Howdy! I’m TrainerDusk. I’ve been playing hearthstone since day 1 and I’d like to share what I’ve learnt with you in the past year or so. Today I’ll be going over a few of my personal favourite cards to draft in the Arena mode that don’t get a lot of coverage. There are a lot of cards that look objectively bad at first glance, but I feel that almost every card has their niche. You don’t need another person telling you how good Chillwind Yeti
By reading this article, I hope your opinion of some of these cards will change. I’ve found all of them useful in their own way and I believe they are worth a second thought if you have previously passed on them in the draft.
This card is so rarely seen that I wouldn’t be surprised if you don’t know what it does. I’m not talking about Spellbreaker
- Difficult to play around as it is the least recognised of the 7 mage secrets (due to its lack of use in constructed).
- Has the potential for huge board swings and can win the game single-handedly.
- Protects your minions from removal spells (such as Hex).
- Does not stop AoE spells (e.g. Flamestrike)
- Requires your opponent to cast a spell for it to be useful.
- Kirin Tor Mageand Mad Scientistallow you to play a secret for free.
- Sorcerer's Apprenticereduces the cost of spells by 1. (This effect stacks with multiple Sorcerer’s Apprentices on the board)
- Ethereal Arcanistis at least a 5/5 with this secret on the board and cannot be removed with a spell due to the effect of the secret.
Guardian of Kings
You have to actually kill your opponent in order to win a game of Hearthstone. Guardian of Kings is a reasonably strong card in this respect, because it removes a lot of the pressure applied by aggro decks and is also a relatively beefy minion. My personal experience has shown that this is definitely a card that stacks well with itself, so dropping it 2 or 3 turns in a row will either solidify your victory or slow down your defeat for long enough to give you some time to turn the game around. I was lucky enough to draft a deck with 7 (:O) Guardian of Kings once, and that deck netted me a clean 12 wins. While the Guardian of Kinds is a pretty dead card early game due to its huge mana cost, the heal will mitigate some of the damage you take from your weaker start, essentially neutralizing the main weakness of picking such a highly costed card.
- Provides a solid 5/6 body on the field to trade with other minions.
- Is a common card, so you are likely to get more that 1 in a single draft.
- Slows beatdown decks (like Hunter) and gives you more breathing room against burst damage.
- A solid topdeck in the lategame.
- 5/6 stats alone for 7 mana isn’t very efficient.
- The heal is sometimes wasted (though that usually only happens when you are already winning).
- Dead card in the opening hand.
- Argent Protectorhas a useful battlecry on such a large body.
- Sword of Justicedoesn’t push the minion into Big Game Hunterrange.
- There is enough leftover mana for a Reinforcelategame.
Sap is the complete opposite of a value card. You spend one of your cards and don’t destroy one of your opponents. Players who don’t know how to use this spell will likely have a bad experience with it and will be left with a sour first impression. The idea behind Sap is that you force your opponent to spend significantly more mana than their card is worth to get it on the field. This is known in the world of CCGs as a tempo play. I’ll give you an example, because some people might not yet see the true power of this spell.
- Your opponent spends 6 mana playing Boulderfist Ogre.
- You spend 6 mana playing Sapand a Chillwind Yeti.
- Your opponent spends 6 mana playing a Boulderfist Ogre again.
- You spend 6 mana on your own Boulderfist Ogre.
At the end of this ordeal, both players have spent 12 mana. You have 10 manas worth of minions on the board compared to your opponent’s 6 mana equivalent. You’ve gotten more out of your mana that your opponent at the cost of an extra card. From this point it is up to you to snowball the stronger board presence into a victory before your card disadvantage becomes an issue. Back-to-back saps are very demoralizing to play against, but I wouldn’t take more than 2 of these in an arena draft unless my other options are quite awful.
Aside from the standard tempo play with Sap, you can also use it on minions that have received buffs (Blessing of Kings
- Costs your opponent more than it costs you.
- Allows you to draft a more aggressive deck and delay any taunts that stand in your way.
- Provides cheap utility and often leaves you with leftover mana for more cards that turn.
- Works as a pseudo-silence spell.
- Puts you at risk of running out of cards before your opponent.
- Can be used incorrectly (e.g. sapping a 2 drop that poses little threat).
- Cheap and aggressive minions, like SI:7 Agentand Knife Juggler.
- Draw mechanics: Loot Hoarder/Gnomish Inventor/Sprint.
Personally, I think Dread Infernal one of the best common minions in the arena. While others may argue that Fire Elemental
If for a moment we ignore this possibility and look at the minion by itself, it is still an incredible minion. As many of you know, trading minions for one another is a popular strategy in the Arena. As a result of this strategy, many players with a leading position on the board will leave their own minions on 1 health after a successful trade. The AoE 1 damage clears up many of these lost trades (or lets you make some great trades of your own) that have happened leading up to your 6th turn. If this isn’t enough to convince you, just remember that a Dread Infernal can even trade with the mighty Boulderfist Ogre
- Great stats for the mana cost.
- Immediately affects the state of the board when it is played.
- Has fantastic synergy with another common card.
- The 1 damage AoE can occasionally be detrimental. (Remember to attack first if it will kill one of your own minions).
- Is sometimes a dead card in your hand early (but not always!).
Neutral: Darkscale Healer
Take 2 parts Chillwind Yeti
The ever-powerful Mage with their Fireblast
- Heal allows you to make multiple trades with minions.
- Trades well with most other 5 drops.
- Base stats are not ideal for the mana cost (though few 5 drops are).
- Any minion heavy arena draft.
Frost elemental is a rather incredible card when you consider that it’s a neutral common minion. For 6 mana, you can gain control of a board that was fairly even (or slightly in your opponent’s favour) beforehand. The base stats of most minions start to fall off after 5 mana and you begin looking for strong effects that come with such powerful minions, so 5/5 for 6 mana isn’t that bad. The base minion still trades well with 2/3/4 cost minions, which make up the majority of most arena decks. The downside of having lower than average stats is often irrelevant as you will be freezing the larger minion and trading with the smaller ones.
Tempo gain is hard to quantify in terms of mana, but stacking multiple of them in an arena deck that contains cards such as Ice Lance
Freeze effects are also notably quite strong against Druids,Paladins, Rogues, Shamans and Warriors as you can delay their weapon attacks and trade away the vulnerable minions. If you can’t trade away the minions that are going to die to their weapons, you will at least get a bit more face damage from the extra attack.
- Gives you a large tempo advantage.
- Slows down weapon wielding classes.
- Silences, such as Keeper of the Groveand Spellbreaker.
- Lower than average base stats when compared to Boulderfist Ogre
- Any minion heavy arena draft.
- Ice Lance.
- Water Elementalfor perma freezing weapons.
I hope this article has helped you re-evaluate some of the cards available in the Arena. The collection I’ve talked about today are cards that I notice newer players often overlooking in their draft. Each has their own specific niche to fill and all have won me games that I would have otherwise lost. My favourite card that didn’t make this list is Worgen Infiltrator