smashthings_brm_arena

Introduction

Hi everyone! Todays article is going to be about try to help prepare you for the new Blackrock Mountain Arena meta. I’m going to analyse all 31 of the cards and try to tell you not only how strong I think they are but also when you should pick them.   The hope is that you guys will have a slight advantage over the competition because you lot know what the hot draft picks are!

As many of you will remember during the Naxxramas release the cards became available in Arena once the Wing became available for purchase. In this article I have assumed that Blizzard will be using this same release strategy and so therefore I have organised this article into weekly sections. These sections are:

WEEK ONE

Grim Patron

, Gang Up
, Quick Shot
, Dragon's Breath
, Emperor Thaurissan
, Bane of Doom
, Warsong Commander
.

WEEK TWO

Druid of the Flame

, Blackwing Technician
, Imp Gang Boss
, Axe Flinger
, Lava Shock
, Majordomo Executus

WEEK THREE

Core Rager

, Dragon Consort
, Dragon Egg
, Volcanic Lumberer
, Twilight Whelp
, Rend Blackhand

WEEK FOUR

Revenge

, Flamewaker
, Fireguard Destroyer
, Dark Iron Skulker
, Demonwrath
, Hungry Dragon
, Chromaggus

WEEK FIVE

Volcanic Drake

, Blackwing Corruptor
, Drakonid Crusher
, Dragonkin Sorcerer
, Solemn Vigil
, Nefarian

Before getting started, I should probably also briefly point out the possibility of errors, how to understand this guide, and direct you to a few constructed analysis guides:

Show Spoiler [That was a mistake]

Due to the speculative nature of this sort of article there is a good chance that there will one (or several) errors. Moreover, this article was written at great haste in order to release it in time, which obviously has the unfortunate drawback on increasing the probability that errors slip in. Still though, I hope that I turn out to be correct in my assessments more often than I am wrong.

Show Spoiler [How to use this guide]

When I evaluate a card you will see something like this:

CARD NAME:  ABC
SCORE: Good
Worse cards: Card X
Better cards: Card Z
NOTES: dfjlsdhfkjdsfhkdjhf

The Score = is my overall impression of the card. The basic categories I am using are: terrible/bad/slightly below average/average/slightly above average/good/fantastic. Fantastic cards are obviously high pick priorities and terrible cards are best avoided. These scores are relative to the rarity status: e.g. a terrible epic card is terrible when compared to other epics. Sometimes in the score section I will highlight different score for different classes. Usually I will give a range: e.g. ‘Terrible/Average’ means the card is somewhere between those two points.  

Worse cards = In most cases this will be a short list of cards that I consider worse than the card we are currently evaluating. In other words, if you are offered a choice between card “ABC” and card “X” you should pick “ABC”.

Better cards = A short list of cards that you should pick instead of picking the current card we are evaluating. In other words, if you are offered a choice between card “ABC” and card “Z” you should pick “Z”.

Notes = In this section I will provide a bit more of a detailed commentary of the card.

Show Spoiler [Blackrock Card Analysis (Constructed)]

The guide you are reading is about evaluating the Blackrock cards according to their Arena values. If you want to read about how these cards might fair in constructed I recommend you read one (or several) of the following:

  • Brian Kiblers Article(s)
  • Nuba’s Articles(s)
  • Katy’s Video Review
  • My own quick review article

Okay, let’s get started!

Week One

CARD NAME: Bane of Doom

 *(Warlock Class Card)
SCORE: Good
WORSE CARDS: Twisting Nether
, Mountain Giant
, Faceless Manipulator

BETTER CARDS: Sea Giant
, Piloted Sky Golem
.
NOTES: It might seem weird to start a Blackrock card guide by mentioning a card that is over a year old. But, when a card is changed it is good practice to think of that card as being ‘new’. And as it so happens, the ‘new’ Bane of Doom is a lot stronger than the old version: you now have a 56% chance of getting a good outcome (i.e. getting a 4 mana minion) which is up from 33%.  Better still, some of the ‘bad outcomes’ are not actually terrible in Arena: for example, getting Succubus
out of Bane is a bit like playing Stormpike Commando
. In constructed, Stormpike is a weak card and so therefore we would label this as a ‘bad outcome’. But in Arena however, Stormpike is actually playable. In short, you actually have a greater than 56% chance of a good outcome from Bane of Doom in Arena.

For those interested, the Spoiler contains a video I made detailing the changes to Bane of Doom (although do note my focus was looking at how good the card is in constructed).

Show Spoiler


CARD NAME: Warsong Commander

 *(Warrior Class Card)
SCORE: Average
WORSE CARDS: Depends on Deck: If you have good synergy cards, value a lot more. If you lack synergy cards, value it a lot less.
BETTER CARDS: ^See above
NOTES: Warsong Commander has been not working properly for a while; a bug meant that some minions that should get charge did not (e.g what drops out of a Piloted Shredder
). But now that the Blackrock patch has fixed this issue we can once again draft Warsong Commander and have some fun. Indeed, before GvG bugged him, I used to consider this card one of the best picks for Warrior (assuming of course my drafted deck could use it effectively). But in the new Arena meta it seems like the move is toward big minions and so therefore you are less likely to draft the sort of deck Warsong commander needs, so I will predict that Warsong has fallen into the depths of mediocrity. But with that said, what about the Grim Patron
dream?


