I have an axe to grind. Well, actually ten axes (sort of). This week on Top 10’s we are going to sharpen some steel, dive into the forge and look at the best weapons Blizzard has ever made. While this list can only cover a few classes, there have been more than a few good weapons made in Hearthstone’s time. I actually went into this list thinking there really wouldn’t be anything that special, but boy was I wrong. Weapons are an interesting part of the game, and part of the identity that sets different classes apart. Today we are going to give those classes some extra love and study what type of weapons made them so strong.
Sword of Justice
We begin our (unofficial) list with Sword of Justice, an extremely cool card that was once saw a good amount of play in Shockadin and Aggro Paladin decks. That alone is going to get it into honorable mention range. However, while the three cost weapon has a very strong and unique ability when used in the right way, it only saw a limited amount of play a long time ago. For that reason, it doesn’t have enough to see the top ten.
Like Sword of Justice, Perdition’s Blade has a very unique effect that can lead to some huge swings. SI:7 Agent this is not, but it does a fine impression. Getting initial damage out of your weapon is never a bad thing, and upping it from one to two with combo can lead to some very strong plays. Though, this card is not around anymore and saw little play when it was being run. It once did a good job in Aggro Rogue, but rapidly faded over time.
The Top 10
10. Assassin’s Blade
Though it does not see play anymore, Assassin’s Blade was once one of the scariest cards to face down from your Rogue opponent. Not only does it do a ton of damage over the course of the game, but a single buff would make an absolute insane Blade Flurry. This card’s power level is not quite enough to see play these days, but it was once one of the best tech cards Rogue had access to. It would enable them to take down slow control decks or midrange builds with a bad draw, and almost always decide the winner of the Miracle match. Whoever had the weapon first would almost always come out on top. While many of the weapons on this list (and in the game) are about damage, few could matchup to how much pressure of this blade.
Most weapons are limited in their charges, which then restricts their damage potential. Assassin’s Blade does not concern itself with such trivial matters, adding up to a whopping twelve damage over the course of four turns. However, mixed with things like Deadly Poison the card quickly spiraled out of control. There have been very few weapons in the game that can output that much damage that quickly and Rogue is one of the classes that benefits most from weapons and fast damage. Having access to both was a great package that really helped it out during the early days of the game. While more efficient options have risen since (keeping this card at the top of the list) its inherent power level gives it a spot.
9. Arcanite Reaper
Arcanite Reaper fills a very similar role in aggro and midrange Warrior decks as Assassin’s Blade did in Rogue. However, it gets the nod to nine because it saw a lot more play and has even made a comeback over the past month or so. While it was completely annihilated by a card that is much further up on this list (spoilers) there is no doubt about scary Reaper can be during the right time or in the fight deck. Having a supporting arechtype is important for any card’s success, and the reaper has had a home in Aggro Warrior since Reynad first championed the deck. In fact this card is pretty much the sole reason Aggro Warrior has ever been a deck. As with any fast deck, you really need to be able to power on damage before your opponent can drop down taunts or stabilize. This card played that key role and also was able to smash taunts out of the way. The ability to clear and push for damage, in addition to the amount of play it saw for a fringe card, takes the 5/2 to number nine on our list.
Though it was only around for a little bit, Powermace comes in at eight. This three drop had a very terrifying dathrattle and managed to carve up Shaman opponents for a solid amount of time. Mech Shaman was a deck that rose to power very late in the GVG world and this card was a part of that deck through and through. Not only was it six damage for three mana (a solid deal for any aggressively-tuned deck) but it’s ability to buff up a mech, ranging from Mechwarper to Piloted Shredder, really pushed this over the top. There was just no coming back from a giant minion on turn four after you had already taken a slew of hits.
This card was so good at what it did because it could also control the board in a pinch. This is far from the last 3/2 weapon on our list, and the reason for that is because they do such a nice job at controlling the early game and pouring on pressure. What made this card so good was that it could control the board or put on pressure and still give out a free, game-changing bonus. A 2/2 buff is one of the best free buffs this game has ever seen, especially in an aggro deck. For all of those reasons, Powermace climbs all the way up to number eight.
