Our Arena Highlights for The Witchwood
The Witchwood is sure to make a huge impact on Constructed games, but we'd also like to take a look at what the new expansion offers for the Arena environment. There are many dangers lurking deep within The Witchwood and here are some thoughts from our Arena moderators to help you steer clear of disaster on your next draft. AbusingKel will start us off with his thoughts on the winners/losers from the influx of new cards, while we all share some insight into our new favorites of the set.
AbusingKel: Class Strengths and Weaknesses
The Witchwood brings a total of 86 new CLASS cards to the Arena, because 4 odd/even class cards will be unavailable in arena drafts. Based on the scores assigned to each card by the Arena Moderators in the Arena Impact thread, the incoming set looks well balanced between each of the 9 classes. With a rating system of 1-5 (1 being the best score) most of the Heroes have an average card score of 3 but Warrior and Shaman tied for the best mark at 2.7.
Shaman has a good crop coming in, especially with the potential value of Hagatha the Witch and Zap!. However, there were a few cards for Shaman that earned wider gaps in the scoring from one mod to the next. Earthen Might, Blazing Invocation, and the mighty Shudderwock each had ratings that ranged from 1-3, making it easier to declare Warrior the biggest winner.
Warrior gets an influx of Rush synergy which should improve his ability to control the board early while keeping a decent tempo by trading favourably. With 9 of his 10 Witchwood cards garnering scores of 1-3 and the big legendary, Blackhowl Gunspire, ruining the curve with a 5, Warrior is likely to see an even bigger bump in his draft consistency. It's a pretty exciting time to be a Warrior player in Arena!
So which class is getting the weakest additions from the set? By a landslide, it's Druid. With all the other classes earning an average card score between 2.7 - 3.1 based on our 5 point scale, Druid comes in at an abysmal 3.8 average. The Arena moderators were unanimous in their ratings of the "hand-druid" cards, consistently remarking that cards like Duskfallen Aviana and Forest Guide were bad tempo plays because of their stats AND because their ability benefits the opponent first. A double whammy that is sure to hurt the viability of Druid in the Arena, especially during the increased drop rate that comes with the launch of a new set.
As we've seen in recent sets, strong Neutrals like Bonemare and the lovable flappy bird (Vicious Fledgling) can quickly dominate the Arena meta. I'm curious to see the impact of two incoming Neutral minions: Witchwood Grizzly and Night Prowler. The Grizzly will be a powerhouse on-curve, likely hitting the board as a 3/7 Taunt or better, which will be brutal to hack through. On the other end of the spectrum we find the Prowler that should be fairly easy to trigger for a 4 mana 6/6.
Neonangel: A Watchful Eye
I always like to look closely at the Common Neutral cards of the set because those should have the most impact overall. Sadly, in this expansion there are no clear standouts, but we all agree you should keep an eye out for Blackwald Pixie, Furious Ettin, and Rotten Applebaum, as they are sure to cause trouble for your opponents. If I had to pick a favorite card of the set I would have to say that Nightscale Matriarch is going to be an absolute must-pick the next time I'm playing Priest!
Boozor: Prowling with the Royal Guard
I wanted to highlight two powerful Neutral "sleeper" cards that I see making an impact on the meta: Gilnean Royal Guard and Night Prowler. Both of these are insane tempo cards and huge threats in different ways.
Gilnean Royal Guard absolutely hammers large minions and leaves a large threat behind. It's better then Charged Devilsaur most of the time and has added flexibility if you need the 3/8 body, although this feels like the much worse version. The new Rush cards in general will be extremely influential for Arena since initiative is so powerful and opens up different avenues in deck building for traditional classes that lack tempo options like Priest. I'm excited about the new Rush ability and it should give Arena runs the feeling of a back and forth fight instead of a "lop-sided, player that goes first wins most of the time", type feeling.
Night Prowler is interesting to me because it really works well with the set rotation. The remaining sets lack quality 2 drops, so curves will most likely still start around 3 mana. The 2 mana options for Witchwood are borderline undraftable. This leaves draft options limited for early game minions and takes advantage of decks with a thin early game by punishing them with a back-breaking 6/6 on turn 4 (turn 3 coin, scary). The effect is obviously powerful, but I feel this card has a good chance to thrive in a slower meta with worse/less early 1 and 2 drops.
Sinti: Exciting Times Ahead
So with the new drafting system any card is pretty much on (or off) the table now. We can no longer assume which card will have the biggest impact since drafting is no longer solely dependent on the card's rarity. With that being said, I'm very excited to bust out some T3 Marsh Drakes in Rogue (and equally afraid of my opponent doing just that). Though the card I'm probably most interested in seeing how it will end up performing is Arcane Keysmith. It might just be one of the most annoying cards to play against. It might not end up being that good, but it's still a versatile card with decent enough value and Secrets are just so annoying to play around in general.