#5: Dragonqueen Alexstrasza
Dragonqueen Alexstrasza used to be able to create copies of herself, which made for some ridiculous situations where you could play her, then a 0-Mana version of herself, which… Well, you get the picture.
Despite the slight nerf, Dragonqueen is still an incredibly powerful card. Dragons tend to be big and have decent abilities. Some also synergise with other Dragons using the "if you're holding a dragon" mechanic, which you always will be, because she creates two of them. Overall the chances of Dragonqueen whiffing completely are pretty slim.
Whenever you play Dragonqueen Alexstrasza on an empty or contested board, the impact tends to be huge. Decks which do not have board clears will usually have to kill you on the following turn, or won't get the chance again. If your opponent does have a board clear, then you can opt to hold one or both of your free dragons until the clear has been baited out.
Alexstrasza is one of a select few WoW characters to have had two Hearthstone cards in our list at the same time (the other being Blastmaster Boom and Dr Boom, Mad Genius), and I expect both versions of Alex to stick around for some time.
#4: Edwin VanCleef
In my September 2019 update I wrote this about Edwin, who was then rated at #11 by the panel: “Since our last article Edwin has somehow survived another balance patch unscathed. I am not sure how many more variants on those words I can produce in the coming years, but look forward to finding out.”
Well, here we go again. Edwin has survived three balance changes since, and has only risen higher in the ratings.
The problem (or strength, depending on your viewpoint) with Edwin is that by the raw numbers he looks like a balanced card. His relative power comes from the way that Rogue as a class is designed to activate the Combo keyword. Rogue needs to have staple cards such as Backstab, Shadowstep and Preparation for the class to function, which leads to some big early Edwins.
An 8/8 or even a 6/6 Edwin can wreck control decks before they can muster an answer, and will also eat up valuable resources from opposing aggro decks too—especially given that the same cards which juiced Edwin have also likely been removing the other player's stuff. Not to mention that, with the introduction of Galakrond, it is possible (with the right turn of events from Wondrous Wand) that you can end up playing seven 0-Mana cards—including Edwin—on the same turn. These turns, while not as common as it probably feels when you're on the receiving end of one, add a significant amount to Rogue’s win rate.
This has been a theme in the game for so long now that there are multiple memes and jokes about Edwin’s continued survival. It does seem inevitable that Edwin will eventually be nerfed or sent to the Hall of Fame (at which point you will get your dust back anyway), but until then don't bet against the Brotherhood to keep coming out Ed-Winners.
#3: Leeroy Jenkins
Leeroy making it to third place in the ratings was something I never thought I would welcome, but I have to admit to feeling happy for the chicken-loving lunatic.
Leeroy has had a similar rollercoaster run to Edwin in our ratings over the last few years, but is now getting another shot at the big time. The main reason for Leeroy’s sustained success is his Classic and neutral status. Once crafted, he is a part of your arsenal forever and is certain to be relevant in future metas. Aggro decks are trying to output their damage as efficiently as possible and Leeroy is a proven performer.
The downside with Leeroy is that he is rarely played until lethal is available, which means that you are effectively playing a card down in games where you draw him early. This downside is being eroded over time. Many modern decks can throw down one large minion quite early in the game and Leeroy can double as removal in desperate situations. Players on the other side of the board are unlikely to stop hearing his eye-roll inducing soundbite any time soon.
#2: Kronx Dragonhoof
One of the issues with Galakrond being a Legendary card is that you can only play one copy of it in your deck. Given that all five versions of Galakrond are seeing play, and that in some cases the first person to draw him will win the mirror match, it makes sense to have a way to 'tutor' him from your deck as quickly as possible.
Cards which fetch things from your deck, oddly enough known as fetch cards, traditionally have the drawback of being quite weak if the card which you are trying to find has already been drawn. Kronx sidesteps this issue by unleashing a 'Devastation' if Galakrond is already in play.
These devastations are, well, devastating in nearly any set of circumstances. The ability to clear boards, buff your own guys, create an 8/8 with Taunt, or deal direct damage to your opponent while simultaneously healing your own hero means that there really is a devastation for every occasion.
#1: Zephrys the Great
From fairy tales to horror movies, the lore behind granting wishes has always been complicated, and the receiver of the wishes has to be careful!
Zephrys is no exception. He does not read card text (other than Doomsayer) and looks at the current Health totals of both players and the minions on board, but not the hands of the players. This means that before playing Zephrys, you should set up the board state in such a way that you are more likely to get the card you're wishing for. An example would be to make sure all enemy minions have four or less Health before trying to procure a Flamestrike. This Twitter thread from Hearthstone Game Designer Celestalon explains this further:
Zephrys skill isn't a matter of knowing the list of cards he can offer, and using him as a Wildcard for any of them.It's about predicting what he will offer in each circumstance, and using him as a wildcard for only those.In that case, Storm over Nova was totally predictable.January 31, 2020
The really striking thing about Zephrys is that he can be used in decks that are still playing some duplicates. Any deck that draws a lot of cards can make use of him in the late game, once all the dupes have been drawn. Zephrys is without doubt the most flexible Hearthstone card ever created, and provides an emergency Swiss Army Knife for players to find lethal damage or a life-saving board clear. Due to him being perfectly fine as a 3/2 on turn two, there's also no danger of him clogging your hand.
Zephrys may sometimes seem like he offers weird options, but his flavour text sums this up perfectly “Of course it’s perfect, you’re just not seeing how to use it.” In terms of his position in our poll, it was obvious from the start. As the much-overused Highlander quote (from where Reno decks get their alternate nickname) goes, there can be only #1.
This list has been dominated by Highlander cards, and cards that have a strong ability attached to a minion. It will be interesting to see if that trend continues, or if the new set in April produces something entirely different to talk about.
It should be noted that the next expansion is the start of an entirely new Hearthstone year, which means that mechanics that release then will be built on for the next three sets (e.g. Lackeys last year). It also means that cards from The Witchwood, The Boomsday Project, and Rastakhan’s Rumble will no longer be legal in Standard. You should factor this into your calculations when deciding whether to craft or not.