I know this one is going to be controversial, but it didn’t feel right doing a top weapons list and not mentioning Ashbringer. Yes, the card is not collectible, but it has seen as much play (and sometimes more) than any other weapon in the game. You can easily look at this card and say it is really Tirion Fordring, but I would argue that it is actually the weapon that makes Tirion so good. A 5/3 that comes down on top of one of the most powerful minions around is going to rapidly take over any game. This card was used a control tool for a long time, a way to keep taking out minions on the board even after you had lost your minions or were low on cards. While that did mean taking damage, it didn’t matter due to how much healing Paladin had access to. In this way this card is a fantastic removal option and one of the strongest weapons, pound-for-pound, ever made.
The other reason Ashbringer is number seven is because it was used as a finisher in both Midrange and Secret decks. As controlly as this card is, fifteen damage is fifteen damage. In that way, it allowed a lot of decks to push for damage and then play Tirion to lock down the game due to the pressure that Ashbringer could produce. Even clearing the board wouldn’t prevent the weapon damage. Once again, you could argue that is more of Tirion’s thing, but all of that added pressure solely comes from the weapon itself. I decided to keep this at seven because, while strong, it technically costs eight mana to play. That investment makes the card the most expensive weapon on our list. For that reasons, while better than some weapons, it can’t stack up to the real heroes.
Though you could easily argue this card to be higher, Gorehowl at least deserves number six because it has one of the best abilities the game has ever seen. It is an old rule of card games that things that break conventional rules are going to be much stronger than anything else. For instance, the way that Innervate breaks the rule of mana or how Power Overwhelming breaks the notion of “big minions are always stronger”. Gorehowl fits that motif by giving you a weapon that doesn’t lose its durability. While we will touch on this in greater detail later, durability is key for weapons because it keeps them honest. You normally cannot do more than ten damage with Arcanite Reaper because that would make it too good. However, the Warrior epic has no such restriction and acts as a repeatable removal spell that can just break down control or midrange decks during the long game.
Control Warrior is a deck that does not care about taking damage. They have near-impenetrable armor over their health that allows them to crash into minions over and over again without worrying about taking lethal. As a result, this card is like five or six removal spells in one weapon. That starts to get pretty insane when you think about it, and makes it one of the best control tools ever printed. The reason this fails to break into the top five is because of just how strong the top five is. Sometimes cards fall further down the top ten than you would think because of the power level of the cards above them. That is absolutely the case with Gorehowl. It is in no way its fault that it is at number six.
As long as this one took (and man did it take a while) Doomhammer has finally risen through the ranks to be a Shaman staple. This card has never been bad, it just has never had a home. That fate has affected many good cards throughout the history of Hearthstone, and it was especially true of the hammer for two reasons. The first is that the old midrange decks, in a time where Harrison Jones was everywhere, had much better finishing options in Bloodlust and Al’akir the Windlord. While the hammer did see some play, it just didn’t have the impact that it does today. The second reason this card was held back (and the reason it is not higher) is because Shaman was in a bad spot for a long time. This does not make the weapon worse, but it does show that it was not good enough to make a deck on its own like the weapons that are higher up could.
Despite everything I have just said, this card breaks into the top half of the list because of just how powerful it is in a vacuum as well in the rightly-tuned deck. In terms of aggression, nothing says “damage” like sixteen (sixteen!) damage over the course of four turns. In addition, the combo with Rockbiter Weapon and Tunnel Trogg is just disgusting. A windfury weapon is always going to be powerful in its own right, and a windfury weapon in a class that currently has so many aggressive tools simply takes this card through the roof. Doomhammer is one of those rare cards that can actually end the game on its own. Yes, sometimes it needs some extra help to get a big combo, but very few cards end the game when you have the board like this one. Such raw power if worthy of the top five.
4. Truesilver Champion
When looking at Midrange, Control or Secret Paladin it is easy to see all of the scary minions and think “that’s what makes the deck so good”. While that is true to a certain extent, nobody gives Truesilver Champion the credit it deserves. A 4/2 weapon for four is more than fine. That is a repeatable removal spell that allows you to also play minions on turn five and contest the board in the same turn. Constant removal is very good, and this card is one of the best for that reason. Even more so, this can also heal. This is the only weapon in the game that gives you back health and takes the edge off of hitting minions. In this way it works as a fantastic control option that can kill multiple threats (Azure Drake comes to mind) and also save you some life in the process.
