A Simple Quick Start Guide for Hearthstone Arena Newbies
I’ve often been asked why I spend a lot of time at The Arena. I am writing this article for my friends and Arena newbies who ask questions like “How do you pick cards?” or “Why bother playing there? Can’t I just buy packs with my 100g?”
I generally get good runs but I also get bad ones–and that’s normal. Some of my friends who frequent the Arena average 6 wins and that’s pretty good, considering the fact that a lot of people get 0-3 runs. I’ve discussed the arena with them and we share more or less the same basics on how we draft cards.
Why Play in the Arena?
The Arena is fun. You get to think on your feet, make do with what you picked and win more gold and/or packs. The Arena, in my opinion, is a good place to start if you want to build your collection. Why? For 150g, you are already guaranteed a pack and some dust or additional gold. Plus, if you win more, you get more gold, dust, and/or some random card.
Do you have to be an expert to play in the Arena?
Nope, but the rewards are great as you get better at playing in the arena. You can play in the arena and enjoy it even if you are new in the game. Of course, it also helps to know what you are getting into. If you have played Magic: The Gathering before, this is like Booster Draft but you cannot go back on the other cards once you have chosen one, so choose carefully.
Getting started in the Arena
Drafting is half the battle. Bad draft = bad game. Maybe you could pull off a miracle or you encounter somebody with a worse draft, so there’s that slim chance of winning. I wouldn’t bet my foil cards on it though.
Which hero do I pick?
If you’ve looked at online arena guides before, you’d see that the classes are grouped into tiers. Some of the grouping may be debatable but I think everyone is in agreement with the first tier:
- Tier 1: Mage, Rogue
- Tier 2: Priest, Shaman, Paladin, Warlock
- Tier 3: Warrior, Druid
- Tier 4: Hunter
I personally do well with Rogue but I’d choose Mage if Rogue is not available. I also get good runs with the Tier 3 guys and that’s why I often choose them over the Tier 2 guys (if I do not get any of the Tier 1 classes). Shaman’s inclusion in Tier 2 is up for debate because he relies too much on drafting rares and up, but when he does get them, he’s a beast. Come to think of it, Tiers 2 and 3 can be grouped together, IMO.
Hunter is not really that great in arena. I tried using this class but without the beast synergies it seems to often fall way behind. We’ll get to why focusing on synergies is not ideal in the arena later. I’m not saying we will steer clear of synergies but we’ll focus more on what gains consistent good results.
How do you draft a good arena deck?
First thing you have to watch is your mana curve. I found that going for a balanced midrange curve yields the most consistent results. I usually take out a piece of paper and count the cards I’m drafting, grouping them into the following:
- 2 mana drop = 5 cards
- 3 mana drop = 5 cards
- 4 mana drop = 5 cards
- 5+ mana drop = 5 cards
- Spells/removals/weapons/conditional minions = 10 cards
The distribution should more or less be like that, however, there are occasions when you cannot follow this strictly. For example, you get more 4-mana minions than 3-mana because of the card choices presented to you.
The 5+ drops are your finishers. The last group is pretty self-explanatory but let me elaborate on “conditional minions”. These are the guys that give buffs or synergize with the other cards. Examples are Acolyte of Pain and Defender of Argus. Basically they’re minions whose primary function isn’t to fight. This is the part where synergy is not really a bad thing.
Try to go for the “best” cards every draft till you get to 15/30. From then on you should try fixing the curve. Always go for the 2-drops first, they’re harder to come by statistically (read an article on this and well, math). So when you’re given a choice between Faerie Dragon and Dark Iron Dwarf early on, go for the former.
One-mana drops are generally not good because they’re easy to ping with hero power but there are exceptions like Argent Squire and Worgen Infiltrator. If used properly, Worgen Infiltrator almost always trades for a 2-drop. I would also put Voodoo Doctor in IF there are no better cards, but if I have to choose between him and Fireball, I’d go with Fireball.
Which cards are good in the arena?
Here’s a link to the table of the cards (opens in new tab) that will help you visualize which cards are better picks. This is based on Trump’s but I’ve edited it based on what worked in the arena runs that I did. If you have a question on why some minions are placed under the Terrible column, feel free to ask.
Some awesome cards in constructed may be terrible in the arena. The arena focuses mainly on the vanilla stats of a minion. Stats for mana cost, always (Chillwind Yeti, you will always be king). Special considerations are Minions with good Deathrattles (e.g. Harvest Golem), good Battlecries (e.g. Azure Drake, Dark Iron Dwarf), and other special properties (e.g. Spectral Knight, Faerie Dragon, Argent Commander).
Synergy is not your main goal in the Arena
Don’t even think about drafting a Murloc deck because chances are, your Bluegill Warrior’s friends will never come. It would be a special case if you already have one part of the combo you’re going for and then you actually get the other part. However, you’re better off not attempting this at all. For example, don’t pick Ancient Watcher in the hopes of getting Ironbeak Owl or Sunfury Protector later. This is the Arena, not constructed.
Some cards are only good if you have only a few of them
Too many weapons would just crowd your hand. More than two Flamestrikes can prove to be a waste. A bunch of Assassinates can only do so much. You don’t need more than one Mind Control. Fireball is an exception. I usually do really well if I get around 3-4 copies of this card in my deck. I’m not really sure if keeping 5 Fireballs would be good though–most probably not. These are a few subtleties that you will learn as you keep playing.
What about class cards?
I’ll make a separate article for the classes, but in general they are always the better pick. Some class cards are awful, you’ll have no trouble singling them out if you keep in mind the basics of arena picks. Removals are almost always a better pick (e.g. Flamestrike, Blizzard, Consecration).
I’m F2P. Is playing in the arena worth my hard-earned gold?
I think so because as I’ve mentioned earlier, you are already guaranteed a pack and some other stuff–even if you lose. A hundred gold will only get you a pack while 150 gold will give you a pack, some dust/gold/card, and you get better. Trite as it may sound, but practice does make perfect. The better you get at the arena, the easier it will be for you to farm gold.
That’s it for now. The class cards article shall follow later. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.