Hearthstone Game Designer Dean Ayala has continued replying to members of the community about the upcoming Arena changes which will see it transfer from Wild to Standard format. This is easily the most controversial aspect of the numerous adjustments Blizzard is making to the game type including updates to card rarity distribution and the frequency of spells and neutral Classic cards. Given the history of Hearthstone, many are quick to ask about the potential for future adjustments if this transition doesn't work out, but Ayala promises corrections should it not play out as expected.
According to Ayala, the team will gather "data and feedback" during this time period and "things will change a bunch again" about a month after the next set releases. Anything affecting Arena's draft pool doesn't require a patch to release so updates can be implemented rapidly once identified.
This will of course influence the balance of class popularity and win-rates, something Ayala says Blizzard will keep an eye on. With such a major change it'll be interesting to see how things shake out. The most recent changes brought class balance back into check which was sorely needed as Mage came to dominate the pool set after set.
Ayala is confident that the new Arena won't end up feeling too much like constructed play with so many cards removed, but admits the team doesn't think it is realistic to have both a Wild and Standard option citing "diluted players" and "a much larger scope project."
The one thing that hasn't yet been decided upon is the new Hall of Fame set. Should Power Overwhelming, Ice Lance, and Conceal remain in the card pool despite being moved to Wild in Constructed? Ayala is currently gathering player input regarding the matter.
You can find all of Ayala's responses below.
We'll get a lot of data and feedback for this round, then things will change a bunch again when the next set releases. I think a month or so after that is the most realistic time for further changes.
Arena draft pool things live on the server and do not require a client patch to change. Changes to issues in terms of draft pool should be a pretty quick turnaround once they are identified and discussed.
Can you give us a time frame as to how long you will wait to make changes? One of my biggest problem with Hearthstone is how long it seems to take changes to take. If it seems that there is a lot of negative feedback over this change, do you see the team making changes after a month? 3 months?
I mentioned this above, but this is how I see these changes playing out in the near(ish) future. We judge the reaction/perception after release while monitoring data until the next set goes live. At that point 'Standard' becomes something totally different and should shake up what defines the arena meta quite a bit. About a month after that set has been released and players have had a chance to play around with it, we might experiment with some subset of cards that is a bit more unusual until the next set releases and shakes things up again.
It's likely we'll get a ton of feedback that changes this tentative plan, but that's the idea for now. In addition to card pool changes, we'll be keeping tabs on class population and power levels and will be able to make balance changes on the fly.
As to this major move about arena format, have you considered ban more "not so fun" especially blank cards instead of simply make it Standard? I believe a larger card pool makes arena more attractive, and playing against jade decks is actually not that fun.
As to the other question, I think if arena ends up feeling a lot like constructed then that will have been a mistake. From a number of drafts done myself, I didn't feel that way. We reduced the rate at which neutral classics show up, which I think is where most of the 'not so fun' cards are from.
They will remain out. Will be willing to remove or adjust if balance is out of whack, yes.
Good question. I'm not sure yet! What would you want?
Some amount of it is diluted players, another part of it is that is a much larger scope project