This guide is dedicated to help beginners with the basic fundamentals of Hearthstone Arena, with the goal of them being able to sustain themselves financially (becoming infinite in Arena) while being able to have an enjoyable experience. The guide is dissected into several parts, and will walk you through the entire process of playing Arena, where each aspect is discussed in-depth. Overall, this Arena guide will provide you with the necessary information you need in becoming an Arena legend.
Hearthstone New Player Experience
There seems to be a common trend that I see with many new players who are just starting out with Hearthstone. They jump into Arena with no idea what they’re doing, thus they are utterly destroyed by some of the more experienced players, resulting in an uncomfortable and rough experience of the game mode, thus they refuse to touch the Arena game mode again.
Hearthstone is not necessarily “beginner friendly”. Though, there has been some recent changes to improve the new player experience, new expansions will always make it increasingly difficult for newer players to get started with the game.
Hearthstone has a reputation of being a “Pay-to-Win” (P2W) game, and to be honest it’s sort of true. It’s true in the sense that, if you want to build a sizable card collection for competitive ladder, it would be difficult for a beginner to collect the vast pool of expensive cards necessary to make a competitive ladder deck. It is a frustrating experience for a beginner to lose a match simply because the opponent has better Rares, Epics, and Legendaries that the beginner’s deck is no match for. As a “Free-to-Play” (F2P) player myself, I experienced this first hand, until I discovered the wonders of Arena!
Investing in Card Packs V.S. Arena
This portion of the guide will serve as a disclaimer, and will walk you through the potential reasons why the Arena game mode might not be for everyone.
There has been a lot of opinions with regards to whether newer players should focus on buying packs with their gold or enter the Arena. There are a few factors to consider when choosing between the two options. First, you have to consider that Arena runs only give card packs from the latest expansion, which may or may not be useful to your circumstances. Most people from the community agree that beginners should focus on building their collection from the classic packs before venturing into the newer expansions. Thus, it may be more beneficial to spend your initial set of gold on classic packs and gain more experience in casual before investing it into Arena, as diving straight into the game mode off the bat might yield disastrous results.
Secondly, Arena takes a lot of time and effort, thus may not appeal to all consumers. The most important aspect of Arena that you should consider is whether you have fun or not because it would otherwise be too tiresome and tedious to consider playing Arena as a “job” or a “necessity” in order to build your card collection.
Ultimately, the decision on whether you want to invest your time into Arena is in your hands. There are several players who are good in Arena, but don’t enjoy playing it. On the flip side, there are players who aren’t so good, but have a blast when brawling in the Arena. If you’re part of the latter, then this guide is definitely for you!
Importance of Arena for Beginners
With the release of new expansions, the importance of Arena has become increasingly important for newer players because this will be their main method for building their card collection, as this is the most efficient and effective way to do so. Instead of not maximizing the potential on gold by buying packs, you can invest your gold into an Arena run, and potentially earn profit. Even if you do terribly and only achieve 3 wins, on average, you’re still making the most out of your 150 gold, as not only will you receive a card pack (worth 100 gold), you will also get 20-25 gold with a chance to earn an additional 20-25 gold or 20-25 dust. Although, in general, dust is regarded to be more valuable than gold, you want to earn more gold in order to do more Arena runs. But of course, we don’t want to just end at 3 wins. We want to make profit!
So, how do we do that? In order to make profit by coming out ahead in Arena is to reach a certain threshold, and that is threshold is 7 wins. This is only taking into consideration the amount of gold you earn, as this is what would be used to fuel your infinite Arena runs. By achieving 7 wins consistently, you are guaranteed to earn back at least your entrance fee of 150 gold. Anything else you get from the run would be your profit!
Average Gold Reward per Respective Win
Now, I am going to be honest with you. Achieving 7 wins on a consistent basis is not at all easy as it sounds. In fact, according to a Reddit post where a user calculates the difficulty of Arena using mathematics, only 9% of the HS community can achieve 7 wins in Arena (if you want a more detailed explanation, I included the source below.) Though, this shouldn’t discourage you. The average player in Hearthstone achieves 3 wins in Arena. Therefore, you shouldn’t despair when you don’t get the result that you were hoping for, and instead focus on what you can do to improve yourself as a player. If you were able to identify the mistakes you made, then you should still consider that as a win, as you can implement new strategies in your future runs.
