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Hamlet

The Man in the Arena -- Hearthstone Drafting

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I'll get this started by pointing out (slightly updated) what I said in the other thread:

An Arena entry costs 150 coins, and you always get 1 pack at the end (which would have cost you 100 coins), plus 4 other prize pouches containing varying amounts of coins/dust (maybe we could collect info and make a prize chart?).

There is almost no reason not to spend your coins on these. In the worst case, you go 0-3, and you're out 50 coins (slightly less even). In the best case, you win 6+ games and win back your entry fee plus a pack to boot. On average, you probably break roughly even on the 150 coin investment and have gotten to enjoy one of the more fun ways to play any TCG (called drafting or limited in other games, Arena here).

For seasoned TCG players I don't have to explain why limited is great. For others--it's a method of playing where you're limited (hence the same) to building your deck from a small pool of cards that's determined partially at random, partially based on your skill at evaluating cards. You then use that deck for the duration of the event and see how you do with it. Advantages of this style of play are:

--Doesn't depend on your card collection. Everyone starts on the same footing, regardless of how much or how little you've spent on the game previously.

--Emphasizes skills of evaluating cards and assembling a deck. In a format where you can't look up your decklist on the internet, it's up to you to look at the card options and see how to make a good deck out of them.

--Wider card selection. Competitive constructed play quickly winnows down to the small portion of cards that are good enough to be "playable" in an extremely refined metagame. Draft forces you to explore the wider card pool and see the potential that otherwise ignored cards might have in your deck.

--And specifically to Hearthstone: Arena is much more accessible and beginner-friendly compared to Magic drafting (which is decidedly not). There's no time limit on Arena picks, so it's not stressful when you're first learning. And you get a pack for your trouble regardless of performance, so the amount "at stake" based on how well you do is very small (unlike Magic where all the prize packs are concentrated on the winners).

Yesterday I streamed an Arena for the first time (I'd tried it once before on the first day of beta when I had no idea what I was doing, so this was basically my first try). It went really well, partially with a some input from people in the stream chat, and also some lucky picks. I was playing slowly since this is all new, and talking through things a lot, so maybe it will be a good intro to see what it's like:

HamletEJ - Hearthstone Beta Arena 1

HamletEJ - Hearthstone Beta Arena 2

HamletEJ - Hearthstone Beta Arena 3

Anyway, I'll leave all that as an introduction for now, and see if we can get this thread going for discussion of Arena strategy. Strengths and weaknesses of heroes (which ones are aggressive vs. controlling would be a good topic), standout cards, anything else you can think of.

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Arena is awesome. Any idea how the card pool works? Just random cards at predetermined rarities and mixes of class/neutral cards?

Prize data: went 8-3, got 210 coins, 60 enchanting dust, and a pack. I saw a post in the other thread that someone got a foil instead of coins?

Arenas even have a nice secondary benefit - they level up the other classes grind-free.

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My best has been 7 wins, I've done that twice. I got a Foil Naturalize, a pack, small amount of gold and 60 dust. I'm going to start keeping a lot to figure out how much we are actually getting. Every result I've had has been one pack, some gold, some dust, and one time the single foil instead of something.

Has anyone actually seen two packs? Is it possible? On my 7 wins I got I think 125 gold, 30 dust and a pack. I was initially getting kind of annoyed about not seeing two packs like I'd heard rumors of, but the crafting is actually really powerful so dust is pretty good, at least initially. I've been getting two of crucial spells, but obviously I can't craft a Legendary, as you can only make what you already have it seems.

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Someone on my stream said you always get one, and I got one at 8. Besides, being paid out in gold is better than packs anyway, since gold can buy more arenas.

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Let's talk cards you're always happy to see in Arena! I'm going to start with a stalwart who doesn't look all that sexy on paper, but seems to overperform for me constantly: Silver Hand Knight (Silver Hand Knight - Card - World of Warcraft).

He's got a few advantages: 6 total Attack, 6 total Health (which compares nicely to things like Devilsaurs and Stranglethorn Tigers), and the crucial bit: 2 bodies. If you're playing any sort of class that has a buff mechanic, having two separate bodies gives you a lot of versatility, and even if you're not it can help establish board control (e.g. combining his 2/2 half + your 3/1 Divine Crusader to take out a Shieldmasta). Add in the ability to interact favorably with ways of rebuying Battlecry effects (Shadowstep, the Brewmasters), and you've got a nice package that you're happy to crack at common.

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Some of my favorites:

Knife Juggler - Get tons of value with this guy when using any cheap or multiple spawning cards.

Acolyte of Pain - Very easy to abuse to get 3 cards out of him.

Direwolf Alpha - Especially with the Shaman, as his buff isn't an ETB ("Enter the Battlefield") effect, so you can throw away a minion, like a totem, and your next minion will inherit the buff when it comes next to him. Tons of value out of him. Works really well after a Turn 1 Harpy. (Also a power card with any hero with buff effects.)

edit: 45 dust, 5 gold, one pack from a 3 win arena.

I have one criticism of the arena. I understand any draft format will have RNG, but it appears that the card rarity is also random. I was just offered a pool in which none of the 30 choices were legendary. All of my losses came to opponents with legendaries in their pools. There is going to be some variance in card power, but that part might need to be standardized. It already offers you three cards of the same rarity. Making it so each arena pool has one legendary choice would go a ways towards balance.

edit 2: Just happened again. No legendary choices in my pool, though I did have several rares.

