Arena with Stone: How does the Arena work?
Hello everyone! My name is Stonekeep and I’m an infinite Arena player with about 75% win rate. I’m starting the series of articles about the Arena. I feel like the Arena is the less known game mode and it often scares off beginners. That’s why my first article is going to be more theoretical than practical. I want to explain how exactly Arena works, the drafting process, what rewards can you get and answer one of the most important questions – is it worth to play it? I’m dividing those into sections, so if you are only interested in the last one – scroll down!
If you’re looking for other articles like tier lists, explaining matchups, helping with drafts, in-depth Arena guides – check out HearthstonePlayers often, because I’ll be posting new ones as often as I can!
What is the Arena?
The Arena is one of the three game modes currently available in Hearthstone (the other ones being Constructed and PvE Adventures). Main difference between the Arena and the other two is that you draft new deck each run – you don’t get to play the cards you have, nor you keep the cards you’ve drafted. It means that each run is unique and “fresh”. The Arena ends when you either get to 12 wins or you lose 3 times (e.g. 12-1 or 5-3). Players get matched with others of approximately the same score – players who are now 0-1 are usually matched with other 0-1’s. If there aren’t any players with the same score, system tries to match you with as close score as possible – it’s especially important at higher number of wins, since you sometimes get to play same players twice in a row. You get rewards depending on how many wins you’ve got. You can also retire prematurely any time you want – you still earn the rewards for how many wins you’ve got.
To start the Arena run, click the “The Arena” button in the Main Menu and select the payment method. Your first Arena is free! After that, you have to pay 150 gold or $1.99 (€1.79, £1.49) for each run.
Occasionally Blizzard gives free Arena tokens (like during Goblins versus Gnomes release), but you probably shouldn’t count on those. When you’ve paid for it, you get to select a class. You always get 3 random class choices – you have no influence on what classes you get, it completely depends on RNG.
After selecting a class and confirming – you start your draft.
Drafting your deck
Each Arena deck consists of 30 cards (just like your Constructed decks). Each time, you get to pick 1 card of 3 choices you’ve got presented. Those 3 choices are always of the same rarity (Basic cards, those without rarity gem, are commons here), so you can’t get picks such as 2 rares and 1 epic. 1st, 10th, 20th and 30th card are always of quality higher than common (usually rare, but sometimes epic / legendary). Every other card might also have higher quality, but those aren’t guaranteed. Legendaries are pretty uncommon in Arena. From my own statistics, I draft legendaries in ~22% of my runs, so I’d say that you get one in 5 runs on average.
Unlike Constructed, you might draft more than 2 copies of a card (more than 1 in case of legendary) – you sometimes end up having 4 or 5 copies of a certain card. You can’t, however, get cards from Promo or Reward sets. Right now, there are 4 cards like that: Captain's Parrot, Old Murk-Eye (Reward), Gelbin Mekkatorque and Elite Tauren Chieftain (Promo). You have no way of knowing which cards you’re gonna get offered next, so pick carefully (picks like Ancient Watcher are extremely risky, as you might not draft any way to activate it).
You can see the current deck list on the right side of the screen and mana curve on the bottom. Those are the tools that help you draft. You might want to consider those when doing your picks, especially the later ones. At the start you should pick the most valuable picks, and not care about your curve, as it will probably smooth as you pick.
Playing in the Arena
After you draft the deck, you just need to click on the “Play” button and the system will search for the opponent. Matchmaking tries to put you against player with as close score as possible. If there is no one with exactly the same score as you (e.g. 5-2 vs 5-2), system broadens the searching pool until it finds someone. If you consider how many players Hearthstone has, finding someone with the same score isn’t hard. But there are some cases (server problems, playing late in the night, having high win score) when you get to play the same player twice in a row.
The Arena games look just like the games in Constructed, so there’s nothing to talk about here. You’ll be able to read details about matches in my future articles!
Your run finishes when you win 12 times or lose 3 times. Disconnects count as losses. Games ending in a draw count neither as a win or a loss – you stay at the exactly same score as before the draw.
If you particularly don’t like your deck, you may retire. It means that you finish the Arena with your current score and get rewarded instantly. I recommend this option only if your deck is nearly unplayable and you’re sure that you won’t get wins with it. Playing with deck like that can often be tilting and you might want to use your time to start a new run already instead of losing 3 times. If you don’t get tilted easily, however, I recommend you to always try! I had some 0-3 runs after going infinite and those suck, I know. You need to remember that learning from your mistakes is really important. So next time when you draft a bad deck, instead of thinking “I can’t get any wins, I have to retire”, think “what could I do to make this draft better” or “maybe I can squeeze some wins with this weak deck”. Positive mindset might help you sticking with the Arena and getting to like the mode after a while.
When you finish the run, you get rewarded based on the number of wins. The number of losses doesn’t matter. Whether you’ve retired or not also doesn’t matter.
