Hearthstone fans have had a week or two to experiment with the 134 new cards that make up The Whispers of the Old Gods expansion. The constructed metagame is already having a field day with the changes, but the ladder isn’t the only way to put the new cards into action. The arena has become more exciting than ever thanks to these fresh additions!
While the new expansion largely centers on the legendary C’Thun’s as a star for constructed decks, things are a little different in the arena. The cards for C’Thun and his cultists will not show up at all in your draft options. That means slightly fewer cards that you’ll need to master and prepare to fight.
So who should you play as once you’ve paid up your 150 gold? This analysis ranks all of the nine heroes and how powerful they’re likely to be in an arena match - based on the new cards in Whispers of the Old Gods.
The Old Gods have smiled kindly upon the warriors. Almost every warrior card in this expansion is at least worthy of experimentation, and several of them will likely mean good things for your arena draws.
Blood to Ichor will be great to turn on your own minions if you pick up any enrage cards. Use it to get that extra Enrage attack power or trigger a damage-based effect (hello there, Acolyte of Pain!). Or, if you’d rather go offensive, it can lay down the damage on a big minion that you want to Execute.
N’Zoth’s First Mate should be an excellent pickup for the early game. A 1/1 minion in play and a 1/3 weapon equipped on the first turn? That’s a killer start. And given the reasonable number of solid Pirate cards that you may wind up drafting, having one more of that type in your hand can open up some great combos (especially with the new Bloodsail Cultist card, should you be lucky enough to snag them both).
Bloodhood Brave is already becoming a popular choice for constructed decks, and it should be a solid inclusion for arena. The 6 health makes it a challenge for your opponent to remove with just one card, and the enrage mechanic just adds more stats to your board state.
Finally, if Malkorok shows up as an option for your legendary card choice, it’s definitely worth considering. His battlecry equips you with a random weapon. Odds are, you’ll wind up with something cool.
Shaman came roaring back into the meta with the addition of several powerful new cards. Arena players should find lots to boost their win rates.
Master of Evolution has the potential for RNG glory. The 4/5 minion for four mana is solid on its own, but adding in the battlecry – “Transform a friendly minion into a random one that costs (1) more” – is an extra exciting prospect. Sure, you might get unlucky rolls, but the odds are good for this to mean major value for the shaman players.
Hammer of Twilight is also a great choice for drafting. Weapons usually mean multiple turns of removal, and the 4 attack power can cover a range of card health amounts, especially if coupled with a minion or one of the shaman’s other great removal options. And getting a minion in action as a deathrattle can keep the board presence even more in your favor.
And if you needed even more value, check out Flamewreathed Faceless. Four mana for a 7/7, overload for two? Swing the game in your favor early and, if your opponent can’t find removal, keep it that way.
Rogue hit a rough patch with the past few expansions, so it’s refreshing to see the dual daggers back as a serious contender. Lots of its Old Gods cards have re-introduced the rogue’s signature moves back into the meta.
Undercity Huckster puts lots of power in your hands from the start of the game. Get a 2/2 out on turn two? Check. Get a random class card (from your opponent’s class) when it dies? Check. Interact with any other deathrattle-related cards you draft? Check.
Rogues are a combo class, which means Bladed Cultist has lots of potential. It’s only one mana, so could easily sneak in for additional board presence at the end of a turn. The core stats are just 1/2, which is just okay on their own. But playing it together with the coin or a zero-mana spell on an early turn is an aggressive step toward victory.
Shadow Strike is a welcome addition to the removal spell arsenal. It can only target undamaged characters, but at 5 attack, that can still instantly eliminate a big chunk of the minions you’ll face in the mid-game. Plus it frees up your other spells like Eviscerate to go straight to the face.
Thanks to its aggressive hero power, hunters will always have a reasonable amount of popularity among players. For an arena choice, lots of the new cards open up some exciting opportunities for beast synergy and killer combos.
The standout new card is Infested Wolf. It’s a 3/3 card on its own, but the deathrattle summons two 1/1 Spiders. Not only does that give the minion some stickiness, but it’s also a combined 5/5 in power on the board for four mana.
Sometimes, arena wins aren’t decided by the complex and elegant card interactions. Sometimes you just need a basic card with good stats. For hunters, that’s the Carrion Grub: a 2/5 for three mana. It’s a totally respectable card for your early game. And since it’s a beast, it can trigger all those fancy synergy combos if you play it on a later turn.
