Old Gods Card Reviews: Arena Edition, Part 4

Welcome back to the final edition of my Old Gods Arena card reviews! This installation includes the rest of the cards announced in the big April 21 card dump. Check out my previous Old Gods reviews for cards released before March 30, between March 30 and April 16, and between April 16 and April 21. At the end of […]


Welcome back to the final edition of my Old Gods Arena card reviews! This installation includes the rest of the cards announced in the big April 21 card dump. Check out my previous Old Gods reviews for cards released before March 30between March 30 and April 16, and between April 16 and April 21. At the end of this article, I also discuss how the new cards will affect the Arena meta moving forward.

Dive in with me and see what’s lurking below!

Terrible Cards

This tier includes all the cards you never want to see come up in an Arena draft, either because their stats or terrible or their effects are too situational. Examples include master-swordsmith, angry-chicken, and stoneskin-gargoyle.

duskboar — 2-mana 4/1 Neutral Common Beast.

one-eyed-cheat has the exact same cost and stats, and it has the (super conditional) ability to gain Stealth. Is it any good? No, it’s terrible. Duskboar has the Beast tag going for it, but that’s only meaningful a very small proportion of the time. Ergo, Duskboar will be terrible, especially with all the pings coming in Old Gods. But hey, at least it’s not amgam-rager, right?

evolved-kobold — 4-mana 2/2 Neutral Common minion, Spell Damage +2.

Let’s start with this: kobold-geomancer is a bad card. Not terrible, since a 2-mana 2/2 is workable in a pinch, but bad. Guess what, though? A 4-mana 2/2 is terrible. The trade-off of an extra Spell Damage is just not worth it in almost all situations. Unless you have a large number of low-cost AoE like swipe, hellfire, or consecration, the way-off-curve body will not make up for the tempo gain of whatever spells you cast. There will be times where this is a decent choice, but those decks will be very few and far between.

grotesque-dragonhawk — 7-mana 5/5 Neutral Common Beast.

Before, I called ancient-harbinger windfury-harpy, but I’m afraid I spoke too soon. Grotesque Dragonhawk, like Windfury Harpy, is 2 mana above curve in stats, and that kills its chances of ever being successful. The 1 extra attack is definitely not that meaningful, and the mana cost doesn’t even allow the Beast tag to be that relevant. In fact, I would almost always rather have a Windfury Harpy, because at least it comes out one turn earlier.

shatter — 2-mana Mage Common spell, Destroy a Frozen minion.

ice-lance shows that freeze-conditional cards in Mage are just not reliable enough to work in Arena. You basically need to have several copies of snowchugger, water-elemental, and frostbolt to make Shatter work, and even then, you basically have to spend 2 cards worth of resources for a slightly mana-efficient Destroy effect. I’m kind of thinking of Shatter as the curse-of-rafaam of Old Gods: a terrible Arena card to offset the great card that Mages are getting in the expansion.

Bad Cards

This tier includes cards that are not good but have some redeeming qualities, such as situationally useful cards like kobold-geomancer or cards with acceptable stats like murloc-warleader.

a-light-in-the-darkness — 2-mana Paladin Common spell, Discover a minion. Give it +1/+1.

As I discussed in the first installment of these reviews, I (and a lot of other reviewers) undervalued the Discover mechanic before League of Explorers released. The questions is, though: is Discover worth spending 2 mana on a +1/+1 bonus? The answer, far too often, is going to be no. The great thing about cards like raven-idol and journey-below is that they can be snuck into a turn where you’re floating a mana. A Light in the Darkness, on the other hand, will often just take up too much of your turn. While the +1/+1 bonus can turn bad cards into good cards, you have to realize that you are paying up front for that bonus. Imagine, for instance, that you get a piloted-shredder, one of the best Neutral minions in the game. In that case, you paid 6 mana for a 5/4 Shredder, still much worse than piloted-sky-golem. Or maybe you get haunted-creeper? Congratulations, you got a worse infested-wolf. Those are still good cards, and I expect A Light in the Darkness could even be average in a lot of situations, but the cost is just too high, so you often won’t play this until the very late game. In a deck where you’re starved for late game, though, I would still take this over almost any low drop.

corrupted-seer — 6-mana 2/3 Neutral Rare Murloc, Battlecry: Deal 2 damage to all non-Murloc minions.

