HearthCraft Episode 1: Classic set - neutral legendaries

GuideGuide

Hello, I’m oblio and I’ll be your host for a new series called “Which cards should I craft first as a new Hearthstone player?”. That’s a mouth-full, so I’ll just call it “HearthCraft” from now on :smile:

One of the most important things you have to decide as a new player is: which cards you’re going to craft with your spare dust. Unless your name is Donald Trump, you probably don’t want to throw a lot of :heavy_dollar_sign::heavy_dollar_sign::heavy_dollar_sign: on cards you will not use.

This guide is meant for players who want a collection that allows them to play the highest variety of competitive decks. If you love to play the same class or archetype over and over and over again, your crafting priority will be different.
This guide is also meant as a long term guide. This means that some cards have been selected because they are close to being viable now and it's not hard to predict that they will become usable once Hearthstone's card pool becomes bigger.

Hearthstone has a lot of cards so I’ve decided to make several articles about this topic, each one of them covering a different part of the ever-growing Hearthstone collection. As new expansions appear I will publish new articles and I will link them here, so stay tuned!

  • HearthCraft Episode 1: Classic set - neutral legendaries (you are here)
  • HearthCraft Episode 2: Classic set - neutral epics
  • HearthCraft Episode 3: Classic set - neutral rares (part 1)
  • HearthCraft Episode 4: Classic set - neutral rares (part 2)
  • HearthCraft Episode 5: Classic set - neutral commons (part 1)
  • HearthCraft Episode 6: Classic neutral commons (part 2)

Let’s get started. I’ll list the cards according to their crafting priority.

Must have

These are the cards that are most likely to be used in decks you create or you find on the internet. They are so powerful or versatile that most players would consider them better than the alternatives.

Sylvanas Windrunner

Sylvanas Windrunner

Sylvanas is a staple of many control and midrange decks. Besides the solid 5/5 body she comes with a game-swinging deathrattle: she steals an enemy minion. As a 5/5 she can deal with most aggro deck minions (which are usually high attack - low HP minions) or she can suicide into the control deck’s “bomb” and steal the damage unit after she dies. Either way, decent against aggro and a huge swing against midrange and control decks. She tends to provoke awkward trades or overextension by board flooding (thus playing directly into AOE).

Sylvanas can be seen in a large number of decks and she has “survived” 2 expansions and 2 adventures already. Unless major power creep occurs, she will still be seen in many decks in the future.


Ysera

Ysera

Ysera is the veteran “control dragon”. She has a solid 4/12 body which is quite hard to kill unless you have direct removal when she is played. If not answered she starts creating special cards called “Dream Cards”. These cards range from decent (3 mana untargetable 3/5, 4 mana dragon 7/6) to strong (0 mana return minion to owner’s hand, 0 mana give minion 5/5 then destroy it next turn) to almost overpowered (2 mana deal 5 damage to all characters except Ysera).

Against aggro decks and midrange decks the body can trade at least 2-to-1, while the dream cards can at minimum provide additional bodies to throw on the table and at best can provide additional reach for a surprise lethal while racing. Aggro decks are less affected by Ysera as by turn 9, when she is usually played, they are close to killing the enemy and Ysera doesn’t have an immediate effect on the board or on either player’s HP.

Besides the advantages mentioned against aggro and midrange decks, against control decks the body usually trades at least 1-to-1 while the dream cards provide another stream of cards allowing the Ysera player to avoid drawing and going into fatigue first.

Overall, a very solid card in slower metas and a staple of the dragon “tribe”.


Alexstrasza

Alexstrasza

Alexstrasza is another veteran from the dragon “tribe”. She can be seen in control and combo decks. Depending on the situation Alexstrasza is either used to do up to 15 damage to the enemy’s face (maybe allowing lethal next turn) or to heal for up to 15 damage. On top of the instant effect she brings a 8/8 body which trades well with most enemy minions or forces the usage of direct removal. Even if the enemy uses removal on the body, the effect has already taken place, and it is a very powerful effect in many circumstances.

Especially for new players Alexstrasza provides one of the best examples of “good card”: instant, powerful effect on the game.


Ragnaros the Firelord

Ragnaros the Firelord

Ragnaros is staple of midrange or control decks. He is a weird minion, more like a turret than an actual minion, since he cannot attack directly. Instead, at the end of the round he does 8 damage to a random enemy target. You can think of him as a Demolisher on steroids.

