By Eric Van Allen
Blizzard announced significant changes to Arena mode for its upcoming “Year of the Mammoth” patch, so hopefully players won’t draft so many 0-3 runs.
When the patch goes live “near the end of February,” Arena will switch from a wild format to standard, limiting the cards available to those recently released, the same limited card pool competitive Hearthstone players use. Blizzard will also be tweaking the appearance rates to increase the rarity of cards and include more spells, while decreasing the amount of boring neutral class cards (RIP, Pit Fighter).
Arena—the play format that resembles Magic: The Gathering’s booster drafts, in which players can pay money or gold (the Hearthstone in-game currency) to draft a 30-card deck from randomly pulled sets of cards—is a frequent time-sink for Hearthstone pros and casuals alike. Since any arena run caps off with a free card pack, it’s also the method most often used to bolster collections, not to mention its presence on Twitch streams.
Though opinions are (naturally) divided on whether this is going to be good for Arena or not, Hearthstone game director Ben Brode took to reddit to quell some fears, saying the team would be “happy to revert” Arena in the future if the shift doesn’t work, as well as experiment with other Arena formats in the future.
“I think we just need to take a more active role in the Arena experience,” wrote Brode.
As a small aside, Blizzard also noted it would be specifically tuning down the appearance rate of Flamestrike and Abyssal Enforcer. No more four-Flamestrike Mage drafts? Drafting cards for reasons beyond raw number value? Arena might actually be fun again!