General Arena Tips for the Layperson

With a Hearthstone Arena average somewhere slightly below 5 now (4.97 I think), I am considered a pseudo-infinite arena player. With the award from arena runs, plus completing dailies, I am able to sustain arena runs with gold. The Hearthstone Arena world is very different from the constructed, in that you are prepared to expect the unexpected. And to best prepare for the unexpected, it is best to follow some general gameplay tips that will help out in the arena.

  1. Control the board – Unless you draft a complete face deck, and are determined to go down that route, you’ll typically need to control the board to win the game. Controlling the board involves some complex combination of trading, playing things for tempo, using your hero, etc.
  2. Play for tempo – The early bird gets the worm. Such is true as well in Hearthstone, as the player who plays faster will have an upper hand in controlling the board, and thus the game. Sacrifices have to made to control the board, such as playing a minion without it’s effect activating, for the sake of having something on the board, or contesting the board. This is moot if you are playing super-control, if you drafted 3 Flamestrikes in your deck, but the chances of that happening is not what it used to be.
  3. Trading – It is hard to explain trading with brevity, as each situation is specific to the situation. But typically, try to make efficient trades, with as little loss of minions as possible, and using your hero to help out (if possible). Also trading depends on what cards you have in your hand/deck.
  4. Reads – The beauty of Hearthstone Arena lies in class cards. You know what class you are playing against, and they know what class you are. There is no hiding that. But you can try to make reads of cards in hand. Does your opponent have a Flamestrike in their hand? What about Polymorph? I don’t have the attention to count cards, so I use Hearthstone Deck Tracker, which helps count what turn each card in your opponent’s hand was picked up. Reads also apply to Secrets, in which you will try to test out the Secrets to your advantage.
  5. Baiting – Once you establish a read, you will try to bait. Baiting involves forcing your opponent to do something, like use their Flamestrike or Polymorph. Typically, you can put out your 2nd best minion in your hand to force the hard removal, so you can play your better card right after. Or to bait the AOE removal like Flamestrike, make sure you have enough minions in your hand to contend the board again, or make sure your minions can survive the Flamestrike. Baiting can also happen on Turn 1. You put out a 1-drop, to force your opponent to use their coin to remove the 1-drop.
  6. Positioning – Certain limited AOE spells hit minions next to each other. To this point, positioning of minions on the board becomes useful. Playing against a Mage? They might have Cone of Cold. Rogues? They might have a Betrayal. Hunters? Maybe a Powershot. Typically, you want to put your strongest minions on the edges, with weak minions in the middle. If you have a stealth minion or untargetable minion, you can use them as the fulcrum, to prevent an extra minion from getting targeted. And don’t forget special effects. A Betrayal on a poison minion will automatically kill.
  7. Adapt to the situation – Using Assassinate on an Acolyte of Pain when your opponent has no cards in their hand is a move that will win games. Sure you are spending 5 mana to kill a 3-drop, but the situation required it. Be ready to adapt to anything in the Arena to ensure a win.
  8. Know card rarity – In the arena, a player is going to have more commons than rares than epics than legendaries. Typically you’ll try to play against commons and rares, but adapt to the epics and legendaries, when they come. Similarly, class cards come up more often than neutrals, so know your opponent’s class cards.
  9. Use spells wisely – Unlike constructed, you don’t get to load your deck with spells. Spells are typically infrequent in the arena, so make sure you use them at critical junctures. This also involves reads on the opponent, to determine what minions your opponent has.
  10. Heart of the Cards – So what if you didn’t draft a good deck or were offered crappy cards? The randomness of card distribution in the Arena makes it so everyone is on the same playing field. Take some time after drafting to know what your deck does. Know the cards, the synergies, the win conditions, etc. I believe that arena is more gameplay-dependent than deck quality, and that could be the key to making things work.
You too can get 12 wins!

5 thoughts on “General Arena Tips for the Layperson

  1. Nice article 🙂 I’ve been playing constructed since it came to iPad ages ago, but rarely venture into Arena as it has a more intimidating aura around it. It’s good to hear a lot of the processes I’ve picked up through repetition spelled out here! I’ll check out the deck counter link as well…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your observations about the arena are pretty spot on for a regular constructed player. I think the “increased skill” perception just comes from being aware that any card can be used at any time, rather than the “meta cards” you see all the time in Ranked. If you’re getting about 3 wins per run though, you’re pretty much breaking even with buying a pack at 100 gold.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great writeup. I haven’t dabbled heavily in Arena in awhile and still have yet to get one of those elusive 12 win runs (and the reward above looks awesome). I like how you put Control the Board as number 1 – I feel on any successful run this was the critical component to keep in mind.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The arena meta itself has slowed down a bit since Goblins vs Gnomes was released – so holding the board is definitely the key for most games. I’ve gotten 4 12-wins ever and am amazed on how the best players just get several a week.

      Liked by 1 person

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