New sets, new problems. Last December saw the launch of the Mean Streets of Gadgetzan expansion, which effectively detonated a mine in the middle of the Hearthstone meta. Old strategies have been sent scrambling as Reno, Pirate, and Dragon decks have risen to dominance. As a result, the question of which legendary cards represent the best to craft is has been renewed in full force. Luckily, we’re here to help in the form of a completely updated list of the strongest legendary cards today.
For many Hearthstone players, particularly newer ones, deciding which legendary cards to craft with your hard-earned dust is a stressful experience. 1600 dust isn't easy to come by, and the setback from crafting a card which ends up being useless can be potentially devastating. To help guide your crafting decisions, I asked a panel of expert players and pundits to rank their top 25. Using their input, combined with my own expertise, I've created a list that represents a comprehensive guide to which legendaries you need in your collection now. Just start at #1 and work your way back until your decks are bristling with power.
The plan isn't quite that simple of course. If you're looking to play a specific deck, or favour a particular class, you should give extra weight to the legendaries that are core to those archetypes. You should still pay attention to the cards listed highly here due to their versatility, since those will go the furthest to increasing the power of your collection overall.
As ever, we’ll update this list when a new set arrives and the meta has settled around it.
#25: Justicar Trueheart
It’s only fitting that the card that welcomed us to The Grand Tournament remains a key part of this list. Justicar’s effect is hard to sum up quickly, as it varies uniquely between classes. For a while Paladin players made great use of Justicar to flood the board with Silver Hand Recruits, creating an inevitable win condition against slow control decks. Priests flirted with including Justicar to make their minions even harder to remove, and further increasing their advantage over pesky aggro decks.
These days, the only common use of Justicar is in Warrior. Gone are the days when 20 armour seemed like an impressive safety net. Now, the dizzying heights of 40, 50, and even 60 armour are achievable, giving birth to a new form of Control Warrior that is no longer interested in killing the other player at all, they simply armour up (or rather “Tank Up”), remove every threat you play, and then sit bellowing with laughter as you die to fatigue.While this might not be the most fun experience (at least for one player involved) there is no denying its effectiveness. Unless of course you come up against a Jade Druid, which can create infinite threats thanks to the deck replenishing Jade Idol card. In which case you probably just lose.
That’s part of the reason why Justicar barely scraped onto the list this time around, not even receiving a nomination from some players polled. Although Control Warrior will likely always be playable, it looks like she will be making her way out of Standard this year with a whimper rather than a bang.
#24: N'Zoth, the Corruptor
The only Old God to keep a spot on our list is N’Zoth. Very few cards in the history of Hearthstone have had as big an impact on people’s deck building decisions as this tentacled menace. Upon release, control strategies were given a new lease on life, since a single 10-Mana card allows your deck to be completely dominant in the late-game, enabling you to focus on tweaking the remainder of your deck to counteract the earlier arriving threats of aggro and midrange decks.
N’Zoth’s flexibility is impressive too. The card has seen success in Paladin, Priest, Rogue, Druid, Warrior, Warlock, and even Hunter. That kind of versatility is only shared by other legendary cards at the upper extremes of our list, and it speaks volumes for the singular power of N’Zoth as a win condition.
The reason N’Zoth is barely hanging on in our latest list is due to the resurgence of Reno decks, and particularly Kazakus. Not only do they steer people wanting to play control away from the prospect of a Deathrattle heavy deck, Kazakus also introduces a new answer to N’Zoth’s ridiculous board states in the form of the 10-Mana Polymorph all minions potion. Is there a bigger value play in the game?
#21 (tied): Raza the Chained
Despite not having a massive effect on the meta overall, Raza is a welcome addition to the Kabal gang and certainly eclipses the other two class legendaries in the form of Krul, the Unshackled and Inkmaster Solia. It’s testament to the overall power of Kazakus that despite these aforementioned cards proving to be fairly weak, Reno decks have still risen to dominance as the optimal strategy for Mage and Warlock. It’s strange, then, that Priest, the class that received the best class card of the bunch, is more commonly seen in Dragon form that using a Reno-based strategy.
