The history of Arena has been a slippery slope, and there has been a lot of controversy from the Knights of the Frozen Throne expansion, where the mode was notoriously known for being non-interactive (at least more than usual) due to the introduction of powerful Death Knights that have the capacity to single-handedly carry games. Blizzard has responded by evicting the 9 Death Knight Hero cards from the draft pool, but it can still be “discovered” through cards such as Kabal Courier. On the “bright” side, Bonemare is still a card (insert evil laugh), but enough of KTF, we have an entirely new expansion on our hands!
Kobolds and Catacombs brought about some interesting changes to Arena, thus affecting the preexisting rankings. It’s interesting in the sense that, unlike the previous expansion, there is no one card that is outright broken – no Death Knights, no Ultimate Infestation, and no The Lich King just to list a few. Most of the new cards that are deemed “playable” will often be class-specific, and there were still lots of high-variance cards that were introduced to the game such as Spiteful Summoner, Raven Familiar, and Dragon's Fury.
Other Best-of Lists:
This short guide is intended to provide you a brief introduction to the “best” Arena classes in terms of the quality of their class-specific cards that results in their respective high win rates. However, please keep in mind that this guide should only serve as a blueprint, and should not be followed as though it was set in stone. This is merely to help you formulate your own opinions about these classes using the knowledge available here combined with your own personal experiences. Note that the main criteria used for this tier list is based on the class’ consistency, which is determined through the effectiveness of their class cards, and takes into consideration their respective Hero Powers.
Needlessly to say, it is important to note that a successful arena run is not entirely reliant on the quality of the cards you draft, but is also dependent on the decisions you make such as the mulligan and the proper way of trading efficiently. If you’re a beginner, and are looking to improve your decision-making skills, or learn how to make efficient trades, you may check out a beginner’s guide on Arena here, where it would provide you with the necessary tools that you need to become an expert in no time.
If you look at any tier list on the web, there are few lists that are exactly identical. This is because most of them are based of personal experiences, and contain data from different sources. However, they do share common trends, and have minor differences – reinforcing the idea that you should retain an open mind, and not use anecdotes as sufficient evidence to support your claims.
While I am not saying that it is impossible to obtain 12 wins with a tier 4 class such as Warrior, their tool set makes it quite difficult to do so, especially when your opponent has a god-like draft combined with a decent class, which is something you can normally expect in higher rounds.
- Tier 1: Hunter, Warlock, Paladin
- Tier 2: Priest and Rogue
- Tier 3: Mage and Druid
- Tier 4: Shaman and Warrior
Aggressive playstyle, beast synergy buffs, Hero Power can finish off low-health opponents, value-orientated minions.
Hero Power doesn’t affect the state of the board, lack of hard removals and AoEs, difficult to make comebacks once board control is lost.
It seems that Hunter is getting more popular with the release of more expansions. While Hunter does have a lot of efficient minions such as Savannah Highmane, its effectiveness is heavily reliant on establishing early board control, then pushing for lethal damage. Its aggressive playstyle is further complemented in the KnC expansion with cards such as Crushing Walls, Candleshot and Lesser Emerald Spellstone – all of which allow the Hunter to dominate the board early on. Wandering Monster is a great addition to Hunter’s arsenal of secrets, and Crushing Walls is pretty effective in the late game. Hunter is perhaps one of the few classes that received the best and most consistent cards in the expansion, securing its spot as a top-tier class in Arena!
Strong early and late-game AoEs, decent hard removal, reliable card draw, efficient early-game minions.
Hero Power may be too risky to use at low HP, most AoEs does damage to yourself, lots of fun and useless class-specific cards.
This may be a surprise to you because Warlock has not always been known for its high ranking in Arena due to their main weakness – their susceptibility to being rushed down easily by more aggressive decks. However, with the introduction of effective early-game removal such as Defile and Drain Soul from KTF, and defensive mechanism such as Voidlord and Lesser Amethyst Spellstone from KnC, this weakness feels it was further mitigated, giving Warlock the necessary tools to become an effective control-orientated class. Kobold Librarian and Vulgar Homunculus are also excellent early drops that allow you to contest the board. Additionally, most of Warlock’s core cards can be found within the common or rare category, increasing its overall draft consistency.
Strong set of buffs, capable of fighting for the early board, decent amount of anti-aggro tools.
Lack of hard removal, reliant on having minions on board for buffs to be effective, difficult to make massive board swings once behind.
Paladin is arguably one of the more consistent classes, constantly scoring in the top ranks in Arena, and its position is even further reinforced in the KnC expansion with cards such as Call to Arms, and Unidentified Maul being added to their arsenal. Crystal Lion and Potion of Heroism are also not bad cards. Paladin is currently very versatile in Arena – it has early game minions and weapons to help establish board control, and has a powerful late game with buffs such as Spikeridged Steed and Dinosize. It even has enough taunts and healing to prevent yourself from being rushed down!
Hero Power allows for efficient trading, tons of single-target removals, effective AoEs, high-health class minions.
Lots of gimmicky and situational spells, Hero Power is useless without the control of the board.
