This One Stings A Little

This One Stings A Little

After fighting off attempts for extra sleep in the morning, I either open 1 of 2 apps on my phone, Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Links or Twitter. Those are just the priorities I have. This morning it happened to be Twitter. Hearthstone Arena extraordinaire @ADWCTA posted a tweet saying there were changes to the Lightforge Tier List because of offering changes. This was odd because I did not know of any mentioned changes to the offering rates of Arena cards. While I have been pissed off playing the Un’Goro Arena, I still would’ve heard of it. I expected that either the entire Un’Goro draft offering rate was back to baseline (1x), or certain OP cards were reduced.

I had to fire up Relay to scan the /r/ArenaHS and /r/Hearthstone subreddits before I found out what it was all about. Someone posted on Reddit complaining about Un’Goro offering rates, something I have done on this blog before.

reddit ungoro arena.PNG

Team 5 dev, Iksar, who is usually the spokesperson for all things Arena responded in the comments.

iksar response arena change.PNG

What the heck? Basically:

  1. The Arena offering rate of Un’Goro cards were changed from 100% more to 50%. This happened on the June 1, 2017 update. The communication above was posted in the comments section of a Reddit post on June 21, 2017. It was not in the Patch Notes.
  2. There are planned micro-tweaks to card offering rates in the future that will happen in the background.

I hope I’m not making a big deal out of nothing, but this is huge. Not putting minor details in Patch Notes is one thing, but this is another story. Arena costs 150 gold to enter or $1.99. I would not have wanted to have been the poor sap who paid $1.99 to draft an Arena on misinformation.

While I haven’t used The Lightforge or Heartharena to help draft in the Arena lately, a lot of people do. Both sides have their loyal fans that live and die by tierlists. Heartharena in particular, has their automated drafting scores and Kripp tooting the horn. This information was flawed for 3 weeks, as Un’Goro offering card adjustments will affect synergies, like Elementals.

I am lucky that I have only played 6 Arenas in June 2017, so my wins and loss haven’t really been affected to a big extent. But again, there are people who (somehow) played Arena the whole month, and some people shooting for the leaderboard. Overall, this one just stings. It feels like Arena doesn’t matter, despite what efforts have been communicated about improving it.

What concerns me is the future communication about the planned micro-changes. Knowing the Arena community, they would want to know if Primordial Glyph got reduced by 2%. Every detail affects tier lists and the overall psychology going into the draft. If this isn’t a harbinger of things to come, I think Arena will just get more murky than it is.

They Don’t Make Them Like They Used To

They Don’t Make Them Like They Used To

I haven’t written anything for a while on this site. And it hasn’t been because I stopped playing Hearthstone or suddenly got very busy in life. I just don’t like playing the Arena anymore, and as a result, have thought less about Hearthstone. While I have competed in some fun tournaments of late and have been playing the Ranked ladder, my core way of thinking about Hearthstone is through the Arena, and it is decaying.

I mostly recently discussed the Arena changes brought forth by the “Arena 7.1,” what The Lightforge guys called “The Threat and Response Meta.” I struggled with the Arena meta then for a while, but did eventually muster a couple of 12-win runs. With Journey to Un’Goro, the changes from Arena 7.1 persisted, just with a new card set and the loss of many other cards. I will try to discuss some of the problems I feel are hurting the Arena to a big degree in an attempt to sound coherent and controlled.

Top neutrals

top neutrals.PNG

Most of my posts recently have extracted data from hsreplay.net, and this one will be no exception. Here I’ve isolated the top neutral cards picked from all classes. I cut it off at 18%, to specifically highlight some problem cards I think are ruining the Arena.

  • Stonehill Defender – This is card is regular plain good in some classes, absolutely broken in others. Will discuss further later.
  • Vicious Fledgling – Reminds me a lot like the olden days of a Micro Machine or Gurubashi Berserker that ran away with a game. Certainly a fair card, but the ability to get Windfury for another adapt is just back-breaking.
  • Primodial Drake – Corrupted Seer was a fair card as it was grossly under-stated, and did nothing to Murloc enemies. Primordial Drake, just costly 2 more mana, is only under-stated by 3 points, with the neutral AoE ability that screams class convergence.
  • Servant of Kalimos – Elemental decks just get out of hand and feel like Constructed decks. Servant of Kalimost is just the on-curve play after Fire Plume Phoenix with the powerful Discover. I haven’t used Heartharena in this meta, but I would assume this guy gets gross amounts of tier score points with just a few elementals in the draft.

