50 Battles: Sandstorm

sand 9Why am I doing 50 Battles for a weather that I don’t really like and that I talk a lot of smack about? For a number of reasons. First of all, I think it’s time to take a second look at this weather. I’ve been against Sandstorm since the Idol came out in 5.1. That was four or five thousand victories ago, my outlook may change if I give it a chance.

Why don’t I like Sandstorming the first place? There are two main reasons: it adds an accuracy debuff, and it allows double shielding. There is built-in rng that we can’t escape, and some is necessary to keep the battles from being too scripted. But when Sandstormers add more rng I think they are taking some strategy out of the game and replacing it with luck, which I don’t like. And double shielding, well, I think it just blocks too much damage. It shuts down too many types of attacks. I know the arguments for and against double shielding, but I’m allowed my opinion. Perhaps giving Sandstorm another chance will change my opinion.

sand 13I’m also looking for better ways to beat Sandstorm teams. So far my main way of beating a Sandstorm team is by loading up on heavy hitters. By heavy hitters I mean attacks that do large amounts of damage to get past the damage reduction of Sandstorm. That, and weather changes of course. If at the end of this I still don’t like Sandstormers then maybe I will have some new tools to beat them with. One fear I have is that my losses will come from rng. I would hate to find out the best way to beat a Sandstorm team is to get lucky.

I only have a few Sandstorm teams, and I don’t use them much. So I’m going to create some new teams. I think I’ll focus on Anubisath Idol and the Qiraji Guardling Sandstorm application. So far in my Battle Logs I’ve been good about not using any Direhorns, but I’m going to use them on a few of my teams since I am trying to get a better sense of double shielding. I’ll try not to over do it. Damn I wrote an essay, let’s get down to business.

Team 1
H/H Anubisath Idol (Crush, Sandstorm, Deflection)
H/H Spirit Crab (Snap, Whirlpool, Shell Shield)
P/P Emerald Proto-Whelp (Emerald Bite, Emerald Presence, Emerald Dream)
Two pets with double shields, this team is gonna be hard to take down.

Win: Gregarious Grell, Arctic Fox Kit, Scourged Whelpling
The Idol basically took out the whole team. I brought my dragon in for some damage, healed it up and went back to the Idol. A lot of misses for my opponent.

Win: Pygmy Direhorn, Lil’ Tarecgosa, Hyjal Bear Cubsand 8
An ugly battle of double shields. In the end my spammable shields outlasted the Direhorn’s Trihorn Shield. Just barely. This is an exapmle of an argument I’ve seen in favor of Trihorn Shield being so strong: it has a CD and a short duration. In this case that argument stands up, it was the reason I was able to beat the Direhorn.

Win: Fiendish Imp, Corefire Imp, Thundering Serpent Hatchling
I knew my opponent would Gate me out if I started with the Idol so I put the Whelp in. The Fiendish Imp used Immolation and Burned me a few times. It stayed in long enough to get my Dragonkin bonus and my opponent brought out the Serpent. On the swap I hit with my bonus, then in two more Emerald Bites the Serpent was dead, but it did put up Lightning. The Idol came in with Sandstorm, Deflected the Nether Gate and took down the Fiendish Imp. The battle ended up with my Crab versus the Corefire Imp. Just for future reference: in a Sandstorm with Shields up Wild Magic plus Immolation only ticks for 2 damage.

Loss: Wild Jade Hatchling, Sunreaver Micro-Sentry, Terrible Turnip
I expected this team to go undefeated, but two Lightnings was a lot to deal with. My Crab shields helped me stay in it, but then in the end I missed a crucial Snap (not under Sandstorm) that took me out of it.

Win: Flayer Youngling, Chrominius, Panther Cub
sand 10Another very close one. When I swapped to my Drake my opponent went to the Flayer, it seemed like a good idea to use strong attacks. Except double shields blocked its main attack, Blitz. Really I think this ended up being close because I was getting some cool screenshots and started focusing on that.

