Strongest Neutral Cards – What Makes Them so Powerful?

A talk about strongest card in Constructed - why they are present in the current meta and how to counter them.

Introduction

Hi everyone, Stonekeep here! There are certain cards that you just expect to encounter when playing Constructed. They are used in a lot of decks and many of them gained the status of “auto-include”. I made a list of ten cards which are, in my opinion, strongest in the game right now. I’m sticking only to neutral cards, because it’s much harder to evaluate class-specific cards. I want to show the strong and weak sides of each card and, most importantly, explain why are they so strong. Besides the main list, I’ve made the honorable mentions list, when I’ve put the cards that were close to getting in, but they either lacked something or shifted out of the meta.

The list was really hard to make, and you might not agree with some picks, but I’ve based it on my (rather solid) experience – please don’t skip the Afterword! Without further wait, let’s start with the list.

Ten Strongest Neutral Cards

10. Sludge Belcher

Sludge Belcher was released in the Curse of Naxxramas expansion. It’s been almost a year already, and the card is still seen in almost every Mid-Range and Control deck. It’s a go-to Taunt when you need some defensive cards in your deck. The main reason why it is so strong is that it takes at least two hits to kill him. With his 3 attack on the main body, he’s able to kill most of 2 and 3-drops without dying. Belcher isn’t the best card in Control vs Control matchup, but he’s a great anti-Aggro tool. Opponent usually needs to sacrifice 2 or 3 of his minions to get through him. Or Silence him, but that’s a different story.

Sludge Belcher is also great at stopping charge combos. He’s especially useful against Druid’s force-of-nature + savage-roar combo. To kill him with just the combo pieces, Druid needs to sacrifice 10 damage. That’s right, 10 damage. He’s good against grommash-hellscream, because he can stop him even if the Warrior has a way to deal with the first body. Be cautious, however, when playing against Patron Warrior. If the Warrior can deal with the 3/5 body, 1/2 is a good way for Warrior to get additional copies of grim-patron.

What is good against Sludge Belcher: Silence, 5/5 minions, the-black-knight, shadow-madness

Examples of decks that use Sludge Belcher: Control Warrior, Handlock, Ramp Druid

9. Knife Juggler

This little guy has been with us since the beginning (Classic set). He was always considered to be one of the strongest 2-drops, for a good reason. His ability does nothing the moment he is played, but if it’s combo’ed with a lot of small minions, or he stays on the board for a few turns, it gets immense value. Knife Juggler is mostly domain of Aggro decks, but some Mid-Range decks also make use of him. Every juggle either damages enemy minions, finishes off 1 HP ones, or deals damage to enemy hero, bringing you closer to victory. He should be really high on priority list if you wonder which enemy minion you want to kill first. And, at the end of the day, he’s also a 3/2 2-drop. So besides the crazy effect, he has good stats.

You can also combo him with some cards. Knife Juggler + Unleash the Hounds is the most scary one, and it gets better the more minions opponent has on the board. The combo deals 2 damage for every minion enemy has on the board, capping at 12 damage with 6 minions. It’s mostly used to clear the board, but with some lucky knives you can also push for lethal if you’re few points of damage off. Next combo consists of Knife Juggler + Implosion. It’s more dependant on RNG, but even rolling 3 is great. Zoo Warlock wants to keep the board control all the time, but it’s hard to do if you have no minions. With this combo, you can often clear the board just from your hand and get a decent board yourself. The third great combo is Knife Juggler + Muster for Battle. That gnome is always good in Paladin, thanks to class’ Hero Power, but Muster makes it even better. You get 3 guaranteed juggles, plus a weapon hit, which is pretty good turn 5, especially against Aggro decks.