Another card with respectable arena stats is the Giant Sand Worm. An 8/8 card for eight mana is just on the positive side of the spectrum in an arena draw, especially when you need to have a big minion to close out the game with a lot of damage. But the Worm has the additional bonus of getting windfury if it kills the minion it attacks. It’s a beast too, which can enable other cards you might pick up in your draft.
The Old Gods cards for druids are generally cool and powerful. But in the arena setting, a large amount of their usefulness may depend on the rest of your draw. Your win rates with this class can take a big hit if your draft doesn’t end up being very cohesive.
For instance, Fandral Staghelm is a great minion. Druid decks are built around options, and his power allows you to have both effects from any Choose One card while he’s in play. But if you don’t happen to have many of those option cards in your draft, his stats alone are a little sub-par.
Speaking of option cards, the Mire Keeper is one of the better cards you can find in your arena hand. It can help you ramp up your mana curve or get a bigger board presence. Flexibility can make or break a druid game.
Finally, there’s Mark of Y’Shaarj. This is another handy spell for constructed decks, where you can plan to have lots of beast cards. The basic buff of +2/+2 is great, but when applied to a beast, you also draw a card. Major value for just two mana! So as with Fandral Staghelm, this is an excellent addition to an arena draft if you’ve got lots of beasts. Even if you don’t, the buff power can still offer more options in how you trade and attack.
Priests benefit from some added flexibility in this expansion, and having options is a perfect way to improve your winning odds in arena.
Fans of this class should be very happy to see the Darkshire Alchemist. It costs five mana to put a 4/5 minion on the board, plus it restores 5 health. Many cards of this type only target the hero, but the Alchemist can also heal a minion that’s taken some hits. As a class, priest doesn’t always have the best tools for maintaining board presence, and this new card can be a helpful mid-game addition.
The classic priest mechanic in Hearthstone is getting control over your opponent’s resources. Shifting Shade is the latest incarnation of that concept. It serves as a four-mana 4/3 when first played. When it dies, a copy of a random card from your opponent’s deck will show up in your hand. Priests sometimes struggle with the mid-game, so a solid four-drop adds to the available arsenal at that stage.
Warlock always makes for a scary opponent in any format. But in terms of new cards, arena players don’t have too much to write home about. The two best arena cards are ones that focus on both value and control.
Forbidden Ritual is one of the strongest of this new card type. It costs zero mana, but that’s becuase the card text gives the player more flexibility: “Spend all your Mana. Summon that many 1/1 Tentacles.” That means it can be played at any time, or in combination with other cards. Taunt them up with Defender of Argus. Have them beef up the new Darkshire Councilman or cut costs on a Sea Giant. Use them to chip down enemy minions so that you can use a Hellfire or Shadowflame. Endless possibilities.
In a similar vein, Possessed Villager is a sticky card that requires multiple removal stages. It starts as a 1/1, and its deathrattle summons another 1/1. As a one mana minion, it’s ideal for an early-game pick. The only thing that could have made this card even cooler is if the Shadowbeast, which appears with the deathrattle, was also a demon. Maybe next time.
The mage class has some great new additions, but not all of them are well suited to arena’s luck of the draw.
Cabalist’s Tome is a perfect example. For 5 mana, you can add three random mage spells to your hand. That has the potential to really beef up your options on either offense or defense, but at that cost, it’s a slow card. May not be a match for all drafts, but it can certainly create some unexpected situations or power swings.
The real star for mages is Faceless Summoner. The minion is a six-mana 5/5, but its battlecry summons a random minion costing three mana. Chances are, that will put a high-value amount of stats on the board. At the very least, it keeps you and your opponent guessing!
In terms of exciting new cards, Paladin doesn’t have too much for the arena players.
The Steward of Darkshire, which will give a divine shield to any summoned minion with 1 health, has the most potential for arena drafts. That’s because it pairs so nicely with the paladin hero power, buffing up those Silver Hand Recruits with some extra protection.
Speaking of recruits, Stand Against Darkness is one of the other promising arena cards. It puts five of the 1/1 Silver Hand Recruits into play. The card isn’t quite as flexible as the old Muster for Battle, which gave three Recruits and a 1/4 weapon. But flooding the board with small minions can still force your opponent to spend a lot of their removal options. Just don’t feel too bad if a druid plays Swipe on the next turn.
Keep in mind that Blizzard has done a great job of balancing the heroes with this expansion. No matter who you play as, you’ll still be able to rack up plenty of 12-win streaks if you can find the right balance of value and power. But if you want the best odds of getting to play with Hearthstone’s coolest new cards, then this tier list can help you make the right hero choice. So go forth and draft!