We are happy to announce the release of the Arena guide for the new Whispers of The Old Gods expansion set!
The latest Hearthstone expansion, Whispers of the Old God, came out in April, attracting all sorts of new players to the game. You might’ve jumped into standard, played a few matches with a C’Thun deck, and then maybe tried a few more with something more original. Then maybe you netdecked something popular and went to town. All this is fun enough, sure, but if you’re anything like me, then standard will only get you so far. The real draw of the game for me is Arena. It’s the main reason I keep coming back to Hearthstone. Do those dailies, get that gold, and then do an arena run (or multiple runs if you get lucky). And then rinse and repeat.
For the completely uninitiated, Arena is the mode of Hearthstone where you draft a deck of random cards, choosing one of three at a time, and then play until you win twelve games or lose three times, whichever comes first. Then you gain rewards based on your success. A full twelve win run is quite lucrative, whereas going 0-3 isn’t at all. If you’re unfamiliar with some of the terminology in this guide, I compiled a nifty glossary.
If you’ve stepped into the arena and gone 0-3, don’t despair. With as random as Arena can be, even the pros go 0-3 from time to time. They either draft poor decks, or go up against some ridiculous ones. But if you find yourself going 0-3 more often than not, then yeah, there might be some small room for improvement.
First off it’s best to temper your expectations. Blizzard has said that the average player in arena averages out at about 3 wins. So if you find yourself consistently doing 4 or 5 wins, you’re already in a fairly good spot, and most of what’s in this guide will seem painfully obvious. But hey, we’ve all got to start somewhere.
WHICH CLASS SHOULD I CHOOSE?
Arena comes down to two primary components: the draft and actual play, but before you can start picking which cards you want, you have to choose which class you’re going to play, and they’re not all created equally. Some classes are straight-up better for arena than others. The best ones shift around slightly between expansions and adventures, but for the most part Rogue, Mage, and Paladin have stood the test of the time the best. If you start a draft and can choose any of these three classes, then it’s not a bad idea to do so.
After that, it mostly comes down to preference and the overall draft. Any class with a great deck can go twelve wins, but generally speaking, you usually want to avoid Hunter and Warlock, with Priest coming in close behind. See a trend? The best classes are the ones with a hero power that can be used to kill off minions. The worst ones have hero powers that don’t impact the board at all.
As for Shaman, Warrior, and Druid? They’re all toss ups that can perform really well under the right circumstances. Druid used to be in a much better place, but the last couple expansions haven’t been too kind to them. Shaman and Warrior used to be bad arena classes, but Blizzard has made a concerted effort to give both classes cards that can really pull their weight in arena, and Warrior decks that are rich in weapons generally do really well.
One of the most important aspects of arena to keep in mind throughout the draft as well as during each match is board control. In arena, generally speaking, board control is king. You want to do everything in your power to take board control and to keep it. You want to be the one deciding which minions trade into which. That’s why minions that empower other minions are so valuable. Abusive Sergeant, Dark Iron Dwarf, Dire Wolf Alpha, all of these cards and more are great arena picks. You want to be able to buff your smaller minions to be able to take out bigger ones. Board control really is the most important aspect to arena. The traditional decks all revolve around it.
Going first in arena is always preferred, but it’s entirely out of your control as well. So if you do end up going second, save the coin. Don’t coin out that 2-drop on turn 1 if you don’t have another minion to play when turn 2 actually arrives. Save that coin for padding out your curve, e.g. playing a 3 drop on turn 2 and then following it up with another 3 drop on turn 3. Or use it to yank board control away from your opponent. Play a 2 drop on turn 3, then coin out a spell and kill off your opponent’s only minion.
As was said earlier, board control is king in arena. You want to have board control, and you want to do everything in your power to keep it. If you’re the one choosing which cards to trade, then you’re at a significant advantage. It should go without saying, but most of the time, don’t go face. Unless of course you drafted that ridiculous aggro deck and are planning to end the game by turn 7.
There are a few times in arena you do want to go face, though. Nothing is black and white. You’ll want to go face if a trade is inefficient, or if you’re worried your opponent might be able to kill off a low health minion with a hero power or a weapon, causing you to give up that precious board control. You also want to go face if you’re planning to win in a couple turns. That’s also something you should be aware of in general when playing. “What’s the soonest I can win?”
If you know you’re low on big drops, then you should try to win the game before your opponent can start throwing down theirs, or if you have that ridiculous mage deck with seven fireballs, and your opponent is near death. You can be aggressive if you know that there’s a good chance you’ll top deck a fireball or another damaging spell to seal the deal. But of course this can backfire, too. There’s always the off chance that those seven fireballs will be the last seven cards in you deck. But without risk, there’s no reward. It comes down to personal preference how risky you want to play.
Another big mistake is missing lethal. It might seem obvious, but sometimes we get so caught up in board control that we don’t realize we have everything we need – right here and now – to win. It’s simple really. If the amount of damage on the board and in your hand exceeds that of your opponent’s health, then sic him. Also don’t concede too early. If it’s absolutely hopeless, sure, but I’ve won a few games where the opponent didn’t kill me when he or she had clear lethal on the board.
A lot of arena players are expecting you to concede once you know you’re dead, but if you play like they can’t kill you, maybe they won’t realize they can. Faking them out with secrets can help with this, too. Maybe you really can cause your opponent into missing lethal by tricking them into thinking that Effigy is actually an Ice Block or Ice Barrier.