Ragnaros is the epitome of big threat: 8 mana for 8/8 stats, does 8 damage to a random enemy. In most situations he cannot be ignored so he is used as a sort of “timer”.

Against aggro decks he is only used to race while against midrange and control decks he is usually used for a 50-50 chance of destroying a huge enemy threat or to bring the enemy into lethal range.


Harrison Jones

Harrison Jones

Harrison Jones is a bit of an odd-ball on the “must have” list. He’s not the staple of any deck. With his 5/4 stats and his quirky battlecry, he can’t really be. He is however one of the most common “tech cards”. Any time classes with weapons flood the metagame, Harrison is bound to show up. Together with his smaller brother, Acidic Swamp Ooze. Or, for the more desperate amongst us, Bloodsail Corsair.

There are 5 classes which can have weapons:

  • Rogue
  • Warrior
  • Hunter
  • Paladin
  • Shaman

It’s a good bet that any time in Hearthstone’s history at least one of those classes was popular of very popular. As a result, Harrison is a common sight in decks. Even if he’s not “must have” in the sense that you can’t build your deck without him, you will want to have him in those moments of need.

Against aggro and midrange decks Harrison is used either as a vanilla 5 mana 5/4 (quite underwhelming) or as a weapon removal in a crucial moment in the game (for example against a Hunter with a Eaglehorn Bow and a trap in play). If the midrange deck is slower he might even be used for the second part of his battlecry, card drawing.

Against control Harrison is used in the same way, but with less emphasis on playing him without benefiting from his battlecry, and a lot more emphasis on drawing several cards when possible.


Nice to have

These are cards which are not seen as often in powerful decks as the “must haves”. Nonetheless, they are decent cards and if you have all the “must haves” and want to craft another card, these are some of the next best cards.

Bloodmage Thalnos

Bloodmage Thalnos

Bloodmage Thalnos is a pint sized legendary. A minuscule body with 2 strong effects attached: draw a card and spell damage +1.

From the beginning of Hearthstone Thalnos has been a friend of Rogues, Shamans and Mages, helping them with their card draw problems and with removal.

Unlike most of the cards on these lists, Thalnos is not flashy. The minuscule skeleton come on the board when it’s time to kill the enemy, destroy a minion or there’s a dire need for another card.

One could say that he’s the redshirt of Hearthstone.


Malygos

Malygos

Also known as “the creator of many OTK videos”. Malygos packs a powerful body, the same as Ysera’s (4/12) but with a different kind of effect. Malygos’ effect is instant and is very strong (+5 spell damage) but in many situations cannot be used because Malygos himself costs 9 mana. And once Malygos is on the board the enemy will do whatever it takes to kill him.

As a result Malygos is a bit less consistent than Ysera. Still, players have found ways to include him in top-tier decks and even if you’re not that competitive, he’s the kind of minion that can really make for interesting videos.



Leeroy Jenkins

Leeroy Jenkins

“Leeeeeeeroy Jenkins” is the sound many Hearthstone players have heard just before they lost the game. Leeroy is a 5 mana 6 damage charger many decks have used in the past as a finisher. Combo Warlock, Face Hunter and especially Miracle Rogue have used him successfully. And every time there’s a new aggro deck that needs a way to push for a bit more damage, Leeroy pops up from time to time. Leeroy is not in the “must have” list since he has been nerfed from 4 mana to 5 mana.

He is still a solid card if you’re more into aggro/face decks.



The Black Knight

The Black Knight

From the Harrison Jones of tech cards comes The Black Knight (also known as TBK). TBK has a very specific niche and he’s very good at it: destroying taunts. For 6 mana he comes with a modest 4/5 body and a powerful effect in the right conditions: destroy an enemy with taunt.

His effect is strong but he is a lot more situational than Harrison (and also 1 mana more expensive, another important factor) and as a result he is not in the list of “must haves”. However, when Ramp Druids, Handlocks or other classes with an emphasis on taunts pop up en-masse, TBK is the go-to-minion (together with his little brother, Ironbeak Owl.


Baron Geddon

Baron Geddon

Baron Geddon is seen most often in control Warrior decks. Sometimes he even shows up in other grindy control decks, such as Control Mage.

