Let’s take a look back at some of Hearthstone’s best additions.
It’s been a while since Kobolds and Catacombs graced us with its presence. By now, many of us have completed our dungeon runs, experimented with many of the wacky combos and and archetypes the expansion has to offer, and begrudgingly accepted that we should just play Priest. Now that the dust has settled after the expansion’s release, we thought it would be a good time to take a look back at Hearthstone’s history and pick out some of the game’s best cards to date.
Keep in mind, this list is subject to personal preference. Best doesn’t always mean ‘most powerful’. If it did, then you would already be able to guess what most of the entries were. In this instance, ‘best’ means ‘most interesting, cool or fun’. Not a Boom Bot in sight!
Set: The Grand Tournament
Before Priest became the dominant, meta-defining powerhouse that it is today, the class often struggled to find itself in top-tier decks. Part of the reason for this was that Priests couldn’t find a way to close games outside of big Auchenai Soulpriest combos and Prophet Velen shenanigans. For a long time, many people played Priest simply because it was fun to play. Confessor Paletress is a card for those who don’t care if they win unless it’s in spectacular fashion.
Picture the scene: it’s turn 9 and you’re struggling to keep up with your opponent’s board. In a desperate move, you drop Confessor Paletress and heal yourself. You wait in anticipation to see what Paletress will summon. As you sit on the edge of your seat, you watch as Tirion Fordring materialises onto the board. You pat yourself on the back for a game well-played and your opponent sighs and clenches their fists in frustration. If someone puts this card in their deck, it’s moments like these that they’re waiting for. The problem is, in that same situation the card could summon a Bloodmage Thalnos, which means you’ve played a 9 mana 6/5 that draws you a card. Nobody would put that in their deck. Needless to say, the card didn’t see much play in competitive decks. It’s variance is just too high, and it’s so rare that you’ll ever get to make use of the inspire effect twice. Still, the card is a nice reminder of the time when Priest was the class you played to have fun and maybe win.
Hearthstone has often been criticised for being a game that too often relies on curving out and making basic trades. Wild Pyromancer is a card that goes in the opposite direction, and may be one of the most skill-testing cards in the game.
The effect seems simple, and used at it’s most basic level it is. However, it’s the sheer number of combos the card enables that makes it so well designed. It can be used alongside Acolyte of Pain to draw through your deck. It works well with Northshire Cleric and Circle of Healing. Warrior can use it to aid in building a board of Grim Patrons. Playing it with Equality is Paladin’s go-to board clear. The card is just so versatile and fun to use, yet so satisfying when you use it to make an unlikely comeback. Here’s an example of one of those comebacks from none other than Firebat, Hearthstone’s first World Champion.
Set: Knights of the Frozen Throne
Following the theme of “doing one damage to everything a bunch of times”, Defile is another card that really benefits from having a skilled player in control. Yes, there are a lot of situations where everything lines up perfectly, and you can just clear the entire board without much thought.
However, there are many complicated board states that make things much more complicated. This is especially true with the advent of Cubelock, a deck that has many deathrattle that summon more minions that can be used as defile-fodder. If you’ve ever played in the mirror-match, you’ll understand very quickly how being good at ‘defile-math’ can be the difference between clearing your opponent’s board and staring down a Mountain Giant with one health that’s about to smack you in the face for lethal.
It’s worth noting that, in the current meta-game, Defile is also a card that can win games on its own. Aggro Paladin is a deck that’s very popular, but also has a really tough time playing around Defile. If you want to go even deeper, though, there’s always using the combination of Howlfiend, Treachery and Defile to force your opponent to discard their hand. There’s nothing more satisfying than watching your opponent’s key cards being plucked from them. Oh, did you need that Shadowreaper Anduin? What a shame. Oh, there goes Prophet Velen too! Bye guys!
This is one of the ultimate “if I don’t die, I win” cards. That may seem like an unnecessary thing to say, but Hearthstone has historically had many decks that focus solely on not dying and grinding you out of the game. Well, it turns out it’s pretty hard to grind out infinite 6/6 demons, a 3/8 weapon and an Eredar lord with some seriously overpowered emotes.
He also boasts possibly the best entrance voice-line in the entire game. No matter who you are, you can’t say watching yourself transform into Jaraxxus and hearing him exclaim “YOU FACE JARAXXUS, EREDAR LORD OF THE BURNING LEGION” doesn’t make you feel powerful and cool. Before you snap back to reality and realize you’re playing a digital card game involving elves and wizards, of course.
Part of Jaraxxus’ appeal is that his effect is incredibly powerful, but doesn’t come without risk. You permanently cap your health at 15, making it easier for your opponents to kill you from hand. It’s also difficult to know exactly when to play him. There’s always the fear that, if you reduce your health total, you might just be committing suicide-by-Fireball. Control Warlock players used to live in fear of randomly-generated Sacrificial Pacts. If you didn’t know, Jaraxxus counts as a demon, even after the transformation. Losing to a 0-mana “win the game and restore five health” is just too much pain for one person to handle.
That’s all for now, but make sure to look out for parts 2 and 3 of this list on Culture of Gaming for more of Hearthstone’s greatest cards. If you were disappointed by the lack of dragons in this entry, you won’t be disappointed again.