Legendary Crafting Guide (Part 1 – Neutral)
Hello everyone. The crafting guide on our site wasn’t updated for a while, so I’ve decided to give it a go. The guide is aimed mostly at the newer/F2P players who can’t afford to craft whatever they want, but want their collection to be as competitive and versatile as it can be.
The list will be created around Standard format, not Wild. Standard is the most competitive mode and it’s the only one that “really” has the meta. I can bet that in Wild Dr. Boom is still #1 on priority list, so you probably want to get it if you don’t have already. Besides that, I really have no clue. I’ll break it into 2 parts – Neutral Legendaries and Class Legendaries. Overall, if you care about the number of decks you can play those Legends in, Neutral ones have higher crafting priority than Class ones. But Class ones can be more important if you “main” a specific class and want to make it viable faster.
Then, I’ll group the the Legends into three different Tiers:
- Tier I – High priority. Strong Legendaries that can be played in multiple decks, across different classes (if Neutral), possibly different archetypes and are commonly seen in the current meta. You can fit those into the high number of viable decks.
- Tier II – Medium priority. Legendaries that are good, but aren’t played in many decks or the decks they’re played in aren’t very popular/strong right now. They might be more situational, but still are necessary in certain archetypes.
- Tier III – Low priority. Legendaries that are still sometimes played, but either in low tier decks or in one very specific archetype. Some of them aren’t also necessary for the deck to function, so they can often be replaced by something else.
The Tiers are still pretty flexible. Something on the bottom of Tier II has about the same priority as something on the top of Tier III. I just had to make a division somewhere. It’s also pretty obvious that I’m talking about meta in general. If you only play Mage, some Tier I Legendary might be useless and some Tier III one might be staple. That’s why I’m putting example lists under each one of them – if some Tier III Legend is played in the decks you enjoy, it might have higher priority for you.
If a Legendary hasn’t been listed in any of those three Tiers, it means that it has no place in the current meta and shouldn’t be crafted if you’re playing competitively. If you really want to craft it, you can still obviously go for it, but you need to understand that it doesn’t fit any viable decks.
P.S. When crafting Legendaries or buying adventures, you should remember that cards from 2015 will rotate from Standard relatively soon (around 6 months from now, just to give some estimate). This means that if you don’t play a lot and want to continue playing Standard in 2017, you might put a lower priority on cards from Blackrock Mountain, The Grand Tournament and League of Explorers.
In the first article, I’ll cover the Neutral ones. I’ll write a short description of every Legendary and give examples of popular (or less popular in case of Tier III Legends) decks that it fits into.
Ever since Whispers of the Old Gods expansion, Sylvanas remains one of the most commonly seen Legendary in the game. It is played by a pretty much every Control deck, every N’Zoth deck and also a bunch of Midrange decks.
Sylvanas’ main power in the current meta is lack of Silence. Ironbeak Owl is not played by any competitive deck and Spellbreaker is also very, very rare. Since Priests are the least common class on the ladder, Entomb is also not a problem. Even though Midrange Shaman remains the most popular deck, therefore Hex is quite common, most of the ladder still has no good answer for her.
Although I have to admit that Sylvanas’ power got down a bit due to the power of the decks it’s played in. It’s mostly played in Control or slow Midrange lists, and those aren’t very popular right now.
Example decks: Control Warrior, RenoLock, N’Zoth Paladin, Control Priest
Ragnaros the Firelord
Ragnaros has gained quite a lot of popularity as a finisher when Big Game Hunter was nerfed. The card’s power is it’s immediate impact on the board/opponent’s health, unlike most of the other big Legendaries. He shoots 8 damage fireball at the end of your turn, so which – if you set up it right – often guarantees either killing an important minion or putting pressure on life total. Even if removed right after that, it’s still usually 2 for 1. It can also be used literally as a finisher – you play it on empty board when enemy is at low health and you just immediately kill him.
Similarly to Sylvanas, a lot of Shamans on the ladder impacted his performance negatively. 0/2 Totem is not really a good target for Rag to hit and Hex is still quite an easy way to deal with it. It still remains one of the most popular Legendaries in the meta, though. Ragnaros is very easy to fit into most of the Midrange or slower decks.