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Silver Hand Knight jumped out at me when I saw in first Arena, but I didn't pick it since I think a Holy Nova was in the same pack. That first Arena didn't produce too much in the way of surprise hits for me--the big winners were cards I think are always going to be Priest staples: Holy Nova, Northshire Cleric, and Lightspawn with a few enablers.

I also had a pretty good bomb in Deathwing. I agree with Moshne--when I saw 3 Legendaries in a group, I thought maybe that would be standard for any Arena. In the end, maybe it would still be random since legendaries could span from bombs to unplayable I'm sure. But I'd imagined an advantage of a fully digital game would be standardizing rarity here, and I can't think of reason not to.

As far as non-class common creatures that I'd always like to keep seeing, I think the big category is Taunters. I'm already valuing them something like flying creatures in Magic--they're what give you initiative on the board. In fact, having Taunt can make you feel like you have a weird sort of evasion: when you play one, you then feel comfortable attacking your opponent's head instead of having to trade creatures, since their options on the swingback are limited. I'd value midrange vanilla Taunt bodies pretty highly.

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I really like Fen Crawler, the 3/3 bear and the 1/2 soldier. The soldier is great because he can set up your early combos safely, like the 1/1 harpy, knife juggler or the hunter draw engine bird.

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I went 1-3 my first time because I'm bad. I got 40 gold, some dust, and a pack, easily paying for the extra 50 gold cost over just buying the pack. There's no reason not to draft, it's fun!

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Went 9-2 with Jaina with this:

[ATTACH]15999[/ATTACH]

[ATTACH]16000[/ATTACH]

e: Oh yeah--285 coins, 45 dust, and the pack.

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I keep trying to draft swarm decks and getting destroyed by Mage/Druid decks like yours. Swipe is insanely good.

4-3 Warlock aggro, 40 coins 65 dust pack. I think I could have pulled out a couple more wins, but lost back-to-back games against a Ragnaros 1/8-out and then a Deathwing. Legendaries, hm?

7-3 Druid aggro. 150 coins, 45 dust, pack. This one was fun - loaded up on Silences and ran over anyone relying on taunts for defense. Silences are pretty weird - they switch off abilities that I wouldn't expect them to, like the dragon with 'Battlecry: +1/+1 for each card in your hand'.

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Doesn't Silence just remove all text in the textbox, as well as any additional Buff Text?

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Yes, it turns the card into its base Attack/Health and removes all text. It works on the dragon by turning it into by a 1/1 by eliminating its Battlecry aura.

I mentioned this elsewhere, but you can silence your own minions as well and remove things like Freeze from them. This is obviously not useful if you end up castrating the creature at the same time, but it has gotten me a win before.

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9-1 with Druid, 200 gold, 2 packs and 60 dust. The two packs was the most surprising.

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Attached images of the deck.

I expected to go 0-3 with this deck. It was a clinic in how not to build an Arena deck, but it worked. My mana curve was way too low. I had almost no creatures, but somehow it all came together through abusing conditional board wipes and removal (mostly secrets). I didn't really even have many Beasts to abuse either Beast effect. I went to my last card on a couple of games, but no one could stick creatures against me. Last two losses were against the same player.

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Went 7-3 with a decent Rogue deck, got pack + 215 gold (4x gold?). Definitely could have built the deck better, but there were a few things I did right. Headcrack is the truth.

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People keep telling me on twitter they're watching me crush hearthstone streamers. It's kind of amusing.

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I've been hit or miss, I win some I lose some.

I had one warlock destroy me with a ragnaros card to which I just didn't have a hex in hand to really deal with it.

I had another warlock who thought it was a sure thing cause I was at like 5 health and him 30, and then he died. He had no idea what I had in store. Ah shaman burst damage. :)

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People keep telling me on twitter they're watching me crush hearthstone streamers. It's kind of amusing.

Yeah, saw you kill one of them with a hunter deck. Was funny.

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I started my first arena and its an interesting way to run a draft. Spreading the time commitment out for matchs and not needing 8 people all at once is a nice way to do things. I assume you go until you have 9 wins or 3 losses right? I'm only like 2-1 so far with a paladin deck.

Despite not seeing more of the card pool, I think my WoW drafting rules of thumb hold up here, which is:

1. Few 1 drops

2. Lots of two drops

3. Bulk should be 3-5 drops.

4. Handful of 6+.

I'm rating 2 drops even higher here than I do in WoWTCG drafting (which is already pretty highly). 'The Coin' means that you can often play a 2 drop on turn one. The format doesn't seem fast enough to punish missing a one drops. All the aggressive drops (2/1) die to the good opposing heros powers (i.e Mage, Druid, Rogue).

2 drop 2/3s are very solid since they kill all the 1 drops, most of the 2 drops and even some 4/5 drops, especially when you are going second. You opponent is just giving up a card when they play a 1 drop on the play.

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Arena has been pretty fun. I was finding it funny that I wasn't seeing legendaries when I played about 10 battles last night, so today the arena decided to grace me with my second two losses coming to Deathwing and Onyxia. It was kind of painful.

I've done okay so far, only 5-3 on the first and 6-3 on the second. Definitely starting to see more cards that I like and what I don't like. I've been playing fairly controlling. Jaina on my first one really supported that as I could squeeze out card advantage using fireblast and then slowly just end up with more real creatures than my opponent. Tried Uther on the second and he was alright. Definitely want to try an arena with each class before deciding my favorites though.

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