Introduction


Fresh news everyone. Blizzard has finally pulled themselves together and decided to make balance changes to Arena-only. Something people have been asking about for 2 years already. It took them some time, but I’m not here to complain. I’m here to cherish this moment and hope that it’s just the first step, which means the better future for every Arena player.

I’ll be honest – I was playing A LOT of Arena back in the day. I was infinite Arena player (well, technically I still am, but right now I play about one run per week) with over 2.5k Arena wins (so about 3.5k Arena games in total). But for almost a year already, I’ve focused on Constructed, because Arena got boring. If you think that Mage domination is a new thing, you can’t be more wrong about it. Ever since I remember, Mage was always the in the top 3 and classes and probably the most popular Arena pick. Rogue and Paladin followed it quite closely, especially after GvG, sometimes exchanging the positions around.

For the last year or so, I was enjoying one or two runs per week. I’ve played Arena in TGT, I’ve played it in LoE, in WoG and now in Karazhan. And you know what? Nothing has changed. It was pretty much altering between facing more Rogues and more Mages. Again and again and again. And that’s exactly why balance changes to Arena are important. It’s not even about nerfing the best classes. It’s not about making everything the same, because it’s impossible, especially in a random mode like Arena. It’s about making every class playable. It’s about bringing themselves close together. Because it’s not like everyone plays Mage because they like playing Mage. Some of them would prefer to pick Hunter, Priest or Warlock. But Arena is a mode that can punish you heavily for doing so. You pay 150g to start a run and if you don’t perform well, you don’t get your investment back. If you end up 1-3, you lose a lot of gold and time. So in the end, it made the best classes even more popular then they should and weak classes pretty much nowhere to be seen.

The biggest reason to play Arena is diversity. In Constructed, you pretty much know what you’re going to face. There is a cookie-cutter meta where you will see only 10% of the cards available. And that’s fine, everyone wants to win. In Arena, however, you’re much more likely to encounter some crazy stuff. Play against Legendaries that you would never see in Constructed. Be countered by a card that you have never expected. Or outplay enemy with your niche, but calculated picks that no one plays around. That’s what it should be. But if you constantly face the same two classes over and over again, the diversity is completely lost. That’s why those changes were very necessary and I love to see them.

But, the most important question is – are those changes enough? And how will they affect each class? Before answering the first question, let me break down the changes, class by class, and analyze them a bit.

Arena Balance Changes


Blizzard decided to remove certain cards from Arena in order to balance it more. It means that the most solid, sometimes unnecessarily strong cards from the best classes will be removed from Arena. And on the other hand – weaker classes will lose the all inconsistent, bad picks that were often screwing up with their draft. Since the chance to get class card offered is much higher than a neutral card, every bad card removed from the draft should make the class more consistent and stronger.

Blizzard has already done it in the past. First of all, cards from the Promo (Gelbin Mekkatorque

and Elite Tauren Chieftain
) and Reward (Old Murk-Eye
and Captain's Parrot
) sets were never available in Arena. Then, in WoG they’ve decided to not include C’Thun and related cards (e.g. C'Thun's Chosen
or Twin Emperor Vek'lor
) in draft to increase consistency – after all drafting the cultist without drafting C’Thun would be a little weird (even though they weren’t bad cards themselves). Then more recently Ben Brode stated that they will remove Purify
from Arena, as it’s a card that requires a very specific deck to be built around it to be strong, and Priest is already inconsistent in Arena. And now, they’re doing it again with a bunch of cards.

One important note is that they don’t want to touch class iconic cards that pretty much define how you play around it in Arena. And so, Mage will still have Flamestrike

and Paladin will still have Blessing of Kings
.

Let me go through them alphabetically. Next to each card, I’ll post the card’s score taken from the HearthArena Tier List. I believe that they’re bigger experts than I am when it comes to rating cards in Arena and have a lot of stats to back it up, unlike me. Not to mention that I generally agree with them, with only a few exceptions. I’ll also measure the average score of the removed cards in total + only removed Commons. This division is pretty important, because Common cards are what you see most in your Arena drafts, so they’re most important measurement of given Class’s strength. 50-60 is the average score according to the tier list, so if the average score of cards removed from certain class is below this threshold, it means that the class will very likely benefit from the changes (and vice versa).

