Raven’s Rules: The Best Arena Cards Rotating Out in a Week

Raven’s Rules: The Best Arena Cards Rotating Out in a Week

Welp, the Witchwood is arriving in Hearthstone around this time next week, and it will bring about a new standard rotation, and the loss of the 2016 sets (Old Gods, Karazhan, Gadgetzan). As per tradition with this blog, I will take a look at the best cards in the Arena format that are leaving the game. While they may make an appearance with whatever Wild event happening in the future, these cards are pretty much gone for good. And I really liked some of these cards!

Neutrals

10. Big-Time Racketeer – Hardly exciting, but usually dependable. It is quite amazing that a card being 7/7 worth of stats is just a little better than a similar 6/7 Boulderfist Ogre, but a big difference. The 6-mana Racketeer also had fun interactions with various Evolve mechanics from Shaman, as well as bounce effects.

Big-Time Racketeer(49625) Gold.png

9. Psych-o-Tron – This guy solved a bit of a problem with Sunwalker costing 6, and dealing with an aggressive board. Taunt + Divine Shield is a great for absorbing many hits, and usually causing multiple trades. Also great against board clears, or protecting a board that is going face for 2 turns.

Psych-o-Tron(35216) Gold.png

8. Spiked Hogrider – Situational effects aren’t great, but this card was sneaky good in causing 2-for-1 trades. Taunts usually don’t hit for 5 when played on Turn 4 or 5, so this took care of them usually. More importantly, it probably helped pave the way for situational Rush cards coming down the pipe in the new expansion.

Spiked Hogrider(49687) Gold.png

7. Hired Gun – Nothing exciting here at all, but this card was always really good. There isn’t really anything else to add, but the 3-mana 4/3 cards are leaving together in droves it seems.

Hired Gun(49671) Gold.png

6. Mistress of Mixtures – Turn 1 became more of a novelty, with a lot of the 1-mana minions leaving in the previous rotation. Mistress, being the spiritual successor to Zombie Chow, didn’t really disappoint in controlling the early game. The 1 Health difference made this a bit worse, but the double heal helped Rogue often.

Mistress of Mixtures(49646) Gold.png

5. Nerubian Prophet – I always loved playing this on Turn 3, being a 4/4. Greedier players liked playing it for 0 mana. In any case, just a great tempo cheat that does not have an immediate substitute. No, nerfed Corridor Creeper isn’t close.

Nerubian Prophet(35233) Gold.png

4. Corrupted Seer – The neutral Blizzard AoE that nobody ever sees coming. Seer set a newer precedent at the time of neutral AoE. We saw a much better version later with Primordial Drake, but this was definitely a card that usually had high board impact.

Corrupted Seer(35228) Gold.png

3. Tri-class Discover (Kabal Courier/Grimestreet Informant/Lotus Agents) – These aren’t exactly neutral cards, but let’s just call them that. Anyways, Discover was almost immediately great in the Arena, given the implications of untangling yourself out of bad situations, with unexpected class cards. At first blush, Lotus Agents seemed too clunky to be good, but it turned out just as good as the rest.

Kabal Courier(49621) Gold.pngGrimestreet Informant(49627) Gold.pngLotus Agents(49629) Gold.png

2. Bomb Squad – I play Hearthstone with very low regard to my health, so Bomb Squad is one of those cards that I almost always pick. It turns out that the 5 health cost never mattered much compared to the board removal. Given the new drafting system, removals are more common with class cards. But this is definitely a card I loved playing in Arena.

Bomb Squad(49696) Gold.png

1.  Bog Creeper – Was there ever any doubt? Bog Creeper brought a brand of big beefy minions that followed in sets to come. The 6/8 was almost perfect on Turn 7, an offensive and defensive threat. While we still have big cards on Turn 8 remaining, it is hard to see a card replacing the power of Bog Creeper on 7.

Bog Creeper(35240) Gold.png

Class cards

10. Flamewreathed Faceless – The memelord himself, a 4-mana 7/7 was just a lot to deal with. While less good in Arena with less Overload synergy and consistency, a 4-mana 7/7 pushed in a ton of damage. It also is a card that forced many trades on the board.

Flamewreathed Faceless(35226) Gold.png

9. Swashburglar – This guy came at the same time as Babbling Book, but he just did a lot more. 1-mana cards help setup combos. The RNG Burgle mechanic received support with Ethereal Peddler and later with Obsidian Shard. Further, being a Pirate helped sometimes with drafted cards. Usually, the RNG into something amazing is what made the card so good.

Swashburglar(42046) Gold.png

8. Rallying Blade – Despite Fiery War Axe being 2-mana in the past, 3-mana 3/2 weapons are still really, really good. Rallying Blade was definitely not a card to save for a Divine Shielded minion, but it was OP if it came to a buff.

