Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, welcome to OP week! While we have covered some strong decks in the past, none have come anywhere close to the power level of this list. And I mean none. This week we cover deathrattle, the most annoying and most powerful ability that has ever graced this game. While some strong minions have battlecry or divine shield, man, oh, man have there have been some serious beaters with deathrattle. This week’s list isn’t just a Top 10. This week is getting close to the Top 10 cards of all time territory. When it comes to abilities, there is no doubt which one is king.
We start our honorable mentions out with a card that was an absolute Hunter staple for its entirety in the game. Webspinner just oozes value. A one drop that supplies a body, a card and also interacts with beast synergy is just incredibly strong. This card may seem very innocent but it was a very important piece of midrange Hunter and acted as one of the strongest one drops for a long time. Just a classic case of good, but not good enough.
Loot Hoarder is a very strong card and arguably one of the best neutrals ever printed. It has an aggressive statline and, of course, a very powerful deathrattle that many decks have made use of over the years. The ability to draw through your deck is very useful for a lot of lists and this has seen play in aggro, combo, midrange and control. While nowhere near strong enough to crack the top 10, the gnome has been so consistently good for so long it deserves a mention.
Another all-star minion, Voidcaller was one of the best Warlock cards ever printed. This card gave Zoo decks a way to cheat out a 5/7 with charge and many slower decks a way to play a 3/15 or a 9/7 game-ender as early as turn four. There have been very few cards to ever pack the potential (and fear factor) that Voidcaller had. It was also one half of the strongest combos ever in Hearthstone, and that deserves at least a mention.
Cairne, you might say. Cairne?? Yes. Cairne Bloodhoof, one of the most powerful midrange minions in the history of the game, is confined to the honorable mentions. Probably for the only time in history. The 4/5 was one of the best cards during the early days and it continues to be a very strong sticky minion for decks all across Hearthstone. 8/10 worth of stats for six is some of the best value the game has ever seen. However, as strong as it is, the fast, five health meta killed it off for over a year. A drought that long keeps it at 11.
The Top 10
10. Nerubian Egg
Yes. Our list begins with one of the strongest two drops ever printed. Nerubian Egg is a 4/4 for two that also come equipped with a 0/2 body that can be buffed to trade into other minions. As a result, it would be much better to see this card as a 4/6 that could also be buffed to get even higher (take that Millhouse Manastorm!). Power Overwhelming on this card gave you a chance to get a 4/6 that turned into 4/4, netting you 8/10 worth or power for two cards and three mana. It is very rare to see a card with so much power packed in such a small body, and there is a chance Blizzard will never print something this strong ever again.
The fact you could buff the first half of the egg is what really pushed this card from good to great to unbelievable. Zoo was the primary suspect for cracking the shell open, but the 0/2 also saw plenty of play in Paladin, Druid and Shaman. There are a ton of buffs in Hearthstone, but they are primarily held back by the fact that if the minion you use it on dies, you lose board presence (and thus card advantage). Nerubian Egg circumvented all of that. There were a ton of options to give this attack, from Abusive Sergeant to Blessing of Kings to Rockbiter Weapon to Defender of Argus, and they all gave you a 4/4 after you dealt with the first minion.
9. Haunted Creeper
Just above its 0/2 brother, Haunted Creeper gets the nod to nine because it saw much more play than Nerubian Egg. While the egg did push Zoo into the stratosphere, and while it was a key piece of a lot of aggressive decks, Creeper was loved by many more classes and for many more reasons. This card was apart of Token Druid, Flood Paladin, Zoo, Midrange Hunter, Aggro Hunter, and pretty much any deck that wanted some sort of early game presence. It is hard to make a 1/2 for two to good, but very few cards have ever held down a board better than the spider.
Creeper earns number nine because it lived by a very simple rule: if you wanted early minions you played the spider. This card was a 3/4 for two. However, it was actually better than that because it was three bodies instead of just one. Yes, its attack is much worse than Totem Golem, but sticky bodies are almost always better than a single shell. In addition, it also gave two bodies upon death instead of one. That was very important for most of the decks that teamed up with the arachnid, such as Aggrodin and Zoo.
8. Savannah Highmane
The card that is singlehandedly responsible for the existence of any non-face Hunter deck, Savannah Highmane may very well be one of the best cards of all time (along with every card on this list). A 6/5 for six not great. However, when that 6/5 for six is a beast in the Hunter class that gives you two 2/2 bodies (that are also beasts!) it pushes it from good to incredible. The reason deathrattle is such a strong ability because it inherently fights against removal and minion combat, which is the nature of the game. If you can break those rules, you can really push the boundaries of what is considered fair. This card doesn’t just fight against removal, it forces you to use your resources to get ride of a 6/5 so you can face two bodies and 4/4 worth of stats. Not a great deal.
