Hearthstone: How To Draft Arena After Patch 10.4

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Blizzard surprised everyone by releasing Patch 10.4 so soon after announcement, introducing much-needed changes to the Arena drafting system. Now, more than ever before, careful decision making based on already present synergies is a requirement. Choosing just 1 out of 3 powerful cards can often be a daunting task even for seasoned Arena veterans, let alone newcomers. Therefore, I've made this simple, easy-to-follow guide of the new drafting system and explained the thought process behind each choice (where applicable).

For this particular Arena draft, I've chosen Mage. It's a traditionally strong class with a large amount of powerful spells and additional card generation.

Based on current stats, other good choices include Shaman, Paladin, Warrior, and Rogue.

With that being said, please click on to the next page to begin the draft. I suggest that you take the time to think on each set of cards and then scroll down to read through the reasoning behind my decision and see if yours corresponds.

Please note: This deck was drafted on 3/15/2018. Since then, there have been hotfixes affecting balancing and drop-rates of certain cards, hence your current drafting experience may differ from the one seen here.

I'm already liking the first pick here. These are all top-tier legendary minions, and which one you pick determines what direction your draft will go. Though undeniably powerful, I wouldn't pick Kazakus simply because he limits my choices later on. With the recent changes, you are highly likely to get multiple copies of the same card offered, be it Fireball, Firelands Portal, Flamestrike, etc. That aside, the other options can both be correct. However, Pyros is relatively weak as a 2-drop and only provides value if you manage to successfully play its 6-mana version. It can also be silenced and stolen by those pesky priests. All things considered, The Lich King is the obvious choice for me; it's an immensely strong late-game threat and always guarantees you a card to replace it.

1. The Lich King

2. Pyros

3. Kazakus

Here I would pick Deathspeaker. It works well with The Lich King and is a decent standalone card. I would say it is closely followed by Scarlet Crusader, which is an excellent 3-drop. Mistress of Mixtures, though a powerful 1-drop and a source of healing, does not beat the other two cards.

1. Deathspeaker

2. Scarlet Crusader

3. Mistress of Mixtures

This is a treat. I will begin by saying that I am probably less of a Firelands Portal fan than most players, simply due to its inconsistency. I would pick Flamestrike here; board clears are always a useful addition, and it's as good as they get. It is, however, very close with Firelands Portal, and both picks would be correct. Polymorph can be considered, as there is a large amount of legendaries in Arena, and Paladin players almost always have a Spikeridged Steed. It does not compare to the other options, though.

1. Flamestrike, Firelands Portal

2. Polymorph

Since I already have a board clear in Flamestrike, I am less inclined to pick Volcanic Potion. Glacial Shard, while a strong 1-drop, does not offer much to the usual Mage play style. Although Shimmering Tempest is on the weak side as a 2-drop, it's still playable and offers an additional card in the later stages of the game.

1. Shimmering Tempest

2. Volcanic Potion

3. Glacial Shard

Arcane Artificer is too weak as a 1-drop, and Cryomancer, most of the time, will be a 5/5 minion, which is only decent. On the other hand, Kabal Chemist, while weak in stats, does provide potential removal cards or board clears, so I would go with that.

1. Kabal Chemist

2. Cryomancer

3. Arcane Artificer

I would often pick Shimmering Tempest here, but the deck already has one, and I don't wish to fill it with weak 2-drops. Shroom Brewer is a good 4-drop and could potentially heal The Lich King or your hero against aggressive decks. I do want at least one card with a silencing effect, and Spellbreaker does just that while also being a decent 4-drop.

1. Spellbreaker

2. Shroom Brewer

3. Shimmering Tempest

Without secrets, and I'm unlikely to pick many (if at all), Arcanologist is just an average 2-drop. Since I already have a Spellbreaker, Polymorph isn't as necessary. Leyline Manipulator, however, already has some great synergy with other cards, namely Shimmering Tempest, Kabal Chemist, and The Lich King, and is my top pick here.