Rallying Blade(35246) Gold.png

7. Jade Claws – Arguably one of the strongest class cards in the Gadgetzan set, with the offering bonuses to Jade Golem cards. Being 1 durability lower than Stormforged Axe never really mattered, as the 2 damage becomes less useful with prolonged turns. The combination of being just right for the mana cost, and leaving something on the board was phenomenal.

Jade Claws(49724) Gold.png

6. Fool’s Bane – The infamous “Warrior help card,” Fool’s Bane allowed Warrior (who was usually behind), to clear the board. The downside often came at the cost of being really low on life, but the good times with this card overshadowed those losses.

Fool's Bane(42041) Gold.png

5. Call of the Wild – A card with probably one of the highest “Played winrates,” it was a game-ender for the opponent. While it probably did clunk up the hand being put at 9 mana with the nerf, it was a near auto-pick.

Call of the Wild(33167) Gold.png

4. Ravaging Ghoul – Another rare bright spot for Arena Warrior, this card just did a lot for it’s cost. While you can think of really enticing combos with Sleep with the Fishes or powering up a Frothing Berserker, it often did enough to clear the early board. Simply an amazing card.

Ravaging Ghoul(33161) Gold.png

3. Potion of Madness – If you played against Priest in Arena, it always seemed like this card was in the opening hand, or every Priest had one at the right time. It became such a big part of the Priest identity, that people learned to play around this card by not playing 2 susceptible cards, or Deathrattles. It is possible by next week, it will be finally safe to go faster against Priest.

Potion of Madness(49630) Gold.png

2. Abyssal Enforcer – This card made it’s presence known right away, making Warlock the best Arena class for a couple of months. Big damaging ability, which fit with Warlock, put in a “big enough” body. This card was such an Arena force that it was presumably nerfed in offering by 50%.

Abyssal Enforcer(49691) Gold.png

1.  Firelands Portal – I’m not sure if we’ll ever know why this adventure card is a common and completely screwed over 8 Arena classes. What we do know is that this the best card that is rotating out. Flexible big damage, and putting a bigger minion on the board. I personally will be glad to see this go, but it will definitely feel weird not having it around to terrorize me.

Firelands Portal(42025) Gold.png

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Hearthstone Arena 10.4 with Numbers!

Hearthstone Arena 10.4 with Numbers!

Out with the old, in with the new. Hearthstone has officially done away with rarity-based drafting, and has gone on to a power level-based one. I had some questions in my previous look at the draft, but it is great to finally dive in myself, to see what it looks like.

Methodology

  • I drafted a Paladin Arena in Arena 10.4. I took a screencap of every pick.
  • I went to hsreplay.net to find stats for Paladin Arenas. Stats are for the last 14 days, delayed half an hour, of this writing.
  • I copied the “Deck winrate” and “Played winrate” for each card.
  • I used Google Sheets to calculate the standard deviation for each pick. This was done for “Deck winrate” and “Played winrate.”

Picks

1.1
1
1.2
2
1.3
3
1.4
4
1.5
5
1.6
6
1.7
7
1.8
8
1.9
9
1.10
10
1.11
11
1.12
12
1.13
13
1.14
14
1.15
15
1.16
16
1.17
17
1.18
18
1.19
19
1.20
20
1.21
21
1.22
22
1.23
23
1.24
24
1.25
25
1.26
26
1.27
27
1.28
28
1.29
29
1.30
30

Deck winrate table

  • The cards were labeled A, B, C, from left to right.
  • SDdwr represents the standard deviation between the 2 or 3 picks.
  • A new Arena card, Hand of Salvation, was excluded from the data, in picks 27 and 28.
Pick Adwr Bdwr Cdwr SDdwr
1 55.60% 58.20% 57.10% 1.31%
2 58.30% 58.40% 56.40% 1.13%
3 61.90% 60.50% 62.20% 0.91%
4 57.70% 59.20% 57.10% 1.08%
5 60.20% 60.30% 60.50% 0.15%
6 60.70% 61.60% 61.80% 0.59%
7 60.80% 61.80% 61.90% 0.61%
8 59.40% 59.60% 60.10% 0.36%
9 60.20% 59.60% 60.70% 0.55%
10 61.60% 60.70% 62.20% 0.75%
11 45.90% 57.60% 58.80% 7.13%
12 60.50% 58.50% 58.60% 1.13%
13 58.60% 60.00% 59.50% 0.71%
14 58.90% 59.10% 59.20% 0.15%
15 60.80% 60.20% 60.30% 0.32%
16 57.00% 46.80% 56.60% 5.78%
17 57.70% 58.80% 55.50% 1.68%
18 59.30% 58.40% 60.00% 0.80%
19 59.60% 58.90% 61.10% 1.12%
20 58.10% 65.30% 56.70% 4.61%
21 59.40% 60.10% 59.90% 0.36%
22 50.80% 46.80% 54.60% 3.90%
23 61.90% 61.60% 60.80% 0.57%
24 60.90% 61.00% 60.70% 0.15%
25 60.70% 59.90% 60.70% 0.46%
26 59.30% 59.80% 58.60% 0.60%
27 . 59.60% 57.40% 1.56%
28 57.40% . 59.30% 1.34%
29 59.70% 60.70% 58.60% 1.05%
30 60.60% 60.10% 62.20% 1.10%