Corrupted Seer has a ridiculous body for that mana cost, so it better also have a ridiculous effect. Unfortunately, while consecration is a great card, the fact that this effect is symmetrical (hits your own minions) is really bad. You can’t plan on building a Murloc deck in Arena, so you will pretty much always decimate your own board. You can set up the board to be advantageous, and you can use this as a comeback card, but even then, you’re basically attaching a weak body to a Consecration that you can’t play until Turn 6. Most of the rest of the time, you’ll struggle to find the right time when playing Corrupted Seer is advantageous for your board, or you’ll play it, then face up against your opponent’s next turn, which will decimate your 2/3 minion. I considered putting this in the Terrible tier, but even a symmetrical AoE is still AoE, so there are times when this card will be powerful. They’ll just be few and far between.

faceless-behemoth — 10-mana 10/10 Neutral Common minion.

The ranking of this card depends heavily on where the Arena meta is headed. In a slower meta, where you’re likely to see Turn 10, Faceless Behemoth is a pretty reasonable card. However, in a faster meta, a 10-mana card is likely to be completely dead often enough to make it worse than average. While I do think the Old Gods meta will be slightly slower than it currently is, the overall effect is not going to be strong enough to make Faceless Behemoth worthwhile. I know I rated blood-of-the-ancient-one as Average, but it was right on the line, and the 1 extra mana here makes a world of difference. I wouldn’t turn down a Faceless Behemoth, especially in a faster deck, but it’s also pretty low on the list of late game minions to pick.

midnight-drake — 4-mana 1/4 Neutral Rare Dragon, Battlecry: Gain +1 Attack for each other card in your hand.

As with twilight-drake, the most common result with Midnight Drake will be a +4 boost to make it a 4-mana 5/4. 4-mana 5/4 minions are perfectly fine in Arena, but with Midnight Drake, you run the risk of it being much, much worse. The thing about Twilight Drake is that it’s not even that bad of a topdeck, because you can wait to play it with another card in hand to make it a 4/2. In those cases, a 2/4 is a significantly worse card, since the high attack is much more meaningful than the health. In that sense, then, this will be less strong than Twilight Drake both when played on curve and when played in the late game. Still, there will be plenty of times when Midnight Drake is a lost-tallstrider (or even an ancient-shade), so I wouldn’t discount it entirely, especially if you’re looking for Dragon synergies.

nat-the-darkfisher — 2-mana 2/4 Neutral Legendary minion, At the start of your opponent’s turn, they have a 50% chance to draw an extra card.

Nat, the Darkfisher is obviously a high tempo play, but it sacrifices quite a bit of value for that tempo. Because the effect triggers at the start of your opponent’s turns, your opponent is almost certainly going to have 2 shots at an extra draw, since the usefulness of a 2-mana 2/4 is to have it trade into a 3/2 and survive. A textless 2-mana 2/4 would be really good, but it wouldn’t even be that broken, so you’re paying quite a bit of value for a card that is still fair. Value has been an important consideration in Arena, especially since League of Explorers, and it will continue to be important in Old Gods. Like with dancing-swords, you can’t afford to give your opponent extra cards unless you get a really, really good effect out of it, and that’s just not the case with Nat.

primal-fusion — 1-mana Shaman Common spell, Give a minion +1/+1 for each of your Totems.

