December 10 is right around the corner and we cannot wait for Descent of Dragons to arrive. More so, since Arena will be very interesting for the next two months or so. Dragons will most likely rule the skies and the battlefield.
Our Arena team prepared for you a little presentation about what you can expect in Descent of Dragons Arena.
If you want to know more about how we scored each individual card, what do we think about them or want to talk about Descent of Dragons cards in Arena environment in general, feel free to jump into our Descent of Dragons: Arena Impact thread.
The card pool for drafting will change to include the following sets:
- Blackrock Mountain
- The Grand Tournament
- One Night in Karazhan
- Knights of the Frozen Throne
- Rastakhan's Rumble
- Descent of Dragons
Here, There Be Dragons
Blizzard is again trying to go for a certain flavor with upcoming drafting pool range - Dragons! There will be a total of 53 Dragons across all rarities, as you can see in a chart below.
While roughly 40 % of the Dragons are Legendaries, don't get fooled that those will not be a relatively common occurance. With the introduction of Dragon Explorers, who let you Discover a Dragon, a few old faces who can help you get your hands on some Dragons also return; for example, my personal arch-nemesis Netherspite Historian.
Dragon Synergy by Class
To clarify, i will only talk about cards that should have a significant impact on your games and which should be taken into an account while deciding in which class to go ham on the Dragon synergy.
Dragon count: 29 (11 Legendaries)
To set the scene, let's first talk about Neutral options that each class will have access to, so you can get a clear picture for what each class might want to strive and what other synergies can it have.
I will start with the MVP of the set and a must-pick-over-probably-anything - Dragonmaw Poacher. This card is here to keep us in check and to punish anyone who thinks that Bronze Explorer is a 3-drop. Jokes aside, card like this is a good idea, but the implementation might seem a little bit polarazing. Especially if it arrives on T4 into your early Dragon. But if you think about how much card advantage will most Dragons provide, then the Poacher seems relatively fair in comparison.
Be aware this exists and pick it whenever possible.
Then we have the value generators. Cards like Netherspite Historian or Firetree Witchdoctor will create extra card advantage for you and allow you to utilize more resources. While cards like Blackwing Technician or Twilight Guardian can accelerate the tempo via above average stats played on curve.
And that gets us to another reason why you want to play Dragons. The tempo powerhouses that activate, if you're holding a Dragon. Not very consistent in the past, but with the amount of Dragons added by Descent of Dragons, i can't imagine these won't shine bright. Playing these cards will get you on the board while removing something from your opponent in a very cost-efficient way. Keep a lookout for these and the turns and situations they can be played in, otherwise those will be your undoing. Likewise, pick them up during drafting, if you want to increase your chances at winning.
Dragon count: 2 (1 Legendary)
While Dragon synergy is a new concept for Druid, it is starting very strong. One of the best Dragons in the entire pool is a druid one, Emerald Explorer. Amazing card on its own and it provides a good card advantage. Do you remember Stonehill Defender discovering itself? How much do you want to bet this will give you that exact flashback? :) But more than that, it is an easy way to get your hands on one of the powerful legendary Dragons.
Second card druid has in its arsenal is Breath of Dreams. While Wild Growth still cost 2 mana, it actually was a decent arena card. Allowing you to skip on 2-drops and go straight into your mid>late game composition. If you can get enough Dragons in your draft, this can have the same potential and then some, since it cycles itself as well.
As with any Legendary, Ysera, Unleashed is only really relevant for Discover and random generation purposes, but if you can get it, it can become your win condition.
Dragon count: 2 (1 Legendary)
Hunter has already received some Dragons in the past, although its main protagonist, Emeriss, isn't going to make an appearance this time around. Can you imagine getting that monster out of Primordial Explorer? Ouch! Nonetheless, there are plenty of other strong Dragons to be Discovered. Primordial Explorer is probably the only early game Dragon that you can play relatively safely due to existence of Dragonmaw Poacher, tho if your opponent has a minion that can trade into your 2/3 leaving the 8/8 up, think twice.
A card that can draw extra value out of Dragons in Hunter is a new weapon Stormhammer. It is a decent weapon on its own for stopping early aggression, but it can provide a continuous damage output, for trading or SMORc, if you can keep a Dragon up. Weapon removal is not that common in Arena, so if you can get this going, chances are you will generate a pretty significant value.
As with any Legendary, Veranus is only really relevant for Discover and random generation purposes, but if you can get it, it will provide a big body with a one-sided Equality. Preeeetty good.
Dragon count: 4 (2 Legendaries)
I was initially a bit sceptical about Azure Explorer, since the 2/3 body is a pretty bad deal for a 4-cost minion despite all you get on top of that, but after seeing all the Dragons in the pool, i must say this guy will be a snap pick most of the time. It will allow you to access other, more powerful Dragons that can easilly carry your games.