Played winrate table

  • The cards were labeled A, B, C, from left to right.
  • SDdwr represents the standard deviation between the 2 or 3 picks.
  • A new Arena card, Hand of Salvation, was excluded from the data, in picks 27 and 28.
Pick Apwr Bpwr Cpwr SDpwr
1 46.70% 48.40% 43.80% 2.33%
2 51.00% 46.50% 48.60% 2.25%
3 65.10% 56.70% 61.00% 4.20%
4 46.10% 46.50% 46.40% 0.21%
5 52.70% 54.70% 51.40% 1.66%
6 56.60% 57.10% 55.70% 0.71%
7 59.60% 55.70% 65.10% 4.72%
8 48.20% 50.90% 51.90% 1.91%
9 57.70% 50.90% 53.00% 3.48%
10 57.10% 56.60% 61.00% 2.41%
11 27.40% 47.30% 49.60% 12.21%
12 54.80% 51.60% 49.00% 2.91%
13 50.20% 53.20% 50.50% 1.65%
14 50.60% 49.10% 55.60% 3.40%
15 53.10% 53.40% 54.90% 0.96%
16 45.00% 28.50% 41.40% 8.68%
17 46.10% 50.70% 45.50% 2.84%
18 49.20% 47.40% 52.80% 2.75%
19 51.30% 54.60% 52.70% 1.66%
20 51.60% 43.70% 54.40% 5.55%
21 48.20% 51.90% 55.20% 3.50%
22 33.90% 28.50% 47.80% 9.96%
23 65.10% 57.10% 59.60% 4.09%
24 54.40% 55.70% 56.60% 1.11%
25 59.20% 54.30% 54.30% 2.83%
26 50.50% 50.90% 49.00% 1.00%
27 . 47.10% 43.60% 2.47%
28 43.60% . 49.20% 3.96%
29 50.90% 53.00% 49.00% 2.00%
30 57.90% 53.00% 53.70% 2.65%

Limitations

  • This is just one draft, so small sample size. But it does provide 30 data points!
  • I drafted Paladin, a class with pretty good winrates. I suspect a bad Arena class would give more discrimination in winrates between cards.
  • The data was pooled from the last 14 days, which includes all of Wildfest. It is unclear if static Wildfest data was used to group cards, or if it will be a dynamic system with the winrates.
  • Standard deviation isn’t the best measure for 2 or 3 picks, but I was too lazy to figure out the best test.

Results

  • The standard deviation of deck winrate was very low, with most values falling within 0-2%. Pick 11 (Street Trickster / Ebon Dragonsmith / Midnight Drake) had the highest deviation, and Pick 16 (Frostwolf Grunt / Eye for an Eye / Lesser Pearl Spellstone) second. These were the only standard deviations above 5%.
  • The standard deviation of played winrate was higher. Pick 11 had the highest rate again, and Pick 22 (Small-Time Recruits / Eye for an Eye / Sabretooth Stalker) had the second. Along with Pick 16, these were the three abnormally higher rates.

Discussion

  • The power levels seemed to be grouped by deck winrate. While Hsreplay data is not perfect, it takes a sample from actual data. Overall, the deck winrates were fairly consistent among 3 picks.
  • There appears to be a distinction from premium cards from good cards. Cards like Vinecleaver, Spikeridged Steed, and Rallying Blade were grouped together often.
  • The premium pool was rather small for this draft. I drafted 2 Vinecleavers, 1 Rallying Bad, and 1 Spikeridged Steed. This could give Arena a more constructed feel, and definitely making playing around cards more important.
  • There were 2 legendary picks in this draft. I definitely saw a premium legendary group, and an average-ish legendary group.
  • The bad cards have greater variance in winrates. As shown in Pick 11, it appeared Street Trickster didn’t really belong with the other two picks. Possibly, there isn’t a really bad pool, and the really bad cards are grouped with just bad cards.
  • More data is needed. We don’t know how many card pools there are from this one draft, or what are acceptable differences in card winrates to be in the same pool. Obviously, more cards in other classes helps as well. Do your own analysis!

