Top 10’s: Best Neutral Legendaries of All Time
Today, we look at the fun side of this wonderful game. While the top ten lists are always going to be cool, nothing is more iconic in Hearthstone than the legendaries. Everyone, from first time players to seasoned veterans, loves looking at, unpacking and crafting awesome legendaries for their collection. They’re flashy, they make decks work, define the meta, and open up some really cool lines of play that other cards simply don’t allow. In this week’s top 10 we are going to cover the best post-beta neutral legendaries this game has ever seen and analyze what exactly makes them so good. Though there are many orange cards in the game, very few are good and even less have been top tier. Most of the legendary cards are supposed to be interesting to new players or have a unique effect; two things that do not necessarily correlate with the word “playable”. Even so, there have also been more than a few that have really pushed the boundaries of what’s fair. This list is going to be the strongest pound-for-pound out of any I have made, and there’s a very good reason for that.
Note: I have only included neutral legendaries on this list because class legendaries are a different conversation for a different time.
We begin out mentions with one of the most solid value cards ever printed. Though he may seem underwhelming at first glance, Bloodmage Thalnos is one of the best deals in the game, giving you both a spell power bonus and card draw in a very simple “1/1 for two” package. It is very rare that you get so much value for so cheap. While he has only seen play in a few lists (keeping him in the mentions) all of them, from Token Druid to Freeze Mage to Miracle Rogue, have been top tier.
The Black Knight
It is very rare that tech cards are going to make my lists, even in the honorable mentions. However, The Black Knight is one of those few that is such a powerhouse it at least deserves a mention. The six drop legend has been killing all sorts of minions since the dawn of Hearthstone, and has even made a recent comeback as of late. While he hasn’t had the consistency or power level needed for the top 10, it is a tech card that targets one of the most popular keywords and has been an incredible asset in both midrange and control.
Another impressive tech card, Harrison Jones just misses the cut into the top 10 because of how he swings so wildly in popularity. Sometimes the explorer is one of the strongest cards in the game, blowing up popular classes and leading to gigantic game shifts. However, other times he sits in your collection and looks pretty. That type of inconsistency keeps him off of the top ten, but his ability to bring you back into a sure loss is so great and so rare that he makes it into this guide.
When I first wrote up the top ten, Alexstrasza was in the list. The life-bringer is an extremely powerful tool that has done some serious work in many heavy control and combo decks throughout the past few years. However, the more cards I came up with, the more I realized the dragon couldn’t quite stack up to the competition. While not strictly a tech card, Alex has a very limited use that is very one dimensional. She is still an incredibly strong option, but she lacks the versatility needed to slide in with the best of the best.
The Top 10
Once upon a time, Ysera would have easily made it into the top five, if not the top three. She was one of the best legendaries during the early years of the game, serving as the primary control finisher who was hard to remove, could trade well, and, unlike most other big cards, got immediate impact even if she was killed right away. However, things have changed greatly since then. While still strong, the nine drop just doesn’t have that immediate impact to slow down aggro or stop burst. She still sees play in dragon decks, and even does a good job in slower control, but she is far from what she once was.
Ysera sneaks into number ten because she is a legendary that is truly like no other. Her ability is one that can simply take over a game on its own, drowning your opponent in card advantage turn after turn after turn. In fact, she was the only legendary ever made that could be a win condition on her own. Unlike big minions that had marginal value, the only threat you needed to run was Ysera. That type of power has not been seen since. While she is simply too slow for the game we know today, there is no doubt about what the dreamer could do and what she is capable of. If a control meta ever returns, she will be at the helm.
9. Reno Jackson
Situational? Maybe. Strong? Without a doubt. Reno Jackson is one of those strange cards that looks abysmal on paper but is extremely strong in practice. You never want to get caught up evaluating cards in a vacuum. Having to shift your whole deck to one card sounds very bad (and sometimes it can be) but the explorer’s ability is so good it is more than worth it. Healing has always a tricky subject in Hearthstone. Most of the cards that supply health have been very overcosted or understatted. As a result, it is quite rare that a healing card actually sees the light of day in constructed. Reno passed that test by creating a brand new archetype in the game and raising Renolock to one of the best decks in the meta. Being a strong tool is one thing, but creating an entire archetype is another.
Reno hits number nine because I don’t think there will be a time until he rotates out where he doesn’t see play. Healing your entire health is so inherently strong that it is an auto win against hyper aggressive decks like Aggro Shaman and Face Hunter, and can also reset the game against midrange and control. Burst has always been a part of Hearthstone, and it is the way a lot of decks handle slower control. If you can suddenly go back to thirty, taking away any burst or surprise finishers your opponent may have, it can end the game on the spot. That type of inherent power is worth the top 10, even if the requirements for the ability keep him higher up.