CARD NAME: Grim Patron

 *(Neutral Card)
SCORE: Warrior, Mage, Paladin: Below Average/Bad.  For every other class: Terrible/Bad.
WORSE CARDS: Trash-Tier Rares (e.g. Ancient Mage
, etc)
BETTER CARDS: Depends on Synergy cards: if you have enablers value it a bit more highly than otherwise. But with that said, you should almost always pick quality rares (e.g. Azure Drake
, Bomb Lobber
) over this card unless your synergy is truly through the roof.
NOTES: This card suffers 3 basic problems: (1) its a small minion for its cost and in Arena minion-stats matter more than they do in constructed. (2) It is smaller than most other 5 drops, making the effect hard to trigger. And (3), even if you get an army of Patrons, you still lose everything to Flamestrike
. The three classes I have highlighted (Mage, Warrior, Paladin) have ways of solving the triggering problem: Warrior can damage it with spells (e.g Death's Bite
) and can charge them out (via Warsong Commander) and Mage and extract value via Hero Power. Meanwhile, Paladin can smack the Patron(s) into the enemy board with the help of cards like Aldor Peacekeeper
, Humility
. Priest and Paladin can also use buffs to help out as well (e.g Blessing of Kings
, Power Word: Shield
).

In some rare cases, it maybe possible to do crazy things with Patron (Warrior has some of the most exciting combo’s, for example: Warsong Commander + Commanding Shout

+ Grim Patron is likely to be a very powerful board clear), but most of the time you will be getting a small 5-drop that requires a hefty investment in order to be even remotely good. In my opinion, unless you are confident that you know what you are doing (and/or the other options are equally terrible) you should not draft this card.


CARD NAME: Quick Shot

 *(Hunter Class Card)
SCORE: Good (Occasionally Fantastic)
WORSE CARDS: Deadly Shot
, Arcane Shot

BETTER CARDS:Animal Companion
, Glaivezooka
, Kill Command

NOTES: GvG taught us many lessons, one of which was that just because a card is worse than Frostbolt
doesn’t mean that it is unplayable. Darkbomb
isn’t a particularly sexy card, but it has nonetheless seen constructed play. Moreover, I personally rate Darkbomb as one of the very best Arena picks for Warlock.

Well, Quick Shot is like Darkbomb but it has an occasional — but powerful — upside of drawing a card, making it potentially strong in the late-game ‘top-decking wars’. I would offer a note of caution to beginners however; we want to draft this card because we want 3 damage, not because we are looking for card draw. In short; the way to use this card correctly is to forget about the card draw and use this card just like you would use Darkbomb/frostbolt. In arena, 3 damage for two-mana is easily enough value.


CARD NAME: Gang Up

 *(Rogue Class Card)
SCORE: Very hard to say, but probably bad/average.
WORSE CARDS: Trash Tier commons (e.g. Vanish
, Sinister Strike
)
BETTER CARDS: Most cards.
NOTES: This is the sort of card that in itself does nothing, which is a huge problem in Arena. But with that said, Arena games can go on into very late turns and even good decks will typically have a selection of bad cards. Given those statements it seems like we can potentially think of gang up as: “2 mana: Do nothing. Your deck is now better”.

Basically, my point is that if you use gang up on a decent card then in most cases you have improved the potency of your draws for the rest of the game since the card you copied is likely to be more powerful than the average card in your deck. Is this effect worth it? probably not; Rogue is typically a tempo-based class and doesn’t really want to drag the game out.

But even though I have listed this card as terrible I think this might actually be to underestimate gang up by a little bit. On a reddit post (Here) Adwtca said the following about card draw (bold underline = my emphasis):

“[…]We were never huge fans of card draw, and with GvG’s more tempo-based meta in the Arena, it seemed like most players had come around to our thinking (or even gone further than that into straight up aggro). Well, two classes aside (Hunter and Warlock), cards that draw other cards are still very very good. If we stuck straight to the statistics, Acolyte of Pain would be one of the top 3 common neutrals. Novice Engineer statistically is one of the top 3 2-mana minions. Shiv is great, Hammer of Wrath and Starfire are certainly not “too slow”, and even friggin Call Pet is not an awful card. [..] I don’t think anyone’s successfully calling their pets… it’s more that the ability to cycle a card means there’s one less “below average” card (your alternate choice in the draft) in your deck, therefore improving your deck quality. If the average card in a deck is 65 points, any card that cycles itself is worth 65 points, if you don’t care about the tempo loss (which, if your deck is going to play the late game, you really don’t care all that much about).[…]”

So here we have an interesting idea: card’s that cycle (e.g. Call Pet

) are not actually than bad (even without beasts!) if you can afford to take the tempo loss. Now, it’s important to realise that Adwtca’s comments refer to specifically to the power of card draw in arena and gang up does not draw cards. Nonetheless, if Call Pet without beasts is not as bad as it may initially seem then perhaps there is some hope for gang up: it doesn’t cycle, but it does (like call pet) improve the quality of your deck at the cost of tempo.

For now, my basic advice is going to be this:

  1. The worse your deck is the more you should value this card (e.g. if you have 3x Leper Gnome
    ‘s in the deck then it might be worth taking the tempo hit now by casting ‘gang up’ on something big (e.g. a 5-drop) in order to increase your chances of not top-decking a crappy one-drop on turns 7+. In which case, the tempo you lost casting gang up can be regained in the later stages of the game when you manage to top-deck and play a 5-drop instead of a 1-drop.
  2. This card, at the cost of tempo, can be used in game to drastically alter your mana curve. If you have a low curve, then clearly you are going to start to run out of steam come turns 7+. But gang up can help with that: By copying something big and you get all the advantages of having big drops in the deck without the consistency problems involved in drafting big drops! 