What is good against Knife Juggler: Early removals (e.g. quick-shot or fiery-war-axe)

Examples of decks that use Knife Juggler: Face Hunter, Zoo Warlock, Mid-Range Paladin

8. Sylvanas Windrunner

Another card from Classic set. If you’ve asked me during the Closed Beta, I’d probably say that Sylvanas is the strongest card. However, she has been nerfed from 5 to 6 mana, and many new cards were released. Sylvanas is one of the cards that sometimes can win you a game, and sometimes doesn’t do anything spectacular. 5/5 stats for 6 mana are bad, but those are compensated by the great effect. I’ll be honest with you – it’s the card I hate to see most when I don’t have Silence in my hand. You can’t just ignore it for more than 1 turn, but you can’t trade with it either. Most of the time you have to pray that opponent won’t steal your best minion. And if you’re the one playing Sylvanas, try to not drop her on an empty board. It gives enemy the incentive to destroy it before playing minions, which completely negates the value of her Deathrattle.

Sylvanas can be combo’ed nicely with brawl. However, that is a 11-mana combo, so you need a coin, emperor-thaurissan or 2 turns. When it does work, however, you’re guaranteed to win the Brawl. If the Sylvanas wins – that’s fine. If enemy minion wins – it gets stolen by Sylvanas’ Deathrattle. Another combo is Sylvanas + shadowflame. For 10 mana, you deal 5 damage to every enemy minion, and steal random surviving one. It’s good when opponent has couple of minions on the board, one of which has more than 5 HP. In Priest, you can combo Sylvanas with shadow-word-death (killing Sylvanas) to steal one random enemy minion. It’s usually used as a counter to big legendaries if you don’t have mind-control.

What is good against Sylvanas Windrunner: Silence, a lot of small minions (preferably 1/1’s)

Examples of decks that use Sylvanas Windrunner: Control Warrior, Handlock, Lightbomb Priest

7. Piloted Shredder

The card introduced with Goblins versus Gnomes expansion. At first, it was mostly used in Mech decks, but soon after expansion hit, it became so widely spread that almost every deck has tried it at some point. If I had to pick strongest 4-drop in the game, it would probably be Piloted Shredder. The card is basically 2-in-1. You get a 4-drop with a little worse stats, but on the top of that you get a random 2-drop when it dies. The minion is really sticky, and often it trades 2 for 1. Shredder’s popularity lies in him having no real competition, besides maybe mechanical-yeti (but Shredder is better in Aggro decks) and senjin-shieldmasta (if you need a Taunt in 4 mana slot).  If you need a strong 4-drop if your deck, Shredder will almost never be bad choice.

Even though his effect is random, it’s statistically good more often than bad. There are two great outcomes – succubus and millhouse-manastorm. Most of the outcomes are good – getting 2/3, 3/2, 2/2 minion or loot-hoarder / bloodmage-thalnos to cycle a card. In this category – some are better (knife-juggler), some are worse (crazed-alchemist), but you probably won’t mind getting any of those. The next category are bad outcomes – getting 1/1’s like novice-engineer or captains-parrot. And then, there are hard to classify outcomes. Getting cards like doomsayer, lorewalker-cho or nat-pagle can be either good or bad for you, depending on the board state, cards in your hand etc.

The thing is – even if you count the bad outcome (getting a 1/1 minion), total stats of Shredder are 5/4 (not exactly, but you get what I mean). lost-tallstrider, anyone? Almost every other outcome makes the Shredder worth at least 5 or 6 mana, That’s why the card is so good.

What is good against Piloted Shredder: Silence (kind of), sludge-belcher

Examples of decks that use Piloted Shredder: Hybrid Hunter, Mid-Range Druid, Mech Mage

6. Big Game Hunter

Another Classic card.. I’ve heard that it was designed to counter Giants – I don’t know if it’s true or not, but it’s a great counter to Giants nonetheless. And not only them. This is the card that can lead to some of the biggest game swings. It’s a 4/2 minion for 3 mana, so the body is pretty weak. It can be easily killed by 1 and 2-drops. However, it’s not his body that makes him so strong, but the effect. When you play him, you instantly kill a selected 7+ attack minion, if one exists on the board. What does that mean? For example, opponent plays ragnaros-the-firelord on his turn 8. Now it’s your turn 8. You might kill his Ragnaros with Big Game Hunter and still have 5 mana to play something else. The tempo completely swung back in your favor – opponent lost his big minion, you have 4/2 minion on the board, and 5 mana left to do something else.

