking programs on the web that are available for free, and if you don’t want to use them you can use pen and paper to keep track of your wins and losses.
Humans have selective memory, and it has been scientifically proven that people typically focus on negative outcomes rather than positive ones, even if the positive outcomes occur more frequently than the negative ones. Even if you have an abysmal win rate against a deck, if you are only facing that deck in a small percentage of your games it probably isn’t worth teching against it. Teching should be based on your ladder stats; you should not completely depend on your gut feeling on how to tech your deck, you should use your statistics to your advantage. It is not uncommon to see a streamer to have a devastating loss, and while tilted, throw in a tech card to counter the deck he played in a previous match. This is not advised unless you are extremely experienced, as modifying your deck while on tilt without the stats to back it up is typically not a good practice. Rely on your stats, and you will become better at teching.
There is no standardizable algorithm to determine if you should add in a tech card to a deck, but I have a personal guideline about including tech cards. In this meta if I see a deck/archetype that is at about 15-20% of the games that I play, I will consider teching against that deck/archetype. There are additional factors that I consider when making this choice, such as exact encounter percentage, win rate against the deck, and how far the tech card deviates from your deck’s win condition. Obviously there is no cut and dry method of when to tech and when not to tech. This is just a guideline, after a while you will be able to get the feel of how to do it.
Take care when using tech cards in a deck. Using too many of them, and deviating from a deck’s game-plan can lead to many losses. But if used correctly they can be the difference between a win and a loss. Have fun teching!!!