Latest Arena Scoop with Hafu and Mike Donais

Latest Arena Scoop with Hafu and Mike Donais

One year ago, I first reported on some Hearthstone Arena insights, thanks to top player Hafu and game designer Mike Donais playing Arena on Twitch. I became aware of another co-op that went on yesterday, which can be seen here. As a dedicated Arena player, any of these insights are especially juicy and interesting. I watched the co-op to pick up on any incoming news coming to Arena. The following declarations are not official, but come from now Principal Game Designer Mike Donais, so that for what it’s worth.

Vicious Fledgling out

Arguably one of the most snowbally cards in Arena history, Vicious Fledgling, is going to be on a banlist coming next patch. It definitely is not the best card in the rare pool when you look at wins, but it definitely was not a fair card. The card won’t be gone entirely, as it will come up in Discover/Random Effects/Transform. I for one will be glad to see it go, as the bad moments seem to come up much more than the good ones.

Mage is mid-tier

Mages got a subpar set of cards in KFT. Their best Arena card is a 3-mana 3/4. This coupled with microadjustments, has knocked Mage to being the 5th-best Arena class. Definitely an unfamiliar position for the class. While you’ll still run into those who have constant answers and board clears, the ones who don’t get victimized more in the low-win pool.

Speed mode?

Never cared for slow Hearthstone play. When asked about the possibility of a speed mode, Mike Donais mentioned that the team has tested it out. He mentioned there were problems with dragged out effects, and mobile play.

A card like Dinomancy

In the background noise of Blizzard HQ, there seemed to be a social gathering going on where Mike was playing Arena. There was laughter (not Brode), and people talking loudly, but indiscriminately. In this, Mike mentioned that Iksar was talking about a card that had a similar effect as Dinomancy. Dinomancy is predictably one of those cards that never went anywhere, is just for fun.


Mike Donais squelched every opponent in the run, something I am starting to do more of. He personally is a fan of implementing that feature for Hearthstone, but I have a feeling that decision isn’t up to him.

Robot drafts

Were synergy picks made to specifically combat Arena drafting tools? Hafu and Mike faced a few players who had amazing decks, but made a lot of bad plays. The subject of “robot drafts” came up, in how seemingly players have amazing decks everywhere, sometimes not matching up to skill. Mike mentioned synergy picks meaning to throw a wrinkle to the robot drafts.

Arena patch timing

The next patch, which would get rid of synergy picks, Vicious Fledgling, and possibly more, isn’t coming in the “next week or two.” Mid October or later October?

OP Death Knights

An Arena complaint that shows up every so often are Death Knights, which can swing the game right back in the favor of a player. A big-time “blue shell play.” Mike didn’t imply that Death Knights were leaving Arena, or were planned to do so yet.


Juicy Bits from Hafu and Mike Donais’ Co-Op, Pt. 2

Juicy Bits from Hafu and Mike Donais’ Co-Op, Pt. 2

I decided to watch the rest of Hafu and Mike Donais’ Arena Co-op. See Pt 1 here: (

  • On Flamewreathed Faceless (aka “a 4 mana 7/7”)
    • Mike – “This card’s funny, because everybody complained about it a lot, and now people stopped playing it.”
    • Hafu – “They still play it.”
    • Mike – “It’s not in any of the top decks.”
  • On Moat Lurker
    • Hafu – “I love the design of this card.”
    • Mike – “When were testing, we were using all these bad cards, and I used it on my own Sylvanas, and I was using it on Rogue, so I could copy my own deathrattle and Shadowstep it.”
  • On Naming Cards
    • “I made a card called Smoldering Orc in Hunter, they wouldn’t let me keep the name.”
    • “I made all the “Fin” puns, and they’re like that’s an okay amount of puns. Okay, I’m gonna put some more in the next set then.”
  • On Fel Reaver
    • Hafu – “I’m curious what the stats are on Fel Reaver, you probably can’t tell me.”
    • Mike – “It’s very high. Way higher than I expected. There’s a couple of super high cards that are absurdly high. Dr. Boom is absurdly high. Fel Reaver is almost there.”
  • On His Title
    • “I’m Principle Game Designer, same level as Ben.”
  • On Devs Playing Arena
    • Hafu – “Does Ben Brode play arena?”
    • Mike – “He plays some. Not as much as me or some of the other guys. Iksar (Dean Ayala) plays a lot of arena.
  • On Museum Curator
    • Hafu – “You know what will make it better? If it was a 2/1.”
    • Mike – “Yeah.”
  • On Jeweled Scarab
    • “Jeweled Scarab is actually better in Shaman than any other class because they have tons of great 3’s.”
  • On Arena Mages
    • Hafu – “What’s the percentage of Mages at 7+?”
    • Mike – “I don’t know that stat.”
    • Hafu – “You should look at that one, I think that’s the biggest problem. There should be 33% Mage, anyone who will draft it will pick it.”
    • Mike – “That’s not true, Rogue is just as good, if not better, depending on how good you are.”
  • On Flamewaker
    • “Yeah this thing’s good, this thing’s better than everything in our deck, goddamit.”
  • On Medivh’s Valet after 3-dmg trigger
    • Hafu – “What the hell is this…”
    • Mike – “This guy. See, Mages can get 7 wins by playing like this.”
  • On Firelands Portal
    • “That’s a good card.”
  • On Arcane
    • “Arcane magic is not the same as mechanical creations, that’s why Arcane Golem is not a mech.”
  • On Dev Perks
    • Hafu – “You get all the cards for free right?”
    • Mike – “No, we don’t. We get nothing on live. I mean we get Blizz Bucks, and we could use them on whatever.”
  • On Miscellaneous Picks
    • [Zombie Chow / King’s Elekk / Unleash the Hounds] – [Mike hovers over Zombie Chow quite a bit.]
    • [Explorer’s Hat] – “Hat’s good.”
    • [Faceless Shambler / Naga Sea Witch / Frost Giant] – “I know the stats of a lot of cards. I don’t go this low on the list.”