Big Game Hunter is one of the most controversial cards in the game. Some people love it and think that it’s fair that every class has access to big creatures removal. For example, Druids naturally have no good way of dealing with big creatures (I don’t count naturalize), and Big Game Hunter helps them. On the other hand, existence of Big Game Hunter completely discourages playing 7+ attack minions with no immediate impact on the board. Theoretically the strongest card in the game – deathwing – to compensate for his powerful effect and stats, he puts you behind in terms of card advantage. And he is is pretty useless because his huge 12/12 body may be just instantly taken out by this dwarf.

Pretty much every control deck runs at least one copy of that card, some even opt for two. It means that often at least one 7+ attack minion you play against control deck is gonna get Big Game Hunter’d. Many Midrange decks also tech him in, especially after GvG. The card risen in popularity even more when every deck started running dr-boom. Since it’s one of the most played legendaries, Big Game Hunter became a go-to counter.

In my opinion, Blizzard shot their own foot when making this card. They can’t really design a big, 7+ attack legendaries with interesting effects that aren’t immediate because they’re gonna be just another beast in his sights. So, why are 7+ attack minions played at all? If you think about it, every 7+ attack minion that is played has either some instant impact on the board or they give you another advantage. Dr. Boom summons Boom Bots, which are pretty valuable themselves. ragnaros-the-firelord shoots a fireball, either killing some minion or dealing 8 damage to enemy. nefarian gives you two cards which almost always get some value.

I didn’t put it higher on the list, because if enemy doesn’t run 7+ attack minion, he’s just a weak minion. On top of that, as I’ve just explained, the meta evolved to run only 7+ attack minions that have impact on the game even if they’re removed, so enemy usually gets some value before their minion is killed.

Additional note: If there is a 7+ attack minion on the board that you can target with Battlecries (it’s not Stealthed for example) and you play Big Game Hunter, you HAVE to target it. Even if it’s your own minion. You can play it as a plain 4/2 only if there are no valid targets.

What is good against Big Game Hunter: Minions with less than 7 attack, like chromaggus, kelthuzad or ysera

Examples of decks that use Big Game Hunter: Ramp Druid, Dragon Warrior, Handlock

5. Loatheb

Loatheb, from the Curse of Naxxramas expansion, is a really interesting card. In worst case scenario it’s a 5/5 for 5 mana, which are the standard 5-drop stats. It trades well with other popular 5-drops like Sludge Belcher or azure-drake. However, he has one of the strongest effects in the game. All enemy spells cost 5 more mana next turn. It means that enemy can’t cast any spells or casting one spell takes his whole turn. The card completely shuts down spell-based decks for one turn, and it messes up with combo decks just as well.

If you’re in leading position and have board control – it helps you seal the game. Most of removals, especially AoE removals, are spells. When opponent can’t use their removals, they’re often out of the game. IF you’re in losing position, Loatheb is also pretty good card. It often might give you another turn, which might change the outcome of the whole game. It’s especially good against decks like Freeze Mage (getting one more turn after alexstrasza is crucial) or Mid-Range Druid (he can’t combo you, he can’t innervate anything out, he can’t cycle wild-growth, he can’t wrath / swipe your board).

Loatheb is so high on the list, because besides the great effect, he has pretty formidable body for his mana cost. Dropping it on turn 5 if you have anything else to do is almost never a bad play, and he’s useful for the whole game. If you’re starting first and opponent haven’t used Coin yet, he’s a good way to block using it for a turn. E.g. on turn 6, opponent might want to coin out Dr. Boom, and Loatheb can prevent that.

He’s also one of the more “quiet” OP cards. He wins you many games and you don’t even know that, because he doesn’t do that in a flashy way. You don’t see opponent’s cards – most of the decks run some spells, and opponent is often forced to make suboptimal play on the turn you drop him, because he can’t cast spells that turn. Limiting enemy’s options is never a bad thing – and that’s exactly what Loatheb does.