If you ran the Hearthstone Arena as an 8192 person tournament, here is what would have happen:
- 12.50% would go 0-3
- 87.50% would get at least 1 win
- 68.75% of people would get 2+ wins
- 50.00% of people would get 3+ wins
- 34.38% of people would get 4+ wins
- 22.66% of people would get 5+ wins
- 14.45% of people would get 6+ wins
- 8.98% of people would get 7+ wins
- 5.47% of people would get 8+ wins
- 3.27% of people would get 9+ wins
- 1.93% of people would get 10+ wins
- 1.25% of people would get 11+ wins
- 0.65% of people would get 12 wins
Additionally, Arena is a great way to teach you the basic fundamentals of the game such as trading efficiently. These concepts would not only prove to be useful in Arena, but also for when you play on ladder.
Part 1: Arena Classes
As you may know, there are 9 classes in Hearthstone – each with their own unique ability and set of tools. It is important to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your class, as it will help you draft cards that will help maximize its potential and mitigate its weaknesses. For your reference, I have included an updated Arena tier list for the 9 classes.
In order to maximize our chances of winning, we want to pick a tier 1 class whenever possible. This is mainly due to their strong arsenal of independent tools. I’m not saying it’s impossible to achieve 12 wins with the Warrior; it’s just a lot more difficult due to some of constraints given the nature of its class.
- Tier 1: Mage, Rogue, Paladin
- Tier 2: Hunter, Warlock, Priest
- Tier 3: Shaman, Druid, Warrior
In order to help you have a better understanding of these classes, I will discuss the strengths, weaknesses, and some of the strong class cards you may want to look for. This will help you know what to expect when choosing an appropriate class that you want to play!
Versatile Hero Power, can adapt to most situations, good class cards, can often outvalue her opponent with AoEs.
Not a lot of class minions, may end up with a hand full of reactive and situational cards.
Cards to Target
Mage has always been a strong pick for Arena, and continues to be the highest picked class in Arena, at 23% (Arena Mastery). This is mainly due to their versatile Hero Power, and strong class cards. With the last expansion, powerful cards such as Meteor and Primordial Glyph has been added to her strong arsenal of board clears and hard removal.
Efficient Hero Power, strong hard removals, can use health as a resource to gain early board advantage, can create lot of tempo out of the “combo” mechanic.
Reliant on low cost cards to enable combo pieces, may have a clunky hand with expensive minions, no natural heal, thus is more susceptible to being rushed down by aggressive decks.
Cards to Target
With the release of the Journey to Un’Goro Expansion, Rogue secured its spot as one of the top tier arena class with the release of powerful cards such as Envenom Weapon and Vilespine slayer that can create high-tempo plays. Beware of the potential burst that your opponent may have especially if you’re against a Mage or a Hunter! Sometimes they may opt to burst you down rather than going for the board control.
Solid buffs, strong set of weapons, is capable of fighting for board control early on, and has a lot of heal.
No hard removals, has limited AoEs, and may have difficulty playing from behind.
Cards to Target
Arena used to be filled with Paladins due to their strong class cards, but that was quite a long time ago. Since the card rotation, the class has lost quite a few good cards such as Murloc Knight, Keeper of Uldaman, and Seal of Champions. Paladin is all about board control, and is very susceptible to AoEs. Once the Paladin losses the board, it has a difficult time regaining it due to its lack of board clears and hard removal. Though the class still contains a strong set of independent cards, some may even consider the Paladin as a tier 2 class.
Aggressive playstyle, can create massive tempo plays with Deadly Shot and Freezing Trap, and can gain early board control.
Lack of board clears, weaker to decks with taunts and heals, hard comeback mechanism.
Cards to Target
Hunter has been hovering around the mid-tier list consistently, and it seems it’s likely to stay there. His hero power supports the aggressive or tempo-based archetype that the class plays. While it is not entirely impossible for a control hunter to exist, it’s just unlikely, as most of their class cards either provide additional damage or tempo. In the current meta, it seems to do well especially with a lot of Rogues in Arena, but is very susceptible to heal and taunts. Like the Paladin, it is difficult for the Hunter to regain the board once it has been lost.
Uses health as a resource to gain card advantage, decent board clears and hard removals, and has decent class minions.
Can be pressured heavily by an aggressive deck, most board clears does damage to himself.
