F2P Focus: Epics

Today I’ve got a little love for my fellow F2Pers. Our dust is valuable so when it comes to crafting Epic cards, it's hard to know which cards are a good investment!

Introduction

Hey, guys. It’s RaFive, and today I’ve got a little love for my fellow F2Pers.

I play Hearthstone to win. I want strong cards for decks that can take me to the pinnacles of skill. However, I’ve never spent a cent on Hearthstone and have no current plans to do so. This means that arcane dust is a rare and precious commodity, as are epic and legendary cards. I have to think really carefully and make really sure that a particular decklist needs a particular card before I can feel comfortable going ahead and crafting it — if I spend my last 400 dust on Siltfin Spiritwalker when I don’t even have Doomhammer, I’ve wasted a lot of my valuable time on this earth.

I made a couple pretty bad calls when I was just starting with Hearthstone (notably, disenchanting Hogger), and I’d like to save the rest of my fellow players from the same fate. Crafting is in the air on the F2P scene after pro player Xixo recently made #1 legend on three different servers simultaneously using a Zoo variant — listed on the right — which ran Sea Giant (much as an inexpensive Sea Giant Shaman briefly dominated the ladder a few months back), so it’s time to consider which epics might really help us in the current metagame.

To that end, I’ve played and studied and here’s my best, most objective assessment of the epics in the game and their worth to F2P decks. There are a lot of incredibly crappy epics (looking at you, Captain’s Parrot), and quite a few more which don’t have realistic application to any viable F2P deck (looking at you, Tree of Life) so if I don’t cover a card below, I don’t consider it a serious enough option to be worth discussing.

Cards are sorted by cost. I provide reasons for and against crafting as well as my verdict.

Which Epics?

Feign Death: Pro: Pre-GvG, there was a fair bit of buzz about the possibility of enhancing Deathrattle Hunter — normally an extremely inexpensive, F2P deck — with Feign Death and Nerubian Egg combined. Then our very own YelloRambo hit top 100 Legend with that very style of deck! There’s clearly some kick in the ol’ girl.

Con: YelloRambo cautions that the Feign Egg Hunter is a strictly metagame call, and Feign doesn’t really add power where Hunter was particularly lacking it, or anything — it’s just another neat trick Hunters can do. You can get quite efficiently to and up the ranks of Legend using inexpensive Hunters that don’t require Feign. Also, it’s a class card, which lowers its utility unless you really love Hunter.

Verdict: Play around with it if you get it it in a pack — definitely don’t disenchant! — but don’t craft it.

Snake Trap: Pro: Remember those Legend Hunter decks we were just talking about? A lot of them run Snake Trap. It’s cheap, effective board presence that also gives you Beasts for Houndmaster and Kill Command. It synergizes well with Knife Juggler and Dire Wolf Alpha, too. In other words, Hunter likes Snake Trap.

Con: As with the Feign Egg Hunter, the marginal return here remains pretty small for an F2Per. Explosive Trap and Freezing Trap are vastly cheaper to run and both extremely powerful in their own right, and even Snipe can serve in a pinch if you want to shake your style up (I made Legend with a deck running Snipe). Also, it’s a class card, so, lower utility.

Verdict: It’s absolutely worth running. It’s still one of the few epics that sees the most regular play in F2Pish decks. However, I reluctantly have to recommend against crafting it. Freezing is a better trap overall and there are better uses of your arcane dust.

Big Game Hunter: Pro: He’s the BGH. He’s one of the most well-known and popular epics. He shows up at every tournament across multiple deck styles, because he’s the ultimate fatty killer. After GvG, he’s even more relevant because of the horrifying power of new threats like Dr. Boom. He’s also better the higher up you are on ladder, as control decks increase in number. His 4/2 stats aren’t bad against aggression, and his effect is great against control, so he’s just all-around solid.

Con: Most F2P decks bank on aggression, which makes them tight on space and short on game time. BGH is less relevant when there aren’t that many targets to hit given the length of your average game, and it’s hard to argue his utility is worth cutting F2P staples like Kill Command or Harvest Golem.

Verdict: Put him on low priority, but he’s definitely worth crafting. In the short run, if you want to be really successful on ladder as F2P you usually have to specialize in aggressive decks like Zoo and Hunter. There are, however, F2P-class decks running a more midrange strategy, and here BGH shines. GvG has opened up a lot of new options for midrange decks, which will only increase BGH’s utility in the longer run.

Blood Knight: Pro: With the rise of Shielded Minibot and Annoy-o-Tron, the effect of Enhance-o-Mechano, and the continued presence of cards like Tirion Fordring and Sunwalker, a stealer of Divine Shield can put a huge threat on the board very early — even more so if you put targets for BK in yourself, such as Argent Squire.

