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.
Given that Arena is played in Standard format, Year of the Raven changed this tier list massively. Given that two expansions and one adventure has rotated out, while one expansion was added, the card pool of each class has changed, upsetting the previous balance. If we add the constant micro-adjustments to the mix, and the fact that Arena-exlusive cards chosen at Blizzcon also rotated out with the latest expansion, Arena looks nothing like it did in Kobolds & Catacombs.
In case you haven’t been made aware of, the developers are constantly making changes in Arena through “micro-adjustments” in terms of the offering rates of individual cards in order to balance the classes, and prevent a single class from having a significantly higher winrate than the rest of its peers. Essentially, the developers are keeping a close tab on how each card performs in Arena, and consequently making changes to the offering rate of these cards. These changes are made not through patches, but through hotfixes, and unfortunately, not all of these changes are documented through official channels, which results in parts of the community not being aware of said changes, and having to resort to statistics (such as HSReplay) to observe noticeable patterns. For more information about micro-adjustments in Arena, you may read this Reddit post here.
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, they will be very different. This is because most of them are based of personal experiences, and contain data from different sources. However, despite having minor differences, they do share common trends. Still, you should always retain an open mind, and not use anecdotes as sufficient evidence to support your claims.
Right now, the class balance is pretty good. While there are better and worse classes, thanks to the dynamic changes to the card offering rates, there are no huge outliers (in the past, some of the classes used to have sub-40% win rate). Below, I’m listing the current tier list, as well as the average win rates of the class over the last 48 hours. They are pulled from HSReplay.net at the time I’m writing this, so they could be slightly different at the time you’re reading (especially because a new set of dynamic changes might went out already).
Tier 1 – >51% win rate
- Mage – 52.3%
- Shaman – 51.7%
- Paladin – 51.1%
Tier 2 – 49-51% win rate
- Warlock – 50.5%
- Rogue – 49.4%
- Hunter – 49.3%
Tier 3 – <49% win rate
- Priest – 47.2%
- Druid – 46.9%
- Warrior – 46.7%
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.
Mage is once again back at the top of the Arena food chain. Mage’s strongest point is the flexibility of play style. You can build a rather aggressive deck and still outvalue your opponent with a well-timed Flamestrike and such. On the other hand, you can build a slower build and pack some burn damage into it – most of the burn spells have double use, either as a removal or as a way to just deal damage to the opponent. To be perfectly honest, Mage was never a bad option – Jaina’s Basic & Classic sets are just so powerful that she might never be bad in Arena. The Witchwood in particular didn’t add too much when it comes to the class’ power, but it had some pretty powerful Epic cards in particular – Book of Specters and Arcane Keysmith work really well in Arena. While the class has got one terrible card – Snap Freeze – it actually replaced Shatter, which rotated out, so it’s still a direct upgrade.
Contains some of the best AoEs in the game, single-target removal, and burst potential. Basic Totems can be amazing in certain situations, if you roll the right one. Overload cards can help you snowball.
Lots of RNG, including inconsistent Hero Power, lack of effective minions, overload can disrupt your late-game curve.
On the one hand, Shaman has lost some great cards from Year of the Kraken, which would seem to hurt the class. On the other hand, it still has all of the great AoEs from last year – cards such as Crushing Hand or Volcano are incredibly powerful in the Arena environment. On top of that, most of the Shaman cards from The Witchwood were at least above average – like Zap! or Witch's Apprentice. Some of them could even be classified as great – e.g. Earthen Might. On top of that, Shaman is now the only class which has access to a Hero card. Unlike the Hero cards from The Witchood, Hagatha the Witch was NOT removed from the drafts and it’s still available. While she might not be as powerful as some of the Heroes from Knights of the Frozen Throne, she’s still one of the best Legendaries available to Shaman. It’s very hard to lose a long-term value war after playing her.
