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.
Update: 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, 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.
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. 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).
- Shaman – 52.96%
- Warrior – 52.70%
- Paladin – 51.70%
- Rogue – 50.59%
- Mage – 50.06%
- Priest – 49.10%
- Druid – 48.68%
- Warlock – 47.20%
- Hunter – 45.84%
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.
Shaman having the highest win rate is very surprising. On the one hand, the class was never on the bottom of the Arena tier lists, but it was rarely near the top. Kobolds & Catacombs wasn’t a great expansion for Shaman’s Arena. While Crushing Hand is an amazing spell, and the recent drafting changes made Unstable Evolution more common, rest of the new cards weren’t impressive. New drafting changes had another impact on the Shaman’s deck – it seems like it’s easier to draft a more synergistic deck right now, and as we all know, drafting a solid Jade deck in Arena can be really strong. Jade Claws and Jade Lightning are some of the most common Shaman cards in Arena right now. However, we can’t forget about the new, Arena exclusive cards, and this time Shaman didn’t get a short end of the stick. Crackling Doom is very powerful, and if you manage to draft some Overload synergy cards on top of that (especially Snowfury Giant), then it can snowball your whole run.
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.
Warrior was the Arena’s worst class for nearly as long as I remember. It completely relied on the weapons to do anything, and while it was sometimes climbing from the last spot, it was never at the top. It has changed right now. Which is weird, because K&C expansion didn’t seem great for the class at all. However, between all the micro-adjustements and the new Arena exclusive cards, it seems that drafting weapons was never as easy before. Warrior drafts were always rated by the number of weapons they’ve drafted – it’s their best way to control the board and gain tempo. 0 weapon drafts were terrible, while those with 3-4 usually scored really highly. Right now, an average Warrior draft should have around 2 weapons, and between Fiery War Axe, Blood Razor, Arcanite Reaper, Fool's Bane and Gorehowl (as well as minions generating weapons) there’s a lot to choose from. But wait, there’s more. The Arena-exclusive Blazing Longsword is currently one of the highest win rate card in all of the Warrior drafts. Having it in your deck means that your win rate jumps to a whooping 60.8%, which is exactly the same as having The Lich King (and believe me, that means a lot). The weapon is really powerful, so pick it any time you get it offered.
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 one of the better Arena classes for a long time already, floating around Tier 1 and 2 for at least the last few expansions. Kobolds & Catacombs expansion was pretty good for the class, with Potion of Heroism, Unidentified Maul and Crystal Lion all being good cards. But most importantly, the recent changes have made Epics more common, meaning that you’re going to see even more Call to Arms, and this card is incredible unless you drafted almost no 1-drops or 2-drops. While the Paladin’s exclusive card wasn’t very powerful (Hand of Salvation is just about average), between the K&C cards and the recent changes to drafting, the class is in a really good spot right now. Drafting Spikeridged Steed as well as a bunch of weapons (Truesilver Champion, Vinecleaver, Rallying Blade, Unidentified Maul) is very common, and that usually makes your draft better. One final note is that look for Stonehill Defenders during your drafts – the card is already good, but it gets extra value in Paladin thanks to the incredibly powerful class Taunts like Sunkeeper Tarim and Tirion Fordring.
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.
Rogue was always one of the top Arena classes, but at the same time, it gets much better in the hands of experienced player. Rogue is mostly about tempo utilizing your Hero Power (which is probably the best one in Arena) effectively. K&C wasn’t very generous for the Rogue – Fal'dorei Strider and Elven Minstrel were just about the only good new cards the class has. On the other hand, the new exclusive – Smoke Bomb – is quite useful in the right hands. It seems like either the new drafting, or maybe micro-adjustements favor the weapons heavily (just like in the case of the classes above) – Shadowblade and Perdition's Blade are two most common Rogue cards in Arena, and they’re both quite good. Because Epics are generally more common, Vilespine Slayer is also pretty common in Rogue drafts, and even a single copy makes them much better.
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 right in the middle of the stake. It was always the most popular Arena pick, and always seen like one of the best – even though it was Tier 2 throughout a big part of the last few expansions. The class is probably most new players friendly, and the amount of available removals makes some of the drafts very easy. K&C expansion was okay, but not amazing for the Mage. A lot of the cards need synergies to work – e.g. Arcane Artificer can be a great way to gain some life in the late game, as long as you have a lot of high cost spells. Similarly, Raven Familiar gets much higher value if you draft a late game spell heavy deck. Lesser Ruby Spellstone? Generally bad, but a single Fire Fly can turn it into a great card. Generally, it’s not really good for the deck’s consistency, and that’s why Mage is not that high up. At the same time, the new Polymorph: ??? is also pretty poor. It’s great when it works, and a great highlight material (like turning your 1/1 into Y'Shaarj, Rage Unbound on Turn 5), but it’s just not consistent enough. Still, powerful AoE and single target clears keep Mage above 50%.
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. However, the problem is taht Priest often struggles in the early game. With little to no class 1-drops and 2-drops, if you don’t draft some good Neutral options, you might fall behind in the early game. And if you do, you absolutely need one of the comeback tools like Duskbreaker or Dragonfire Potion. The new Priest exclusive card (Generous Spirit) is also pretty bad. While it’s cool if you can set up the dream with Doomsayer, normally you rarely want to trade tempo for value, not in this class.
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? As for the Arena-exclusive, Druid also didn’t get anything spectacular. Nature's Champion is good when it works, but it’s hard to make it work. If you don’t pick the right minion, it’s a big tempo loss, and that’s a big deal in Arena, especially when you don’t have tons of ways to come back as a Druid.
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.
Warlock is going up and down in the ranking – it used to be very low, then high, and now it’s low again. 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. K&C was also a pretty good expansion for the class. Kobold Librarian and Vulgar Homunculus, while damaging you, are also amazing cards. Then, for the first time in a while, Warlock has reason to damage himself – Lesser Amethyst Spellstone and Hooked Reaver both benefit from that. Voidlord is amazing too, although it’s doesn’t show up that often. So why is the class so low? Well, it’s probably because of the micro-adjustments. Warlock used to be pretty good early in the K&C, and they probably nerfed the offering rate of its best cards a little bit too much. Bottled Madness is also a pretty bad card. Unless your hand is really bad, you don’t really want a bunch of random Demons, as there are really only a few great Demons you really want to have, and a lot of them are poor / they deal even more damage to you or discard cards.
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.
Hunter was absolutely dominating the Arena early in the Kobolds & Catacombs. Between Flanking Strike, Candleshot and Lesser Emerald Spellstone, the class was nailing it so much that they had to nerf it. Even after the first wave of nerfs, Hunter was still strong, so it looks like they’ve nerfed it even more. Right now, Hunter is in a terrible state – not because the class cards are bad, but because it was simply overnerfed. Even the Deadeye (Arena exclusive card) isn’t that bad – it’s average, as it doesn’t fit the play style of a lot of drafts, but not unplayable. So if I were you, I’d suggest staying away from Hunter for now. You can still draft an amazing deck, but you have a high chance to not get the right cards. We’ll have to wait either for micro-adjustments to kick in again and see that this class is in a bad spot, or simply for the new expansion to completely change the Arena meta (remember that Arena in Standard, so lots of cards are rotating out from there too).
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.