Edited: Following the Forge (Arena) Simulator upgrade (Thank you, Hearthpwn!!!), my friend (Moneypenny, who posted in the comments) and I have been at it again, this time with matching play test sessions of what we believe were typical, standard arena decks. We produced something like 150 decks in the simulator, and played a good few matchups.

Hi guys,

Myself and a friend have been playing with the Forge simulator quite a lot, and since I had some free time this morning, I decided to launch a conversation about Forge balance. Disclaimer: this is exclusively based on the simulator here at Hearthpwn, and the whole purpose is to talk about our impressions. I’m not claiming any of this is “right” by any means, it is simply a sum of my (our) observations.

For the people who need to see creds before reading: I’m not a tcg bawss, however, I’ve played Magic in a few pro tours, but never did better than day 2 – so that’s that. Do what you will of it. 🙂

And now, on with the show!

Tier 1 – what we feel are the strongest classes in the Arena format.

Mage – Rogue

Both hero powers are incredibly strong in the format. Class commons are incredible, too, with cheap solutions that allow you to play tempo (fast, aggressive) decks that – in our experience – are stronger than control decks in Arena. Our stats show that Mage essentially cannot get a bad deck. Rogue has to focus on cheap threats and Sprint (which is retarded good :)) and if he opens right, it’s incredibly hard to regain board control, ever. If you get any of these 2 as an option, we recommend you go for it. If you need to choose between the two, Rogue needs to be played super aggressively, and Mage if more versatile. Go with your favourite play style!

Tier 2 – Still super strong picks in that format, but with one or more possible drawbacks.

Shaman – Warrior

Shaman is overall a beast. Thrall’s hero power synergizes with Bloodlust so well it’s often disgusting. The only reason he’s not tier 1 is that you are heavily reliant on having the “right” cards (Stormforged AxeBloodlust…), and about 1/3 of the time, you don’t get them, and your deck turns into a pile of dung. However, never underestimate a shaman you play against, because if you give him some board presence, he can one-turn you pretty quickly.

Warrior suffers from a similar problem, in the sense that it is “red-reliant” (understand: you need a LOT of warrior-specific commons to show up). We’ve had Warrior decks that were literally unstoppable. No, really, just faceroll everything. Ridiculously fast aggro decks with 4 weapons to clear or finish off your opponent… Stupidly overpowered. 🙂 But like Shaman, about 1/3 of the time… Warrior decks are terrible. The red cards don’t show up, you don’t have weapons, or not enough of them, and your firepower goes from godlike to wet noodle.

Tier 3 – We couldn’t put the Priest in any other tier. Read on to see why!

Priest

My favourite class of the past simulator… But the meta is so unkind to Anduin 🙁 Priest shines when you have a lot of time to set up, heal your high-hp creatures, have a lot of taunters, etc. The problem is, aggressive decks open too fast for the Priest to really catch up. Still, Holy Nova and Mind Control are real game changers. Currently, with no tier 1 or 2 classes available, we would systematically pray for Priest to show up, as we feel he is still much stronger than the classes below, which are too slow to overwhelm him, and will likely fall prey to his devastating endgame.

Tier 4 – Honestly, these 4 are a notch below the others. Can you do your 9 wins with them? Absolutely. Are you more likely to get them with the classes above? We believe so.

Druid – Hunter – Paladin – Warlock (in no particular order)

Druid has some powerful cards, but no real theme, not a lot of cheap or universal solutions (aside from Naturalize :s). He’s not fast, he’s not that awesome endgame. I know a lot of you guys out there love druids. Let’s hope you prove us wrong. 🙂

Hunter has kind of the same thing going on as Shaman and Warrior, except his decks are only good 1/3 of the time. You need tons of beasts to show up to get the theme rolling, and they are often drowned in a sea of barely-passable humanoid cards. Hunter can make a super-powerful deck, it’s just rare to see it happen.

Paladin… Oh God. You’ve got an interesting swarm-enabling hero power, and nothing to go with it. No Savage Roar, no Bloodlust… You’ve got great cards that are either surprisingly expensive (Hammer of Wrath), or surprisingly too situational (Divine Favor).Consecrate looks (and is) sexy, but typically, a Flamestrike on turn 7 wins you the game, while Consecrate often goes 1 card for 2, maybe 3 if you’re lucky. And that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

Warlock – Where to start… Your good cards are almost all rare or epic, to begin with. Your commons are barely better than those of the other classes, and they have crippling drawbacks. Against every aggro deck, using your hero power could be a misplay that will cost you the game. Warlocks, in constructed, can rely heavily on health swings and board-obliteration to win the game. All of those require epic cards that you can’t seriously expect to see in Arena. With Paladin, Warlock is currently the weakest class in the Arena, in our humble opinion.

Wait, there’s more! Bonus! Our MVP common cards, per class. Those cards are incredibly strong, and you want to pick them above everything else!

Mage: Flamestrike

Rogue: Sprint / Betrayal / Assassin’s blade

Shaman: Stormforged Axe / Bloodlust

Warrior: Arcanite Reaper / Arathi Weapon Master

Priest: Holy Nova / Mind Control

Druid: can’t find something that really stands out. Most druid commons are good, though.

Hunter: Animal Companion / Houndmaster

Paladin: Consecration / Truesilver Champion

Warlock: Hellfire

That’s all I’ve got, folks. Looking forward to your feedback!