Record: 4-1
Assessment: How did I get my one loss? Lightning times two. I already knew that I could change the weather, the loss didn’t teach me much.


Team 2
H/H Anubisath Idol (Crush, Sandstorm, Deflection)
P/P Stunted Direhorn (Trihorn Charge, Horn Attack, Trihorn Shield)
P/P Emerald Proto-Whelp (Emerald Bite, Emerald Presence, Emerald Dream)
If I want to see double shielding in action why not go all the way with over- the-top Trihorn Shield?

Win: Kun-Lai Runt, Tundra Penguin, Scourged Whelpling
All my pets survived. Misses on both sides, but no one was extrenely unlucky.

Win: Robo-Chick, Nordrassil Wisp, Jumping Spider
I put up Sandstorm and swapped to the Whelp, whose double shielding blocked Web, Batter, Arcane Explosion, and Flash.

Win: Fel Flame, Kun-Lai Runt, Cogblade Raptorsand 1
My Idol took out the Fel Flame and half of the Cogblade Raptor before dying. The funny thing is that the Idol missed a lot more than they did. My Stunted Direhorn came in and Trihorn Shield blocked everything thrown at it.  The Idol came back in to smack around the Runt.

Win: Lost of Lordaeron, Molten Hatchling, Lil’ XT
Lil’ XT had a good idea of AoE spamming while the Idol flailed away with Sandstorm misses. Even though Lil’ XT got off two repairs, by the time it expired the Direhorn was only down to 840 hp, the Idol was up around 1500 due to the racial. The Lost attempted to do the same, but its AoE was only hitting the backline for 20 under Sandstorm.

Win: Scourged Whelpling, Unborn Valk’yr, Pygmy Direhorn
I put up Sandstorm and swapped to my Proto-Whelp, who killed the Valk, which put up a Curse of Doom. I used Emerald Dream, the Scourged Whelp came out and I was able to heal through its damage and The Curse of Doom. I brought out the Direhorn, popped shield and the Undead dragon could do nothing, the double shielding blocked everything. Rather than swap, my opponent stayed in for a few rounds, then ran away.

Record: 5-0
Assessment: One would expect this team to win, the overpowered and soon to be nerfed Direhorn is hard to beat. What I would like to know is if after the nerfs to the Direhorn’s offense will it’s defensive move still be too powerful. Right now it’s really hard to separate the issues.


Team 3
H/H Anubisath Idol (Crush, Sandstorm, Rupture)
H/H Spirit Crab (Snap, Whirlpool, Shell Shield)
H/P Blighted Squirrel (Scratch, Crouch, Rabid Strike)
I was looking through my Undead for a shield when this Squirrel caught my eye. The unpopular cousin of the Infested Squirrel has Crouch. Not quite a shield, but I’ll give the little guy a try.

Win: Anubisath Idol, Celestial Dragon, Electrified Razortooth
I started with the Crab, took the Razortooth down quite a bit. My opponent swapped to dragon, then halfway through the battle ran away. I was winning but not by that much.

Win: Mirror Strider, Clockwork Gnome, Minfernal
The Anubisath Idol took out the Mirror Strider and half of the Minfernal. My Crab came in to finish it out. My opponent played it well enough, but what can you do when your Rocket is only hitting for around 450. The Blighted Squirrel saw no action again.

Win: Warbot, Leopard Tree Frog, Giant Bone Spider
sand 18The Warbot got down a Minefield that never went off. I didn’t count exactly but the Frog missed about six times. Sandstorm shut down the Spider. After the Bone Spider and Frog died my opponent ran. What is it about the Blighted Squirrel that makes people run?

Win: Dark Phoenix, Blighthawk, Gilnean Raven
I put the Blighted Squirrel in vs. the Raven, they cancelled each other out. The Blighthawk got in a Ghostly Bite on my Idol because I really wanted to put up Sandstorm, but it didn’t matter. I sent my Idol to the backline and the Crab handled everything.