Cards to Target
Warlock used to be a class that was considered by most to be a top tier class in Arena. He uses his health total to put himself in a more favorable situation through card advantage. However, the rotation has significantly hinder its strength with core cards such as Dark Peddler and Imp Gang Boss rotating out. In return, the Warlock didn’t receive any worthwhile class cards. There has also been a recent change to one of the class’ trump cards, the Abyssal Enforcer, reducing the chances for it to be shown in a draft. Since the Warlock’s hero power doesn’t have an impact on the board, it is easy for other classes to pressure the Warlock in the early game, and may push for lethal in the later game.
Can trade minions efficiently with Hero Power, can potentially gain card advantage, and has strong single-target removals.
4-attack minions, lots of gimmicky and situational class spells that are useless in Arena.
Cards to Target
Priest is probably one of the few classes that didn’t lose a lot of core cards out of the set rotation. In return, they received some high quality cards such as Free From Amber, Radiant Elemental, and Crystalline Oracle. However, the class is very reliant on the draft process, as it will dictate how effective your Hero Power is in game. Specifically, your success as a Priest will depend whether you were able to draft your health-buffing minions and spells such as Kabal Talonpriest and Power Word: Shield. Priest’s main strength lies in its ability to trade minions efficiently with its Hero Power. However, similar to a Paladin, it must have the board in order to utilize its tools effectively. Otherwise, it would often lose due to the overwhelming pressure created by the opponent.
Part 2: Arena Draft
Now that you’ve chosen a class, it’s time to draft your deck! The drafting process is paramount to your success in Arena because it will often dictate how you will play and will determine your possible win conditions. It’s important to consider the class you’re playing when you draft your deck, so that you may play to its strengths and maximize its potential.
Since your deck will be comprised of both class and neutral minions, combined with spells, I will introduce to you the different types of minions in Arena. I made these categories to help you understand the different aspects and features of a minion in Hearthstone.
In general, I like to categorize minions into three departments: Value, Situational, and Effect. “Value” minions refer to the amount of stats that a minion possess that is superior than most other minions with the same mana cost, and more often than not, these cards are referred to as “Vanilla cards”. Vanilla cards are minions that possess no special attribute or effect, therefore, they usually have superior stats to minions with an effect at the same mana cost.
However, for whatever reason, there are some minions in the game that are simply superior than its counterpart at the same mana cost. Tar Creeper will always be better than Am'gam Rager, and Ice Rager will always be superior than Magma Rager. Therefore, it is important for a beginner to recognize valuable minions when choosing between two or more vanilla cards. There is something called the “Vanilla Card Test”, which gives you the baseline stats for each minion with their respective mana cost, and serve as a comparison tool, allowing you to decide whether the effect of a card is justifies its mana cost.
Vanilla Card Test
As you can see, the best minion (with no downside) at the 2-mana department is a 3/2 or vice versa, putting its total stat value at 5. The total stat value of a minion can be calculated by simply adding the total health and attack of a minion. As the mana cost increases by 1, the total stat value increases by 2 from the previous minion. Let’s say that you had to choose between two minions: Big-Time Racketeer and Priestess of Elune. While both cards may cost 6 mana, their stat line and effect are completely different. The Big-Time Racketeer has total of 14 stats which surpasses the vanilla card test since the Boulderfist Ogre has a total of 13 stats, which is considered to be the best possible stats for a minion at 6 mana. On the other hand, the Priestess of Elune has a total of 9 stats, which is far way below the standard 13 stats. Therefore, you are essentially paying 4 stats for its effect: restore 4 health to your hero. Why is this relevant? Because your opponent’s Violet Illusionist, a 3-mana card, can easily trade into your Priestess of Elune, placing you at a disadvantage in terms of value and tempo.
Effect cards are self-explanatory. These are cards that have a special attribute that does something impactful. I understand this may sound vague, but there are several cards with effects that do different things. Usually, effect cards are almost good in most situations, and there isn’t a prerequisite for their effect to trigger or active. Cards such as Loot Hoarder, Grimestreet Outfitter, and Primordial Drake are some examples of effect minions that can yield significant benefits.
Situational cards are similar to effect cards, but they have a prerequisite in order for its effect to trigger; a certain condition needs to be fulfilled. A popular archetype that revolves around this are the elemental minions, where it often requires the player to have played an elemental minion on the previous turn before its battlecry may be activated. In ladder, these are sometimes referred to as “tech cards” because it is dependent on the condition to be met in order to be effective. One popular example is Hungry Crab, which requires a Murloc to be present on board, but can provide massive tempo if it hits. Other popular choices in Arena are Gluttonous Ooze and Mind Control Tech. However, keep in mind that just because the condition hasn’t been met, it doesn’t restrict you from playing them. Sometimes, it’s better to play your Gluttonous Ooze on turn 3 rather than simply passing your turn.
