Choose Your Challenger: Comparing Arena Classes

Hearthstone’s nine classes are, to set all pretense aside, never exactly equal in strength! It’s common for the power of each to fluctuate between expansions, and new players may find it hard to notice these shifts and pick in Arena accordingly. This isn’t to say that anyone should simply play whatever’s perceived as the most powerful: players should choose based on what they’re most comfortable and have the most success with. This guide will provide newcomers basic knowledge of how strong each class is, a few top picks (within Rare and Common cards) to look for, and an indication of the general play difficulty / complexity involved. Starting from the weakest class in the current meta, I’ll discuss it all on my way to the new king of the Arena, Gul’dan!

#9: Druid

Once a consistent, solid choice, now fallen to the depths of the tier list due to poor class card additions in both the last expansion and adventure. Niche constructed-focused cards have impaired Malfurion’s previously solid deckbuilding, leading to awkward ramp and disjointed control lists in the Arena. Druid can still achieve success due to solid late minions and flexible “Choose One” minions and spells, but these runs are sadly uncommon.

Difficulty: 1/5

Druid has one of the most useful and simple hero powers in the game. This coupled with its beefy minions, relatively straightforward spells, and decent board clears make the class a solid choice for new players to learn the basics of Arena.

Top 5 Picks

  1. Swipe
  2. Savage Combatant
  3. Darnassus Aspirant
  4. Living Roots
  5. Druid of the Claw

Underrated Pick

Naturalize

Darnassus Aspirant

#8: Warrior

The Warrior class has been tossed up and down the tier list like a ragdoll since the beginning of time. The recent addition of solid cards like Obsidian Destroyer and Fierce Monkey has again returned Warrior to being a feasible choice in Arena. However Gadgetzan offered very little to the class, causing another drop in its strength and popularity. These days, the success of Warrior decks depend on the ability to draft powerful weapons from an increasingly diluted card pool. The class’s comeback mechanics are dependent on conditional removal, and the lack of a solid common board clear still plagues Garrosh.

Difficulty: 4/5

As alluded to earlier, Warrior has a lot of class spells that require some creativity to use effectively. Great potential exists within the synergies of some minions and spells however these interactions require experience to learn and implement. The lack of a board clear means that the player must be wise to the type of deck they have drafted and how they will play it. Nonetheless, weapons heavy decks if players a lucky enough to draft them, benefit from their simplicity.

Top 5 Picks

  1. Fiery War Axe
  2. Fool’s Bane
  3. Death’s Bite
  4. Arathi Weaponsmith
  5. Ravaging Ghoul

Underrated Pick

Battle Rage

Arathi Weaponsmith

#7: Hunter

Hunter has always been a reasonably playable class, but never a very strong one. Rexxar suffers from a lack of playstyle flexibility and often finds himself limited if he doesn’t draft an aggro deck. Playing midrange or control Hunter renders your Hero Power rather useless, and you must rely on an unlikely smooth curve which often is missing quality late game minions. However, it must be said that the class received a boost with some decent additions in the latest expansion, namely Alleycat and Shaky Zipgunner.

Difficulty: 3/5

Some people argue that an aggressive playstyle is simple; I disagree. Playing Hunter requires numerous crucial decisions on whether to trade or go for the throat, which will eventually decide the game. Making the correct decision takes skill, and the inflexible Hero Power and lack of reliable removal make this an awkward class for beginners.

Top 5 Picks

  1. Glaivezooka
  2. Savannah Highmane
  3. Animal Companion
  4. Quick Shot
  5. Alleycat

Underrated Pick

Freezing Trap

Glaivezooka

#6: Shaman

Sometimes you have to pray luck is on your side with Shaman, but it’s rare that it isn’t at least a decent choice! With some powerful spells and very solid early- to midgame minions to gain board control, Shaman is a reliable option for the newcomer. On the other hand, failing to draft strong class cards leads to generally poor results, as Shaman is more dependant than most on these!

Difficulty: 3/5

While the Shaman minions and spells are both strong, the Overload mechanic can be quite confusing for some newer players and planning ahead is a must. Additionally, deciding the value of using the hero power depending on the board state is another tough process in playing Shaman that takes experience to figure out.

Top 5 Picks

  1. Hex
  2. Fire Elemental
  3. Flamewreathed Faceless
  4. Stormforged Axe
  5. Fireguard Destroyer

Underrated Pick

Flametongue Totem

Fireguard Destroyer

#5: Paladin

Once King of the Arena, now fallen to the middle of the pack. The card additions haven’t been bad, but they deviate from the previously-successful playstyle of getting onto the board early and buffing your minions. New cards such as Smuggler’s Run and Grimestreet Outfitter work counter to the prior goals by obtaining maximum value from a slower playstyle. The lack of reliable removal in this class is alleviated by minions that render big cards irrelevant, such as Aldor Peacekeeper and Keeper of Uldaman. Strong buff cards and a wealth of solid weapons mean that Paladin will never disappear as a popular choice, regardless of the meta!

