Arena with Stone: Playing Around Cards (Class Cards)
This is the second part of the guide. To read more about theory and neutral cards, see the first part here.
In this part, I’m gonna show you the most common cards you might want to play around. I’m also gonna give a couple of examples of the cards that may seem to be a good ones to play around, but in reality aren’t.
Also, quick reminder from the first part – you can’t play around everything at the same time and often you have to choose which approach gives you the best chances to win.
Probably the card you should care about most when it comes to the Druid – Swipe. In Arena, you want to make your trades as efficient as you can. You often end up leaving a lot of 1 health minions. Aggro decks are also rather popular, flooding the board with a lot of small minions. Druid has one of the best answers for those – Swipe. You definitely should play around it, most of good Druid drafts have at least one copy. Taking less efficient trades and killing some of your minions, while leaving others at high health is not a bad play. Also, if your board is already weak to Swipe (e.g. you have two or three 1 health minions), don’t overextend further with more small guys.
Savage Roar is pretty interesting case. It’s not picked as often in Arena, because you can’t reliably combo it with Force of Nature, but it’s still about average pick. If you want to ignore enemy minions and go for the face against Druid, you should probably make a quick calculation to see whether he might kill your with Savage Roar. If yes, you want to clear one or two of his minions to not die, especially if he’s holding some cards for a few turns.
Poison Seeds is a great counter if you have 3-4 big minions on the board. It’s rarely picked, because of how situational it is, but sometimes you can see it in Arena. You don’t really have to play around it, but if you already have couple of big threats on the board, you might consider not putting any more, because most of time there is no point anyway.
Swipe is much more popular board clear than Starfall, but you might sometimes see the latter. If you can, leave your minions at 3+ health to not lose your whole board to this card. But you shouldn’t think of it as a must, just something to do if you can.
Force of Nature
Force of Nature can get a pretty good value in Arena, clearing up to 3 small minions. It combos nicely with Savage Roar, but it’s really rare that you get to draft both. Because it’s an epic, and not particularly scary one, don’t play around it. If you play around Starfall and keep your minions at 3+ health, it would be awkward for Druid to clear with Force of Nature anyway.
Really common Arena card. You can’t really “play around it”, as in stop him from using it, but you should consider clearing all the beasts he plays for it to be less valuable. There are a lot of Hunter drafts that have couple of Kill Commands and not that many beasts, so killing them might stop a lot of damage.
Just like with Kill Command – kill every beast he plays. Turn 3 beast into turn 4 Houndmaster happens often. The most tricky one is turn 2 Haunted Creeper when he starts second. On the one hand, he can coin out Houndmaster to get good value, but on the other you don’t really want to pop Haunted Creeper with your 2-drop, because dealing with the 1/1’s is pretty awkward. I still often clear it just because of the Houndmaster possibility.
Multi-Shot is relatively popular turn 4 play. Having a single minion on the board, or at least one minion being resilient (as in having more than 3 health, Divine Shield or some sort of Deathrattle) is good way to deny him some value.
Deadly Shot really hurts your big drops. Against Hunter, you might consider dropping two smaller minions instead of one big. Also, try to drop your biggest threats only when you already have something on the board. Deadly Shooting a 7-8 mana minion gives Hunter a lot of tempo. Remember that it can also hit Stealth and Untargetable minions (like Stranglethorn Tiger and Spectral Knight).
Unleash the Hounds
Try to not overextend into the board with a lot of small minions against Hunter, or Unleash the Hounds may punish you. The card is a really common pick, used in both offensive and defensive way. It may clear 2-3 of your small minions or it might push for a lot of damage. All the 1/1’s are usually tricky to deal with, and Hunter wants you to waste his time on killing them. Also, can be combo’ed with a lot of cards for even greater effect: Timber Wolf, Dire Wolf Alpha, Leokk, Scavenging Hyena, Raid Leader, Cult Master or even Starving Buzzard (really rare pick, but sometimes they get it from Webspinner). Try to not overextend into their Unleash.