Implications of Hearthstone Arena 10.4

Implications of Hearthstone Arena 10.4

In a blindsiding fashion, perhaps the biggest change to the Arena was announced not long ago, due for update 10.4 of the game. This change will do away with the rarity draft system, which has been in place since the beginning, and move towards a power level draft system. For the first time, one can potentially pick from 3 cards of different rarities (common, rare, epic) for a draft slot. Also added in the post are the upcoming new Arena-exclusives, for a limited time, but the removal of the rarity draft system warrants much more discussion on it’s own.

Let’s run through some potential implications this has on Arena.

Different drafting

By taking away the power level quantity to compare three cards with, the focus becomes other useful factors. Most Arena picks have a clear-cut “good card,” which results in an auto-pick. If the new system works as defined in the video, every pick should warrant some critical thinking, in regards to deck construction. The demoed example of Fireball vs Leyline Manipulator vs Primordial Drake isn’t easy. Fireball is usually automatic for being one of the best Mage spells. Primordial Drake is probably the best neutral epic minion though. Leyline Manipulator is an Elemental Yeti with plus side for RNG decks. Tough choice.

The test would be prioritizing mana curve, synergies, win condition, minion/spell balance, etc. In a way, this accomplishes what the dreaded Synergy Pick era never did in testing synergies. Synergies are explosive and powerful when they hit, but are they worth all the other factors. Skillful drafting is definitely reinforced, when you take away sheer power level.

In a way, this drafting system works better for individuals who drafted without using a tierlist. When you have used tierlists for years, you become inured to cards having a certain value attached to that. With the new system, this becomes much more fuzzy, and there is more wiggle room.

target dummy.png
Things only 2015 Arena players will get

 

Definition of power level

This brings the question, how does Blizzard define power level? As the entire draft system will now be based on power level, it would be important to find out what that quantity is. My first guess is it would be the “deck winrate” value, which usually demarcates good cards from average cards from bad cards. “Played winrate” is more of a swingy value I don’t like so much, but is an option as well. Blizz probably has more internal stats that will make the basis of what power level is.

Power level buckets

Once power level is defined (whenever that is), how many buckets are there? As this is the key basis for how the drafting system works, it would be important to know. We definitely will have at least three, with good, average, and bad. The Lightforge Tierlist has 7 buckets for their valuations. I have a feeling there won’t be that many in the Arena update, but there should be enough to make the draft pick between three “same power level cards” seem similar. I personally believe there may be 5 power level buckets, which goes neatly in a 1-5 scale, and divides into 30.

lftiers.PNG
Tiers of The Lightforge Tierlist

Valuation of neutral cards in classes

Thanks to class cards, hero power, and class identity, neutral cards have different values in different classes. An example is Violet Illusionist in Rogue, which is just a 3-mana 4/3 in another class. Taunts for Warlock are also great. The valuation of neutral cards should take class into consideration.

More epics

Epics are no longer bound by generally low appearance rates and should show up more in the new Arena. They usually have a reputation of being either really good or really bad. It is possible we may never see the really bad epics anymore, unless they were drafted for a specific deck synergy.

epic cards.PNG
Some Warrior Epics = Literally unplayable

Normalization of usage

If you look at class cards drafted by class, some cards appear in just short of 50% of decks. By grouping cards through power level, it is likely that the highest cards will fall in usage, and the lower cards will rise in usage. There should be a normalization of some sorts, just because cards of equal power level are pitted against one another, and you are bound to 30 picks.

shaman class.PNG
Crushing Hand vs Fire Elemental shouldn’t be this far apart.

Variability of power level

The biggest question regarding this change is how different each draft would be from another, in terms of power level offerings. And this probably will be determinant on how many power level buckets there are. If there are fewer buckets, like 3, you can easily say there will be 10 bad picks, 10 average picks, and 10 good picks. If you have 7 power level buckets, things get more complicated.

In the current rarity draft system, you typically don’t have crazy variability in terms of card rarity. Yes, you do see 3-4 legendary decks sometimes, but usually you will have 0 or 1. Power level is much more important than rarity though. Many legendary picks aren’t even all that good. Premium cards are often common cards.

A bad scenario would be a highly variable system, as the number of premium picks afforded in a draft determines your fate. Hopefully this distribution of power level per draft is fairly consistent.

Top 10 Neutral Cards Returning to Wildfest

Top 10 Neutral Cards Returning to Wildfest

Back when I still had hope of a successful Hearthstone blogging venture, I took a few looks at Arena cards rotating out into the Wild. With the announcement of Wildfest starting February 19, I thought I would do a little exercise and take a look at the Wild cards coming back for this Arena event, and pick out my favorites.