Win: Cogblade Raptor, Tainted Waveling, Sunreaver Micro-Sentry
The Idol and the Sunreaver were playing chicken with the weather, the Idol won, putting up Sandstorm and killing the mech with 35 hp to spare. From then on the Lightning team was seriously gimped.

Record: 5-0
Assessment: I never used a Blighted Squirrel outside of a Bleeding team. It is an uninteresting pet. The Crab and Idol did most of the work.


Team 4
H/H Anubisath Idol (Crush, Sandstorm, Rupture/Deflection)
H/H Spirit Crab (Snap, Whirlpool, Shell Shield)
P/P Stunted Direhorn (Trihorn Charge, Horn Attack, Trihorn Shield)

Win: Scooter the Snail, Alpine Hare, Amber Moth
Decimated the Snail with the Idol. Opponent ran.

Win: Silkbead Snail, Lil’ Deathwing, Oily Slimeling
This opponent stuck around longer than the last, but still ended up running. I usually love to see Lil’ Deathwing high-tail it outta there, but not when I’m using such a faceroll team.

Win: Clockwork Gnome, Electrified Razortooth, Minfernal
I figured this team had enough attack so I changed Rupture to Deflection. Glad I did, the Gnome brought Rockets instead of Turrets. This team did really well against me, it came down to the last Trihorn Charge. Well, I may have survived another hit, I had a Trihorn Shield up.

Win: Fjord Worg Pup, Crimson Whelpling, Harbinger of Flame
The Worg Pup did a really good job here. It took out my Crab and damaged both my Idol and Direhorn. I was too afraid to stay in while Howled, and when I stayed in I was missing. Then the Harbinger just couldn’t beak through Trihorn Shield and Sandstorm. That was the closest that my team has come to a loss so far.

Record: 5-0
Assessment: Again, this team should win most of its battles. The last two battles were close, though.


Team 5
H/H Anubisath Idol (Crush, Sandstorm, Deflection)
H/H Silithid Hatchling (Scratch, Hiss, Sandstorm)
H/P Living Sandling (Punch, Stoneskin, Quicksand)
The Elemental doesn’t benefit from the reduction, but it also doesn’t get the accuracy debuff, so that 100% accuracy Punch might save the day.

Win: Rapana Whelk, Fel Flame, Amber Moth
The snail tried to use its Absorb, which was lessened greatly by Sandstorm. After a Dive was Deflected and seeing the Whelk at less than half health while the Idol was almost full health my opponent ran away.

Win: Nexus Whelpling, Clockwork Gnome, Disgusting Oozeling
I was reminded the hard way the Mana Surge will hit Elementals twice in Arcane Storm. In the end the Idol got the Gnome down to 1 hp and had trouble landing a Crush to finish it off, but eventually got the Gnome with a Sandstorm.

Loss: Crow, Spectral Tiger Cub, Crawling Claw
You what sucks? Missing a lot. You know what sucks worse? Missing a lot under your own Sandstorm. You know what sucks even worse? Missing a lot under your own Sandstorm, being in a position to likely win the game, then getting crit by a Spectral Tiger Cub for 950+ damage. Oh well, losses happen.

Loss: Clockwork Gnome, Direhorn Runt, Rapana Whelk
This was a funny battle. The Idol wrecked Snail, the Direhorn wrecked the Sandling and the Silithid Hatchling and half of the Idol before dying,then the Gnome hit a crit to win.

Assessment: Oh that silly Silithid Hatchling. Why do you have to be so tempting to put in a Sandstorm team? Really it wasn’t that bad, the two losses were close. It’s only four battles because I accidentally put a battle for Team 7 in this section.


Team 6
H/H Anubisath Idol (Crush, Sandstorm, Deflection)
H/H Magical Crawdad (Snap, Shell Shield, Wish)
H/P Living Sandling (Punch, Stoneskin, Quicksand)
Crawdad. Seems wrong to leave it out of a Sandstorm write-up.

