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Feature

Counting Down The Top 25 Hearthstone Cards

by Daniel Tack on Nov 24, 2016 at 06:55 AM

While the Hearthstone metagame is constantly shifting and swirling as new sets come out, cards rotate in and out of eligible standard play, and new decks become the frontrunners for surging up the monthly ladder, some cards stand out. While it's hard to lock down winners especially with the Mean Streets of Gadgetzan coming soon and shaking everything up – again – here are our favorites for the top 25 cards in Hearthstone standard right now, with new cards joining the ranks every day until we reach number 1!

25) C'Thun

While players often need to build completely around this Old God to make him work, C'Thun as a win condition will kill the other player outright without having to even attack with the monster. Most C'Thun backup cards are priced well and can curve out nicely, with real mischief happening if you can get a Brann Bronzebeard to go off, doubling the devastating effect of C'thun's return to this world. You can facilitate this using Emperor Thaurissan or some druid cards like Innervate to get the extra resources you need to plop both Brann and C'Thun on the board during the same turn, often slamming for 20-50 points of raw damage. Druid decks have the advantage of being able to get to C'Thun mana reliably as well as having access to powerful taunting creatures that boost C'Thun and keep you safe while setting up your play, with Swipes and Wraths keeping the table clean until the inevitable end.

24) Twin Emperor Vek'lor

if you're playing C'thun, you're playing with these guys. One of the most terrifying bosses of Ahn'Qiraj is equally intimidating in Hearthstone, providing two huge massive taunt bodies perfect to stall the board until your C'thun rolls out or to obliterate your opponent with raw power. Like C'Thun, the Twin Emperors get lots of additional value from Brann Bronzebeard, allowing the twins to become triplets. The Twin Emperors are a must have for any C'Thun deck and offer a massive bundle of health, power, and board presence that can't be beat, and are one of the major draws to take your deck down the road to the Old Gods.

23) Arcane Giant

Do you like sitting around and keeping the opposing side of the board clean of threats, but don't feel like dumping 8-10 mana on a turn to invest in a threat to actually kill the opponent? Arcane Giant offers a huge 8/8 body and if you're playing a lot of spells, you can play this construct absolutely free without leaving yourself vulnerable to opposing minions. Feel free to throw a bunch of spells out the same turn you play Arcane giant, which can be even more devastating in pairs as their costs tick down for every Shield Slam, Fireball, or Brawl you play. By the time you're ready to go in for the win, your enemy will have nothing on the table and you'll have one or two cheap-to-play, hard-to-kill titans.

22) Fandral Staghelm

What's better than choosing an effect on your druid cards? Having both effects. There are a ton of cards that confer massive benefits when you can double up, from a four-damage draw-a-card wrath to a monster Nourish that gives three mana crystals and three cards. You have to play a little carefully if you want to get value out of Staghelm because he has a huge target on him the moment he lands in play, but you soon learn which match-ups you can play him safely or when to hold on to him until you're going to be casting several other pick two cards the same turn.  Whether you're using a Raven Idol to load up on new spells and minions or gaining eight armor and four attack from the same card, Staghelm can supercharge a Druid deck and give an opponent heartburn just by showing up.

21) Elise Starseeker

Sometimes, games go to the final card. When you're playing against a deck that's ready to go to "fatigue" or running one yourself, Elise Starseeker can offer that extra oomph to carry you over the finish line, turning a bunch of potentially lackluster cards into shiny, expensive legendaries right when you need them most during the final turns of a game. You shouldn't rely on the map-making and treasure-hunting process to happen in a timely fashion, which is why if you're planning to get the most out of Starseeker you need to be thinking about the long game – the real, real long game – where both players are potentially drawing from empty decks and where Hogger is actually useful. If you're playing a slow game and you also want to play with a fistful of random, wacky legendaries, toss Starseeker in your deck.

20) Thing From Below

Shamans like to plunk down totems – it's a fact. From drawing extra cards, increasing attack power, or just creating remarkably efficient creatures, Shamans are constantly plopping totems on the battlefield. While Thing From Below has an expensive base casting cost for a 5/5 taunter, playing a few totems makes the price much more reasonable, or even completely free. Combine this with the fact that Thing From Below "forgets" that it got played for free once it hits the battlefield and you can play around with the Evolve mechanic for some extra fun, because it will be considered at the core casting cost of six for any potential evolutionary measures. If you're playing Shaman, you're probably playing with this card.

19) Spirit Claws

Everyone's favorite reason to play Shaman. Spirit Claws offer an absurd amount of value as a 3/3 weapon for just a single mana, assuming you can turn on the spell power to make them operate at full power. Even if you can't, sometimes 1 damage is still enough to finish the job, taking out a damaged minion or dishing out a damage to a Hexed toad. It's actually fairly easy and reliable to make sure your claws stay sharp, using cards like Bloodmage Thalnos, Azure Drake, or just relying on your hero power to pop out spell damage totems. At the end of the day, when you're swinging, it's almost always going to be for 3, and it's going to hurt a lot for the mere single point of resources it takes to kick things off.