What is good against Loatheb: Minion-heavy decks, strong minion to drop as an answer (e.g. own Loatheb)

Examples of decks that use Loatheb: Hybrid Hunter, Tempo Mage, Lightbomb Priest

4. Emperor Thaurissan

The first and only card on the list added with BRM expansion. I think that it’s the card that had one of the strongest impacts on the meta in a long time. It changed the meta to be even more combo-oriented. And it’s especially good in this kind of decks.

Just like Sylvanas Windrunner, 5/5 for 6 mana is pretty bad. But unlike Sylvanas, Emperor Thaurissan has often done his job even if it gets removed before you can attack with him. At the end of your turn, it reduces cost of all cards in your hand by one. Is that a big deal? Sometimes no, sometimes you won’t need the discounts, sometimes you’re gonna be left with couple of mana crystals at the end of the turn anyway so it doesn’t matter. But usually – yes, it is. Getting to cast your cards for 1 less mana is never a bad thing, and sometimes it can lead to ridiculous results. Let’s say you have 5 cards in your hand besides Emperor. You get total of 5 mana discount. You sacrificed a little tempo on your turn to gain a huge tempo on other turns. Or to allow certain crazy combos that would be impossible otherwise.

That’s why Thaurissan has great synergy with Combo Decks. A great example is Freeze Mage. The deck was never bad, but the Meta wasn’t lately kind to it. With the addition of Emperor to the deck, however, can do some crazy stuff it couldn’t do before. For example, Control Warrior was an almost certain lose before. Right now, even though Warrior is still favorite, you have a chance. 1 turn of Thaurissan is enough, but if you get to 2, it’s even better. If you get Thaurissan with Archmage Antonidas, Fireball, Frostbolt and 2 Ice Lances in your hand – it suddenly costs only 10 mana to cast everything. So, on turn 10, you might deal 17 damage to the enemy and get 4 additional Fireballs. And that’s not even the “crazy” situation, it happens often enough. I once drew 6 Fireballs in one turn after having Thaurissan on board for 2 turns. Isn’t that great? That’s sometimes enough to chop all of the Warrior’s armor! Now, let’s look at the Emperor + malygos synergy. Malygos is great combo card, but the problem is that you’re left with only 1 mana after casting him, so you often have to wait a turn and rely on it to not get removed. And what about Thaurissan? Suddenly, with 1 turn of Thaurissan (again!) you might Malygos + 2x darkbomb + soulfire (+ another Soulfire if it’s not discarded by the first) for 8 + 8 + 9 (+ 9) = 25 (34) damage. I think you know what I mean by now. Of course, those situations don’t happen all the time, because you often don’t have the right cards in your hand with Thaurissan, but I’m just presenting the possibilities he creates.

Thaurissan is also one of the reasons why one of the highest ranked decks right now, Patron warrior, is so good. With so much card draw and cycle, you draw it almost every game, and you often get a discount on 7-8 cards. It allows many scenarios when you kill almost full HP enemy with nothing on the board.

Aside from the combos, he makes high cost minions easier to play. The problem with playing 8+ mana minions it that often you’re not doing anything the turn you play them. So, in case they get removed, you lose so much tempo. Thaurissan allows you to use those high cost minions AND do something the same turn. Great example is Handlock. Using lord-jaraxxus is problematic, because you do not develop anything that turn. It means that you want to have some board presence, so enemy won’t take the board initiative. But what if Jaraxxus costs 8 mana instead? You might also use your Hero Power and summon a 6/6 Infernal. Having an empty board vs having a 6/6 on the board is huge difference.

The card is really flexible and it can fit most of the slower decks, because 6 mana slot is never crowded. His only real competition as a 6-drop in most of the decks is Sylvanas, and often you can run both of them. If you leave unchecked for couple of turns, chances are you’re gonna lose the game to some crazy combo. The card is really fun, but effects that affect mana costs are really hard to balance. So I guess it’ll either stay too strong or be nerfed to oblivion.