Discover in a small card pool

Stonehill Defender is great on it’s own and broken in two classes in particular, Paladin and Shaman. Paladin has 3 top-tier taunt minions in Sunkeeper Tarim, Tirion Fordring, and Wickerflame Burnbristle. Grimestreet Protector ain’t bad either. With a reduced card pool and a 4x Discover rate on class cards, you’re going to get one of these cards quite often. Check out this table:

paladin taunts.png

The % of decks metric specifically refers to the card draft. So in the last 2 weeks, 7% of Paladin decks had Sunkeeper Tarim and 4% of Paladin decks had Tirion Fordring drafted. Fair enough. But if you look at the Time Played metric, you’ll see that Tarim and Tirion were played just as much as Lay on Hands and Stand Against Darkness respectively. Stonehill Defender is just so adept at getting these cards, you’ll see them as if they are in 18% of Paladin decks.

shaman taunts.png

The Shaman taunts aren’t as good as Paladin but still a force. Al’Akir shows up as much as epic cards in Far Sight and Eternal Sentinel. White Eyes is being played just less than Lotus Illusionist. These weaker numbers are indicative of Shaman being a lackluster Arena class, but still demonstrate the power of Stonehill Defender.

Mages

I rage against Arena Mages a lot because I never got 12 wins with the class, and I consistently lose most against them. But Mages are on a new level. They are just on an absolute level of Discover magic, RNG, and power cards.

glyph.PNG

In the table of top drafted Mage cards, you see a lot of power, but one card is crooked here. Primordial Glyph, despite being 8th in the draft, is the 2nd most played card, only losing out to Flame Geyser. Mages are chaining the Discover of Primordial Glyph to get a free-cost Primordial Glyph to get a second round of Discovers. And Primordial Glyph has resulted in some ridiculous gets.

cabalist.PNG

Above is Cabalist’s Tome, played a good amount despite a modest 19% draft rate. A 3-mana Cabalist’s Tome is great value, and will lead to more Discover chains.

pyroblast.PNG

Here’s Pyroblast, a card that should suffer from a lower play count, since it is just a finisher, and has to be held longer than other cards. It is played as much as Nerubian Prophet.

iceblock mirror.PNG

Finally some rarely drafted Mage spells in Ice Block and Mirror Image. They just blow out the other cards in this list in play counts, despite being drafted so rarely as well.

Mages aren’t the #1 class right now, but they will definitely make you shake your head in games. Or curse aloud. Or both.

Rogues’ removals

In order to create a smokescreen of fairness and equality, I will say some things about my favorite class, the Rogue.

rogue.PNG

By simply sorting the top drafted cards for Arena Rogues, you see hard removal up the Wazoo. Vilespine Slayer, is just as bonkers as it looked at first glance. The saving grace with all the Envenom Weapons is that properly-drafted face decks like Hunter can clearly take advantage of winning the game. But still Rogue is likely the #1 class because of these removals, brought on by the boosted spell offering rates.

The feel

A bit of my anguish isn’t expressed well with data but just comes from within. Arena doesn’t feel like Arena anymore. It feels like a bastard spawn from Constructed and some RNG servant. The minion-based combat and playing sturdy things on curve feel isn’t there very often. Playing against Priest feels most like playing against a Constructed class, since you can predict what a Priest will do based on cards kept in hand. No card (Free from Amber) should be in 67.5% of all drafted decks.

Solutions

Not sure if anyone has made it this far, but here are some thoughts:

  • Cut the spell boost – Spells are clearly not made equally, and does nothing to rebalance for classes. Warriors are played at historically low levels because their spells suck.
  • Reduce percentages of specific cards – I would like to see reductions for the highest drafted cards like Stonehill Defender. Arena should be about being forced to play bad cards, not ramping up a Discover to get something amazing.
  • Reduce outlandish RNG cards – A lot of random things have gone on in this game, but some Arena games have things going too far. A lot of this has to do with the Mage random Discovers, but things are getting out of control in this department.

That’s really all I have to say for now. I just know that I got a 11-2 run on May 10th, and proceeded to not play an arena on May 11th. I played a 4-1 Warlock yesterday and didn’t finish the run in that sitting. My waning interest in the Arena isn’t because I’m losing at historical levels. It just feels wrong and different, and something that I am sadly struggling to have fun with. I hope other original Arena hardcores feel the same.

Snapshots of the Early Un’Goro Arena Meta

Snapshots of the Early Un’Goro Arena Meta

I like to think of the current Hearthstone Un’Goro meta as the “trigger meta,” in that I have become annoyed with a lot of cards. A lot of this has to do with the meta decks in ranked play as Pirate Warrior, Quest (Caverns) Rogue, and Quest (Exodia) Mage are simply frustrating to lose against. While these constructed decks perturb me often, the same can be said about the Arena meta.

We are in the teeth of the new rotation, meaning that this is the lowest card pool in the Arena pool all year. When the second and third expansions come out in 2017, the draftable and playable card pool will increase. Thus, we will see more variety in the draft pool, as well as the Discover and random effect (Burgle, Transform) pool. Combined with the increase in spell rate, we are seeing a lot of cards over and over again. Let’s take an overview of the most common Arena cards, in this early Arena meta.

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This interaction took a while

Data source

I just pulled the data from hsreplay.net, about 12 pm EST on 4/18/17. The data pulls numbers from the last 14 days. I filtered out cards that are now rotated into wild, but may still be present in “grandfathered” Arena decks. I also filtered out Legendaries, as they are not really important to Arena.

