With the Year of the Mammoth now properly underway, Blizzard announced today that Arena mode will soon be moving to Standard Play, among other changes.
Up until this point, Arena has supported Wild Play, meaning that every single card has been available for use. The move to Standard Play will significantly reduce the number of cards available for drafting, cutting out popular choices like the Piloted Shredder. Standard Play currently supports League of Explorers, The Grand Tournament, Blackrock Mountain, and the recently-released Means Streets of Gadgetzan, as well as the base classic cards.
The move is due in part to Blizzard's desire to highlight certain synergies, "Many of the cool synergies between cards, such as Jade Golems or Mechs, live within each individual set release. Attempting to create decks that utilize these meaningful synergies in a wide and diluted card pool will become more and more difficult as the Wild card pool grows larger. Arena runs then becomes less about card synergies and smart deck choices and more about being fortunate enough to be presented with the best card from each set. This change should put the focus back on the player for good, synergistic Arena choices and make Arena decks feel more cohesive."
Blizzard added that they will be monitoring the new format "carefully," and may add additional changes or formats in the future.
In addition to the new format, Blizzard announced a number of changes to the card distribution. Once the changes go live, rare cards and spells will be more common, while neutral classic cards will show up less.
Hearthstone Fans React to the Changes to Arena Mode
Some fans predictably expressed frustration with the move, with one user on Reddit writing, "The thing about arena I liked is that it was a fresh escape from experiencing all the cards in Standard. I understand most would say "just go to wild" but I didn't want to do that."
Another added, "Not sure how I feel about Standard Arena format, as it's even less likely people will play and be exposed to Wild cards. Blizzard better have something amazing planned for Wild or it's really doomed."
Others were more positive, "I think moving arena to standard is a good move. As someone who enjoys MTG drafting/sealed, being able to put together a synergistic/thematic deck makes the experience much more fun, and feels more rewarding when your deck works."
The card distribution changes received a warmer response, not the least because it's simply more fun to draw epic and legendary cards. With many Arena runs boiling down to whether or not you were able to draw enough Truesilver Champions, these are welcome changes.
These changes will be part of Hearthstone's anticipated 7.1 patch, which will also include a number of card nerfs. It is due within the next week or so.
A little further down the road, Hearthstone will be adding in yet another expansion, which will cycle out previous releases like League of Explorers as well as popular legends like Ragnaros the Firelord. As always, Hearthstone rolls on.