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February 2, 2017

Table of Contents

Anticipating Curve Plays in Arena

Greetings, I’m shokunin, an infinite Arena player and a coach at HearthstoneCoaching.com.

The most frequent advice I give to my students, who are aspiring infinite Arena players, is to work on anticipating curve plays and playing your hand accordingly. In order to accomplish this, you need to know what Neutral and Class cards to expect.

You will notice that I only reference Common and Rare cards. This is because the probability of drafting any given Epic or Legendary is very unlikely. For example, you only need to concern yourself with Deathwing when you are so far ahead that it becomes one of the only cards that will cause you to lose.

In addition, I have not listed every card because if you plan for the standard and premium cards in each mana slot, you are already prepared for all the substandard cards. Focus on identifying the Commons and Rares that are the bread and butter of Arena.

Expected Turn 1 Plays


Neutral 1-drops

  • Zombie Chow: This is the strongest possible neutral 1-drop. Its stats challenge 2-drops independently and usually allows the first player to maintain initiative and board control.
  • Argent Squire: Unlike Zombie Chow, this usually requires an Attack buff (e.g. Abusive Sergeant, Dire Wolf Alpha) to threaten 2-drops. However, the Divine Shield helps it stick to the board and trade up later or act as a ping because you usually cannot afford the tempo loss of using Hero Power on Turn 2 to remove the Shield.
  • Worgen Infiltrator: This is a strong 1-drop that is frequently drafted because Stealth allows it to trade on its terms, unlike other 2/1 minions which can be countered by a 2/3 minion or removed with a Hero Power ping.
  • 2/1 minions: These are threats if you only hold 2-drops with 2 or less Health and you do not have a Hero Power that pings.

Class 1-drops

Expected Turn 1 Plays (when opponent has Coin)


The most common use of the Coin on Turn 1 is to play a 2-drop followed by another 2-drop on Turn 2. This allows the second player to take back the initiative since Arena decks often do not have a playable 1-drop in the opening hand (as seen above). However, there are some class-specific openers which you need to be aware of.

Paladin

  • If they Coin a 2-drop on Turn 1, the potential followup threat is Argent Protector which could allow their 2-drop to kill your 2-drop for free. The only ways to avoid this are to remove the minion or to play a minion with more Health than the Attack of their Coined 2-drop (e.g. 2/3 vs. 2/3).

Priest

  • If they Coin a 2-drop on Turn 1, the potential followup threat is Shrinkmeister which could allow their 2-drop to kill your 2-drop for free. The only ways to avoid this are to remove the minion or to play a minion with more Health than the Attack of their Coined 2-drop (e.g. 2/3 vs. 2/3).
  • If they play any 1-drop, the potential followup threat is Coin into Velen's Chosen to kill your 2-drop for free. The only ways to avoid this are to remove the minion or to play a minion with more Health than the Attack+2 of their Coined 2-drop (e.g. 4-Health vs. Northshire ClericVelen's Chosen). Otherwise, you will need removal or Silence during a later turn.

Rogue

  • Defias Ringleader
  • If they Coin into their Hero Power on Turn 1, the potential followup threat is Goblin Auto-Barber. If possible, play a minion with 3+ Health to avoid your minion dying to their 2-damage weapon.

Shaman

  • If they coin Whirling Zap-o-matic on Turn 1, the potential followup threat is early removal for your minions which will allow the Whirling to deal 6+ damage for multiple turns. The only way to avoid this is to remove the Whirling.

Warrior

1-Mana Removal

If you play a minion on Turn 1, you should be aware of the potential 1-mana and 2-mana removal available to your opponent. A consideration when deciding which 2-drop to Coin on Turn 1 is to avoid 2-damage removals with a 3+ Health minion. Another consideration is that 2/3 minions are better against 2/4 minions on 3-mana while 3/2 minions are better against 3/3 minions on 3-mana.

1-Mana AOE

Expected Turn 2 Plays


Standard 2-drops come with either 2/3 or 3/2 stats (e.g. River Crocolisk, Bloodfen Raptor). Notable 2-drops are found below. If the opponent did not use Coin yet, they may use it to play 3-drop into 3-drop (see the next section).

