Hearthstone Arena Tier List: Best Arena Classes and Strategies (Sunken City, May 2022)

The release of Voyage to the Sunken City, the arrival of a new Standard year and the shakeup of the available sets to draft from has brought us into a whole new world of Arena. The new set features quite a few ultra-impactful neutral cards that you must keep an eye on when drafting your decks, though some of the classes on the top of the charts may feel familiar to you.

Arena in May 2022: Rules and Strategies

Here’s what you need to know about the current format of the Arena: the old system of “buckets”, cards of roughly similar power levels offered against one another are gone, which means the drafting is once again based around card rarities. This means that many of the picks are straightforward as the power level difference between something like a Flamestrike and a Murloc Tinyfin is pretty easy to grasp.

As such, the quality of your draft becomes a bit more about the luck of the draw than it used to be, which is something worth keeping in mind when gauging the strengths of your opponents. It’s not all bad news though: at least the “Epic bug” is gone for now!

Also, microadjustments are not a thing right now! The system is broken, as it turns out: the developer responsible for operating the system, Tian Ding, has left Team 5, meaning the current people don’t have this lever to pull. This means that what you see is what you get for the time being, and we’re all waiting with bated breath for news of a wider shakeup in the format (supposedly hand-curated Arena card pools as suggested by Iksar).

Cards from the following sets can be drafted in the Arena right now:

  • Core
  • League of Explorers
  • Whispers of the Old Gods
  • The Grand Tournament
  • United in Stormwind
  • Fractured in Alterac Valley
  • Voyage to the Sunken City

Notable Neutral Arena Cards in the Sunken City (23.0.3) Metagame

The Diver minions (Gangplank Diver, Slimescale Diver and Pelican Diver): Practically speaking, “Dormant for 1 turn” coupled with Rush is just a better version of summoning sickness, rendering the minions invulnerable until they gain initiative. Pelican Diver is the weakest of the three but is still a superior version of Worgen Infiltrator: the other two are broken removal tools, with Gangplank Diver guaranteeing at least a two-for-one. The best way to deal with it is to play one yourself.

Pufferfist: obviously, it only has an impact in classes that can attack with their Hero Powers, but in those cases, even the 3/3 version of the card is incredible in the Arena.

Reefwalker: from a pure stats and initiative perspective, this card is just a great neutral tool to have, similar to Ram Commander in many ways, helping you clear up problematic board states in the early game.

Mothership: perhaps the best way to look at this card is to compare it with Firelands Portal. For one mana less, you get better and synergistic bodies (as long as you don’t lowroll an Explosive Sheep, getting way too many stats and 5 damage’s worth of initiative on a Rare neutral.

Excavation Specialist and Tuskarrrr Trawler: the fact that there are only two neutral Dredge cards in the set serves to highlight that you won’t be able to reliably grab your Sunken cards in the Arena, making these minions especially valuable in your drafts.

The Colossal minions: though they are not Neutrals, there are enough ways to Discover or generate them that you should factor in potential blowouts. These cards are way too powerful for a limited deck to deal with, and their arrival is a lot like a natural disaster. This makes cards like Ambassador Faelin potentially game-winning should you be able to dredge up the goodies from the bottom of your deck.

Familiar faces from the previous sets also play an outsized role. Knight-Captain is still a brutal removal-slash-overstatted threat in the middle of the game that remains impactful later down the line as well, the nerf did nothing to diminish Pandaren Importer, and the pings provided by Ram Commander remains a flexible way to keep up on the board in the early turns – not to mention the potential blowouts provided by Corporal and Bunker Sergeant. Ysera the Dreamer and Raid Boss Onyxia still lurk at the end of the game, too, though there are a lot fewer ways to discover them.

Voyage to the Sunken City 23.0.3 Arena Class Tier List

The Good: Demon Hunter (53.9%), Druid (53.9%), Paladin (52.5%)

The top three classes in the current Arena metagame all have a similar playstyle: strong early tempo plays transitioning into class-specific value follow-ups. They can keep up the pace and the pressure throughout the entire game, leaving others few opportunities to take over the initiative.

There’s a reason why Demon Hunters have a leg up on the competition every time microadjustments aren’t around: having no cards from the earlier, comparatively underpowered Hearthstone sets, the power level of their card choices is not as diluted as their rivals’ are. (They are also much better at taking advantage of Inspire cards from TGT.) Glaiveshark, of course, is just stupidly good in this format and Bone Glaive is a great way to deliver damage to the dome, but the rest is really the same package as it’s been before.