Explosive Shot is really good in Arena and is often picked Rare card. You should always play around it, because it doesn’t cost you much. You just have to mind your positioning. The best way to play around it is to put Stealthed / Untargetable minion in the middle. It makes using Explosive Shot much more awkward for the Hunter. Another way is to ensure that least amount of minions die, no matter which one he targets. Putting a small minion, like a 1/1 in the middle is a pretty good way, because if he takes the main hit, 5 damage is wasted on a 1/1. Depending on the situation, you might also put a 6+ health minion in the middle, so it’s gonna survive the 5 damage.
The most common Hunter Secrets in Arena are Explosive Trap and Freezing Trap, so you should try to play around those. Trading a small minion into their minion is probably the best way to check it. If its Freezing – it’s gonna Freeze your small minion. If it’s Explosive, nothing’s gonna happen, and the minions will just trade. Then you can proceed accordingly and trade your low health minions. You also want to test out Snipe with the minion you want to take damage most. Things like Nerubian Egg or Acolyte of Pain are great minions to test Snipe if you have them. Misdirection is much more rare, because it’s usually pretty bad in Arena. Snake Trap is really good, but it’s Epic, so you won’t see many of those.
Flamestrike is probably the most dreaded card in the Arena. And for a good reason. In the mode where board control and value is really important, having such a good board clear is highly wanted. This is THE card you want to play around. Or actually, you want to bait it. Putting a lot of tokens or small, almost worthless minions on the board is a great way to bait Flamestrike. You want enemy to think that your board is threatening, even if it’s not really. Cards that spawn tokens like Silver Hand Knight or Imp Master are great at baiting it. If you can’t really bait it on a weak board, it depends on what kind of game you play. If you play fast, tempo game, you often can’t play around it, because you won’t win the game if you do. However, if you play the slow, control, value game – you definitely don’t want Flamestrike to get 3 or 4 for 1. Going into turn 7, always think of whether your board is good against Flamestrike. Having at least one or two 5+ health creatures is a great start. Having Divine Shields or Deathrattle minions is another plus. Remember that from turn 9 onwards, enemy might get one ping before Flamestrike. It means that he might, for example, ping the Divine Shield on your Scarlet Crusader before Flamestriking. Or he might kill your Mechanical Yeti along other smaller creatures.
You can’t really play around Mage Fireballing your minions. You can, however, play around Fireball as a burn spell. In Hearthstone, you often use your health as a resource. Especially in classes like Warlock and Rogue, you often need to balance at low health in exchange of card advantage / tempo. Against Mage, if you can, you don’t want to go below ~15 health. Two Fireballs are 12 health, and it’s easy to ping you (even 2-3 turns in a row) after that. 15 health is pretty safe. But often you just have to get below that. 7 health is really unsafe, because you die to Fireball + ping. Around 8-9 health, Mage can put you on a couple turns clock if they have a Fireball. So if Mage keeps a card in hand, or starts to ping your Hero instead of minions, you should probably know that he has some burn. Sometimes you have to take a risk and go below that health amount, but if you do, try to finish the game as quickly as you can, because with even 1 damage per turn, Mage can finish you off after some time.
The second main Mage’s AoE – Blizzard. Since it’s rare, it’s much less likely you’re gonna see it than Flamestrike. On the one hand, it’s pretty easy to play around it – 2 damage AoE for 6 mana is not big. It’s pretty impossible, however, to play around the Freeze part. Blizzard is more a tempo play than value play, so enemy is not likely gonna kill many of your minions. He can however push for damage with whatever he has on the board. That’s why in case of Mage Freezes, you should probably trade against his board if you know that he could rush you down thanks to them.
Cone of Cold
Cone of Cold is second most popular AoE freeze, and this one is Common, so it’s more likely you’re gonna see it. Just like other spells that affect minions next to the target, to play around it you should mind your positioning (so the price isn’t high). The first thing is that with 3 minions on the board, putting one with Stealth or Untargetable in the middle means he can’t Cone of Cold all of them. One will always be left unfrozen. Another thing is that if you have huge big board (4+ minions), you shouldn’t stack your highest threats together. For example, if you have two big minions, play them on opposite sides of the board. This way, Mage won’t be able to Cone of Cold and Freeze both of them, leaving you with at least 1 big minion that can attack.
