Hearthstone’s Removing A Bunch Of Cards From Arena

Designing a game is a fine balancing act, and Blizzard is working to make sure that Hearthstone [official site] is perfectly even and fine-tuned on all counts. There have been some concerns that certain classes are significantly overpowered in the game’s Arena mode. Associate game designer Dean Ayala says:

“Variety among all game modes is important to us, but an equally important goal is to have a wide range of experiences within each game mode . . . When you first enter Arena and are offered the choice of three different classes, our goal is that you can look at those choices and choose any class without feeling disadvantaged because of their difference in power level.”

It certainly makes things less exciting when you only have two or three viable classes to choose from if you want to have any sway in the competition. So how do we fix it?

Very carefully, it turns out. The developers don’t want to remove high-powered weapons and spells, as they add the all important element of surprise, keeping players excited and on their toes. Nor do they want to remove popular cards that are staples for players at all skill-levels. Instead, Blizzard plans to remove “lower-performing” cards to ensure that more familiar cards pop up in your draft more regularly.

This is mainly just a quick fix. Blizzard is still brainstorming further solutions. They’re considering adjusting the rate at which certain individual cards appear in the draft.

Here’s the full list of cards on the chopping block, courtesy of Blizzard:


Forgotten Torch
Faceless Summoner


Goblin Auto Barber
Undercity Valiant


– No changes


Vitality Totem
Dust Devil
Totemic Might
Ancestral Healing
Dunemaul Shaman


Anima Golem
Sacrificial Pact
Curse of Rafaam
Sense Demons
Void Crusher
Reliquary Seeker


Poison Seeds
Soul of the Forest
Mark of Nature
Tree of Life
Astral Communion


Warsong Commander
Bouncing Blade
Axe Flinger
Ogre Warmaul


Starving Buzzard
Call Pet
Timber Wolf
Cobra Shot
Lock and Load
Dart Trap


Mind Blast
Power Word: Glory
Inner Fire


  1. LTK says:

    Now, I admit I haven’t played Hearthstone in a while, but I think it really says something that out of all the cards Paladin has, none of them were deemed too crappy to keep in the Arena rotation. Paladin must have gotten some killer cards in the last few expansions.

    • Koozer says:

      I think it’s more that they’re using Paladin as a baseline, removing good cards from the overperformers (Mage and Rogue) and removing bad cards from the underperformers. I assume they’ll keep an eye on things for a few weeks and adjust as needed.

    • drewski says:

      It’s more that the overall balance of the Paladin class was appropriate. Mage and Rogue lost cards because they’re too powerful; the other 5 (sorry Anduin, 6) classes lost cards because they’re not powerful enough.

  2. terves says:

    The rogue cards that were cut are definitely a nerf to their drafts. They were both very powerful and flexible 2-drops that helped make rogue the arena class with the highest potential for extremely explosive early game-focused drafts.

  3. Mycenaeus says:

    Wait. Mark of Nature is a bad druid card in arena? And rampage is a bad warrior card in arena?

    I mean, they are not must-picks for me, but I felt like they were both decent in arena. +4 health and taunt or +3/+3 to a wounded creature seems good to me. Guess I’m showing my lack of skill.

    • terves says:

      Mark of nature and Rampage were both among some of the words cards in arena.

      The 2 most important attributes of a card are value, which is how good a card is at it’s best, and flexibility, which is how many circumstances you can play the card in.

      Mark of nature suffers from a lack of value (4 stats would be poor value even for a 2-mana card, at 3 mana it’s highly overcosted even with taunt) and flexibility (it is generally only good when played on a minion that already has high base stats because of it only buffing a single attribute).

      On the other hand, Rampage offers the potential for great value. If the card just said ‘give a minion +3/+3’ as a 2 mana-cost card it would be among the best arena cards.

      The problem is it’s crippling inflexibility. It’s power is reliant on a minion surviving through your opponent’s turn and then attacking another minion that doesn’t kill it on your next turn. Until it’s condition is met, which isn’t guaranteed to ever happen, you cannot play it.

      It means that when you draw it there’s a very good chance you’ll never even have the ability to actually play it, which means it was essentially the same as drawing a blank card from your deck.

  4. drewski says:

    I’ve seen articles that claimed the bad classes were getting nerfed with the exclusions, so it’s nice to see an article that isn’t trying to editorialise from zero experience.

  5. Time4Pizza says:

    I’ll tell you how to fix it, just like they do with every other competitive game as it matures. Make all the classes exactly alike, but give the same abilities different names to give the illusion of choice. Make gameplay simpler (i.e. less interesting) so there are less variables. And in general suck all the fun out of the game to achieve the Holy Grail of being “Balanced”. This should theoretically appease all the whiners and cry babies who troll said game’s forums and message boards complaining about their class being “nerfed” or “underpowered”, but it never does. This approach is, however, remarkably consistent at ruining games for the majority of gamers who don’t complain and care more about gameplay than some abstract and impossible to achieve concept like “Balance”.

    See – Starcraft, WoW, M:TG, and most other games with any sort of substantial player base.

    • Cheradanine Zakalwe says:

      I think that Dota 2 is the antithesis to this. It has achieved a pretty balanced state doing the exact opposite. The heroes have become increasingly powerful over the years and have an array of seemingly broken abilities. There is a way to achieve balance without blandness.

      • Time4Pizza says:

        Amen to that. I have always admired Dota 2 and its daring to grant it’s heros powers that in any other MOBA would be considered “game breaking”. Frankly I think it’s the best in the genre specifically because of what you said.