Hearthstone is a game that at its most basic, is all about board control and card advantage. If you can control the board by having more of your minions in play than your opponent while still having more cards in your hand to chose from, then you are more likely to win than they are.
This is of course known by all players and most decks are built around these two basic principles. However, when you enter the arena you don’t get free reign to pick any card you want. You are limited to the cards that pop up in the pseudo-draft rotation. The principles for your final deck are still the same though, board control and card advantage. With the above in mind, which cards are the ones you should be looking for when you are drafting an Arena deck?
In this guide to Arena cards and drafting, unlike the previous guides to commons and rares where we looked at the top 10 of each type, we will look at the top 5 epic and the top 5 legendary cards that I would pick when creating an Arena deck. This is for the simple fact that there are not that many of each rarity in the game, and therefore there are not really 10 cards of either type to make up a list. Keep in mind that this is just a generic listing and only includes the epic and legendary cards that everyone will get access too. Class cards are discussed in the class guides found here (Hearthstone Deck Guides) for each class.
Also keep in mind that the cards that you want will change slightly based on the class that you choose to play, mainly near the bottom of the list though as some of the class cards will filter into the list dropping some of these cards off.
Top 5 Epic Arena Cards
5 - Molten Giant
This is a solid 8/8 creature that has good defensive ability. Sure he starts off costing a massive 20 mana, but gets 1 cheaper for every damage you have suffered. Therefore late in the game, when you are down to a few health, he becomes a free play, that's right 0 mana, for an 8/8 beast. If the game lasts that long and you are getting down on health, this guy can give you a massive free power swing. Since in the Arena you will lose health over time due to the mostly minion based play, he will become playable for free late in the game, right when you need him.
4 - Blood Knight
This epic is a 3/3 for three mana making him a decent card to start with. His battlecry has the potential to make him a early game menace if you manage to draft a few Argent Squires. Better yet, if your opponent drafts them and plays them and you follow up with this guy on turn 3, you are off to a great start of a game. Because he relies on having divine shields to absorb for his power though, he is situational and therefore not higher up the list. He is far better in constructed where you can plan for him and ensure that you have your own divine shields to pull from.
3 - Big Game Hunter
While only a 4/2 minion that can easily be killed off, this minion is cheap at only 3 mana, and has an insanely powerful battlecry. Already decent at 4 attack for 3 mana, the battlecry allows you to outright destroy any minion with 7 or more attack!
That makes this minion a great card to have in your deck to counter your opponents big minions. His use is situational though as he is easy to defeat and if you opponent does not summon any big threats his battlecry is useless. Still with the few decent epics that are not class specific he is a good choice.
2 - Faceless Manipulator
This has to be the best of the epic cards out there for the Arena setting. At 5 mana this minion has the potential to be the best minion in the game. Of course he could also be the worst, it just matters who you target to copy. For 5 mana you get a minion that can copy any other minion in play, yours or your opponents, along with any buffs that minion has on it. Better yet he copies all of the buffs on the minion he is copying. That means for 5 mana you get a duplicate of the best minion on the board no matter how much it cost you, or better yet your opponent.
There are few things more demoralizing to your opponent than summoning a Ragnaros only to have you copy it with a Faceless Manipulator and then use a Big Game Hunter, Hex, or Polymorph to destroy theirs. There are so many good uses for this minion, that if it comes up, you pretty much have to draft it. The only reason not to is if a better class specific epic is available.
1 – Sea Giant
This giant is better than the molten giant above due to his casting cost mechanic. He starts off at 12 mana and gets 1 cheaper per minion on the field. This means that if you end up facing a rush deck that gets out 5 or 6 minions by turn 5 you will likely be able to summon him out to even the playing field very quickly. Also since the Arena format so heavily favours minions, you are very likely to be able to get him on the board for cheap very early on.
Top 5 Legendary Arena Cards
5 - Onyxia
For 9 mana you get a big 8/8 mean dragon along with a whole lot of 1/1 whelps, enough to fill your side of the board. The only issue with Onyxia is that she comes into play so late in the game. While still a great minion, I prefer minions that can pack a punch earlier in the game, as late game has a serious chance of being too late.
4 - Ysera
Ysera is one of the cards that has long been considered a top legendary by players. However at 9 mana for only a 4/12 minion I second guess a ranking higher than #2 or #3. Sure, she can be hard to deal with due to her 12 health, but a silence removes most of her threat.
What makes her so good are the cards she grants you access to at the end of each turn. However, you will not get to play one until at least turn 10, assuming you cast her on turn 9, and in many games that is too late. In the games where is would matter, you may get one of her cards that is situation or even just plain bad. Don't get me wrong, most of the cards she grants are pretty damn good, but there are some that suck. Therefore due to the random nature of her benefit and her low attack power, she comes in #4 on this list.
3 - Sylvanas Windrunner
This is an extremely powerful card that almost always scores better than a 2-1 trade. That is because when she dies, you get a minion from your opponent. So, if done correctly you use her to attack and kill an opponents minion, trading her against it, and then get another of his minions. That minion you can then trade off against another of his minions. Since you didn't actually pay to summon, or use a card to summon, this second minion, you could think of it as a 3-1 trade. You used 1 card and can potentially remove 3 of your opponents minions.
2 - Ragnaros
Another perineal favorite. Ragnaros is a monstrous 8/8 minion for 8 mana with a great ability. Sounds too good? Well, yes he has a downside, he can not attack. Instead he deals 8 damage to a random enemy at the end of each turn. This however is a good thing. It stops you from using him to plink away at enemy minions and thereby dropping his health low enough to be killed off by cheap minions.
Better yet, it provides some protection against silence effects. Think about it, most silence effects are used to counter special abilities, but with Ragnaros, the special ability is also a way to keep him from rampaging across the board at you or your minions. The way Ragnaros works really makes your opponent think when trying to counter him. Sure, they may silence him, but then you just use buff minions or cards and slam into them even harder than the normal 8 damage, which may have just hit a random 1/1 minion instead of you having the choice of where to direct it.
1 - Cairne Bloodhoof
Cairn is a great card and arguably (see #2+3 above) the best generic legendary in the game. He is 6 mana for a 4/5 minion, which at first glance doesn't seem that good, however look closer. When Cairn is killed he summons Baine Bloodhoof, a second 4/5 minion. This makes hit a real pain to deal with, as soon as you kill him you have to deal with another.
In essence you are getting a BOGO Chillwind Yeti, it's just like those damn shoe sales that the wife drags you to, but this one is fun, unless your on the receiving end.
Due the the frustrating nature of having to deal with back to back 4/5 minions and the fact that he is only 6 mana and can be played mid-game for either offense or defence he is my #1 choice as a legendary card in the Arena.
Comments on Top 10 Epic/Legendary Cards for Hearthstone Arena Play
As with any Top 10 list, there will be different opinions out there. These are mine, if you have your own idea for cards that I missed that are available to all classes and either epic or legendary, let me know by posting them in our comment section below.