Druid


Savagery
19
Poison Seeds
29
Soul of the Forest
37
Mark of Nature
43
Tree of Life
13
Astral Communion
4

Average score of Druid’s removed cards: 24 total, 36 of Commons (3 removed)

Druid was doing pretty well in the Arena already. I’d say that he was probably a 4th best class for a while already. Still, the gap between top 3 and Druid was big enough that some changes were indeed necessary.

Druid will be losing a bunch of spells. Mostly things that are either situational or require you to build a deck around them. Astral Communion

is a great example. It’s a Constructed card, period. If you don’t build a deck around it, it sucks, the effect is negative, not positive. Another example is Poison Seeds
. Sure, the card might be good in Control Druid or Mill Druid in Constructed. But in Arena, not only you want to always be ahead on the board, so if you play the game right and it goes well for you, it’s a dead card. But then, even if you fall behind, Poison Seeds is usually a card that needs to be combo’d with another AoE (presumably Starfall
to really work.

The only okay card he’s losing is Mark of Nature

. While you didn’t really want to draft it, it sometimes gave you a good trade by increasing your minion’s health, ability to Taunt a big guy against opponent’s aggression and sometimes 4 damage of reach. But still, the card was below average, so losing it won’t be a big deal.

Soul of the Forest

is also a hit in certain type of decks. While the card was bad in general, if you drafted a token-heavy or pretty aggressive list where you could flood the board, the card was useful. But that’s probably why it was removed – it wasn’t a fit into most of the Druid decks you draft in Arena, making it pretty situational and depending on the rest of your deck.

Overall, Druid is getting boosted. Since it was already decent in Arena, I suspect that those changes might bump him very close to the top classes.

Hunter


Starving Buzzard
31
Call Pet
27
Timber Wolf
35
Cobra Shot
39
Lock and Load
22
Dart Trap
30
Snipe
43

Average score of Hunter’s removed cards: 32 total, 36 of Commons (5 removed)

Hunter has got treatment similar to Druid. First of all – the Beast combo cards that REALLY require the Beast to work are gone. Starving Buzzard

and Timber Wolf
are very, very underwhelming without a lot of Beasts in the deck. Call Pet
is basically an expensive cycle card. Not to mention that a lot of Beasts in Arena are cheap (Bloodfen Raptor
, River Crocolisk
, Huge Toad
, King's Elekk
for example), so drawing one of them wouldn’t even be a big deal.

Cobra Shot

was a below average card, but one of the more decent from this set. The thing is that it was a very in-between card that didn’t match any of the play styles. If you wanted had an aggressive deck, you would prefer straight up face damage. And if you had slower deck, you’d prefer a solid removal, not a 3 damage for 5 mana one.

Lock and Load

is a combo card and combo cards don’t really work in Arena. You’d need to draft A LOT of spells to make it consistent and Arena decks are rarely spell-heavy. It’s Epic, so it won’t have a huge impact on the drafts, but it’s good to see it go nonetheless.

And last, we’re getting rid of 2 Secrets. Dart Trap

is pretty weak, because it can fail miserably. You can’t control when it procs at all, enemy might choose not to play Hero Power for 5 turns in a row if he has good curve. Then it hits a random target – hitting face when enemy is near full health, because you fight for board control, really sucks, because it doesn’t accomplish anything. And then hitting opponent’s small minion also is pretty weak. On the other hand, I disagree with removing Snipe
. Sure, the card was not great, but I’d say it was close to average. It gave more depth to playing around Hunter’s Secrets and could lead to some mind games. I’d rather get rid of Misdirection
, because it’s way more situational. Still, Snipe isn’t a great card, so Hunter should benefit from it.

One thing worth noting about Secrets is that with less playable Secrets (Snipe was definitely playable, Dart Trap arguably too), it makes it much easier to play around Hunter Secrets now, as you get more options. Not having to play around Snipe or worrying whether you can Hero Power safely or not might make playing against Hunter slightly easier skill-wise.

