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!

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.

Hearthstone Screenshot 01-12-16 23.22.32.png
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!”
Hearthstone Screenshot 11-12-15 23.14.33.png
Never worked out in Ranked, but hey these were some good Arena cards

 

The Best Arena Cards Leaving in a Few Days

The Best Arena Cards Leaving in a Few Days

For those not in the know, there will be 2 upcoming waves of Arena draft cuts that will help transition it from Wild to Standard. With the much-desired Small-Time Buccaneer and Spirit Claws nerf, Curse of Naxxramas and Goblins vs Gnomes will drop out of the Arena draft pool. A later drop wave, coming when the new expansion hits, will drop Blackrock Mountain, League of Explorers, and The Grand Tournament. Since the first drop wave is quite imminent, let’s look some lists I made about the best cards leaving us.

Hearthstone Screenshot 02-17-16 20.39.11.png

Top 10 cards leaving

Honorable mention – Fel Reaver – From an insider view, Fel Reaver is often attributed to very high win rates, and is a great example of a skill-intensive card. For those reasons, and being an epic card, Fel Reaver did not make the top 10.

10. Powermace – 3/2 for 3 mana weapons are good for their cost, requiring the ability to make them great. The +2/+2 buff to a friendly Mech on the board is definitely an ability that has eroded over time, given the smaller amount of Mechs in the card pool. But the free tempo gain from a weapon that costs a fair amount is just too good. Shamans have Whirling-Zap-o-Matic as their class Mech, and there are other decent Turn 4 Mechs like Piloted Shredder, Mechanical Yeti, and Arcane Nullifier.

9. Coghammer – This 2/3 for 3 mana weapon has an odd distribution, and is slightly worse than the 3/2 for 3 distribution. Besides that though, the amazing ability of granting Taunt and Divine Shield to a friendly minion is pure value. Taunt is just worth 1 stat point, but getting free taunt never hurts. Getting Divine Shield is much more value, worth the attack points of a minion. This allows any minion to get an easy 2-for-1 in the trade department. Coghammer is incredible, but being an epic steps it down a few notches.

8. Imp-losion – This card suffers from what I like to call Shaman RNG, as it is a card that deals damage in a range, like a bunch of Shaman cards. It has big upside, as hitting for 4 is essentially combining two spells, Shadow Bolt and Call in the Finishers, a combined 7 mana worth of spells. The average damage value of 3 is good, a much better version of a spell like Bash. Rolling a 2 isn’t a great outcome at all, a value of about 2 mana. But leaving Imps to contend with the board is never a horrible thing. Overall, the ability to completely swing the board is what makes this great.

7. Haunted Creeper – This card is easily one of the best 2-drops around, being the stickiest early drop in the game. The Creeper and Spectral Spiders combine for 3/4 for just 2 mana, allowing an equal trade on any 3 health minion. The spiders are best used in conjunction with buff cards, which allow tokens to trade up. It also provides protection against AoE damage. It does a lot more than most 2-drops, and makes it a top card.

6. Zombie Chow – The merits of Zombie Chow have been validated by various data and confirmation by Mike Donais himself. While this card does not fare well in the late, close games, just being a 2/3 for 1 will allow it to be a 2-for-1 minion in most situations. And that on it’s own is why this card is so good. It will be weird not seeing the card, but Mistress of Mixtures does exist though, and will serve as an inferior understudy.

5. Death’s Bite – I think this is the best weapon in these two sets. You’re basically doing a guaranteed 9 damage for 4 mana, with the free Whirlwind ability on Deathrattle. Not only is the AoE good for clearing small things, but there is synergy with various Warrior cards. Ravaging Ghoul is one of the best cards around with a built-in Whirlwind. Death’s Bite just provides too much damage for just 4 mana.

4. Flamecannon – While Flamecannon suffers from random targets, it shines as a Turn 2 reactive play. 4 damage for 2 mana is just too good and can eliminate any 1 or 2-drop, and a lot of 3-drops. Also a great swing play on Turn 4, killing a 3 drop and allowing a 2-drop play.

3. Muster for Battle – Easily the best Paladin rare card, and we have a lot of good ones in that criteria. While the value doesn’t immediately blow you away, with 3/3 of recruits and a Light’s Justice for 3 mana, it is better in a tempo swing fashion. Populating the board with minions makes it good and gives opportunities for trading up, like in Imp-losion. The recruits also synergize well with cards like Warhorse Trainer and Quartermaster.