In each Arena draft, you will draft a combination of all three types of minions, but for consistency purposes, your situational cards should not be more than your value and effect cards. When drafting an effect or situational card, make sure you consider how valuable the effect is to your class, as well as its stats. If you’re playing control classes such as Mage and Priest, health is regarded with more importance than attack, therefore you’re more likely to draft a 4/5 minion rather than a 5/4 minion. Similarly, if you’re playing an aggressive class like Hunter, you want minions with more attack.
Another important aspect when drafting your deck is your mana curve, which is displayed beside your chosen class. This represents how many cards you have given their respective mana cost. Usually, you don’t mind this until the later stages of your draft. If by the 25th card, you notice that you have a lot of late game minions that cost 6 or 7 mana, and a lack of early game minions, you might opt to choose 2-drop minion despite it not being the optimal choice because you want to be able to curve into the late game. Otherwise your deck might be too reliant on heavy minions that you may be overrun by your opponent’s early board presence, putting you a difficult spot to make a comeback.
At the end of your draft, your mana curve may look like one of the three below – each with their own corresponding playstyle. Keep in mind that these are only some ways to play the game. There is a possibility that you may draft a hunter deck with lots of heavy minions, dictating a more control playstyle. Therefore, these are just guidelines for the most common deck archetypes seen in Arena.
This is an example of a late-game mana curve. This usually means that you have a decent amount of early game minions and spells that will help you transition into the late game, which will allow you finish the game with your late game minions. The primary objective is to try to gain early board control and survive until the late game, where you will be able to outvalue your opponent. Such archetype is usually seen with most control classes such as Priest, Warlock, and Mage.
Here, we have the opposite of the previous mana curve, the early-game mana curve. There is a great emphasis on establishing early board dominance with your low-cost minions. Though you may not have the resources to last the late game, you will be placing your opponent under immense pressure, which will allow you to finish off your opponent before it reaches the late stages of the game. Aggressive classes like Hunter, Rogue, and Mage can easily fit this archetype.
Lastly, there is a grey area between the early game and late game archetype, and that is the mid-range mana curve. In this archetype, the mana curve usually spikes at around the 4-mana cost, and is versatile in most cases. It has the resources to establish early board control, but also enough resources to play the value game. Though it may have the same amount of pressure as an aggressive archetype, or contain the same amount of value as a control archetype, it is capable of doing both by prioritizing the mid-game. Paladin is exceptional for this archetype since the class has a lot of strong 4-mana class cards, but almost any class can work well with this mana curve.
As a new player, the drafting process may be difficult because you are unfamiliar with a lot of the cards, but there are several external tools that you shouldn’t be afraid to use that will help you to make the most optimal choice in a draft. HearthArena is a dynamic add-on that will rate each of your options with a corresponding score. The score is based on how effective that card is in Arena. However, the most important feature is that the application also takes into consideration your mana curve and some card synergies that we otherwise often miss. This is a great starting point especially for those who are unfamiliar about the effectiveness of certain cards. Keep in mind that these scores are not absolute, and sometimes it may be better to go with your gut feeling. The app is currently only available for PC users, but there are alternatives for non-PC users. There are several tier-lists available on the web that works in the same way as the application, but requires you instead to manually search the cards.
Part 3: Arena Gameplay
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” — Sun Tzu, the Art of War
Now that you have fully constructed your deck, it’s time to jump into a game. However, you should take a brief moment to go through the deck you just drafted, and subconsciously ask yourself, “What type of deck is this? Is this a value deck or a tempo deck? What are my win conditions?” This will help mentally prepare you by formulating a general game plan against your future opponents.
The first action you do in a Hearthstone game is to take a look at your hand, and mulligan any cards that aren’t needed. You want cards that you can play in the early game to contest the board, so generally speaking, you would mulligan for cards that cost 3 mana or less. However, there are some situations where you can keep greedier cards that cost more mana if you already have an early drop in your hand. Let’s say that you’re starting second and you have, a fire fly, an Amani Berserker, a Gluttonous Ooze, and a Chillwind Yeti; in this scenario, it is almost always right to keep your entire hand as it allows you to spend your mana efficiently for the early game.
