Hallow’s End is back, and the special Arena format has also returned with it: you select a combination of two classes instead of one during the event, opening up a plethora of drafting possibilities. If you’d like to know how you can navigate around the complexities of such a wide selection, you’ve come to the right place – we’ve put together a handy little breakdown for you that should give you a leg up in the field.
How to Choose Your First Class?
There are quite a few classes in Arena that are excellent in one or two aspects of the game but are severely hampered by other limitations (for instance, Shaman and the lack of card draw comes to mind). The dual-class format allows you a unique opportunity to shore up their shortcomings, which can be especially valuable if you consider the effects of micro-adjustments: the nominally weaker classes are offered premium cards at a higher rate, which was the main reason behind Warrior’s rise even before the special event started. The class is usually let down by a useless Hero Power and the lack of ability to influence the board state with anything other than weapons, but the boosted chance of drafting premium cards and a set of otherwise excellent tools on offer makes them the number one choice as your first class.
By the same token, Priest and the aforementioned Shaman can also form the backbone of a strong combination – you can counteract their weaknesses in the card pool and get a better Hero Power. There’s an additional incentive not to pick the classes you’d usually go for: selecting the “usual suspects” here will guarantee that they won’t show up in the second round, denying you the opportunity to select their otherwise powerful Hero Power. As such, Warlock, Rogue and Mage should generally be avoided the first time around, simply because you’d prefer to see them as the follow-up choice.
How to Choose Your Second Class?
On a surface level, you can’t really go wrong with the aforementioned trio: Warlock’s Life Tap is an incredibly strong ability, Rogue’s dagger is the most value-efficient pinging option and Mage’s Fireblast can also do an excellent job – however, there’s a bit more depth to your selection than this. For instance, even though a Warrior-Rogue combo features two great classes, it becomes tough to leverage all the excellent weapons without something getting stuck in your hand; similarly, Warrior and Warlock is a risky pairing simply because of the fact that both classes’ strategies will eat up your hit points without a reliable way to replenish them.
Hunter as a second choice can complement a wide variety of aggressive options: the secrets of Mage are a juicy way to prop up the class’ Spellstone and the Beast synergies with Druid will also form a strong shell. Shaman and Mage can gin up some pretty potent Elemental-based combos too. Interestingly, Paladin is not a great choice either way – usually a powerhouse in Arena, a combination of mediocre sets and heavy penalties on micro-adjustments made them the worst class by win-rate in the format for now, making them also fairly undesirable in the dual-class variant as well.
What to Expect From Your Opponent?
The aforementioned concepts will also serve you well when trying to gauge your opponent’s strategy. Understanding the class synergies in this format will give you a pretty good idea of how much aggression you should prepare for: choosing Hunter second will indicate some serious SMORc-age, possibly trying to feed on the greedy Life Tap users. Similarly, expect a grindy match when running into a Priest/Warlock combination: they will likely have all the removal tools you can imagine.
The influx of new players thanks to the free tickets also matters a lot: you should not apply these observations as meticulously during the early games of a run. Many amateurs will try their luck with the fancy new format, trying fancy and sub-optimal things. Expect the unexpected and finish them off as quickly as possible.
Chances are, you’ll eventually encounter someone who picked Warrior as the second option. If it’s early on during your run, enjoy your free win. If they somehow made it to 7+ wins alongside you, expect an incredibly strong deck.
Playstyle Strategies and Other Observations
With 72 different class combinations available, it’s impossible to offer general tips about the “metagame” in the dual-class arena. Playing around specific cards or combinations with such a diverse array of options on the table is basically futile: apart from getting the basic tempo/value considerations right, you should probably focus on your own game.
This means there’s a premium on the importance of the draft: finding a strong combination and picking cards with a coherent strategy in mind will get you far. If you’ve got Life Tap and your opponent hasn’t, going for a card advantage strategy is almost always correct – the notable exception is when they’ve got Steady Shot, in which case you need to put your foot on the gas. Also, since so many weapon classes are viable choices here, cards like Acidic Swamp Ooze are worthy of extra consideration.
A word of warning: some pretty excellent players were incentivized to give Arena a go thanks to the Gold Rush challenge, so if you’re trying to farm some resources for the upcoming new release, I’d advise taking a few days off. While you don’t want to miss out on the first few days with the influx of noobies, the next few after that may not prove to be an ideal hunting ground with a high propensity of try-hard players running around the Colosseum. This should not last long: most competitors will drop out fairly early on after realizing they’ve fallen too far behind, but the upcoming weekend will likely involve some heavy grinding by the participants, which is something you might want to keep in mind.
Also, if you’d like to go for the Arena leaderboard, expect inflated averages this month. Team 5 no longer puts out separate lists for special events, meaning the October records will heavily feature the dual-class experience. You can easily expect a 9+ average by strong players on the top of the charts this time around. With all the chaos and wacky fun in the format, the best course of action is to have some fun with it and mess around in the playground: you rarely get the opportunity to cast Mind Blast as a Hunter, so it’s perhaps worth a try to collect those memorable clips…