The more I think about this card, the more I think it is better than it would initially seem. I need to play with it in order to understand it. But it would seem to me that its value (and that may range from terrible to fantastic) depends on the value of your other cards, your curve, your skill, and so on.

Mark my words: this card is a deceptive, sneaky little snake in the grass.

(UPDATE: 04/04:2015): I just checked Adwtca’s tier list. He gives it a rating of 2, puting below a Grimscale Oracle

(which has a score of 4). Lol. the guy I quoted to make the argument that this card might be okay probably disagrees with me most emphatically. So now you have two Strong Arena Players differing quite widely on our evaluations: only time will tell which one of us is right!  (If it ends up being me, please remind him everyday by spamming his twitch chat) 


CARD NAME: Resurrect

 *(Priest Class Card)
SCORE: bad/okay/slightly above average?/Great!?   …To be honest I just don’t know, I need to play with it before casting judgement.
WORSE CARDS: Trash-Tier Rares (e.g. Angry Chicken
).
BETTER CARDS: Most Cards.
NOTES: This card is kind of tricky to assess. My gut reaction was to say that this card is terrible and that you should never pick it. But then after some thought I realised that spending two mana to get a two mana minion on the field is acceptable. Moreover, bringing some of the commonly played priest one-drops back to life is not too terrible either (e.g Zombie Chow
, Northshire Cleric
). Basically, the point is that when you play this card you will, in most cases, have a decent chance of getting a reasonable minion out of the card (and you can improve those odds by timing your use of the card). As the game goes long there is an increased probability that Resurrect will be a game swinging card; getting something big for two mana (and remember, Priests do love to draft big minions) could just end the game.

In short, Resurrect will in most cases probably provide a reasonable return on investment in the mid-game (e.g. a Two-mana minion for  Two-mana) and later on in the game it has the potential to be back-breaking.  But on the downside, it is a situational card and the randomness may mean that, even though you get a two-mana minion for two-mana there is always the chance that the wrong two drop returns to life (for example: your opponent has a 3/3 on board and resurrect summons a 2/3), in which case, you have just been better of drafting a decent two drop in the first place! (e.g. Knife Juggler

)


CARD NAME: Emperor Thaurissan

 *(Neutral Card)
SCORE: Slightly Above Average (compared with other Legendaries).
WORSE CARDS: Mid-Tier Legendaries and Below (e.g. Loatheb
, Nat Pagle
)
BETTER CARDS: Win-conditions & ‘Come-back’ Cards (e.g King Krush
, Ragnaros the Firelord
, Ysera
)
NOTES: Lots of players regard this card as amazing in constructed, but in Arena I feel that it is going to be pretty lacklustre: for most decks, by the time you can play the emperor you might not have enough cards in hand to extract significant value. Moreover, so what if you get 6-7 cards cheaper? You can’t play the cards half the time anyway because to play them would be to risk over-extending into AoE and other punishes (e.g Flamestrike, Mind Control Tech
). Therefore I would recommend picking this card over the crappy legendaries but I would not pick the emperor over the top-tier value legendaries and/or the legendaries that can give win-conditions/come-back mechanisms.


CARD NAME: Dragon's Breath

 *(Mage Class Card)
SCORE: Hard to say, my guess: Average/Slightly Above Average
WORSE CARDS: Arcane Missiles
, Stormpike Commando
, pure-garbage cards.
BETTER CARDS: Fireball
, Frostbolt
, Water Elemental

NOTES: Fireball
is a pretty interesting Mage card due to the fact that not only can it kill some of the biggest minions it also serves as a win condition: Dragon’s Breath just can’t compete with such power. In my opinion, Dragon’s Breath does not really offer the Mage anything that other cards can’t do better. Okay sure, you might get to cast this card for near zero-mana but I’d wager that in those situations where Dragon’s Breath costs zero are also the sorts of situations where you don’t want to cast the card anyway! After all, everything is probably dead.

I think a good way to think about this card is just to think of it as a Shadow Bolt

that can fit face, which is, all things considered, perfectly playable.


And that wraps up my summary of Blackrock Week One!

Week Two

CARD NAME: Druid of the Flame

 *(Druid Class Card)
SCORE: Slightly Above Average/Good.
WORSE CARDS: Druid of the Fang
, Magma Rager
(lol)
BETTER CARDS: Druid of the Claw
, Wrath

NOTES: A 2/5 on three should be able to mop up most two drops and at 5 health will be able to tank a hit from most of commonly played weapons and minions at this stage of the game (e.g. Truesilver Champion
, Chillwind Yeti
). Moreover, in the later stages of the game you always have to option to try and play this as a 5/2 and try to trade-up with their 5-drop (e.g. Sludge Belcher
, Stranglethorn Tiger
). In short, I believe both transformations are going to be useful and the flexibility you have in choosing the correct transformation for the situation makes this card quite strong.


