Hearthside Chat: Upcoming Arena Changes with Dean Ayala

Hearthside Chat: Upcoming Arena Changes with Dean Ayala

There’s been a lot of internal and public discussion regarding the state of Arena recently. Today, I’d like to share what the Hearthstone team’s goals are for Arena and shed some additional light on where our overall focus is for the future.


Hearthstone has four major game modes right now: Constructed, Arena, Solo Adventures, and Tavern Brawl. One goal we have for Arena is that we want it to feel meaningfully different from any other way you might play Hearthstone. I think we’re hitting that goal now, but it’s important for us to keep that in mind when thinking about future changes. Variety among all game modes is important to us, but an equally important goal is to have a wide range of experiences within each game mode.

This is an area where we feel Arena has some room for improvement. When you first enter Arena and are offered the choice of three different classes, our goal is that you can look at those choices and choose any class without feeling disadvantaged because of their difference in power level.

Most of the feedback we’ve received on Arena is centered around class balance. For the last few content releases, Mage and Rogue have bounced back and forth as the top two most played and most powerful classes. Paladin has been in a tier by itself below Mage and Rogue, while the last six classes have done some shifting around in a tier below these three.

So what are some ways we can address Arena balance? Tools that we have available immediately involve removing cards from Arena completely—C'Thun-synergy cards and Purify are examples of this. We’d like to avoid removing strong spells and weapons from the Arena, because they add to a lot of the unpredictability and excitement surrounding the possibilities outside the current board state. We’d also like to avoid removing iconic cards, since they are generally versatile and familiar tools to veteran and new Arena players alike. Additionally, we can remove lower-performing cards in order to make room for a class’ more commonly utilized cards to show up more often in your Arena draft.

With those things in mind, we will be removing the following cards from the Arena draft in an upcoming patch:

Mage

  • Forgotten Torch
  • Snowchugger
  • Faceless Summoner

Rogue

  • Goblin Auto Barber
  • Undercity Valiant

Paladin

- No changes

Shaman

  • Vitality Totem
  • Dust Devil
  • Totemic Might
  • Ancestral Healing
  • Dunemaul Shaman
  • Windspeaker

Warlock

  • Anima Golem
  • Sacrificial Pact
  • Curse of Rafaam
  • Sense Demons
  • Void Crusher
  • Reliquary Seeker
  • Succubus

Druid

  • Savagery
  • Poison Seeds
  • Soul of the Forest
  • Mark of Nature
  • Tree of Life
  • Astral Communion

Warrior

  • Warsong Commander
  • Bolster
  • Charge
  • Bouncing Blade
  • Axe Flinger
  • Rampage
  • Ogre Warmaul

Hunter

  • Starving Buzzard
  • Call Pet
  • Timber Wolf
  • Cobra Shot
  • Lock and Load
  • Dart Trap
  • Snipe

Priest

  • Mind Blast
  • Shadowbomber
  • Lightwell
  • Power Word: Glory
  • Confuse
  • Convert
  • Inner Fire

We're looking to develop additional solutions to balance Arena as well, such as the ability to adjust the rate that individual cards show up in your draft depending on a designer input value. If we pursue that route, there is still the matter of deciding on the best way to go about using that tool to achieve balance for each of the nine classes and still have Arena feel fun and different each run.

Drafting by card rarity is another discussion that we’ve been hearing a lot. If it’s a matter of balance, we’re fairly confident the ability to adjust the “weights” of cards available can solve that.

We think Arena is a fun environment that could use some overall balance tuning. We hope the above changes will help to address that, and we will be monitoring the Arena closely to see the impact of these changes. We also need your feedback to help us ensure that the Arena remains enjoyable for years to come, so let us know your thoughts!  


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