Hearthstone Arena Tips for 2018 – How to Go Infinite
Hearthstone has evolved very much over the years, adding tons of new mechanics and effects that can only occur in a digital card game. Even Arena, the drafting format specific to Hearthstone, has undergone plenty of changes since its inception.
It’s an entirely different skillset from the rest of Hearthstone. Legend-ranked Standard players might be terrible at Arena, and the best Arena players might be horrendous at Wild.
This guide is intended for all players, unfamiliar with Hearthstone Arena or otherwise; it should help you if you’re new to drafting, and it might teach you some new things even if you’ve already drafted plenty since you’ve started playing Hearthstone.
The Very Basics
If you’re new to the concept of “drafting” in card games, here’s how it works in Hearthstone. You pay the entry fee (150 gold or the equivalent of your preferred currency), and the game gives you three of the game’s nine heroes to select.
After you pick your hero, you are given a selection of 3 cards from the Standard card pool. (These can be neutral cards or class-specific cards.) After picking one, the process repeats until you have a full 30-card deck (the same number as regular constructed formats).
Matchmaking will then queue you against people with the same record. Your run will go until you lose three times, granting you rewards based on how many games you have won. Runs cap out at 12 wins.
The magic number everyone shoots for is seven or more wins. With seven wins, you are guaranteed to get your entry fee back alongside any other prizes you might get. Considering that Arena runs give a guaranteed pack no matter the record, “going infinite” is very desirable for a lot of players; it’s the way to earn the most rewards while playing.
(Also remember that you can play Hearthstone Arena at any time, jumping in and out while keeping your record. It is very convenient for a lot of players, who might have the mindset that drafting is a long run you have to complete at once.)
The core concepts of Arena have stayed mostly the same, but plenty of balance updates and new cards at all rarities have changed the strategy for drafting. Here are our tips on how to maximize your potential in Arena.
Picking Your Hero
Remember that the tier list for Arena isn’t the same as in constructed formats. Hero power and class cards matter a lot more than deck archetypes, so picking an appropriate hero out of your given three can impact your run.
Besides the fact that some heroes have hero powers that are more conducive to the Arena environment, some heroes are easier to use and draft than others. Here is a tier list that we have created that takes into account both raw power and ease-of-use.
- Tier 1: Mage, Hunter
- Tier 2: Paladin, Shaman, Priest
- Tier 3: Warlock, Druid, Rogue
- Tier 4: Warrior
The small list is not completely reflective of the full potential of all classes. The metagame is constantly shifting with the addition and removal of cards into the draft environment, and it’s possible to watch Kripp on a perfect mage deck get blown out by a Warrior with some weapons, but this is a pretty good estimate.
Heroes like Mage, Paladin, and Priest, have hero powers and class cards that affect the board state very well, while classes like Warlock are focused on control elements that might not be relevant in an Arena run. Hunters have the best aggressive tools while also having some of the best removal and Secrets.
Standalone, Not Synergy
The most important thing to remember when drafting, especially early in the draft, is that raw power matters. Try not to get distracted about corner cases and what “could” happen. Maybe early in the game’s lifespan, it was easier to draft certain archetypes due to a smaller card pool; we’ve seen some randomly successful Murloc Shaman decks. However, those days are few and far in between.
Combo and Control, for the most part, do not exist in draft environments. Do not assume you will ever be drafting those archetypes. Instead, focus on these three:
- Midrange leaning into aggro
- Pure midrange
- Midrange leaning into control
See how it’s kind of like a sliding scale? Most card games have a scale between “aggro” and “control,” with draft environments being too careful to allow decks on the polar opposite sides of the scale to exist. Hard aggro isn’t fun to face because games are too short, and hard control isn’t fun to face because resilient threats aren’t part of healthy draft environments.
So, make sure you focus on having strong removal spells, strong minions, and ways to build up your board early, middle, and late. Your deck needs to be strong at all stages in the game, rather than caring too much about the early game or too much about the late game. Hearthstone is a card game without sideboarding, so you need to be ready for anything in the first game. If they have random lifegain minions or spells in their deck (or are a Priest…), your aggro deck will fail miserably.
Some pros swear by something they call the “first-third rule.” Your first ten or so cards should be purely based on their raw power, while the cards after that can help fix your gaps. If you’re playing Mage, you might have some amazing spells in your first ten, but you’re never going to get there without minions.
Hearthstone Arena Specific Percentages
There are some stipulations that Blizzard added to the draft format to make it more balanced, and they’re worth keeping in mind while drafting. Remember that these are mostly RNG changes, and you should still take them with a grain of salt.