Another reason this card deserves the fourth spot is because, like so many of the top weapons in the game, it is good in multiple decks. It has been a long time since Aggro Paladin was around, but all of the Shockadin variants loved having this card. The ability to clear a taunt was very strong, and eight damage to the face would often put so much pressure on decks like Druid or Control Priest that they would not be able to come back. The healing was also quite relevant when facing decks like Face Hunter, which needed every point of damage to be able to race you. This card is the complete package and has no downside. From clearing to damage to healing, it just did it all.
3. Death’s Bite
This card is like Truesilver Champion, but better. That’s a crazy statement to make, but it’s true. Death’s Bite was an absolutely unreal card that gave Warrior everything it wanted for the low, low cost of four mana. When it first was released there was not a lot of hype surrounding bite. However, it wasn’t long before it took the class to the next level. Control Warrior has been very strong through just about every meta, but it’s biggest weakness has always been board flood decks like Zoo. Bite fixed that problem by giving Warrior two removal spells and AOE all stuck together into one simple package. In addition, this card was also an all-star against midrange decks, triggered Execute, shut down big Zoo or Hunter plays and also allowed Warrior to accelerate to their large turn six or seven threats.
As with all good cards, Death’s Bite was an all-star for multiple top-tier decks. The two in question are Patron Warrior (a deck that it took over the top) and Control Warrior. Each of those decks were two of the best decks ever created and Death’s Bite was a large reason why. The four drop weapon wasn’t just a part of each deck, it was the card that made those decks what they were. While Patron would have been strong, it would never have been able to reach its insane power level without having that free Death’s Bite on turn five. The turn where Patron went Inner Rage/Grim Patron into a Death’s Bite swing was just absolutely devastating. Control had many ways to stay alive, but it needed bite to really lock down the middle game. Two decks that strong slot this card right into number three.
2. Eaglehorn Bow
The little weapon that could, Eaglehorn Bow is incredibly powerful because, like so many overpowered cards, it breaks a fundamental rule of the game. We have already touched upon that point with the discussion on Gorehowl, but Eaglehorn Bow doesn’t break the rule, it shatters it. Triggering off of secrets (which Hunter naturally runs) has always been very good, especially when Mad Scientist was running around the meta and dropping them into play for free. One of the strongest things about weapons is that they equal a lot of damage. This card was six damage at the worst, usually climbing to nine or twelve. That would be good in any class, but in Hunter it really pushed it over the top.
Eaglehorn Bow has been a key piece to both aggro and midrange decks since Hunter has been around. I would argue that it is one of the best aggro cards ever printed, and it also helped the old pure midrange and beast midrange decks thrive by controlling the third and fourth turns on the board to set up better threats. That type of versatility is very hard, especially when discussing a weapon. Though the top of this list may be different, most weapons in the game are very linear. That is to say they do one strong thing or have a certain effect. This card has a much more powerful versatility and has been used in every single top-tier Hunter deck since Hearthstone has been around. Reoccurring value is always going to be powerful, but on a weapon in an aggressive class that feeds on secrets, it just gets out of hand. With this card equipped and Steady Shot online, it was five damage a turn. No class can stand against that.
1. Fiery War Axe
“Of course he had turn two axe!” is a phrase that has been uttered by frustrated players since the early days of beta, and for very good reason. Fiery War Axe is not just a strong early game card or a powerful tool against aggro, it is the entire reason that Warrior exists. That may sound like an overstatement, but it isn’t. Every single Warrior, from Aggro to Pirate to Tempo to Patron has run two of the axe. Period. No further questions your honor. This card is just incredible on all levels, allowing Warrior to push for early damage, control the middle game and taking down all manner of early threats.
While some weapons may be good some of the time, axe is one of those cards that is always going to be strong. At its worst its six damage for three mana and at its best its one of the most efficient removal spells ever printed. The biggest reason I slot axe it at number one is due to just how important it is to Warrior’s curve. While a lot of the weapons in this list are very strong or have some powerful interactions, getting axe on turn two can swing games one way or another. There have been many times where one player having or not having an axe decided how the whole game is going to go. Whereas many of the weapons in this list are just weapons, this card is also one of the greatest removal spells ever, and that’s pretty impressive.
Another week, another list. Going into this, I really didn’t think that weapons were going to give me many good options, but I was pleasantly surprised. While they have been regulated to only a few classes, the spread of weapons in this list was very impressive. You never know what you’re going to find when you delve into Hearthstone’s past. Sometimes it is cool combos you forgot about, and sometimes it is just a bunch of sharpened steel. Until next time, may you always trust in your sword.