Strong set of buffs, good weapons, 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 one of the better Arena classes for a long time already, floating around Tier 1 and 2 for at least the last few expansions. Early in The Witchwood, it was the best Arena class without any doubt. It seemed like the rate of some cards such as Spikeridged Steed was a bit off, and nearly every single Arena deck ended up with at least one (and usually a few) of those, making the class a nightmare to play against. Everything was adjusted since then, but it doesn’t mean that the class got weak. On the contrary, it’s still one of the best Arena picks. Year of the Raven rotation didn’t affect Paladin that much. While the class has lost the handbuff mechanic, which was quite strong in Arena, as well as Rallying Blade, there were classes which lost much more. On top of that, Paladin had a rather successful Year of the Mammoth, meaning that it was in a good spot already. If we count the fact that it has got a lot of strong Arena cards in The Witchwood (such as Ghostly Charger, Sound the Bells! or Silver Sword), no wonder that it’s doing fine right now.
Strong early and late-game AoEs, decent single target removal, reliable card draw, efficient early-game minions.
Hero Power may be too risky to use at low HP, many cards do damage yourself, lots of fun and useless class-specific cards.
Warlock is going up and down in the ranking. Last few expansions were like a roller-coaster, but it finally settled down somewhere in the middle. The main issue is simply dying too much. Warlock is known for taking a lot of self-damage, both through the Hero Power and the cards. Which means that the class can be an easy prey of some aggressive Rogue draft, or a Mage deck with lots of burn. It heavily impacts the class’ consistency. Warlock has TONS of amazing removals, both single target and AoE. The Witchwood was a pretty average set for Warlock. While it has gained a lot of powerful cards in the previous two expansions (Knights of the Frozen Throne, Kobolds & Catacombs), The Witchwood added a bunch of average picks. You can’t really say that those cards are bad – Duskbat, Witchwood Imp or Blood Witch are okay, Deathweb Spider is even more than okay. However, the only card that really stands out is Lord Godfrey – it’s one of the best Arena Legendaries, and possibly THE BEST Legendary available to Warlock. However, since it’s Legendary, it doesn’t have a huge impact on the class as a whole.
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 since it takes lots of damage from Hero Power.
Rogue was always one of those Arena classes that doesn’t have an amazing average, but gets much better in the hands of an experienced player. Because just like in Constructed, if I had to name the hardest Arena class, it would definitely be Rogue. Hero Power, when used correctly, can often carry a draft with a poor early game. I’ve seen decks with literally no 2-drops still doing fine, because Rogue’s Hero Power is the only one that isn’t a massive tempo loss when played on curve. Rogue has lost some solid cards due to the rotation, but nothing that would really make the class weak. As for the new Witchwood cards, it’s actually not that bad. Blink Fox, Cheap Shot and Cursed Castaway are all really good, while the other cards are all in the okay range (only the new Epics are below average – both WANTED! and Spectral Cutlass just don’t work that well in Arena, but it’s not that big of an issue, since they’re Epics).
Aggressive playstyle, beast synergy, Hero Power can finish off low-health opponents, strong minions.
Hero Power doesn’t affect the state of the board, lack of consistent hard removals and AoEs, difficult to make comebacks once board control is lost.
For quite a while, during Kobolds & Catacombs, Hunter was absolutely dominating the Arena, thanks to all of the new, powerful cards it got. However, it was hit by the micro-adjustments time and time again, until it became one of the worst classes. Right now, while those nerfs still hurt, it managed to climb its way out of the bottom thanks to the new cards from The Witchwood. If not for the fact that it received so many solid cards this time around, it would probably still be down in Tier 3. While no card really stands out, Vilebrood Skitterer, Hunting Mastiff, Wing Blast, Carrion Drake and Duskhaven Hunter are all above average/good. On top of that, Houndmaster Shaw is an absolutely amazing Legendary – a 3/6 for 4 is already solid in Arena, and if you add a powerful ongoing effect, it can’t get much better (on the other hand, Emeriss is terrible, because by the time you get to Turn 10 with Hunter, your hand is most likely empty, so it balances everything out). Hunter is still a good class if you prefer a more aggressive play style, but if you’re looking for a slower, more value-oriented draft, you should probably pick something else.
Hero Power allows for efficient trading, tons of removals (both single target and AoE), high-health class minions.
Weak early game, lots of gimmicky and situational spells, Hero Power is useless without the board control, it.