Top neutrals

Neutrals are the glue of the Arena. But with a new card pool, boost to rares and epics, and decreased offering rate to Basic cards, what should we expect?

Frequency

hsreplay_top10neutral.PNG

9 of the 10 top neutral cards are from Un’Goro, with Bog Creeper being the sole holdout. It’s interesting that the two poisonous cards in Stubborn Gastropod and Giant Wasp have the lower played winrates, which goes to show that cards without intiative have lower played winrates. Really no surprises in this list, as they are all very good. It is obvious that Volanosaur is #1 despite not being the best card in this list, since everyone gets to draft a golden one.

 

Deck winrate

hsreplay_neutraltop10win.PNG

Here we have the top 10 neutrals in terms of deck winrate, and hey there’s Primordial Drake again. I think Bright-Eyed Scout may be an underlooked card, as it could be a late game play on Turn 9 for big tempo. Silithid Swarmer and Naga Corsair are on the list because they are good Rogue cards. Charged Devilsaur is also proving it’s worth as a great epic neutral.

Top class cards by frequency

Finally, I will look at all the top class cards in terms of frequency. These are useful in playing matchups against a particular class, to play around certain cards. I am only looking at cards that are in over 30% of decks for each. I picked 30% for no particular reason.

Druid

hsreplay_druid30pct.PNG

Tortollan Forager, despite having a dumb voiceline, will be seen in 50% of Druid decks. Just a very good card. Druids will have a bunch of removal spells from the boosted offering rate, though no hard removal. Moonglade Portal is in 33% of decks, and has the bad RNG aspect to help swing games. As expected, Druid is one of the worst Arena classes right now.

Hunter

hsreplay_hunter30pct.PNG

Hunters are seeing healthy winrates, and their top 3 neutral commons are from the new set. Plus, they all have solid deck winrates. Explosive Shot and Call of the Wild show up over 33% of the time, so come to expect those power cards on Turn 5 and 9. Play around Deadly Shot and Unleash.

Mage

hsreplay_mage30pct.PNG

When Flamestrike saw it’s offering rate cut in half, there was debate as to why Flamestrike and not Firelands Portal. We’ll never get the answer why, but Firelands Portal continues to be the menace of having high deck winrate and played winrate. The initiative of leaving something on board is too good, and the chance to get Leeroy and Doomguard are as high as ever…

Anyhow, you’ve got a lot of powerful stuff appearing for Mage. Important to play around Meteor with good positioning on minion placement. They’ve got some early game now as well, so just a lot of good Mage stuff.

Paladin

hsreplay_paladin30pct.PNG

Paladin dropped to the middle tiers it seems with Gadgetzan, but seems to have cards with higher deck winrates now. Spikeridged Steed is seen a ton, as it has the spell offering buff, and is just a very OP card. Dinosize is a card that I like a lot myself, despite initial impression, and is sporting a solid played winrate, as a finisher. Vinecleaver is also another sneaky card that looked bad to me at first, but has a huge played winrate. Paladin is back, and these cards are quite fun.

Priest

hsreplay_priest30pct.PNG

Priest has the biggest list in terms of diversity, and they are mostly spells. Potion of Madness is still appearing in a maddening 41% of decks, so continue playing around that card. Free From Amber is as I expected, overrated, as the guy you get is a neutral card with likely no battlecry effect. Nothing really new to report, but Priests are doing their thing with reactive spells and just a big variety of choices.

Rogue

hsreplay_rogue30pct

Vilespine Slayer, possibly the strongest card in Un’Goro, predictably has high winrates and is the autopick in the epic slot. Hallucination is amazing, but falls victim to RNG gets now and then. But Rogue just has a ton of hard removal, as almost every card in this list is just that. Still great for Arena.

Shaman

hsreplay_shaman30pct.PNG

With the loss of strong early game tempo minions, Shaman has become a reactive Arena class. Volcano, despite it’s horrible played winrate, will be seen in half of Arena Shaman drafts. A lot of other spells are present, with the Hot Spring Guardian being an okay card seen a bit. Shaman doesn’t seem to be in a great spot, but if you like flashy looking spells, Shaman could be fun.

Warlock

hsreplay_warlock30pct.PNG

Warlock took a step back after being top dog. While Abyssal Enforcer getting reduced is the sexy answer, it is most likely because Imp Gang Boss is gone. Warlocks still have hard removal and AoE options, with things that hurt the player. It is interesting that the power epic cards like DOOM! and Twister Nether aren’t being picked more often. Ravenous Pterrordax is showing up a bit, and could be snowbally like the neutral Pterrordax.

Warrior

hsreplay_warrior30pct.PNG

Bringing up the rear as always is Warrior. There’s a short list here, because Warriors likely have to hedge picks for weapons, which inexplicably don’t get the increased offering rate that spells do. Weapons are spells for weapon classes! Direhorn Hatchling isn’t a great Arena card, since it relies on getting the draw for value, but it is the default leader. Just as a fun exercise, Ornery Direhorn, the class common was played 51,000 times in the last 2 weeks. Meteor, the Mage 6-mana epic, a situational removal play, was played 260,000 times in the last 2 weeks. That can show you what state Warrior is in.