Savannah Highmane is a total 10/9 in power across three bodies. While Cairne Bloodhoof is stronger pound for pound, the six attack on the first half of the shell is much better than four. Highmane hits hard. So hard that Amaz once famously noted that if you ever get hit with one the game is over. You just cannot afford to take six damage against Hunter, no matter what deck you are facing. However, you also cannot afford to take four after spending your resources to get rid of a 6/5. This card is one of the scariest threats in the game and more than deserving of the list. While the above two cards were played more, most playable Hunter decks would not exist without this card.
7. Tirion Fordring
Another reminder of how good these cards are, number seven on our list is one of the best legendaries of all time. Tirion Fordring is an insanely powerful card that is chock full of power at all levels. Not only does it have a strong body, but he also has an incredibly package of abilities that allow you to face down your opponent’s board no matter what situation is at hand. In this way, Tirion has the rare ability to almost always be live against any deck in the game. If you are facing aggro he helps by providing a solid wall, if you are facing midrange he has a hefty body, and against control he is a repeatable removal spell and threat. There are very few cards that are always going to be good no matter when you play them, but Tirion fits the bill. His deathrattle is quite unique, and 15 damage over three turns is always going to be welcomed in some capacity. There are very few cards that do what Tirion does and there aren’t many finishers with this kind of range. He even has saw a lot of play as curve-topper for much faster or aggressive decks.
6. Zombie Chow
My how the mighty have fallen. From number one last week to number six (still not bad), Zombie Chow was the control deck one drop that helped a ton of slower decks, from Ramp Druid to Control Paladin to Midrange Shaman to Control Warrior to Priest to Reno and Handlock, fight against aggro. Because of that, there has just never been a tool quite like Zombie Chow. It was an early game card that was (mostly) not used by aggro decks. It was perhaps the only card in history that allowed slow decks to fight faster ones on the board rather than relying on having a clutch removal or clear spell on turn three or four. For that alone it makes the list. Though its deathrattle was usually a setback more than an advantage, it is still a deathrattle minion and it still makes the list. The power level and uniqueness takes it to six.
Chow was one of the best-designed cards of all time and one of the most used neutral cards in history. There are several attributes you need to look at when discussing “all time” greats, and playability is a big factor. While some cards (Savannah Highmane, Northshire Cleric) are so good on their own that they break that rule, the top lists are usually full of neutral cards (and this one is no exception). Zombie Chow was simply everywhere during its time, and if it were in Standard it would still be. Being able to kill multiple minions and fit into a curve is just too good to ignore. I mentioned earlier that I don’t think Blizzard will ever again make a two drop with the raw power of Nerubian Egg, and I don’t think they’ll make a one drop as strong as Zombie Chow. This card was an anti-aggro nightmare and broke the traditional rule of, slow decks have no strong early minions.
5. Boom Bot
While not technically a collectible card, Boom Bot 1 and Boom Bot 2 make the list because they were part of one of the most (perhaps the most) oppressive minions of all time. In fact, they were the reason that Dr. Boom was good at all. A 1/1 mech may not seem like a big deal, but a 1/1 mech that can randomly do 1 to 4 damage to anything on your opponent’s board is absolutely unreal. These cards were removal spells in the form of a minion, and they were responsible for massive swings, whether it was finishing off a big minion, putting a threat into removal range or just killing off an Azure Drake out of nowhere. And, if your opponent didn’t have a minion to hit, they usually did somewhere between 5 and 7 damage to the face. Just unbelievable.
Boom Bots were so strong that I hesitated to put them this far down on the list. You could probably argue they deserve to be in the top three, but at the end of the day they were apart of another card and they did have times where they didn’t go where they were needed. Semantics I know, but for me that really does hold them back. Even so, they still deserve to be in the top five because of their power level alone. The Boom Bots were a catastrophe to play against because of the heavy RNG that came with them. It was very hard to plan for the turns where you cleared them because you didn’t know which minions you would have at the end of turn and what health you would be at. Easily one of the biggest oversights Ben Brode has ever made, and more than deserving of the top five spot on this list.
4. Mad Scientist
It is often the quiet ones your have to watch out for, and it is often the innocuous ones that break the game. When it first got spoiled, Mad Scientist seemed like a very innocent two drop that would work for some cute fringe secret decks. However, it quickly became apparent that the card was an absolute monster, and it would eventually push Hunter and Mage all the way to the top of the meta. Tutoring (the ability to go through your deck and find a specific card) is the best ability across all card games. For that reason, it is almost non-existent in Hearthstone. However, Mad Scientist did allow you to tutor, revealing why being able to go through your deck is often too good. While in theory there should have been some randomness to the two drop’s deathrattle, all you had to do was play the secrets that you wanted and you could always get them into play. That was too much consistency and made the decks that used scientist simply too reliably for their own good.
