I’ve talked about Hearthstone’s arena changes briefly before after Blizzard hinted that they were coming, and we’ve discussed that they planned to change the frequency of cards. However, now, there are a ton of things to discuss, and it’s all official. They’ve reworked the frequency that certain cards will be given to players, as expected. They’ve toned down problem cards as well. But there’s one massive change that, while talked about, was never made official until now.
Arena Becomes Standard
That’s right, arena will no longer be using the Wild format. When this patch goes live at the end of the month, arena will be switching to Standard. This is a massive change, and has huge implications for every class in arena. The reasoning behind this change is sound. It’s currently impossible to play around cards, because there are simply so many. It’s also extremely difficult to draft synergy decks at the moment. Changing arena to standard will eliminate both of these issues.
Because this is such a huge change, the devs have promised to continue monitoring it closely. They have several times stated that if players do not like the change, they will revert. As for myself, I have mixed feelings on it. I’m sad to see the Wild cards go. I do play Wild, so I see the better ones often. But now I’ll never see the decent, or sub-par ones in play ever again, barring RNG. It’s kind of sad. But I’m also really looking forward to playing around cards and actually building combo decks. I’m looking forward to trying it, at the very least.
Arena Card Rarity Distribution
The forthcoming changes to card rarity distribution were unexpected, but quite nice. Blizzard are cutting back on the number of commons offered, making way for more cards of higher rarities. This reduction is a big deal for classes with high rarity board clears, but it’s also going to be more fun being able to play with epics and legendaries more frequently. I’m in favor of this change.
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The other change here is that they are decreasing the frequency of Abyssal Enforcer and Flamestrike by 50%. These cards are both commons, and both make a huge impact on the game. They are the top two arena cards by most metrics. Having them as a common makes Mage and Warlock simply too strong when they are drafted. I’m in favour of this change, for sure.
This is a change we’ve talked about before. A big problem in arena is that once a player takes the board, they tend to hold it. This is because most of the interactions are minion based, because spells aren’t incredibly common. To change this, they have simply upped the frequency of spells being offered. The specific numbers weren’t stated, but they said it would bring “the distribution of spells and minions closer together”. This is another change I applaud, I think this will affect the monotony of arena in a big way.
The last change to balancing is that neutral minions will be showing up less. A lot of the monotony of arena is that cards that are vanilla are very strong. In arena, a two mana 2/3 River Croc is quite good. A four mana 4/5 Chillwind Yeti is usually exactly what you want. It’s also incredibly boring. To blanket change this, they decreased the frequency of all neutral minions. This should make your class choice a lot more relevant, and make matches far more interactive.
The addition of golden cards was out of nowhere, and, in fact, was tweeted by Ben Brode a day after the original list of changes were announced. If you own golden versions of a card, it will show up as golden in the arena. If you own a single copy of a non-legendary card, then only the first copy you draft will be golden. However, if you own enough to fill a deck, every copy you draft will be golden. This is something players have been requesting for a long time. It means absolutely nothing in terms of balance, but it’s a great quality of life change.
These are phenomenal changes, and it’s nice to see Blizzard giving some love to arena. Finally.