1. Leyline Manipulator

2. Polymorph

3. Arcanologist

You could argue that Acherus Veteran is the best choice here, but it doesn't really suit the deck. Kabal Lackey has weak stats and is useless, with or without secrets. Second-Rate Bruiser, while weak as a 5-drop, will not break your deck and is a good anti-aggro option.

1. Second-Rate Bruiser

2. Acherus Veteran

3. Kabal Lackey

Scarlet Crusader strikes back with a vengeance in hopes of being picked this time. I do prefer the potential initiative on Spiked Hogrider more, and it has good stats even if the battlecry does not trigger. Twilight Drake can be decent, but silencing it would be devastating.

1. Spiked Hogrider

2. Scarlet Crusader

3. Twilight Drake

Another Spiked Hogrider. At this point, however, I want to begin strengthening my early game, and Mind Control Tech fits that perfectly while also offering a potential comeback from a losing game state. Explosive Runes, while perhaps strong on paper (a 3-mana Fireball), can be relatively easily played around.

1. Mind Control Tech

2. Spiked Hogrider

3. Explosive Runes

Corridor Creeper! No, not anymore (though it is still a strong card). While Bog Creeper is possibly better, I would pick Tar Creeper (that's a lot of creepers). It's a strong card in both early and late stages of the game, and is very difficult to deal with if played on turn 3.

1. Tar Creeper

2. Bog Creeper

3. Corridor Creeper

I don't like Bittertide Hydra too much, not if it's up against somewhat equally powered cards. Ghastly Conjurer could be fine, but I would rather resort to picking my first single target removal, which is Forbidden Flame.

1. Forbidden Flame

2. Ghastly Conjurer

3. Bittertide Hydra

This is a close call. All three of these cards are good in their own way and could fit the current deck well. Considering there is a substantial amount of Paladin and Warrior players in Arena right now, I am leaning towards picking Acidic Swamp Ooze. You are unlikely to go wrong with the other two, though.

1. Acidic Swamp Ooze

2. Breath of Sindragosa, Big-Time Racketeer

This time I would be more open to picking Volcanic Potion, alas. River Crocolisk could fill the 2-drop slot, but I do prefer to have at least one 1-drop in any deck I draft, and Mistress of Mixtures is an excellent choice. Picking Volcanic Potion as an early board clear would not be wrong, either.

1. Mistress of Mixtures

2. Volcanic Potion

3. River Crocolisk

For certain classes I would pick Stonehill Defender, but Mage doesn't really have any taunt minions. Flame Geyser is a good early game removal, but I have a special bond with Tar Creeper. So, Tar Creeper it is.

1. Tar Creeper

2. Stonehill Defender

3. Flame Geyser

Now would be the time to pick a Firelands Portal. It is much better than the other two cards, and the deck could use a few more powerful late game options.

1. Firelands Portal

2. Leyline Manipulator

3. Arcanologist

Fire Fly is a great early game minion, but it does not come close to the card I would pick. Fireball is a highly powerful single target removal and is excellent for finishing your opponent off, should they find themselves at a low health total. Sorry, Polymorph, this just isn't your day.

1. Fireball

2. Polymorph

3. Fire Fly

This is a disappointing pick, but it's bound to happen sometimes. Frost Nova doesn't have any synergy with the deck, and Spellweaver, though it affects a couple of cards, cannot be justified due to its terrible stats. Shifting Scroll is random, but with a little luck, it could provide an additional Fireball or Firelands Portal.

1. Shifting Scroll

2. Spellweaver

3. Frost Nova

Another uninspiring pick, though not as bad as the previous one. This deck is good in the 3-drop department, so Nerubian Prophet isn't necessary, and I really hate drawing it when in top-deck mode. Ghastly Conjurer could be the pick, but I would much rather like to have another 2-drop.