Druids tell a similar story, one that remains intact even after the nerfs. Start with Azsharan Gardens, head into Raid Negotiator and Boomkin, keep control of the board with Flipper Friends and Scale of Onyxia, then reload and finish off the game with Miracle Growth. A strong Dredge card in the form of Aquatic Form also doesn’t hurt with consistency.

Then you’ve got Paladins, who still can rely on their past tempo plays (Alliance Bannerman, Bronze Explorer, Hold the Bridge and the like) coupled with nice new class Mechs (Seafloor Savior and Azsharan Mooncatcher), but with the insane value of Immortalized in Stone to stabilize heading into the late game. There’s also the magic of Murloc Knight into Gigafin for the highlight reels.

This triumvirate is quite far above the rest of the classes, and picking other classes guarantees a loss of expected value in the current metagame.

The Meh: Shaman (50.8%) and Rogue (50.1%)

These classes are… fine. They just don’t have much of note to work with that can keep up with the previous three. Shamans’ best bet still remains their Freeze package from the previous set, though Schooling and Scalding Geyser serve as great early-game removal tools to slightly bolster a slower gameplan. Flamewreathed Faceless is a lot less intimidating now than it used to be back in the day, but it still remains a serviceable card, and if a Piranha Poacher sticks on the board, you can immediately rely on the card advantage strategy. It’s all… fine. Nothing more.

Same goes for Rogues, who can still Discover their way out of any cul-de-sac but don’t have much else to build around. The class is just a little bit too brittle to handle the early aggression, and though Blood in the Water is an excellent card to stabilize, it really is just a slightly slower Knight-Captain. The fact that Reconnaissance and Tooth of Nefarian remain among the best Rogue classes in the new meta should tell you how little the class has gained (apart from Gone Fishin', one of the best Dredge cards to work with in the Arena).

The Bad: Mage (47.3%) and Warlock (45.4%)

We’ve entered the fanzone: the -EV winrate where only enthusiasts should touch these classes. Unfortunately, there’s not much for them to enjoy: the story is similar to Shaman’s, but with even lower power levels. The best strategies are still the same as they used to be in the previous rotation, but it’s a lot less likely that you can consistently draft them: Warlock’s best cards are still Spawn of Deathwing, Hollow Abomination and Demonic Assault. Their struggles in Standard show how little the new set brought to the table from an Arena perspective as well, with the exception of Gigafin, which is a Legendary. Mages are also expected to play the same grindy style as they used to with Drakefire Amulet as the finisher, but you’re much more likely to get run over than you used to be, especially because the current spell pool makes Rune of the Archmages much weaker than they once were.

The Oh-no-please-do-not-play these: Priest (39.8%), Hunter (38.0%), Warrior (37.2%)

These classes have no redeeming qualities whatsoever in the current metagame. Their card pool is weak and their options are limited. Selecting them is little more than a roll of the dice, except that it is weighted against you. The class cards available to Priest, Hunter and Warrior don’t offer enough quality to compete with the rest of the field, and the differences in power level are too high to even out with proper play. The only winning move is not to play (with these classes).

Yellorambo

Luci Kelemen is an avid strategy gamer and writer who has been following Hearthstone ever since its inception. His content has previously appeared on HearthstonePlayers and Tempo/Storm's site.

Check out Yellorambo on Twitter!

Leave a Reply

33 Comments

  1. JoyDivision
    May 2, 2022 at 1:32 am

    Can you please explain the ‘Mothership paragraph’? I don’t understand it tbh.

  2. PekkR
    March 11, 2022 at 10:51 am

    No deck codes ?

  3. DemianHS
    August 23, 2021 at 5:19 am

    That Hunter card… Man, it’s just hilarious in Arena. xD I’m playing now a Mage Run with First Flame and two Box of Yogg, broken cards indeed.

  4. Kukaloko
    August 22, 2021 at 4:16 am

    @Yellorambo, thanks for Arena Article! Very nice job!

  5. 9ameplay
    July 21, 2021 at 12:00 am

    how paladin tier 3.. doesn’t make any sense…

  6. Asperkraken
    June 25, 2021 at 1:39 pm

    Great info but it was a bit light around tier 2 (i understand tier 1 is optimal, but luck doesn’t always pan that way).