Win: Fel Flame, Nether Fairie Dragon, Kun-Lai Runt
The Idol deflected the third-turn Conflagrate, the Fairie Dragon put up Moonlight. Rather than fight it with Sandstorm I just kept it up since it benefitted me as much as my opponent. This was still a close one. Kun-Lai Runt has been brought down a notch in 5.3 since the bugs are fixed, but you still never want to be one on one at the end of a fight, as I was with my Crawdad. My Snap got the kill, avoiding the Deep Freeze that was coming next turn.

Win: Crow, Darkmoon Tonk, Kun-Lai Runt
Crows and Ravens scare me. Apparently the Idol and Crawdad scared my opponent more, because they fled after two turns. Your Crow would eat my stupid Crawdad for dinner, why run and give me the easy win?

Win: Gilnean Raven, Direhorn Runt, Celestial Dragonsand 16
I saw this team and got worried. The Idol’s and Sandling’s main attack are weak against beasts, how will the Crawdad fare? The big lobster didn’t beat the mighty Direhorn, but got it down to around 200 hp, even after many interrupts. The Idol finished off the Direhorn with a Sandstorm, then Deflected the Darkness. In comes the Sandling to watch a Nocturnal Strike miss. Glad I remembered the easily forgotten Elemental racial. Have fun Alpha Striking. Sandling beats Crow and the two humanoid attacks have no trouble finishing off the dragon.

Win: Crow, Clockwork Gnome, Scourged Whelpling
What’s up with people running so quickly from these Sandstorm teams? This one went six rounds. Was it you missing your Nocturnal Strike to an Elemental? The slowed Gnome hitting for 68 damage?

Win: Swamp Croaker, Effervescent Glowfly, Tiny Harvester
This was a good moment in pet battling. Here I am with these uber pets and this team comes along and gives me a serious challenge. Well, the closest it got to killing my Crawdad was bringing it down to 500 hp while Wish was up, but my opponent did a good job. The frog ran after Wish healed me.

Record: 5-0
Assessment: I had high expectations and this team lived up to it. I went over to the Darkside by using the evil Crawdad.


Team 7
S/S Qiraji Guardling (Crush, Sandstorm, Blackout Kick)
H/H Spirit Crab (Snap, Shell Shield, Whirlpool)
H/P Living Sandling (Punch, Stoneskin, Quicksand)
I’m gonna give this fast little bug-girl a shot at Sandstorming.

Win: Kun-Lai Runt, Lil’ Ragnaros, Mini Thor
Missed a killshot on Rag to end the game, had to endure Sons of The Flame while a Trap was out. Scary. When he came up the Trap was kind enough not to go off.

Win: Kun-Lai Runt, Wild Jade Hatchling, Clockwork Gnome
I was expecting my opponent to start with the Lightning dragon but they brought the Runt out first. I figured I was in good shape versus Lightning: the Crab can shield it, the Sandling can ignore it, the Guardling can change it. I was feeling so confident that I kept my Sandling in against the Runt while chilled. Deep Freeze has a 25% chance to miss, I’ll take that chance.  It missed.  My opponent didn’t like this, and the fact that his Turrets were being blocked so it was another white flag ending. Bad play by me is overridden by Sandstorm luck.

Loss: Mini Thor, Lil’ Ragnaros, Water Waveling
I had it wrapped up in the end but Sandstorm misses caused the loss. Live by the Sandstorm, die by the Sandstorm. Trap is quickly becoming my most hated move. And Sons of the Flame/Root is up there, too.

Win: Gahz’rooki, Sunreaver Micro-Sentry, Feline Familiar
Thanks to never missing in Sandstorm the Guardling solo’d Gahz’rooki, then the Micro-Sentry, then most of the cat. The cat ran.

Win: Wild Jade Hatchling, Pandaren Earth Spirit, Electrified Razortooth
The Crab’s shield helped against the Lightning and the Bleeding, the Crab and Guardling took out the whole team, no need for the Sandling.

