The microadjustments have arrived to the Arena just a few weeks after United in Stormwind’s launch, meaning there’s a whole new metagame to figure out. Here are the best classes to pick and the gameplay strategies and notable cards you should be paying attention to!
Arena in August 2021: Rules and Strategies
Here’s what you need to know about the current format of the Arena: the old system of “buckets”, cards of supposedly 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 Runed Orb 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.
So where do you find your advantages these days in the Arena? Understanding the differences between the various classes’ power levels in any particular meta and figuring out which cards appear disproportionately often (or rarely) as the effect of “microadjustments”. Perhaps macroadjustment would be a more appropriate term as Team 5 regularly nukes cards out of existence in the format, making them almost completely absent from drafts.
These are the currently available sets in the Arena rotation:
- United in Stormwind
- Forged in the Barrens
- Wailing Caverns Mini-Set
- Madness at the Darkmoon Faire
- Darkmoon Races Mini-Set
- The Witchwood
- Saviors of Uldum
- Rastakhan’s Rumble
Notable Neutral Arena Cards in the United in Stormwind Metagame
The usual suspects are still around, forming the spine of your usual Arena curve: Sunwell Initiate, Venomous Scorpid, Derailed Coaster and Claw Machine and remain idiotically strong. The new set brough along other potent card generation tools in the form of Pandaren Importer and Deeprun Engineer.
If you do actually get to the late game, Mo'arg Forgefiend serves as an excellent stabilization tool alongside Lion's Guard, and if you’re on the other side of the board trying to push your tempo advantage, then Stubborn Suspect and Battleground Battlemaster (even in its nerfed form) are the cards you’re looking for.
United in Stormwind Arena Strategy: Tempo Is King
In many ways, this Arena meta resembles that of early Hearthstone, where getting on the board early and maintaining that advantage was the key to victory. With the exception of facing Warlocks, who will just reliably dominate everything and everyone, this advice will still serve you well in the Arena after the microadjustments. There aren’t many Battleground Battlemaster can transform any reasonable board lead into a (near-)lethal push, and this still remains the cornerstone of the gameplay experience. Killing your opponent out of nowhere has never been easier!
United in Stormwind Arena Class Tier List (Post-Microadjustments)
The big winners: Warlock and Hunter (54.9% and 53.8%)
Interestingly, two untouched classes have now skyrocketed to the top of the winrate charts: Warlock just has too many control tools for anyone else to compete with and they are the only class that can reliably deal with the early-game tempo pushes that characterize the metagame. Demonic Assault and Fire Breather are stupidly effective in the crucial early-to-mid-game period and Demonbolt (much like Hysteria) has always been a premium Arena pick. You also have more than enough to go the tempo route with Flame Imp, Bloodbound Imp, Kabal Outfitter and Sinister Deal. It’s the whole package.
Hunters, meanwhile, were somewhat underrated in the pre-microadjustment period as they had more than enough strings to their bow in terms of tempo gameplay potential, which they now get to fully utilize. Desert Spear, Baited Arrow, Aimed Shot, Trampling Rhino: just go face! There’s also the elekkphant in the room: Ramming Mount, a card that can single-handedly solo your opponent in the tempo battle should it come out at the right time. It simply shouldn’t be in the arena
The best of the rest: Paladin and Mage (51.4% and 51.2%)
There are two different stories at play here: Paladins essentially remained untouched by the microadjustments and they are still very serviceable in this meta thanks to strong tempo options traditionally available to them plus a smidgen of handbuff synergy with Alliance Bannerman, by far their strongest class card in the current metagame. Meanwhile, Mages were the big beneficiaries of the update: turns out having more Runed Orbs, Flamestrikes and First Flames available will let you have a much easier time contesting the board.
Coinflip classes: Shaman and Demon Hunter (both 49.7%)
Both classes are serviceable in the current metagame but it has to be said that they are extremely draft-dependent, making them truly coinflip options. The power level between potential drafts is ridiculous here, especially in the case of Demon Hunter: you either get lucky enough Expendable Performers (or tools that can generate it for you) and Illidari Studies or… not, starting with 2-3 less expected wins to start out. Strong Shaman decks and strong Demon Hunter decks alike have the potential to go far but expect high variance and a lot of frustration during the draft. It’s worth noting that Demon Hunters are the only class not to have completely died off the back of their negative micro-adjustments: it goes to show the strength of their spell discover options.
Meh but playable: Priest and Rogue (47.8% and 46.7%)
These two classes can still get enough of the right tools to draft together a coherent deck but they are always facing an uphill climb. Especially once you consider that the Arena playstyles of Warlock and Hunter are somewhat analogous to Priest and Rogue, the dominance of those two classes makes these all the less appealing.
There just isn’t synergy between the potent class cards available to you, and that is when they show up in the first place: Elekk Mount and Call of the Grave are predictably excellent for Priest and Condemn (Rank 1) still remains stupidly good, while Rogue still has Oil Rig Ambusher and Efficient Octo-bot to rely on. Still, it tells a lot about these classes that neutral tools like Venomous Scorpid and Claw Machine are still topping their respective deck win rate charts at the time of writing.
Avoid at all costs: Warrior and Druid (43.6% and 40.9%(!))
There’s nothing micro about these adjustments: the top classes in the Arena tumbled to the bottom of the tier list as usual after Team 5’s usual changes made with the delicate touch of a 5000-ton sledgehammer. It’s rare to see such a massive drop in win rate – over 10% in case of Druid.
It doesn’t matter that you technically have good cards in the rotation if they never show up in the draft, and the fact that you were the top dog just a couple of days ago also doesn’t amount to anything. Unless you have an old deck still lying around, make sure to avoid these two classes until further changes are made to the metagame.