8. Elise Starseeker
Going off on my discussion of her last week, Elise Starseeker makes number eight because she fundamentally changed the way the game was played. That is a very rare attribute very few cards can boast. Once upon a time, control decks had a huge problem. While they could easily pack in the removal, AOE and healing needed to beat aggro, it would open them up to other control decks that had more late-game threats. However, if they tried to play too many late game threats they would just get crushed by fast starts. Elise fixed this problem by taking all of the end-game threats needed by control and condensing them into one card. As a result, heavy control began to run more removal and AOE, allowing them to take down aggro while not needing to worry about heavier decks. That is a wonderful design that really helped control get a foothold in a hostile meta.
Elise comes in at number eight because, though her ability is strong, she is quite limited in what she can do. That is to say, she is a heavy control card that is so heavy she only goes into the slowest of decks. She first became popular in Monkey Priest, but has since seen play in Warlock, Mage, Warrior and Paladin. All of those decks were basically versions of fatigue that depending on stalling the game turn after turn until the Golden Monkey could come down and crush the game with big threat after big threat. While she changed the game, she only affected a few decks, which keeps her from moving up past number eight.
7. Cairne Bloodhoof
Out of every card on this list, nothing is stronger pound-for-pound than Cairne Bloodhoof. A 4/5 for six would be one of the worst cards ever made, but a 4/5 for six that also gives you another 4/5 upon dying is just incredible. Cairne takes the seventh spot because he is one of the best midrange cards ever made and one of the strongest threats in the game. During the early days of Hearthstone Cairne was a monster. So much so that “turn one/two/three Cairne” off of an early Innervate was pretty much impossible to come back from, and getting him onto an empty board would make the game spiral out of control. There have been very few cards that would make you feel helpless like the tauren did, and that type of power just isn’t seen anymore.
Anyone who played during the days of GVG know why Cairne falls back to number seven on our list. Though strong, he just didn’t have the same impact when Loatheb and Sludge Belcher ruled the middle game. He has had a large return over the past months in both deathrattle and tempo, but he took a very long hiatus. Very few cards have fallen so dramatically without being nerfed than Cairne did. That would normally keep him off of the top 10, but he ruled for a long time. Not to mention that he is in the core set and a sticky 8/10 for six is always going to see play at some point.
6. Ragnaros the Firelord
You may have forgotten about his reign during the early days of the ever-shifting Hearthstone landscape, but Ragnaros the Firelord has recently made a stunning return to make you remember. The eight drop in the history of Hearthstone, Rag is one of those rare cards that has a ton of uses, all of which are good. The firelord reaches the upper levels of neutral legendaries because it, unlike so many cards in the game, has an immediate impact on the board. Instantly doing eight damage is always going to be useful, whether it is killing a big threat, taking down a taunt minion or just putting on pressure. That type of reoccurring damage makes the 8/8 terrifying in many situations and one of the most “must kill” threats in the game. Though Ysera‘s ability could win the game given enough time, Ragnaros’ is much more solid because it has multiple uses. Though primarily a control card, Rag has seen play as a finisher/removal spell in midrange and tempo decks as well.
Like Cairne Bloodhoof and Ysera, this card misses the top five due to the fact that is spent a lot of time in exile. Ragnaros the Firelord was one of the best finishers in the game during the first days of the game, but the influx of deathrattle and popularity of Big Game Hunter did push it out for quite some time. However, eight damage a turn, though random, is so good that even during his low point Rag was still ran in many different decks. That type of power is definitely deserving of number six.
5. Emperor Thaurissan
Moving into number five we have one of the best combo cards ever printed. Mana discounts are always going to be very dangerous in card games (a big reason that so many free spells have been nerfed or looked at by R&D) and the ability to discount every card in your hand is just plain silly. While many cards on this list were undervalued when they were first spoiled, everyone knew how good Emperor Thaurissan would be from first glance. A 5/5 for six is not the greatest stats, but an immediate effect that ramps all of your cards (or makes them free!) is just something the game has never seen before or since, and for good reason.
Thaurissan hits number five because of the role he played in so many top tier decks. His most egregious uses came in pre-nerf Patron Warrior (blech!) and pre-standard Freeze Mage. Both of those combo decks were downright unfair and absolutely murdered most, if not all, of the meta. However, just talking about those two decks would be a disservice. Thaurissan was also an extremely important tool for Renolock, Handlock, Midrange Druid, Combo Druid, Malylock, Maly Rogue, Oil Rogue, Control Warrior and various combo decks. That type of resume is beyond impressive and shows just how much power the 5/5 truly has. The only reason that the emperor doesn’t slot in higher is because we are rapidly moving up the ladder from good to unreal. He is a great number five and quite ahead of the cards behind him, but he doesn’t have what it takes to tangle with the top four.
