Last Update: Dec 2013
Video section added at bottom.
I’m Ben#1806, currently Grandmaster rank in The Arena. I’ve saved screenshots of my journey from 0 gold to 1000 gold (Currently at 7000+ gold). The album can be viewed here:
With this guide, I aim to point out the less obvious facets of The Arena. This is the information you need to know to start going infinite. This is a guide to winning games.
Like every game with different classes, some are more powerful in the current patch balance. The Arena is also unique in that you’re less likely to get class-specific cards. This means a class like Hunter which relies heavily on synergy and/or rushing will not do as well as in Ranked.
Following a tier-list isn’t absolute, but it is the easiest way to start if you’re new to a game.
My Personal Tier-List:
Note that this list is based on my personal experience of the ability of the class to get at least 7 wins (going infinite).
Mage – Flamestrike, Fireball, Blizzard, and Polymorph. The more of those you draft, the more likely you’ll win the game. Very strong AoE abilities in a minion-spam heavy meta. Mirror Entity is a great common that can lock down a properly mana curved deck.
Paladin – Good hero ability and class-specific minions, but relies heavily on Consecration and Truesilver Champion. Tough to get 7 wins without those cards. Keeping an Acidic Swamp Ooze in hand and not overplaying <2HP units can make it difficult for a Paladin.
Shaman – Good class cards and easy synergies with hero ability (+attack aura minions, flametongue totem, Dark Iron Dwarf, Abusive Sergent, etc.). Remember to pickup some spells (Forked Lightning, Lightning Bolt, Rockbiter Weapon, etc.) or a Stormforged Axe to clear the field and give you time to buildup a totem army.
Warrior – Spam weapons, upgrade, charge minions. Gorehowl is generally auto-win (remember to pickup some Shield Block if you have a lot of weapons). Fallen out of meta slightly due to increased prevalence of Swamp Ooze being drafted by opponents.
Rogue – Nerfed hard, but still playable only because she can equip weapons. Starting coin -> Defias Ringleader into Assassin’s Blade / Deadly Poison is your best bet to win. Weak to minion spam and aggro (due to loss of HP from attacking with hero often).
Warlock – Predictable hyper aggro class. Spam cards blindly until you run out of cards, then spam your hero ability until you run low on HP. Relies heavily on Blood Imp and gets countered by AoE wipes.
Priest – Mind Control costs what now?
Druid – My favorite class, has the best class-specific minions for The Arena. The cards are great stand alone, generally have taunt, and spamming them is usually enough to win you the game as your opponent runs out of resources to deal with it. Relies on Swipe a lot however, and a draft without it could go bad.
Hunter – Great aggro class against new players, however due to the inflexable nature of his hero ability, their next turn play is easily predicted. Knowledge of attack order and how to test for traps like Snipe / Explosive Trap / etc., wariness of turn 3 Animal Companion / Eaglehorn Bow and turn 4 Multi-Shot will allow you to beat a Hunter.
Not going to go in-depth here, but I will list a few key cards for each class (Excluding Legendaries). In general though, always choose the most efficient card while keeping an eye out on your ability to survive being rushed.
All Classes: Faceless Manipulator, Argent Commander, Azure Drake, Gadgetzan Auctioneer (needs spells), Stampeding Kodo, Twilight Drake, Frostwolf Warlord, Gurubashi Berserker, Senjin Shieldmasta, Harvest Golem, Acidic Swamp Ooze, Ironbeak Owl, Spellbreaker, Mad Bomber, Questing Adventurer (while Coin still counts as a spell), Novice Engineer, and anything with Divine Shield. Charge minions are okay if nothing else is good.
Also, any card that can increase a minions stats instantly is very good. Cards like Dire Wolf Alpha, Shattered Sun Cleric, Defender of Argus, and Dark Iron Dwarf are very strong cards which can ruin your opponent’s plans.