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. The Dragon synergy, and Duskbreaker in particular, is often the best way to come back in the mid game, but it’s difficult to draft both the Duskbreaker and other Dragons to activate it. Given that the deck’s early game didn’t really improve with The Witchwood, and that the class has lost A LOT of powerful cards (e.g. Potion of Madness, Kabal Talonpriest, Priest of the Feast, Drakonid Operative, Dragonfire Potion), it’s not doing very well in the latest expansion. It’s not like cards from The Witchwood were terrible. On the contrary, some of them were really good – e.g. Nightscale Matriarch, Holy Water or Coffin Crasher (in the right deck) are really good. But as you can see, all of them are late game plays (Holy Water CAN be played on Turn 4, but the main selling point of the card is extra value, not the tempo). Which means that Priest is amazing if you either manage to draft a really solid early game, good mid game reactive tools (like the Duskbreaker I’ve mentioned) or your opponent has a slow start and you manage to get to the later turns, because that’s when the class starts to shine.
Ability to ramp, contains some of the best statted minions, has a lot of taunts and heals.
Lack of AoE and hard removal, often relies on single, big minions, difficultly in generating tempo, poor comeback mechanisms.
Druid isn’t doing very well right now. The class has lost LOTS of great cards with the rotation. Enchanted Raven, Mark of the Lotus, Mark of Y'Shaarj, Mire Keeper are only some of the great cards that have rotated out – and they’re all commons. On top of that, the entire Jade mechanic is gone. It wasn’t the most consistent thing, but you could often build a nice deck around it, and Jade Blossom or Jade Behemoth weren’t too bad even without many other Jade cards. On the other hand, the new cards Druid got didn’t compensate losing so many solid cards at all. Druid of the Scythe is the only good card Druid has got this expansion, maybe Bewitched Guardian is also above average, but that’s all.
On the other hand, cards like Ferocious Howl, Witchwood Apple or Forest Guide are just bad in most of the drafts, not to mention Duskfallen Aviana, which is a solid contender for the worst Legendary card in the Arena (yes, Legendaries don’t matter that much, but they still have a slight impact on the average class’ win rate). It’s not a very good time to play Druid, most of the drafts feel pretty clunky. Ultimate Infestation is the only saving grace – definitely one of the best, if not THE best card in the Arena, which can carry even a mediocre draft. However, given that it’s an Epic, you can’t really count on it being in every Druid draft you have.
Weapons capable of generating value and tempo, lots of taunts, decent removals.
Useless Hero Power, reliant on drafting weapons to be effective, too many different synergy cards that don’t work with each other.
Warrior was one of the worst classes in Arena pretty much since the beta. It got better for the brief time here and there, but it finally looked like it will climb back from the dumpster during Kobolds & Catacombs. It did happen, but not for a long, as it’s back on the bottom again. The Warrior’s biggest problem is actually easy to identify – it’s the class Hero Power. It’s the only Hero Power that has zero impact on the board state other than Hunter’s, and unlike Hunter’s, it can’t be used as a win condition. It’s not Constructed, where gaining health is often important and you have some Armor synergies and such. In Arena, it’s often irrelevant whether you are at 40 health or 15 health, if you lose the tempo or value war, Armor isn’t going to save you anyway. Other problems include too many synergies required for the class to function properly. In Constructed, you can easily pick what kind of Warrior you want to play – Pirate, Taunt, Rush, Tempo, Control, Recruit, whatever. In Arena, you can’t do it that easily. You will often end up drafting a bunch of different synergy cards, but no cards to work with those synergies.
Weird thing is that The Witchwood was a surprisingly good expansion for Warrior. Rush cards are pretty solid even without other synergies – Woodcutter's Axe, Rabid Worgen or Militia Commander work well even without the synergies. However, the rotation put a big toll on the Warrior. N'Zoth's First Mate, Ravaging Ghoul, Bloodhoof Brave, Blood To Ichor, Bloodsail Cultist and Fool's Bane are some of the better cards that have rotated out. Most of the good Warrior drafts are build around weapons, so losing good weapons hurts most. On top of that, Blazing Longsword was a part of the Arena-exclusive set of cards that also rotated out, and it was one of the cards that carried Warrior in Kobolds & Catacombs. Good news is that the situation is not hopeless – almost 47% win rate is still much better than it used to be in the past, and it’s not something that micro-adjustments can’t fix if done right.
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.