    I would love to see a drafting guide for Arena class-by-class – it’s a totally different ballgame than Standard/Wild and even Duels deckbuilding and would love to see more of that. I saw plenty of good suggestions in the article though – would just like more. Keep up the good work.

  7. Kukaloko
    June 24, 2021 at 2:22 pm

    Thanks for the article!! Its hard to find something for arena

  8. Skysolstice
    March 26, 2019 at 10:49 pm

    Does any of you guys participating the upcoming WCG event? If yes, from what region are you?

  9. GlosuuLang
    September 14, 2018 at 3:33 am

    I’ve been enjoying Arena quite a lot in Boomsday, except for one little thing: Giggling Inventor. The card is already too good in Constructed, and in Arena it’s bonkers good. And more annoying than MC Tech. By turn 5 you might have one or two minions on board. They drop the Giggling, and it’s a very annoying stall. What usually happens is you can take out one Annoy-o-Tron, and the opponent magnetizes the other Annoy-o-Tron (usually with Wargear) and swings the board in his favor, sealing the game. So either you have a Giggling Inventor of your own, or a hard-counter like Mossy (I’ve been prioritizing crafting it), or you probably lose. This wouldn’t be that much of a problem if classes still had plenty of AOE spells, but since we have less spells now, decks normally have one or two AOEs. Wasting it on a Giggling means you can’t swing the game back in the future, but you’re kind of forced to do so if you don’t want Annoy-o-trons to get magnetized. So yeah, card’s busted. Make it 6 mana already. And offer it less often, just like MCT was adjusted and we see it less often now.

  10. Stonekeep - Site Admin
    September 12, 2018 at 2:23 am

    Arena Tier List was updated for Boomsday Project. Comments below this one were made about one of the previous versions of this article.

  11. AnUn
    August 9, 2018 at 2:34 pm

    Already some insights regarding Boomsday? 🙂

  12. Heki
    June 24, 2018 at 2:44 am

    I gave a warrior a chance in arena and I have managed to get 8,6 average wins in 5 runs. The key is to draft 2 Spellstones plus 4-6 Weapons and some new 5/6 Dragons for value. Then add some heal and Warpath for reset and you are good to go.

  13. Quekjr
    June 13, 2018 at 7:31 pm

    I think pulling stats off hsreplay during the taverns of time event was a bad idea, it reduces the longevity of this articles accuracy to 2 weeks

  14. JoyDivision
    June 13, 2018 at 12:38 am

    Asides from once again requesting a change log for such articles, you should delete (or archive, or mark) comments that were posted to older versions of the article.

    It’s a litte … irritating to read through them, only to raise eyebrows, only to look at the date they were posted, only to find out they are referencing to an older version of the article. 😉

  15. Remieh
    June 12, 2018 at 10:46 am

    I just love how I got to choose between Priest, Druid and Warrior in my Taverns of Time arena, so classic! 😀 At least it was free…

    • Stonekeep - Site Admin
      June 12, 2018 at 10:58 am

      Don’t worry, the Arena’s balance is not that bad right now. Even the worst 3 classes can get an insane draft, they just lag behind a bit in terms of averages 🙂

  16. Cyrusbahraini
    December 30, 2017 at 12:48 pm

    x1 blizzard
    x1 cairne bloodhoof
    x1 kabal crystal runner
    x2 bog creeper
    x1 firelands portal
    x1 sleepy dragon

    How many of these are mage cards? 17/30. Just disagree mage is always going to be good in arena unless they get rid of blizzard and flame strike.

    I know this is just an article but I wanted to add to the debat saw another comment someone made and I totally agree with the guy. I was playing with mage as I was reading this in arena.

