Hey guys, Joseph Scalise here jumping over from my usual programming to bring you all a new series! While I will still be doing all of my normal guides, I am adding in a more fun look at Hearthstone by breaking down a wide variety of “Top 10” covering all different topics. I often have discussions with my friends about which cards in certain categories are the best of all time, so I decided to actually group them together. Of course, the following list (and lists hereafter) are just opinions, but I like to think I have a fairly good grasp of this game. As always, if you agree or don’t (much more likely) let me know in the comments! I’m always up for a bit of good banter.
There are many places I could have started this series off from, but I thought it was best to begin at the opening of the curve. One drops have always been a very important part of Hearthstone, and many extremely powerful ones have gone largely under-appreciated since they came into the game. This list is an attempt to fix that by heralding, the all-important curve starters. When I first sat down to make this list I thought to myself, “have there really been that many good ones drops?” The answer? Yes. Yes, there have. Not only did I settle with an extremely powerful Top 10 (some of these cards are the strongest the game has ever seen) but I came up with a couple of very deserving honorable mentions to boot.
The only reason this one drop did not make the final list was because of its rather short longevity. “Bring out your dead” quickly followed by “I feel icky” is an opening that haunts my dreams to this day, but “Who do you call?” and “Do you need a blessing?” is a close second. Young Priestess was one of the early Zoo staples, and a card that could just quickly push all of your opponent’s minions out of lethal range. That was incredibly strong, especially in the early days. However, it fell in popularity and has not been used in some time, making it fall just a bit short.
While this card was a staple during Secret Paladin’s heyday, that’s really the only time it has ever shone. This card always had the potential to be powerful, but, like so many other cards in this game, it just never had the proper support. As a result, this card was a flash in the pan rather than a sustained threat. Flashes simply don’t make the lists, even if they are worth mentioning.
This one drop has been a staple in many different aggro and midrange builds throughout the history of Hearthstone. However, at the end of the day it just isn’t quite good enough. Sticky minions have always been (and continue to be) extremely valuable in a board-oriented game like Hearthstone, and there are few one drops as sticky as the squire. Unfortunately, one attack doesn’t stack up well and generally is generally only going to come in handy in a few niche decks or situations. It is not that this card is bad, it is just that everything else is so much better.
The Top 10
10. Flame Imp
The only 3/2 for one (or even 2/2 for one) ever printed, Flame Imp makes the list for both its stats and raw power. Everyone who watches my videos knows that I hate this card (part of the reason it comes in at 10 and not higher). Taking three damage is very weak against most good aggro decks, and the fact that your imp trades evenly with just about every other one drop in the game is a disaster (I cut it every time my opponent would counter it with a Leper Gnome). However, there is also no denying how strong three attack for one mana is, and how important this card has been at helping Zoo take down slower control decks like Warrior and Priest. This card is perfect for number 10 because it is easily one of the strongest one drops ever made, but also comes with a drawback and usually dies the turn after it gets played.
The number one reason Flame Imp made the list is due to how well it counters 1/3’s. While Priest is in its death throes, Northshire Cleric has been the bane of many a Zoo deck for a long time. Flame Imp has always given Zoo a way to fight back against the 1/3 and live to tell the tale. The aggressive Warlock deck has always been one of the strongest decks around, and the reason is how well it can keep minions on the board. A 3/2 will not usually survive more than a turn, but the rare instances where it can attack in and live make it very formidable. Not to mention that this card’s high attack can punish slow control draws and help trade into large taunts.
“Why do you call?” is a question that has haunted Warlock opponent’s for some time, and for good reason. Voidwalker is a very simple card, but it does two very important things that has helped Zoo become the powerhouse that it is. The first of those is provide a turn one sticky minion. While this card is not sticky in the traditional sense of Nerubian Egg or Haunted Creeper, three health is a benchmark that most early minions cannot reach. As a result, the demon can be buffed in numerous ways to take down all sorts of numerous early threats without giving up board. That type of power is always strong, but it is especially powerful in Zoo. In fact, I would say this is one of the most important cards in the deck and one of the key factots it has able to keep so strong after all this time.