So there is an important point about him and Sylvanas and why they’re so high on the list. Even if they’re not played in a lot of decks RIGHT NOW, they surely will be in the future. They’re one of the most versatile Legendaries and that’s the main reason they’re so high.
Example decks: Dragon Warrior, Midrange Hunter, Ramp Druid
Yogg-Saron, Hope’s End
Loved by some, hated by others, but no one can deny that Yogg has made huge impact on the current meta. Basically, people started playing him in any spell-heavy deck as an “oh shit” button. Sort of a comeback mechanic that sometimes might blow right into your face, but most of the time it clears the board and adds some positive effects like drawing cards, life gain, Secrets or summoning minions on the board.
Even though it’s incredibly high RNG card, when used from behind, most of the time it results in a positive effect. This consistency is the reason why it’s played in a few different high tier decks. So if you want to build a deck that’s heavy on spells – Yogg will definitely be a good thing to play there.
Example decks: Yogg Druid (different builds), Tempo Mage, Control Warrior
I feel like Bloodmage Thalnos deserves a spot in Tier I right now, as the influence of the spell-heavy decks on the meta put him in a really good spot. With Yogg & Arcane Giants (and Medivh, the Guardian to some extent) making spell decks more viable, Thalnos also became stronger than it used to be.
It’s one of the Legendaries that new players are very reluctant to craft. After all, it’s not flashy and it doesn’t seem that good at all. 2 mana 1/1? Naaah. But that’s a wrong way of thinking. Spell Damage is a very precious effect in a lot of decks. But most of the Spell Damage minions are pretty weak. So if you want to get access to Spell Damage without really losing value, you’re left with two options – Azure Drake and Thalnos. Drakes are expensive. At 5 mana, you rarely can combo them with a spell before late game. Thalnos, however, is much more flexible. It costs 2 mana, so something like Thalnos + Swipe is now 6 mana instead of 9 with Drake. That’s a huge difference. And after he has done his job, he cycles a card. If you get him in the early game and you don’t want him – you can always drop him on t2 and get something else instead. You can also fit him into pretty much any turn if you want to cycle – Silence is very rare and usually kept for higher priority targets than Thalnos anyway.
Oh, and Shaman. I forgot about Shaman. With the new Spirit Claws and Maelstrom Portal (on top of the other spells like Lightning Bolt and Lightning Storm), a cheap source of Spell Damage in your deck is nice to have. That’s why a lot of Midrange Shaman builds include Thalnos right now.
So, new players, if you play spell-heavy decks, don’t be afraid to craft Thalnos. He isn’t flashy and hasn’t got powerful effect, but he very consistently makes impact on the games.
Example decks: Yogg Druid (different builds), Midrange Shaman, Freeze Mage, Miracle Rogue
N’Zoth the Corruptor
Just outside of the Tier I. Even though there are a lot of decks that CAN run N’Zoth, they usually can also be built in a way to not run it. RenoLock can be ran with N’Zoth package or let’s say C’Thun one or even with no general theme. Control Warrior can run N’Zoth, but it can also not run it and be pretty much as successful. Control Paladin can go for the Anyfin Can Happen combo build instead of the N’Zoth one – while the decks are quite different, they share a similar core. And that’s my point in general, you could easily find 5 viable lists that N’Zoth fits into, but on the other hand, you would probably be able to find each one of them (or similar one) without N’Zoth too.
The power of this card lies in slower matchups. You gain value from each one of your Deathrattle cards, which are usually slow already. And then when the time is right and possibly enemy is out of AoE clears, you play N’Zoth and resummon them all again. This, however, usually requires you to play a long, slow game with a lot of setting up. That’s why N’Zoth is in and out of the meta, his power very much depends on the opponents you face.
And once again – Shaman. Hex ruins the N’Zoth combos significantly. Hexing both Sylvanas Windrunner and Cairne Bloodhoof would result in N’Zoth being significantly weaker. Some N’Zoth decks run as little as 2-3 big Deathrattle minions, so it’s quite easy to get rid of them through Hex. Shaman’s impact on the meta once again.
Example decks: You can built pretty much any slow deck with a N’Zoth package – Control Warrior/Priest/Paladin, Reno Warlock/Rogue etc.
Malygos was always a Tier 3 Legendary. I don’t remember a moment when someone didn’t try to experiment with it, but those decks were usually not completely viable, very hard to play or more gimmicky. So while always being somewhere in the meta, it was never really popular.