Hunter was in a pretty weak spot in Arena. I’d say that it was second worst class besides Priest. While I don’t think that the changes will push it heavily, they will definitely increase the consistency of getting actually good class cards, especially commons like Animal Companion

or Glaivezooka
that are very strong.

Mage


Forgotten Torch
59
Snowchugger
68
Faceless Summoner
101

Average score of Mage’s removed cards: 76 total, 76 of Commons (3 removed)

Mage was probably the biggest offender in Arena recently. The class was very strong both because of its Hero Power and the strength of Common cards. It became an ongoing trend that Blizzard releases yet another strong Mage common every expansion. It started with a solid, Flame Lance

in TGT, but it got better and better each expansion. It was Ethereal Conjurer
in LoE, Faceless Summoner
and Twilight Flamecaller
in WoG and now Firelands Portal
in Karazhan.

But, when it comes to the changes, I’ve expected something more. Forgotten Torch

is probably getting removed, because of the card’s mechanic. Since you can’t consistently go through most of your deck, you need to rely on the RNG to get the second – broken – part of the card. So the card was pretty average in the end. It won’t really impact Mage a lot, but it might decrease the consistency of their single target removal.

Snowchugger

was also a solid card. 2/3 for 2 with a nice effect. I’d say that it was okay in some matchups, but it could be insane against any weapon class. I remember games when I’ve kept Rogue from doing anything and pinging all my 1 health minions with weapon thanks to a single Snowchugger. Since it’s a pretty strong card, removing it might reduce Mage’s early game consistency.

And most importantly – Faceless Summoner

will be gone. It was one of the biggest offenders in Arena. The card is incredibly powerful and having such a powerful card in a common slot was unbelievable. Back in WoG you could see Mages drafting 2 or 3 of those and you couldn’t really do anything against them. Sadly, new Karazhan Portal is probably even stronger than Faceless Summoner was, so it’s going to take its spot for the “most hated Mage common” alongside Flamestrike
.

Overall, no bad card was removed. One average, one strong and one insane card is getting out of Mage’s drafts. It should make a class slightly weaker, which in combination with making other classes stronger should bring everything close together.

Paladin


Paladin gets no changes. Which surprised me a bit at first, but then I’ve realized why is that. Blizzard probably wants to balance other classes around Paladin. I’d say that it was a solid 3rd place behind Mage and Rogue. Not as strong as the top, but stronger than the rest. And I’d say that the class is in perfect spot right now. It has its fair share of strong cards, but it also has tons of average cards, which balances most of the drafts. Paladin didn’t really get anything insane in Karazhan, so its power should be similar to where it was before. It got one strong common – Silvermoon Portal

, but it’s also balanced by one very weak common – Nightbane Templar
.

The only card that really triggers most of people playing against Paladin is Muster for Battle

. Since it’s a rare card, it shouldn’t be in every Paladin’s draft. But as it happens, magically it ends up in most of the Paladin decks you face. And that’s one of the most powerful cards in Arena. Hands down the best 3-drop in the game. Even for a rare card, it’s way off the charts and I think it should be gone if they really want to make Paladin the most balanced class.

Priest


Mind Blast
3
Shadowbomber
40
Lightwell
14
Power Word: Glory
9
Confuse
23
Convert
35
Inner Fire
24

Average score of Priest’s removed cards: 21 total, 13 of Commons (3 removed)

Priest is losing a bunch of bad cards. And I mean it – BAD CARDS. Priest had two biggest problems in Arena. First is the Hero Power – it’s amazing once you take the board control, but it doesn’t really help you with that. It’s still better than Warrior’s Hero Power, but it’s one of the worst in Arena. But you can’t really help that. The second issue was the lack of consistency. Generally I don’t like how Blizzard designs Priest cards. Most of them are very situational or require some synergies to work or are strictly combo cards. Oh, and throw a bunch of needlessly aggressive cards in there and you have the whole Priest design.