What we know about Wildfest

All we really know about Wildfest is that “the Arena draft will offer cards that are exclusive to Wild.” There are still a good number of unknowns, including:

  • If the entire draft is all Wild cards, Wild + Basic, Wild + Standard (all cards).
  • If previously banned Wild cards are coming back.
  • If the Discover/Random Summon pool is affected.
  • If the offering rates for cards are changed.
  • If we are getting different rewards.

The description did not tell us much.

To new Arena players

If you didn’t play Arena back in the day, and had to know one thing about the Wild sets:

  • 2-drops are really, really important!

Top 10 Neutrals

There are plenty of great (and bad) class cards coming back for Wildfest. I’m sure that I like a lot of them, and will have some great nostalgic moments in the Arena with them. But given how universal Neutrals are (along with my lazier-than-ever blogging style), I have only included the top 10 Neutral cards. As is normal with Arena, I focused primarily on the Commons and Rares, with some Epics. If the offering rules are the same, Epics should see more drafts than they did in the past.

  1. Piloted Shredder – Despite the big unknown of whether the 2-drop that comes out of the Deathrattle is Wild-only, or mixed Wild and Standard, it doesn’t really matter. You are getting a 2-drop for the cost of 1 mana antitempo on Turn 4, which is a wash, given the randomness of Arena drafts and hands. The stats on the 2-drop probably favor a bigger body in the Wild format, but it is negligible. Throw in various Mech synergies found in GvG, you have a premium card here.
  2. Haunted Creeper – The supreme 2-drop is high on the list, as it does what a 2-drop is supposed to, win early board fights. You’ve got 7 points of stats in the Haunted Creeper, which is a bit more than the typical 5 points. Given the wider availability of “ping” class cards in newer sets, I can see this card being even better if the Wildfest combines Wild and Standard.
  3. Zombie Chow – Another early game statstick, which plays into the speed meta that was Wild. It’s a 1-drop that can trade into a good number of 2-drops. The opponent healing that comes built-in with Zombie Chow is irrelevant most of the time. Sometimes you may not want to draft it because you have a hyperaggro Hunter list. Sometimes that 5 heal will cost you the game. Chances are that it won’t, and this card will do it’s job.
  4. North Sea Kraken – The cost of 9 was always a bit awkward with this card, as it prevented Hero Power help to clear something that had 5 health. But this card was almost always premium, and was defining in the mana slot. Just like Bonemare had a big Turn 7 impact, this card does the same in Turn 9. With the importance of board trading in Arena, chances are better that Kraken can clear something up. The big minion meta is less good for Kraken, so it remains to be seen whether various Standard format big guys are around.
  5. Bomb Lobber – Always an outstanding pick in the Rare slot, Bomb Lobber usually had value in clearing multiple threats on the board. The 4 damage was almost always good enough to clear whatever was played on Turn 4. While RNG will always make one never lucky, it is relatively controllable with this card. Pretty much on-par with today’s Fire Plume Phoenix and Flanking Strike.
  6. Jeweled Scarab – Discover cards are among the best type of card in today’s Standard Arena. Honestly, Jeweled Scarab was never an amazing card, possibly owing to the card pool available at the time, and what class cards were available. So the power of Jeweled Scarab entirely depends on the rules of Wildfest. Of course, there are important class card considerations, as Jeweled Scarab is seemingly great for Paladin drafts.
  7. Kodorider – An Epic worthy of discussing, as it is a card that it is extremely snowbally, and has a direct presence on the board on Turn 8, producing 16 points of stats. More-so than any other card, if left unchecked, Kodorider will result in the player winning the game outright, due to board value.
  8. Sludge Belcher – We’re starting to see some creep in stats of monsters, but I suspect Sludge Belcher would still be great. Any taunt with that stat line can trade with many smaller minions, and just soaks up damage. Of course, it is dependent on what cards are available in Wildfest, as a relatively frequent pick in Spiked Hogrider completely wrecks Sludge Belcher.
  9. Argent Horserider – Another card that performs very well in the value trading aspect of the game. The card can take out common 2-mana 3/2 minions, and trade even with 2/3’s. Fix any equip spell on this, and the Divine Shield has even more value to take out bigger threats.
  10. Fel Reaver – A polarizing card that draws many parallels to a current 5-mana 8/8 in Bittertide Hydra. Part of what makes Fel Reaver rather good, aside from the stat line is the deception. Inexperienced players will use more mana trying to mill, instead of dealing with the immediate threat on the board. If they have a hand full of cheap cards, the strategy can work. Otherwise, the stats are too much to deal with. This card favors the old Arena format more, when there were far fewer taunts.
  11. Bonus = Flame Juggler (or any other good 2 drop!) – 2 drops collectively are back for Wildfest. Flame Juggler is especially good, as it has a 50/50 chance of dealing with pesky 1-mana 2/1’s, which will show up a bit more. Yes, RNG isn’t the best, and this guy seems to hit face all the time. But bonus damage shouldn’t be scoffed at.

