Arena Tier Lists
Table of Contents
- 1. About the Author
- 2. Choosing the Right Card
- +3. Exceptions
- 4. Practical Applicability and Results
- 5. Disclaimer
We have an Arena drafting spreadsheet for each of the 9 classes in Hearthstone. The goal of these spreadsheets is to enable players to always make the correct choice of cards while drafting an Arena deck. This is done by ranking all the cards in the game in order of their value, allowing players to quickly see which the best choice is.
These spreadsheets are tools, and like all tools, they must be used correctly in order for them to work. This page will give you an explanation of how to use the spreadsheets, as well as a few examples of situations where the spreadsheets will be inaccurate (and you yourself will need to intervene in order to correct them).
1. About the Author
This guide is presented to you by Sottle, a professional Hearthstone player who plays for compLexity Gaming. Sottle regularly streams Arenas on Twitch and explains all of his moves. He has a recorded winrate of over 73%, making him one of the top Arena players.
2. Choosing the Right Card
Since every card choice in Arena is always between 3 cards of the same rarity, we have divided all cards of the same rarity into 6 different tiers, based on their (potential) value for your class. Note that the cards are not listed in order within the tiers. In principle, whenever 3 cards belonging to different tiers come up, you should choose the one from the highest tier. For example, if you are drafting a Druid deck and are offered the choice between a Druid of the Claw (Tier 1), a Scarlet Crusader (Tier 3), and a Booty Bay Bodyguard (Tier 6), then you should pick the Druid of the Claw since it is the highest quality card in a vacuum.
If two or all three cards are part of the same tier, then you should make your decision based on secondary factors (your mana curve, the theme of your deck, your preference, whether or not you already have a certain card in your deck, etc.). As we will see, though, these secondary factors will often play a role even when choosing between cards from different tiers.
Since the spreadsheets cannot know what cards you have already chosen, following them blindly can lead to decks that are not good. There are three factors, beyond the simple value of the cards (according to the spreadsheets) that will influence card choice.
- mana curve;
- deck theme (aggressive, control, combo);
- card duplicates (whether or not a card is already part of your deck).
3.1. Mana Curve
The basic idea is that your deck should have a healthy distribution of cards by mana cost (while favouring lower-cost cards over higher-cost ones), so that there is a good chance that you will be able to play a cost-appropriate card each turn. Ideally, for each stage of the game (early game, mid game, late game) you would have several strong minions that you can play, as well as several useful spells. Following the spreadsheets without taking your deck's mana curve into account can lead to undesirable scenarios. For example, by simply following the spreadsheets, you could end up with 75% of your deck consisting only of 2-drops. While it might be true that each one of those 2-drops, taken individually, is better than the other choices that it had been up against, having such a large number of 2-drops will end up having crippling results.
This means that, while choosing cards, you must also keep your mana curve in mind. Your ideal mana curve will depend on the type of deck you want to play (an aggressive, early-game deck will prefer more lower-cost cards and fewer high-cost cards, while a late-game control deck will prefer the opposite), but you still always want to keep some measure of balance.
In practice, this means that if, for example, your 25th card choice is between two Tier 1 2-drops, and a Tier 2 4-drop, and your deck currently has 7 2-drops and no 4-drops, then you should choose the 4-drop despite it being part of a lower tier.
As a general rule, you can spend the first 15-20 choices simply selecting the highest value card, and then use the last 10-15 picks to adjust your curve as you feel is necessary. There is a lot of flexibility to this rule however, and you may have to start adjusting your curve earlier than stated if your first 10 picks are all high cost cards.
We cannot go into more detail here, since the number of possible situations is very high, but hopefully the principle is clear to you.
3.2. Deck Theme
As when thinking about mana curve, you will also want to keep in mind the theme of your deck whenever you are making a choice. For example, you may have decided to create an aggressive deck (perhaps because you had the chance of picking some very strong aggressive cards early on). If this is the case, then you will be prioritising cards that are aggressive (cards with a low cost that allow you to deal damage or buff your own creatures with devastating effects) over cards that are defensive (Taunt minions with low attack and high health, heals), even when the defensive cards are part of a higher tier.