Forecasting Arena Shifts by Class

Forecasting Arena Shifts by Class

As mentioned in the past, I love looking at data, and trying to use it to my advantage when possible. Hearthstone Replay officially made their collected data publicly available yesterday, much to my delight. I didn’t even know that this was planned for a release, but I knew data was collected through Hearthstone Decktracker, a tool I have used for years myself.  There’s lots of data about win rates for constructed decks in Standard and Wild, with great UI to see specific deck changes by deck. There’s also separate Arena data, which is what I was interested in the most, and will explore here.

Arena data

Not surprisingly, the Arena data has information about every single draftable card, as you’ll get a different deck each draft. These are the variables measured for each card:

  • Included in % of decks – What % of drafts have this card.
  • Copies  – Average copies of the card in each draft.
  • Deck winrate – Win% when card is in draft.
  • Times played – Raw times played.
  • Played winrate – Win% when card is played in game.

Assumptions

While having big data is great, it could be worse having data and misinterpreting it. Misinterpreting data leads to faulty reasoning and arguments. Let’s try to make some assumptions of this data before we proceed.

  • Players who use HS Decktracker are better Arena players than the average HS player.
    • HS Decktracker provides a ton of information in the game, which will allow the user to gain an advantage in getting intel. One could assume this helps, and the players who use it are more likely use other methods, like drafting tools.
  • Deck winrate and played winrate are independent by class.
    • As a class struggles, the overall winrates will plummet for the class. Just by looking at rates by class, we can see that Warrior and Druid are struggling a lot in the NA server over the last 14 days. Grimy Gadgeteer and Headcrack have the same deck winrate at 49.8%. One is a lot better than the other in reality, as Rogues win a lot more than Warriors.
  • Played winrate has bias depending on game situation.
    • I noticed that some pretty good cards had lower played winrates than expected. Flamestrike sits at 53.3%, the same winrate as Assassin’s Blade. Think about it this way, if you’re playing Flamestrike, chances are you are behind on the board. Mage players who choose not to, or don’t have to play Flamestrike likely have won already.
    • The same goes with card advantage cards. I often play card draw in a last ditch effort to draw into an out. This would skew card advantage cards to lower played winrates.
    • Pyroblast has a very high played winrate at 73.4%, but a 57% deck winrate. This signifies people playing Pyroblast to achieve lethal.

Methodology

  • I’m going to look at the top 10 class cards for each class in deck winrate. It has been established that deck winrate is likely better at evaluating a card than played winrate.
  • I will only look at commons, rares, and epics. Legendaries are omitted as they show up too infrequently. Arena 7.1 put epics back on the map with higher offering rates.
  • I will omit undraftable cards included from old drafts.
  • I will seek to identify the cards that will be rotating out in the Arena once Journey to Un’Goro releases.
  • These data were collected on 4/3/17, approximately around 4pm EST.

Druid

hsreplay_druiddeckwin10

  • Druid appears to be taking a huge blow to their Arena kit when TGT drops out. 7 cards in the top 10 will be leaving.
  • Without Mulch or any replacements in Un’Goro, Naturalize becomes the only Druid hard removal. While it becomes a better pick, it still isn’t great.
  • Shellshifter and Verdant Longneck are solid cards, but it isn’t enough help given what is dropping out.
  • Prediction: Druid might become one of the worst Arena classes.

Hunter

hsreplay_hunterdeckwin10.PNG

  • Things are looking up for Hunter lately thanks to Arena 7.1. Also, none of the top 10 cards are dropping out.
  • Houndmaster is looking even better in the Beast meta.
  • Hunter gets some amazing early game cards and a seemingly premium early removal with Grievous Bite.
  • Prediction: Hunter gets more tools and isn’t losing much. Beasts will help the class even more.

Mage

hsreplay_magedeckwin10.PNG

  • Faceless Summoner and Forgotten Torch are undraftable cards, so ignore them here.
  • Mage will lose 2 cards in the top 10, Fallen Hero and Ethereal Conjurer. All the powerful spells are still here.
  • Primordial Glyph does the samething as Ethereal Conjurer albeit without the threat on board. A bunch of the other common cards are quite solid as well.
  • Prediction: Mage continues to be an Arena powerhouse. Elementals help bolster neutral minion picks.

Paladin

hsreplay_paladindeckwin10.PNG

  • Paladin loses Keeper of Uldaman, Argent Lance, and Seal of Champtions. These are 3 premium cards, but 3 out of 10 isn’t the worst.
  • Spikeridged Steed and Lost in the Jungle are solid gains.
  • Paladin also gainst other snowbally threats that are more win more.
  • Prediction: Paladin either stays the same or gets a little worse. In any case, it should remain in the middle of the pack, possibly still one of the better picks.