I feel like removing all of those cards is a step in right direction. They are all bad. Even the Shadowbomber

who is rated at 40, is rated that “high” only because it’s a 2/1 for 1 mana. The effect is most of the time neutral or negative and even Murloc Raider
is rated 1 point higher…

I’m really glad that Priest loses Mind Blast

. While it’s a cool combo card in Constructed, in Arena it’s completely pointless. Priest doesn’t win by rushing enemy down (unless it plays against even slower and more terrible deck). It wins by taking the board control and snowballing that advantage. Face damage is virtually pointless. If you take the board control – you win the game thanks to your superior Hero Power. You don’t need 5 extra damage. And if you don’t take board control, you don’t really care if enemy is at 30 or at 25 – it’s the same. And since it was a common, it showed up quite often, ruining some drafts.

Then, the healing cards. Lightwell

, Power Word: Glory
. I’d probably throw in Flash Heal
there too for a good measure, but they feel to be fine with it. Those cards are weak. There is little to no burn in Arena. So if you lose board control, you lose the game. You can often be at 5 health and still win the game if you take the board. You don’t need the extra healing of PW: Glory. Sure, you can use that on opponent’s minion to prevent it from attacking your face. But as soon as you play something, opponent just trades and you’ve gained exactly 4 face healing. Which is a huge waste of a card. Then, Lightwell is a really cool card when you’re ahead. If you can get it rolling and make it heal something every turn, it gets quite a lot of value. But it doesn’t help with GETTING ahead. Not at all. It’s a 0/5 minion, so if you drop it without absolute board control, enemy will just kill it for free and you will see exactly zero value.

Both Confuse

and Inner Fire
are more of a combo cards. And they’re very situational. Not only you need to have a board to play them, the board needs to be very specific to make them playable. And once again, they don’t do anything when Priest is behind. Anything. Inner Fire might sometimes reduce the minion’s attack by a few points in the best case scenario.

Convert

is probably one of the best from this set of cards, but still bad. So, enemy drops a minion. You can pay 2 mana to copy it to your hand and then pay its cost to drop it on the board. So you can basically choose any opponents minion and play it, but it costs 2 more. Again, it’s very situational and a big tempo loss. Even if you copy something good like Fire Elemental
, 8 mana Fire Elemental isn’t very impressive. Not to mention that if you copy something and you won’t play it immediately, enemy now knows what you have and can play around it.

This is a great news for Priest. Right now Priest is most likely 9th class in Arena. On the very bottom. It used to be a Warrior’s spot for a long time, but Warrior has got a nice treatment lately. All the cards getting removed from Priest will definitely make Priest decks more consistent. Getting rid of 4 bad commons will make it much more likely to draft the good ones like Shadow Word: Death

, Power Word: Shield
or Dark Cultist
. I’m not sure if it will be enough to really make Priest playable in Arena, as the class still lacks a solid low drops, but it’s definitely a big improvement.

Rogue


Goblin Auto-Barber
83
Undercity Valiant
84

Average score of Rogue’s removed cards: 84 in total, 84 of commons (2 removed)

Rogue’s main power in the Arena weren’t overpowered cards. Sure, there are some great ones like Backstab

, Eviscerate
or the two Blizzard is getting rid of. But even the best Rogue common cards are sub-90 and the best rares are sub-100. Now compare it to something like Firelands Portal
(105) or Muster for Battle
(130). No. The main power of Rogue was the Hero Power. Mage’s Hero Power is one of the best in Arena, because it can boost the trades, it can influence the board and it can even deal some points of damage to the opponent. Rogue has the same thing, but times two. It’s the strongest Hero Power in Arena, because for one use, Rogue gets two pings. Yes, he has to use his own face to tank the damage and that’s the only reason why the class was even remotely kept in check.

Hero Power doesn’t change, but Rogue seems to lose two strong cards. Those are both 2-drops that have some mid game scaling. You can drop them as a vanilla 3/2 for 2, but then you can use them later to buff your weapon (Barber) or ping (Valiant). If Rogue got a long of similar minions, it could tempo out so heavily in the mid game thanks to the Hero Power, Combo cards and weapon buffs that enemy had no way to come back. And thus, all the face damage it took was pretty meaningless, since enemy couldn’t capitalize with no board. That’s the plan.

