Hearthstone: Upcoming Changes in Patch 10.4
In their most recent "Designer Insights," Blizzard announced some big changes coming to Hearthstone's Arena mode via upcoming patch 10.4 that would, in particular, affect drafting. Kris Zierhut, Lead Systems Designer for Hearthstone, began by briefly describing a typical draft pick in Arena. In his example, for a common rarity pick you would get a Fireball, an Ice Barrier, and a Wisp. Sound familiar? For those with Arena experience, and this is something Kris also emphasized, the pick is quite obvious -- Fireball -- with the remaining choices being quite underwhelming.
He then proceeded to describe a different situation, where the same Fireball would be up against a Leyline Manipulator of rare quality and a Primordial Drake of epic quality. Now, the decision is no longer as obvious and is strongly based on any potential synergies your deck might already have, though I would still argue that the Leyline Manipulator is no competition for the other two cards. Also, notice how each card is of a different rarity. Since the very beginnings of Arena, any specific draft pick would always contain three cards of the same rarity, either common, rare, epic, or legendary.
That is soon to change. Each pick will contain cards of a similar power level but varying rarities, with the exception of legendaries -- there will always be three, similarly powered legendary cards. As before, picks 1,10, 20, and 30 will offer cards of a rare or higher quality. Bonus rates for cards from new expansions will be temporarily disabled, and rates for many existing cards will be rebalanced. In addition, each class will receive one arena-exclusive card.
Though I was skeptical back when wild cards were removed from Arena, it ended up being a good kind of change. I also believe that these new changes will, even if not right away, make the drafting experience better and incentivize a more thorough decision.
As of yet, the release date of patch 10.4 is not known, though I am willing to bet it will launch alongside the new expansion and the transition into The Year of the Raven, which is likely sometime in April of 2018.
Stay tuned to GameSkinny for more information on Hearthstone and the upcoming expansion as it develops.