The second reason Voidwalker slots in at number nine is because of its taunt. Small minions with taunt tend to have very lackluster stats (Goldshire Footman) or they simply have no attack power at all (Target Dummy, Shieldbearer). This card, on the other hand, has very reasonable stats that play really well with its ability. Very few one drops have ever had that type of versatility. While it does not quite have the functionality or raw power as the other cards on this list (it does just have one attack after all) the annoying demon is good at early board control and can protect you in a pinch. Those give it the slight edge over Flame Imp.
8. Sir Finley Mrrgglton
While relatively new to the game of Hearthstone, Sir Finely Mrrgglton has made a big splash (get it?) since he first came onto the scene. Hero powers are an extremely important part of the game and a big part in balancing out classes (you never want to give Patron Warrior Mage’s power or Aggro Shaman Steady Shot). As a result, anything that can mess with that balance is going to be inherently strong. The murloc is the only card in the game that allows classes to fully change up hero powers, and the fact that it discovers one means you are almost always going to get something that you want. That kind of swing mixed with a relevant 1/3 body is more than enough to place this in the top ten. The fact that is sees play in so many classes and decks just adds to that resume.
Though this was originally touted as a control card that could help build slower archetypes for classes like Hunter and Rogue by giving them a more relevant hero power, it quickly became apparent that this was an aggro card. Steady Shot and Lifetap are both incredibly strong abilities that any aggro deck would love to have. While Flame Imp and Voidwalker can both hold their own, they are class-specific and don’t have quite the impact on the game that the Britsh murloc does. Finley on turn one can instantly lead to a win for a lot of decks if it gets the right hero power. Even if it misses you will still find something relevant, all while also putting a hard-to-kill body onto the board. There is almost no downside to this card in the decks that want him, and that is high praise for a one drop.
7. Tunnel Trogg
Some of you may be surprised at Tunnel Trogg being so low but, while it is very strong and undoubtedly deserves a spot on this list, it is not as good when stacked up among the greats. As noted, 1/3 for one is a very strong stat line, especially when that stat line has the ability to steadily (rapidly) grow throughout the game. Tunnel Trogg makes number seven because of its raw power and how well it fits Shaman’s playstyle. Not only does it lead to quick, aggressive wins (especially when backed up by burst) but it turns overload into a positive rather than a negative. Curves are always important in Hearthstone, especially to Shaman, and no other card in the game sets up a one-two punch like the trogg does.
While many one drops are aggressive by nature, anyone who has played against Aggro Shaman knows that Tunnel Trogg is in another league. This card demands an immediate answer. It is very rare for an early game card to fall into the “kill me or die” field, but Trogg comes close a lot of the time. Shaman is a class that has built up a lot of burn and even more burst, making every early hit they get in that much more scary during the middle turns. This card can do huge chunks of damage and is a large reason that Doomhammer is able to represent lethal on turn five or six. This really is the complete package. It is only number seven, not because it is bad, but because everything else is just that strong.
6. Mana Wyrm
Let’s face it, as good as Tunnel Trogg is, its Mage counterpart is better. Yes, Mana Wyrm does not have the salt-inducing opening that the trogg does, but it is much easier to trigger and does not hold you back by locking down your early crystals. I have played numerous games with trogg where I am in an awkward position of buffing the 1/3 and ruining my curve or holding off to do something the next turn. On the other hand, Mana Wyrm is a card that actually rewards Mage for doing exactly what it wants to do: play spells. Instead of having to grow your one drop by throwing off your turn three, you simply have to remove your opponent’s two drop. Because of that, I would say a large potion of Tempo Mage’s power comes from the ol’ turn one Mana Wyrm, who slots in with their other “free value” cards like Sorcerer’s Apprentice or Flamewaker. The best cards are the ones you don’t need to work for, and the wyrm is exactly that.