In Arena, there is no such thing as a face-only deck. Even the most aggressive decks make the best possible trades instead of allowing their opponent to make the worst possible trades for them. By keeping the board clean, you’re reducing the risk that your opponent can buff their minions and take the valuable trade, making it difficult for you to come back on board. It also reduces the effectiveness of your opponent’s AoE spells.
However, if all potential trades on board aren’t terrible for you, then you may opt to be the aggressor and pressure your opponent’s life total. When you are unsure whether you should trade or go face, ask yourself, “How relevant is this damage to face? What can my opponent do to punish me? How will the punish affect my situation?” If you feel that the damage to face is far more valuable, or the punish that your opponent may have isn’t that detrimental to your situation, then go ahead and attack the face to create pressure.
Let’s say that in the late game you have a Bittertide Hydra on board against a Mage, while your opponent has a Youthful Brewmaster on board. In almost every scenario, you would want to go face with your minion to deal 8 damage to his face rather than trading. This is because your opponent cannot just ignore the 8-atk minion on board, and is likely to use some sort of removal on it. Even though he/she manages to remove your minion with a Polymorph or a Meteor, the 8 damage to face is probably worth more than the 3/2. In other scenarios, he/she would be forced to Firelands Portal or Fireball and trade their 3/2 into your minion to clear it, and you managed to squeeze in 8 additional damage to face that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to do if you had traded.
Here’s another situation where you might be punished for going face instead of trading. Let’s say that you have a Kabal Talonpriest while the Paladin has a Steward of Darkshire on board. You decided to attack face instead of value trading your minion going into the Paladin’s turn 4. Here are the potential likely outcomes of that decision:
- The Paladin develops a 4-mana minion, and you successfully got away with dealing 3 damage to face.
- The Paladin equips Truesilver Champion, killing your 3/4 while maintaining his own 3/3 on board.
- The Paladin uses Blessing of Kings on the 3/3, turning it into a 7/7, then trades his minion into yours, leaving him with a 7/4 body on board.
- The Paladin uses Silvermoon Portal on the 3/3, buffing it into a 5/5, then trades his minion into yours, leaving him with a 5/2 while developing another 2-drop minion.
- The Paladin uses Hammer of Wrath on your minion, giving him an additional card while maintaining his own minion on board.
As I previously discussed, Paladin’s strength lies in their strong buff cards that often cost 4 mana, thus, it is almost always correct to value trade your minion in order to deny their ability to buff their minions, which can be devastating when done on curve.
Playing Around Secrets
Paladins, Mages, and Hunters are the only classes that have access to secrets. Secrets can have a tremendous impact on the state of the game and potentially turn the flow of the game in your opponent’s favor if you’re not careful enough. In order to minimize their effects, they should be approached carefully and thoroughly checked.
When playing against a Mage secret, there are 8 possibilities:
- Mirror Entity and Potion of Polymorph activates whenever you play a minion. It can be played around by first testing it with a weaker minion.
- Counterspell and Mana Bind activates whenever you play a spell. It can be played around by first using a less impactful spell such as the coin (if you’re going second).
- Vaporize and Ice Barrier activates whenever a minion attacks your opponent’s face. It can be played around by first using a weaker minion to attack.
- Spellbender activates whenever you use a spell that targets a minion. It can be played around by first using a less effective spell that targets a minion.
- Ice Block activates whenever lethal damage is presented to face. It is important to note that putting your opponent at 1 HP before triggering the secret will allow you to have an easier time to set up for lethal the following turn.
When playing against a Hunter secret, there are 5 possibilities:
- Freezing Trap activates whenever you attack with a minion. It can be played around by attacking a low-cost minion, or with a minion with a useful battecry.
- Cat Trick activates whenever you cast a spell. It can be played around by playing a cheap spell such as coin before using an AoE.
- Explosive Trap and Misdirection activates whenever one of your minion attacks face. Explosive Trap can be played around by trading your 2-health minions before attacking face. Misdirection can be played around by attacking with your minion with the lowest track.
- Snake Trap activates when you attack a minion. It can be played around by not attacking a minion until you have developed more minions to answer the 1/1s.
When playing against a Paladin secret, there are 5 possibilities:
- Eye for an Eye activates when your opponent receives any source of damage. It can be played around by using your Hero Power to hit face, or attack with your smallest minion.
