The mini-set’s release, coupled with a set of adjustments, has led to some meaningful changes in the Arena, and as the format continued to track Constructed’s Standard-legal sets, the power level stayed extremely high, with many blowout cards to draft among the various classes, which, coupled with the low number of sets in the format, means that these ultra-powerful cards can be very consistently drafted. Unsurprisingly, this means that some classes start with a huge built-in advantage in the drafting stage – and knowing what to go for after the first round of microadjustments can make all the difference between a middling result and an infinite run.
Arena in June 2023: 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.
Cards from the following sets can be drafted in the Arena right now:
- Voyage to the Sunken City
- Murder at Castle Nathria
- March of the Lich King
- Path of Arthas
- Festival of Legends
Notable Neutral Arena Cards in the Festival of Legends (26.4.2) Metagame
Though this metagame is defined by certain specific class cards with ultra-high offering rates, the best-performing neutral cards remain the same as they were around the time of the launch of the main Festival of Legends set.
Nerubian Vizier, Hipster, Sketchy Stranger and Ghost Writer: The more things change, the more they stay the same. High-value Discover effects from curated pools featuring Standard cards remain ultra-valuable, and even though some of these tools have rotated to Wild, new ones came in to guarantee the continuation of the RNG fiesta. Thankfully, at least seems to have been adjusted down after a few days of clown fiesta. It’s useless to try to play around anything specific: stocking up on power and value is your best bet, trying to find the big class-specific bombs that define the format.
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 unless you play Aggro, rendering the minions invulnerable until they gain initiative is a net positive. Pelican Diver is the weakest of the three but is still a vastly 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 them is to play one yourself.
Silvermoon Armorer and Silvermoon Sentinel: These two Manathirst cards were the strongest neutral minions added in the March of the Lich king set from an Arena perspective, and they can still play a part in the Standard rotation, though their effectiveness has been somewhat lessened. Right now, greeding it out for the bonus effects is almost always the better play.
Darkfallen Shadow: This unassuming little card often turns out to be a cheaper Restless Mummy, making it a super-strong neutral tool to clear up problematic boards. Its cousin, Remixed Musician, fulfills the same role in a deck.
Umbral Geist: A bit like Sneaky Delinquent, this is a two-drop that replaces itself while also bringing Undead synergies to exploit. No matter how fragile it is, it’s still a very good card in its category.
Party Animal: A surprisingly relevant two-drop even in this metagame, as the extra Health and Attack added to your hand really make a significant difference in terms of the minion’s overall stat output.
Concert Promo-Drake: An effective if expensive neutral hard removal tool: keep it in mind at all times in the later turns of the game. The Tradeable keyword makes it a reasonable draft even in faster metagames, just be sure to let it go when you need a bit more tempo.
Festival of Legends (26.4.2) Arena Class Tier List
The Ones to Beat – Mage (53.1%) and Shaman (52.7%)
Even after a significant adjustment to some of their previous power cards, Shamans continue their Arena domination even after the mini-set’s release. Thankfully, the oppressive Pack the House is now only in a quarter of the decks, but the mini-set’s given the class three excellent cards.
Jam Session is a flexible buff/removal tool that is almost always useful in the battle for board control, Backstage Bouncer is an unfair amount of stats, especially with the class’ built-in token generation, and Horn of the Windlord, mercifully only seen once in every two decks, does way too much in a single card from an Arena perspective.
Meanwhile, Mages have slipped back to the top by doing Mage things. Fiddlefire Imp and Audio Splitter, plus the buff to Infinitize the Maxitude, a card you can fairly consistently discover in the format, give them more than enough resources, including burn spells, to drown lesser classes in value. If Mage gets Maxitude, they’re the kind of long game and it’s very, very hard to outvalue them – you have to go fast and hope that they don’t discover the right answers.
The Strong Contenders – Death Knight (51.8%), Warrior (51.2%), Hunter (50.5%), and Paladin (49.4%)
Death Knights are also back, back again. The class continues to pose a problem in the format, as it is often too strong if its Discover cards are reliably draftable, while falling behind otherwise. This time, courtesy of the mini-set’s two strong tempo cards, Hollow Hound and Cool Ghoul, they can more than keep up with the proceedings.