Primal Fusion has a lot of upside, but considering that the only Common slot activators other than totemic-call are flametongue-totem, totem-golem, and tuskarr-totemic, it simply won’t be consistent enough. To make this a good card, you would need 2 Totems on the board, and while that’s possible, it’s not very likely (otherwise draenei-totemcarver would be a really good card). More realistically, this is going to be more like a banana. While a Banana is very useful quite a bit of the time (and is efficient for the mana), it’s generally not going to be worth spending a card on. However, in a deck with a ton of card advantage engines, that’s less of an issue, and those situations, Primal Fusion should be solidly average.

Average Cards

This tier includes all the cards that you’re neither upset nor happy to see in an Arena draft. Think about cards like bloodfen-raptor or djinni-of-zephyrs.

aberrant-berserker — 4-mana 3/5 Neutral Common minion, Enrage: +2 Attack.

4-mana 3/5 minions tend to be below average, but ones with abilities like burly-rockjaw-trogg and refreshment-vendor fall much more squarely in the Average tier. Aberrant Berserker’s ability is not particularly strong in any way, but it will often be enough to make it appreciably better than a vanilla 3/5 minion. In particular, if you play this on curve, you’ll usually be able to Enrage it (though the Enrage effect will just turn it into an ice-rager). Played off curve, things like pit-fighter will absolutely devour this (which is the problem with all the 3/5 minions). I would value it right around a Burly Rockjaw Trogg: solidly average, though better in a fast deck or one starved for 4-drops.

addled-grizzly — 3-mana 2/2 Druid Rare minion, After you summon a minion, give it +1/+1.

As I said with fandral-staghelm, if there’s a class that can afford minions best played off-curve, it’s Druid. Druids almost never lack for on-curve early plays, with two Common class 2-drops (anodized-robocub and druid-of-the-saber), two Common class 3-drops (druid-of-the-flame and mounted-raptor), a premium 1-drop (living-roots), a flexible 2-drop (power-of-the-wild), and mana manipulation cards like darnassus-aspirant and innervate. That means that you’ll generally be able to hold onto Addled Grizzly until the right play comes available. Sometimes, that will be a 4-mana Addled Grizzly + Living Roots, but much more often, it’ll mean dropping an Addled Grizzly and a couple of small minions or a midrange minion. If Addled Grizzly can hit 2 minions, it’s generally worth the mana investment, but you will have to play this with only 1 minion somewhat frequently. The weak stats and conditional nature of the card ultimately hold it back, but should still be a reasonable card that’s even better than that in a low-curve aggressive Druid deck.

darkspeaker — 5-mana 3/6 Neutral Epic minion, Battlecry: Swap stats with a friendly minion.

Darkspeaker is a very interesting card. The body itself is fairly weak, but if you have a friendly minion, it’s basically like you have a 3/6 Charge. A 5-mana 3/6 Charge would be a perfectly fine card (bigger stormwind-knight), and that’s probably Darkspeaker’s average value, since you will often have at least 1 friendly minion to target. The interesting thing will be seeing the combos people can pull off with Darkspeaker. Obviously, minions with Divine Shield and Windfury are pretty good with Darkspeaker, but there are also likely quite a few minions that would be better with 3/6 stats than they currently are. All things told, though, this is probably just a conditional 5-mana 3/6 Charge, which is fine, but nothing to write home about.

divine-strength — 1-mana Paladin Common spell, Give a minion +1/+2.

In many ways, Divine Strength resembles hand-of-protection. There are two main problems with Hand of Protection: it requires a minion on the board to be useful, and it often doesn’t have enough impact to be worth the card. Both of those are legitimate concerns with Divine Strength, as well. The thing that Divine Strength does well, though, that Hand of Protection doesn’t is enable trading up. Part of the reason Hand of Protection isn’t high impact enough a lot of the time is that it pretty much requires you to be trading in a minion that will die to be worth a full card. With Divine Strength, though, you can do something like buff your 2/3 against your opponent’s 2/3. The best time for Divine Strength, then, will be in the early-game fight for board control, much like a shattered-sun-cleric. Still, it’ll be bad if you don’t draw Divine Strength in the early game, so make sure you only pick one of these in your deck to prevent running out of steam too early.

eldritch-horror — 8-mana 6/10 Neutral Common minion.

