In a post on the forums, Community Manager Zeriyah informed players that Arena would be changing from the Wild format to Standard around the end of February. In other words, the available cards would be from the past year-plus worth of sets (plus Classic) and not from all card sets in existence. Alongside these changes, Arena players will see fewer common and neutral Classic cards and more spells.
Zeriyah explains the Wild-to-Standard change as being needed to liven up deck construction and make newer strategies more viable:
“As more cards are added to the Arena pool, having each game feel meaningfully different actually becomes harder to accomplish … 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.”
By looking at the comments on Zeriyah’s message, however, the announcement isn’t going over well. Players are generally OK with the lesser changes but they’re lamenting the format change as making Arena look too much like Standard, with its limited card pool. And it’s not just the people taking the time to write out their feelings on the matter who are upset. Comments in favor of the change are getting heavily downvoted, while comments against it are upvoted.
And as a fairly heavy Arena players, I can’t say I disagree with them. I like the “tweaking” changes Zariyah mentions, but not the “sledgehammer” adjustment of going from Wild to Standard. Arena does have a high random element, but that’s part of the nature of the beast. It’s fun to play with weird and powerful older cards you don’t own, and I even own a fair number of them. I imagine it’s even more of a rush for newer players who have never touched a Goblins & Gnomes pack to get Dr. Boom or even Snowchugger to show up. It opens up new ideas and makes them think about strategies they’ve never played before.
I’m usually not against restricting card bases, but for a random mode like Arena it seems unnecessary. Arena isn’t about making deck concepts viable, like a constructed format. It’s about trying crazy things you wouldn’t normally play with and making them work. Reducing the number of cards available to do that makes the format less fun and fixes a “problem” that doesn’t really exist.