18) Emperor Thaurissan

If your deck is loaded with expensive cards, or more accurately, expensive combos that could ensure you could play them both in a single turn to prevent the opponent from foiling your master plan, this is the Emperor for you. He's well priced for a body that your opponent will have to deal with immediately, but they won't even have a chance to stop the effect from going off at least once. Schemes where you plan to play giant combos of cards one after another or even something as simple as Brann/Coin/C'Thun for double the fun can be realized as the cards in your hand go from steep to cheap.

17) Bloodmage Thalnos

While he may not look like much as a 1/1 little joker, his spell power effect is critical for setting up board wipes, Spirit Claws, or maybe just a lethal Fireball. While he's not great on attack or defense, Thalnos remains awesome by replacing himself immediately when killed with another card, via a deathrattle effect, making him an excellent pop-in to a N'Zoth deck even if you only have a spell or two that can benefit from his boon. Many times you want to actually hold on to Thalnos until you're ready to unleash a spell damage effect, but he's equally cool charging off into death early in the game and fast-firing another card into your hand.

16) Azure Drake

These things are great for a number of reasons. One, they draw you a card on a 4/4 body for 5, which is pretty good. Two, they give you spellpower. Bonus! And three, they are also dragons, which is icing on the cake making them excellent for sitting in your hand and powering up cards that require dragons in your hand to work while you wait to plop them down for a free card and the threat of a big follow-up spell. The name of the game for Azure Drake is efficiency, and you find them in all kinds of decks because they're simply really fantastic across the board.

15) Cairne Bloodhoof

Forcing your opponent to kill Bloodhoof twice is great (though you can get around it with a Polymorph, Hex, or the like) but Cairne is better than ever due to N'Zoth's inclusion in Whispers of the Old Gods and the Priest's access to powerful resurrection cards.Having Cairne come back from the dead alongside some other deathrattle friends makes him extra sticky and difficult to remove, but he's also amazing to bring back over and over with Resurrect, Onyx Bishop, or even just shuffling one onto the table courtesy of Barnes. Cairne is a recurring nightmare that can be extremely resource-intensive to deal with.

14) Acolyte of Pain

What's better than drawing cards? Not much. Acolyte of Pain can remove small threats or just serve as a punching bag that can draw you 3 cards or more. Decks that run Acolyte of Pain run the gamut, from Mages looking to ping it with their hero power for an added draw, decks that buff it to huge heights to take even more punishment, or Warrior decks that turtle up behind it while they zap the board with 1-damage effects. The Acolyte is almost always going to at least return one card, and even if it doesn't that means it's gobbled up some premium removal like a Polymorph, Hex, or Entomb - cards you are pretty okay being used on your 3-mana drop instead of your Ragnaros.

13) Imp Gang Boss

Like the last entry, Imp Gang Boss thrives by ensuring that he's going to get you lots of bonuses on top of his own frame. Imp Gang Boss and its effect are strong regardless of what you pair it with, making it a staple in many Warlock decks, but things really get exciting when combined with Knife Jugglers, Darkshire Councilman, and more. Additionally, if you're running cards that have anything to do with demons, Imp Gang Boss and its progeny both serve that purpose.

12) Innervate

Druids can play extra dirty with Innervate. Not only does this card let you put huge, nasty things on the board way ahead of schedule, but you can also cheat the 10 max mana a turn system to pump out killer combinations that the opponent won't even have a chance to respond to. While Innervate costs you a card, the proposition of fielding a giant, lethal monster much earlier in the game can put a match to bed before it even begins.

11) Dark Peddler

The world of Hearthstone features a ton of viable 2-drop minions, but Dark Peddler is among the best. Being able to select a proper 1-mana matching spell as a bonus gift for the 2/2 body is a serious boon, and can grab you anything from a Voidwalker to a Soulfire, or even let you dial down deeper to augment the kind of Warlock build you're running. The point is, you are getting something real useful as a bonus to an already reasonable critter.

10) Harrison Jones

When Hearthstone launched, Harrison Jones was not all the adventurer he was cracked up to be. Today, with the environment flooded with plenty of powerful weapons like Spirit Claws, bows, axes, and even the random Doomhammer, Harrison Jones not only cleans up the opposing arsenal at a reasonable price but also fills your hand with cards. Cracking a Doomhammer for 6+ cards or dealing with the aftermath of a Tirion Fordring for 3 bonus cards makes a huge difference, and if both players are just ripping from the top of the deck in a standstill situation those extra cards are often enough to simply win the game outright. Harrison's potency shifts greatly with the environment around him, but right now he's a big winner.

9) Ragnaros the Firelord

Ragnaros continues his raid boss smashing and thrashing in Hearthstone. Though the 8 damage can be randomly flung at a stray totem or 1/1 divine shielded minion, careful play will ensure that Ragnaros is landing his 8 points on the enemy hero or other essential large targets. Unlike many other minions that boast powerful effects, silencing Ragnaros isn't likely to help much as his 8/8 body is still more than enough to crush the opposition like an insect. Ragnaros is even more fun in today's environment, where Barnes can rip him right out of your deck on an early turn for a surprise 8 punch that's likely to have serious impact on the game.