CARD NAME: Blackwing Technician

 *(Neutral Card)
SCORE: Slightly below Average/Good (depending on the likelihood that you trigger the +1/+1 with dragons)
WORSE CARDS:  (*Assuming Dragon Trigger) Ogre Brute
, Trash-Tier Commons, etc
BETTER CARDS:  (*Assuming Dragon Trigger) Dark Cultist
, Dark Iron Dwarf
.
NOTES: There is not really a lot to say about this card: a 2/4 for 3-mana is a bit below average but a 3/5 for 3-mana is a fair bit better than average. Ergo, the value of this card is entirely dependant on the like-hood that you have a dragon in hand by the time you want to cast this card.

It is also perhaps worth mentioning that all this card offers is stats. Which, while not a bad thing (Chillwind Yeti is playable, afterall) it does mean that the card doesn’t offer you the same flexibility as cards like Dark Cultist

, Scarlet Crusader
, Shattered Sun Cleric
, etc can.  Thus when drafting you will need to consider not only how probable the dragon trigger is, but also how useful the abilities of other minions are in comparison to how useful the Technicians stats are: you might find that cards like Dark Iron Dwarf just perform better.


CARD NAME: Imp Gang Boss

 *(Warlock Class Card)
SCORE: Average/Good  (depending on level of Demon synergy)
WORSE CARDS:  Razorfen Hunter
, Trash-Tier Commons, etc
BETTER CARDS:  Ogre Brute
, Harvest Golem

NOTES: A 2/4 for 3-mana is kinda okay, and in most cases you are likely to get one 1/1 imp out of the ability which makes this card better than Razorfen Hunter
in most cases. The problem is that in Arena it will be tricky to get more than one trigger and 1/1 tokens are not that useful for Warlock anyway (Whereas a class like Druid could always draft Savage Roar
and/or Power of the Wild
, making the 1/1’s dangerous).

Overall, I consider this card average but obviously it increases in power with Demon synergy: if you draft Demonwrath

and/or Voidcaller
then clearly this card becomes a great addition to your deck.


CARD NAME: Axe Flinger

  *(Warrior Class Card)
SCORE: bad/Slightly Below Average (depending on level of synergy)
WORSE CARDS:  Dragonling Mechanic
, Trash-Tier Commons, etc
BETTER CARDS:  Death's Bite
, Chillwind Yeti

NOTES: Mr. Axe throw man here is basically a 4-mana 2/5 (which is weak) with a negligible ability. One way you can think about this card is that compared with Chillwind Yeti Axe Flinger has two less stats which are probably worth about 1 mana. Sinister Strike
meanwhile does 3 damage for 1 mana. I’m pretty sure most of you can see where I am going with this: the break-even point for Axe Flinger is basically two triggers of the ability, which, while doable, is one more trigger than I would like.

Furthermore, this sort of analysis implicitly assumes that sinister strike is actually worth one-mana: given how rarely that card is drafted I’m inclined to say that card ‘Direct Hero Damage’ has very low value in Arena. This is mostly why I consider Axe Flinger’s ability mostly ‘negligible’.

Sure, you can do crazy things with Bouncing Blade

but most of the time I would recommend passing on this card.


CARD NAME: Lava Shock

*(Shaman Class Card)
SCORE: Slightly Below Average/Good(very rarely)   (depending on level on ‘Overload’ synergy)
WORSE CARDS:  Vitality Totem
, Trash-Tier Rares
BETTER CARDS:  Lightning Storm
, Powermace
, etc
NOTES: While I do not consider myself a fan of this card one must always remember that at its very worst it is 2 damage for 2-mana, which is an acceptable amount of value to gain from a card (in Arena). So that’s the baseline. The question is how often we can get the ‘overload’ ability on the card to trigger in a significant way (e.g. removing overload is only relevant if it gives you more options next turn) and thats the problem I have with the card: most of the time, I don’t think I am going to care about unlocking mana crystals.

In short, I consider this card a worse Lightning Bolt


CARD NAME: Majordomo Executus

*(Neutral Card)
SCORE: Hard to say, maybe Average/Good (possibly fantastic). Value depends on synergy.
WORSE CARDS: Loatheb
, The Beast
, King Krush

BETTER CARDS:  Lord Jaraxxus
, Ragnaros the Firelord
, Ysera

NOTES: In constructed, talk of the town is that this card is going to suck: 8 life is just too little and 9/7 body is just dieing to Big Game Hunter
. In arena however BGH is rarely and issue, moreover, being at 8 health is also less of a big deal owing to the fact that Arena decks typically feature less direct damage (but with that said one must be wary of Hunter Hero Power).

So, in most cases what will probably happen is that, since a 9/7 is a too big to be ignored, they will kill it and you get a 1-for-1 card trade (or better). And then once dead your new shiny “Die Insect” Hero Power will probably just end up carrying the game.   Basically, this card is a big minion, a situational heal, a card advantage generator, and a win condition all rolled into one!

To get the most value, I would recommend picking this card if your deck has a variety of defensive options ‘Post-Ragnaros Transformation': This would include taunts, heals, armour gain (e.g Shield Block

, Claw
), some secrets (e.g. Ice Block
, Noble Sacrifice
), and so on.

Moreover, this card (while not on the same level as Lord Jaraxxus

) is pretty good for Warlock: in the late-game. As both decks draw closer to fatigue and as both players drop to low life totals the Warlock Hero power can end up being more of a liability than an asset. In such situations, the Warlock will typically pass the turn without using hero power which has the natural and unfortunate consequence that the opponent will typically out-value the Warlock simply by Hero-Powering each turn. In such situations,  Majordomo offers the Warlock the ability to trade a useless Hero Power for a good one, which is clearly an enticing proposition.