Removing two strong 2-drops, one of the best class Commons, will definitely make Rogue weaker. The class is still going to be strong, because like I’ve said, it’s main power lies in the Hero Power. But I’m honestly fine with that, because Rogue is a class that’s way harder to master in Arena than Mage or Paladin is and it’s main strength comes with inherent weakness (taking extra damage pretty much every turn). I think the changes were fair and justified.

Shaman


Vitality Totem
20
Dust Devil
11
Totemic Might
8
Ancestral Healing
35
Dunemaul Shaman
37
Windspeaker
44

Average score of Shaman’s removed cards: 26 in total, 25 of Commons (4 removed)

So, Shaman. Shaman wasn’t in the worst spot. Even though the new cards didn’t impact Arena as much as they did Constructed, all the strong, on-curve plays like Totem Golem

, Tuskarr Totemic
and Flamewreathed Faceless
were as good in Arena as they were in Constructed. In general, however, Shaman was in a pretty weird spot, because Overload mechanic really mess up with you curve. And in Arena, curve is everything. If you build your Constructed deck around Overload effects, you can make them much more bearable. Not to mention that 2x Tunnel Trogg
in every deck makes them way stronger. So Shaman definitely needed some changes too.

The changes were pretty interesting. While I agree with Vitality Totem

, Dust Devil
and Totemic Might
, as they’re all clearly terrible, I’m not so sure about the rest. Windfury is one of the Shaman’s identities and that’s why I don’t understand why they’ve removed Windspeaker
. While it’s not the best minion ever, it doesn’t seem terrible, especially in the right deck. If they want to get rid of Windfury effects, why not delete the much worse Windfury
instead? Dunemaul Shaman
was kinda bad, because the aggressive 5/4 stats and Windfury didn’t combo too well with the Ogre effect of hitting only 50% of time. You had two chances per turn to miss whatever you wanted to hit. And with 1 point of overload on top of that, it wasn’t a great card. But it was okay.

But the one I can’t really get is Ancestral Healing. I feel like it was rated too low on HearthArena. For example, on Lightforge Tier List it’s rated as high as 78. I think that one is a little too high, but Ancestral Healing was a very solid card. For 0 mana, healing your minion to full and giving it a Taunt was a good value. Especially if you managed to draft a Flamewreathed Faceless. Getting a great trade then healing it to full won me some games already. It was also one of the classic Shaman cards and it feels important when it comes to Shaman’s identity.

Then again, if you go by the score, which I can’t argue with (like I’ve said, I trust the stats), Shaman is getting a huge boost. Even the best of those cards (according to the score) – Windspeaker – was pretty situational and solid, on curve cards (like the few ones I’ve mentioned at the start) are definitely stronger in Arena. Since Shaman loses some weak commons, prepare to see 4 mana 7/7’s and Totem Golems more often.

Warlock


Anima Golem
15
Sacrificial Pact
4
Curse of Rafaam
8
Sense Demons
37
Void Crusher
33
Reliquary Seeker
13
Succubus
32

Average score of Warlock’s removed cards: 20 in total, 20 of Commons (4 removed)

Warlock was always in a weird spot in Arena. On the one hand, Warlock’s Hero Power is one of the strongest ones. But on the other, it only builds card advantage – it has negative tempo. And you can’t really use it if you’re under pressure. So from my experience, most of Warlock decks were pretty weak, it often felt like you’re playing with no Hero Power if you were playing from behind. But then, if you drafted a really heavy tempo, almost Zoo-like deck, you just owned your way to 12 wins. If you could get the early board control and keep up with the tempo through buffs, board floods etc. then the Hero Power was amazing. If you were under no pressure, drawing 2 cards per turn gave you win in nearly every situation.

While I again disagree with some of the choices, it seems that Warlock is getting a huge buff this time around. Anima Golem

was a terrible card, because you rarely could guarantee having other minions on the board. Enemy didn’t even have to kill your 9/9 – as long as he killed everything else, it just died. But since it’s an Epic, that wasn’t a big deal.