 

Class Convergence in Kobolds & Catacombs + Cool Neutrals

Class Convergence in Kobolds & Catacombs + Cool Neutrals

Well, Kobolds & Catacombs was revealed in it’s entirety yesterday, getting every dedicated player and thinker of the game riled up to play with the new cards. No matter what your opinion is on K&C, I think everyone can agree that this is a huge expansion in shifting the game. While I have been unfamiliar with the Hearthstone Ranked Meta for some time, it is clear that having cards of an unseen power level are going to shake things up. As is a tradition in this blog, I will now take a look at class convergence in this new set, and also discuss interesting neutral cards that dip into new directions.

Class convergence

Every class is supposed to feel different with their hero power, class cards, and interactions with the neutral cards. Class convergence is the feel of classes starting to look like other classes, brought upon by the introduction of new class cards. Let’s look at all the classes and where they fall on class convergence thanks to new cards.

Druid

  • Copy effects – Druid, a class of flexibility, is getting copy effects for the first time. The cards Ixlid, Fungal Lord and Astral Tiger both have such abilities. Ixlid is more like a Priest card in Mirage Caller. Astral Tiger is more similar to an older Druid card, Malorne, though it acts as a copy, instead of the same card.
  • Armoring – Druid always had secondary armor cards in Feral Rage, Bite, Gnash, Claw, etc. The interesting thing is that armor was never a focus for Druid, just a damage mitigation tool. With the Druid Jasper Spellstones, armoring becomes a chief focus in leveling up the spell. As such, K&C puts an emphasis on Druid armor cards with Barkskin, Ironwood Golem, Oaken Summons, and Branching Paths.

Hunter

  • Positioning – K&C brings about the most positioning cards we have seen, and Hunter has always been a general position-against class, by playing your strongest monsters on the edges. Crushing Walls flips that script, making the reverse positioning tactic more effective. Really for Arena considerations, there is no way to position against the Hunter now, as you need to play around Explosive Shot and Crushing Walls.
  • Warrior positioning attack – First seen on Foe Reaper 4000, Warriors had a few cards like Magnataur Alpha and Scourgelord Garrosh that focus on damaging multiple minions at once. Cave Hydra, is the first Hunter card to attack multiple minions on each hit.
  • Cheap weapon – Glaivezooka was a very good Hunter card, not only for the battlecry, but for being a 2-cost weapon. We are seeing the first cheap Hunter weapon in a while, Candleshot. While just a 1-attack weapon, it is definitely amazing in the Arena and opens up Pirate synergy for Constructed.

Mage

  • Board flood – Dragoncaller Alanna allows the Mage to fill the entire board with 5/5 Dragons. This is notable as Mage is known for being an off-the-board class, not necessarily imposing will with minions. Alanna combines the aspect of using big spells to translate to a lot of minion power.
  • Armoring – Just a one-of, but Arcane Artificer allows the Mage to continually armor up with spells. Armor has always been in Mage with Ice Barrier, but this is the first card that can allow the class to continually heal up.

Paladin

  • None – Just by looking at the Paladin cards, they all do what Paladins already do. Lynessa Sunsorrow focuses on card buff abilities. Level Up!, Crystal Lion, and Drygulch Jailor have Silver Hand Recruit synergy. Cards buff, Taunt, and give Divine Shield. There’s healing. There’s a good weapon. All Paladin stuff.

Priest

  • Turn manipulation – The legendary Temporus has a battlecry that allows your turn to skip, and your opponent’s turn to skip. Previously, we only had the Mage Quest skip a turn, so this would the second turn manipulating card.
  • Coin – An old Rogue mechanic of stealing coins has now gone to Priest through Gilded Gargoyle. The bad stats on this card will probably render this card less useful, though Priest ramp is likely more powerful than Rogue.
  • Divine shield – Unindentified Elixer has 1 outcome providing Divine Shield. To a minion. I believe this is the first Priest-exclusive card that gives Divine Shield.

Rogue

  • Secrets – Fairly big deal in the class convergence department, as Rogues finally got Secrets. It is something that always made sense, and has finally come to be. Rogue secrets play and activate like previous secrets. Evasion will sequence like Eye for an Eye. Cheat Death will sequence like Getaway Kodo. Sudden Betrayal will sequence like Ice Barrier.
  • “Ice Block” – Evasion is a cheaper and worse version of Ice Block. It is a lot worse in that any killing blow will not trigger the Immune activation. So unlike Ice Block, where you try to wittle down as much life as possible, you would hit harder first against Evasion.
  • Drawing/tutoring – We see two cards Elven Minstrel and Cavern Shinyfinder, which draw minions and weapons respectively. Rogues had card draw in the past, but nothing that specifically targets specific card types in the deck.

