Some big changes have come to Hearthstone’s Arena with the arrival of patch 7.1. This is on the back of continued feedback from the community, including high-profile streams such as Hafu and Trump, that stated the Arena had become stale, unsustainable, and in general didn’t feel like it was getting the love it deserved.
I’ll take you through the 4 main changes below and try to provide some context as to the reasons for the change and how it might impact Arena going forward. If you have any questions, I’d love for you to leave a comment and I’ll get back to you!
1. Arena change from Wild to Standard
Arena will now follow suit with ranked constructed play and only include cards from sets introduced in the current or previous calendar year (standard), as opposed to every card that has ever been introduced (wild). This is a welcome change and will benefit both the competitiveness and fun aspects of Arena.
Having such a large card pool was problematic in that it made it difficult for even highly skilled players to predict or “play around” certain cards, because the amount of variables to take into account was far too high. This has the impact of making players feel victim to the whims of lady luck as there are situations where your opponent was fortunate enough to get the “good cards” in each set and therefore win.
On the flip-side, having a reduced card pool means that you will be able to more effectively “buy-in” to specific card sets (e.g. jade, mech, etc) as those cards are likely to be offered more often. This system rewards players who draft smartly by picking cards that synergise well with one another, which make the decks more fun and more cohesive to play at the same time.
2. Changes to card rarity distribution
Blizzard has stated that ‘common’ and ‘basic’ cards previously made up 78% of the cards in an Arena deck. This was another setting which forced Arena down the road to Boringville, so they have toned down that number. In a constructed deck you literally have your pick of any cards you want to put in your deck. You can even make an entire deck full of ‘legendaries’ if you want (although this is not advisable). The higher rarity cards tend to be the ones which have more interesting and class identifying effects, so Blizzard increasing the frequency of which those cards will appear should add a lot more excitement.
3. More spells in a run
Amongst popular streamers, Hearthstone is often jokingly referred to as Curvestone. This serves to highlight a problem specific to Arena whereby the player who can get their minions on to the board in the fastest and most efficient way (i.e. on mana curve) is likely to be the player that wins that match; if you miss sending out a 2-mana minion on turn 2 for example, the game is probably already over. The counter to such efficient play of course, comes in the form of equally efficient board clears, the majority of which are spells. The problem with Arena is that spells just never seemed to come up that often, and you’d be lucky to walk out of the draft with 5 cards out of 30 as spells.
Increasing the frequency of spells appearing should be a great change to Arena, facilitating more advanced and skillful strategies and making players feel less like it’s game over when they don’t draw into a perfect curve at the start of the match.
4. Neutral cards show up less often
Neutral cards, such as the noble ‘River Crocolisk’ (2/3 for 2-mana), are a great tool for new players to use as a power baseline for cards. You can look at ‘River Crocolisk’ and say “ok, that’s what a 2-drop is meant to do” and use that to compare the worth of other 2-mana cards which have different stats and effects. While they are a great learning tool, they do not make for fun and interactive gameplay, so having these appear less in order to make room for cards that are more interesting is another excellent change that should make Arena a more fun and more compelling experience for players.
And that’s it! As an avid Arena player, I am super excited about playing Arena again with the new patch and think Blizzard has done a great job listening to the community on this one. Do you agree? I’d love to hear what you’re excited or worried about!
Additionally feel free to check out Blizzard Community Manager Zeriyah’s full post on the topic here.