The most common Arena Secret is definitely Mirror Entity, so that’s the one you should play around most. Try to give him a small minion, or a minion that you can deal with on the same turn you play it. Another common Secret is Duplicate. To play around it, either let the enemy make the trades (if you don’t want to kill his minion and let him Duplicate it) or kill his small minion, if he has any. Duplicate sometimes works in your favor, because enemy doesn’t really want to flood the board with small minions when he has Duplicate, thus you can gain a lot of tempo by just not proccing it. Ice Barrier is the last Secret in the common slot, but it’s not really used, because it sucks against anything but Aggro decks. You can’t play around it, but it doesn’t affect your board or Hero in any way, so you don’t really care. When it comes to the rare Secrets – Counterspell is the one you’ll see most. Remember that you can proc it with Coin and Spare Parts, so you want to try to do that before casting a big spell. If you don’t have any of those, try to use the worst spell in your hand before casting something big. Vaporize is the second rare Secret. To play around it, you need to attack enemy Hero with your worst minion first. The order of attacks doesn’t matter if it’s any other Secret, but attacking with your big guy first may lose you a game against Vaporize. When it comes to epic secrets, there are two – Ice Block and Spellbender. Both of them are situational Epics. You probably won’t see those too often, and you shouldn’t really play around these. If you are sure opponent’s Secret is Ice Block, though, you want to order your attacks in a way that you’re gonna pop it after taking Mage to lowest health possible. This way it will be easier to win the game next turn in case of a board clear etc. When you think the Secret is Spellbender, you don’t want to cast any big buff like Blessing of Kings or Velen's Chosen to not give it to enemy.
Again, you can’t play around it, but you might try to bait it. If you can afford to, play your least valuable big minion first. If it’s big enough to bait Polymorph, you can continue with developing bigger threats afterwards.
Goblin Blastmage is picked pretty often if the Mage has couple of Mechs in the deck. The minion has really great value if the effect is activated, so you might want to clear all the Mechs Mage plays to play around it. It’s great when used on turn 4, because the 4 pings may severely damage or kill your minions and gain a lot of tempo.
Pyroblast is one of those cards that seem like you should play around them whenever you can. But that’s actually not true. Pyroblast is Epic, so you won’t see many of those. And while staying at 10 health against Mage is dangerous – it’s not because of the Pyroblast. 2x Fireball or Fireball + Frostbolt are much more common things that can kill you at 10 health. So while you usually don’t want to get too low against Mage, playing against Pyroblast in particular makes no sense.
The card you should worry about most. It’s the only reliable AoE Paladin has, making it one of the most valuable Common picks. Most of the good Paladin decks draft at least one Consecration. Playing around it is relatively simple. Don’t throw too many 2 health minions on the board. Actually, since Paladin is one of the most common classes in Arena, you might play around Consecration as soon as during the draft. For example, drafting a 2/3 minion instead of 3/2 minion plays around Consecration. It’s often awkward for Paladin to finish off the 1 health minions, because he has no way to ping besides his Silver Hand Recruits, but those should be cleared whenever you can. If you’re running an Aggro deck and don’t have many high health minions, don’t overextend with your small ones. Getting wiped by Consecration when you have no minions in the hand to refill the board is one of the most common ways for an Aggro deck to lose against Paladin. Sticky creatures are also good against Consecration. Remember that in later turns, Consecration might be combo’ed with some source of Spell Power like Azure Drake for 3 damage AoE. It doesn’t happen often, but keep that in mind, and try to keep your minions as healthy as you can (but this is probably more of a general advice).
4 health on turn 4 against Paladin sucks. Truesilver Champion is probably the best Paladin Common in Arena. 4 damage is enough to kill most of early drops, and with combination with his Hero Power or Shielded Minibot, he might easily kill 5-6 health minions. It almost always gets 2 for 1, and the weapon’s side effect of damaging your Hero is somehow reduced with the 2 points of healing per hit. You should play around it, because almost any Paladin deck has at least one. Dropping a 4/5 on turn 4 is usually a better idea than using a 5/4 or 4/4. Later in the game, try to keep your most important minion at 5+ health, use your less important ones to trade (trading your low health minions also helps against Consecration). It’s also the most consistent source of Paladin’s “reach” if he has no board presence. It’s 8 damage over 2 turns, so try to not go below 9 against Paladin if you have no Taunts or a way to gain life.