Class 2-drops

2-Mana Removal

2-Mana AOE

  • Neutral – Unstable Ghoul
  • Neutral – Explosive Sheep: Not highly picked outside of Mage, who can ping it immediately with 4-mana.
  • Paladin – Equality (Rare): Usually combined with Consecration.
  • Rogue – Betrayal: It often serves as a single-target removal instead. Carefully position your minions.
  • Warrior – Cleave
  • Warrior – Revenge (Rare): Hard to play around because you almost never intentionally hold back damage in Arena.

Expected Turn 3 Plays


Paladin

  • Divine Strength on their existing 2-drop and another 2-drop from hand is very strong (similar to the Argent Protector with Coin opening). The only ways to avoid this are to remove their 2-drop or to play a minion with 2 more Health than the Attack of the 2-drop (e.g. 1/4 vs 2/3).

Standard 3-drops come with either 2/4 or 3/3 stats (e.g. Squirming Tentacle, Ironfur Grizzly). Notable 3-drops are found below.

  • Spider Tank: A premium 3-drop because it can kill other 3-drops for free.
  • Ogre Brute: A premium 3-drop because it can kill other 3-drops for free.
  • Nerubian Prophet: A premium 3-drop because it can kill other 3-drops for free. (Variable cost, only if held since Turn 1)
  • Jungle Panther: One of the few 3-drops with 4-Attack that can challenge the two above. Potential buff target.
  • Shattered Sun Cleric: It buffs a 2/3 minion into a 3/4 usually resulting in a free kill. It buffs a 3/2 minion into a 4/3 which can kill a 2/3 for free.
  • Scarlet Crusader: Potential buff target if the Shield is not removed.
  • Silent Knight: Potential buff target.
  • Harvest Golem: Sticky minion.
  • Raging Worgen: Potential buff target and can be activated by the Mage Hero Power.
  • Tinkertown Technician: Requires a Mech.
  • Imp Master (Rare): 2/5 worth of stats at the end of turn.
  • Mind Control Tech (Rare): Whether to play around this later in the game is situational.
  • Silithid Swarmer (Rare): Requires Hero to attack this turn.

Class 3-drops

3-Mana Removal

3-Mana AOE

Expected Turn 4 Plays


Standard 4-drops come with 3-5 Attack and 4-5 Health (e.g. Burly Rockjaw Trogg, Lost Tallstrider). 5-Health is a critical threshold in Arena since 5+ damage removal is uncommon. Notable 4-drops are found below.

Class 4-drops

4-Mana Removal

4-Mana AOE

Expected Turn 5 Plays


Standard 5-drops come with 3-5 Attack and 5-6 Health (e.g. Fen Creeper, Darkscale Healer). Notable 5-drops are found below.

Class 5-drops

5-Mana Removal

5-Mana AOE

Expected Turn 6 Plays


Standard 6-drops come with 4-6 Attack and 5-7 Health (e.g. Archmage, Frost Elemental). Notable 6-drops are found below.

Class 6-drops

6-Mana Removal

6-Mana AOE

Expected Turn 7 Plays


7-Mana Drops

Class 7-Mana Drops

7-Mana AOE

Expected Turn 8 Plays


8-Mana Drops

Class 8-Mana Drops

Expected Turn 9 Plays


Expected Turn 10 Plays


Rule of Thumb


Maximum Health for Common Drops = Minion’s Mana Cost + 1

This is the most damage you need to remove a single minion of a given mana cost. Notable exceptions are found below.

Conclusion


I hope this guide helps you improve at planning your turns for the Arena. I often hear stories of players complaining about getting blown out by a Legendary or a topdeck in the late game of an Arena match. What they don’t recognize is that often these situations can be completely avoided by anticipating and countering the standard common plays via the mulligan, early game openers, and strong midgame play.

Coaching


If you’re looking for one-on-one help becoming an infinite Arena player, hitting Legend rank, or reaching your Hearthstone goals, you can find me and other top caliber coaches at HearthstoneCoaching.com. We’ve provided over a thousand hours of coaching to students around the world.

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5 Comments

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  1. This would be incredible if it could be put into an overlay addon. Like if deck tracker could show “next turn you might be dealing with these 4-5 cards based on the class you’re playing and what’s been played so far” and you make your play on what you’re seeing.

  2. GeorgeC says:

    This article along with the grining goat series are so good that could be ”premium content”

  3. Anonymous says:

    Great summary, thank you! The math about Mad Bomber seems off though since there are 3 possible targets to hit.