Warrior: All weapons, Upgrade, Arathi Weaponsmith, Execute(1~2), Warsong Commander(1), Frothing Berserker, Cleave, Slam
Druid: Ancient of Lore/War, Keeper of the Grove, Starfall, Swipe, Druid of the Claw, Ironbark Protector, Starfire
Warlock: Blood Imp, Demonfire, Flame Imp, Succubus, Soulfire, Doomguard
Rogue: SI:7 Agent, Defias Ringleader, Deadly Poison, Assassin’s Blade
Mage: Blizzard, Kirin Tor Mage, Mirror Entity, Flamestrike, Polymorph, Fireball, Water Elemental
Shaman: Earth Elemental, Feral Spirit, Lightning Storm, Flametongue Totem, Hex, Stormforged Axe, Bloodlust (1), Fire Elemental
Priest: Cabal Shadow Priest, Injured Blademaster, Holy Nova, Lightspawn, Mind Control, Thoughtsteal, Shadow Word: Pain
Paladin: Sword of Justice, Aldor Peacekeeper, Divine Favor, Truesilver Champion, Consecration, Noble Sacrifice, Hammer of Wrath, Hand of Protection, Argent Protector
Hunter: Snake Trap, Eaglehorn Bow, Animal Companion, Kill Command, Unleash the Hounds, Tracking, Explosive Shot, Houndmaster
Example; choosing between: Azure Drake | Defender of Argus | Demolisher
Always choose the card with an immediate effect (ie. not Demolisher). Choose Drake if you need the Spell Power or you are lacking in Card Draw, otherwise choose the Defender of Argus. Taunt and sudden stat boosts are extremely strong in The Arena.
A good Arena curve for most classes is something like:
Paladin and Shaman can shift the curve up a bit (centering around 4) due to their hero abilities, and can get away with running more 1 mana buffs/nukes.
As odd as it may seem, the key to winning your match, is to understand The Art of War.
“All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.”
The takeaway here is the baiting of key cards (as listed above). If you deceive your opponent into using one of the above cards on something trivial, even if it’s 1 for 1 trade, you have gained.
Your Opponent: Warlock, 20HP, 5 mana, 4 cards in hand | Field: 1/2 Novice Engineer
You: Paladin, 20HP, 6 mana, 5 cards in hand | Field: 2/2 Argent Protector, 1/1 Silver Hand Recruit
Your turn. Your Hand: Murloc Warleader, Elven Archer, Murloc Tidehunter, Aldor Peacekeeper, Truesilver Champion
The simple play: Elven Archer and crash Silver Hand Recruit to remove Novice Engineer, attack enemy hero with 2/2, and play Murloc Warleader + Murloc Tidehunter.
Response: Hellfire and now you’re behind.
You need to check for Hellfire and try to bait it out if they have it.
Correct play: Attack the 1/2 Novice Engineer with your 2/2, play Elven Archer and use the ability on the Warlock, attack with your 1/1, use your Hero Ability, end turn.
Now your field consists of 2/1, 1/1, 1/1, 1/1. Very tempting for the Warlock to Hellfire, and yet if he does, your play next turn is still very strong and has good options.
Your Opponent: Shaman, 20HP, 10 mana, 4 cards in hand | Field: 5/5 Stranglethorn Tiger (stealth)
You: Paladin, 20HP, 10 mana, 4 cards in hand | Field: 4/5 Chillwind Yeti, 1/1 Silver Hand Recruit
Your turn. Your Hand: Truesilver Champion, Tirion Fordring, Dread Corsair, Consecration
The simple play: Tirion + Hero Ability. You’re setup to block the Tiger from trading favorably with your Yeti.
Response: Silence on Tirion (Earth Shock or a Silence Minion)
Now you’ve lost Tirion’s effects (Divine Shield + Battlecry) and your Yeti in exchange for nothing! That is not good.
Correct play: Play the Dread Corsair + Use Hero Ability.
Dread Corsair silenced? Play Tirion next turn and make your opponent regret wasting it. Why not play Truesilver Champion since it makes Dread Corsair free? Because your opponent is at 20HP with nothing for you to attack with it. If they play an Acidic Swamp Ooze next turn, you played into a bad trade.
“It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.”
This is a key concept, and will be expanded upon further down. But to illustrate:
Your Opponent: Mage, 15HP, 6 mana, 2 cards in hand | Field: 1/1, 3/2 Knife Juggler
You: Rogue, 9HP, 6 mana, 5 cards in hand | Field: 3/3 SI:7 Agent
Your turn. Hand: Azure Drake, Murloc Tidehunter, Defias Ringleader, Backstab, and Deadly Venom.
The simple play: Backstab Knife Juggler, Use Hero Ability on the 1/1, Attack with 3/3, play Azure Drake or Tide Hunter + Ringleader.
Response: 1. Flame Strike and you lose. 2. Fireball at your face, you lose next turn to her hero ability.
At 7 mana next turn, you must know that a Mage will very likely use Flame Strike.