Shaman

  • Copy effects – Shaman never had copy effects, but they are now. The Sapphire Spellstone cards will level up on copying friendly minions. Grumble, Worldshaker is a bit like a Rogue card, in that it bounces minions, and has the 1-cost mechanic.
  • “Tortollan Primalist ability” – The legendary weapon, The Runespear, can Discover a spell and casts it on random targets. The Discover makes it like Tortollan Primalist, so that’s new. Mage has Servant of Yogg-Saron, which eschews the Discover part.

Warlock

  • Conditional taunt – Hooked Reaver is a powerful card that provides conditional Taunt. We most recently saw this with Tol’vir Stoneshaper and Nesting Roc. Unlike those cards though, the Hooked Reaver goes from bad to amazing, based on the conditional ability. Life manipulation is no new thing though, with past Handlock decks.
  • Big heal – Dark Pact allows the Warlock to heal for 8. While the Warlock dabbles with healing to use Life Tap, this is almost a Priest heal in it’s big number.

Warrior

  • Golems – Warriors are getting Mithril Golems through their Mithril Spellstone. This sounds a lot like Jade Druid and Jade Golems.

Interesting neutral cards

  • Mister Oakheart – 9 mana, but you could basically summon 4 bodies to the board. While there are constructed implications in what you put in your deck, this card also fits very well with typically Arena mana cost is for minions.
  • Arcane Tyrant – Great tempo cheat after Turn 5.
  • Shimmering Courser – Neat ability, but 4-mana 3/3 is easily dealt with by minions.
  • Spiteful Summoner – A bit like previous Tavern Brawl rules we’ve seen.
  • Void Ripper – A big swing ability previously seen in the Priest spell Confuse.
  • Gravelsnout Knight, Hungry Ettin – Over-stated guys who bring back the Hungry Dragon mechanic. Esports!
  • Kobold Monk – We see hero untargetability in other games, but a first for Hearthstone. The stats are on-curve as well, making this a very interesting card.
  • Dire Mole – Vanilla minions are always interesting, as there are a few stat combinations that we have not seen. This is clearly the stickiest neutral 1-drop we have seen in some time, with no downside.
  • Dragonslayer – Reminds me of an old 3-mana 4/3 called Light’s Champion.
  • Shroom Brewer – Neutral heal is always cool, so a little worse than Earthen Ring Farseer, but decent.
  • Stoneskin Basilisk – Possibly better than Giant Wasp. Divine Shield and Poisonous is a great combination, but the ability to get pinged off and traded into might make it the same as Wasp.

Death Knights Leaving Arena + Thoughts About the Community and Future

Death Knights Leaving Arena + Thoughts About the Community and Future

The newest Hearthstone Arena changes are coming in a few days, with the removal of Death Knight cards from the draft pool. Maybe because there is no relevant news for the game for the time being, this became a very controversial change. While the actual implications to the Arena are low with these removals, the precedent this has set is more important to discuss.

Arena Death Knights by the Numbers

overall dk

Here are the overall numbers, courtesy of hsreplay.net. This doesn’t really say much, as these are the overall numbers for each class, from the pool of all games and cards. All you can tell with this is that the Rogue DK card is pretty bad, the Shaman DK card is debatable, and the 7 others are pretty good. The played WR of the Rogue DK card is especially low, signifying poor initiative from the card.

class specific

Here are the numbers again, with class-specific percent rates. While their removal is relatively low impact, these numbers show that the DKs appear more than other cards. With the increased offering rate of legendaries, and with DKs generally being OP, they get picked nearly automatically for legendaries. You can see that there is approximately a 10% chance of facing a Death Knight in each Arena game. 10% isn’t enough for one to start playing around DKs, but it isn’t nothing either.

The deck winrates by rank are also very high. Malfurion, Jaina, Anduin, and Guldan are all the #1 Arena card for their respective classes, while Rexxar, Uther, and Garrosh are top tier. Thrall is around average, and Valeera is as good as Priestess of Elune.

So yes, DKs are generally really good in Arena. The Gul’dan and Jaina cards in particular, boast very high Played WR percentages, showing they have a bigger direct impact in flipping the board when played. Further, these cards were offered a lot during the forgettable “Synergy Pick Era,” planting the seed for complaints for the removal of all DKs.

Reaction

kibler death knight.PNG

This initial point, which sparked much discussion afterwards, is neither correct nor incorrect, as it depends on one’s perspective on the matter.