- Noble Sacrifice actives whenever you attack with a minion. It can be played around by attacking with a minion you don’t want trade with, or attack with any minion that doesn’t just die to the secret.
- Repentance actives whenever you play a minion. It can be played around by playing your weakest minion first, ideally one with one health.
- Redemption and Getaway Kodo actives whenever you kill an opposing minion. They can be played around by killing your opponent’s weakest minion such as their silver recruit. Avoid killing a minion with a useful battlecry or deathrattle!
Keep in mind that the strongest weakness of secrets is your ability to control when you want to active it. There are times where it may be difficult to play around secrets because you may not have the optimal cards to do so, thus, it may be better to be patient until you’re able to do so. For example, let’s say you’re in a Mage mirror, and your opponent played a secret. You played a minion and attacked face, so you know it’s not a secret that interacts with your minions, thus it is likely to be a secret that reacts to a spell cast. Even though the Firelands Portal on your opponent’s 5/5 looks super enticing, it may be correct to simply hold it, and instead value trade with your minions until you are able to draw a less impactful spell that you would be able to use instead.
Playing Around AoE and Hard Removal
Board clears allow for your opponent to regain control of the board once it has been lost, or gain tremendous value. The main way to play around such cards is not to overextend on board when it’s not needed. This means holding back resources rather than simply playing them on board for them to die to an AoE. For example, you know that your Mage opponent is going into turn 7, and you have an Ancient Brewmaster, Dark Iron Dwarf, and a Chillwind Yeti on board while the Mage has no minions. In this scenario, you have two options: you can play minions from your hand that will only get destroyed by a Flamestrike, or you may opt to not to play anymore minions as you can easily kill any minion that the Mage plays. Even if your opponent decides to Flamestrike your board, you still retain a 4/1 minion on board, which will often solicit a Hero Power from your opponent the next turn, allowing you to maintain tempo of the game.
Being aware of your opponent’s class and their corresponding board clears is possibly the first step to playing around them.
Here are a list of board clears to watch out for:
- Mage: Arcane Explosion, Cone of Cold, Blizzard, Flamestrike, Volcanic Potion
- Rogue: Betrayal, Fan of Knives, Vanish
- Paladin: Equality, Consecration, Avenging Wrath
- Priest: Holy Nova, Dragonfire Potion
- Druid: Swipe, Starfall
- Shaman: Forked Lightning, Maelstrom Portal, Lightning Storm, Volcano
- Hunter: Explosive Trap, Grievous Bite, Multi-Shot, Explosive Shot
- Warlock: Hellfire, Shadowflame, Twisting Nether, DOOM!
- Warrior: Whirlwind, Cleave, Brawl
- Neutral Minions: Primordial Drake, Corrupted Seer
Keep note that minion positioning is crucial against certain board clears. You can play around Meteor by placing a weak minion between two stronger minions. The same goes for spells like Grievous Bite and Explosive Shot where you can play around it by placing your most valuable minion on either the leftmost or rightmost side position on board.
If you find yourself playing around multiple removals and AoEs, then play around the card that will hurt you the most. I remember vividly in a recent Arena run, I was against a Warlock, and I had a Vicious Fledgling on board, and a bunch of other 2 drops. When I attacked face with it, I was deciding whether to get +3 health or stealth. In the end, I chose stealth because it played around any sort of hard removal, but I had forgotten the possibility of a Hellfire, which cleared my whole board and ended up with me losing the game. Even if my Vicious Fledgling were to get removed by Blastcrystal Potion, I still enough pressure on board to maintain tempo and possibly close out the game. Thus, it was always correct to get the +3 health in that situation, as my Vicious Fledging would still be alive if he were use Hellfire.
Adapting to the Situation
Things don’t always go according to plan. The ultimate goal of the game is to win, and not just to survive, thus, some risks are sometimes necessary in order to win unfavorable games. In general, when you are ahead, you want to minimize the amount of risks you take. By doing so, you’re maximizing your chances to win while minimizing the chances your opponent gets lucky. Ask yourself, “What is the worst possible thing my opponent can do that will bring him back into the game?” Even though the situation may be unlikely, it is still an important factor to consider. Let’s say you are in a Paladin mirror, and you have a Tirion Fordring and a 2 other mediocre minions. You are way far ahead in terms of value and tempo, but you decide not to play around Mind Control Tech, and choose to Hero Power anyways. What if your opponent top decks a Mind Control Tech, and gets your Tirion? All of a sudden, the tables have turned! The 1/1 is relatively useless compared to your other mediocre minions, and doesn’t do much on board, thus it may be worth it to play around a card like Mind Control Tech. If you don’t need to play a card, don’t play it.