Priests have been known to dominate the late game with their ridiculously value-oriented spells, but they have trouble in the early game with regards to tempo, as their Hero Power doesn’t impact the board state, and often requires spells to swing tempo back in their favor. However, the dragon synergy from the release of the KnC expansion is very powerful when you’re able to pull it off. Duskbreaker is an insane tempo-swinging card that allows Priest to have some allowance to fall behind on board in favor of value. Psychic Scream is just a monster in the realm of board clears, as it potentially allows your opponent to draw “dead” cards in the late game. Unidentified Elixir and Twilight Acolyte are also excellent cards in the early game.
Strong early game, efficient Hero Power, combo-oriented playstyle (especially when given the coin), various single-target hard removal.
May find difficulty in enabling combo pieces if the deck’s mana curve is too high, lack of board clears, no natural heals or taunts, is more susceptible to being rushed down by aggressive decks.
In recent expansions, Rogue has always secured its spot as one of the best classes for Arena due to their ability to create high-tempo plays with cards such as SI:7 Agent, Vilespine Slayer, and Envenom Weapon. However, the release of the KnC expansion combined with the adjustments made to the offering rates in draft picks has made the class become less consistent. Kobolds and Catacombs does not offer Rogue any substantially good cards in comparison with some of the other classes. While they did receive Elven Minstrel and Fal'dorei Strider – which are pretty good on their own as value cards, they don’t really immediately offer much tempo or do much on the board. Lesser Onyx Spellstone also seems like a worse Assassinate, as Rogue is not too fond of Deathrattle minions in the first place, so it’s unlikely that it will be upgraded.
Versatile Hero Power, efficient board clears, can often outvalue her opponent, can adapt to most situations.
Lots of situational and reactive spells, lack of class minions, may not have a lot of proactive plays.
In the KFT expansion, we saw the decline of Mage, which historically was one of the best classes due to her consistent drafts, but Kobolds and Catacombs doesn’t help the fallen queen regain her throne, as much of the released cards are rather too inconsistent, or often rely too much on serendipity to be effective. Leyline Manipulator is kind of situational and it often doesn’t get its full value, Lesser Ruby Spellstone seems like a far inferior card to Primordial Glyph (because you can’t consistently draft and draw Elementals), Explosive Runes can be easily played around as if it were Mirror Entity or Potion of Polymorph, and Deck of Wonders is a fun gimmicky RNG-fiesta card (we clearly needed more of that!). Dragon's Fury can be quite effective when it works, but is too inconsistent and volatile. You can draft in a particular way to ensure that you are able to maximize its value, but your overall draft quality might suffer as a result due to the compromises you made. Though, Raven Familiar is a decent minion that can gain immense value if you hit the coin flip.
Ability to ramp, contains some of the best statted minions, has a lot of taunts and heals.
Lack of AoE and hard removal, minion-heavy class, difficultly in generating tempo, terrible comeback mechanisms.
In Arena, Druid is in quite an odd position right now. They don’t have the necessary tools for them to be considered a tempo-orientated class, and they lack hard removal for them to act as control. I think it’s fair enough to say that in the KnC expansion, Druid didn’t really receive anything worthwhile. Ironwood Golem is likely not going to attack, preventing you from making efficient trades. Greedy Sprite is too weak for a 3-mana minion, and only works well if you’re consistently able to curve, which you mostly likely are not going to be able to do. Astral Tiger is just an inferior Chillwind Yeti and Branching Paths doesn’t really affect the board. But hey, a 5/5, draw 5 cards, gain 5 armor for 10 mana is still a thing, right?
Contains some of the best AoEs in the game, single-target removal, and burst potential. Overload cards can help you snowball.
Inconsistent Hero Power, lack of effective minions, overload can disrupt your late-game curve.
While Shaman does contain some of the best AoEs in the game whether it be in the early or the late game, they do lack some efficient minions to contest the board. Like the KFT expansion, they didn’t receive anything worthwhile or amazing in KnC. It seems that Blizzard is really trying to push the “totem” archetype with cards like Kobold Hermit and Windshear Stormcaller. Not only are they ineffective in constructed, they are too unreliable and virtually impossible to pull off in Arena. The only half decent cards they got are Unstable Evolution and Crushing Hand.
Weapons capable of generating value, lots of taunts, decent early game tools.
Useless Hero Power, reliant on drafting weapons to be effective, lack of decent minions.
I’m starting to believe that Warrior will never be good in Arena. Expansion after expansion, Warrior still remains undefeated at the bottom of the tier list. The KnC expansion gave Warrior tools to utilize the “recruit” mechanic, which isn’t viable at all in Arena. The ineffectiveness of the Warrior’s Hero Power combined with its mediocre class cards – most of which requires the utility of Armor, but is still ultimately impotent in Arena. Bladed Gauntlet, Reckless Flurry, and Lesser Mithril Spellstone are just too inconsistent to be useful. Gemstudded Golem and Drywhisker Armorer are great defensive tools, but doesn’t do much in terms of the board.
At the end of the day, you shouldn’t solely attribute your success in Arena to the quality of cards you’ve drafted. Your mindset shouldn’t be, “Oh I lost that game because my opponent had better cards than me.” While at times, you may find yourself to be extremely unlucky, losing seemingly impossible games, you should also recognize that your ability to make in-game decisions has a definite impact on your long-term success. With a combination of a strategic mindset and a bit of luck, you’re on your way to becoming an Arena legend.