In short, it is a trash legendary in Constructed (probably) but it may actually be among the best in Arena. We shall all soon see how right/wrong I am.


And that concludes Week Two!

Week Three

CARD NAME:  Rend Blackhand

(*Neutral Card)
SCORE: So bad I had to invent a new category: ‘Blackhand’
WORSE CARDS: Basically nothing
BETTER CARDS: Everything (Yes, that includes you Millhouse Manastorm
!)
NOTES: Terrible stats with a highly situational ability (even 12-win decks don’t typically have that many Legendaries) that is made even more situational due to the ‘Dragon in Hand’ requirement.

I have nothing more to say, 99% of the time you play this you will wish you had a War Golem

instead.


CARD NAME:  Twilight Whelp

(*Priest Class Card)
SCORE: Terrible/Slightly Below Average (Could be average if you want it just for the Dragon synergy)
WORSE CARDS: Murloc Raider
, Southsea Deckhand

BETTER CARDS: Basically everything. (e.g. Clockwork Gnome
)
NOTES: In Arena one-drops basically suck. This card is no exception.  With that said, if you do get the +2 health consistently then this little guy is ranks among the very best of the one drops, but for that to happen not only do you need to draft Dragons you also need to be happy about having said dragons in your hand. In order to get the buff then, you may feel compelled to make perverse Mulligan decisions.

On Balance, I would avoid this card unless you know exactly what you are doing.


CARD NAME:  Volcanic Lumberer

(*Druid Class Card)
SCORE: Average/Good
WORSE CARDS: Bite
, Arcane Nullifier X-21
. Trash-Tier Rare’s
BETTER CARDS: Sunwalker
, Mech-Bear-Cat
, Sludge Belcher

NOTES: If this card were a common it would probably be rather good: I would, for example, recommend that you pick this over Ironbark Protector
since most the time the Lumberer would cost about the same amount (or less) mana than Ironbark (I consider the difference in attack values negligible).

The real problem this card faces is that it is a rare and thus the competition is tougher.  But anyway, during a game there will be probably be plenty of opportunities to kill 2-3 minions in a single turn, which thus means thinking of Lumberer as a 7/8 taunt for 6-7 mana is a reasonable expectation. This makes Lumberer look really good! But do take care to not that most of time it is only going to be 6 mana taunt when you are ahead. If you are behind, it’s most likely to be 8-9 mana.

All things considered, this card is decent, draft it if you lack end-game.

CARD NAME:  Dragon Egg

(*Neutral Card)
SCORE: Terrible/Bad   In Priest, possibly Warrior : Bad/Slightly Below Average
WORSE CARDS: Not much other than Angry Chicken

BETTER CARDS: Most things (e.g. Nerubian Egg
)
NOTES: Barring a few rare openers (such as T1 egg into T2 coin+Velen's Chosen
, or T1 egg into T2 Cruel Taskmaster
) most of the time this card is only ever going to end up triggering once before it dies, which means you are spending 1-mana to get a 2/1 minion. That wouldn’t be a bad deal if one-drops didn’t suck anyway!

In short, this little egg’s text is not easy to trigger and even when you do trigger it the value is not there anyway (unlike Nerubian egg). Overall, I consider this a bad card.


CARD NAME:  Dragon Consort

(*Paladin Class Card)
SCORE: Average/Good (depending on Dragon synergy)
WORSE CARDS: (*Assuming you have Dragons) Scarlet Purifier

BETTER CARDS: (*Assuming you have Dragons) Aldor Peacekeeper
, Muster for Battle
?
NOTES: This is one of those cards that is getting people excited in Constructed, and it is easy to see why: a 5/5 minion that can get Ysera out on Turn 7 is just amazing. In Arena however, we will have to set our expectations a lot lower: Most of the time all the Consort is going to do give you is a 5/5 for 5 and allow you to cast a cheaper Azure Drake
. This, when it works, is pretty good!

The real question is whether this 2 card combo (Consort + Cheap(er) Dragon) is better than simply drafting a powerful card like Aldor peacekeeper? Obviously answering that question will depend on your deck.


CARD NAME: Core Rager

(*Hunter Class Card)
SCORE: Bad/Slightly Above Average
WORSE CARDS: King of Beasts
, Metaltooth Leaper

BETTER CARDS: Savannah Highmane
, Eaglehorn Bow

NOTES: This card is not that bad. Playing it as a 4 mana 4/4 (beast) makes it only slightly worse than cards like Dark Iron Dwarf or Chillwind Yeti. Much later in the game when you are starting to run out of steam it’s a 7/7 beast.  During a game this amount for flexibility could be useful: remember when I evaluated ‘gang up’ I said that that card was a good way to ‘cheat’ late-game into your deck. Core Rager kind of allows us to do the same thing: when can get a late minion into our deck without the consistency problems involved in drafting a late-game minion.

All in all, I recommend drafting this card in those situations where you can see yourself running out of cards late-game and, if offered, you would take a card like War Golem.


And that concludes Week Three!

