Hello everyone. With Goblins VS Gnomes in full swing, I have decided to give some advice for those of you who want to build your own deck (be it in constructed or the arena). There are many factors that separate the good from the bad, so today let’s focus on one of my favourite. Keeping your hand plump and full of options lets you answer threats more efficiently and often leads to victory. Cantrip cards are one of the best ways to achieve this.
The phrase “cantrip” originated as slang in Magic: The Gathering and the concept has been carried over to Hearthstone. Any card that will draw when played is known as a cantrip card. It doesn’t matter if it’s a minion or a spell, whatever, as long as you receive a new card on the same turn you play it. It doesn’t even have to be a card from your deck, as unstable-portal and thoughtsteal enthusiasts know very well. All that matters is your hand doesn’t get smaller when you play them.
Why are Cantrip cards good?
Whilst most decks contain some level of card draw, the power of the cantrip cards are their ability to swing a game when you are both topdecking. In the late game when both players have 10 mana, it isn’t uncommon to enter a situation where both players have used their hand up and have nothing on the board (either due to sweepers or trading). Your only options in that situation are to play the one card you draw each turn and use your hero power. If the card you draw is an azure-drake, your opponent may have to deal with 2 minions while only being able to play 1. It is actually this “topdecking” situation combined with the life-tap ability that has made Zoo Warlock a staple of Hearthstone meta.
Another effect that cantrip cards (and all draw cards for that matter) share is that they thin out your deck. Take the old Miracle Rogue for example. All they ever wanted to do was to play leeroy-jenkins and shadowstep him twice for a massive burst. The entirety of that deck was either the one-turn-kill combo or cards that let you draw said combo. Nowadays the force-of-nature + savage-roar and the cruel-taskmaster + grommash-hellscream combos are used to similar effect. There was even a “Math Warrior” deck that used frothing-berserker + charge + inner-rage and a few other cards for a huge damage burst. Cantrip cards will get you to this combo more consistently and as a result they make your decks stronger.
In control decks that aim to play specific cards to deal with each circumstance (such as the-black-knight to efficiently kill taunts or big-game-hunter to remove large threats), you actually need these cards in your hand if you are going to get the best value out of them. Cantrip cards allow you to dig into your deck if the situation comes up but you haven’t yet drawn your answer. Cards like loot-hoarder don’t give you the same bonus as you have to wait a turn for them to die and you risk them being silenced/negated. What it all boils down to is that cantrip cards are guaranteed draw that your opponent can’t mess with.
Class Cantrip Cards
- Druids: wrath and ancient-of-lore are seen as staple cards in almost all Druid decks for their impact on the board as well as their card draw effect. The versatility of these cards mean you don’t necessarily have to draw if you would prefer the other effect. I’m a big fan of both of these cards in constructed as well as arena.
- Hunter: tracking is the last of the original Hunter draw mechanics that remains un-nerfed. Not only does this card let you draw, you are more likely to get what you need as you are presented with multiple options. While this card is almost unplayable in arena, it is just fantastic in constructed and is seen in most of the aggressive Hunter decks to this day. webspinner is a very popular draw card as it has both Beast and Deathrattle synergy on such a cheap minion, but it is not cantrip.
- Mage: While the only true cantrip card in the Mage arsenal is arcane-intellect, you will see many mages using acolyte-of-pain in conjunction with fireblast for draw. Many also opt for unstable-portal as it can often outright win you a game if the minion you get is quite large.
- Paladin: hammer-of-wrath and lay-on-hands both have decent impact on the game whilst also being cantrip cards. I’m personally a big fan of holy-wrath + molten-giant, but that is far too inconsistent to be competitive.
- Priest: power-word-shield is run in almost every Priest deck out there because it is just so cheap for card draw. The bonus of getting better trades out of your minions and healing them up later is icing on the cake.
- Rogue: Most Rogues used to use gadgetzan-auctioneer to transform their cheap spells into cantrip cards. With his recent nerf, I have seen a rise in the preparation + sprint combo to refill your hand.
- Shaman: With their notoriously bad draw, most Shamans turn to gnomish-inventor and azure-drake for their draw as mana-tide-totem must be protected for it to be particularly effective.
- Warlock: life-tap makes draw cards almost pointless, but you do run into the occasional mortal-coil here and there.
- Warrior: In my opinion, the Warrior class has the best variety of cantrip cards up their sleeves. battle-rage and commanding-shout are both reasonable in their own right, but shield-block with its shield-slam synergy is clearly the best. slam is also rather superb and whirlwind can set up some great combos with acolyte-of-pain.
My all time favourite cantrip card has to be harrison-jones. The potential for absolutely insane draw against doomhammer and lord-jaraxxus makes me giddy.
I hope today I’ve been able to shed some light on this interesting mechanic in Hearthstone and it helps you build successful decks. Whilst each deck is unique and has its own unique needs, I try to include 5 or so potential draw mechanics when building a well balanced deck. Some have more and some have less, but as a rule of thumb: You should plan to win before you start topdecking.
If you liked this introduction, please let me know in the comments. I love getting feedback from the readers. I strive to answer as many of your questions and comments as possible, but I also enjoy playing games with the community. If you want to reach out to me ingame, you can reach me at Trainerdusk#2126 on the EU server. As a consistently high ranked Constructed player and an infinite Arena player I’ll happily give advice, spectate or scrim a few games. If you enjoy spectating, you might find me experimenting on some rather strange decks indeed.
As always you should just get out there and have a good time. Winning is great, but having a good time is even better.
GL HF everyone!