BlizzCon wrapped up last night, and a lot new features were announced for Hearthstone over the past few days. Announcements include the new expansion, Kobolds and Catacombs, card reveals, the new PvE mode, Dungeon Run, and more. What got me most excited were some new Arena-exclusive cards coming to the game in a future event. Let’s talk about these cards, which ones were picked, and the implications of it all.
Today is the last day of Hallow Arena, which has gone on for nearly 2 weeks. The reception to the event was mostly positive from hardcore Arena players and never Arena players. I even got my 12 win run yesterday with the Shaman-Hunter combo, so I am satisfied. It was great for being new, testing new skills, and not lasting too long. Tomorrow we revert to a new Arena state, of KFT bonuses, but no grandfathered cards from Wild expansions. And no Vicious Fledgling.
The voting process
Yesterday, the Hearthstone Live Q&A began with a session where the attendees were shown three new cards from each class, and they picked the card that would make it to Arena. From what I know, it was a verbal shouting vote, not unlike a band giving you two options for their encore song.
This part feels a little bad. Arena is a bit of the black sheep among Hearthstone players, with a few hardcore players, and most players not touching it. I even regularly see people complain about being forced to play Arena with the free tickets. It is not the most popular mode, but those who love it, love it. I expected the crowd to reflect this mindset. There were concerns that Arena would be “ruined” by voters unaware of the class balance issues, and more.
Further, the voting was a gut reaction. The crowd was shown new cards, and forced to vote for 1 of 3 right there. No analysis was made. So this gives a chance for a flashy, but bad card to make it.
The new Arena-exclusives
Now, I will display the cards by class, talk about them a little, and the winners. It is important to note that these may not be the final version of the cards. Or they could be. Further, they will not be permanent Arena additions, but inserted for a special event.
- Thornstrike – This would’ve been OP, as it covers a weak spot for Druid in little AoE. And you get into the issues of every class having a 1 damage AoE.
- Boon of Elune – A bit of a Rogue constructed card calling back to Razorpetal Volley. It does give 4 reach, and makes Gadgetzan Auctioneer and Spell buffers a little better. Bad Arena card overall.
- Nature’s Champion – This was my vote, and the crowd agreed. The +5/+5 is bigger than Blessing of Kings, but it must be bounced. You can think greedy with big things, but this is probably best with small things. Stonetusk Boar, or another cheap charger can make good use of this in one turn. Druid of the Swarm and Crypt Lord probably will get even more sticky with this.
- Reload – I like this card, but probably way too good. Hunters should play aggressively with reliance on the hero power, and this is too much card draw, for probably discarding nothing important in the hand.
- Volley – RNG card that can give you pretty good cards. The shots like Deadly Shot, Arcane Shot, Multi-Shot, are all pretty good. The bad shot, Cobra Shot, is already gone. So a bit like Cabalist’s Tome, where it feels bad to face.
- Deadeye – The winner, which harkens back to Steamwheedle Sniper, a good Arena card back in the day. Control Hunter is the darling of every Hearthstone player, and this is good for the Arena, allowing Hunter to support a draft that doesn’t give aggro cards.
- Arcane Flux – Bad 2-cost spells that also cycle a card are everywhere. Flare, Roll the Bones, Purify (whoops). This has that Servant of Yogg-Saron ability that is purely dangerous when playing Mage. Probably wouldn’t have had a huge impact in most cases, but possibly frustrating when it does have one.
- Polymorph: ??? – The winner, and probably the best choice. It is flexible, allowing it to boost a friendly minion, or downgrade an enemy minion. And with Discover, you are getting a good range of cards. The question is whether this Discover has the 4x Mage bonus. My guess is it does.
- Power Cosmic – This is the seemingly OP card of the 3. With Discover, you are leaning towards a 4x Mage bonus, so Sindragosa and Antonidas were likely outcomes.
- Retribution – Has the same trigger as Eye for an Eye, and probably worse than Noble Sacrifice in that it doesn’t cover minions. Would’ve been an okay Paladin card, definitely worse than many.
- Relic of Hope – The RNG card of the group, giving you something bad or good. There are actually a good number of bad Paladin spells around, and some really good ones.
- Hand of Salvation – I was firmly stuck on this one, and the crowd liked it as well. I think I liked it just because it is a new mechanic. These three cards aren’t exciting at all, and the Paladin would’ve been fine if they all sucked more.
- Aboslution – A bit like the Paladin spell that gives +1/+2, making this fit the Priest theme of LIfesteal. It probably would’ve brought Priest up a little bit, allowing the early game to compete a bit better. This card probably would’ve helped the most.
- Mass Resurrection – Corpse Taker is a really solid 5-mana 3/3, and this does it at the same cost. This is a card that either gives you a ton of value, or is useless on an empty board.
- Generous Spirit – This was my pick, and that of the crowd as well. Priests shouldn’t have a ton of problems drawing cards, so this would help out those with fast Priest drafts. People probably won’t draft really bad cards to make this work, but some steal combos are in order.
- Assassin’s Training – Debatable whether is good or not. It is not a good card, as it is a 2-for-1 without leaving anything on the board. Plague Scientist is good for the 2/3, and having the same effect. It could also be good as it provides a ton of value on trading a little guy on a big guy.
- Smoke Bomb – This is good for being card draw, which Rogue’s struggle with in Arena usually. Conceal was never a good card, but Rogues have tend to have reach and play fast. I like this card, and don’t think it was too strong for a strong class.
- Mindspike – Classify this with some epic rarity weapon that sucks. Probably better than Poisoned Blade.
- Refreshing Jolt – This was my choice, but honestly is powercreeping over the 4-cost Tidal Surge. This is cheaper, does more flexible damage, heals more, and heals flexibly. I feel this is a good card for an underwhelming Arena class, but doesn’t make sense with Tidal Surge around.
- Magma Shock – A big Earth Shock. Shamans already have a really good 4-cost Jade Lightning, and this is just worse in every way.
- Crackling Doom – Somehow this card won the vote, and it is flashy as all. Definitely reminds me of a Warlock bomb spell, except the ability to win right away is much higher. I don’t like this card, as it allows the infinite board swing that you cannot play around. There is no playing around this card. While Shamans do need help, making a very unfair board state isn’t the way. Very disappointed with this vote.
- Bottled Madness – You read this right, Bottled Madness was selected by one random audience member after this vote tied. The fate of Arena decided by one person. Incredible. Anyways a very good refill card for Warlock, and most Demons are pretty good. Good thing Howlfiend exists for balance I guess.
- From Beyond – Similar to the Hunter Reload card, except Warlocks never had trouble drawing cards. Insane late game value.
- Combust – Definitely OP, as it is Siphon Soul packaged with Hellfire, a 10-mana value.
- Training Blade – All of the Warrior cards are very solid, and it is good to see some help for the class. This on it’s own is very good for the Warrior early game, which doesn’t exist due to the hero power. Think how good Light’s Justice is for Paladin. I think this should’ve been the pick.
- Axe of the Eclipse – The flashy card, which definitely is very good as well. 4/2 on 5 isn’t bad at all, as Twilight Hammer has the same stats.
- Blazing Longsword – The winner of a tough choice, and pretty good. Best board control card of the bunch, and has built in Cleaves.