Week Four

CARD NAME: Revenge

(*Warrior Class Card)
SCORE: Average/Slightly Above Average
WORSE CARDS: Mortal Strike
, Siege Engine

BETTER CARDS: Frothing Berserker
, Sunwalker

NOTES: Anyone who has ever drafted Warrior will know that one of the major weaknesses of the class is the lack of board clear (unfortunately for Warrior Brawl
is an epic), this card can help fill that niche: at its worst the card is an expensive Whirlwind
and at its best its a half-price Hellfire
. The problem I have with this card is that getting the 3 damage feels a bit tricky to do. Moreover, by the time you are low enough to get the 3 damage chances are it won’t help that much since you will probably be at turn 7+ taking on big minions.

In short, Warrior has a huge problem with AoE and this card isn’t really the answer. But with that said, I think that in Arena most of the time you can get away with casting 2 mana on whirlwind, which therefore means the ‘opportunity cost’ for putting Revenge in your deck is actually quite low. The best advice I can offer is to say that if your deck would like a whirlwind-like effect in it then this is a good card to draft since it will perform that role and will, on occasion, be an effective board clear.

In terms of picks, I would recommend valuing revenge higher than most of the ‘average-strength’ rares, but I wouldn’t recommend picking this card over quality cards like sunwalker, etc.


CARD NAME: Flamewaker

(*Mage Class Card)
SCORE: Average/Good
WORSE CARDS: Soot Spewer
, Ethereal Arcanist
, Vaporize

BETTER CARDS: Goblin Blastmage
(*If you have enough Mechs), Blizzard
, Unstable Portal

NOTES: A 3 mana 2/4 is a bit sub-par but the ability on the card is potentially pretty strong. Most Arena Pro’s value Mad Bomber
quite a lot, and thats because the 1×3 damage can be really significant (providing lady luck is on your side). Moreover, we have also seen Goblin Blastmage
cause a lot of carnage in constructed. Those two examples should hopefully make the point that we should value Flamewaker’s ability fairly highly, and since it requires only spells the ability is not too difficult to trigger.

On the downside though, most of the spells Mages want to draft (unlike Paladin) are all removal spells anyway, meaning that I am not sure how much value you are going to get out of Flamwaker’s ability in the average case (e.g. If you cast Frostbolt, killing the target then you need them to have another target on the board otherwise Flamwaker’s damage is going face, which would be a waste).

All things considered, it is a nice card which is better than most but I am not convinced that it is a top tier choice.


CARD NAME: Fireguard Destroyer

(*Shaman Class Card)
SCORE: Fantastic!
WORSE CARDS: Most things
BETTER CARDS: Almost Nothing.
NOTES: How many of you have played as (or against) a Mage that has drafted Spiteful Smith
? I bet its quite a lot of you, and the reason is simple enough to understand: In Arena, the stats on the smith are good enough to make the card playable.

And now imagine that same card costing one-less mana AND when you play it you have a chance to get even more attack. That’s what Fireguard Destroyer

is. If the card were any stronger it would probably break the game (at least in constructed you can punish the highest role with Big Game Hunter, which will rarely be the case in Arena).

Just like Fire Elemental

, I would recommend drafting ALL copies of this card when offered, unless doing so would be a bad idea due to mana curve reasons.


CARD NAME: Dark Iron Skulker

(*Rogue Class Card)
SCORE: Fantastic!
WORSE CARDS: Most things
BETTER CARDS: Almost Nothing. A card like Blade Flurry
is better IF you have the synergy.
NOTES: If you imagine that a 4/3 body is worth about 3 mana (think Spider Tank
) then that would mean we can think of Skulker’s ability as being: “Two Mana: Backstab
bloody everything!”

AoE in arena is incredibly important and so therefore this ‘backstab everything’ type effect is really powerful, and this ability is made even more important by the fact that AoE (in Arena) is something the Rogue class is typically not great at (in Constructed Rogue is one of the best AoE classes because Blade Flurry + weapon synergy can hit the board for massive damage, but in Arena it is hard to draft all of the required parts, meaning that most of the time you are forced to clear boards with cards like Fan of Knives

).

Long story short: This card packs a mighty punch and should therefore be drafted above most things.


CARD NAME: Demonwrath

(*Warlock Class Card)
SCORE: Above Average/Fantastic! (Depending on Demon + Other Synergy)
WORSE CARDS: Mistress of Pain

BETTER CARDS: Shadowflame

NOTES: Hellfire hits everything for 3 and Demonwrath only hits for 2. Thus, at first glance, we could make case that Helfire is the better AoE. But such analysis misses the fact that the Warlock can potentially build a deck around the card, effectively making it a 3 mana Consecration
. Moreover, the 3 damage to both Hero’s typically hurts the Warlock more than the opponent due to Life Tap
(in Arena).  In short, in the right situation this card is quite a bit better than Hellfire.

However, as a Rare the card isn’t being pitted up against Hellfire, it’s being pitted up against Shadowflame. And in most cases I would wager that that card is the better AoE choice.

In short: this is a decent AoE spell that is worth drafting if you feel you need that effect in your deck. Its value (in comparison to Hellfire) increases with the number of Demon/other synergy (e.g. cards with 3+ Health and ‘Enrage’/’Takes damage’ card text. For example: Amani Berserker

, Grim Patron
) cards that you end up drafting.