He brings a decent 7/5 body and a very powerful effect that can backfire: 2 damage done to every character, at the end of every round. His effect is great against board blooding. If he is not killed he almost guarantees a clear board every time.

Unfortunately for him, there aren’t many classes in Hearthstone that can take the self-punishment of 2 damage to every friendly minion plus 2 damage to your own hero, on top of that.


Captain Greenskin

Captain Greenskin

The last neutral legendary in the Classic set to make the cut for the list is Captain Greenskin. As a 5/5 body for 5 mana, he is underwhelming, but he comes with a decent battlecry and is part of the “pirate” tribe.

If there’s ever a chance for the pirates to become popular, you can bet that Captain Greenskin will be part of them. Every now and then a Pirate deck appears, usually Pirate Rogue, and every time Captain Greenskin is the leader of the expedition.




Cairne Bloodhoof

Cairne Bloodhoof

Cairne is the epitome of value. For 6 mana you’re getting 8/10 worth of stats distributed in 2 rather solid bodies. He was once a staple of control decks.

Unfortunately, right now a 4-attack value isn’t strong enough since it doesn’t trade well into the usual 5/5s played on turn 5 or 6. And it also can’t one-shot the first half of Sludge Belcher.

However, Cairne still packs a lot of stats together with a useful and consistent deathrattle. It’s hard to discount the old Tauren forever.



Onyxia

Onyxia

The daughter of Deathwing (we’ll meet him a little bit later). For 9 mana you get a solid 8/8 body and as many 1/1 whelps as you can fit on your side of the board.

Like many other legendaries, she fails the Big Game Hunter (BGH) test. Her main body has over 7 damage so it can be taken out by the annoying, yet powerful dwarf. Still, unlike many other legendaries in our next section, she still leaves behind the pack of whelps she summons.

Onyxia is a bit slow but with the right setup it’s not hard to think that she might become useful in future competitive decks.


Hogger

Hogger

Hogger is another odd-ball. He costs 6 mana and has a very small body for that price (4/4 instead of the 6/7 expected for this cost). To make up for it, at the end of his turn he summons a 2/2 taunt.

This summoning ability can’t really make up for the fact that his main body is killed quite easily, therefore Hogger is not seen very often in decks. He does pop up from time to time, and with a bit of setup he can be useful in token decks (decks which rely on a large number of small minions).



King Mukla

King Mukla

An unlikely contender for the list, I admit, Mukla can fit some very interesting niches. He’s been used successfully as part of Face Hunter decks (Mukla is a beast, literally) and Aggro Paladin (Divine Favor can draw more cards of off the bananas you give your opponent).

Mukla is the epitome of tempo: you get a 5/5 beast on round 3. He can trade at least 2-to-1 or can usually get in at least 5 face damage. The bananas he gives your opponent can backfire and that’s why he’s not higher on the list. But in the right deck your enemies won’t have a lot of time to digest their bananas…



Deathwing

Deathwing

Probably the most controversial pick. However, I doubt that anyone can argue with my next statement…

Deathwing is the biggest, baddest dragon of them all. 10 mana for a 12/12 that also clears the board, entirely. Deathwing is the epitome of face smashing.

But he also discards your whole hand.

You will see him in strange aggro decks that want a flashy finisher or in control decks built around dragons.

He is also extremely, extremely slow against aggro decks, since you can usually only play him on turn 10 (you might already be dead by turn 7…).

A wonderfully designed card. It’s a pity that he lives in a world with BGHs, Annoy-o-trons and Sludge Belchers.


Forgotten & crazy legendaries

Besides the legendaries we’ve already reviewed, some legendaries have either faded into the past or only wacky decks play them. Here they are:

Legendary name Why is is not played?
Nozdormu Too slow, dies to BGH, too freaky.
Gruul Too slow, dies to BGH.
Illidan Stormrage Dies to BGH, it’s hard to trigger him many times.
The Beast Dies to BGH and then helps your opponent.
Tinkmaster Overspark Too risky. It’s too easy to give your opponent a 5/5 or turn your own big minion into a 1/1.
Lorewalker Cho No deck can afford to play 0 spells.
Millhouse Manastorm No deck can afford to let the opponent play all his spells in 1 turn, for free.
Nat Pagle Too slow, too risky, doesn’t trade at all.

And here we have it, folks. Stay tuned for the next episodes!

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