What is good against Emperor Thaurissan: Silence (kind of, because he always gets 1 discount), medium/big removals, praying that he didn’t discount combo cards

Examples of decks that use Emperor Thaurissan: Freeze Mage, Patron Warrior, Malygos Warlock

3. Ironbeak Owl (Silence)

Most of you probably ask – why is Owl so high on the list? I mean, it was in the game for such a long time and it never had tremendous impact on the meta. But it was always there and always will be there, unless they give another cheap source of Silence. Why Owl, not Spellbreaker? Because most of the time you don’t care about the body, and you want your Silence to be as cheap as possible to fit it into your curve or combos. Also, what is worth noting, that some classes use their own Silences (e.g. Keeper of the Grove, Earth Shock), but I want to rather discuss Silence itself, not the exactly the Owl. It means that I’m not gonna really care about the 2/1 body and focus on the mechanic (which is usually priced around 1 mana).

Looking through the list of most popular decks, EVERY deck runs something worth Silencing. Yes, every. Even looking at this list, 5 of the 10 cards are “countered” by Silence. That’s why Owl is so high on the list and that’s why it’s ran in so many decks.

So, let’s look at the Silence value. As I’ve said, it’s valued at around 1 mana on the Owl (like on the most of other cards). But how much are you really getting from it? If you Silence Piloted Shredder, it’s worth 2 mana, because enemy doesn’t get the random 2-drop. If you Silence mad-scientist against Mage, it’s worth 3 mana for the Secret and 1 card (because Mad Scientist essentially draws the Secret from the deck for free). Against savannah-highmane, you kill two 2/2’s for 1 mana. Against twilight-drake, you deal up to 9 damage for 1 mana. Those Silences have pretty good value. But there are also targets like tirion-fordring, where it’s even hard to guess the value you’re getting. But it’s high. It changes 8 mana creature to ~5.5 mana creature and destroys a 5/3 weapon. I’d say it’s at least 7-8 of mana in value.

Then, there is that kind of Silence that wins you a game. If enemy hides behind the taunt and you draw Silence, you might just kill him right away. In Aggro decks Silence is great, because it let’s you pass through the Taunts – not only to deal damage. Taunt like Sludge Belcher stops at least 7 damage (sometimes even up to 10 if you have no clear way to kill him) which you’d deal to the enemy otherwise. So Silencing Belcher often means dealing 7 damage to enemy (you usually don’t care about the 3/5 body when playing Aggro).

There is also a kind of Silence that is hard to evaluate. For example – Silencing grim-patron. It may not mean much, but it may mean that you’ve stopped 5 additional Patrons spawning on the next turn. Silencing Emperor Thaurissan may not make any difference, because enemy’s discounts may not matter in this game. But it may also save you from dying in one turn from Druid casting 2x Force of Nature + 2x Savage Roar thanks to discount (it needs only 2 discounts to happen if enemy is holding all the cards). Even Silencing +1 Spell Power might matter and might save you sometimes.

Also, OP minions come and go, the meta changes, but there will always be a place for the Owl, unless the Silence mechanic is reworked. Because Blizzard WILL implement some powerful minions with great effects, new Deathrattle cards, or people will just play Aggro decks that need a way to get through Taunts.

What is good against Ironbeak Owl: You can’t really counter Silence, you can only try to bait it on lower value targets. Not running any Silence targets is almost impossible.

Examples of decks that use Ironbeak Owl: Face Hunter, Zoo Warlock, Aggro Paladin

2. Dr. Boom

The infamous Dr. Balanced introduced in the Goblins versus Gnomes expansion. I remember the time soon after GvG release, when every deck was running him. And I mean it. Control, Mid-Range, Aggro, Combo. And then, every deck started running Big Game Hunter and things calmed down a little. He’s one of the reasons why Big Game Hunter is so present in the current meta. Even if not in every deck, I think he’s the most used legendary out there. But, why is he so strong?

