The arrival of the Rise of Shadows expansion in April, and the Standard rotation which came with it, shook the Hearthstone metagame up significantly. It had barely settled by the time Blizzard made major nerfs to several key Rogue cards (though Edwin somehow survived again), which was swiftly followed by an unprecedented round of buffs to underplayed cards from The Boomsday Project. Now that things have begun to stabilise properly, I asked our panel of pros for an update to this legendary crafting guide.
The current panel consists of Grandmaster Casie, former World Champion Pavel, Open Cup God Zyrios, WESG Runner-Up BabyBear, pro player, caster, and Masters Tour Vegas runner-up Gallon, and the Queen of the Murlocs herself, Slysssa. Despite the complexity of deciding not just which cards are most powerful, but which are worth owning long-term, the panel was remarkably consistent in its choices. The final list is one I very much agree with.
With the increased frequency of balance changes, it’s worth noting that if a card does get nerfed, then you’ll receive a full dust refund. This can still end up being a costly process though, as there’s no refund for any other cards you may have crafted to synergise with a deck that’s now underpowered. Something the panel kept in mind is the value of cards going forward into future expansions. As a result, versatile neutral cards are sometimes rated higher than you might expect for their power level. These cards can often be used in multiple decks, and have been staples for a long time. As such, they are usually a good investment of your precious dust.
#20: Swampqueen Hagatha
Swampqueen Hagatha is an extremely slow card, but one that’s packed full of value. So it’s no surprise that it found a natural home in Control Shaman. What is of interest, though, is that there’s also room for this value generator in Slysssa’s Murloc Shaman, which took her all the way to #2 Legend during May, eventually finishing in the top 20. In that deck, the extra gas—in conjunction with Shudderwock—gives the deck enough sustain if the initial murloc push doesn’t get the job done.
This versatility of this new version of Hagatha hasn’t been fully explored yet, largely because Shaman is still a fringe class, but it seems likely that Swampqueen will see even more play as the year rolls on. Weaker classes tend to get stronger cards in new sets, so we can expect powerful new combos to come online, witch-ever style of Shaman deck proves popular.
#19: Keeper Stalladris
Druid is not in a great place right now. Token Druid is a functional but unimpressive archetype, and although Heal Druid is playable, it still has the feeling of a work-in-progress. The future is bright, though, thanks to Keeper Stalladris, which seems like a very powerful card. Any 2/3 for 3 Mana with a semblance of a good effect is worth a look, and Stalladris certainly fits that bill.
Druid lost a lot of card draw due to the nerf of Nourish and the rotation of Ultimate Infestation. Stalladris fills some of that gap, in particular when partnered with Wrath. With five more sets available until Stalladris rotates out of Standard, it’s hard to imagine he won’t become a staple at some point in the future. If you’re a Druid fan, this card is a must-craft, and likely to be an invaluable part of your arsenal once Druid is more than just a token presence on the ladder.
#18: Archmage Antonidas
Uncle Toni has been a regular in the lower reaches of this poll for what seems like forever. This is a testament to the very reason that he keeps coming back—he’s a staple Mage card. Although the heyday of Freeze Mage is in the past, Antonidas is still helpful in modern Mage builds. As well as Freeze Mage still existing to some degree, Mage builds with Mana Cyclone need a boost to get through Warrior. As that archetype contains many cheap spells, as well as Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Antonidas is a natural fit as that closer.
The recent buff to Luna’s Pocket Galaxy has led to Antonidas being an automatic choice in decks that play the Galaxy. The chance of getting a 1 mana Toni is way too inviting to pass up.
#17: Bloodmage Thalnos
I commented last time around that Thalnos struggles to find a consistent spot in this list, and that’s further evidenced by his drop from 8th to 17th in the latest standings. One thing that does remain constant is that Thalnos is a very craftable card.
Since the dawn of Hearthstone, Thalnos has been instrumental in many decks. The allure of card draw means he’s often found combo decks, which can often also make use of the Spell Damage. A common question from people who don’t own Thalnos is whether they should use Loot Hoarder or Kobold Geomancer to replace one half of the effects that Thalnos provides, and it is difficult to explain why the answer is usually “neither”. The whole point of Thalnos is that it provides an amazing amount of incremental value in one card.
Thalnos is also entirely unexciting, and truthfully most decks can get by with cutting it. But on the other hand, it’s undeniably one of the best value cards in the game, and once you own a copy you can expect to use it for a long time to come. Thalnos is beautifully balanced, and if you’ve already crafted the power houses higher up on this list, it will be a good feeling to tick him off the list of staple Classic cards.
#16: Stargazer Luna
Drawing cards has always been a premium effect in Mage, whether you’re trying to kill your opponent quickly or grind out a long game. This means that Stargazer Luna is a must-remove target for opponents, especially if your deck contains a lot of cheap spells that can abuse Luna’s effect. Even better, Luna’s 2/4 statline means that she will often survive for a turn, at which point you can “go off” with turns reminiscent of Gadgetzan Auctioneer in its heyday. The restriction of having to play the card at the right of your hand makes planning how you spend your Mana a little difficult, but when she gets rolling the game is quickly taken out of your opponent’s hands.
In the current meta, Luna is a perfect fit for Cyclone Mage, where the interaction with Mana Cyclone to create even more cards after you’ve already drawn several can lead to absurd turns. In a deck with so many cheap cards, you’d be a lunatic not to play her.
#15: Jepetto Joybuzz
As Hearthstone has evolved, cards have naturally become more complex in order to keep the game fresh. This has led to Deathrattle and Battlecry effects being more important. Jepetto is very expensive at 8 Mana, so much so that it wasn’t originally unclear whether or not it would be a relevant card outside of combo decks.
As it transpires, the current meta is unusual in that even the slow decks enjoy having board presence. Fatigue is nowhere near the issue it has been in previous years, and this has led to Jepetto being useful as a value engine and also a passable late-game minion. Although he can be considered non-essential in most decks, Jepetto is currently found in iterations of Freeze Mage, Mech Paladin, Pogo Rogue, Control Shaman, Control Warrior and Heal Druid, amongst others. It remains to be seen whether he becomes a real staple, but with so many decks utilising him it seems likely that crafting him will not be a Buzzkill.