I will make the whole category for it, because there are just too many of them. Blessing of Kings, Blessing of Might, Argent Protector, Quartermaster, Coghammer, not even counting the neutral card buffs. Almost every class has some sort of buffs, but Paladin’s buffs are mostly really strong, and he always has a target for them. If he has no board and even no minions in his hand, he can always make a 1/1 and buff him. Try to clear Paladin’s board as much as you can, because you might get screwed by the buffs. Especially if you combine the buffs and Divine Shield. Blessing of Kings on Shielded Minibot is really scary. Or even Blessing of Kings + Argent Protector on a 1/1 can make a formidable minion. There are couple of situations where you shouldn’t clear their board. For example if they have a lot of annoying minions like Haunted Creepers, Shielded Minibots, Piloted Shredders etc. – then clearing their board effectively is almost impossible. Or if you’re playing an Aggro deck and you’re rushing them down. Or if they have an Avenge up and you’re playing around it. But generally, the best way to play around buffs is to kill their stuff. Especially the Silver Hand Recruits, because even with something like Abusive Sergeant, they might get a lot of value. Don’t go that far and don’t kill their 1/1 with your Boulderfist Ogre (unless you’re at critically low health), but try to not let Paladin swarm the board with them.
Humility, Aldor Peacekeeper
This effect might be incredibly annoying, but hard to play around. I like to keep a Silence against Paladin in case they use Humility or Aldor Peacekeeper on my big creature, it reverts it back to normal. Otherwise, it’s pretty hard to play around them. You can try to bait them, especially Aldor Peacekeeper. Paladin often uses him as a 3/3 if he has no other good minions to play. With Humility, it’s more difficult. Paladin probably won’t use it on anything below 5 damage unless he’s desperate. Using damage buffs on the minion kinda negates the effect, but usually you just have to put him on a dude-slaying duty.
Paladin as a class has a lot of healing. Guardian of Kings, Holy Light, Seal of Light, Truesilver Champion, Lay on Hands. By playing around healing I mean that when you’re trying to rush Paladin, you should account for all the healing he can make. So going for a “yolo” play and praying that he has no way to taunt or heal is often pretty bad, because slower Paladin decks almost always have some form of healing. I’ve made 12 wins with a deck that had 40+ points of healing in total. Some Aggro decks took me down to 5 and then I was at 25 couple of turns later.
Paladin’s secrets are the weakest ones in the game. Still, they might be effective in some of the situations. They might give Paladin a lot of tempo when played at turn 1 instead of just passing. Two most popular secrets are Avenge and Noble Sacrifice. Those are somehow decent – first one great in aggressive decks, because +3/+2 for 1 mana works fine, and you usually don’t care what you get it on, since your board is flooded with small minions. It’s best with Divine Shields (as any other buffs), so if you know that enemy has Avenge up, try to get rid of their Divine Shields with pings or small minions before proccing it. You generally want to have a way to kill the Avenged minion on the turn it gets buffed. If you have absolutely no way to deal with their board, you might just ignore it – this way you don’t proc his secret and don’t make things even worse. Remember that clearing the whole board in one swing, e.g. by AoE, doesn’t proc the Avenge. Noble Sacrifice gets procced whenever you attack with a minion or your Hero. It means that swinging with a weapon or Druid’s Hero Power activates it. You usually want to either activate it with something like a 1/1 token or a 3+ health minion that will survive if you can afford losing health on your minions. If you have a small weapon equipped, you can check it with your face. Another kinda popular secret is Redemption. This one can be really problematic sometimes, you don’t want to proc it on some Deathrattle minion, because Paladin’s gonna get double Deathrattle value. You also don’t want to proc it on minions that are originally with Divine Shield, because they come back to life with it (minions on which Paladin used Argent Protector or Hand of Protection obviously don’t count). The big tell is when Paladin doesn’t play his 1/1’s. He doesn’t want you to proc the Secret on small minions without any effects and they’re probably the best target to do so. Repentance is really weak, you just want to play a small minion first to not give him value. And even if you check it with something like a 4/5 4-drop, in the best case scenario for Paladin, it’s gonna be a 1 for 1 in terms of cards and a slight tempo gain for him. Not the most exciting Secret. Eye for an Eye is probably the worst Secret in the whole game, because it usually does completely nothing. When you attack their face, just do it with lowest attack minion first. Maybe 2-3 times in my whole Arena career I’ve seen an Eye for an Eye getting more than 5 damage value.
