Ah, Hearthstone. Whilst I’m still getting used to the idea that a simple Human Warrior token from the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game is now a seven drop behemoth in Hearthstone, I have to say that despite all my reservations I have deeply enjoyed the last few weeks of my beta key. I have no previous e-sporting claim to fame, but I was heavily involved in the content production for the WoWTCG, so I guess you could say that the transition to Hearthstone, Coin and all, is somewhat natural.
Today I’m going to look at five cards that are suitable in any deck but that will immediately improve its quality. These cards are all crafted, so you will have to open them from booster packs or craft them with dust, but they are definitely worth it if you aspire to play constructed, even perhaps ahead of any class specific cards you might need.
1) Defender of Argus
A 3/3 for 4 isn’t terribly exciting, but then this humble Draenei is not really meant to be played on turn four. Ideally, he is a turn six or seven play, with one minion already standing by your hero’s side and another suitably costed one ready to come on before the Defender. What you then get is 5/5 of man with two Taunt-ready associates.
Suddenly, the Defender of Argus is extremely good value. In a game that has no priority (by which I mean a stack ala Magic: the Gathering or chain from the original World of Warcraft TCG), your only means of interacting with your opponent’s turn besides secrets is with minion cards that force his to run into them first ahead of any other preferred target.
Whilst it is normally best to try and maximize the Defender with two adjacent allies, if your third turn was a 3/3 and your opponent’s was as well, and your 3/3 is still standing when you start your next turn, there is nothing to be lost from playing the Defender and leaving yourself with a 4/1 that will draw another card from your opponent. This is especially true with Priest, as you can keep healing your allies to force more and more trades.
2) Argent Commander
I think it’s fair to say that this guy is the best minion in the game right now. Charge and Divine Shield are two great buffs to find on any card by themselves, but are completely bonkers together. If you’re an experienced card player then you’re probably already educated about the benefits of card advantage, but if you’re brand new to the concept I’ll explain it in brief this one time.
Card advantage strictly revolves around having drawn more cards than your opponent whilst simultaneously making sure every card you’ve played against them has taken out two or more of their cards (in an ideal world). Eventually, the player that has drawn more cards and traded most efficiently should win via card attrition: that player presents more and more threats to the opposing hero’s health than the other player can destroy, and suddenly (in Hearthstone) their 30 will become 0 and some fireworks will go off.
Because of Charge allowing the Argent Champion to attack immediately, and Divine Shield preventing the first source of damage, it can take out most threats in the game immediately and remain in play as a threat your opponent has to handle. If the minion you want to waste has more than 4 health, it allows another minion you have in play to finish the job, but then at worst your other minion has traded one for one and left you with a 4/3 paladin. You’ll notice that good paladin players will use the Divine Shield spell and the Argent Squire minion to turn their other minions into miniature Argent Champions, but this fella offers all that fun to every class.
3) Faerie Dragon
Whilst it was very hard to find a card that wasn’t rare to write about for this article, Faerie Dragon presented itself as the suitable candidate for my esteemed praise. A 3/2 for 2 isn’t very exciting, but what makes Faerie Dragon unique is that it is untargetable by spells or hero powers (a cunning battle cry will still sneak through). As such, it forces a minion trade. This is especially useful against Rogues (Backstab) and Mages (Mana Wyrm), who will otherwise make a threat of their own and then proceed to steal match tempo away from you.
This is especially pertinent if your opponent has played a 3/2 of their own, as a 3/2 will nearly always kill the most heavily played three drops across Arena and Constructed. Faerie Dragon will stop any shenanigans and force a 1 for 1 trade, allowing you to then play the same trick with your three drops unless you have some nefarious scheme (Valeera’s Wicked Knife with Deadly Poison is one of my personal favourites).
Faerie Dragon also outright murders the very common Gnomish Engineer, a 1/2 that draws a card as a battle cry. Because the dragon will live after twatting it, you can use it against another minion later in the game to make up for your opponent drawing a card (see the card advantage paragraph earlier). Just bear in mind that the untargetability works both ways: the Faerie Dragon is also shrouded from your own spells and powers.
4) Azure Drake
Azure Drake will for many of you fall into the same bracket as Defender of Argus: why oh why do I want a 4/4 for 5 when I can play something burlier? The truth is that most five drops in the game are very average, and Azure Drake not only draws you a card but also provides spell damage. That four attack is also very useful against Priests, whose excellent removal does bugger all against any minion with a perfectly balanced attack of 4.
You might find that spell damage bonus innocuous, but even if your hero does battle with an Arcanite Reaper or a menagerie of beasts, all their damage orientated spell cards do, surprise surprise, spell damage. Suddenly Backstab does 3, Starfall 6, Explosive Trap 3 etc etc. It really can make all the difference, and you never know where that extra damage suddenly saves you another card as part of a trade and wins you the game.
5) Knife Juggler
I’ve seen this Gnomish fellow described by other players as ‘pay 2, force a removal spell out of your opponent’s hand’. I think that’s a fair assessment, and he is almost certainly public enemy number one in the majority of game states. Whilst his trigger is thankfully random, you’d be surprised with the errant accuracy with which his tiny daggers will oblige you, the opponent.
He works in a lot of decks that include multiple cheap minions, but especially Shaman and Paladin who can use hero powers to produce constant threats. It’s not uncommon to see him accompanied immediately by a Feral Spirit or Defias Thug for a quick two triggers, and suddenly that two drop minion has provided a staggering amount of card advantage. I won’t lie, he is the primary target of a Frostbolt or Backstab should I be able to oblige.
That’s it for now, but stay tuned for more content as Hearthstone goes live in December. I’m going to learn how to record and edit video content, apparently that’s popular. Hopefully this article has provided some insight into not only how to make the most of your dust, but also how to think and play like the best card players on planet.
Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @StoriesbyJack. Apologies in advance for all the soccer related nonsense whenever Arsenal play.