Then the rares. Reliquary Seeker

is very bad in Arena, unless you draw a really Zoo-like, board flood deck. It’s incredibly hard to meet the card’s requirement. And at the point when you have 6 minions on the board in Arena and you play Warlock (so you won’t run out of cards), you didn’t really need a win-more card like that. Without that requirement, it’s a 1 mana 1/1, which is very bad. Then, the Void Crusher
was actually quite interesting. While pretty bad because of inherent RNG, it you managed to get some small minions on the board and had some luck, Void Crusher sometimes helped you with keeping the board control. I’d honestly leave it, because the card was quite unique and fun to play around with.

Then, the commons. I definitely agree with getting rid of Sacrificial Pact

and Curse of Rafaam
. When it comes to the first one – there are almost no neutral Demons in the game – Illidan Stormrage
and 1/1’s from Imp Master
is all. First one is Legendary and second one is a freaking 1/1 minion. So except mirror matches, you never hit anything on the opponent’s side of the board with it. If you had a lot of small demons, especially cards that generate 1/1’s like Imp-losion
or Imp Gang Boss
, you could sometimes use it as a 0 mana 5 points of healing. But well, that’s INCREDIBLY situational and not even that amazing since you always had to sacrifice something. And when it comes to the Curse – face damage doesn’t matter in Arena. To win as a Warlock, you needed complete board control. In the best case scenario, you trade 2 mana and a card for 2 mana and 2 health. And in the worst case scenario, enemy could easily afford to take a few turns of damage and you took a tempo hit for nothing.

Then, Succubus

was a pretty meh card. 4/3 stats for 2 are nice, but discarding card is a big downside. Warlock definitely won’t miss it. I still feel like it shouldn’t be removed, because it’s both Demon and it discards – two of the main Warlock identities. For the same reason, I feel like Sense Demons
should still be there. I get the reason behind removing this card – it’s not consistent, if you draft it early and end up with no Demons it just sucks and it’s kinda redundant with what your Hero Power does already. In the best case scenario it’s an Arcane Intellect
in a class that doesn’t need that much draw anyway. The only situation where it really shines is that you run specific, big Demon and you want to fish for it. E.g. you drafted Mal'Ganis
and you really, really want to get it to your hand consistently.

I feel like Warlock is getting a HUGE buff, possibly the biggest one out of all the classes. He doesn’t lose any good cards, even the best he loses are way below average. It will make drawing the consistent, strong early game minions that Warlock has access to much easier, thus making the early game much easier, thus making the class way stronger in general.

Warrior


Warsong Commander
14
Bolster
10
Charge
28
Bouncing Blade
30
Axe Flinger
38
Rampage
39
Ogre Warmaul
31

Average score of Warrior’s removed cards: 27 in total, 27 of Commons (6 removed)

Warrior used to be the worst class in Arena for a long time. But after a big #ArenaWarriorsMatter action started by ADWCTA, Blizzard seemed to listen and gave Warrior a bunch of good cards. LoE was a turning point with Fierce Monkey

and Obsidian Destroyer
. Then Ravaging Ghoul
, N'Zoth's First Mate
and Bloodhoof Brave
in WoG. And now Fool's Bane
in Karazhan. And as it turns out, Warrior is in a pretty decent spot right now, being somewhere in the middle of the stake.

And I think that the removed cards from Warrior might be the most controversial. Don’t get me wrong, I agree with them, but some seem to go against their philosophy of “leaving the class identity alone”. Especially the Charge

and Rampage
, as Charge effect and damaging own minions are big themes for Warrior. But I still can get behind them balance-wise.

I definitely agree with removing Warsong Commander

– after nerfing it in Constructed, it was left as pretty much a vanilla 2/3 for 3. Which is terrible in Arena. I still think they should just balance it immediately (just make it 3/4 and call it a day, it’s not that hard), at least they’re fixing it now by removing it. Bolster
is a similar story. Realistically you’re going to draft, I don’t know, like 2 Taunts per run? I don’t remember having more than 3-4 Taunts outside of the Druid. Let’s even say that you draw pretty heavy Taunt deck with 4 of them. And a Bolster. Now, until you get a Taunt on the board and have 2 free mana, Bolster is a dead card. And if you finally manage to do that, it’s a +2/+2 for 2 mana. Because you can’t really expect to have more than a single Taunt on the board. It’s very situational and requires you to build a deck around it. Which is why it sucks in Arena.