This, however, is more down to the power of Drakonid Operative than it is a sleight on Raza’s good name—and Reno Priest variations have still shown excellent ladder results for some players in the early days of the Mean Streets meta.
Raza is easily viewed as a persistent heal for 2 that goes off every turn after you put it into play, but in reality it’s even better than that due to the ability to refresh minions, or to activate incredible Inspire effects without the tempo loss that comes from having to activate your Hero Power. Add in Justicar Trueheart, or Shadowform, and Raza’s potential applications extend even further.
#21 (tied): Grommash Hellscream
Gromm has slipped slightly in our most recent update, which can be indirectly put down to the Execute nerf which has made the Dragon Warrior deck less powerful overall. Although he also suffers from the same issues as Tirion—he’s a class Legendary—the Warsong Clan chieftain offers a little more versatility than his Paladin counterpart. Grom can be used in Tempo-focused Warrior decks and is still a staple in most forms of Control Warrior.
Anyone who has faced a Warrior will be familiar with the terrifying feeling of having your life total dip into Grom range. You’re forced to play inefficiently in order to protect what remains of your health pool, or shut your eyes and hope they don’t have it—at which point they inevitably do. Without Grom in your Warrior deck, you find yourself lacking the final punch, and while plenty of the late-game legendaries other decks can be swapped with other big hitters, Grom’s game-ending power is irreplaceable.
Since the huge nerf to Big Game Hunter, Grom has also only increased in power. Now you are not quite so obligated to hold onto your big charger as a final win condition, and can feel more free to use him as a threat to control the board. Previously a Grom that was dropped and used to trade would often be answered by a BGH, leaving you lacking that late-game punch. Now Grom sometimes sticks, and that’s even scarier.
#21 (tied): The Curator
One of only two legendaries from Karazhan to make it onto our list, The Curator’s strength rests in the value it crams into a single card. At a time when good neutral Taunt minions are relatively rare, the 4/6 statline can serve to shore up contested board positions late in the game, but it’s the unique form of card draw provided by The Curator that makes it an interesting option for deckbuilders. As was theorycrafted before the release of Karazhan, classes like Hunter, Druid and Warrior are able to include Beasts, Dragons and Murlocs without gimping the deck’s overall power. In Dragon Warrior particularly, the ability to refill your hand if the game goes long has proved an important tool.
But even in that deck, The Curator isn’t an auto-include, and gets cycled in or out depending on individual preference and other card choices like Fierce Monkey. The key issue is that the kind of deck that wants to include The Curator doesn’t tend to be one that is happy spending turn seven playing a low-threat Taunt and drawing some cards. For that reason, The Curator hasn’t come to be a meta-dominating card, though its intrinsic value isn’t in doubt. Given the scarcity of good card draw options in Hearthstone, we may still see decks created in the future that will push The Curator higher up this list.
#20: Harrison Jones
Usually tech cards wouldn’t be recommended as high crafting priorities, since they’re only effective in the right meta. However, Hearthstone has been so heavily dominated by Shaman and Warrior decks for a while now that Harrison almost always finds a target. Factor in recent additions like Spirit Claws from Karazhan and Jade Claws introduced in Mean Streets, plus the fact that Rogue is a thing again, and Harrison becomes an even more attractive inclusion.
The particular strength of Harrison is that even in matchups like Druid where he won’t get to add a new weapon to his ever-growing museum, he still isn’t terrible. Unlike other tech cards such as Eater of Secrets which are really found wanting when they whiff, Harrison has a decent amount of health. He still represents a threat in an aggressive deck, and he can still ‘trade up’ with a better minion in a Control deck. This lack of downside is what makes Harrison such an attractive option.
Despite all this, he falls significantly on our latest list because Acidic Swamp Ooze has become the tech card of choice. Unlike Harry, Ooze can come down early enough in the game to break apart the much maligned synergy between the game’s best early-game weapons and Small-Time Buccaneer, which can otherwise single-handedly chase you out of the game if left unchecked. It’s hard to curate a museum when you’re dead.