Priest

hsreplay_priestdeckwin10.PNG

  • Priest loses nothing from their top 10 list in the upcoming rotation.
  • The loss of Dragons from rotated set would peg a card like Drakonid Operative a little. 5-mana 5/6 is still great to get though. Dragonfire Potion is still a board wipe to pick.
  • Priests get some Elemental synergy with Radiant Elemental and Crystalline Oracle. Shellraiser and Mirage Caller are pretty good as well.
  • Prediction: Priests remain in their current position as a strong Arena class. Fewer Potions of Madness will be a relief.

Rogue

hsreplay_roguedeckwin10.PNG

  • Undercity Valiant is not a draftable card, so it isn’t in this top 10.
  • Rogue loses a couple tools in Dark Iron Skulker, Buccaneer, and Shady Dealer. The class was propelled to #1 thanks to Arena 7.1, and Dark Iron Skulker was likely the culprit for that.
  • The new Rogue toolkit is very solid. Vilespine Slayer, despite being an epic, looks like an autodraft. Obsidan Shard, Hallucination, Biteweed are all solid.
  • Prediction: Rogue remains a top tier Arena class. SI:7 Agent (top deck winrate card) and tools are all still here to keep the class competitive. Lack of AoE didn’t kill the class before, and it won’t now.

Shaman

hsreplay_shamandeckwin10.PNG

  • Whirling Zap-o-matic isn’t a draftable card, so not included in this top 10.
  • Shaman loses none of it’s top 10 cards.
  • Shaman is going all in with Elemental synergy, and I believe this will benefit greatly with all the neutral Elemental cards. The minions are all unimpressive with their stats, so drafting synergy will be key.
  • Prediction: Shaman makes the leap from middle of the pack to top tier. The ability to curve out in the Arena with Elementals will weigh heavily on how well it will do. Some drafts could possibly stall out, if synergy breaks down.

Warlock

hsreplay_warlockdeckwin10.PNG

  • Darkbomb isn’t a draftable card, so it doesn’t belong in this top 10 list.
  • Warlock loses 4 cards from this top 10 list, including Imp Gang Boss, Dark Peddler, Tiny Knight of Evil, and Wrathguard. Really, IGB and Dark Peddler are really bad to lose, as they are really, really good.
  • The new Warlock cards are definitely decent, with the minions being good stat sticks. Chittering Tunneler could be the new Dark Peddler.
  • Prediction: Warlocks get worse and will need to focus on increased minion-based combat with taunts. Could possibly be forced out of top tier status to the middle.

Warrior

hsreplay_warriordeckwin10.PNG

  • These are some putrid winrates. We are looking at the top 10 here!
  • Warrior loses a couple from this top 10, including Obsidian Destroyer, King’s Defender, and Alexstraza’s Champion.
  • Warrior gets very good minion help from Un’Goro, but nonexistent spell support. The three spells they get are nearly undraftable. Sudden Genesis is draftable but win more.
  • Prediction: Is it possible Warriors become even worse? Going forward, the strategy might just be to taunt up and draft weapons, as the spells are no good. That or just continue not playing Warrior.

Thanks to hsreplay.net for all the data and screenshots!

A Nerdy Look at Chakki Blowing Up the Arena

A Nerdy Look at Chakki Blowing Up the Arena

REVISION (3/10/17, 8:51 pm EST): The numbers were updated after this was written, so all the numbers listed are wrong. Chakki’s feat becomes even more impressive.

I have been getting immersed into statistical analysis more and more now, and I couldn’t help but notice the anomaly in the Hearthstone NA Top 100 Arena Leaderboard for February 2017. Hearthstone professional memer, Chakki, grabbed the top spot in NA with a 8.65 average. The notable thing about this average is that it is a whole 0.55 games higher than the #2 ranking. Let’s look at a few stat things and check out how amazing this is.

Summary

This is Stata output of Average Wins of the top 100 players. The main takeaway here is that Chakki got 8.65, which is well above the 99 percentile in this list of the top 100 players. If you dabble with standard deviation, he was over 4 standard deviations above the mean for the top 100.

Graph box.png

Check out this box chart. This box and whisker shows the quartiles and inter-quartile ranges. Everything in the shaded box represents the 25 – 75 percentile, and everything past the upper hash is considered an outlier. Chakki is way up there, and the other outliers were scores 2-4. Remember this population is just the top 100 again.

Linear Fit.png

And finally a scatterplot showing how many runs were done versus average wins. It’s no secret that the highest achieving scores stopped right around the minimum 30 wins, while some of the grinders shooting for the top 100 spot had to put in 90 or 100 runs in the month. This graph is likely what will lead to this being the last cumulative arena leaderboard, with March starting the first “best of 30 consecutive” counts.

Of note, Chakki had a 0-0 run counted against him, so he would have a more ridiculous average of close to 9. This was an amazing performance, and provided a statistical outlier that showed how well he did, even in the subpopulation of the top 100 players.

