Oldhim’s game plan involves a lot of defending and a lot of disruption. He has a lot of options while defending and lacks the dominate on demand quality of Bravo. These factors can make it hard for Oldhim to close out games in a timely fashion. Today, I’ll outline the ways in which you can speed up your game, and make sure you don’t go to time without sacrificing performance. This is crucial when playing any Guardian, because in a tournament setting, going to time results in a draw, which isn’t a good outcome for you or your opponent.
Oldhim offers many options when it comes to defense. Rampart of the Ram’s Head, Crown of Seeds and Oldhim’s hero ability give you lots of options each defense step. Finding the optimal play on the defense takes time, especially when playing Oldhim. This is why your defensive lines of play need to become second nature. Playing a control game means the game will take many turns, potentially even upwards of 25 turns of defending. Each turn you’re taking precious time to work out the correct block, you’re running out of time. If you can make your decisions between 10 to 30 seconds faster on average per turn, you’re potentially saving yourself five to 10 minutes to finish off the game. Every second counts.
The best way to utilize time in the defense step is by planning out your moves as your opponent is thinking. As they’re planning out their attack, plan out your defense to potential attacks from their side. If they go tall, do you crown? How would you approach it as an attack for four or five? If you have an ice card, in what attack scenario do you ice them? Then, when your opponent decides on a line of play, you have your options figured out. On top of that, when it comes to your turn, your plan of attack should be lightning fast. Oldhim does not have many offensive options. This is why your offensive plays should be quick, efficient and have a particular game state in mind.
Incremental advantage through good blocks and disruption can feel good when you’re slowly getting ahead in life total. However, grinding down your opponent is extremely time consuming. Pure fatigue might work as a strategy, but in doing so, you’re risking running out of time. In particular, when using Winter’s Wail over Anothos, your damage output is quite low when maintaining a defensive game plan. Relying on the hammer swings as your win condition is the easy option, but it’s predictable and time inefficient. It’s important to maintain a good amount of threats in your deck to finish the game off.
While Oldhim does not have constant access to dominate in the same way Bravo does, Oldhim still has some good tools to push through damage. These powerful attacks, such as Oaken Old and Glacial Footsteps, are significantly stronger when your opponent is at low life than when the game is just beginning, while attacks like Spinal Crush, Righteous Cleansing and Endless Winter thrive early and midgame. These attacks force blocks, giving you more breathing space, minimize the time it will take for you to plan your next defense but also are usually a three-for-one trade in cards, speeding up the fatigue plan.
Awakening is another tool that works extremely well in the later stages of a game to pressure the opponent. When both players are low, you can take a big hit, fetch up a big attack, like a Glacial Footsteps (Red) and come in with a big offense. Playing defensive is very important until you hit the end game, then pivoting to a more aggressive playstyle with your remaining threats to finish off the game not only ensures you don’t go to time, but also takes your opponent by surprise. The best time to pivot to aggressive playstyle is when your opponent is low on life, equipment blocks and when you reach your pitch stack.
Oldhim is amazing at manipulating his pitch stack. Disruption effects from Ice deliberately slows the game down, making turns uneventful, and this is where Oldhim thrives. Uneventful turns mean you’re getting closer and closer to your pitch stack, without losing precious life. Cards like Crown of Seeds, Sink Below and Fate Foreseen actively help you manipulate the bottom of the deck while getting to your pitch stack quicker. On average, using a four-card hands means it will take 15 turns to cycle through your 60 card deck. Using a Crown of Seeds every turn would bring that up to 12 turns, three turns quicker than your opponent, and constant Sink Below and Fate Foreseen tucks can speed that even more.
Getting to this pitch stack is when Oldhim truly shines. This is where you start pressuring your opponent. Players’ life totals are lower, your opponent’s defense reactions are hopefully running out and those big hits are significantly more impactful. What’s also great if you’re basing your strategy on fuse is that constant use of your hero ability and pitching Ice cards to Winter’s Wail means you’re going to see a lot of Ice and Earth cards at the bottom of your deck. This makes fusing significantly easier the second time around, and that’s when fusing matters the most.
Powerful, evasive attacks like Oaken Old, Glacial Footsteps and utility cards like Polar Blast are crucial to putting your opponent on edge in those final few turns. Switching to those powerful evasive attacks over constant hammer swings will ensure that the game finishes in a timely manner and gives you a surprise factor. While your opponent is preparing for a grindy end game, you hit them with a big power play out of nowhere. Turns one through 15 are great at minimizing threats from the opponent and stacking your pitch, but as soon as turn 15 comes, you should be ready to prepare the offense.
All the points above take time and repetitions. Chances are that the first bunch of games you play will go to time. Practice makes perfect. Keep practicing your defense, pitching and getting to your pitch stack, until you’re very familiar with the lines of play.
If after practicing you still feel like you might go to time, you can add more offensive options to the deck. A single Pummel (Red) pitch stacked correctly to the late game can turn a 25-turn game into a 16-turn game. Utilize the surprise factor in the late stages of the game. If you’re still struggling, changing up the deck to a more midrange build could help you close out the games.
The equipment is also a factor. Crown of Seeds and the Shield can be great tools, but if you find yourself unable to efficiently find value with those, reverting to Arcanite Skullcap and potentially even Anothos is still a powerful set up and can be really threatening. Anothos is actually quite effective in the mirror because it threatens more damage than Winter’s Wail. As you improve with your Oldhim gameplay, you can slowly transition more and more into the slower, control build, until you can close out games with ease.
Oldhim is as old as time, but sometimes time can be a scarce resource, especially in a tournament setting. Always remember when choosing this hero that you not only have to beat your opponent to win – you also need to beat the clock. This is why having a streamlined idea on how you want to approach the defense window and your attack window is critical to save precious time.
On top of that, have a clear idea on what your end game looks like. When is the time for you to start pressuring your opponent back? Playing a Glacial Footsteps (Red) fused is a lot more impactful on turn 18 of the game compared to turn eight of the game. Always keep the threats left in your deck on the back of your mind, because they’ll help you end the game quickly and hit the opponent hard when it really matters.