There’s not much left to be said about vanilla minions in Arena. If you want to read more about the vanilla test, check out Dreadmaker’s Understanding Card Value and Stat Distribution. I will add that Eldritch Horror looks to perform a lot like captured-jormungar. The 6 attack is pretty relevant, since almost everything will die to 6 attack, while there are quite a few things that survive 5 attack. All things told, though, another average pile of stats joining the ranks of captured-jormungar and war-golem.

evolve — 1-mana Shaman Rare spell, Transform your minions into random minions that cost (1) more.

I love Arena partly because I love seeing a wide diversity of cards, and the new recombobulator-like effects of this card and master-of-evolution make me happy. That said, Evolve really needs to hit at least 2 and probably at least 3 minions in order to be good, and that can a tricky thing. The 1-mana cost makes it easier to accomplish that, and this comes in a token class, but the number of times this will be a dead card is enough to hold the card back. The other thing holding this back is that with flamewreathed-faceless, Shaman now has quite a few minions with above-curve bodies, so there will be quite a few times you evolve something into an even worse minions. That’s why I think this need to hit 3 minions (or perhaps 2 if their value is tied up in Battlecries): the inconsistency is such that you may end up playing a 1-mana card to make your board the same or even worse. Still, the Hero Power totems will almost always be better, and there are a lot of good cards (Shaman and Neutral) with below-curve bodies. This is one of the highest variance cards in this set, though, so I could see an argument for it being either bad or good.

selfless-hero — 1-mana 2/1 Paladin Rare minion, Deathrattle: Give a random friendly minion Divine Shield.

It’s hard to evaluate Selfless Hero, since we haven’t seen a Divine Shield-granting Deathrattle so far. First, the strengths: Divine Shield is easily worth at least 1 health on a minion (often more), so this is a bit like a 1-mana 2/2 (would require two pings from a Mage or Druid if the Deathrattle hits). You can safely play this on Turn 1 against a non-ping class, and even against ping classes, you can play it in later turns alongside some bigger minions that are likely to stick on the board. There are definite drawbacks, though. Like buccaneer, Selfless Hero will often draw out an immediate ping when played on Turn 1. Additionally, it doesn’t help Paladin’s problem of not being able to play well off the board. I would expect Selfless Hero to be solidly average, but given that Divine Shield is always powerful in Arena, it could easily turn out to be better than I expect.

squirming-tentacle — 3-mana 2/4 Neutral Common minion, Taunt.

3-mana 2/4 minions tend to be below average, but Taunt definitely helps Squirming Tentacle. In particular, it’s a strong play against your opponent’s Turn 2 3/2, used to protect your own 2-drop. It’s also good to combat token-heavy early plays like haunted-creeper and muster-for-battle. The 2 attack value is still lower than you want from a 3-drop, but it is often enough. Squirming Tentacle isn’t going to set the world on fire, but it is going to be a useful card to fill out your mana curve.

Good Cards

These cards aren’t slouches, but they also aren’t the cream of the crop. ogre-brute, flame-juggler, and assassinate fit here.

anomalus — 8-mana 8/8 Mage Legendary minion, Deathrattle: Deal 8 damage to all minions.

Anomalus’s Deathrattle effect is extremely powerful, like an even bigger elemental-destruction, but that effect is attached to the wrong body. Playing an 8-mana 8/8 is usually perfectly fine, but if you are playing this card for the effect, you likely won’t be able to trigger it for several turns without spending some of your resources to kill your own minion. In a close game, though, Anomalus can lock out your opponent’s board development, and you will often be able to trigger it yourself, letting you be the first one to develop the board. I would pretty much always take archmage-antonidas or rhonin over Anomalus, but it’s certainly better than flame-leviathan, and it may turn out to be a sleeper in a new grinder-style Arena Mage.

bog-creeper — 7-mana 6/8 Neutral Common minion, Taunt.

