Arena will be getting some changes in the 7.1 patch, but the biggest upcoming change to the long-standing mode is the switch from Wild to Standard format.
On the forums, Zeriyah has highlighted some of the upcoming changes to Arena and we've summarized them below.
Arena will be changing from Wild to Standard format to encourage more card synergies when choosing decks.
If the Standard format in Arena doesn't feel like it's meeting it's goal, then Blizzard may add additional changes or formats in the future.
Common cards will show up less in Arena since they were too frequently chosen and limit individual class identity.
Spells will be more common as they have the power to swing a board state.
Neutral Classic Cards will show up less since they aren't compelling Arena choices.
On Reddit, Iksar provided some details on the upcoming changes.
The numbers will be 68% Common, 20% Rare, 9% Epic, 3% Legendary on 26 out of 30 picks. The remaining 4 are Rare picks that can upgrade to Epic or Legendary at a higher rate.
Flamestrike and Abyssal Enforcer cards will show up 50% less likely than cards of its type. For example, Flamestrike is classified as ClassCard/Spell/NotMostRecentSet an Abyssal Enforcer is defined as ClassCard/Minion/MostRecentSet
Every class has a slight variance in the chance to get a particular card because of the number of cards available to that class and the minion/spell ratio.
In another Reddit post, Iksar provides details on why the switch to the Standard format.
One of the biggest draft problems for the team was the ever-increasing card pool.
It was hard to go to arena and draft the new set and utilize all its synergies.
Making Arena standard is only one way to accomplish this and Iksar doesn't consider these changes to stick around forever.
It's possible that older sets could be rotated in and out of the pool, but they want to see feedback on their current changes first.
You can view the full posts from Zeriyah and Iksar below.
Update 7.1 Arena Changes
In our next update, we will be making a few changes to the Arena that should make it more interesting for our players and offer a much different experience with each set release.
Arena will change from Wild format to Standard
- As more cards are added to the Arena pool, having each game feel meaningfully different actually becomes harder to accomplish. 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.
- We’ll be monitoring using the Standard format in Arena carefully, and we may add additional changes or formats in the future if it doesn’t meet our goals of having Arena feel interesting and different with each set release.
Changes to Card Rarity Distribution
- We’re making a change to the frequency in which Common and Basic cards show up in the Arena. Common cards were about 78% of all Arena cards, and we felt that number was too high considering that many of the cards that focus around individual class identity and power level rely on the common cards of any given class. After this change, the number of Common and Basic cards that show up overall should be lower, giving more room for fun Rare, Epic, and Legendary cards to show up in an Arena run. In addition, the cards Abyssal Enforcer and Flamestrike will show up approximately 50% less in Arena.
More Spells in a Run
- Spells have the power to swing a board state, generally more than minions do. Obviously, there are some exceptions to this. When the distribution of spells to minions is too low, the game usually ends up in the favor of the player that gets out their minions faster and more efficiently than the other player, because there aren’t enough cards that punish overextending. Bringing the distributions of spells and minions closer together allows for more room to have an Arena game that is more strategic and facilitates more plays and counter-plays to occur.
Neutral Classic Cards Show Up Less
- A lot of neutral Classic cards tend to be minions without any text that lack interesting effects. While they are great for introducing newer players to Hearthstone and providing baselines for power level comparisons, they don’t make for compelling Arena run choices. This helps make more room for spells, class cards, and expansion cards to show up at a higher rate.
Golden Cards Show Up In Arena
- If you own golden cards in your collection, copies of that card that appear in your Arena run will show up as golden. If you own a single golden card, the first copy of it you choose will be golden. If you own two copies of a golden card, every copy of that card you choose in the Arena will be golden. If you own one golden Legendary, every copy of that Legendary you choose in Arena will be golden.
These changes will occur in an upcoming update near the end of February. We’ll see you in the Tavern!
Iksar 7.1 Arena Details
For context, the numbers are around 68% Common, 20% Rare, 9% Epic, 3% Legendary on 26 of the 30 picks. The other 4 picks are 'Rare' picks that have a chance to be upgraded to Epic or Legendary at a slightly higher rate. Flamestrike is 50% less likely to show up refers to it being 50% less likely to show up in terms of cards of its type. For Flamestrike, its definition in terms of the draft tree is ClassCard/Spell/NotMostRecentSet. Meaning cards that share that definition will show up around 50% more often. Abyssal Enforcer is defined as a ClassCard/Minion/MostRecentSet, so it will show up ~50% less than cards in that bucket.
As a further note, rares and commons specifically have a very similar chance to show up on a card by card basis. What I mean by this is Commons as a whole show up more often that Rares, but any individual common will show up about as much as any individual Rare (or close to it). This means you should see a similar amount of Blizzards to Fireballs. This is a little strange so I'm curious what the feedback will be on it.
Talking about the exact chances to get any particular card could be a blog on its own. Each of the classes vary slightly because of the differences in #cards available and minion/spell ratio within each rarity. I recently asked a bunch of friends (who very, very heavily play arena) if they had an idea what the current ratio of commons/rares was and they had no idea. Makes me wonder how necessary a full report on that kind of thing is. In any case, I'm happy to clear up any outstanding questions you all have of the new system. The blog post for this was not the place to go over 100's of numeric details.
We did consider it. One of the most difficult draft problems for us to overcome is the ever-increasing card pool. Something I'm relatively sure of is that when a new set comes out, it would be cool to go to arena to draft that new set and check out what its synergies are all about. It becomes difficult to accomplish that when there start to be 1500+ cards available to draft. We want there to be realistic synergies to draft in arena, and we want drafting the set that just came out to be a fun way to discover the latest and greatest new cards.
That said, making arena standard is just one way to do this. I would not consider these current changes to be forever ones. The main takeaway for me in this development time was that smaller card pools lead to more interesting draft experiences, standard-arena specifically was a simple way for us to accomplish that. I could definitely see us rotating older sets in and out of the pool at some point, but for now I'm curious how these current changes will play out. Looking forward to getting feedback once the changes are released.
I think [randomly selecting three or four sets to draft from] is a cool idea and one we've talked about in the past. I think it's a pretty reasonable solution but we decided to go with the simplest form of this for now and see how it plays out in practice. From doing a few hundred standard arena drafts myself, I think it's a pretty fun and different draft experience. Constructed and Arena decks on average are still a good distance apart even if they are using the same cards. I mentioned this above, but unless standard only arena gets overwhelmingly positive feedback post-release, I would expect there to be continued changes over time to the format.
Changing Arena to Standard is a big experiment. If players play it for a while and don't enjoy it, we're happy to revert it. We're also likely to experiment with other, crazier formats in the future. Naxx cards only? Only Legendaries and spells?
I think we just need to take a more active role in the Arena experience.
Internally, I don't think we expected much out of the Standard Arena change. But after playtesting, we felt it was pretty fun. I think players will enjoy it, but like I said, try it and let us know.