Double Unholy and single Frost still remain your primary goal: this way, you gain access to Hardcore Cultist without missing out on staple cards like Army of the Dead and Battlefield Necromancer. However, the presence of Hollow Hound makes Blood a lot more attractive alternative, especially if you get to combine the card with either Screaming Banshee or Arcanite Ripper.
Warriors’ strategies have not changed since the mini-set, though it has become much harder to draft multiple Riff cards to chain together. They can still put their feet down early on with Anima Extractor and Imbued Axe before getting into Riff stuff in the mid-game, capping things off with Tidal Revenants – or, in the case of emergency, cast The Fires of Zin-Azshari. The heavily discounted Abyssal Bassists are also a great addition, and much like Shamans, Warriors can also make great use of both Jam Session and Backstage Bouncer – the latter also an excellent Discover option from Frightened Flunky.
Hunters are still a weird mishmash of ideas. Marked Shot is the class’ best-performing card, which doesn’t give you a direction. Mages and Shamans will wipe you off the board at some point, so burn damage is essential, most likely in the form of Otherwise, it’s a collection of midrange high-value cards Stonebound Gargon, Keeneye Spotter, Savannah Highmane et al), early tempo plays Bunch of Bananas, Arrow Smith, Frenzied Fangs, and a lot of hoping and dreaming that your assault isn’t stopped. Of the mini-set cards, only Hollow Hound holds relevance.
A small technical note: if you’re looking to ramp up the Deathrattle on Jungle Jammer, you want to stop at six for a chance to roll Mister Mukla or Savannah Highmane. For specialized scenarios, Invincible is the only 8-cost Beast in the pool right now.
Paladins are still all about tempo plays and buffs, but it’s a real feast or famine affair for the class. Early pop-offs with Disco Maul heading into Horn of the Windlord, with drafted or discovered attack buffs, and a couple of infused Buffet Bigguns and Cool Ghouls along the way? Good luck stopping that. With a buffed Consecration and the flexibility of Muckborn Servant, there is a strong deck to be found. Deviate from this path, however, either in terms of strategy or card quality, and you are bound to fall woefully short.
The Lowrolls – Rogue (47.3%), Demon Hunter (45.4%) and Priest (44.6%)
Each of these classes is sort of playable but unspectacular, lacking the power spikes required to compete with the top dogs.
Rogues, much like Mages, lean heavily into the Discover fiesta (and Concoction shenanigans), but they are significantly worse at it, with the win rates to show for it.
Demon Hunters are still locked into an aggressive approach: Glaivesharks and weapons and Illidari Inquisitors still force the class to move fast and break things, hoping it will be enough without burn that reliably gets through taunts. At least Brutal Annihilan is an added way to push damage, but the strategy as a whole fails more often than succeeds.
Priests used to be the villain of the metagame not so long ago, courtesy of reliable Identity Theft drafts and super-consistent Partner in Crime plays (featuring combos with Cathedral of Atonement or Power Chord: Synchronize, among others) made them mind-numbing to play against. However, since what seems to be hefty nerf during a round of microadjustments, the class has been slipping in terms of win rate and it’s closer and closer to falling into the lowest tier. Their strategies are still the same, and both Plagiarizarrr and Fanboy turned out to be great additions, but it isn’t enough for consistent results.
The Garbage Pile –Warlock (39.2%) and Druid (36.1%)
Perhaps this steaming pile of junk on the bottom of this article is the best way to showcase just how little the addition of the mini-set has changed, big picture-wise. The same two classes are stuck on the bottom, exactly where they used to be a release and a full set of adjustments ago, with even lower win percentages, for the same reason as before.
Druids lack the consistent curve and the board buffs needed for a successful token build and can’t reliably compete in any similar manner with any of the late-game strategies. Meanwhile, not even Warlocks’ premium slate of removals can get you past the finish line against the third or fourth Pack the House and Bridge Riff, or the near-infinite resources generated by Mages and Death Knights. Avoid those classes at all cost, they’re basically unplayable right now.