Likewise, if your deck relies on a certain combo (which we generally do not advise) such as synergy between Beasts or Murlocs, then you will prefer cards that play well into the combo over other cards, even if the combo cards are of lower value.
3.3. Card Duplicates
Typically, the value of a card decreases the more copies of that card already exist in your deck. This is more true for some cards than for others (and some cards are actually so good that there are practically no diminishing returns until you have 5 or more copies of the same card, a situation that is not likely to happen). So, for example, card X may be a Tier 1 card on its own, but once you already have two copies of it, the value of the third copy will be considerably lower, most likely not worthy of a spot in Tier 1. This is especially true of situational cards, such as Big Game Hunter or Mind Control Tech. Leaving aside the fact that these minions have strong stats for their cost, their Battlecries are only useful in very specific situations, which are extremely unlikely to occur more than a few times per game. The same is true for spells which can only be used in certain circumstances (such as Cleave which can only be used when 2 or more minions are on the board). Having a few of these spells is good, but having too many will often mean that you risk having them sit in your hand, being unplayable due to the situation of the board.
The overall reasoning for this, is that strong Arena decks are generally the ones that have a strong option to play pro-actively on the board on each turn. Although having single copies of tech cards like Big Game Hunter in your deck can be powerful, once you begin to draft multiples, you limit your own options, as you start to clog your hand with cards that are only good for reacting to what your opponent does. The same is true of removal spells. Although having a nice selection of spells in your deck is powerful, filling your deck with multiple copies of the same one will not only make your deck reactive, but also limit the amount of situations you can react to.
Another good example is that of weapons. Typically, weapons are very strong because they allow you to kill several minions at the cost of a single card, thus increasing your board presence and card advantage. At the same time, the loss in health is generally worth killing the minions. However, having too many weapons (4 or more, perhaps, depending on the situation) may mean that the combined health loss from using all of them against minions will prove too great. Not to mention that Weapons take multiple turns to be used completely, meaning drawing multiple weapons into the same hand will slow down your turns as you try to use them all.
As we stated before, for some cards there really are no realistic diminishing returns. Cards such as Frostbolt, Animal Companion, or Eviscerate are good examples of this. These cards are so good and versatile that you could conceivably have as many as 5 of them in your deck before you would begin to value them lower.
Generally, the rule applies a lot more strictly to the powerful midrange minions in the game as well. As long as you have sufficient early game, you could conceivably have a deck with 4 Chillwind Yetis, 4 Sen'jin Shieldmastas, and 4 Druid of the Claws and suffer very few repercussions, since these minions are strong enough to have an impact at any point in the game.
4. Practical Applicability and Results
So, once you understand how the spreadsheets are meant to work, as well as what the exceptions to the normal rules of usage are, you will be in the position to make good use of these spreadsheets.
If you are a very experienced Arena player, most of the information that the spreadsheets have to offer will probably not be of very much use to you, since you are already familiar with the value of each card. Even then, however, the spreadsheets may offer some insight into the more difficult decisions.
For all other players, the spreadsheets will allow you to accelerate the rate at which you understand the value of cards, which means that you can then form your own opinions and make more instinct-based decisions.
Will these spreadsheets guarantee that you will end up with a very strong deck? Absolutely not. The random drafting process makes it so that even if you make the correct card choice every single time, you may end up with a weak deck. This happens to everyone from time to time, and it cannot be avoided.
Will these spreadsheets guarantee that you will achieve a minimum of X wins in Arena? Absolutely not. Winning Arena games is not just about the deck you build, but also very much about the decisions you make during gameplay (not to say anything about the effect of luck).
We do not claim that the values we attribute to cards are absolute. They merely represent the opinion of the author (a professional player, with one of the highest known recorded Arena winrates). Furthermore, the value of cards is contingent on them being used in their "optimal" fashion.
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