Hearthstone is one of the most popular, and one of the first, online card games (often referred to as OCGs). Hearthstone has many different game formats, and in this guide we’re going to be talking about one of the most popular ones (no, I am not talking about Battlegrounds. I said one of the most popular formats, not the most popular format). Today, we’ll be going over the Arena mode in Hearthstone, tips on how to make the most of your deck, and covering which are the best classes for said mode.
Let’s get started!
What is the Arena in Hearthstone?
Arena is a game mode of Hearthstone that requires an entry fee of 150 gold or 200 runestones (these are a relatively new in-game currency that can only be acquire with real world money).
Once you have paid the entry fee, you then choose a hero from three random choices given to you. After you have selected your hero, you draft a card from three random cards given to you. You repeat this process until you have a thirty card deck.
Once your deck is drafted, you can play online against other players who also gone through the same process. Your Arena run ends when either you achieve twelve total wins, or (more likely) you accrue three total losses. The more wins you have once you finish your run, the more in-game rewards you receive.
It is also worth noting that after each game, you return to the Arena menu and can freely close the Hearthstone client. You can resume the run whenever you please, so you don’t have to play all your games in a row.
Reasons to Play & Rewards
For those who enjoy drafting, or just enjoy playing for high rewards/to see how well they can do, it is not surprising why Arena is a popular format. However since you have to buy in each time with either 150 gold or 200 runestones, you don’t want to just play this format willy-nilly.
Regardless of how well you do in an Arena run, you are guaranteed one pack. However, buying a pack from the store costs 100 gold. If you don’t earn more than the basic reward from your Arena run, then you lose out on 50 gold worth of value. It takes at least several wins to break even in terms of value for your entry fee and a few more before you start gaining value.
This is all to say that if you intend on playing Arena, you want to make sure you have the best chance of doing as well possible to maximize your rewards and minimize your loses. That’s where this guide comes in!
What Cards to Draft in Arena
Arena plays differently from the normal Hearthstone formats (those being Standard, Wild, and Classic). Here is the list of sets from which you can draft in Arena:
- Curse of Naxxramas
- Mean Streets of Gadgetzan
- Knights of the Frozen Throne
- The Witchwood
- United in Stormwind
- March of the Lich King and Path of Arthas
From these sets, you’re randomly putting together cards to build a Frankenstein’s monster of a deck. This is very dissimilar to the constructed formats of Standard, Wild, and Classic, where you get to pick each individual card in your deck from all legal options (rather than from three random cards). This makes choosing which cards (and types) to put in your deck very important. It also means what cards you’re looking for tends to be very different from the other formats.
The main things you are looking for in an Arena deck are aggressive cards and cards that generate value in some form. In my recent MTGA guide, I went over the basics of card advantage and tempo, and the same principles are at play here – despite being a different game. Simply put, card advantage is getting access to more cards, whereas tempo is playing your cards early (or at least earlier than your opponent) in order to gain value.
In the Arena format, you want minions that generate you value immediately when played. Either they draw you a card, replace themselves, deal some damage, or heal you etc. Alternatively, you want cheap, aggressive cards that let you kill your opponent quickly, as aggro is one of the dominant strategies in Arena at this time.
What Cards to Avoid in Arena
Almost as important as what kind of cards you want to draft is knowing what not to draft. In Arena, you can fall into traps with certain types of cards. Primarily the things you want to avoid drafting are synergy cards and lords.
The term lord refers to any card that gives buffs to a specific kind of card (such as beasts, demons etc.). Why would you want to avoid cards like this? Well, the answer is rather simple. These cards tend to have lower stats compared to other cards, but make up for it by buffing their tribe.
Normally, this would ultimately net you way more stats because of their ability. But in the Arena format you cannot guarantee what types of cards you will be offered. For example, you might get a card that buffs all your beasts, but then end up with only two or three at most in your deck.
The same is true for synergy cards that require a specific card (or multiple cards) to be good. If you draft a card that cares about frost spells for example, you cannot guarantee that your deck will have any. If you can draft powerful synergies, that’s great! But you can’t reliably get the cards you need. Focus on good standalone cards and effects.