CARD NAME: Hungry Dragon

(*Neutral Card)
SCORE: Average/Slightly Above Average. For Classes with damage dealing Hero Powers (e.g. Rogue, Mage, Druid): Average/Good.  Score also depends on ‘Player Skill’.
WORSE CARDS: Chillwind Yeti
, Lost Tallstrider

BETTER CARDS: Chillwind Yeti
, Piloted Shredder

NOTES: I can’t remember the exact post, but I do remember reading somewhere that someone did some analysis and according to thier set data set ‘Strong Players’ do better with Mechanical Yeti
than beginners do with the card. With Chillwind Yeti
, there was no difference between the groups of players. This difference in relative win-rates between the two cards can be explained by a very simple inference: beginners do not use the ‘Spare Part’ as effectively as the ‘strong players’.

I suspect that Hungry Dragon will tell a similar story: strong players will be better able to navigate this cards drawback better than weaker players and so therefore will report better results with the card.  It is really worth hammering this point home: the strength of this card lies in your ability to play around the summoned one-drop.

If you do not play around the one-drop the Dragon spawns then, supposing they get a 2/1 and attack, you end up with a 5/4 minion. which, while not terrible is far from ideal (e.g most consider Lost Tallstrider

a weaker four-drop than Chillwind Yeti
).

In my published Arena Guide I had a section entitled the ‘counter-counter effect’. If you have time I would recommend reading that section because it will help you understand the various ways in which you can mitigate the downside of this Dragon.

Show Spoiler [3 simple ways to play-around the drawback]
  • Since most one-drops have one health cards like Mortal Coil and will harmonise nicely with the Dragon.
  • Moreover, you can also aim to exploit the propensity of 1-drops to have two (or less) attack as well (e.g.Raging Worgen on Turn 3, Hungry Dragon on Turn 4…and now you get to enrage your Worgen).
  • And Finally, there is always to possibility to exploit the fact that a minion gets put on your opponents side of the board: you can either nullify the drawback by using AoE spells and/or you could also force minion steals with Cabal Shadow Priest, Mind Control Tech.

In the better/worse section, I listed Yeti as both a better and a worse card. This was not a typo, rather, it is a question you need to ask yourself whenever you are considering drafting this card: If you don’t know how to handle to drawback, it is worse than Yeti. If you do know how to handle the drawback it is better– sometimes considerably better– than Yeti.

Long story short: It’s a good card if a little hard to use. Beginners beware!


CARD NAME: Chromaggus

(*Neutral Card)
SCORE: Hard to say, but probably Slightly Above Average/Good.  (value him more if you have synergy).
WORSE CARDS: Junk & Average Legendaries (e.g. Nat Pagle, Loatheb, etc)
BETTER CARDS: Ysera
, Kel'Thuzad
& other high-impact /Win condition cards
NOTES: If you read my commentary of Gang Up
you would have seen a quote that essentially said that in Arena card draw is really important. This card gets a tick in that box. Moreover, this card also has decent stats, so it gets a tick in that box too. Basically, this is a solid pick for any control deck that doesn’t aim to finish the game soon.

I have rated it lower than Ysera simply for the fact that in arena the cards you have are considerably less powerful than the ‘Dream cards’ you get off of Ysera. Moreover, Ysera guarantee’s you at least one draw (since she triggers at ‘end of turn’), Chromaggus does not. I also have rated it lower than Kel’Thuzad as well, and that’s because I think the Kel’Thuzad has the ability to just end games. In short; while Kel’Thuzard is not necessarily more powerful in a drawn-out game, I feel that he has a lot more ‘stopping power’ and gets ‘out-of-control’ faster than Chromaggus.

Make no mistake, I consider Chromaggus a good card and he will win you games. But with that said, I do not consider him powerful enough to dethrone the very best.


And that concludes Week Four!

Week Five

WEEK FIVE:

CARD NAME: Volcanic Drake

(*Neutral Card)
SCORE: Bad/Good. Depends on deck.
WORSE CARDS:  (Depends on deck).
BETTER CARDS: (Depends on deck). But with that said, Piloted Shredder
will probably be better in most cases.
NOTES:  For most classes/decks I would recommend that you consider this card as a 4 mana 6/4 (since killing two minions in a single turn is rather easy). This makes the card appear pretty decent in terms of value but then you must remember the stat distribution: the low health makes it vulnerable to a lot of removal, making the card a bit of a ‘glass cannon’. Worse still, the 6 damage is not actually that relevant (you cannot kill that many more minions with 6 damage than you can with 5), which basically means that this drake is actually a fairly poor 4-drop minion.

In order to get value out of this card, I think you need to play him for about 3 (or less) mana. And that means you need to play him in decks/classes that are able to kill multiple minions easily and efficiently in a single turn. For example, this Drake could be good for a Mage since if you get a value flamestrike you can potentially play out a very cheap drake for a huge tempo-swing.  With Paladin/Shaman the ability to drop lots of small targets (e.g. Hero Power, Muster for Battle

, Feral Spirit
) should also allow you to ‘tempo-out’ this drake.

All things considered: if you need dragon synergy and you reckon that you can consistently cast the card for 3 (or less) mana then its a good pick. Otherwise I would recommend skipping it.