It has changed recently thanks to the Druid. Malygos Druid was a thing for a long time already, but it wasn’t really that strong until the most recent expansion. Arcane Giants made it more viable, and thus Malygos also jumped on the tier list. Dragon Warlock has gained some popularity recently too, but it might be just a gimmick that will fade completely very soon.
It’s a very powerful Legendary, but you need to remember that it requires you to build a deck around it. Unlike stuff like Sylvanas or Rag, you can’t just throw it into any slower list and expect it to work. Malygos decks are also pretty hard to pilot, just a warning in case you want to commit to crafting it.
Example decks: Malygos Druid, Malygos Rogue, Dragon Warlock
Cairne is a.. solid card. That’s the thing about it – it’s just a solid card. It has amazing value (can often take down a horde of minions before dying) and is hard to remove (enemy has to waste 2 removals on it, so it’s often just ignored), but at the same time it’s really slow. When you initially play it, he’s just a 4/5 for 6. If you’re under pressure, that’s rarely enough to keep enemy busy or try to race him back. It usually takes a few turns for him to take off.
That’s why he’s mostly played in N’Zoth decks. Those decks are usually slow enough and have enough removals that they can at one point in the game drop the Cairne on empty board and that’s really good. It’s even better once he comes back with N’Zoth. There were some non-N’Zoth decks that played it, like Tempo Warrior, but it kinda evolved into Dragon Warrior and we don’t see it right now. So N’Zoth + Cairne usually come as a package, you play Cairne in N’Zoth decks. You might try to fit it into some slower Midrange deck too (like Ramp Druid), especially if it runs Barnes.
Oh, and Hex again. With no immediate effect, it’s a big tempo loss, especially since Shaman is usually already ahead on the board the moment you play Cairne.
Example decks: Same as N’Zoth, Ramp Druid
Harrison Jones used to be one of the most popular Legendaries, but it was cut from a lot of the lists lately. Here is the thing. I’m not entirely sure why Harrison has disappeared from the meta almost completely. While it’s true that Druid has been gaining quite a lot of popularity, Shaman, Warrior and Hunter – three most popular weapon classes – are still over 50% of the overall ladder according to the latest vS Data Report. Maybe the reason is that Shamans have been dropping Doomhammers from their lists, but then again now almost every list runs 2x Spirit Claws, which is also a solid target.
Harrison Jones is a strong tech card against weapon classes. And even if it’s for some reason not played that much right now – I can assure you that crafting it is not a mistake. At one point or another, some weapon classes will dominate, there will be very strong weapon that need to be destroyed (e.g. Doomhammer) and Harrison will be useful. On the other hand, he will never be on the top of the priority crafting list for new players, because there is always a budget option – Acidic Swamp Ooze – available. That’s why I feel like bottom of Tier II is a good placement for him.
Example decks: It’s a tech card, so any slower deck can play him when necessary.
Leeroy used to be a go-to finisher in most of the fast decks. Things have changed quite a lot since then and most of the fast decks now revolve more around building tempo than around Charge damage or they have their own burst finishers. Leeroy can still be used in some of them as a finisher if they don’t have good class ones, or even as a combo piece.
And so, Leeroy can still be played in Aggro Hunter, in Aggro Paladin, even in Aggro Druid (right now it’s a fast Beast Druid list). Besides Aggro list, he’s sometimes used as a finisher in Warlock. Some Zoo lists run it instead of Doomguard (although now very rarely with all the Discard synergies from Karazhan) and RenoLock might use it in combination with Power Overwhelming/Abusive Sergeant/Faceless Manipulator (after Emperor Thaurissan) as an up to 24 damage combo.
Leeroy is still useful in those decks, but none of them are high tier, and that’s why Leeroy lands in Tier III.
Example decks: Face Hunter, Aggro Paladin, RenoLock
Alexstrasza is a much less popular choice right now, mainly because Control Mage (and Freeze Mage in particular) isn’t really present in the meta. It’s still an okay choice if you want to build some sort of a combo deck – Freeze Mage, RenoLock with Leeroy Jenkins, Combo Priest etc. And it’s still played in some Control Warrior lists – e.g. Fibonacci runs her in his latest N’Zoth Control Warrior deck. And Control Warrior is pretty much the only high tier meta deck that runs it right now.