- Spells are more likely to appear. The reason for that is because minions are the “most important” part of Arena decks, and the decisions regarding them are simple because of it. The decision-making regarding spells is a little more complicated, so it encourages high skill drafting.
- Class-specific cards are more likely to appear. The reason is to differentiate the classes from each other in Draft and prevent matches from being the best neutral cards clashing against each other. It also encourages wise drafting strategy regarding possible synergies that arise (e.g., adapting in the Paladin decks).
- Two specific cards have a drastically reduced chance to appear: Flamestrike for Mages and Abyssal Enforcer for Warlock. In previous draft environments, these were notoriously oppressive for being too good.
- Some cards get completely excluded from the draft pool. We won’t list them all here, but you can easily access lists online. Notorious ones that you won’t find are the Death Knight hero cards, quest cards, some odd/even synergy cards, and “alpha strike” cards (ones that encourage one-hit combo kills out of nowhere).
- There is a relatively recent change regarding what shows up in given cards. Cards are now meant to appear in packs of three that are power-level-conscious, meaning cards with drastically different power levels should not appear together. This means that “bad” cards shouldn’t show up with “amazing” cards, although there will still be “best choices” in certain groups.
All About The Curve
Curve, curve, curve. The curve is the most important part of card games in general, but in Arena, it is the difference between winning and losing. Period.
Drafting an appropriate curve is what allows you to maintain that aforementioned, board-state. You need to have good 2-drops, good 3-drops, good 4-drops, good 5-drops, and good top-end cards that help you stabilize in the inevitable late-game top deck mode.
“Big butts,” also known as “minions with a high toughness as opposed to their power,” are much, much better in Arena than Standard or Wild for this exact reason. Cards like Mogu-Shan Warden can buy you time, and minions like Hungry Ettin or Hungry Dragon can flat-out put you so ahead on board that you can win off its back.
Understand How Other Classes Play
A large part of succeeding in Arena is learning all classes, not just the three or so you plan to play most often. Understanding the best cards for each class in Arena makes you expect what the other classes are going to play and when they’re going to play them.
A common example I like to use is Hunter secrets. If they drop a secret, you can assume it’s going to be Wandering Monster, Venomstrike Trap, or Explosive Trap. The less common assumption is Snake Trap or Misdirection, and you can almost guarantee they won’t use Freezing Trap.
Being aware of the best and worst Hunter secrets help you play around what they can do, but it extends to all cards of a given class. That knowledge is especially helpful for the lesser-played Arena classes. When new players first start, they aren’t sure what to expect of Warrior, and they get controlled, board wiped, and armored out of the game.
When you first start playing, don’t worry about win percentage if you don’t go infinite every single time. Consider these learning experiences for these classes before you decide to have a “main.” (I love picking Paladin and Hunter, even over Mage; I find I have the best records with them, and at least a few 12-3 from aggressive Hunter decks.)
Besides, not everyone can go infinite every single time; more people have to lose than win for there to be 7-3 (and above) records. Hearthstone is not an easy game, and when RNG is concerned, there is much to consider.
The idea behind the play method brings us to what a lot of Hearthstone players consider “training wheels.” Don’t worry about the derogatory term—the next category is about some particularly useful applications and websites that can significantly improve your draft game.
Use Draft Assist Tools
Draft assisting tools and overlays were pretty controversial when they first released in the middle of Hearthstone’s lifespan, but more and more pros have endorsed them, and their acceptance is a little wider now.
These tools use small equations and algorithms to determine the best card to pick while drafting. There are browser tools that allow you to input your given-three-cards and your picks manually, and there are also overlays that will “see” what you are drafting and give you tips based on it.
HearthArena, perhaps the most well-known one, has the simplest examples of these. It has raw stat values assigned to the cards in Arena; for example, it will appropriately evaluate Spikeridged Steed with a very high numeric value and will value Alarm-o-Bot similarly low.
Throughout your draft, these numeric values will change based on your draft and deck composition. If you don’t have any 2-drops, Dire Wolf Alpha will look a lot better to the program, even though it isn’t the most efficiently statted 2-drop out there. It won’t just tell you the best cards—it’ll help you fix your curve and stop you from going in on the wrong synergies.
Even the best Hearthstone Arena pros use these tools sometimes to stop themselves from making mistakes. It can be very easy to realize you don’t have enough minions or to forget how good certain removal spells can be. A lot of pros don’t remember how good Smite is because they are blinded by Shadow Word: Pain, even if they have three or four of those already.