Mana Wyrm has long been one of the best aggressive cards in the game for a class that loves to be aggressive. While Mage has always had different styles of tempo decks, they have all been built on an aggressive base. Like Trogg, the wyrm is perfect for that playstyle, demanding a quick answer or controlling the game by hitting for three, four, five or six damage a turn. What really pushes this over the top into number six is the fact that you can start with two, and that the coin is a spell. Being able to play Mana Wyrm, coin Mana Wyrm (or Mirror Image) you are instantly putting yourself in the driver’s seat. Even if you don’t play another one drop, you can coin into a three mana spell on turn two and get a 3/3 for one. That type of potential is simply too good to ignore.
5. Leper Gnome (Pre-Nerf)
Our top five begins with disease. While I could see arguments for this card to be lower on the list, I think that would be insulting just how good Leper Gnome truly was. This card may have been nothing more than a 2/1, but it was a 2/1 that could easily become four, six or even eight damage if left unchecked. When put into those terms, you begin to understand why it falls in at number five. In fact, I would argue that Leper Gnome is the second best aggressive card ever printed. Most aggressive decks will happily pay one mana for a 2/1, especially one that does two damage no matter what. Unlike cards like Worgen Infiltrator or Southsea Deckhand, the gnome was always going to be damage. That means it could push through taunts and made it a relevant topdeck in tight games. This was a card that your opponent had to answer because every hit you took was two damage plus two extra damage whenever the annoying thing dies. That just added up too fast for most people to handle and made this little guy a staple in some of the strongest aggro decks the game has ever seen.
4. Abusive Sergeant
Get in there and fight, maggot! As long as aggro/tempo decks have been around, there has been Abusive Sergeant. As strong as the past six cards have been, none of them have the scope or playability as the sergeant. This card is just an insane amount of value for one mana that helps aggro decks do one thing they aren’t supposed to do, which is trade up. Aggro is an archetype that is supposed to flood for quickdamage and then get slowly overpowered by bigger minions as the game goes on. However, Abusive Sergeant changes that dynamic by giving your tiny minions a way to kill things above their pay grade. While most of the cards we’ve seen so far are key pieces to certain decks, I’m not sure if most aggro decks would have been able to exist without this soldier running around. He is one of the most essential Zoo cards, critical to Face Hunter, gave Aggrodin a way to use divine shield and powered the early versions of Aggro Shaman. Very few cards have that kind of resume, especially ones that are only one mana.
The reason this card comes in at number four is simply because there is never a bad time to use him. The 2/1 is all upside and zero downside, a very rare trait in Hearthstone. While Blizzard nerfed Leper Gnome because it was an “auto include” in all relevant aggro decks, you aren’t going to find an aggro deck that doesn’t run the sergeant as well. If you draw him early on as your only one drop, then you just run him out and ignore his ability. A 2/1 for one may be underwhelming, but it is perfectly on-par stat wise. In contrast, if you draw him later on you can then trade up, break down a taunt or push damage through. It is a law of card games that cards which break conventional rules are always going to be strong, and this breaks one of the most conventional of all. That is deserving of number four
3. Zombie Chow
Maybe the best control card ever printed (but that’s a different list for a different time) Zombie Chow is an incredibly well balanced one drop that did exactly what it set out to do: give control decks a way to beat aggro at their own game. Hearthstone has been around long enough for people to realize that random removal spells and slow AOE does not beat aggro. Rather, effective early minions beat aggo. In this way, Chow gave many decks an early game play that challenged small minions which would then buy time for the larger threats to come down. Ramp Druid played this card, as did Reno decks, all slow control Warlock builds, every type of Priest, Midrange Paladin and Midrange Shaman. That type of spread is very rare, especially for a one drop (which are usually specific to a class or style). Chow benefited slow decks in a way that no other card has and there were so many strong decks that would not have been able to survive without it.