Correct play: Backstab Knife Juggler, Use Hero Ability and save it for next turn, Attack the 1/1 with your 3/3, play Tide Hunter, End Turn.
Now her responses, 1: Flame Strike and your Hand is still full of options. 2: Fireball and you still have 2 turns to live from her Hero Ability, allowing you to topdeck a healer or an Assassin’s Blade.
“The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand.”
In card game terms, this means you should have a vision for how your deck wins. Don’t just blindly choose a bunch of cards and enter a match.
Ask yourself questions such as:
What is the mana curve on your cards?
For example, Warlocks would have a low cost-curve, which dictates that you must play everything you can from your hand every turn.
Do you need field control?
For example, Mages would likely let your opponent slowly build up and take the field until Flame Strike is played. This means playing only enough cards to stay alive, even if you have the mana to play more.
What card should I always start my hand with (else mulligan entire hand)?
For example, a Warlock would almost always want to play a first turn Flame Imp. Dump your entire hand if you don’t have one.
What is your win condition?
For example, a Paladin’s win condition is generally to generate card advantage through Divine Shield and a properly timed Consecration. This means make sure to kill things with more than 2HP, and leave things with 2 or less HP alone if you can.
The more you envision before the actual match, about how you deal with every situation using your deck, the better off you will be. This doesn’t mean you should afk after building an Arena deck and simulate duels in your head for 2 hours. But you should have a general idea of all these things, and keep it in mind when you play. This comes with experience.
Class Specific Tips
Expanding on know yourself, know your enemy, you have to play differently depending on what class you’re playing against. To know your enemy comes with experience, but below are some tips to follow against each class that should hold true most of the time.
Do note however, that the metagame can change at any point, and you must eventually come to your own conclusions of what certain classes and decks do.
The Warrior is a mid-game class. It tends to lack Taunt minions but uses weapons to defend early game rushes. The best way to beat a Warrior is to stall until late game and spam cards that are out of range for the Warrior’s weapon damage.
The key card that you need to watch out for against a Warrior is the Arathi Weaponsmith. If the Warrior will have 4 mana next turn, you must expect 2 damage instantly along with a 3/3. So playing a 3/2 the turn before is not a good idea. Play a crappy minion instead like Loot Hoarder or Novice Engineer to waste durability stacks on his weapon.
Swipe – Never overextend with a field with one minion at 3/4 HP and the rest at 1HP.
Starfall – Never overextend with a field with minions all below 2HP.
Also, with Swipe and Starfall, keep in mind the Druid’s hero ability, which means one minion can have 1HP extra and still result in a field wipe.
Basically if you have 10 mana and the only cards you can play are in Swipe/Starfall range, try to bait it out and never play out all that you can.
Also, the 8/8 Taunt tree is very common, so try to keep cards like Execute and Polymorph for the late game instead of using it early unless you’re going for the early win.
If you leave a Warlock alone, his Hero Ability will win him the game. You must start doing damage ASAP, making him scared to use it. Remember to select a card that can deal with Blood Imps during the draft (ie. Whirlwind, Multishot, etc.), or it’ll be a tough early game.
The Key card to watch out for is Hellfire, never overextend with an entire field of minions 3HP or below. Bait it out first.
The key to easily beating a Rogue is to play as many Taunt and high HP minions as you can. Cards like Shiv, Backstab, and Eviscerate will then lose their value. Most Rogue decks have 0-1 Assassinate only, so take advantage of that. With the recent nerfs, out-aggroing the Rogue so that she doesn’t have enough HP to attack minions is another option.
The key card to look out for is the Defias Ringleader. Rogues going 2nd will Coin -> Ringleader combo on their first turn. Make sure to dump your entire hand to fish for a card to defend against it.
1HP minions are also generally useless against a Rogue, and should be discarded from your opening hand to be spammed in multiples late game. Unlike a Mage or Druid, the weapon from the hero ability persists another turn. This means forcing the Rogue to use her dagger ability by playing a x/1 minion is not going to slow the Rogue down a lot.
Beating a Mage requires you to hold back. One way or another, your field WILL be wiped at some point. Only play enough cards to maintain field control. If you have 2 minions and she has none, and it’s your turn, play nothing unless your hand is 7+ cards. Don’t try to force the win.