Bouncing Blade

is Epic, but I’m sad that it’s gone. It’s one of my favorite cards in the game and it had a very unique effect that fits into Warrior’s plan of damaging own minions. But I mean, it’s not good enough in Arena, so I see why it’s out.

Axe Flinger

I can’t really agree with. While it’s only a 2/5 for 4, which means that the stats are weak, the effect is actually quite powerful. I’d say that the card is pretty average and I don’t know why it’s getting removed. Maybe because inexperienced players valued the effect too highly (because it deals damage!) and drafted it over actually strong minions?

And Ogre Warmaul

I also agree with. I hated this weapon so much. It was RNG fiesta as early as turn 3. 3 mana 4/2 weapon would be good, but hey, the fact that it misses half of the time cut the card’s score in half (or maybe even more). I had a lot of frustrating moments of it missing opponent’s face when I had lethal or hitting a minion I really didn’t want to hit after failing. I don’t think we need cards like that.

Overall, I think that Warrior changes are the ones I disagree with most. While technically they’re right and should boost Warrior’s performance, I’d much rather see something like Screwjank Clunker

go away instead of Axe Flinger. They have very similar strength (after all, they have the same stats for the same mana cost) and Screwjank seems like much more situational pick. But hey, like they say, beggars can’t be choosers.

Oh, and Warrior probably got the best treatment overall. While some other classes had lower quality of commons removed, Warrior had higher quantity of them removed – 6 in total.

Closing


Back to the initial questions. Will those changes address the Arena problems? Will they make it balanced? Will the classes be equal and The Old Guard will finally step down?

The answer is no. Arena has way more problems than that. The mode wasn’t really developed in ages. It needs a lot of attention. Easier ways to organize sealed tournaments (and more incentive to do that), changing the reward structure (for example, pack or dust rewards are really stupid for people who mainly play Arena and don’t care about Constructed and rewards are very inconsistent in general), maybe make the game play more diverse by adding some rules that rotate in and out (e.g. no mechs this week, dragons and dragon-related cards offering rate go up by 300% next week etc.)… Those are just some of the things that would make Arena more fun and rewarding.

Balance is important, obviously. If we want to have a fun and competitive mode, first and foremost each class must be pretty balanced. Facing 2 of them all the time isn’t good. But those changes seem like a band-aid, not a real solution. Sure, they might balance things a bit. But you can’t do that forever. The card pool is limited. Balancing cards by removing the extremes (overpowered and terrible ones) surely makes the classes closer to each other. But it also reduces the diversity. It’s nearly impossible that only those changes will make things balanced. They would need to remove some cards again and again and again. And every patch like that would make Arena more balanced, but more boring at the same time, because it would limit the number of cards people can play with.

The Arena will definitely be a better place now. But I don’t think that everything will be balanced now. Honestly, I suspect Mage, Rogue and Paladin to still be on the top. Rogue took a biggest hit, but I still think that it will manage to remain close to the top. But I feel like rest of them will be much closer now. I suspect that Priest will still be the weakest class in Arena. Even though the Commons they’ve removed from the class were absolutely, disgustingly bad, removing 4 bad commons won’t suddenly address every problem Priest has right now. It still has weak early game, it still has some situational/combo cards and it still has Hero Power for a class that plays from behind. But instead of being 5 tiers behind the top classes, I’d say that it will be 2-3 tiers behind right now.

I’m really glad that they start balancing Arena. And that’s a good beginning. But I really hope that they won’t pat themselves on the backs saying “good job, our work here is done” and then ignore Arena for the next 2 years. They need to capitalize on those changes, on the fact that Arena is getting more attention and take this opportunity to give this mode more love.

And while we’re at it, since you finally learned that being an ONLINE card game gives you a lot of opportunities to do things differently than the paper card games, maybe you’ll translate that knowledge to Constructed balance too… One could wish.