 

The Best Arena Cards Leaving Next Month

The Best Arena Cards Leaving Next Month

Days ago, I talked about the top cards from Curse of Naxxramas and Goblins vs Gnomes that have now departed the Arena. This shall be a Part 2, a commemoration of the top cards leaving the Arena from Blackrock Mountain, League of Explorers, and The Grand Tournament. The exodus of these cards correspond with the arrival of Journey to Un’goro, and will take place in April. Let’s look at my personal list of the cards with limited shelf life in the Arena.

Hearthstone Screenshot 12-12-15 20.07.11
Pour one out for Rag too!

 

Top 10 cards leaving

Honorable mention – Flame Juggler/Argent Horserider/Evil Heckler – This trio of TGT commons was far from flashy, but each became a staple card in the Arena. These cards would likely make a Top 20 list, but fall short in this exclusive list.

10. Kodorider – This card loses points for being an epic card, but it was pretty close to being an automatic pick in the epic slot. Kodorider was basically a neutral Jaraxxus-lite, which provided infinite tempo on the board, and immediately demanded attention. It is such a good card that opponents often conceded in close matchups when seeing it.

9. Living Roots – The Druid once had early game issues, with limited early game plays. Living Roots solved that issue for the Druid, provided the quick 2/2 tempo on Turn 1. The Saplings allowed the Druid to control the board early. Added versatility as spot removal or face damage contributes to making Living Roots great.

8. Murloc Knight – Murloc Knight was larger-than-life, in that it served as Hearthstone’s factotum entering TGT. The card bundled some of the zany Team 5 ideas with Warcraft Murlocs, into a cute package. Gameplay-wise, the card was snowbally like Kodorider, as an Inspire tempo engine, except it was much more accessible as a Turn 6 play, and the Murlocs occasionally had synergy. This card just won a lot of games, from being a little broken.

hearthstone-screenshot-02-10-17-00-24-20
Murlocalypse

7. Quick Shot – This was Hunter’s Frostbolt, if you will, and fit the Hunter playstyle well, by providing the gas needed to draw cards. The only reason this card makes this list is because of scarcity in the Hunter toolbox, as they don’t have removal. Arena Hunters have never been all that good, and missing this card would put a huge void in the Hunter’s ability to remove early threats.

6. North Sea Kraken – While unseen in Ranked play, the Kraken took the Arena by storm, being the first meta-defining common neutral card. Yes, the card was unwieldy at 9 mana, and prevented a 2-drop or hero power being used on Turn 10. But as I have waxed on before, the ability to do controllable effect damage is big. Think about how good Fire Elemental is. This was the neutral common that did all that, being the essential late game threat.

5. Dark Iron Skulker – In going along with cards being the only part of a toolkit, this was the rare AoE for Rogues. It provided Rogues with the Bloodmage + Fan of Knives play in the Arena, with a 4/3 body on the board. While there are sometimes awkward situations with damaged minions not getting hit, those scenarios were few and far between. Just a tremendous card.

4. Ethereal Conjurer – Mages are continually good in the Arena, because they have access to the best spells. Best damage spells, best AoE, best hard removal, you name it. Slapping the Discover mechanic on Mage spells almost always guaranteed a good get. Put that on a 6/3 threat, and you’re just paying 1 mana for a spell. Conjurer got the Mage out of bad spots often, or provided clutch picks for wins. Having 6 attack also helped making it a priority for removal.

Hearthstone Screenshot 01-01-16 22.11.32
Keeper of Uldaman came at a time when memes were ripe

3. Keeper of Uldaman – Whoever decided keeper of uldaman should be a common card definitely never played any arena, screw him. Blizzard not giving any fuck about arena balance really remind me about WoW arena balance where it was obvious you were considered a second zone citizen compared to PvE or even battlegrounds, even though they kept saying it wasn’t the case. Only a few changes would help, but they still don’t even want to bother. Well I don’t care, I play mainly constructed now, but still, blizzard never changes.

Keeper shits on every card in the game. Literally the worst card Blizzard designed. It trades with whatever it makes a 3/3, it also acts as a buff for small drops. Card is out of control.

2. Dark Peddler – 2-mana 2/2’s better be good to be this high up on the list. This was more about the card being both versatile and opportune. Warlocks just have some ridiculous 1-mana cards for Arena purposes, like Voidwalker, Flame Imp, Power Overwhelming (rip), and Soulfire. Sometimes bit players like Elven Archer and Bloodsail Corsair come in a pinch. I picked Hungry Crab last week! Whether being played for 2/2 tempo, or being played as a 2+1 on coin, this card is tremendously flexible, and provides solutions for putting the Warlock ahead.

1. Imp Gang Boss – I can’t really think of a scenario where you pick another common card over IGB in the Arena. I don’t remember having done so. The card simply doesn’t die on Turn 3, which means it will generate at least 2 tokens. That there is 10 points of stats already. It also trades evenly with 4/3’s on the board. Throw in various buffs, demon synergy, and a 2-drop meta, you have a tempo machine. The ability to generate 1/1’s, while being a formidable board minion made IGB the best card in this set.