I love fen-creeper’s art, so I’m pleased but surprised to see Bog Creeper be such a good card. In exchange for 2 mana, you get a +3/+2 boost on Fen Creeper’s stats. In particular, the striking thing is that this is the biggest Neutral Common Taunt minion in the game now. Most Taunt minions sacrifice a significant amount of stats, but Blizzard has lately been rating Taunt less highly than it originally did (see evil-heckler), and Bog Creeper is the result of that shift. The stat points are right on part with things like captured-jormungar and fearsome-doomguard, both of which are average cards. Take those average stats, though, and put them on a minion with Taunt, and you have a good card that will serve two roles in every deck: a big drop and survivability. As a bonus, it also survives a Turn 6 boulderfist-ogre + ping. Expect to see this card come down on Turn 7 quite a bit from here on out.

eternal-sentinel — 2-mana 3/2 Shaman Epic minion, Battlecry: Unlock your Overloaded Mana Crystals.

In my League of Explorers Arena review, I rated tunnel-trogg below average, citing the relatively small number of Overload cards available. It turns out, though, that there are enough Overload cards to make a card like Tunnel Trogg work in Arena, and that’s what makes Eternal Sentinel meaningfully better than a plain 2-mana 3/2. The fact that Old Gods will introduce 2 new Overload cards, one of which is almost always a snap pick (flamewreathed-faceless), means that you will frequently find yourself with at least 1 Overloaded Mana Crystal. In other words, this card is a bit like a flame-imp that can’t be played on Turn 1. There are plenty of times when you can sneak in 1 mana but could not afford 2, and Eternal Sentinel will shine in precisely those times.

southsea-squidface — 4-mana 4/4 Rogue Common Pirate, Deathrattle: Give your weapon +2 Attack.

The strength of Southsea Squidface depends on how often you can have a weapon up for the Deathrattle. Even if you get a single weapon charge off the Deathrattle, that’s generally worth sacrificing the one stat point from a vanilla 4-mana body. I suspect it should be fairly easy to get the Deathrattle to hit at least one charge. Rogues don’t mind using the Hero Power early in the game, and when they don’t use the Hero Power, they tend to play high tempo cards that allow them to take the board early. As such, you very rarely find yourself in a position as a Rogue where you don’t have at least some semblance of board control by Turn 4. The trickier thing is maintaining that board control in the later game, when your Hero Power becomes less useful, and Southsea Squidface helps that transition from early game to late game. Sometimes, you’ll have to play it into a position where you don’t have a weapon up and it will die, but more often, you’ll either already have a weapon up, or Squidface will survive long enough for you to equip a weapon. I would probably value Southsea Squidface around the range of tomb-pillager: it sacrifices one stat point for a more impactful (but conditional) Deathrattle.

stormcrack — 2-mana Shaman Common spell, Deal 4 damage to a minion. Overload: (1).

As I said with feral-rage, any shadow-bolt-like card is going to be pretty solid, though unspectacular, in Arena. To really evaluate the strength of this card, though, you need to understand how to value Overload. In general, the power of Overload on removal spells (such as lightning-bolt and crackle) is that it allows you to cheat in a removal while simultaneously playing a minion (when, if you were playing another class, you would have to choose between one or the other). That’s why forked-lightning is actually almost as good as cleave, despite doing the exact same thing for 1 extra cumulative mana. Stormcrack works in basically the same way. For instance, on Turn 4, you might Stormcrack you opponent’s spider-tank, then play a 2-drop alongside it. On the next turn, you’ll only have 4 mana, but that’s well worth the trade-off. In fact, the Turn 4 window is precisely when Stormcrack is best, and 4 damage on Turn 4 is often more than enough in Arena. It is a bit of a bummer this couldn’t go face, but I suppose that might have unbalanced aggro Shaman in Constructed.

Great Cards

Some cards you pick almost every time you see them, and those fit in this tier. muster-for-battle might break this tier system, but piloted-shredder, north-sea-kraken, and bomb-lobber certainly go here.

flamewreathed-faceless — 4-mana 7/7 Shaman Common minion, Overload: (2).