Con: BK’s strength is totally metagame-dependent. If Divine Shield lists become unpopular, his effectiveness almost completely disappears, since he’s much stronger stealing an opponent’s shield rather than buffing himself with one of yours.

Verdict: Absolutely mess around with him if you get him, and hang onto him, but he’s not worth the craft due to his low flexibility.

 

 

Murloc Warleader: Pro: MRGLGLRGLGLGLGLGLGLGL! (Plus Murloc decks are cheap, aggressive things that fit into multiple classes and are tons of fun to play.)

Con: Although every now and again a rare Murloc deck makes it to Legend, “Murloc” is largely synonymous with “durdle” in Hearthstone.

Verdict: I can’t recommend you craft one, but we all know you will eventually in order to get Old Murk-Eye. I did. :-$

 

 

 

 

Enhance-o-Mechano: Pro: I got a copy of this little fella a few weeks ago off an Arena pack and have had a blast running him in Zoo. The RNG is annoying as all heck, but the effect really is quite strong and does make a great value-adder in pointier, swarmier variants of Zoo. Trump might warn that this is a card that’s better when you’re ahead, but he ALSO warns that when you’re ahead, you have to ask yourself, “how do I not lose?” Enhance-o is the ultimate “don’t lose” card. (Plus he’s great in Murloc.)

Con: It’s actually a decent if annoying card — time to eat my negative GvG review — but the only F2P deck it’s really great in is Zoo, and it has only marginal added utility there. It’s a fun alternative, but really, only the mech-iest Zoo would be worse off running Defender of Argus instead.

Verdict: Defender is just a better card. Run it instead. Enhance-o is solid, but not worth the craft.

 

Doomhammer: Pro: It’s Doomhammer. This is a card with insane utility, capable of burst, board control, and an Unbound Elemental buff — all on the same turn! It’s a tournament staple and generally gives Shaman sustained value, the occasional Harrison Jones blowout notwithstanding. Shaman is a strong F2P contender, but really shines with a single copy of Doomhammer.

Con: It’s a class card and Harrison eats it for breakfast. Those are really the only downsides. It’s a fantastic card.

Verdict: If you’ve decided to main Shaman, this should be the first card you craft above a rare.

 

 

 

Earth Elemental: Pro: It’s a huge threat you can throw out cheaply. Combined with Ancestral Spirit, you can grab a ton of value that’s hard to recover from.

Con: It wilts to BGH, and the massive Overload means that if your opponent can answer it, you’ll be crippled the next turn. It really needs to be able to stick in order to be a card worth running, which is why it only really sees play in Crusher Shaman.

Verdict: Crusher Shaman is fun, but there are better Shaman builds out there for pretty cheap and there really isn’t another obviously viable path for Earth Elemental. I wouldn’t craft it. In fact, I disenchanted one EE in order to get the dust for my Dr. Boom.

 

 

Faceless Manipulator Pro: It’s always tied for the most powerful card on the board. It shines against control and has excellent utility with its clutch ability to copy essential minions with Taunt or Deathrattle that’ll keep you alive for a final push. It’s also a particularly good card for newer F2Pers, who can use him to copy minions they otherwise couldn’t afford to gain valuable experience with cards they won’t be able to craft for a while. (He can take roughly the place of a Doomguard in Zoo or a Houndmaster in Hunter.)

Con: He’s slow and GvG hasn’t slowed the metagame one bit. He’s strongest when you’re copying an 8- or 9-mana minion for 5 mana, and when there’s not much Ysera around, his utility declines somewhat.

Verdict: Still worth crafting one, at middle priority, particularly if you’re a newer player. He’s a good teacher.

 

Fel Reaver: Pro: You can put him out on turn 3 with the Coin and a Mechwarper and just wreck things in an epic way for your opponent. It’s an extremely powerful finisher in aggressive-to-midrange mech decks, particularly Mech Mage.

Con: To date, only Mech Mage has really been able to make this card shine, and it’s possible to do just fine with Mech Mage sans Reaver. It’s also an extremely difficult card to use correctly, and even advanced players will frequently miscalculate when they can safely put it down.

Verdict: Fun, but you have better options, including at the epic rarity.

 

 

 

Cabal Shadow Priest: Pro: If you want to run an actual control deck F2P, Priest is typically about the cheapest you’re going to be able to get to Legend, and Cabal is pretty crucial to that control Priest due to her ability to steal enemy minions. She’s well able to swing games, particularly versus aggression.

Con: She’s a class card, which means you have to be committed to playing yourself some Priest if you craft her. Other than that, at least one Cabal is almost always a good call for Priest — she’s an incredibly solid card with not much to hate.