Not only did Scientist have an incredibly powerful on-curve and aggressively costed ability, but it was also a more-than-reasonable 2/2 for 2. That body made it so decks like Midrange Hunter, Face Hunter, Mech Mage, and Tempo Mage could freely play it without ever being punished. It even allowed Freeze Mage to play it because it could trade or push for damage if your opponent didn’t have an answer. This card was board presence that also gave you a very powerful spell either for the early or late game. In fact, it was so strong that it turned Kezan Mystic into a playable card. Tech cards that only target one or two decks are extremely rare, but this card was good enough where it warranted the attention.
3. Sylvanas Windrunner
You know her name, and you damn well know what she can do. There have just been so little cards that had the power level of Sylvanas Windrunner. The 5/5 not only has a strong body and works well on curve, but she has the strongest deathrattle (and possible strongest ability) in the history of the game. Stealing a minion is much better than killing it, and being able to take something while also trade your 5/5 in is just incredible. Sylvia has long been the bane of many slow decks, but she also has locked down the board against faster decks as well. There is so little you can do against her, which is why she slots all the way to number three. While the above cards were powerful, Sylvanas is perhaps the only card in the game that will instantly make your opponent trade in their whole board to avoid an ability from going off.
The thing that makes Sylvanas Windrunner so good is that she is strong when facing down both a full and empty board. It doesn’t matter when you play her, she is instantly going to put your opponent in a bad spot and give you immediate priority over the board. If you play her into minions your opponent has to play around her and try their best to manage the RNG. On the other hand, if you play her on an empty board it is a huge tempo move that is going to force your opponent to use removal rather than playing their threats on curve. Not to mention that every deck has some way to kill her, so ignoring her is almost always going to get you punished. She was my original number one when I first drafted this list, but as consistent as she has been, she has nothing on the top two.
2. Piloted Shredder
Number two on our list is a card that nobody misses. Piloted Shredder was everything wrong with Hearthstone design tacked into one card. It had game-breaking RNG, annoying stickiness and was way above the curve. This thing not only dominated the meta for the entirety it was in the game, but it easily the best four drop ever made. It’s not even a contest. The 4/3 mech laughed at Chillwind Yeti and is eons beyond anything that Flamewreathed Faceless could ever be. You think a 7/7 is good? Try a 4/3 that also drops a 3/2 or 2/3 behind after trading or eating removal. As mentioned, stickiness is much better than a big body. Especially when both halves of the stickiness are aggressive in their own right. And did I mention this could be played in any deck?
Piloted Shredder was just incredibly hard to deal with card that was used in a ton of decks. Reno decks welcomed it to fill out their curve, Midrange Hunter and Druid both wanted it to push for damage and keep something on board, some Zoo lists played it, Midrange and Secret Paladin used it to slide into their bigger threats, it was a very strong part of later versions of Oil Rogue, and it did a great job of taking over the early board in both Mech Mage and Midrange Shaman. I’m sure there are even more decks that I’m forgetting. Quite simply put, this card locked down the fourth spot and gave every deck a way to control the middle turns no matter what your were playing. Both sides of the mech often traded well, allowed you to be aggressive, and could also be used with combo cards like Savage Roar and Bloodlust. That type of versatility is just insane, and the use really pushes it over the top to the second best deathrattle minion ever. However, even with all of that, the 4/3 doesn’t quite have enough to claim the top spot.
1. Sludge Belcher
Stomach feeeeels funny! Every card on this list has had a huge impact on Hearthstone, but none of them did what Sludge Belcher did. The 3/5 may have just been a midrange threat with a 1/2 tacked on, but it fundamentally changed the game. Before Sludge Belcher came around you could run four attack cards in your midrange deck. Before Sludge Belcher midrange or grindy decks needed to rely on removal or under-powered minions to stay alive. Control had a lot of trouble locking down a board and midrange decks had no way to easily protect their minions or themselves. This card gave every single deck in the game a threat that both had a strong body and a good effect. We will never see that type of all-inclusive power ever again (I hope).
Beyond its impact on Hearthstone, Sludge Belcher takes number one because it may very well have been the most auto-included neutral card in the history of the game. Any non-aggro deck (and even some aggro decks) would just put two of these into their list no questions asked. This was the card you used to fill out lists and often was the first minion you clicked on when building. Here’s a quick list: Secret Paladin, Grinder Mage, Control Warrior, Midrange Hunter, Midrange Shaman, Oil Rogue, Renolock, Malylock, Midrange Druid, Ramp Druid, Midrange Paladin, Control Priest and Tempo Mage. They all had the belcher and they never questioned it even once. And there are probably some decks I’m forgetting. Though Piloted Shredder was strong for the same reason, where shredder could be too slow or a low-impact top deck, Belcher was always live because your opponent had to deal with the 3/5 and the 1/2 slime. An incredible card that is more than deserving of the top spot.
What a hard list to make. Seriously, I have never had to try and organize so many powerful minions in such a small space. Picking ten cards from the list of deathrattle cards was hard enough, but actually tweaking them here and there was extremely difficult. I think there may be some spots that could be debated, but I’m happy where I settled. I hope you enjoyed the list and I hope your summer is going well. Let me know what you think, and thanks for reading!