The key card to watch for is Flame Strike. Keep in your mind that once the Mage has 7 mana, a Flame Strike can come down at any time. Play 5HP + / Divine Shield minions and hold back cards. Keep in mind that at 9 mana the Mage can also kill one 5HP minion with Flame Strike + Hero Ability.
Unit positioning can also play a role here. Playing a stealth minion or Faerie Dragon in the center of 3 units can save you from a cone of cold.
Totems, totems, totems. To beat a Shaman you must keep the totem count as low as possible on the field. A Shaman deck should mostly consist of Overload cards, cards which buff totems, and the random 5+ cost neutral cards.
The key cards to watch out for are Lightning Storm and Flametongue Totem. Make sure your losses are minimal when Lightning Storm is played. For Flametongue Totem, if the Shaman has 2 creatures ready to attack, you can usually expect this totem to come down between them. Either make sure the Shaman never has 2 creatures on the board when your turn ends, or make sure that there’s nothing worthwhile for you to lose when they attack with the buff.
Priests will try to heal their minions whenever possible to increase card efficiency. Always try to do perfect kill damage. Cards like Hex and Polymorph will ruin a Priest. If you can’t do perfect damage, sometimes damaging the minions is still a good idea to force them to use 2mana on healing, slowing down their field control.
Make sure to play around Holy Nova by keeping your minions above 2HP at the 5 mana mark. Also, do not play any giant creatures if you can help it at the 7-8 mana mark, as Mind Control will likely be in their hand. I can’t stress this enough, don’t play anything better than a 4/4 heading into their 8-mana turn if you don’t have to (going for win, will die without a taunt, etc.). Using a brewmaster to return strong cards on the 7-mana turn is a legitimate strategy.
Relies heavily on Consecration, Divine Shield, and various buffs. Bait out consecration, use hero abilities or 1/1’s to remove Divine Shield if possible, and save Silence cards for major threats.
For example, a Scarlet Crusader is not a good target for Silence. Try to hold on to the Silence and destroy the Scarlet Crusader through other means. This will pay off later when you silence a Sunwalker or a minion with Blessing of Kings.
Always keep Acidic Swamp Ooze in your hand if you draw into it. Truesilver Champion is a major 4-mana threat.
Prepare an early defense and gain field control as soon as possible. Watch out for Eaglehorn Bow turn 3 and Multi-Shot turn 4.
A card to make note of is Explosive Trap, always attack with a minion first before playing new ones when a Secret has been set (unless the new minion buffs the old ones past 2HP). If the Secret does not trigger on attack, expect Snipe. If Snipe does not trigger, it’s Snake Trap.
Unit positioning for Explosive Shot is also important. Place units such that the center of 3 is the least desirable target for a 2-5-2 damage spread.
Not really an intention of this guide, but I see two mistakes being made very often.
1. Putting bad Arena cards in your deck. For example, Sinister Strike is a terrible card that basically says “Pay 1 mana; dump this card on the ground and do nothing”. 95% of the time when you draw it, it’s worthless. I have seen so many 1-3 win Rogues play this card, I laugh and win every time.
2. Do not play into a bad trade. For example, Mage plays 1/3 Mana Wyrm on turn 1. You were planning to play a Leper Gnome. DON’T. The mage can simply attack it with the Wyrm, and it lives. Now you need to spend extra resources to finish off the wyrm, meaning the trade was not 1 for 1. Save the card for later.
Note that the Mage ability is NOT the same as having the Wyrm on the field. She has to spend 2 mana (resources) to kill your 1 mana Leper Gnome, which means she’s not spending that 2 mana playing a River Crocolisk or something which limits what you can play next turn to something with 3+ attack or 3+ hp to trade or survive an attack.
Warlock Pt. 1:
Warlock Pt. 2:
Shaman Draft and Play:
Shaman Draft and Play 2:
Warrior Draft and Play:
Warrior 12-win attempt:
Rogue 12-win attempt:
Druid 12-win attempt:
Hunter Angry Chicken Arena Run:
Short Video Series – Draft – Rogue
Deck Play / Result:
Short Video Series – 9th Win – Rogue
Short Video Series – Draft – Paladin
Short Video Series – 9th Win – Paladin
Short Video Series – 9th Win – Shaman
Short Video Series – Warrior Draft:
Short Video Series – Warrior Draft Result:
Bad Draft Highlight Video:
Mage Deck Result:
If you understand everything written here, then you should be well on your way to getting consistent 7+ win streaks. Thanks for reading! Feedback is welcome, and see you in Hearthstone.