This card is absolutely amazing in Arena. Think of it basically as a fel-reaver with minimal downside (2 Overload is a big deal, but it’s also not going to cripple you). Hard removal in Arena is rare, so Flamewreathed Faceless allows you to cheat out a 7-mana body on Turn 4 that will almost always live for at least a turn. The great thing, too, is that unlike with Fel Reaver, which almost always goes face, you can switch pretty easily between going face and using this to trade with your opponent’s board. The worst case scenario here is obviously hex, but more likely, your opponent will have to waste at least 2 cards and at least 6 mana to deal with Flamewreathed Faceless. I would almost always choose this over fireguard-destroyer, and that’s saying a lot, since Fireguard Destroyer really helped Shamans in Arena a lot. Shamans are getting a lot of great Arena cards in Old Gods, but Flamewreathed Faceless will probably be the strongest amongst them.

nerubian-prophet — 6-mana 4/4 Neutral Common minion, At the start of your turn, reduce this card’s Cost by (1).

Let’s start with the best case scenario for Nerubian Prophet: you have it in your opening hand. In that situation, you can play Nerubian Prophet on-curve for a vanilla 3-mana 4/4, which is obviously a great Arena card. There are, however, two other likely scenarios. First, you draw it early in the game and hang onto it until the mid to late-game, playing it for free or for 1-2 mana. This case relies on you having other plays available, though that’s usually pretty realistically possible. Second, you draw it in the mid to late-game and have to play it at a higher cost. While that’s the worst case scenario, that’s also generally okay, especially in a topdeck war, where mana doesn’t really matter. One thing to remember when evaluating this card is that cost reduction mechanics are extremely powerful in a game mode where curve is the most important thing out there. Unlike mechwarper, volcanic-drake, and knight-of-the-wild (all mediocre cards), Nerubian Prophet doesn’t need you to meet any condition other than having it in your hand. While the best case scenario may not be particularly common, the consistency of the cost reduction here means that even in other cases, you should be able to cheat out a very efficient minion.

rallying-blade — 3-mana 3/2 Paladin Rare Weapon, Battlecry: Give +1/+1 to your minions with Divine Shield.

Paladins have traditionally had a difficult time dealing 3 damage (hammer-of-wrath is a subpar on-curve play). Rallying Blade fixes that problem very cleanly. A 3-mana 3/2 weapon with upside (see powermace, eaglehorn-bow, and kings-defender) is generally great because it can handle almost every 2-drop and many 3-drops, then give you an extra charge for use on your opponent’s next drop. The Battlecry here is generally worse than a Deathrattle like Powermace has, since you can’t play it on Turn 3, then set up the board for the Deathrattle. That said, Turn 1 argent-squire or Turn 2 shielded-minibot into Rallying Blade will be a pretty devastating play (there are also some cute combos with the new Paladin Rare selfless-hero). I would rate Rallying Blade somewhere around argent-lance levels, especially since no one will play around the 3 damage from a Paladin.

Whispers of the New Meta

In this section, I’ll discuss how the new cards will impact the Arena meta. Let’s start with some overall trends. I’ll be focusing heavily on Common cards, because cards of higher rarity, while important, will not have a particularly large impact on the meta.

First, several signs are pointing to a slower meta. Old Gods introduced a significant number of Common big minions, including faceless-summoner, flamewreathed-faceless, bog-creeper, eldritch-horror, and faceless-behemoth. There are also now more quality Taunt minions in the game: bloodhoof-brave, squirming-tentacle, infested-tauren, psych-o-tron, and bog-creeper are all Common Taunt cards that are at least reasonable cards. Back in Classic, Blizzard overvalued several keywords, including Taunt and Spell Damage. In recent expansions, they’ve gotten better about valuing Taunt appropriately, the result is good Taunt cards like Bog Creeper.