#19: Finja the Flying Star
Perhaps the one saving grace for Paladin in the new expansion, Finja has breathed new life into the popular Anyfin archetype. Previously, the deck was full of card draw to make sure you powered through your deck as quickly as possible to hit your all important Murlocs in a timely manner. Now, with the addition of Finja, that work is done for you and you can fill your deck with more answers, more stability, and just more generally good stuff.
Filtering the Murlocs out of your deck early in a game also means that you then draw key answers like Equality and your actual Anyfin Can Happen with increased regularity, and as we’ll see from the upper reaches of this list, deck thinning is a powerful effect. Yes, Finja somewhat messes with your 30-32 damage second Anyfin against control decks, particularly Reno Mage, but overall he’s mostly upside.
Despite this, the Murloc martial artist still languishes in the lower portion of our list because he’s played in one deck and well… Paladin just kinda sucks right now. Sorry about that Uther fans.
#17 (tied): Barnes
Barnes takes a huge hit in our latest rankings, a result that he would surely describe as a terrible tragedy. There are myriad factors contributing to the thesp’s fall from grace, but the trickle down effect of Kazakus being introduced to the game is a huge one. Kazakus gives control decks access to a mass Polymorph effect, which then essentially removes all upside from including N’Zoth the Corruptor in your deck since your late-game win condition is transformed from a devastating board full of Taurens and undead Elves into an army of Sheep in trousers. And what is a key inclusion in any N’Zoth deck? That’s right! Barnes! Did you follow all that? Good.
Still, in the right deck with enough positive outcomes Barnes is still a terror. While calling it a 4 Mana 4/5 at worse is slightly erroneous, it does make the point well enough. Much like Fandral, who we’ll discuss later, Barnes is a card with massive upside on the best outcomes, and very little downside on the bad ones.
#17 (tied): Tirion Fordring
A contender for the best pure value card in the game. In Arena, where a sterile evaluation of a card’s overall worth is generally the starting point for any rating system, Tirion has historically been considered the best card. And with good reason. Theoretically, Tirion is capable of trading 5-for-1 with your opponent’s cards because his body can be expected to slay two minions, and the resulting Ashbringer weapon can chop down another three. In reality, he’s rarely that spectacular since various factors like hard removal spells, Harrison Jones, Ooze, and your own life total will put a stop to the dream. Nonetheless, dropping Tirion is always a powerful play.
Furthermore, thanks to the addition of N’Zoth, Tirion became an even more ridiculous proposition. Not only do you get to ride the value train once, you get the double whammy of reviving not only an amazing minion, but also a huge defensive wall that can provide you with the buffer needed to be able to safely play a 10-Mana card. Until your opponent slams their 10 Mana Kazakus Polymorph Potion that is...
While Tirion is still a powerful card, the decline of Paladin keeps him from pushing higher up the list. The Grimy Goons Gang has been, quite frankly, a miserable failure, and Paladin has suffered because of it. The ubiquitous presence of Acidic Swamp Ooze in the meta is also a huge problem for Tirion, as having a significant chunk of his value removed with one fell gloop is a devastating feeling.
#16: Archmage Antonidas
The Dalaran wizard more colloquially known as “Tony” is a dominant force again thanks to Mean Streets. Slow Mage decks were more or less a non-issue in recent metagames, with Jaina players favouring the more aggressive Tempo Mage strategy that offered such strong results against midrange decks. This deck rarely had time to sit back and get long-term value or explosive burst combos out of Antonidas, and so he ah-HAH-ed his way to relative obscurity.
Today Reno Mage has become a powerhouse, and unlike its RNG-inclined cousin this deck is definitely in the business of trying to set up late-game win conditions. Tony is a fitting inclusion in almost any build of Reno Mage, and strategies do vary wildly. Some use him in combination with Emperor Thaurissan in order to create a huge reserve of Fireballs that your opponent cannot possibly overcome. Others will instead just use him as an additional late-game threat, rarely reaching the lofty heights of 3-4 Fireballs, but doing enough to pick up some extra resources for you and serving as a “must kill” soft Taunt minion.
On the next page: #15 to #6, including Aya Blackpaw and Ragnaros...