1. Plated Beetle

2. Ghastly Conjurer

3. Nerubian Prophet

I have a feeling Ghastly Conjurer will be joining the "Polymorph" club. The deck already has a Forbidden Flame, so I don't mind picking a Bittertide Hydra here. It is basically a late game minion that you can play as early as turn 5 (or 4 if you have the coin).

1. Bittertide Hydra

2. Ghastly Conjurer

3. Forbidden Flame

These are all great, and picking just one can actually be painful. Frostbolt is an excellent early game removaland it complements the already present Fireball and Firelands Portal very well. Fire Plume Phoenix is simply a great 4-drop and usually a good keep in the opening hand with a coin when going second. Blizzard is an excellent board clear and just as excellent as a stall card before the Flamestrike turn. Personally, I would pick the Frostbolt, but each of these cards has a place in the deck.

1. Frostbolt, Fire Plume Phoenix, Blizzard

This is why you shouldn't choose Kazakus in your first pick. Let's just ignore the Kirin Tor Mage. Both Fireball and Firelands Portal are on a relatively equal power level, but the portal offers a late game option, which this deck could really use.

1. Firelands Portal

2. Fireball

3. Kirin Tor Mage

Mad Bomber could fill the 2-drop slot, which is somewhat lacking right now, and can often win the early game by itself, but Primordial Glyph is way too powerful and provides a surprise effect by allowing you to play something like a Firelands Portal on turn 5. Once again, Ghastly Conjurer just falls short.

1. Primordial Glyph

2. Mad Bomber

3. Ghastly Conjurer

Now I'm really glad I didn't pick Kazakus. Flamestrike is the best pick here, adding a 2nd board clear to the deck. Polymorph, again, can be considered, but the deck already has a few single target removals and a silence.

1. Flamestrike

2. Polymorph

3. Kirin Tor Mage

This is pure junk. While I would agree that Dragonling Mechanic is probably better, Eater of Secrets can provide a swing against classes with secrets, so it's the pick for me here. Core Hound is just terrible.

1. Eater of Secrets

2. Dragonling Mechanic

3. Core Hound

These are some decent choices, and all could fit well with the deck's curve. Personally, I would pick Tuskarr Fisherman here. It's a good 2-drop, and spell damage already works well with several cards in the deck.

1. Tuskarr Fisherman

2. Dragonslayer

3. Shimmering Tempest

Though Frostbolt is definitely the best card among these, I would much prefer to have a playable 1-drop in my deck, which also provides an additional card. Coldwraith will not draw a card most of the time.

1. Babbling Book, Frostbolt

2. Coldwraith

Explosive Runes is an average card and doesn't have any synergy with the deck. The deck also has one Deathspeaker already. Lone Champion, however, is an excellent 3-drop if its battlecry triggers and, with the small amount of 2-drops in this deck, it is likely to happen more often than not.

1. Lone Champion

2. Deathspeaker

3. Explosive Runes

I don't want another Mistress of Mixtures, especially since the deck already has 2 1-drops. Naga Corsair is an okay 4-drop, but I would pick Dragonslayer here. It's a good 3-drop and can sometimes act as a removal.

1. Dragonslayer

2. Mistress of Mixtures

3. Naga Corsair

These choices may seem a bit underwhelming, and they are. However, though it's not the pick for me here, I've had great experiences with Counterspell in the past. I'm not a fan of Doppelgangster unless I'm playing a Paladin or Shaman. Shrieking Shroom can be a game-winning 3-drop if coined onto an empty board when going second.

1. Shrieking Shroom

2. Counterspell

3. Doppelgangster

 ---

If you've gotten this far, good job! I hope this guide served you well in better understanding the thought process that goes into building an Arena deck, and how a seemingly worse card can often be picked over a better card based on synergies. Thank you for reading, and for other Hearthstone news, reviews, and guides, please stay tuned to GameSkinny!

Published Mar. 19th 2018

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My favorite superhero is Spider-Man and I'm arachnophobic.

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