Equality is one of the best Paladin Rares in Arena, so you will see it from time to time. It’s really good and hard to play around. It’s best when combined with Consecration for a full board clear. The combo is more rare, though, so you shouldn’t particularly play around it. I mean, overextending on the board is never a good thing. If you already have 2-3 threats on the board, ask yourself whether you actually need to put out more. If they can contest anything Paladin is gonna play, there is no point in playing them. This way you also play around Equality + Consecration. Equality without Consecration is considerably weaker, because their main way to kill your 1 health creatures afterwards are Silver Hand Recruits. So again, if you keep their number in check, it shouldn’t be such a big problem.
Really great card in Constructed when you’re playing Aggro Paladin – Divine Favor. Not as reliable in Arena, however, because even the slower decks run out of cards pretty fast, and you can’t reliably make really fast deck that gets out of cards in the first few turns to get Divine Favor value. Still, if you see a pretty fast Paladin deck, you might want to not keep too many cards in your hand, but rather play them out. A 4-5 draws from Divine Favor can often turn the game around.
Like always, you should play around AoE. Holy Nova is the most common Priest AoE. It’s easier to play around than Consecration, because it comes one turn later and Priest usually has no small minions to finish your higher health minions off after the AoE. Generally, playing around it is the same – keep your minions over 2 health. In Priest’s case, in later turns you probably want to play around 3 damage Holy Nova, because of how easy is to get +1 Spell Power with Velen's Chosen.
This is one of the strongest late game cards in the game. Luckily for you, you don’t have to worry about it until turn 10. But after that, you can be punished for dropping a big minion. You want to play around it. The general rule is that you want to have a clear way to deal with a minion Priest steals. So for example, if you’re a Paladin and you drop a 6/7, you want to have something like a 3/2 minion and Truesilver to deal with the 6/7 in case it gets Mind Controlled. Big minions are especially scary in the hands of Priest because of his Hero Power, so don’t give them an opportunity to heal them back after trading. If you don’t have a good way to deal with a big guy, playing a mid game minions, big enough to be out of range of AoE, but small enough to not get Mind Controlled is usually a best tactic. Also, Priest decks rarely run two or more of those, so you probably should only play around one.
Velen's Chosen is the nightmare when playing against Priest. It makes a standard 2/3 minion a 4/7, which combined with Priest’s Hero Power is really hard to deal with and often trades for 3-4 minions. To play around it, you want to trade. Even if you’re playing an Aggro deck, it’s probably a good idea to trade with their 2-drop, because even something like Power Word: Shield may stop your damage progress. Keeping a Silence or a damage spell to deal with their buffed minion is also a thing you should consider. Later in the game, you might want to play around the +1 Spell Power on their spells, because it’s easy to combine it with a spell on the same turn.
Shadow Madness is one of the best Priest Rares and it’s picked pretty much every time it shows up. It’s almost always a 2 for 1, unless you play around it. You can’t always do that, but try to not have two small creatures that can kill each other, especially if one of them has some Deathrattle. For example, 3/2 minion into Harvest Golem can backfire, because not only Priest can kill both of them, but also gets a 2/1. Have the spell in mind when you make your plays, but do not necessarily make bad plays just to play around it.