Win: Electrified Razortooth, Onyxian Whelpling, Garden Moth
The Guardling stayed in against the Moth until it was Sleeped. The Sandling came in to finish off the Moth, it had to swap to avoid Blood In The Water. The Crab came in and decimated everything, as usual. I was a bit tentative about choosing an Elemental since it wouldn’t get the shielding from Sandstorm, but it also doesn’t get the accuracy debuff. Having a move that is sure to hit in a Sandstorm is great.

Record: 6-1
Assessment: Again the loss was due to rng. I liked using this team. Probably because both the Qraji Guardling and Living Sandling are relatively unused by me, it’s something new.


Team 8
S/S Qiraji Guardling (Crush, Sandstorm, Blackout Kick)
P/P Stunted Direhorn (Trihorn Charge, Horn Attack, Trihorn Shield)
H/S Direhorn Runt (Trihorn Charge, Horn Attack, Trihorn Shield)
This team has been wrecking my meta for awhile now (used by another player). I’m hoping that someone really owns me so I can gain some insight on a good way to beat this team. I have no doubts that I am being a pet battle bully here.

Win: Frosty, Winter’s Little Helper, Tranquil Mechanical Yeti
I was a bit worried because I had no good way to avoid Ice Tomb, so I just ate it with the Guardling. I never got a Sandstorm off, my opponent had too many Blizzards, so I just used the high-powered Direhorns to brute force the win. I was waiting for the Ion Cannon to come but the Yeti didn’t have it. The Yeti ran away after Trihorn Shield blocked Thrash.

Win: Deathy, Terrible Turnip, Fossilized Hatchling
sand 5Nothing interesting to report, total faceroll. At least the Fossilized Hatchling’s Claw could break through the double shielding, although only for a whopping 145 damage.

Win: Pygmy Direhorn, Chrominius, Sunreaver Micro-Sentry
At least this team was able to kill two of my pets before losing.

Win: Golden Jade Hatchling, Sunreaver Micro-Sentry, Terrible Turnip
With two Lightnings and my Guardling being somewhat squishy it was going to be hard to win the weather war, which I didn’t. My Guardling died and I was left with two Beasts in Lightning. I was worried the most about the Turnip and Sons, but Trihorn Shield blocked the little turnips. It was extremely close, after I finally killed the hatchling the DoT/Lightning ticked and left my Direhorn Runt with 35 hp.

Win: Blighthawk, Pandaren Monk, Scourged Whelpling
Trihorn Shield and Sandstorm equals an easymode win.

Record: 5-0
Assessment: The only team that came close to beating me is double Lightning. I was hoping for some better battles, but this team is just too overpowered at the moment. I think that Trihorn Shield and Sandstorm blocks too much damage.


Team 9
S/S Qiraji Guardling (Crush, Sandstorm, Blackout Kick)
H/H Silithid Hatchling (Scratch, Hiss, Sandstorm)
S/S Leopard Scorpion (Snap, Crouch, Rampage)
A desert themed team. A different breed of Scorpion would probably work better, but that’s my only level 25.

Win: Tranquil Mechanical Yeti, Clockwork Gnome, Arctic Fox Kit
Two Mechs versus two Beasts, and the Beasts win. Really close though, the Silithid Hatchling killed off the Yeti with only 26 hp remaining.

Win: Disgusting Oozeling, Pandaren Water Spirit, Chrominiussand 3
I had no Dodge or Deflect for the Water Spirit/Chrominius combo. You know the one: Geyser/Whirlpool/Howl. I put the Scorpion in and Crouched, which was enough to let it survive with 200 hp. It got off another Snap before dying. Later I had to make the choice of taking a Surge of Power while howled with my Silithid or switching in and potentially losing my Guardling. I kept the Silithid in and it survived. 1725 hp is on the high side and it paid off this time. It was a somewhat close finish that came down to my Guardling finishing of the Oozeling with only around 500 hp remaining.

Loss: Fiendish Imp, Corefire Imp, Gregarious Grell
This is why I’m not a Sandstorm fan. A 44 round miss-fest. You would think that a Sandstorm team would decimate these guys but Immolation is enough to break through Sandstorm, so they were able to do their backline healing. It came down to the last few hp, my Silithid vs. the Corefire Imp.