Verdict: If you want to run control Priest, craft one Cabal as top priority and then start saving for Sylvanas Windrunner as your next big investment.

 

 

 

Piloted Sky Golem: Pro: It’s pretty much a mech-type Cairne Bloodhoof that’s a quarter as expensive to craft. It’s a sticky, fun, pointy minion that demands an answer and provides oodles of value to midrange decks. Aside from the obvious Priest and Druid, it can serve as a third Savannah Highmane-lite in an F2P midrange Hunter build that can’t afford Dr. Boom.

Con: It’s a pretty slow minion even in midrange decks, and is definitely better tuned to fight control than aggression. Higher up on ladder, it’s stronger, but as an overall addition to an average F2P deck, its utility doesn’t stand out when compared with cheaper alternatives in the decklist.

Verdict: If you’re an F2P player and you like Cairne, craft a copy of this guy instead. However, I wouldn’t be in any kind of hurry to craft PSG unless you know exactly where you want to put him. I hope that didn’t sound too dirty.

 

Ancient of Lore: Pro: This wise old tree is perennially a contender for “best card in the game,” with its incredibly powerful card-drawing ability and solid 5/5 body. It’s basically an auto-include in standard Druid, and for good reason. As Druid, you will win many games because you drew Lore in time, and you will lose hopefully a few less because Lore didn’t come out on schedule.

Con: It’s a class card, so the usual caveat about utility applies (although pretty much every Druid build, including aggressive ones, can afford to fit at least one copy in, so it’s comparatively flexible). More perniciously, however, Druid is increasingly shifting away from being a more or less F2P class. While it used to be that you could do just fine on Druid with Lore and Sunwalker in a midrange build, rare is the list nowadays that doesn’t include 2-4 legendaries like Sylvanas Windrunner, Dr. Boom, even Alexstrasza.

Verdict: You gotta craft ‘em eventually when you make yourself a Druid, and I’d definitely craft Lore first, before Force of Nature, but Druid has gone from being conceivably mostly F2P to out of reach for most folks, so I can’t recommend the craft until you’re ready to dedicate some serious resources to Druid.

Sea Giant: Pro: This is a card with utility. Aggressive decks generally can’t fit in huge finishers because of resource constraints, but can flood the board with cheap minions — enough to make the Giant cheap, too. With its hefty 8/8 body and great synergy with the more populated boards Blizzard wants to give the game, Sea Giant has proven successful at high levels in Hunter, Zoo, and Shaman thus far.

Con: Much of the time, Sea Giant isn’t there as a finisher so much as he’s there to soak up your opponent’s removal while your other minions stay on the board. That’s all well and good, but oftentimes your opponent would have had to use removal anyway, and might as well have removed something that’s more consistent in your deck. Also, he’s very sad in a BGH-heavy metagame, which is why Xixo has (as of this writing) removed Sea Giant from his Zoo deck for the time being.

Verdict: Craft one if you’re a dedicated Hunter or Zoo player. BGH goes in and out of vogue in the greater metagame, but chunkier boards won’t if Naxxramas, GvG, and Blizzard’s shop talk are any indication.

Molten Giant: Pro: This is a card that’s better if you’re behind. Throwing an 8/8 out for maybe 2-4 mana is a fantastic deal considering there’s no precondition on the board or in your hand that you have to meet, and it seems to have excellent synergy with the Warlock hero power…

Con: …but unless you’re Handlock and always have a Taunt-giver in hand, Molten Giant will typically just get ignored as you’re bursted down to nothing. There are very few situations where you’re low on health but the board is slow enough that a naked Molten Giant can have an impact.

Verdict: Too situational to be worth running or crafting, although it’s easy to see how the effect can lure you into a false sense of “this a great way to swing things when the chips are down!”

 

Valuation

Hopefully the discussion above has given you some valuable information and helped you take a deeper look at some potential cards you could craft to improve your F2P (or P2P) experience. It’s important that you don’t just accept my opinion and walk off, however. Each of you is a different player with different priorities and preferences, and it’s important that you walk through the decisionmaking and evaluation process yourself rather than simply accept the preaching of some guy who’s good at the game.

These are the questions I ask myself when I’m evaluating whether to craft a card:

-What matchups am I struggling with?

-What matchups is this card good in?

-Are there any cards that do more or less what this card does, just as well, for cheaper?

-What other tech cards do I lack that I could craft for equal or lesser value?

-What’s fun?

Conclusion

The process of acquiring the cards in your deck is just as important to your success as the process of playing those cards in matches. There’s a Jewish saying that he who saves a life is like one who has saved a whole world. If I’ve saved just one person from making a subpar crafting decision, I’ll feel like I’ve saved a whole deck. Spread the word, keep the F2P faith, and build a better metagame with epics slotted in to surprise your foes!