Granted, all the Discover cards of League of Explorers will be rotating out, and there aren’t really any Common card draws in Old Gods (except the conditional mark-of-yshaarj). The combination of big minions and Taunt cards, though, should offset the decreased amount of card draw. The good Taunt cards in particular should mean that surviving longer becomes not only more possible, but more profitable as well.

Second, 2-damage and 3-damage cards will become less frequent in Old Gods, but 1-damage and 4-damage cards will become more frequent. Old Gods introduces two new 4-damage Common spells in feral-rage and stormcrack. More importantly, Old Gods also introduces a bunch of new pings, both targeted (on-the-hunt, blood-to-ichor, nzoths-first-mate) and AoE (twilight-flamecaller, ravaging-ghoul, tentacle-of-nzoth). Combined with the new quality Taunts, these pings should make 1-health minions (especially tokens) slightly less valuable. 4-health minions should be easier for Druids and Shamans to deal with now, as well, but those classes are not the most popular, so that shouldn’t shake up the meta too much.

Third, the lack of good Neutral 2-drops in Old Gods will mean that curving out becomes harder to pull off consistently. In fact, the best Neutral low drops are twisted-worgen and squirming-tentacle, both of which I rated in the Average tier. In general, the Neutral cards in Old Gods are weak. I think nerubian-prophet and Bog Creeper will be good, but there are not going to be any piloted-shredders or north-sea-krakens. This means that you will be offered fewer good on-curve low drops (and fewer good on-curve drops in general), making your mana curve a little more class-dependent and draft-dependent.

Finally, card dilution means that you can afford even more to not play against specific cards, even class Commons like flamestrike. Area of effect spells in particular will be less common. The new whirlwind-like effects will be prevalent, but 2-damage and above AoE is pretty much nonexistent in Old Gods. Comeback cards will be even more valuable, even less good ones like abomination. Cards like bog-creeper will be particularly good for this same reason: when AoE becomes less common, big Taunt cards can help you stabilize and save an otherwise lost game.

Now, let’s talk about how Old Gods will affect the classes, since class distribution is probably the single most important factor in the Arena meta. While everyone is generally scared of Mage getting faceless-summoner, I think 5 classes are going to get at least slightly better: Mage, Rogue, Shaman, Warlock, and Warrior. 2 classes, Druid and Hunter, should stay roughly the same. Finally, 2 classes should get appreciably worse than they currently are: Paladin and Priest. It’s also important to remember that classes will lose their League of Explorers bonus, so Mage will see fewer ethereal-conjurer (and so on).

First, the winners. Mage obviously gets a super-premium high-drop in Faceless Summoner that will significantly help with their late game. shatter may be terrible, but twilight-flamecaller is a useful card, especially as a one-of in most decks. The Mage Rares are weak, though, and Faceless Summoner is only one card, so I would not expect Mage to be as dominant as many people are predicting (especially as the great Mage classic cards continue to get diluted). Ethereal Conjurer was the strongest LoE card for Mages, but Faceless Summoner definitely steps into that gap well.

Rogue is probably the strongest and most consistent class in Arena right now, and it will continue to be in the Old Gods meta. All three Rogue commons—bladed-cultist, shadow-strike, and southsea-squidface—are good cards, and 2 of the the 3 Rare cards—undercity-huckster and journey-below—can really help Rogues shore up their late game. That said, League of Explorers was definitely friendly to Rogues, with pit-snake, unearthed-raptor, and tomb-pillager all good cards. Shadow Strike in particular should be a very positive addition for Arena Rogues, but Southsea Squidface also helps shore up the midgame for Rogues, stepping into the role filled by Tomb Pillager very ably.

Shaman gets probably the strongest set of cards over all rarities, with flamewreathed-faceless, thing-from-below, master-of-evolution, and hammer-of-twilight all being excellent Arena selections. Flamewreathed Faceless alone will be a huge boon, since it will be very tricky to deal with as large removals become less and less common. That said, Arena Shamans struggle from their reliance on RNG, their lack of Common AoE, and their lack of pings. Those problems are all still here, though notably only Master of Evolution has any RNG involved. I wouldn’t necessarily suggest moving Shaman into the top tier of Arena classes, but it should at least toward the top of the middle tier after Old Gods.