Only other notable class card in terms of Dragon synergy is Arcane Breath. Cheap small removal that can let you discover a Mage spell. Sounds good? Yeah, i think so!
Dragoncaster is probably not going to make a difference in an average game and since it isn't a Dragon itself, it is a very questionable draft pick; and as with any legendary, Malygos, Aspect of Magic and Sindragosa are only really relevant for Discover and random generation purposes, but if you can get them, they can provide a nice card advantage.
Dragon count: 4 (1 Legendary)
Bronze Explorer is a weaker version of Primordial Explorer, but some extra Health is never bad. You shouldn't attempt to play this on T3 tho, not only is that a weak play in general, but Dragonmaw Poacher can ruin your day, unless you have Aldor Peacekeeper to follow it up or something like that. As with all other Explorers, it provides a great card advantage and possible win condition, if you can land on a right Dragon, so a worthy pick.
The second new Dragon Paladin got, Amber Watcher, is just amazing. Not only is it a beast with that statline for its cost, but it provides a huge heal which can help you stay in the game or can heal one of your minions to (probably) full Health. Certainly a great add to Paladin's toolkit.
Return of Dragon Consort makes every Dragon you get a little bit more interesting, since the 2 mana discount is not a small one and the minion itself has great stats for a 5-drop.
Another card that makes a return and can finally be playable is Nightbane Templar. Nothing too spectacular, but a pretty nice 3-drop, especially in a class where you want to stick anything on the board so you can follow it up with some buffing action.
And last but not least, Sand Breath. Very good card, considering it costs just 1 mana. Basically a love child of Divine Strength and Hand of Protection that is into Dragons. Can be a great buff in any stage of the game.
Dragonrider Talritha can be a nice pick, that can act as a slow win condition and Nozdormu the Timeless is only really relevant for Discover and random generation purposes and it can basically act as a 4 mana 8/8 in the late game, which isn't bad.
Dragon count: 4 (1 Legendary)
Priest does not have a class Discover effect tied to Dragons directly this time around, no Drakonid Operative, thank god, but there are still Netherspite Historian and Firetree Witchdoctor to make you cry, don't you worry. Anduin is still the overseer in the Salt Mines.
The two new AOEs, Chronobreaker and Breath of the Infinite just give the class more control tools while Twilight Whelp and Wyrmrest Agent provide for nice early game minions that can still be relevant in the late game, namely Whelp, since you can just hold the then "useless" 1-drop and activate your other Dragons with it.
As with any Legendary, Murozond the Infinite is only really relevant for Discover and random generation purposes, namely via Netherspite Historian, but if you can get him, your opponent is in for a rude awakening.
Dragon count: 1 (1 Legendary)
Rogue doesn't have any real Dragon synergy to speak of, but the Neutral options are still worth enough for you to go for it. You will learn to hate Netherspite Historian the way i did, back in a day when there were almost no Dragons and it kept working for ppl with 1 Dragon in the deck. Now it is actually a great card, but the hate will be all the same. Not that Waxadred would be that amazing card to strive for, but it is just one of the great dragons you can get access to.
Candle Breath might be worth picking up, if you have some Dragons since even without them, its an ok card draw option. If you can activate it, it's bonkers.
Dragon count: 2 (1 Legendary)
Shaman is another class where Dragons were previously not a thing. And it is starting off strong as well. Lightning Breath is a Shadow Bolt that can become a mini-Flamestrike. Hitting three minions is often enough, certainly very powerful for just 3 mana.
Squallhunter also provides a great advantage in terms of a big body for its cost and added positive effect, which might not matter, but you can be sure your opponent won't like leaving up Spell Damage +2, if he can avoid it. Not a Flamewreathed Faceless, but still a very powerful minion.
As with any Legendary, Nithogg is only really relevant for Discover and random generation purposes, in Shaman namely via Netherspite Historian, but if you can get it, it should provide a decent value. It can be a win more card, providing well above average amounts of stats for its cost, or it can kinda act as a Shieldmaiden, getting you a 5/5 body and some "healing", damage spent on killing eggs instead of going face.
Dragon count: 2 (1 Legendary)
Yet another fresh Dragon class which is also introduced with a very strong Dragons. Crazed Netherwing alone makes going ham on Dragons worth it. It's basically Abyssal Enforcer or Duskbreaker level broken, if you can activate it. Yeah, think about that.
Nether Breath can become a very good cheap removal with added healing, both of which Warlock can make use of.
As with any Legendary, Zzeraku the Warped is only really relevant for Discover and random generation purposes, but if you can get it, it can easilly become your win condition.