Alexstrasza is still pretty much necessary in Freeze Mage, so she’s played much more often in tournaments, where the deck can work better against certain lineups and with ban available.
Example decks: Freeze Mage, Control Warrior
At this point, Justicar could be turned into Warrior’s class card and most of players wouldn’t even notice. While still being very strong in slow Warrior lists, it’s not played outside of them at all. I mean, it’s also sometimes played in Control Priest, but getting matched against one on the ladder is already rare – finding a list that plays Justicar on top of that is even more rare (as far as I remember I have seen only a single Priest with Justicar this month, I have seen only a few Priests to begin with).
And that’s the reason why it’s so low, only in Tier III. The card is amazing in Control Warrior, allows him to gain 4 life each turn, combos nicely with Shield Slam (because it’s easier to maintain high Armor amounts), playing Justicar is pretty much game over against certain combo decks AND gives a huge advantage going into fatigue games. But that’s it. So if you really want to play Control Warrior (or slow C’Thun Warrior), Justicar gets a high priority. If not, you can ignore it completely.
Example decks: Control Warrior, C’Thun Warrior (some slow build, not the cycle one)
Twin Emperor Vek’lor
New players are still able to get C'Thun for free when opening the first Whispers of the Old Gods pack. C’Thun decks were really, really popular when WoG got released, but they have recently disappeared from the meta almost completely. Two most popular C’Thun decks were C’Thun Warrior and C’Thun Druid. Some people, including me, have played quite a lot of C’Thun RenoLock too. C’Thun Rogue was gimmicky, but still sometimes seen. According to my stats, I haven’t played against any C’Thun deck besides C’Thun warrior this month. And I haven’t faced many of those either – classic Control Warrior seems to be much more popular right now.
But if you really want to build a viable C’Thun deck, you definitely want to get Twin Emperor Vek'lor. Even though it’s not 100% necessary for the deck to function, the card is one of the main reasons to run C’Thun deck in the first place. The condition is very easy to meet by turn 7, and getting a 7 mana double 4/6 Taunt is amazing in most of the matchups, but especially against faster decks. But remember that right now the only C’Thun deck that’s in the meta is C’Thun Warrior. It doesn’t mean that other are unplayable, they just aren’t very strong currently (but if you’re playing casually or you aim way below Legend rank, they’re still playable). So if you want to play C’Thun Warrior, or you want to build some other C’Thun deck for fun, go ahead and craft it.
I recommend those kind of decks for new players that want to “feel” the Midrange/Control play style without investing a lot. As we all know, slower decks are usually very expensive, making them out of reach of new players. But since C’Thun is free and the most important related cards (besides Twin Emperor) are Common or Rare, it’s very easy to build a budget C’Thun deck. I’d say that the decks are pretty viable to get
Example decks: C’Thun Warrior, other C’Thun decks that aren’t really viable right now (Druid, Warlock, Rogue, Mage)
Similarly to Justicar Trueheart, Baron Geddon could be made into Warrior Legendary at this point. But it’s even lower than Justicar, because it’s often cut from the Warrior lists. Some still do play it, but it’s not as common as it was in the past.
Baron Geddon has also seen some occasional play in slow Druid lists. Since Druid always struggled with board clears, because Swipe only deals 1 damage, the 2 AoE damage, some players decided to utilize the 2 damage from Baron Geddon and played him in Druid. However, it fits Ramp Druid more than the currently most popular lists – Malygos and/or Token Yogg Druid – and thus if you will ever see it, it will most likely be in Control Warrior.
Example decks: Control Warrior, Ramp Druid
Ysera used to be one of the most common Legendaries in the game. I remember greedy Control Priest mirror days when you kept Mind Control for Ysera and then opponent needed to take it back again with his own MC. But those times are long gone. Ysera is a value card. Costing 9 mana, not providing any immediate advantages, having a rather defensive body… Sure, the cards you get from Ysera might win you back the tempo next turn, but dropping her against any Aggro/Midrange deck is usually praying that you will get Ysera Awakens to board clear the turn after.
At this point, Ysera is sometimes played as a late game value mechanic + Dragon activator in slow Dragon decks. It has seen some play in Resurrect Priest too in combination with Barnes (plus it’s an amazing target to get back from Resurrect). But besides that, we don’t really see too much Ysera in the meta nowadays.
