Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft has had a very real, and growing, problem over the past few months that is only being addressed now. The digital card game’s Arena format, where players open packs of 3 cards and select one thirty times until they have a deck, has been fundamentally broken for some time. Blizzard announced recently that it finally plans to address these problems in the upcoming Year of the Mammoth patch for Hearthstone, where Arena will shift from a “Wild” format to one that is locked in on “Standard” instead.
For those unfamiliar, Hearthstone has two formats – Wild, where all the cards in the history of the game are available for deck building, and Standard, where only a specific number of the most recently released Hearthstone sets are available for use. Arena’s problem has been that its card pool is way too large, resulting in decks that don’t have a lot of synergy and increasing the variance factor. Essentially, Arena has been unintentionally mitigating a player’s skill having influence over the deckbuilding process because the card pool’s size makes it unnecessarily random.
Blizzard’s decision to make changes to the Arena format is, as game director Ben Brode stated in a recent Reddit post, the developer’s decision to “take a more active role in the Arena experience”. The extra attention being paid to that format isn’t going to impact the way Blizzard handles its fledgling Standard format, however, as the developer also announced that a new Hearthstone patch would be nerfing two over-powered cards in an effort to diversify deck selection. The Year of the Mammoth patch is expected to release at the end of February.
While the overall philosophy behind the change to Arena is simple, Blizzard is also attempting to prevent a future problem from occurring with another announcement. Hearthstone drafts will specifically featureless Flamestrikes and Abyssal Enforcers in the future, two class-specific cards that were available as commons and frequently were able to deal with an opponent’s entire board, sometimes presenting a threat at the same time. Some players, of course, aren’t excited about the future changes, but the community as a whole seems more optimistic about Arena in Hearthstone than it has been in a very long time.
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is available now on PC, Mac, and iOS and Android mobile devices.