When it comes to the rewards, each key has a certain guaranteed reward + random reward(s). Guaranteed reward is a Goblins versus Gnomes card pack (you always get one, even if you go 0-3) and gold (starting with 3 wins). Random reward may consist of more gold, dust or a card. Cards you get are completely random. They might be from a Classic or Goblins versus Gnomes set. The more wins you have, the better cards you can get, though. For example, if you finish with 1 win, you can only get a non-golden common. But if you finish with 10 wins, you might even get a golden legendary! (it’s extremely rare, but it may happen) When you finish with 12 wins, you might also get an extra pack – you have about 1 in 3 chances to get it instead of one another reward. Here is the table with average rewards for each number of wins, along with the representing key:
What can we read from the table? Besides that the more wins you end with, the shinier key you get, you can check out how many wins you need for the Arena to be profitable. For counting purposes, I subtract 10 gold for every 6 games played, because you’d earn 10 gold per 3 wins in Constructed. I assume 50% Constructed win rate, but to be honest, it doesn’t matter too much. I also don’t count the dust, because it’s hard to exactly evaluate it. Depends on how valuable the dust is to you, you might calculate it yourself! So, every Arena earns you a pack. Always. It means that you start with 100 gold value for your 150 gold Arena ticket – it nets -50 gold. At 4 wins, you earn 66 gold on average. After 7 games in Constructed, you’d earn about 12 gold. -50 + 66 – 12 = 4. It means that, on average, the 4 wins Arena run nets you +4 gold compared to Constructed. So, even discounting rest of the rewards (dust, single cards etc.) the Arena starts to be more profitable than Constructed at 4 wins.
However, “being profitable” doesn’t mean that you can play only that mode and completely avoid Constructed. Pack has 100 gold value, but it doesn’t give you 100 gold. Here comes the next term – Infinite Arena. Infinite Arena means that you can play the Arena all the time, only with the gold you earn from the Arena. It becomes possible at 7 wins. 7 wins guarantee you at least 150 gold – and that’s exactly what it takes to start a new Arena run.
Also, a quick note. Those gold values are average gold you get for certain amount of wins. It doesn’t mean that if you average 7 wins, you get about 166 gold per run. Getting to 6 and 8 means that you average 7 wins, but the average gold is (106 + 184)/2 = 145 gold. So if you average 7 wins, you MIGHT not go infinite, but that’s a really rare case. If you include the daily quests, you can be almost sure that you will.
What’s worth adding is that even if you retire your every run instantly, on average you’re “only” losing 36 gold. In best case scenario, you might even get 40 gold back for ending with 0 wins, netting you only -10 gold. So you shouldn’t feel as bad for retiring a 0-0 deck if you just don’t want to play it.
Is it worth to play the Arena?
But Stone! What does that mean? Is it worth to play the Arena?
The answer is: depends. First of all, if you want to play the Arena only for the profit and you don’t like the mode, I wouldn’t recommend doing it. It’s easy to get tilted in the Arena. Many decks you draft are underwhelming, especially for new players. Ending the Arena run with 0 wins feels really depressing. So unless you enjoy the mode or you’re sure you can endure the hard start, you should just play Constructed.
If you like the Arena, though, I think it’s completely worth to play it. All it takes for the game mode to be worth is averaging 4 wins. You can easily do that after some practice. And the more you win, the better it gets. I am a F2P player with almost completed collection, thanks to playing a lot of Arenas. I would never get so many packs by just playing Constructed.
The reason why the Arena might be a fun mode for new players is that you get to use every card in the game and everyone has equal chances (drafts depend on RNG, not on how much time / money you’ve invested into the game). I loved it at the start, because it was the only way to play epic / legendary cards I didn’t have in my collection. I also didn’t feel that I’m behind because I didn’t pay for the game. It felt much better than facing couple of legendaries in Constructed when I had none. That’s what hooked me into it.
New players definitely shouldn’t be scared of the Arena. I know some people who used their free Arena run when they’ve started, went 0-3 and got discouraged to play any more. Let me say that: your first runs probably won’t be good. Even if you have some Constructed experience. That’s because the Arena is completely different from Constructed – you need to learn to play it all over again. But don’t worry about that, you’ll learn in time.
My advice is: theory before practice. Because Arena tickets cost, you don’t want to throw away your gold. Reading guides or watching popular streamers really helps. Especially when it comes to the drafting process – you need to learn what cards are good in the Arena and what aren’t. Using external sites to help you drafting might be a good strategy, but besides having a good cards in your deck, you need to know WHY they are good and when you should play them. That’s the reason why I’m starting this series – I’ll try to cover most popular topics and explain how to play that mode properly.
After you’ve learned the theory, you know how everything works, all you need is practice. Experience plays a huge role and no amount of guides can compensate lack of experience. That’s why you shouldn’t give up after couple of losses. You learn something with every new game. You get to know which cards are played most often, how you should react to certain situations, you can feel how much burst you can expect from each class etc. Noticing certain game patterns comes with experience. So, play the Arena, enjoy it and grind new cards!
- In early development stages, the Arena was called “The Forge”. Back then, you were able to keep the cards you’ve drafted!
- Previously, the greatest amount of wins you could get in the Arena was 9. It was changed during Closed Beta to 12.
- Old Constructed ranks (before the current Season system was implemented by Blizzard) closely resembled the Arena keys.
- Every class says unique line when you select it in the Arena. You can’t hear it anywhere else.
- The maximum amount of gold you can get from a single run is 535 gold.
- 0.65% of the Arena runs end with 12 wins, and only 0.02% of the runs end with exactly 12-0 score.
Thanks for reading, guys! I know that most of you already know what I’ve explained in the article, because I targeted it mainly at new players. My future articles are gonna be more interesting even for experienced players, so I encourage you to check them out when they are released. I’d also like you to leave comments. You can ask me anything, you can say what you’d like to read next, you might even just say “hi” =) I appreciate any support and I’ll try to respond to every comment. See you next time!