CARD NAME: Drakonid Crusher

(*Neutral Card)
SCORE: Slightly Above Average/Good.
WORSE CARDS:  Most non-class neutrals, (e.g. Boulderfist Ogre
)
BETTER CARDS: Fire Elemental
, Temple Enforcer
,Piloted Shredder

NOTES:  When you compare this card with Boulderfist Ogre (which is a fairly common Arena pick) this card has one less health. That one point of health is the cost you pay for the battlecry. And indeed, in a meta where Big Game Hunter does not (often) exist, playing this guy out as a 9/9 has almost no drawback.  In short, its a 6/6 for 6 mana that — unlike bolderfist — doubles as a win condition. And then there is the dragon synergy as well, which may or may not be a consideration for your deck.

In short, I like this guy and think that the only other 6-drops that rival him are the powerful class ones, such as Fire Elemental.


CARD NAME: Blackwing Corruptor

(*Neutral Card)
SCORE: Bad/Fantastic. (*Depending on Dragon Synergy).
WORSE CARDS:  —
BETTER CARDS: (*Assuming Dragon Trigger*) Very little.
NOTES:  In constructed, this card has been ear-marked as being “the 5-mana Fire Elemental”. And in Arena, Fire Elemental is considered a great card, so to get one for a mana-less sounds like a fantastic deal. But of course, to get the trigger requires a dragon in hand. The consistency of that trigger will ultimately depend on the number of Dragons you end up drafting.

But on the downside, when you don’t get the Dragon trigger you are left with a seriously sub-par five drop: you have a Booty Bay Bodyguard

minus taunt…and its not like Booty Bay is considered a good 5-drop!

In short: Got Dragons?


CARD NAME: Solemn Vigil

(*Paladin Class Card)
SCORE: Average/Good.
WORSE CARDS: Depends on the needs of your deck.
BETTER CARDS: Any ‘Powerful threat’ (e.g Truesilver Champion
).
NOTES: In Arena card draw is important, so even if you play this for 5 mana you are still probably doing okay. If you get it for 3 mana, you effectively have an Arcane Intellect
, if you cast it for any less than that then you are getting a good deal.

In short: You always want card draw in your deck, and if you draft a bit of synergy (e.g AoE, Muster For Battle) this card might not end up costing you that much tempo.

I would recommend picking this up when you feel like you have enough threats already, and/or the other options are poor.


CARD NAME:  Dragonkin Sorcerer

(*Neutral Card)
SCORE: Average.  In Priest/Paladin/Deck with Plenty of Spare Parts: Average/Good
WORSE CARDS: Violet Teacher

BETTER CARDS: Without Synergy: Sen'jin Shieldmasta
. With Synergy: Piloted Shredder
is still probably better
NOTES: The ‘Worst Case Scenario’ for this card is that you play it without having any decent spells to target it with,  and even in this case its base stats are only slightly worse than Chillwind Yeti, which is another way of saying that this card is not too terrible even without buffs. With buffs you can get a 4/6 (+whatever the buff was), which is potentially very strong (recall my previous discussion of Spiteful Smith when discussing Fireguard Destroyer) and with more buffs the card could potentially snowball the game, especially since you don’t typically see a lot of ‘silence’ in arena.

Basically, I think the card is a ‘bit worse than okay’ in the worst case and in the very best case it can go nuts and win you the game. Its a bit like Questing Adventurer

in that regard, but you have a higher floor at the cost of having a reduced ceiling.

I think it will be great in some decks, merely okay in others. So…most of the time it is, at the very least, an ‘okay pick’.


CARD NAME:  Nefarian

(*Neutral Card)
SCORE: Good/Fantastic
WORSE CARDS:  Ysera
, Mid-Tier Legendaries and Below (e.g. Loatheb
, Nat Pagle
)
BETTER CARDS: Not much, other than Dr. Boom

NOTES: Okay, so I’ve decided to be a little bit controversial here: I stated that Ysera is a worse legendary. I’m going to try and explain that do you in some detail (for the record, I don’t actually believe Nefarian is better than Ysera, I just wanted your jaw to drop so much that all those soggy cornflakes your eating fall onto your keyboard..haha!)

I have probably mentioned Big Game Hunter a few times now, I feel like a broken record bringing this up every time we discuss 7+ attack minions but that usually is the main barrier thats stopping those cards from being viable in constructed. In short the 8/8 vs 4/12 debate is slightly less relevant for that reason.

What I consider the key difference between Ysera and Nefarian to be is what I’m going to call ‘burst’, or ‘stopping power': With Ysera you get one spell and are able to hit for four damage next turn. With Nefarian, you get two spells (remember: card draw is great) and an attack for eight damage.

Ergo, I feel that Nefarian offers you the chance to win the game the turn after you played him. Ysera meanwhile promises to win you the game 3-4 turns after you play her.  In long games, Ysera is far superior but in the games where you need to ‘win now’ Nefarian has got your back.

When you draft your deck, I would advise that you ask yourself a very simple question: “What turn do I expect/need to win the game by?”  If your curve is low and the deck wins via tempo Ysera is probably too slow. If meanwhile your deck is very defensive and controlling then you don’t need Nefarians tempo, you want Ysera’s value. This same reasoning applies to ‘Chromaggus vs Nefarian’ too.

In short: I consider Nefarian a source of card advantage and an immediate win condition. Draft him based upon the needs of your deck.


And that concludes Week 5!

Conclusion

Okay there you go guys, all 31 Blackrock cards evaluated in terms of Arena viability. Hopefully you found this article instructive and I also hope that I didn’t get too many of the evaluations (but hey, a few mistakes is to be expected).

As always, don’t forget to like and/or leave a comment!

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