2. Bomb Lobber – This one hurts quite a bit. Again, the card suffers from hitting a random minion, and often results in frustrating 50/50 whiffs. But it does a great job on a single target, or in a clutch RNG spot. The card exists as a 3/3, allowing it to compete with 1-3 drops, so it is typically a 2-for-1 card. Also, it seems to fill a mana cost of 5, where that type of damage doesn’t exist. It really fills a hole where many spells or weapons can’t cover 4 damage. While it will be missed, Bomb Squad is a very good replacement.

1. Piloted Shredder – This one is quite obvious to most. Piloted Shredder is premium because it is a 4/3, dropping a random 2-drop. The 2-drop that comes out just has to be a vanilla 1/1 for Piloted Shredder to be worth it’s value. Anything extra is free lunch. The 2-drops are random, meaning you could just get 1/1, or get something like 4/4 Milhouse or Shielded Minibot. Shredder is also compatible with whatever mech synergies, and protects the board from AoE. All of these qualities makes Piloted Shredder the best card leaving the Arena.

Top fun interactions leaving

  • Spare parts – Without any GvG cards, there will no longer be Spare Parts. While the type of RNG isn’t the best, it adds a fun element to the game without being overpowered. The Spare Parts themselves aren’t overcosted, and come at really handy junctures, and require a little skill about when to use. Plus, as 1-mana spells, they provide boosts to any spellcasting or spell boosting synergies (Mana Addict).
  • Enhance-o-Mechano – Probably the most fun, but draftable epic cards around. Typically, the buffs make this card worth it’s anti-tempo cost. While this card can whiff, it often provides a memorable and entertaining way to end a game.
  • Wailing Soul – Neutral silence isn’t gone for good, but this was one of the three cards that did it, so it is going to reduce quite a bit. Wailing Soul shined in the department of making bad cards work well. Wailing Soul is not a good card, and can make other not good cards (Eerie Statue, Icehowl) go face. Additionally it had utility in rare situations of restoring weakened or frozen minions. Most of the time does nothing or has a negative effect on your own guys. The decision to put out a 3/5 on board, or to silence potentially good effects made it quite fun.

hearthstone-screenshot-09-30-16-21-37-07

Arena Stew

Arena Stew

Less than 2 weeks from BlizzCon, Hearthstone news has been pushed out at a ballistic rate in the past week. There is simply an overload (RIP Yogg) of information, too much to cover. Because I haven’t solely discussed Arena in a while, I have decided to do that now. I will discuss what we learned about the Arena through a series of handy infographics, and what changes were made to the Arena this week.

Arena Infographics

Top players

The full post and infographics can be found at (http://us.battle.net/hearthstone/en/blog/20324474/inside-the-arena-10-18-2016), but basically, Blizz posted the first inforgraphics about the Arena ever. There are separate graphics for the 4 different regions. Most of the attention came to the best players in each region, as it is a first gauge of who the best Arena player is. From January 1, 2016 to present, the best players are Alumn, Hafu, and Kripp. While those results are not surprising, I really wanna know who this top NA Arena player Alumn is.

top arena.png
The best NA Arena players

Top cards picked

This really piqued my interest, as I am arguably a better Arena drafter than Hearthstone player. With all the drafting resources available to the player, I wanted to see what lead the way. Let’s start with the commons, as they are the backbone to every Arena draft.

commons

Piloted Shredder is fitting to be the most drafted common. However the Jeweled Scarab and Tomb Spider being #2 and #3 are quite baffling in my mind. Both cards are under-stated cards that allow the player to discover a Beast. They really only give the best options for Druids and Hunters, middling classes at best. The anti-tempo of putting out a 2-drop or 4-drop like this is the immediate downside, one that I believe is too big. These are cards that get traded into by lesser-costed cards, and don’t fight well for the board. It’s possible these cards were picked a ton because of drafts that didn’t have card draw. The reality is that since the infographic measured from January 1, 2016 to present, the card offering bonus from LoE was present, which nixes great commons in Old Gods, like Bog Creeper. But that still doesn’t explain picking these cards over North Sea Kraken or even something like Stormwind Champion.

rares

The value rare taunts effectively trade a lot of little guys, so they are great for that regard. Azure Drake is a card I love in Constructed, but less so in the Arena. While not a bad card at all, I see much better rares to be picked, namely Bomb Lobber and Stampeding Kodo. Does nobody care about contesting the board?

epics

Epic card selections are a wasteland in the Arena. Piloted Sky Golem and Kodorider are rightfully in the top 3. Grand Crusader I would argue is more average than good, but it is a value card overall. Sea Giant is pretty easy to pull off great value in the Arena. While Fel Reaver provides insanely high win rates for those who pick it, I can see the downside being too much for a player to draft with confidence.

legendaries

Arena legendaries don’t mean much at all, but I just find it hilarious that Herald Volazj being the least picked card is indicative that nobody plays Priest in the Arena.