Auchenai Soulpriest + Circle of Healing
One of the most popular Priest combos in Constructed – Auchenai Soulpriest + Circle of Healing. On turn 4, usually a full board clear. Don’t play around it, though. While Auchenai Soulpriest is a really great pick in Arena, it’s Rare, so you’re probably not gonna see it that often. On top of that, Circle of Healing is pretty bad card without the combos with Auchenai, Injured Blademaster, Northshire Cleric or Lightwarden, so it’s not often picked. The combo may happen, but it’s rare enough to not play around it.
It’s an Epic, so by the rule, you shouldn’t really play around it. It’s however an Epic that can completely swing the game around and get something like 4 for 1, so you might consider being safe and play around it. Try to have some minions that are gonna survive it and don’t overextend with too many big threats that are gonna get wiped by Lightbomb. I’ve lost too many Arena games against Priest because of the Lightbomb, so now I try to be safer. Because if it’s the only thing that can wreck me, there is no point in playing into it.
Cabal Shadow Priest
Another Epic, but absolutely the best one in Priest. If he sees a Cabal Shadow Priest during a draft, it’s an auto-pick. So expect to see it relatively often for an Epic. It gets incredible value. Strong 2 attack minions like Oasis Snapjaw or Gurubashi Berserker are weak against Priest anyway, because of Shadow Word: Pain, but having something like that stolen by Cabal on turn 6, you’ve usually lost the game. Try to play bigger 4-drops and 5-drops going into their turn 6, 4 attack ones like Mechanical Yeti or Spiteful Smith are especially good against Priest. Sometimes you can’t play around it, and he’s almost always gonna get some value, but it’s better that Cabal steals your 2-drop than 5-drop.
Backstab, SI:7 Agent, Goblin Auto-Barber
Backstab, SI:7 Agent and Goblin Auto-Barber are all really popular Rogue Arena cards. I’ve put them all together for one reason – they’re all early game cards that deal 2 damage. And those are the reason why 2/3 minions are stronger than 3/2 against Rogue. It’s true that Rogue can finish off a 2/1 minion after a Backstab or SI:7 with his dagger, but he has to develop it earlier, which uses their turn. Those cards are strong even against 2/3 minions, but the point is that it denies Rogue a lot of tempo, which is really important when you play against a class based around tempo.
Fan of Knives, Dark Iron Skulker, Blade Flurry
Once again I put three cards in the same category, because you play around them in a similar fashion. Against Fan of Knives, you don’t want to flood board with 1 health minions. Against Dark Iron Skulker, with 2 health minions. Against Blade Flurry, you don’t want to flood the board in general (because in some situations it can deal up to 6-7 AoE damage), but the most popular Flurry is 3 damage when combined with Deadly Poison on their Hero Power. Keep those card in mind when you play against Rogue, because every of them is relatively common.
Above average card in Rogue, you see it pretty often in Arena. Betrayal can get a huge value, especially against bad players. You should always play around it, because like against Explosive Shot, it costs you almost nothing (you don’t care about your minions positioning unless you have specific cards like Defender of Argus in your deck). The first way to play around it is similar – you want to put a Stealth or Untargetable minion in the middle, so Rogue can’t cast Betrayal on it. The second way is to put a creature with low attack in the middle – this way the Betrayal won’t do much damage. Putting a 1/1, however, is usually not a good idea, because Rogue can just kill it with the dagger and Betrayal your stronger minions.
Sap, Vanish, Kidnapper
Another trio of cards with similar effects, from the most to least popular. Sap is pretty good and you will see it often. To play around it, if you’re already behind on tempo, drop couple of smaller creatures instead of a big one (it’s also a good way to play around Sabotage or Assassinate). Also, you shouldn’t feel safe behind a Taunt, because it may be easily taken out by Sap. Vanish is much worse, because it costs more mana and removes ALL the creatures from the board. You don’t really want to play around it, because it’s more of a defensive card anyway, it’s only really good if you have a lot of minions on the board and almost full hand – you might burn some creatures instead of getting them back. Kidnapper is actually a decent card in Arena, certainly not a best epic, but about average one. You don’t play around it in particular, but playing around the Sap plays around Kidnapper at the same time.