Example decks: Dragon Paladin, Resurrect Priest
Similarly to Ysera, it’s sometimes played as a big Dragon finisher in Dragon decks. But unlike Ysera, it fits into the faster ones much more than the slower ones. It’s more aggressive – harder to remove completely, because it has multiple bodies, the 8/8 stats are more threatening than 4/12 and it gets extra synergy with some cards that buff multiple minions (and for that reason it has sometimes seen play outside of the Dragon decks).
People have been experimenting with Onyxia + Evolve combo in Shaman, which is theoretically very strong, but the deck didn’t turn out to be great in the end (too much uncontrollable randomness involved).
But in any of those cases, it’s a card that’s never crucial or necessary for the deck to exist. Also, with Shaman being the most popular class and pretty much every list running 2x Maelstrom Portal, it’s harder to make the 1/1’s work than it was in the past. That’s why Onyxia is in Tier III – as the Legendary that sees occasional play, but it’s not really amazing.
Example decks: Dragon Warrior, Token Druid
Deathwing is never really completely out of the meta, but it’s also never a popular choice. For quite a while, people ran it in the Midrange/Tempo Dragon Warrior, but it was cut from most of the lists. Muzzy ran it in his Dragon Druid list recently, just like some Ramp Druids did run it in the past (and some Astral Druids still do). That’s because Druids lack natural comeback mechanic, board clear. More spell-heavy Druid lists have started to run Yogg-Saron, Hope's End in that manner, though, so Deathwing has became obsolete. More recently, Amaz has experimented with him in slow Dragon Warrior too.
However, it’s not really a popular choice and it’s definitely not necessary to make any of those archetypes work. That’s why it’s in low Tier III – as it’s a card that you might fit into certain decks, especially with surprise factor being a serious thing in Hearthstone.
Example decks: Control Dragon Warrior, Ramp/Astral Druid
Y’Shaarj, Rage Unbound
Y’Shaarj has gained some attention with the release of Barnes. It’s one of the best targets in the game, if not THE best one to get from Barnes. Basically, rolling Barnes into into something big on turn 4 is game winning. But it’s very gimmicky, because to guarantee getting the Old God, you need to play only 2 minions total – Barnes and Y’Shaarj. It’s a very gimmicky strategy, but has gained some attention recently in Hunter.
On the other hand, Y’Shaarj is sometimes ran alongside Barnes in Ramp Druid and Astral Druid. Both are high ramp & high curve decks relying on getting out big minions quickly, before enemy can answer them easily. Those decks can also play Y’Shaarj for 10 mana in a lot of cases, due to all the ramp they run.
In both cases, though, the card is rather gimmicky. But it’s still played from time to time, and that’s why I’ve decided to put it on the bottom of Tier III.
Example decks: Barnes Y’Shaarj Hunter, Ramp/Astral Druid
Bonus: Adventure Priority
That’s another common question I’m getting. Which adventures you should get first? It’s very hard to answer, because adventures give you also a tons of non-Legendary cards, so it heavily depends on the decks you play. There are, however, some wings you should consider getting before the others.
Right now, we have three adventures in Standard – Blackrock Mountain, League of Explorers and One Night in Karazhan. My first advice would be – if you aren’t playing the game a lot, but you want to play Standard next year too, put higher priority on Karazhan, as it will rotate in 2018, unlike the other two which will be gone in 2017. But if you don’t care about that, here are the high priority Wings you should get first:
Blackrock Mountain – 1st Wing
First wing of BRM is very important to get, because it gives you an amazing Legendary – Emperor Thaurissan. It’s played in a lot of meta decks – mainly combo ones, but not only them. Emperor pretty much activates certain archetypes. Without him, it would be almost impossible to play the decks that rely on Malygos combos, OTK Worgen Warrior, RenoLock with Leeroy Combo etc. It’s also amazing in any Mage list running Archmage Antonidas or Hunter lists with Lock and Load. Basically, if you run some sort of combos in your deck, the chances are you also want to play the Emperor.
Besides Emperor, you also get a few cards activating other archetypes – Grim Patron (Patron Warrior), Resurrect (Resurrect Priest), Gang Up (Mill Rogue) and overall strong Quick Shot. But Emperor is the main reason to get the 1st wing.