The 5 Best Classes for Arena in Hearthstone, Ranked
Now that we’ve covered the basics of building a deck for Arena, let’s dive into the best classes for it! While every class is viable in Arena, some have a distinctly easier time going on a winning streak than others. We’ll cover the top five best classes, starting with the best!
Let’s talk about the undead elephant in the room. I can’t talk about the best classes in Arena without starting with the death knight. It is currently, by far, the strongest class in Arena. It’s to such a point that it’s almost warping the meta (as many would argue).
There are two main reasons why death knights are so dominant. The first is due to it being the newest class added to the game. Because of this, death knights have the smallest card pool currently. This makes it tremendously easier to predict what cards you’ll be able to get for the class while drafting your deck. Plus, its newness means there’s been less feedback and time to balance the class.
The second reason is that death knights also introduced a cool new system into the game – runes (no, we are not talking about the money only currency). Death knights have three runes – blood, frost, and unholy. When building a death knight deck, you can have a maximum of three runes in your deck of any possible combination (e.g. three frost / two blood & one unholy / etc.).
Certain death knight cards will have a rune cost listed on them. This tells you how many specific rune-types you’ll need to have in your deck to play the card. For example, if you have a card in your deck with three blood runes, it means you cannot run any cards that would require frost/unholy runes in your deck.
The way the rune system works in Arena is that once you have locked in the runes for your deck (i.e. by drafting cards with specific rune requirements), the game will stop offering you draft picks that would be unplayable in your deck due to the rune system. For example, if you draft a three frost rune card, then you will no longer be offered blood or unholy cards.
This fact, paired with the smaller card pool mentioned above, means that death knights get to be the most consistent class in the Arena format. It narrows down their choices and takes a lot of the randomness out of the Arena deck-building process. This consistency gives them a huge advantage over the other classes.
The next class I want to discuss in Arena is the warlock. The main thing that makes the warlock class one of the top tiers in Arena is their hero power – Life Tap. For two mana, you can draw a card for the low cost of two life. This is already considered one of the strongest hero powers in the game and is even more so in Arena.
The reason being that you cannot guarantee card draw from your card pool in Arena, so having it on your hero power is great. This also means that warlocks can generate very powerful aggro decks because they have a guarantee source of value via card advantage. This is their most powerful strength, though they do also have access to some very strong control cards such as Felfire Potion.
Next up, we have mages. They also have one of the best hero powers in Hearthstone – Fireblast. For two mana, the mage can deal one damage to any target. This can be used to control/down enemy minions, hit your opponent’s face, or even synergize with your own cards that benefit from being damaged. It’s flexible, gets around taunt, and is just overall very good.
Mages also get access to some very nice aggro cards such as Mana Wyrm and Frostbolt. This means mages have good options for both aggro and control cards, making them a nasty threat in Arena.
Remember when I talked about value-generating minions? No one can beat druids on this front. Druids get access to a lot of high stated minions, many of them with taunt, as well as strong battlecry cards.
As far as raw power of minions is concerned, druids are on top, no question. However, they get some flack for being a bit linear and not really having strong Arena options outside of – play big thing, stomp with big thing. Thankfully, that can be really powerful, and druids do it well, ensuring their position as one of the better classes in Arena.
The final class I want to go over is the demon hunter. The demon hunter gets a hero power that is quite different from any other. When the demon hunter class was first announced, I was confused. I thought that Demon Claws was just a worse version of the Druid’s hero power, Shapeshift. After all, Shapeshift gives your hero 1 attack and 1 armor, whereas Demon Claws just gives you 1 attack.
However, what makes Demon Claws unique is that it’s the only hero power that costs one mana (as opposed to the usual two). This not only means that you can use your hero power turn one, but that it’s also very easy to fit into your turn to round out your curve.
Often times you will have an awkward turn with one remaining mana and nothing to spend it on. Enter Demon Claws. Using up all you mana is quite strong, especially in Arena, making this hero power great.
In addition to a strong hero power, the demon hunter class also gets access to strong weapons, early game minions, and card draw effects. All of which are what you want in a deck for Arena, making demon hunters incredibly viable for the game mode.
Join the High Ground
Hopefully this guide has given you some good ideas of what to look for and which classes to select when playing the Arena format of Hearthstone. Let us know what you think in the comments below, and whether or not you want us to further expand on any point! And don’t forget to subscribe to our weekly newsletter for more gaming content!