8) Justicar Trueheart

The Justicar's effects are useful for just about any hero class, but today the benefits are mostly associated with the Warrior. Being able to apply a generous 4 points of armor each and every turn after the Justicar hits makes for an absolutely daunting carapace to penetrate, all while the control Warrior template sits back and continues to keep the board clean. Some Warrior's don't even bother with serious win conditions, assuming the game will devolve into fatigue for both players as they run out of cards in their decks, a situation where the enormous armor advantage all but ensures a win.

7) Brann Bronzebeard

What's better than one battlecry? Two of them! Brann's bonus applies to a huge swath of high-power cards that are twice as great with him on the table and many other deck staples as well. Two Barnes, two C'Thuns, two Onyx Bishops, two Elise Starseekers, Vek'lor triplets, 20 armor from a single Ancient Shieldbearer, and many, many more. Brann is reasonably priced at 3 mana, but it's often a good idea to wait and play him alongside at least one effect, because he is going to draw the opponent's ire immediately and draw the focus of a removal spell. Brann is quite powerful in many deck archetypes and makes for an easy inclusion.

6) Tirion Fordring

Taunt, divine shield, a sizable frame, and a giant, dangerous sword on death. Tirion Fordring has it all, and if you're playing Paladin he works in a ton of different deck compositions. Fordring has even more value in today's environment where a N'Zoth can bring him back for even more nonsense, and a critical drop on N'zoth's turn, since playing the Old God will take all of your crystals, leaving you unavailable to create other defenses in the same turn. Fordring takes care of defense, offense, and a whole lot more.

5) Barnes

Bringing out one of your minions as a 1/1 copy might not seem great, but Barnes is pretty decent as a 3/4 for 4 already. Throw in the fact that he can pull out Ragnaros, a spell-power minion, a Cairne ready to die and provide a 4/5, a deck-defining Cloaked Huntress, or even a Y'shaarj and enjoy huge benefits immediately makes him absolutely brutal. Even if you don't spike one of your perfect surprises, you'll still get a useful little nibbler. You remember the games where he drops on an empty board on 3 or 4 and happens to call in Ragnaros, Ysera, or Y'shaarj (who then calls in a maximum strength monster). Barnes is also useful in the resurrect archetype, because though they minions come to you as 1/1, upon death they forget that and a Onyx Bishop or Resurrect will bring them back with pure stats. Barnes is everywhere, and that's because he's awesome.

4) N'Zoth, the Corruptor

There's nothing like playing a Sylvanas, Cairne, Chillmaw, Thalnos, and maybe a Tirion, a few Harvest Golems, or a Shifting Shade and then plopping down N'Zoth on turn 10. Suddenly everything is back, and it's all there at once. Even with board clearing potential the opponent only has one turn, and it's incredibly difficult to deal with many of those minions in a single turn in a meaningful way. If you play your N'Zoth right, the game is pretty much over right there. N'Zoth absolutely dominates, letting you play all your best stuff multiple times.

3) Alexstrasza

Bumping your opponent down from a comfortable 30 to 15 and putting them into kill range for a couple of Fireballs is an amazing surprise, and it's really great to pull yourself out of the lethal zone after fending off a wave of aggro attackers as well. With a 8/8 body on top of a massive, game-changing effect, Alexstrasza can feel like an unfair assault on your opponent's chances of winning the game.

2) Reno Jackson

Hunting for treasure has never been so much fun - or frustration, if you're on the other side of the table from a well-timed Reno. Whether you're playing with just one of each card in your deck to make sure Reno always goes off or a few multiples, assuming that you'll have drawn a copy before his effect counts, having the advantage from coming back from certain death can swing a battle in striking fashion.

Warlocks especially have a blast rocketing down their health total to draw cards and cast cards that hurt them in exchange for power, and then simply refuel all the way to full from the red zone. It might not mean much if you're facing down a control deck that puts 20+ points of power on the board and keeps swinging, but against an aggressive deck that needs to kill you quickly and runs out of steam, the chilling effect of Reno can be absolutely devastating and win the game almost on its own. With some games today coming down to card fatigue where players run out of cards and take progressive damage each turn, Reno can also be the silver bullet to win a draining duel where both players are simply trying to survive until the other taps out.

With more cards coming in the next expansion Mean Streets of Gadgetzan than encourage "singleton" or "highlander" play (only one of any given card in a deck) Reno will likely find himself exploring even more decks.

1) Sylvanas Windrunner
When you're behind in a game, Sylvanas is an amazing way to get ahead. Trade her with another mid-sized unit to snag your opponent's giant creature, let her take a Ragnaros fireblast in the face to take control of it, or play the terrifying Brawl combo that will leave you with the only creature on the board. As a core set legendary, Sylvanas is a great option to focus on crafting as soon as you can as a new player, as she is easy to include in almost any deck. While there are ways to deal with Slyvanas in a smart fashion like Polymorph or Hex, those options are few and far between, and you will often be putting your opponent in a tough spot each and every time she is played. And you may be playing her more than once a game, if you're running N'Zoth!

Do you agree with our picks? Let us know in the comments below!