One Night in Karazhan – 1st & 2nd Wing
When it comes to Legendaries, only one of them is good – Barnes (Moroes isn’t very exciting one, although it has seen some play in Paladin). You can fit Barnes into a lot of the decks – pretty much any Hunter deck, N’Zoth decks and other decks running a lot of Deathrattle/cards with strong effects. But the non-Legendary cards are even more important. In the first two wings, you get some cards that are staple in the current meta: Priest of the Feast is played in every Priest deck, Silverware Golem in the new Discard Zoo, Maelstrom Portal in all Shaman decks, Ivory Knight in slower Paladin lists, Onyx Bishop allowed Resurrect Priest to work, Kindly Grandmother has made into pretty much every Hunter list, Swashburglar is very common in Rogue, Cloaked Huntress is played in Secret Hunter and maybe most importantly Arcane Giants are amazing in a spell-heavy lists, including Token/Malygos Druid. For just 1400 Gold, you’re getting a lot of strong cards.
The League of Explorers – 1st & 2nd Wing
While the whole LoE expansion is amazing, I feel like first two wings get the highest priority to buy. In those, you’re getting a lot of cards played in strong, meta decks. You get Reno Jackson, which single handedly allows you to build Reno decks. And Reno decks are pretty cool for new players, because if you’re missing a second copy of important meta cards, you can always play only one of each and make it into a Reno deck. In second wing, we get Brann Bronzebeard, which is a solid all-around Legendary that fits into any deck running quite a lot of Battlecry minions, e.g. Dragon decks or even Zoo Warlock. It has lost some popularity recently, but it’s still solid.
But I’d say that the main reason to get those two wings are non-Legendary cards – Dark Peddler (played in any Warlock deck, most notably in Zoo), Tunnel Trogg (amazing in Aggro and Midrange Shaman), Fierce Monkey (played in Midrange Warrior decks, including Dragon Warrior), Keeper of Uldaman (staple in Aggro/Midrange Paladin and sometimes played in slower lists too), Excavated Evil (almost necessary in Control Priest). There are also some cards which might not be present in the current meta, but are also strong and playable – Mounted Raptor, Ethereal Conjurer – if you’re a new/F2P player, you’ll definitely find a place for them.
After you get those, it really depends on the individual decks you want to play. I’ll give you a quick list of what wings of which expansions you want to get if you want to play certain decks:
- Dragon decks – BRM up to Wing 5 (a lot of Dragon synergy cards like Blackwing Technician, Blackwing Corruptor, Drakonid Crusher), Karazhan wing 3 (The Curator) and then if you play a slower Dragon deck, Karazhan up to wing 4 (Netherspite Historian and Book Wyrm
- Zoo Warlock – BRM Wing 2 (Imp Gang Boss)
- Tempo Mage – BRM Wing 4 (Flamewaker), Karazhan Prologue (Firelands Portal), Karazhan wing 3 (Babbling Book)
- Anyfin Paladin – LoE Wing 3 (Anyfin Can Happen)
- Control Warrior – LoE Wing 4 (Elise Starseeker), BRM wing 4 (Revenge), Karazhan Wing 4 (Ironforge Portal)
- Aggro decks with bad Hero Power – e.g. Pirate Warrior, Aggro Shaman – LoE Wing 3 (Sir Finley Mrrgglton)
- Control Priest – LoE Wing 3 (Entomb)
- Any Rogue deck – LoE Wing 4 (Tomb Pillager)
- Malygos/Token Druid – LoE Wing 4 (Raven Idol), Karazhan Wing 4 (Moonglade Portal)
- Beast Druid – BRM wing 2 (Druid of the Flame), Karazhan Prologue (Enchanted Raven), Karazhan Wing 3 (Menagerie Warden)
- Aggro/Midrange Shaman – Karazhan Wing 4 (Spirit Claws)
And so on… I might have missed something important, so if you want to build a certain deck and you don’t know what you should prioritize, you can ask.
That’s all when it comes to Neutral crafting priority list. Part 2 – Class Legendaries – should come out very soon. If you still have questions about the crafting priority, feel free to ask them in the comment section below. I’ll try my best to give you any advice you need.
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Good luck on the ladder and until next time!