Difficulty: 1/5

Straightforward weapons, a decent board clear and a simple hero power make Paladin a good choice for the new player. Not having a hero power that can deal damage may be a nuisance at times however.

Top 5 Picks

  1. Muster for Battle
  2. Truesilver Champion
  3. Aldor Peacekeeper
  4. Keeper of Uldaman
  5. Shielded Minibot

Underrated Pick

Light’s Justice

Muster for Battle

#4: Rogue

Another class with huge popularity back in the day, resulting in subsequent nerfs. Rogue has possibly the best Hero Power for Arena, and the only one with effects that are immediately present the turn after you use it. For this reason, as well as the abundance of cheap removal, Rogue may well be the most consistent Arena class in recent times! Its minions, however, leave a lot to be desired without Combo. Overall, the ability of the Rogue to remove minions with its spells as well as its excellent Hero Power place the class towards the top end of our list.

Difficulty: 3/5

The numerous strong spells available coupled with a great Hero Power allows new players to have decent success with Rogue. However the class lacks a decent board clear, which limits its comeback ability. Furthermore, the Combo mechanic requires some planning and experience to utilize efficiently!

Top 5 Picks

  1. Dark Iron Skulker
  2. Sap
  3. Perdition’s Blade
  4. Backstab
  5. Eviscerate

Underrated Pick

Betrayal

Betrayal

#3: Priest

The rise of the Priest has been a welcome sight to most. The class had wallowed in the gutters of the Arena tier list for too long, resulting in its near-extinction. The latest expansion added three notable common Priest cards that have powered this rise. Additionally, its access to cheap removal for both large and small minions allows the class to gain some serious tempo on the board in the late game. The lack of solid early game minions still hamstrings this class.

Difficulty: 5/5

Priest gains board and card advantage by healing damaged minions and through the use of buffs to achieve free trades. Due to this, Priest is possibly the most difficult of all the classes to use effectively and is quite slow in the early game, which may cause some issues. Finally, the common board clear Holy Nova requires careful calculation and experience to cast for maximum value!

Top 5 Picks

  1. Kabal Talonpriest
  2. Potion of Madness
  3. Shadow Word: Death
  4. Velen’s Chosen
  5. Power Word: Shield

Underrated Pick

Resurrect

Velen’s Chosen

#2: Mage

Despite a weak expansion for the Mage, our previous overlords still rest near the top of the list! With both the most versatile Hero Power and the strongest board clear in the game, Mage is an eternally popular Arena class. However the latest expansion and a polarizing but necessary nerf to the class has left Mage with a lack of solid class minions. These two factors have resulted in Mages suffers from inconsistency in their drafts, which is responsible for the fall to the number two spot.

Difficulty: 2/5

Mage spells are (for the most part) reasonably straightforward and user-friendly. Furthermore, classes with reach offer new players a simple way to finish games. A simple Hero Power that bypasses Taunt minions means there are constant options for interaction, and solid board clears give Mage great comeback capability: overall, this is the dream class for the new player!

Top 5 Picks

  1. Flamestrike
  2. Firelands Portal
  3. Polymorph
  4. Twilight Flamecaller
  5. Fireball

Underrated Pick

Polymorph: Boar

Polymorph: Boar

#1: Warlock

The developers have been kind to Warlock with the cards added from Gadgetzan. Abyssal Enforcer offers a huge tempo swing, while a huge gap in the class has now been filled by cheap indiscriminate removal in the form of Blastcrystal Potion. Very solid early- and late game minions, great class synergies, and several different board clears allow players using Gul’dan to keep plenty of options available. Not to mention, Warlock also offers the ability to directly gain card advantage with its Hero Power, which offers great utility to aggro decks!

Difficulty: 3/5

The generally smooth curve of Warlock class minions is what really appeals to newer players using Gul’dan. Flame Imp, Imp Gang Boss, and Voidcaller all offer great value and are straightforward to use effectively. Being smart with the use of the Hero Power and management of health may be tricky for some players, but the spells are (mostly) noob-friendly and the reach available to the Warlock can close out games with ease.

Top 5 Picks

  1. Abyssal Enforcer
  2. Imp-losion
  3. Imp Gang Boss
  4. Blastcrystal Potion
  5. Dark Peddler

Underrated Pick

Voidcaller

Imp-losion

That wraps up my look at the classes’ relative strength in Arena! We’ll have to see how things change after the next Hearthstone update, but incorporate these lessons and you should be earning more gold in no time! If you want to ask questions or discuss anything discussed in this article, I would be delighted to talk more with you! Finally, if you’d like coaching assistance, I’m an infinite Arena player with over 100 hours of coaching experience. I would happy to help you reach the next level! Thanks so much for reading!

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