Hearthstone: The 20 best legendary cards

Hearthstone's latest expansion, Kobolds & Catacombs, is packed with powerful, creative cards that were inspired by classic D&D as much as World of Warcraft's own rich lore. With the dust now settled on the meta, it's time to adjust our power rating list of legendary cards.

As ever, I spoke to a panel of Hearthstone pros and top ladder players to decide on the most essential legendaries in the Standard format. For this version of the list, I've also factored in that some of these cards—such as Patches and Raza—will be rotating out of Standard when the next set arrives, which is likely to be around April. Those cards have been given slightly lower ratings to reflect that you can only use them in Standard for a few more months. 

Choosing which cards to craft is a very personal experience, and we've all blown dust on a legendary because we fell in love with its flavour. I'm confident the cards in the upper echelons of our list are safe crafts, but be sure to read the description of each one to understand the reasoning for why that card has placed highly. That's the best way to know if if it's likely to mesh with the way you want to play.

It's also worth noting that many of the strongest cards in Kobolds & Catacombs are actually epics. If you've got 1600 dust to burn, you should seriously consider crafting four Epics as opposed to a single legendary. Corridor Creeper is essential right now, and would rank very near the top of our list if it were a legendary. (It also has a high chance of being nerfed.)  Elsewhere among the epics, Branching Paths, Call to Arms, Voidlord, Faldorei Strider, and Psychic Scream are all powerhouses in their respective classes.

With all that in mind, let's get the list started with a surprise new entry...

#20: Master Oakheart 

Master Oakheart found a temporary home in Control Warlock before the refinement of that deck saw him replaced. At the current time, he's only found in janky experimental decks and on meme streams, but that doesn’t mean this card's time won’t come.

His ability to Recruit three minions from your deck ensures that there is the opportunity to set up all manner, and mana, of strange combos. Bear in mind that there are a lot of powerful cards with low attack values, such as Voidlord and Dragonhatcher, which means there's potential for huge upside off Oakheart.

If you are looking to craft a card that will rocket you up the ladder, this is not currently that card. But if you’re looking for an interesting build-around card that could turn into a serious contender at a later date, then Oakheart has that mastered.

#19: Frost Lich Jaina 

Despite the wall of text on Jaina that screams that she should be played in an Elemental deck, the card has so far found its niche as an alternate win condition for Control Mage decks. Full-on Elemental decks do not currently have the consistency required for high level play, although Baron Geddon’s new-found life as an Elemental is sometimes combined with Jaina to generate massive swing turns via a board clearing effect that also heals you.

As it turns out, the ability to create Water Elementals usually offers enough value on its own. The diverse damage output of Mage's spells makes bringing enemy minions into ping range pretty easy, which means opponents are often punished for playing minions at all. Of course, this situation is win-win for the Mage—either they get another Water Elemental, or they gain control of the board. Once this process begins, Jaina restores lost Health at an alarming rate, which buys plenty of extra time to grind the game out.

The downside is that Jaina can be too slow against highly aggressive decks, so she tends to struggle in fast metas. That said, she's such a fun card that she's always bound to see some play, and so her song of ice and fire continues.

#18: Sonya Shadowdancer 

Sonya’s ability is extremely potent in Rogue decks. Not only do many of the minions used by Rogue tend to have important Battlecry effects, but the class also makes great use of cheap cards to activate Combo.

Early tests with Sonya have been inconclusive. Many pro players feel that she is not strong enough in current Tempo Rogue lists, although Rage did get to the top of the pile using her. In Quest Rogue however, Sonya’s ability is perfect for the job. Should that deck ever become strong again, Sonya’s stock will definitely rise accordingly. 

The more important thing about Sonya is that there are three more sets to work with during her standard lifetime. If at any point just one card synergises particularly well with Sonya, she could be propelled to the top of the rankings very rapidly.

Finally, let's not pretend that there aren't plenty of good cards with the word Shadow in them: Shadowstep, Shadow Strike, Shadowcaster, Shadowflame, and Possessed Villager (work it out) have all seen play. Shadowdancer is surely next. Wake up sheeple.

#17: Fandral Staghelm 

Fandral is the very definition of a solid Hearthstone legendary. A 3/5 minion for 4 Mana is not a disaster in itself, and Fandral's effect is synergistic enough with so many other playable Druid cards that he gets value in games on a regular basis. 

The most common big swing card to use with Fandral is Nourish. The ability to draw three cards for essentially two Mana is not only incredibly powerful, but some of the cards drawn will also have their own Choose One effect. This chaining of effects can make turns resemble Miracle Rogue at times. A Wrath deals with 4-health minions and draws yet another card, Feral Rage removes a minion and armors you out of danger, and so on. If Fandral survives a single turn, so that the player can use all of their mana on these effects, it is often enough to win the game.

Although Fandral’s first turn Coin into Innervate days are behind him, Fandral’s value still continues to wax and wane with the fortunes of Druid as a class. He's been an evergreen presence in Hearthstone’s upper branches, and even with balance changes, it seems likely that Malfurion, and therefore Fandral, will continue to be a solid choice for all but the fastest of Druid decks until he rotates out in early 2018.

#16 Medivh, the Guardian  

Each time the meta slows down, Medivh gets a chance to live up to his Guardian moniker. Atiesh, his trusty weapon, is not only a huge value generator, but can also provide a handy additional ping effect on turns where you want to play huge spells. 

The traditional problem with an expensive spell, such as Twisting Nether, is that you don't develop anything of your own on the board that turn, handing initiative back to the opponent. In recent times, Firelands Portal and Ultimate Infestation have been the exceptions to that rule, but many big spells still suffer. Atiesh's minion-summon effect helps guard you while you fire off expensive spells—and in the instances where the spell summons minions already, it makes the game snowball even harder.

Let's also not lose sight of the fact that Medivh is also a 7/7 for 8-Mana, which is a reasonable threat in its own right. Presenting two different problems, which likely require different solutions (ie weapon and minion removal), can overload an opponent. Spare a thought for poor old War Golem, who just can’t get the staff these days.

#15 Rin, the First Disciple 

Upon first inspection, Rin seems too slow to make much of a splash in the meta. The mistake, though, is focusing on the final effect—Azari devouring the opposing deck—rather than the incremental value gathered along the way. See, it turns out that in control decks the seals can become very valuable as a source of damage, and that the grinding advantage that they give can often be enough, even if Azari doesn’t get to eat any cards.

Rin can be a little awkward to use. She is weak to being silenced, so you will often want to kill her off on the turn that she is played. At the current time, this works well in decks that are playing strategies involving Carnivorous Cube and Possessed Lackey, which are also cards which work well when destroyed by their owners.

With the raft of extremely good cards released for Warlock in Kobolds & Catacombs it seems likely that Rin will remain at least a fringe card, and sometimes more, for a long time to come. Control decks like nothing better than an efficient Rin Condition. 

On the next page: #14 to #6, including Skull of the Man’Ari and The Lich King...