If you've played plenty of Ranked, Casual and Practice play, and fancy getting stuck into something a little less predictable, then Arena should be just the thing to pique your interest. Rather than building a deck of 30 complimentary cards from across your collection, in Arena you'll have to choose from one of three random cards offered to you by the game until your deck of 30 cards is complete.
As you can imagine, this makes the drafting process for Arena very different from building decks for the other game modes. You can't, for example, depend on drawing all the cards you need to pull off an amazing combo, and so you'll find yourself having to appraise the immediate and relative value of each and every card that comes up in a slightly different way. It's also important to continually review the deck you're building, and ensure you have a good selection of cards for each stage of the game.
In this guide we'll teach you the fundamentals of building a strong deck in Arena, and giving yourself the best possible chance of recouping your entry fee, so you can start the process all over again! Seven wins is the dream if you want to guarantee a free run next time, while three wins will ensure you gained your card pack more efficiently than just buying it from the store! You can win a maximum of 12 games in this format, but clock up your third loss and it's game over - the better you do, the better your rewards.
We'll be expanding our Arena coverage a great deal in the coming months, and will make sure that all of our other articles are accessible from this main page.
The best Arena hero in Hearthstone
While it's entirely possible to take any class to the maximum 12 wins in Arena, there are a handful of heroes that lend themselves particularly well to the format.
The Mage's hero power, combined with any number of card removal spells, makes it a particularly powerful class to pick, for example. Likewise, the Rogue is excellent at controlling the board and putting constant pressure on your opponent. The Paladin is another strong pick in the Un'Goro metagame, thanks to some very painful buffing spells.
When all's said and done, you should probably pick the class that you're the most familiar with above all other considerations, but if you're really struggling to make a decision, take a look at our our round-up of the best arena classes in Hearthstone for an up to date look at who's currently considered top of the pile in this format.
How to draft an Arena deck
So, you've picked your class, but which cards do you want to select for your deck? It's commonly suggested that you should refer to one of the popular card tier lists (which you can find in the Useful Resources section further down the page, but it's equally important to review your deck constantly and pick cards that suit its unique make-up - even if that means ignoring the raw ranking values you'll find in these third part lists..
There are advanced techniques for mastering your Arena draft (which we'll cover in a series of per-hero features in the near future), but as a good rule of thumb you can use the following approach as you learn how to pick the best cards for your deck.
The first ten cards of your Arena drafting strategy
Pick your first ten cards based solely on your preferred ratings source When you reach the end of this process, review the cards you've drawn so far, and try to get into the habit of thinking about why they're rated so highly.
Do they have great stats for their Mana cost, and so cause a big problem for cards of a similar cost? Do they offer incredible board clear value? Do they buff a minion in a way that makes it particularly bothersome for the opponent to remove.
The more time you spend thinking about these picks, rather than blindly copying the theoretical best picks of an advanced player, the better you'll get at the game - and the better decks you'll build as you starting moving into the later phases of the draft. This has become even more important as Blizzard has tweaked the formula over the years, increasing the odds of being able to craft a certain archetype of deck.
Your next ten cards
You need to take a little more time and think over your choices carefully here. Are you able to either clear your opponent's board completely, or take out any tough opponents if the situation calls for it? Is the deck you're building shaping up to favour a controlling strategy, or an aggressive push against the opponent's hero (see the section on managing your Mana curve below).
For the next ten cards you select, by all means continue using your tier list, but don't let it guide you blindly. Think about how a card on offer might synergise with your existing deck. If you're building an aggressive deck, get some card draw in there so you don't run out of oomph later on in the game. If your minions are typically very big or very small, start favouring creatures at the other end of the scale to balance things out.
The final ten cards
Take a break for five minutes, then come back and look at what you've drafted so far. Ask yourself these key questions:
- Do you have enough minions to give you a presence in the early game?
- If you don't have strong late-game cards, do you have a way of drawing a fat stack of cards into your hand later on?
- Can you clear your opponent's board, or remove a devastating minion of theirs in an emergency?
This is the point where you try to plug any holes in your Mana curve and your situational arsenal in as efficient a manner as possible.
A couple of important caveats when it comes to using ranking spreadsheets. Choosing a truly terrible card over something more valuable just to bulk out a Mana slot isn't a great idea, but neither is leaving a gaping hole in your Mana curve - just because you didn't want to miss out on a "better" pick. Think about your own deck as a unique entity that's separate from card-by-card rankings, and try to plug any weaknesses you have, and exploit any strengths.
The following resources will all significantly help you with the drafting process and also playing out your deck. While some find them to be a little like “cheating”, they are all perfectly legitimate tools and are commonly used - you're at a bit of a disadvantage if you don't make use of them as a result.
- HearthArena is arguably the most popular drafting tool for Hearthstone, and evaluates the relative strengths of the cards on offer, while also taking previous picks into account.
- The Lightforge is another popular source for Hearthstone Arena card rankings.
- Hearthstone Deck Tracker provides a completely legal, dynamic snapshot of your deck. It shows you what's left in your deck, as well as what's been used!
You receive a mixture of Gold, crafting dust, cards and card packs for participating in Arena runs. Put very simply, the more games you win the greater the value of your rewards. If you want to learn more, we've got a complete breakdown of the reward structure over at our rewards list page.
Managing your Mana curve in Arena
Another great reason to constantly review the deck you're building is to consider your Mana curve. Volumes have already been written on the kind of curve you should look for in Arena play, but the fundamental principle is pretty simple: you simply want to make sure that at every stage of the game you have something to play.
A less common but still popular Mana curve is an aggressive one that has lots of low Mana minions, but not so many beefy ones. If you drafted this kind of deck, you'll need to race down the opponent as quickly as possible, and drive their health down to zero fast. If you find yourself with this kind of draft, it's also important to pack in plenty of card draw too, otherwise you'll quickly end up with no cards in your hand, and no way of refilling it either.
The more common Mana curve - for top-tier heroes - is a more control-orientated one. Here you'll find yourself with enough low Mana cards to make smart trades with your opponent in the first few turns, followed by lots of strong mid-game drops and buffs, and a little late-game power to stay in charge of the match.
You may well have success with very late-game orientated decks as well, but it's a lot tougher to win back the board, and so isn't recommended for the new Arena player.
A final Arena drafting tip
Another common mistake when using the ranking spreadsheet is to blindly pick copy after copy of a particular card, just because it's got a fantastic ranking. While it's certainly true that two Meteors can rescue you from some truly terrible situations it's a question of diminishing returns after that. You should think very carefully before drawing your third copy of any card, even if it's ranked very highly on the sheet.
That concludes the first edition of our Hearthstone Arena guide for 2017. We will be adding links to drafting guides for individual heroes in the near future, as well as gameplay guides for managing every aspect of the Arena experience.
If there's anything in particular that you'd like to see us cover, just let us know in the comments and we'll do our best to get it covered for you.