And we end this segment with people who need their heads checked and are willing to throw away 150 gold.

tinyfin.PNG

Karazhan Bonus Out

As of Thursday’s patch, the Karazhan increased offering bonus in the draft is no more. I believe this is the first time an Arena offering bonus ending was explicitly stated, which means yay Arena exposure. I also believe that the Arena bonus lasting about 1-2 months is the shortest it has gone. We are now in the most variegated Arena meta ever, with equal offering rates across the sets. It’s possible that Mage has pulled too far ahead of the other classes, and Blizz had to finally intervene.With the Karazhan offering bonus no more, let’s look at the top 5 Karazhan cards (IMO).

Hearthstone Screenshot 10-11-16 21.59.14.png
Closing the Dark Portal is a big plot line in Warcraft. They should’ve closed this portal.
  1. Fool’s Bane – Anyone who got to play with this card knew how bonkers it was. While the Warrior took tons of damage, the ability to get off an AoE clear was too good a tempo swing. I was lucky enough to have the combo with Violet Illusionist a couple times, pretty much the greatest feeling.
  2. Firelands Portal – It was recognized as OP from the start, and remained so through the Karazhan Arena meta. I had 11-win Mage runs with 4 Firelands and 3 Firelands drafts.
  3. Swashburglar – The entire burgle mechanic is not great because there is always a chance to whiff on a pick. The thing is that the best Arena classes aren’t classes you whiff on. Warlock, Warrior, and Hunter are classes that give a chance for getting a useless card. Mages and Paladin will provide useful cards. Further, Swashburglar had that RNG that the opponent couldn’t play around or predict.
  4. Medivh’s Valet – While seemingly like a regular 2 drop with great upside, people started picking Secrets a lot. The Epic card pool is never great, allowing a Spellbender or Ice Block, while Rares and Commons gave Mages more Secrets. This card becomes mediocre to amazing in a draft with 2 Secrets.
  5. Pompous Thespian – While far from sexy, this card did a lot of work in the Karazhan Arena meta. The 2-mana for a 3/2 taunt made it essentially a neutral card with class card stats. Just having that extra point made it better than a lot of other commons. Now we’ll see it less, and be forced to draft more River Crocs and Raptors.

Card Changes

Finally, I will talk about the Arena implications of changed cards.

Hearthstone Screenshot 12-03-15 17.24.37.png

  • Murlocs – Basically, Murloc cards no longer buff enemy Murlocs. The most common Murlocs you’ll see are Puddlestomper, Bilefin Hunter, Bluegill Warrior, Corrupted Seer, and Murloc Knight. Murloc Knight is the main factor, as it has the ability to produce Warleaders, while being a great pick itself. Murloc Warleader, Coldlight Seer, and Grimscale Oracle are the cards that this affects directly. Murloc Warleader, being a 3-mana 3/3, could be the best of 3 horrid epics, and this will be marginally better against the opponent. Coldlight Seer should remain not being picked in the Arena, being a 3-mana 2/3. Grimscale Oracle is a 1-mana 1/1, and shouldn’t be picked over any 1-mana 2/1’s.
  • Ethereal Peddler – A Rogue v Rogue mirror in the Arena is quite common, but having Ethereal Peddler + bugled cards makes it a rarer scenario. The Ethereal Peddler is still a fine minion to have in any arena draft, even when you aren’t discounting Rogue cards. I think this was just done to not confuse new players.
  • Yogg-Saron – I don’t think I have seen Yogg-Saron in the Arena, so this change doesn’t do a whole lot. Adding Overload to Yogg, and the general lack of spells in the Arena will cement Yogg is one of the worst legendaries to pick for your draft.

My Top 10 Cards from Whispers of the Old Gods

All the cards from Whispers of the Old Gods are out in the open now before next week’s release. I watched the entire livestream, and spent the time afterwards feverishly checking the Facebook album releases.  From that point on, I tried to process all the new cards in my mind, how they work in the arena and constructed. Pro players are in the process of putting out their opinions on the cards. Heck, even two guys sitting next to me on the bus were busy looking at the cards and pointing out which cards sucked. Now that I have had a whole day to process the cards, here is my pre-release list of the Top 10 cards of Whispers of the Old Gods.

Honorable mentions: Twilight Summoner,  Embrace the Shadow, Call of the Wild

10. Thing From Below – This card was revealed fairly early on, and it’s power was recognized by many. Just by playing 1 totem in the game, the Thing will be worth it’s cost as a 5/5 taunt. With further reductions in cost, it will be an insane tempo play along with other stuff, or with removal spells.