  • If you play a lot of Arena (daily), the chance of seeing a DK isn’t a rare thing.
  • DKs will be offered less by next expansion, but they will universally be drafted, making it close to 7% of matches.
  • Not sure if people play Arena just to play cards they don’t have.

Of course, any of my points above are dependent on your own individual experiences.

kibler iksar death knight.PNG

Here we see dev Iksar saying the changes were not targeting Arena balance. As correctly noted by Kibler, that is how many, myself included, initially interpreted the changes. This could also be a way to defend the inclusion of OP commons like Bonemare staying in Arena.

amaz death knights

Here, Amaz expresses his disappointment with the change. Amaz is a very good Arena player, but not a particularly long-time Arena player. His views of Arena may lean towards having more exciting and useful cards to draft.

A Dangerous Precedent (Changes)

The Hearthstone Arena is improving. The Hallow Arena event was a success, enjoyed by players of all types. The synergy picks got removed, approved of by most. Now the Death Knights are leaving, prompting the currently mixed response. Is the Arena changing too fast?

Old Arena players remember when the Arena stayed the same from 2013-2016. I come from the school of ADWCTA and Merps, of the Lightforge Podcast, and part-creators (yeah, I said it) of the HearthArena tier list. On the scale of 1-10 of willingness to criticize Team 5, they are on 11. They have criticized Team 5 for not caring about Arena, doing things poorly for Arena, not having played enough Arena, and communicating poorly about the Arena. They’ve gone all the way. Arena went unchanged until last year, when they decided to ban the first set of cards from drafting. Basically, complaints launched by the Lightforge went unanswered for a while. What I’m trying to say is that old Arena players are not used to change. They want change, but did not expect it that often.

Now you can just go on r/ArenaHS, and several posts by known members of the community calling for more cards to be banned from Arena. Are changes coming too often? Why is this a dangerous precedent?

Hearthstone Screenshot 08-28-17 12.15.06
“You don’t stand a ghost of a chance”

Who Asked?

Recent Arena bans have clued us into who asked for the bans. A co-op between Hafu and Mike Donais showed that she really wanted (and was pleased with) the Vicious Fledgling removal. Kripp recently posted a video complaining about Arena DKs, and here we are. It’s not surprising that Team 5 would listen to Hafu and Kripp, as they are the most known and prolific Arena players in the game.

My concern is a possible unfair weighing of views. Do Hafu and Kripp’s opinion on cards matter more than that of others? It’s known that Team 5 doesn’t particularly get along with the Lightforge, which is understandable. While they possess top-tier knowledge of Arena, do their opinions on cards matter less?

This also spreads to that of the masses of lesser players online. Are r/Hearthstone and r/ArenaHS on the same level in voice? The dedicated players are probably on r/ArenaHS, but they have low upvotes/participation, which may not catch the eye of Team 5.

Hearthstone Screenshot 10-23-17 14.50.45.png
A deck full of cards that could be banned

A More Boring Arena

Just like literally anything in the world currently, the future of Arena is murky. With Death Knights being gone, we can admit that Arena drafts get less interesting. Besides gameplay changes, the thrill of getting a new hero power, affecting the board, and implanting a new hero portrait is gone.

Games will be closer. Often, the play of the DK hero led to the end of the game. While there are plenty of win conditions still available in the draft, the removal of DKs got rid of very flashy and effective closers. Almost like removing a second Deathwing from the game. Now you’ll have to do your dirty work with things like Eldritch Horror.

In terms of class balance, getting rid of 1 legendary really isn’t much. This probably does hurt Warrior the most, as the Warrior DK does give a draft some hope. Mages aren’t living their glory days, but I can’t say the Mage DK keeps them up high. Warlocks definitely have a lesser incentive to draft demons for synergy.

Overall, the removal of DKs isn’t a big deal at all. The more important discussion is what will change next, and who Team 5 is actually listening to.

 

Hearthstone’s Arena-Exclusive Cards

Hearthstone’s Arena-Exclusive Cards

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.

Arena now

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.

Druid

druid1

  • 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.
  • (W) 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.

Hunter

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  • 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.
  • (W) 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.

Mage

mage1.jpg

  • 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.
  • (W) 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.

Paladin

paladin1.jpg

  • 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.
  • (W) 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.

Priest

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  • 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.
  • (W) 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.

Rogue

rogue1.jpg

  • 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.
  • (W) 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.

Shaman

shaman1.jpg

  • 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.
  • (W) 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.

Warlock

warlock2.PNG

  • (W) 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.

Warrior

warrior1

  • 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.
  • (W) Blazing Longsword – The winner of a tough choice, and pretty good.  Best board control card of the bunch, and has built in Cleaves.