Cold Blood, Tinker’s Sharpsword Oil
Both Cold Blood and Tinker's Sharpsword Oil are ways for Rogue to get a lot of burst. If used properly, the first one is at least 4 damage for 1 mana, and the second one is at least 9 damage for 4 mana. Both of them need some setup, but they’re really strong cards in an Aggressive deck. Rogue can have a lot of burst, even in Arena, so you should worry about your life total and don’t use it as a resource too much, or they’re gonna surprise you with a lot of damage.
The only real AoE Shaman has. Since Lightning Storm is Rare, you see it much less often than things like Consecration or Flamestrike. Still, it’s one of the best cards in the Shaman, because of how desperately he needs to control the board. I’m a fan of playing around it, as in not flooding the board with small creatures for no reason. You definitely won’t see every Shaman deck having it, but you should anticipate it when you’re at higher wins. Also, since it can deal up to 3 damage without any Spell Power, and up to 4 with Spell Power totem, depending on the Shaman RNG, one of you is usually gonna be sad seeing the outcome.
One of the strongest, if not THE strongest Common in Shaman – Fire Elemental. Great turn 6 play. Going into their turn 6, try to not have any good targets for it. Fire Elemental killing let’s say your 4/3 for free is a disaster. Also, try to have some way to deal with it, because 6 damage is not something you can take every turn. You expect good Shaman decks to have couple of those, but even average decks at low win rates often have one or two Fire Elementals.
That thing can get incredible value and is one of the biggest reasons you should keep Shaman’s board clear all the time. Flametongue Totem, especially when combined with their totems from Hero Power and small creatures, can get huge value. If it stays on the board for a couple of turns, and you have no way to deal with it, expect Shaman to win the game. Flametongue makes his Hero Power able to trade with your 2-drops (essentially killing them for free in terms of card advantage) or his 2-3 drops trade into your 4-5 drops. It also lets Shaman push for 4 more damage per turn if he’s in the Aggro mode. Clear the Shaman’s totems, small creatures and tokens, because that’s how he might get the most value with Flametongue.
Forked Lightning is pretty good Shaman card. It lets him gain a lot of tempo in one turn, but kinda screws his next one. 1 mana, 2 overload is much. But when it comes to playing against Shaman, you encounter this card pretty often. Having only two 2 health creatures on the board is probably a bad idea. If one of them is 3+, it’s much better and not loses to Forked Lightning as much.
Bloodlust is a really situational and cheesy card, but it can win Shaman games if you ignore their board. Even seemingly useless totems may get 3 damage each. It can lead to a lot of burst, especially if combined with Windfury or Windspeaker. Be careful, and again, clear Shaman’s board. When you keep the board control all the time, you shut Shaman in so many ways.
Not the best cards in Warlock, but definitely a common sight. It also damages Warlock’s board, but if they have nothing on the board, it affects only your side. Try to not overextend going into turn 4, and if you do, it’s best if you have some sticky minions. Otherwise, play around it like around any other AoE.
Second Warlock AoE, Shadowflame is more rare than Hellfire, but better most of time. It has a potential to deal a lot of damage (even 6+ if Warlock is willing to sacrifice a big minion). The downside is that he has to have some minion on the board when he plays it, so he can’t just Shadowflame from an empty board on turn 4. On the other hand, it’s great because he controls how much damage he wants to deal by using it on appropriate minion. It’s hard to play around in any other way than not overextending on the board.
Third Warlock AoE – Demonwrath. This one is even more rare than the other two, but is still strong. The big upside is that it costs 3 mana, so can be used to shut down hyper-Aggro decks easily. 2 damage for 3 mana is great for AoE spell. The bad part is that it damages everything besides Demons – so if you have creatures other than Demons, they get damaged. Luckily for Warlock, pretty much all his class minions are Demons. If they’re running a deck with a lot of Demons, they’re more likely gonna also draft Demonwrath, but it’s really hard to tell if they have one or not. Play around it, expect it as early as turn 3.