9. Infested Wolf – This is clearly the spiritual successor to Haunted Creeper, with the deathrattle spider summons. It has a little synergy with Forlorn Stalker and Princess Huhuran. But the best part of it is that the Spiders summoned are beasts, and will have synergy with Houndmaster and Kill Command.

8. Forbidden Ritual – Zoolock will be hit very hard with the phasing out of Imp-losion and Haunted Creeper, and weakened to an extent with nerfs to Leper Gnome, Ironbeak Owl and Knife Juggler. While it’s possible the deck will never come back from this, this card provides Warlock a reliable token generator. These weak bodies are perfect for boosting with Power Overwhelming and Abusive Sergeant, as well as synergy with Sea Giant and Gormok.

7. Evolve – A while back, I took a look at Master of Evolution, and found that a minion will typically gain something short of +1/+1, when moving up a mana crystal. I have yet to rerun these numbers, but there is a net positive. Also, minions get an artificial heal, after being transformed. Evolve will transform an entire board to make better minions for just 1 mana. Shamans have no trouble flooding the board with minions and totems, so this card will be well worth it’s value. Of course, hesitations of this card are like that of Bloodlust, in that the board has to be there for this card to be worth something. But I think Shamans are getting enough tools, and have enough removal to protect their board.

6.  Journey Below – A tried to figure out if there’s a word that means “metaphor of itself” but I couldn’t find this word. This is exactly what Rogues are going through once Standard Play hits. A journey below, in order to find a viable deck that can compete in the meta. As seen with Priests, Museum Curator became a big hit in decks, and regularly fishes out legendary cards. Though deathrattles take a hit from Standard Play, this card should still usually yield something powerful. Throw in the fact that it is a cheap spell, it helps even more. The problem with it is that Rogues are completely aimless at the moment.

5. Master of Evolution – I talked about this card at length before, but this card just has nothing but upside. If there is nothing to transform, it doesn’t hurt you with the Yeti-stated body.

4. Blood to Ichor – This card was not on this list, but then I realized how good it is. It doesn’t look too useful to deal 1 damage, but it fits into what the Warrior needs. First of all, it can used to weaken a 4-health minion to put it in range to getting killed by a Fiery War Axe or King’s Defender. Second, it can be used to hurt your own minions, which has synergy with virtually any card in the Patron Warrior deck, along with the new Blood Warrior card. Third, the 2/2 Slime itself is worth the 1 mana, so it’s a free 1 damage. So much flexibility with this card.

3. Cabalist’s Tome – I was doubtful of this card at first, until I saw it in use during the playstream. Mage spells are likely the best spells of all the Hearthstone classes, so you’re getting pretty good cards. This card also allows reloading without using the deck, preventing fatigue against control decks. Further, this has a good chance of providing reach, when needed for lethal. The question remains whether Freeze Mage decks can afford to fit anything else, given it was mostly unaffected by the nerfs.

2. Bloodhoof Brave – Let’s address the scrollophant in the room. It gets wrecked (or stolen) by Priests. With that class aside, I feel this card will be effective against every other class. First of all, it cannot be removed on Turn 4 by anything except for Mage Fireballs. The extra health over Sludge Belcher and Sen’jin Shieldmasta is big in allowing in to stick around. While it doesn’t hit the first minion hard for 2 attack, the enrage mechanic will force it to trade up with the next minion on the board. With 5 attack, it will usually be strong enough to clean up something around 4 mana. With Warriors, there is upside of becoming a 7/5 taunt with Inner Rage and Cruel Taskmaster, letting it trade with something even bigger. As a hefty taunt, it can protect a board of Patrons or Berserkers. Further, there is potential with taunt Warrior becoming a thing and the card Bolster. The possibilities are endless with Bloodhoof Brave, with it possibly fitting into any type of Warrior deck and really good in the arena as well.

  1. Hallazeal the Ascended – Whuspers of the Old Gods doesn’t seem to have outrageously OP legendaries at the moment, but this guy rises to the occasion. As a 4/6, it is just a shade under-stated. The thing you have to consider is that healing costs mana, and damage costs mana. When you get a card that does both like Holy Nova, it only damages/heals for 2 for 5 mana. Consider this: Shamans have a ton of damage spells. Single-target spells like Lightning Bolt (3), Lava Burst (5), and even the new Stormcrack (4). Shamans have decent AoE with Lightning Storm (2-3) and Elemental Destruction (4-5). Further, spellpower Totems are likely to be around to give a magic boost. Shaman overload has been mitigated with Lava Shock, and a new card Eternal Sentinal. With this card, a Shaman can control a board, deal damage, and heal himself completely, in the process. The value is just off-the-charts. The question is where this card will be, given the seemingly myriad of Shaman deckbuilding options.

Bonus: Bold Prediction

Fandral Staghelm will be the Troggzor of this set.