So here’s the scenario- you decided to download Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft after reading this amazing guide, then you cruised through the tutorial while laughing off Gnomes and Demon Killers. Heck, you even struggled your way to rank 20 with a liberal helping of Yetis and Ogres. I’m proud of you.
You just had to ruin it by clicking the Arena button. At least your first run was free.
Here at Hardcore Droid we care about you. This guide is designed to turn your 0-3 disasters into 4, 5 or 6 win runs that you won’t have to hide from your family. The ultimate goal here is not 12 wins, its 6. If you can consistently go 6-3, the rewards gained will mean the Arena run pays for itself, as well as netting you a guaranteed pack of cards. Without further ado, let’s jump into the fundamentals.
The biggest and most common mistake new Arena players make is assume that the Arena plays the same way as constructed does. In fact, nothing could be farther from the truth. When you fire up the Arena, you’re playing a completely different game that just happens to share cards with Hearthstone. It’s only by changing your mentality and re- evaluating cards with a new mind-set that you’ll start netting kills consistently.
In the Arena, card value is key. When you’re randomly selecting cards, you can’t ever rely on setting up synergies and combos. You can’t always rely on all your lovely class cards either. Therefore, in such a random environment, the best cards to pick up are often going to be cards that don’t rely on any others to be good. Sticky minions like Haunted Creeper and Harvest Golem provide great overall stats for their mana cost. High health cards such as Spider Tank, Chillwind Yeti and Boulderfist Ogre can all take out two enemy minions by themselves, making them very valuable, especially as in the Arena there are usually more minions and less spells per deck.
The Arena is a slugfest, where efficient trading is vital. It can be tempting to smack the opponent in the face for 12 health and ignore their 4/2, but when that minion then takes out your 6/4 and the board swings in their favor you’re going to regret it. Your main priority at all times should be clearing the opponent’s board with efficient trades- your 1 mana 2/1 into their 2 mana 3/2, etc. until such time as you can cause lethal damage in one turn. It’s shocking how quickly an Arena match can swing in someone’s favor, so constantly, methodically eradicating their threats in the most efficient way possible should always be your number one priority. It can be very difficult to stick to this mentality and it can sometimes feel counter- intuitive, but so does losing.
In other words, don’t be greedy.
Finally, the Arena is an extremely unpredictable beast. This might seem obvious given that everything is randomized, but lots of players coming from constructed who are used to playing against the same rush Hunter deck and Handlock deck are caught completely off guard by unusual plays and cards. In order to succeed in the Arena, you have to be adaptable, creative and familiar with every card, not just the ones currently in vogue.
Upon paying the price of admission, you will be presented with three random hero classes and told to pick one. It goes without saying that you really shouldn’t enter the arena until you’re familiar at the very least with all nine classes. There’s no point spending 150 gold to cross your fingers and hope Rogue comes up. Take the time to unlock every basic card and gain an understanding of all the classes, not only so you have more options to pick from but also so you’ll better understand your opponents.
In the Arena, there are classes (and by classes I mean Mage) that in general will perform slightly better than others, but none of that matters if you are terrible at playing said class. Pick what you’re comfortable with. Just be wary of the more synergy- based classes such as Shaman and Hunter, as their craftiness is reliant on a good draft. The reason a class like Mage is so popular is its class cards are all good value for what they do, and its Hero Ability is so versatile and helpful in the minion trading game. Classes like Paladin, Druid and Rogue are also excellent in the Arena however, so don’t feel forced into playing just one particular class whenever the option presents itself.
“The Arena is just pure luck, because the cards you end up with are completely random!”
I call these people cannon fodder and they pay for my packs. People who end their Arena run 0-3 were almost always doomed before their first match begun. Drafting your deck is the single most important stage of your run. Yes, there is an undeniable element of luck involved. There will be times when you get to pick up Sylvanas and there’ll be times when Target Dummy is your best option out of three, but in the long run people who can consistently make the right choices will be rewarded time and again over the eeny meeny miney “ooh shiny!” mo players.
There are obvious differences between how all the classes play, but the strategy when drafting your deck is largely the same between them all. Your first 8-10 picks should be purely based on grabbing the highest quality, value cards, ignoring your mana curve completely. You’re looking for cards that perform well by themselves, that don’t rely on a lot of mechs or spells in your deck or anything else to be good. This is the time to pick up Mechanical Yetis, not combo-dependent cards like Tinkertown Technicians. Keep in mind however, that a minion’s stats are usually far more important in the Arena than its abilities and so picking a minion whose ability might never activate purely because of its stats is not necessarily a bad move. Goblin Blastmage is a good example of this; it’s a good card even if you don’t have a single mech and if you do pick up some at a later point then that’s even better.
Once you’re a third of the way into drafting your deck, it’s worth slowing down and taking stock of what you have so far. If all your cards are high mana, focus on picking up some early game minions. If you’re inundated with early game cards such as Leper Gnomes and Knife Jugglers, prioritize end game cards. If you have no removal, keep an eye out for Whirlwinds and Fireballs. The point of beginning to fill in gaps at this fairly early stage is that you simply can’t trust the final third of selections to help you do this. You need to start shaping your curve into something playable well before the final ten choices, or you’ll end up with a deck that screws you over with no 2 drops again and again. Don’t blame luck if you didn’t pay attention to your curve until it was too late.
The Arena will test you. It will force you to be creative, and challenge your knowledge of Hearthstone’s cards and mechanics. It will reshape how you think about many of those cards. Most importantly, it will teach you to hate Mad Bomber after he blows you up three times in a row and wins the game. It can be tempting to complete your daily quest, win a couple of matches in ranked mode and spend your 100 gold on a pack. Don’t. Save up 150 and jump into Hearthstone’s most challenging and rewarding game mode. Take your time and enjoy yourself. May you never end up having to choose Target Dummy.