Mortal Coil, Dread Infernal
Warlock can’t ping with their Hero Power like for example Mage. It doesn’t mean that leaving creatures at 1 health against him is a good idea, though. Early in the game, Mortal Coil plays a big role. For 1 mana he can finish off your damaged minion and cycle a card, which you don’t really want. Later in the game, Dread Infernal is a great way to deal with all your 1 health minions. Try to not keep your minions at 1 health, especially in the first turns and going into turn 6, because it’s very likely that Warlock is gonna have a way to deal with them for free, which might swing the game into their favor.
Don’t play around Twisting Nether. While the card is not worst in the Arena, it’s an Epic, and a below average one. I’ve picked it maybe once out of dozens of Warlock drafts, and I’ve seen it 3-4 times in total. It’s cool, but really unlikely to encounter.
Weapons are the base of a good Warrior deck. Without them, the class is pretty bad in Arena. Fiery War Axe is absolutely the best one and a baseline for a good Warrior Arena deck. It’s hard to play around it, because it kills most of 1-drops and 2-drops easily. A good way to “play around it” is to drop some sticky minions like Haunted Creeper. Warrior isn’t likely to hit it with an Axe, and later in the game War Axe isn’t as good as on turn 2. If you’re starting with Coin, you might even skip a 2-drop and coin out something like Spider Tank, which is much better against Fiery War Axe. Death's Bite is similar to Truesilver Champion, but not as good, because Warrior has no reliable way to deal a little more damage with his Hero Power. The Whirlwind effect is also not that good in Arena, maybe against Aggro decks / Paladins. Arcanite Reaper is the third best commonly seen Warrior weapon. How to play around them? It’s often impossible. Hight health taunts like Fen Creeper are usually good, because they take 2 weapon hits to kill and they protect your smaller creatures. Small taunts like Voidwalker are also a good target to force Weapon’s hit. Generally, you want to keep your important minions behind Taunts against Warrior. Then, there is also Gorehowl. You can’t really play around it, because most of the deck don’t even have 8+ health minions, and Warrior can hit with it many times, but it’s Epic anyway, so you won’t see it often.
Whirlwind and Revenge are cards with very similar effects. They both deal 1 damage to all minions on the board. Play around it like around any AoE or like let’s say Dread Infernal. The more tricky part about Revenge is that the AoE is increased to 3 when Warrior is at 12 or less health. Since Revenge is seen sometimes, you might consider it when putting Warrior below 13 health. If your board has a lot of small health minions, sometimes it’s better to stop damaging Warrior above 12 health and just wait a turn. Clearing your whole board with a 2 mana spell might swing the game around. Both of the cards are pretty easy to play around, though.
Cleave is very similar to Shaman’s Forked Lightning. Deals 2 damage to two random minions. Plays like Coin + 3/2 on turn 1 into 3/2 on turn 2 are pretty bad because of Cleave. Just like in Forked Lightning’s case, if you drop second minion on the board, you want at least one of them to have 3+ health.
Unlike in Constructed, it’s much harder to get an activator for Execute in Arena (like Cruel Taskmaster). This means that keeping your big threats at full health is probably the easiest way to play around it. Trade with your smaller things and keep your big guy healthy – this way he won’t be able to execute it most of the time. And if he does something like throwing a Charge minion into your big guy and Executing it, it’s 2 for 1, which is fine for you.
Not really a card that’s easy to play around. I mean, you want to kill damaged enemy minions so Battle Rage won’t get value. But you want to kill their damaged minions anyway, because if you take board control from Warrior, it’s really hard for him to come back. Just a thing for you to remember – leaving couple of damaged minions on Warrior’s side might backfire.
Brawl is very common in Constructed. Since it’s Epic, you won’t see it often in Arena. And since you don’t see Warriors often, getting Brawled is probably not a thing to worry about. Don’t think about this card, just stick to the standard “don’t overextend when you don’t have to” line of thinking.
Playing around cards is a really important aspect of the Arena. It’s hard to make a good list of cards to play around, because it’s mostly situational, and like I’ve explained in the first part of the guide, depends on so many things. You might however use it as a baseline, and then compare it with your own experience and situation you’re in. The list is probably a little lacking, so if you think of a cards that should get there, leave a comment below. If you have any ideas, thoughts, or you’ve just liked the article, also write! =)