As Hearthstone gets ready to kick off a new set of expansions in what Blizzard is calling "Year of the Mammoth," there are also a bunch of important new updates that make significant changes to modes that haven't been touched in awhile.
One such mode is the arena, where you buy into a set of matches for $1.99 (or 150 gold), which lets you assemble and use a deck on-the-fly in a short tournament. The mode ends when you lose three matches or win 12. The more wins you manage, the better rewards you receive at the end.
Since Hearthstone has been around since 2014, players could assemble an arena deck from any of the hundreds of cards that Blizzard has released thus far, making arena mode a bit overwhelming for newcomers. Luckily, an upcoming patch (version 7.1) will make it much more manageable for everyone.
Hearthstone Patch 7.1: Arena changes from "wild" to "standard"
The way Blizzard is making the arena more welcoming is by changing it from the wild format to standard. In the wild format, any card that's been in the game since launch is fair game. However, standard only allows for cards that have been added in the current or previous calendar year.
Therefore — since Blizzard designs decks around particular synergies and mechanics — having a much smaller pool of cards will help newcomers wrap their brains around arena deck-building a little more easily.
Blizzard also thinks the wild format is just a bit unmanageable for arena, since the quality of the deck you assemble is almost entirely based on luck.
Here's the official explanation from Blizzard:
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 is also making a number of other changes to the arena mode, like an increased amount of rare, epic and legendary cards and fewer common and basic cards.
Before the update hits "near the end of February," check out the blog post on Blizzard's site for a full rundown on everything that's changing.
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