First thing that goes his way is mana cost. 7 mana slot was pretty bare. The only other 7-mana neutral minion that was used in constructed is baron-geddon, but it was almost exclusive to Control Warrior. Druid had pretty good turn 7 with ancient-of-lore (and ancient-of-war in Ramp), but that’s it. No other class had really good 7-drops. Dr. Boom fills that gap. Now every class can have something to drop on turn 7. And the thing is, dropping Boom on 7 is almost never a bad play.

The second, and the most important thing, is him summoning boom-bots. Without them, he’s just a war-golem. But trust me, they make a difference. In best case scenario, Boom Bots can deal 10 damage. On top of that, it’s 10 damage split between couple of targets. Even the worst case scenario (dealing 4 damage) is not that bad, to be honest. Boom Bots themselves can often kill 2-3 minions if you get lucky. And I’m not talking about puny 1/1 tokens, but 2 and 3-drops.

Dr. Boom’s biggest nemesis is Big Game Hunter. Be sure that when you drop him, he’ll often get instantly killed. But, thanks to the Boom Bots, you can live with that. Boom bots will probably kill Big Game Hunter and something else. That’s why Dr. Boom is so strong. If the main body gets removed, you still get some value.

Yes, sometimes RNG is not on your side and Boom Bots just hit the face for 1. But remember all the times when Dr. Boom won you the game? Or when you couldn’t do anything against turn 7 Dr. Boom and you’ve just lost the game? Yeah. That’s why he is so high on the list. There is not really much to talk about when it comes to this card. He just has great value for his mana cost.

When Blizzard introduces more strong 7-drops, Dr. Boom is gonna be removed from many decks. But right now, he’s auto-include in most of slower decks.

What is good against Dr. Boom: Big Game Hunter, big removals

Examples of decks that use Dr. Boom: Mech Shaman, Mid-Range Paladin, Control warrior

1. Mad Scientist

And here is the 1st place. Mad Scientist was introduced in Curse of Naxxramas expansion and has seen much play ever since. Some of you may not agree, but I think that Mad Scientist deserves being first on this list. Only 2 classes can really take advantage of the card (not 3, because Paladin’s secrets suck), that’s why I was wondering whether it’s fine to include it, but after all he’s a neutral card.

So, why is Mad Scientist the most OP card? Because of the tremendous tempo and card advantage it gives. For a 2-drop, his stats are on the bad side, with him being 2/2. That’s the only bad thing about him. It’s important, however, that unlike loot-hoarder, he has 2 health. It’s important that he can’t be taken out by pings and tokens. 2 attack is also not that threatening, but you can’t just leave it alone and let it hit you every turn against decks like Face Hunter or Mech Mage. You have to remove it. And when you remove it, or when enemy trades with your minions, it gets value.

Let’s start with the tempo. On death, he gets you 2 or 3 mana for free (in Hunter and Mage respectively). You get a free secret. Why is that so important? Secrets are usually too slow to cast them on turn 2/3, because they have no immediate impact. Mad Scientist changes that, because you use him on turn 2, and on turn 3 you have all the mana even though you get a Secret. So let’s say you play Mad Scientist on turn 2, opponent Dark Bombs it. Now you use Animal Companion and you don’t care whether enemy will drop something big, because you have freezing-trap in play. mirror-entity is another example of great secret to get from Scientist. Opponent might either use his 3-drop and give it to you or ruin his curve by either just Hero Powering or playing something like Zombie Chow. Both outcomes are good for you.

The next thing is card advantage. Mad Scientist doesn’t play the secret from your hand, but rather from the deck. It means that you don’t lose any card and you get a secret. Enemy, on the other hand, probably loses one when removing your Scientist (or when you trade him with something). Getting a card for “free” is important when playing Aggro deck, because you run out of steam too fast. Instead of drawing a Secret (which you got anyway from Mad Scientist), you might draw something else that’s good to play. Also, it thins your deck, which is really good when you play Freeze Mage.