Dragon count: 3 (1 Legendary)
And finally, there is Warrior. While being one of the EVIL classes and not having an Explorer, tools from previous expansions more than make up for that. Remember Dragon Roar? It's back baby! Remember Alexstrasza's Champion and Smolderthorn Lancer? Ok, probably not those :D But they are back too! Molten Breath and Emberscale Drake act as a good removal and body respectively that help keep you alive. And if you get offered War Master Voone, you might actually consider picking him this time around, since there is a high likelihood that it will provide a great value. And of course we can't forget about yet another iteration of Deathwing which should help you greatly in your winning efforts, if you can get your hands on it.
Non-dragon Arena Side
Obviously, Dragons aren't everything and other very strong cards will be present in Arena. Some old carries (Bonemare) and some new ones (Faceless Corruptor) will make an appearance, but that is a topic for another time.
Out of Cards Arena Team Thoughts
In our Descent of Dragons: Arena Impact thread, we were evaluating individual cards with a score from 5 to 1, 5 being the highest, during the entire reveal season. There, you can find the spreadsheet with all the scores.
From the final results, it looks like Descent of Dragons is one of the most powerful expansions ever released in terms of individual card power level, for Arena anyway. If we subtract the cards that will not be possible to draft, all 5 Galakronds and all his followers, we are left with 119 cards.
Out of those, whooping 30 cards received a unanimous 5/5 rating from us. Followed by 43 cards with 4/5 rating and 29 cards with 3/5 rating. Leaving mere 44 cards with the lowest scores. That is insane! 73 cards are top tier power level with 29 being about average, but a lot of those 3/5 ratings are cards that require a synergy (like holding a dragon, or having a mech) and if you can achieve that, even those skyrocket in rating.
This expansions is certainly one big powerhouse and it will be very interesting to see how Arena meta develops.
I think that was enough babbling from me, let's hear it from the rest of our Arena team!
Our lovely AbusingKel had this to say ...
While reviewing the Descent of Dragons cards in our Arena Impact Thread, two things really caught my attention.
The first was the power creep among neutral cards. Quite a few clearly jumped well above similar cards from prior editions. The most obvious of these are: Hippogryph > Stegodon, Evasive Chimaera > Pit Snake (a class card, no less!), Evasive Wyrm > Argent Commander (though that charge can be a nice finisher), and Big Ol' Whelp which simply destroys the previous cantrip curve set by cards like Novice Engineer and Gnomish Inventor. All of these are commons and received scores of 4 or 5 from our team, so be sure to target them in your launch day drafts!
The second was the addition of so many awesome dragons! (I know, Captain Obvious, right?) With Blackrock Mountain in the rotation, it certainly looks like there will be enough dragons available to draft decks with strong dragon synergy. I do have a bit of a concern for the EVIL classes, though. Because Galakrond and the invoke cards will not be available in the arena, these classes lose a very powerful part of the set. Most received less dragons, as well. With dragon synergy likely playing a big role in the best performing decks, this could push EVIL classes down the ranks for the DoD rotation. Do you agree that the scales will tip towards the "Hero" classes?
... and our Arena extraordinaire Boozor wants to share his thoughts.
For a quick meta analysis, I have a couple observations I'll share here:
- Lack of Taunts / Healing : A lot of cards are rotating out that help you recover. Cards like Bog Creeper and Shroom Brewer are both rotating out, and there isn't really a good neutral heal or super good taunts that can make up for this. Earthen Ring Farseeris coming back which helps the healing department, but the new DoD set doesn't bring too many taunts besides Hippogryph or Evasive Drakonid. Make sure to pay extra attention to bleeding early damage.
- Lack of Deathrattles : This must be be one of the worst rotations for Deathrattle cards. Anything that synergies with Deathrattles should be taken with extreme care.
- Strength of the new set: Depending if the new set gets an appearance bonus or not, we'll get to experience some really strong cards in this set. There are a lot of initiative cards (cards that interact with the board from your hand), and there are a lot of strong bodies that give you card advantage through good trade (or in some cases, drawing you cards). Cards like Evasive Wyrm, Troll Batrider, or the various new Breath cards, give plenty of options to help players play off the board. Strong value cards such as Twin Tyrant and the explorer dragon cards give you cards that can gain card advantage on your opponent.
Overall, to properly get through this meta i'd imagine it will be a mix of controlling the board through solid trades with better bodies, but also having enough value to keep up the pressure. The aggressor in the match up will likely pay off since there will be limited taunts and healing to help players recover until they are too low.
I hope you are about as excited for the next Arena rotation as we are. Let us know which card you're looking forward to play the most!
Btw, don't forget to start your Arena run in time to get an Arena Ticket for retired run!