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Screw that guy

Top fun interactions leaving

  • Crowd Favorite + Battlecries – One of my favorite cards in the epic slot, Crowd Favorite often got out of control because of the number of available battlecries. The card often affected a draft (for me), making me think about picking inferior Battlecry cards just to make it work.
  • Jeweled Scarab – While never an amazing card, Jeweled Scarab had the skill-testing ability that Discover shined at. Further, it spanned a wide range of cards across the 3-mana catchment, forcing players to think about not only what class is being played.
  • Joust – Joust isn’t good RNG. I’m pretty sure I lost over 50% of my jousts, because I like drafting on the lower end of the mana curve. But it did provide the element of suspense. And when you got that critical joust, victory!
  • Coliseum Manager – Despite being a boring card, it often resulted in misplays, of people forgetting what it did. And of course, “Back to the office!”
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Never worked out in Ranked, but hey these were some good Arena cards

 

Adapting in the Arena feat. Verdant Longneck

A week ago, the upcoming Hearthstone expansion, Journey to Un’Goro, was officially announced, with a few of the new cards. The official card leak cycle is set to begin on March 17th, so the hype will be intensifying as that date comes closer. Oh yeah, and here’s the infamous Ben Brode rap, which put him on the front page of the Internet. What a marketing win for Blizz.

Anyways, I’m here to talk about the new Adapt mechanic, and how to pick the right one in the arena. Quests are a new exciting card type, but as they are relatively irrelevant in the arena for being: 1) legendary rarity; 2) draft-dependent, they will be a topic for another day. Thanks to the card Verdant Longneck, we can look at the Adapt choices, and see what are the best choices in the arena.

Crackling_Shield(52590)
Spoilers!

Adapt

While a bolded keyword, Adapt is being bundled into the Battlecry mechanic. Basically, you play a minion, and the Battlecry becomes a Discover, allowing a pick of 3 abilities for the minion to gain. There are 10 Adapt mechanics overall. Some notable cards that interact with Battlecry will notably be gone from the arena by the time this mechanic is introduced.

  • Nerub’ar Weblord has been rotated out, would have increased the cost of Adapt minion by 2.
  • Crowd Favorite will be rotated out, would get a buff for each friendly Adapt minion.
  • Brann Bronzebeard will be rotated out, would allow a minion to get 2 Adapts.

We won’t know what cards come out of the next set, but any Battlecry-affecting cards would have a big impact on whether or not you should draft an Adapt card.

Verdant Longneck Adapting

Verdant_Longneck(52583)
New card!

Verdant Longneck at it’s base is a 5-mana 5/4 Druid Beast card. Simple analysis says Verdan Longneck is under-stated by 3 points. A 5-mana card should have 11 points, so that’s 2. Being a Druid-class card will also have leeway for 1 point bonus, so that’s 3 points off what it should be. Is Adapt worth those 3 points? Let’s look at the table below to see what the Verdant Longneck becomes with each Adapt.

Adapt Result Close Analog
Crackling Shield 5/4 Divine Shield None
Flaming Claws 8/4 > Salty Dog
Living Spores 5/4, Deathrattle of 2 1/1’s None
Lightning Speed 5/4 Windfury > Dunemaul Shaman
Liquid Membrane 5/4 Elusive < Spectral Knight
Massive 5/4 Taunt ~ Booty Bay Bodyguard
Volcanic Might 6/5 ~ Twilight Darkmender
Rocky Carapace 5/7 ~ Dark Arrakoa
Shrouding Mist 5/4, 1 turn Stealth < Stranglehorn Tiger
Poison Spit 5/4 Poisonous None

We can do a little analysis with the cards that the Verdant Longneck becomes.

  • Flaming Claws – Better than Salty Dog, but not saying much, so possibly average.
  • Lightning Speed – Dunemaul Shaman was pretty bad, so not much more than that.
  • Liquid Membrane – Spectral Knight was average, and this is a full 2 health off.
  • Massive – Booty Bay Bodyguard is as unflattering a pick as it gets.
  • Volcanic Might – Purely average, can get traded down by 4-drop, but can trade up a little.
  • Rocky Carapce – Dark Arrakoa has taunt and is a 6-drop, so this isn’t a bad choice at all.
  • Shrouding Mist – A full point off the Tiger, and non-permanent stealth.

Other adapt choices

  • Crackling Shield – I think for Verdant Longneck, this is obviously the best pick for Adapt. Divine Shield is an ability that scales up with attack, so having a 5/4 Divine Shield is tremendous. Essentially the minion is doing 10 damage. Also, Divine Shield is very handy in causing 2-for-1 trades, or forcing the enemy to Hero Power.
  • Living Spores – Harder to evaluate at the moment, but I think that any Deathrattle + Summon ability is solid. While this will be a weaker version of Piloted Sky Golem, leaving stuff on the board will protect against board clears, and help contend with the board.
  • Poison Spit – Poisonous is definitely something that is better with higher-health minions (Maexxna), as the attack is moot. 5/4 with Poisonous is essentially a mimic of the Flaming Claws ability, as 8 attack will kill almost anything. Not a very good adapt for Verdant Longneck.