On the flip side of that, if you are way behind, you may want to change your game plan according to the situation of the game. If you feel that your cards are no match in terms of your opponent’s cards in terms of value, or if the amount of card difference is huge, then you may decide to take a more aggressive route, as you will not win the value game. By doing so, you’re likely to value tempo higher, and hit face more often. You may decide that your only win condition now is to kill them before they have a chance to play their value cards. If you’re behind, ask yourself, “What risks can I take that will bring me back into the game?” Sometimes, this would result in you no longer playing around certain removals or AoEs, and pretend as if those cards didn’t exist. Though the risks you take may be easily countered, you should still take them in order to maximize your chances, and perhaps you may be able to sneak in some wins that you otherwise wouldn’t have gotten.
Part 4: Learning From Defeat
Like most good things, they eventually come to an end, and your Arena run is no exception. Very few of us actually make it all the way to 12 wins. If you did, congrats! If you didn’t, its not the end of the world. The most important thing is that hopefully you were able to view it as a learning experience and reflect on the matches you’ve played.
Firstly, you can evaluate your draft choices. Were there some cards that you thought were going to be useful, but weren’t effective in game? Did you emphasized too much on early drops and forgot about your late game? What if you had picked the other card instead of a certain card? Would it have changed your situation?
Lastly, you can evaluate your own gameplay. In MOBA games, there are two types of errors that are often referred to as – technical errors and decision making errors. Although, you don’t really need “technical skill” in Hearthstone (APM doesn’t really matter), sometimes you may do less efficient actions even though you had the right thought. For example, let’s say that you had a Dire Wolf Alpha in the middle of two Silver Hand Recruits, and your opponent has a 6 health minion. If you aren’t careful enough, you may subconsciously trade your one Silver Hand Recruit, then your Dire Wolf, then your other Silver Hand Recruit, but since the Dire Wolf is dead, the buff on your last recruit had disappears. Another example is when you’re playing Shaman, and you decide to trade your injured 4/4 minion instead of your other 4/4 that isn’t injured, negating the heal you would have received from a healing totem.
Decision making errors are sometimes hard to spot especially while in game, but it can useful to reflect upon the games you’ve already played regardless if you won or loss. “Did I play optimally?”, “Was there any way I could have won?”, “Were there any unnecessary risks I took?”, “Did I play to my outs?”, “Should I have been more patient with my AoE?”, and “Should I have been more aggressive?” are some questions you can ask yourself.
Of course, most of the time, there isn’t an absolute answer to whether if you had played any differently would actually win you the game because they’re just too many hypotheticals. I find that watching experienced Arena players drafting their deck and playing the game is immensely helpful for newer players as it allows you have a glimpse of understanding of their decision making process about why they chose a certain card or made a certain play. You can also choose to play Arena with a buddy, as it would bring a fresh new perspective and ideas that you otherwise wouldn’t have considered.
Also, keep in mind that when watching different Arena players, reading guides and tier spreadsheets, they may have conflicting opinions about certain synergies and cards, thus the choices they make aren’t always absolute. The only solution for this is for you to experience it firsthand, as it would help you develop your own opinion regarding a certain card, play, or synergy, because it would influence your future strategies.
Part 5: Conclusion
Hearthstone is not just simply a game of coin tosses and dice rolls. It is a game that is dictated by the choices you make. Yes, there may be frustrating games that you feel you couldn’t have done anything to win– but games were you had a zero percent of winning are almost nonexistent. Experience and knowledge are key components that all Arena masters have. Now, you have been given the proper knowledge and tools to maximize your chances of winning. The only thing left to do is for you to play. Good Luck!
About the Author
This guide is presented to you by NeverLucky, a semi-professional Hearthstone player with consistent high-ladder finishes in Standard. He has several accolades in local tournaments.
- 7/14/17: Guide Published
- 7/15/17: Fixed Minor Typos
- 7/16/17: Fixed Arena Percentages
- 7/27/17: Revised the Vanilla Card Test Text (to make it more comprehensive)
- 7/28/17: Added the “Investing in Card Packs or Arena” Part
- 7/28/17: Added Neutral Minions with AoE Battlecries