4. Sylvanas Windrunner
It is very rare that legendaries fall into the realm of “auto include” across multiple archetypes and multiple classes, but Sylvanas Windrunner did that and more. Since Hearthstone has been around the six drop has seen play in one capacity or another. During the early days she was a premier midrange threat that just ate control alive. Since then she was also used as a control tool, a tech card and even was an important part of GVG Zoo. Very few legendaries have ever seen as much play as this six drop, and there is very good reason for that. A six mana Mind Control strapped onto a 5/5 body is strong in and of itself, but the fact that it can be played by any deck makes it unreal.
What makes Sylvia number four is that she is incredibly multi-faceted. She acts as removal, a tempo play, a swing card and AOE all wrapped up into a solid 5/5 body. Though you can trick yourself into thinking you have “dealt” with Sylvanas Windrunner, the truth is she almost never gives the opposing player a good option. To stop her ability from getting full value you either have to sacrifice your minions, spam your board with crappy cards or spend most of your turn using silence. All of those put you in some sort of hole or set you back in some way. Add in the fact that most decks can kill her (Shadowflame anyone?) and you just have the best midrange threat of all time. Though she stays at number four because she can be ignored by slower decks, there is no denying just how good she truly is.
While some people thought this five drop was going to be good when it first got spoiled, nobody had any idea of what it would become. At first glance Loatheb seems like a strong tech card that is designed to counter spell-heavy or combo decks. What it actually is, is the greatest tempo card ever made. Shutting down spells may not seem like a big deal, until you realize that just about every single deck relies on spells to clear the board, kill minions, heal, and set up lethal. In most cases Loatheb made your opponent rely on only minions for a turn, crushing people’s plans and often giving the person with the board the finishing blow. Most decks, from fast aggro to heavy control, need spells in some aspect, and going a turn without them will often lead to a loss.
Very few cards led to lethal more often than Loatheb did. Even in heavier lists like Midrange Druid and Secret Paladin, the 5/5 added a large body to the board and shut down potential removal or AOE. This card locked in your threats and made it so your opponent would often have a dead turn. Even if you only had a 3/3 and a 2/1, the next turn your opponent was going to be facing ten damage that they could not interact with. That’s just unfair.
2. Leeroy Jenkins (Pre-Nerf)
Yup. Let’s do this. A card that has made many (and will make many) lists of mine, pre-nerf Leeroy Jenkins may have killed more people in Hearthstone than any other card. That may be a bold claim, but he was run in every single aggro deck during his time, from Face Hunter to Zoo to Token Druid to Shockadin, was key for Combolock and was a central piece to two of the most broken decks in history: Starving Buzzard Hunter and Miracle Rogue. While a neutral Fireball sounds fair on paper, a neutral Fireball that is also a minion is not. The reason is that he could be buffed, bounced and interacted with in a million different ways that a spell could not be. That ability put Leeroy over the top because most decks that used him exploited the fact that he could wear a buff or two.
An aggro card through and through, Leeroy takes the number two spot simply because of his role in Miracle Rogue. Most decks that teamed up with the chicken-lover used him as a pseudo-finisher that could end the game during the middle stages before control or midrange decks had enough time to recover. Miracle, on the other hand, went all in on the four drop. While they did have other powerful cards around Leeroy, no deck in Hearthstone has abused one card more. Leeroy/Shadowstep/Shadowstep/Cold Blood/Cold Blood was an incredibly powerful combo that could do twenty six damage out of nowhere. Even without the full combo, Leeroy could still do eighteen to twenty damage without breaking a sweat. That list was one of the best of all time and the charger was the sole reason why.
1. Dr. Boom
Honestly, what did you expect? There are good neutral legendaries, there are strong neutral legendaries, there are OP neutral legendaries, and then there’s Dr. Boom. No card in the history of Hearthstone has seen as much play as doctor seven, and there’s a reason for that. A 7/7 for seven is fine, but a 7/7 with two extra bodies tacked on that acted as both removal spells and face damage was just too much for the meta to handle.
A lot of the time in Hearthstone certain mana slots are contested, such as Sylvanas Windrunner vs. Cairne Bloodhoof. However, Dr. Boom had no competition for his slot, easily become the seven drop for just about every deck in the game. Literally every single one. This was not a card that saw some play sometimes. It was a card that saw play in every single top tier deck, from Control Warrior to Zoo to Midrange Druid to Secret Paladin to Midrange Paladin to Midrange Hunter to Oil Rogue to Renolock, and the list goes on. What takes the doctor to number one is not just his inherent power level, but also that every single class played him at one point or another in the same meta. That type of power takes the 7/7 to something beyond what other cards could do.
Aren’t legendaries cool? Even now, so many years later, I still get excited when my pack glows orange. While we only looked at one part of the legendaries today, the class ones are definitely coming in the future. Today’s list covered some of the best cards the game has ever seen, and showed how much of an impact on the game one card can have. This is the coolest list we have covered to date, and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Let me know in the comments if you agree or disagree, and I hope you all are having a wonderful summer.