When to pick

I think it will be obvious that none of the remaining Adapt creatures in this set will be 5-mana 5/4’s. They will come in a variety of costs and stats, possibly with other abilities. Let’s look at each Adapt outcome, and see when or when not to pick them.

457px-Shrouding_Mist(52598)
Very situational!

 

Crackling Shield (+Divine Shield)

  • Pros: Works great with high attack minions. Good for forcing trades or mana usage. Can push lethal with it.
  • Cons: Not effective with very low attack minions (1 attack). Can be ignored if opponent has bigger stuff on the board. Blood Knight is offered more as an Epic.
  • Overall: Great, I would pick it most situations, as it will result in your minion getting multiple trades.

Flaming Claws (+3 Attack)

  • Pros: Works fine in an aggressive deck, or on an empty board. Good for pushing lethal and damage. Allows trading up. Good against Priest if minion has 1 attack.
  • Cons: Doesn’t work great with aggressively-stated minions, as low health will allow a much smaller minion to trade up. Spells can destroy minion easily.
  • Overall: Average, will need to evaluate the situation.

Living Spores (+Deathrattle, 2 1/1’s)

  • Pros: Provides 4 stat points to your minion’s stats. Helps compete with the board. 1/1’s can be boosted to trade up. Protects your board from AoE. Deathrattle synergy with Unearthed Raptor.
  • Cons: Not particularly useful in the late game. Enemy MCT or Second-Rate Bruisers can take advantage.
  • Overall: Pretty good for all purposes, while fighting for the board, or early game.

Lightning Speed (+Windfury)

  • Pros: Can push lethal. Good in the early game.
  • Cons: Bad with minions that don’t have great health. Bad with minions that don’t have great attack in the mid-late game.
  • Overall: Bad, unless it is on a 2-drop with decent stats (3/2 or 2/3), like Whirling Zap. Cards like Grotesque Dragonhawk, Windfury Harpy, and Grook Fu Master are all pretty bad.

Liquid Membrane (+Elusive)

  • Pros: Encourages trading, so softens the board. More spells in the arena, so can’t be targeted. Can’t be hit by Mages. Can provide a fulcrum against Betrayal, positioning cards.
  • Cons: Minion will likely be under-stated, and doesn’t gain a useful ability. Doesn’t work on minion effects.
  • Overall: Pretty bad. You can’t see the cards in your opponent’s hand, so you won’t know exactly if a spell is selects targets. Possibly useful for softening a board before a weak AoE.

Massive (+Taunt)

  • Pros: Taunt forces trades, protects hero health, protects lethal damage board.
  • Cons: Minion with low stats doesn’t gain anything for being a taunt. Not great with aggressively-stated minions.
  • Overall: Situational, better in the late game for all picks. The Verdant Longneck isn’t good as a Booty Bay Bodyguard, but it can save you in a game, or protect your better minions.

Volcanic Might (+1/1)

  • Pros: Great with any early game minion. Works great with a defensively-stated minions, to allow an on-curve vanilla play, or something better. Can allow you to compete with something weaker on the board. Good against Priest on a 3 attack.
  • Cons: Not very sexy. Doesn’t do anything if you are behind, or doesn’t do enough to be threatening.
  • Overall: Good, but possibly broken if stuck on a 2/3 2-drop. Great for playing the board, making sure your minions have more stats. Look for better options if the game isn’t in your favor.

Rocky Carapace (+3 Health)

  • Pros: Good for ensuring a sticky minion to compete for the board. Allows you to play around AoEs.
  • Cons: Probably not great for minions with already low attack. Doesn’t do much in the late game.
  • Overall: Good. Very versatile in the early game, or when competing for the board. Look for better options if the game isn’t in your favor.

Shrouding Mist (+Stealth, 1 turn)

  • Pros: Can setup lethal. Allows spell buffing the next turn. Synergy with Shadow Sensei. Can provide a fulcrum against Betrayal, positioning cards.
  • Cons: Minion doesn’t gain stats, so will likely be under-stated. Doesn’t get pass taunts. Can still get killed by AoE, or random effects. Encourages opponent to go face.
  • Overall: Bad. Best situation to pick is when setting up lethal, so look for better options at every other phase of the game.

Poison Spit (+Poisonous)

  • Pros: Can allow any minion to trade up on something bigger. Works great with high health minions, as the poison could be used on numerous targets. Fine on an empty board, to discourage enemy tempo.
  • Cons: Doesn’t work well with low health minions. Minions with high stats shouldn’t have Poisonous, as their attack is wasted.
  • Overall: Situational. Best with low attack, high health distributions. Possibly good against high-value targets.
Ungoro
Pick the Stealth, guys!

Will it work?

So far with Verdant Longneck, Adapt definitely doesn’t appear to be overpowered, which is the danger when introducing a new mechanic. Also, Adapt brings about the type of “good RNG”, which combines limited probability elements with some strategy. I for one, will be excited to see what other cards exist in this set, and if they combine Adapt with other keywords. Only a week and half left!