Juicy Bits from Hafu and Mike Donais’ Co-Op

Sorry for the TMZ headline.

See Part 2 Here: (

Top Arena player Hafu had a co-op arena run ( with Hearthstone Lead Designer Mike Donais last night. While some might think this is just some ho-hum Twitch vid, it is actually quite significant for anyone who lives and breathes Hearthstone Arena. While I appreciate Mike’s continuing work in making the great game of Hearthstone, the source of enmity comes from a PC gamer interview, in which: 1) he stated Babbling Book and Firelands Portal were similar in power level for the Arena, and 2) he stated Medivh’s Valet was not a great Arena card. So any time, a dev can come off-the-cuff, onto a stream to just play Hearthstone, we can divulge a bit of extra information.

Because I am currently slacking off at work, and don’t want to not work at all, I only watched the first two games (Paladin vs 2 Mages) of the Arena co-op. Here are some bits revealed.

Sweet justice.
  1. Mike Donais – “I play a lot of Arena.”
    1. The most common rebuttal to Mike Donais’ comments in PC Gamer is that he doesn’t play Arena. Like that “screw that guy” meme that started on Keeper of Uldaman.
    2. His point of playing a lot of Arena is backed up by the evident 6475 gold he has on his account. He is probably right.
    3. He later states, “I probably have about 4,000 arena wins.”
    4. Mike states that he has about one win less on average than Hafu. This would put him in the close to 7 range, so an infinite player.
  2. On Ship’s Cannon
    1. “It’s fantastic if you get a pirate.” Very interesting comment, given the statement about Medivh’s Valet, which is a 2/3 2 with a much better effect.
    2. [sic] “Ship’s Cannon was changed from Mech to non-Mech last minute, I didn’t want people to run it in random Mech decks, because Mechs don’t have great 2-drops.” This is also very good to know. I personally never understood why Ship’s Cannon was never a Mech. I guess we know now.
  3. On Rallying Blade
    1. Hafu – “What’s the name of that 3-mana weapon?”
    2. Mike – “The one with divine shield? I don’t know the name of the cards, they change the name after I’m done with them.”
    3. Very interesting that the naming process is completely disassociated with balance. I guess they have to give other Blizz employees work!
  4. On Bad Epics
    1. [Pick of Mountain Giant, Hobgoblin, Arcane Giant] Mike – “These are bad, holy cow.”
    2. Nothing remarkable here, just admission of bad arena picks, which obviously exist.
  5. On Selfless Hero
    1. [Mike thinks Selfless Hero isn’t good against Mages because of the Turn 2 or Turn 1 + Coin ping. Hafu thinks it’s fine because Mages don’t develop a board.]
    2. This is very interesting and speaks about the playstyle of each. I guess Mike is a slower/controlling player, while Hafu just thinks tempo/board. Very interesting to consider how philosophies go into card design, and how it ultimately affects Arena.
  6. On Flamecannon
    1. [Mike and Hafu face 2 Flamecannons in Game 1. A comment is made about Roaring Torch]
    2. A common complaint is that Flamecannon survived the cuts, while Roaring Torch didn’t, when Flamecannon is clearly superior. Mike didn’t really have a good response to this, and suffered in this game from it. There was equal snark in comments made during this exchange.
  7. On Mage Superiority
    1. [The 0-0 Mage was egregiously OP with his/her removal.]
    2. Hafu tried not “to give him shit” but it was evident that the Mage in the 0-0 game dominated because of all the tools available. Mike stated “Without spells, the game would be all about minions” but Hafu said “One class shouldn’t have all the good spells.” No response to this.
  8. On Paladin Weapons
    1. [Mike confirms Muster for Battle is better than Truesilver Champion] This is probably a comparison of win rate for decks with both cards, good to know since both are top tier Paladin picks.