Warlock only gets 2 Common cards, with usher-of-souls being one of the C’Thun cards not in Arena. Both Commons are good, though, and both really help Warlock continue to push to be a zoo-like class. The loss of the LoE bonus for dark-peddler will hurt, but a class argent-squire and a 3-mana escalating minion will help take the sting away. Warlock’s other Old Gods cards are generally weak, though forbidden-ritual being Rare certainly helps. Warlock may actually be the smallest improvement, just because I think it’s already around the middle of the pack, and Old Gods probably won’t change that.

Warrior was pulled out of the junk heap by 2 amazing LoE Commons, fierce-monkey and obsidian-destroyer. While the LoE bonus going away could seem catastrophic, the thing to remember is that Warrior in Naxx, GvG, and BRM was very weak, and adding any good Warrior cards helps the overall distribution of Warrior cards. All 3 Warrior Commons are good, as are both Rares. nzoths-first-mate and ravaging-ghoul really help solve Warrior’s ping problems, though the lack of a strong weapon does mean that you’ll face even more drafts with few good weapons. Warriors also benefit if the meta does slow down appreciably, since they are as well equipped to play the value game as almost any other class.

Druid should stay roughly the same in Old Gods. mounted-raptor and raven-idol are both good cards, but Druid is gaining a flexible early removal in feral-rage and a conditional buff in mark-of-yshaarj. mire-keeper is a great card, as well. Druid will suffer from the upcoming Classic nerfs, but those are all to Rare and higher cards. One thing that is going for Druids, which I’ve already mentioned, is their smooth class mana curve, which should help with the issues I noted above regarding awkward curves.

Hunter should stay roughly the same, as well. It gains a mediocre ping in on-the-hunt and a couple of solid early game minions in fiery-bat and carrion-grub. infested-wolf looks to be pretty awesome, and call-of-the-wild is insane. That said, Hunters in Arena often rely on an aggressive gameplan, and that will likely become harder to pull off in the Old Gods meta. Big Neutral Common minions like faceless-behemoth will take away from the number of good early drops you get offered, and good Taunts like squirming-tentacle and bog-creeper will help more classes with survivability.

Paladin is currently on the top of the Arena meta (though I think Rogue is a better and more consistent class), but it definitely takes a hit in Old Gods. First, keeper-of-uldaman will no longer receive the 150% LoE bonus. Second, all 3 Paladin Commons are at best average. I rated stand-against-darkness as Average, but that was also before ravaging-ghoul and twilight-flamecaller were announced. Paladin does get 3 good Rares in steward-of-darkshire, selfless-hero, and rallying-blade, but overall the class should get worse in Old Gods than they were in LoE.

Priest is at the bottom of the current Arena meta, and that’s not going to change come April 26. Both class Commons (darkshire-alchemist and power-word-tentacles) are mediocre. shifting-shade is really good, but shadow-word-horror and embrace-the-shadows are pretty terrible. Priest still faces the problem of being a play-on-the-board class like Paladin, but not having the early game tools necessary to consistently grab the board. Heck, Priest even takes a hit from the loss of the AoE bonus, with museum-curator, entomb, and excavated-evil all being good cards that help with card advantage. #ArenaPriestsMatter

Overall, I expect to see the best class balance we’ve ever seen in Old Gods. Paladins and Mages will probably be the most common classes, though Rogue will continue to be the best class. Druids, Shamans, Warlocks, and Warriors should all form a solid middle tier, with Hunters and Priests bringing up the rear.


I hope you enjoyed my series of Arena-focused Old Gods card reviews! I’m really looking forward to diving into Arena when the cards release on April 26. Thanks for reading, and good luck resisting the spreading darkness!