In Hunter, the card has great synergy with eaglehorn-bow. You can drop Scientist on turn 2, use Bow on turn 3 and enjoy your free additional charge.

I’m not sure why they didn’t change the card. If the Deahtrattle was either “play the random secret from your hand” or “draw a random secret”, it would be strong, but not OP. Instead, it does both, and is completely broken. At this point, I doubt they will change it. It’s auto-include in every Hunter and Mage deck out there. And if Paladin’s secrets ever get useful, he will also be auto-include in every Paladin deck. But on the other hand, Secrets are really cool mechanic, and they wouldn’t be played as much without the Scientist. So on one hand I hate this card, but on the other I’m kinda glad it exists.

The card gets countered by Silence, but in the end it’s still 2/2 minion and the Owl can be pretty easily taken down by both Mage and Hunter. The card also gets bad if you draw all of your secrets before Scientists. It might happen if you only run 2 Secrets along with 2 Scientists, but most of times you’re gonna draw at least a single Scientist before all of your Secrets.

What is good against Mad Scientist: Silence, Kezan Mystic

Examples of decks that use Mad Scientist: Every popular Hunter and Mage deck

Honorable Mentions

Here are the few cards that also are strong, but they either barely didn’t make to the top 10 or they are too situational to put them there:

zombie-chow – Great anti-Aggro tech. The card is used by many Control and Mid-Range decks. You drop it early with trading in mind, not going face. That means you don’t care if you heal your enemy for 5 when he’s at 30 anyway. So if you drop it on turn 1, he’s a 1 mana 2/3. Which is obviously great, considering that it can trade with 1-drops and usually survive or trade with 2-drops. It didn’t made to the list, because he’s really underwhelming when playing against Control deck and is a really bad late game top deck.

mechwarper – Another “cost reduction” mechanic. It’s the main reason why Mech decks are strong. If you get 2 Mechwarpers in your starting hand with a bunch of other Mechs, chances are that you’ve won the game. The tempo gain is huge and usually too huge for enemy to handle. By turn 4 you might have whole board of Mechs. It didn’t made to the list, because Mech decks have fallen out of favor lately. Mech Mage and Mech Shaman are still played, but you don’t see them as often as before.

nerubian-egg – The card is really bonkers if you have a way to activate it. That’s why it’s auto-include in decks like Zoo Warlock, which run many ways of activating it (abusive-sergeant, power-overwhelming, defender-of-argus, void-terror). It’s also pretty good AoE protection, especially against decks like Freeze Mage. However, if you don’t have activators, it sucks. So you need at least 4-5 cards that activate it in your deck for it to be consistent. Almost no decks run as many. The other thing is that it’s wrecked by Silence. If you Silence, for example, Mad Scientist, he’s at least left as a 2/2. Egg is 0/2 and it more often than not just dies for free.

haunted-creeper – This little guy got a honorable mention because he’s one of the most annoying minions in the game. He often eats silence not because of how strong he is, but because it’s so hard to deal with him efficiently. Usually completely ignored because of only 1 attack and that you often have to sacrifice over almost 10 damage to kill him. But that 1 damage per turn might matter in the long run. He’s also good at finishing off 1 HP minions. Not good enough to get into the list, though.

defender-of-argus – Back in the day when he was 3/3 and Sludge Belcher didn’t exist, he was ran in most of the decks for the Taunt effect. But the buff is also noticeable. This card is really strong, because it serves many purposes. It gives 2 additional damage, which may matter (e.g. you’re 2 off lethal), he gets the card out of range of removals (e.g. 1 HP minions out of range of ping and 2 HP minions out of range of consecration), he helps to trade efficiently, it activates some cards like Nerubian Egg or ancient-watcher and he puts 2 taunts on the board if you don’t want your enemy to hit face or if you want to protect some important minions. Card is really strong and almost made it to the list. His problem is that for him to be great, you usually need the board control. You can’t drop him on turn 4 on empty board, because he’s just a 2/3. That’s why he’s not used in too many decks. And if you need a taunt, Sludge Belcher is a go-to taunt nowadays.