A 2/3 for one may not seem exciting (especially one that has a downside), but it traded favorable with ever early game card around. Before Tunnel Trogg and Totem Golem graced the scene (and even after) this card was the bane of aggressive decks everywhere. It would routinely eat Leper Gnomes, Worgen Infiltrators, Argent Squires, Abusive Sergeants, Southsea Deckhands and anything else that came its way. Not only that, but it also traded well with a whole slew of popular two drops like Mad Scientist, Knife Juggler and Sorcerer’s Apprentice. You really cannot ask for more from a one drop that that. Chow was a card that gave slow decks a chance to play, and could straight up end the game versus aggro on turn one if your opponent had the coin (giving you priority). Add in the Priest combo shenanigans, and you have the third best one drop ever.
2. Northshire Cleric
I spent a lot of time debating if this or Zombie Chow was going to come in at number two, and I think Northshire Cleric‘s power level and impact are just plain higher. While every one drop on this list is powerful for one reason or another, Cleric is the only one that makes an entire class playable on its own. It may not be obvious, but Priest has only ever been good thanks to the 1/3. Her ability to challenge x/1’s as well as draw deeper into combos like Auchenai/Circle or critical removal are key for both midrange and control variants of the class to survive. Every version of Priest, from Dragon to Mech to Control to Combo, all run two of the cleric, no-doubt about it. Even now, the few people who have managed to climb Anduin to the standard levels of legend, have run two. She is a powerhouse of a card that, as a one drop, is everything you could ever want and more.
Northshire Cleric is hard to remove, trades well, acts as a strong body for buffs and, most importantly, is a repeatable draw engine. The girl also is super powerful because of the fact that you don’t need to do a lot of work to combo her. She works so well with so many Priest cards (not to mention the hero power) that you can hold her in your hand to get immediate value whenever you need. She is best turn one facing down a Worgen Infiltrator or Argent Squire, but she also does a wonderful job on turn four, five or six when drawing you three-plus cards. Versatility is extremely important in Hearthstone, and cleric is the only one drop in the game that can be played during the middle or late turns to generate tons of value. Those abilities, in addition to Circle of Healing, Wild Pyromancer, Power Word: Shield[card] and [card]Velen’s Chosen combos, make this the best one drop in the current game. However, there is still one slot to go.
1. Undertaker (Pre-Nerf)
Honestly, how could anything else be number one? Undertaker is not just the best one drop of all time, it is the best card ever printed. So much so that nothing else on this list comes even close to this card. Almost every one drop we have covered is strong because of its versatility or ability to slot into a curve. Undertaker did something much more powerful: it won you the game. That may be a bold claim for a one mana 1/2, but that is exactly what it did. As much as Mana Wyrm and Tunnel Trogg need to be answered, you can use midgame removal or AOE to come back if you miss a turn or two. Undertaker, however, laughed at both, steadily growing so large that there was no way to stop it. Many a Handlock died because the Hellfire it was planning on using to win the game could not reach the four or five health Undertaker that was hitting for three or four damage a turn. This card spelled disaster for anyone who didn’t have early removal, and sometimes you would still lose even if you did.
This was not a one drop in the sense that it traded well or helped you push through damage (though it did both), it was a game-ending card that your opponent had to kill or they lost. Period. “Bring out your dead” is one of the most iconic battlecries in the history of Hearthstone, and there is very good reason for that. There are many powerful one drops in this game, but none of them warped the meta like Undertaker. Playing during the days of this card gave you two options, you either played the one drop and laughed as you crushed your opponent’s souls, or you played a deck that specifically countered it (by which I mean gave you a 50/50 chance of winning with the perfect hand). This is far from the last list Undertaker will be on, and for that reason (among oh-so many others) it is easily the best one drop ever printed.
So, there you have it. The best one drops ever (in my opinion of course) to kick off the new series. I hope you enjoyed the read, and know that many more will be coming out in the future. Tell me what you think in the comments, and also let me know if there are any specific lists you would like to see as well.