Loss: Menagerie Custodian, Magical Crawdad, Netherspace Abyssal
Too many heals, the Scorpion for the theme is taking its toll it didn’t perform well.

Win: Zandalari Anklerender, Cogblade Raptor, Wild Jade Hatchling
sand 20The Guardling really messed up the Lightning dragon in the beginning, a Blackout and then two Crushes did close to 1200 damage. Lightning was put up then quickly changed to Sandstorm. The Zandalari pet went down fast but the Cogblade Raptor was a big hassle. I kept swapping out when I got Exposed Wounds applied. In the end the Guardling prevailed, but it was a close one.

Record: 3-2
Assessment: For a themed team it didn’t do too bad. The Qiraji Guardling is doing pretty well overall.


Team 10
H/H Anubisath Idol (Crush, Sandstorm, Rupture)
H/P Living Sandling (Punch, Stoneskin, Quicksand)
P/P Emerald Proto-Whelp (Emerald Bite, Emerald Presence, Emerald Dream)

Win: Qiraji Guardling, Kun-Lai Runt, Unborn Valk’yr
My opponent ran before the first punch was thrown.

Win: Fel Flame, Restless Shadeling, Kun-Lai Runt
sand 11Both my killshots on the Fel Flame and the Kun-Lai Runt resulted from crits. The luck was on my side this time.

Win: Fel Flame, Restless Shadeling, Kun-Lai Runt
Same team as above, only this time I didn’t get my lucky crits. The battle above was a faceroll, this time without those lucky shots it was an epic 41 round duel with both teams making decent choices. In the end it came down to the Emerald Proto Whelp being hard to take down with the shields, heal, and Sandstorm. It brought itself back to full health twice during the battle.

Win: Blighthawk, Blossoming Ancient, Clockwork Rocket Botsand 12
The Sandstorm + Emerald Presence shut down the Blighthawk’s attacks (it was hitting for 1(weak)), but my opponent kept it in anyways. The battle lasted 37 rounds thanks to Sandstorm, healing, and Autumn Breeze. The Breeze brought my Crush down to 45% accuracy and my Emerald Bite down to 55% accuracy. Not cool big tree, not cool.

Win: Panther Cub, Fel Flame, Celestial Dragon
Sandstorm put a serious bad luck streak on my Whelp. Made this game seem to take forever with all my misses. I didn’t miss enough for my opponent to win. The Celestial Dragon put up Moonlight and I just let it be for my own benefit.

Record: 5-0
Assessment: While a good team now, this team will be an absolute terror to take down when Elementals get their buff in 5.4. In Sandstorm the Living Sandling will be a double shielded, 100% Punching maniac. I’m scared.


Overall Record: 44-6
Overall Assessment: First of all the record appears great, but I did use Direhorns in fifteen of those games. That may have inflated the win rate a bit.  A lot of people ran away.

What did I want at the start of my Sandstorm journey? To reevaluate Sandstorm and try to find new ways to beat it. I didn’t find any new ways to beat it. As far as my reevaluation goes, I still don’t like using Sandstorm. But not all of the games were easymode wins, I did have to put some thought and strategy into many victories. Many were indeed easy, but I get some easy wins with any team I run if the match up is right. Of course I still hate the accuracy reduction, but there’s more to playing Sandstorm than putting it up and mindlessly button mashing. I’m saying I have a little more respect for Sandstorm users. It’s not my cup of tea, but hey, life would be boring if everyone was like me.

If four or five thousand battles later I can appreciate Sandstorm more, what’s next? Will I become a number one fan of that stinkin’ Crawdad? Yuck. I think I’ll wait a few more thousand battles before I give that one a shot.

I still think that double shielding blocks too much damage, especially Trihorn Shield. An opinion that not everyone agrees with, but I’m ok with that. I’m really scared of shielded Elementals in Sandstorm come 5.4, when Elementals will get positive benefits from weather rather than ignoring all weather like they do now.

Published July 2013, Patch 5.3

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