  17. Cyrusbahraini
    December 30, 2017 at 12:43 pm

    yeah I think mage should be higher. Massive board clear in general is good in arena to get board advantage/ Game advantage. I almost feel like this is talking about what cards are best in each class for arena ( just need a few good mage cards and natural/ Heck I can find good mage cards in classic set forget about new sets). Not what is the best arena class ATM. I have played pally and ran out of steam multi-able times but when I play mage I get stuff like flame strike and primal helps me get those as well for cheaper. other examples Blizzard. Arcane missile.

    your telling me if I have blizzard 2 arcane missile and primal in my deck that I cant beat an aggro pally. Im tier 3 I totally disagree. In most games the lowest tier means unplayable

    6-1 right now
    x1 shifting scroll
    x1 arcane missile
    x1 mana wyrm
    x1 wax elemental
    x1 archane explotion
    x1 arcanologist
    x1 faerie dragon
    x2 medivh valet
    x1 primordial glyph
    x1 emperor cobra
    x1 explosive runes
    x1 frozen clone
    x1hyldnir frostrider
    x1 kirin tor mage
    x1pterrordax
    x1 spellbender
    x1 viloet illusionist
    x1 water elemental
    x1 bittertide hydra
    x1 green jelly
    x1 nesting roc

  18. Cyrusbahraini
    December 30, 2017 at 12:42 pm

    yeah I think mage should be higher. Massive board clear in general is good in arena to get board advantage/ Game advantage. I almost feel like this is talking about what cards are best in each class for arena ( just need a few good mage cards and natural/ Heck I can find good mage cards in classic set forget about new sets). Not what is the best arena class ATM. I have played pally and ran out of steam multi-able times but when I play mage I get stuff like flame strike and primal helps me get those as well for cheaper. other examples Blizzard. Arcane missile.

    your telling me if I have blizzard 2 arcane missile and primal in my deck that I cant beat an aggro pally. Im tier 3 I totally disagree. In most games the lowest tier means unplayable

    6-1 right now
    x1 shifting scroll
    x1 arcane missile
    x1 mana wyrm
    x1 wax elemental
    x1 archane explotion
    x1 arcanologist
    x1 faerie dragon
    x2 medivh valet
    x1 primordial glyph
    x1 emperor cobra
    x1 explosive runes
    x1 frozen clone
    x1hyldnir frostrider
    x1 kirin tor mage
    x1pterrordax
    x1 spellbender
    x1 viloet illusionist
    x1 water elemental
    x1 bittertide hydra
    x1 green jelly

  19. Mattzilla
    December 26, 2017 at 12:59 pm

    Crushing hand is Shaman, not Hunter. I agree with this list. Arena has seen the most evolution from the new expansion with all he new OP cards like Voidlord, spellstones and such.

  20. BlueSpartan
    December 26, 2017 at 12:41 pm

    Looks reasonable, but I might swap Priest to tier 1 in place of Paladin, and Mage to tier 2 in place of Rogue, based on latest win rates on hsreplay.

  21. Chalupa
    December 14, 2017 at 2:35 am

    when i do 12 win arena all i ever see are priests/rogues/hunters and occasionally locks/pallys. mage/druid are like 1 every 10 games. and i never really see any shaman/warrior.

  22. Swuirrel
    December 5, 2017 at 9:00 pm

    I stopped reading when I saw Mage listed as tier 2…

    • Ian
      February 24, 2018 at 9:47 am

      Yeah I keep looking for somebody to justify this. Cause priest has so much removal…

  23. Drake
    November 1, 2017 at 3:38 pm

    Free arena tickets just remind me why I don’t arena. Run into decks with epics and legendaries and you don’t have any. Real fun lol.

    • TheCLoudDreamer
      December 2, 2017 at 11:12 am

      Probably the dumbest com I’ve read in years, thanks.

      • GnarlyRabbit
        December 25, 2017 at 7:18 pm

        I think he meant he hates free arena tickets for reminding him arena exists.

    • Wikinnes
      December 5, 2017 at 12:44 am

      So I guess you’d rather play in constructed against bullshit decks like Razakus priest and Exodia mage

      • Grease
        December 6, 2017 at 5:19 am

        Probably says Druid, with most boring (with or vs) and most easy to play deck ever (maybe with pirate warr).. wouldn’t play it even when I have all the cards for… would be ashamed

      • Cano
        December 6, 2017 at 8:59 pm

        1. Exodia mage isn’t very popular (or good) right now because of tempo rogue, and midrange huntee

        2. Razakus still takes skill to play

        I do hate exodia mage, but it isn’t seen on ladder that often, so quit your salt.

        • Jeanpeso
          December 27, 2017 at 5:12 am

          Razakus still takes skill to play. Its not even 2018 but you made my whole year. Thanks

        • Spyder9899
          December 28, 2017 at 5:32 pm

          Lol. Face hunter takes more skill to play than razakus priest.