fel-reaver – This one is interesting. If used in an Aggro deck, he might just win you a game. 8/8 on turn 5 when playing Aggro is a huge deal. Sometimes even 1 hit in the face is enough to rush enemy down. But, there are two problems. First, Big Game Hunter. He’s played in many decks, and if your turn 5 play is getting instantly killed for 3 mana you lose too much tempo. Second, he may backfire horribly. For example, if Paladin uses aldor-peacekeeper on your Fel Reaver, you probably lose the game. If enemy has a lot of cheap stuff and mills you in two or three turns, then taunts up, you may also just lose. On top of that, you can’t put him in a deck that needs certain cards to win, because you can’t afford to burn them. He is still successfully ran in Mech Shaman, but that deck usually doesn’t care about burning cards, and by turn 5 you might be so low that even a single Fel Reaver hit kills you. So, all in all, he’s close to being OP, but not close enough.

ysera – Very strong card when it comes to the “value” game. I think one of the strongest cards in Control matchup. If it stays on the board for the few turns, it gets immense value. Having 4 attack and 12 HP, Ysera is also difficult to remove. The only problem is that it’s too slow against Aggro, because you often don’t even get to see 9th turn, yet alone have a time to play her. In Control-heavy meta, she would definitely get into top 10.

the-black-knight / harrison-jones – Those are the cards that, if they work, they are completely crazy. But there is one problem. They don’t always work – they are situational. They’re overpriced for their stats, so if you play against class with no taunts (in case of Black Knight) or no weapons (in case of Harrison), they are just pretty bad minions. But if you get the target for any of them, they’re really, really strong. Whether they’re OP or not depends on the meta. Harrison Jones even almost got into the top 10 list, thanks to the Patron Warrior.

nefarian – I think he deserves the spot in honorable mentions, because of the things he allows. Using spells from enemy class can often lead to easy win. The most “popular” Nefarian wins are sacrificial-pact against Warlock in Jaraxxus form and Force of Nature + Savage Roar combo against Druid. The problem with Nefarian is that you might get cards that are useless for your class. For example, getting a deadly-poison with a no-weapon class or bestial-wrath when you have no Beasts in your deck are bad. And most of the time, the cards you get are pretty mediocre. Sometimes however, when the RNG is on your side, you just win the game thanks to enemy spells.

Conclusion

Hearthstone isn’t completely balanced game. Right. That’s the easy conclusion. It’s hard to make a card game balanced, because of how many possible interactions there are and how adding any piece of new content shakes up the whole meta. But that’s fine. I don’t expect the game to be 100% balanced and every card to be on the same power level. But Hearthstone being a DIGITAL card game gives more opportunities, opportunities Blizzard isn’t using. The last balance change was undertaker nerf, which happened half a year ago. There were only 3 balance patches since Naxx, changing only 6 cards. 4 of those changes was just adding 1 mana cost to the card. In my opinion, it’s not enough. Even if they don’t want to nerf the cards (which they definitely should do with some of them), they should at least buff more cards to be on-par with the currently played.

I think that the game’s state is fine. Meta changes pretty often, and there are no decks that can’t be countered. But the fact that it’s “fine” doesn’t mean that it can’t be better, because it can. I just hope Blizzard won’t screw things up. Adding more cards like Emperor Thaurissan may be a problem. Even though cards like that are really fun, they are also extremely hard to balance.

Afterword

I’d like some discussion. No, really, I want you guys to say that you agree with me or that I’m wrong and why. The list is based on my own experience and view of the game. It was really difficult to make it, because some cards are hard to evaluate. I encourage you to say what you’d change in the list, or maybe if my reasoning is flawed somewhere. It’s much easier to make a good list like that when you mix different play styles and points of view. If I see any solid ideas about what to change, I’ll definitely consider it. I appreciate any comments and hope that you like my content =)