The crafting of legendary cards becomes a hot topic in Hearthstone when a new expansion like Whispers of the Old Gods is launched. In addition to the expansion, we’ve also had the release of Standard along with the nerfs to some high profile cards in the game. Both of these things combined have left players with questions on which legendary cards they should craft. It is my hope that the following guide will help make those decisions easier!
Legendary Crafting Guide
In the interests of providing the best quality information to players attempting to use their dust most effectively I have assembled a list below that ranks cards on the basis of (1) inclusion in top tier ladder or competitive tournament decks and (2) an assessment of whether the card is core to that archetype or more of a flex decision.
Deck viability is judged based on the Tempo Storm Meta Snapshot, reports of high-ranking legend lists from/r/CompetitiveHS, and decks represented at the European and Americas Spring Prelims at a greater than 1% play-rate.
The following decks were considered that currently require or run legendaries
(Evident: I added the links to these decks, they might not be the exact ones Daimbert was referencing in this post.)
I have built a preference for cards of the classic set into the tier ranking as they are evergreen. While this list is most sensitive to the present meta I have tried to take some account of a card’s usability over its lifetime which may give a sense of its longevity as the game changes.
In the first three tiers I tried to critically scrutinize cards’ relative strength on the assumption that most of these will acquired through crafting and players are trying to decide how to spend their dust. For less clearly viable or commonly used cards in Tier 4 and below the ranking is slightly less important and I preferred instead to highlight the places a card could be used should you have it. The assumption here is that you may have opened one of these cards and either want to find a place to play it or weigh the opportunity cost of dusting it.
Without further ado:
None. There are no cards in the current format that are essentially an auto-include in every class in every deck type. In other words, no legendary is currently Dr. Boom tier, whom every player was recommended to craft first without hesitation. As always you should decide which lists you are most interested in and develop a crafting plan from there.
Tier 1 Neutrals
These cards all must appear in multiple meta-defining or top tier decks among different classes either as core to the archetype or in several favored builds.
Fewer tokens and Big Game Hunter means that Ragnaros has gotten much stronger and sees play in a wide variety of mid-range and control decks that are looking to put out a big immediate threat. This includes most versions of N’Zoth Paladin, Tempo Warrior, Control Warrior, Ramp Druid, Beast Druid, Renolock, Reno Mage, and likely other decks. His ubiquity in currently strong lists in addition to historically high value make him one of the best Tier 1 neutral crafts.
At least as ubiquitous as Ragnaros, Sylvanas applies less immediate board pressure and her play profile accordingly entails more control-oriented lists. These include N’Zoth Paladin, Renolock, Control / C’Thun Warrior, C’Thun Druid, and basically every Priest list ever created. Also historically high value and often core to decks that play her, Sylvanas is a solid craft vital to unlock control archetypes.
He is the most common finisher in Miracle Rogue (75%), also commonly used in Zoo, part of the Renolock Combo, in current Pirate Warrior builds and some Aggro Pally lists. While every deck that currently runs Leeroy could be built without him (subbing Malygos / Doomguard / Skycap'n Kragg / or not using a charge finisher at all, etc.) his appearance in the preferred builds of multiple meta-defining and strong decks in addition to historically being a staple of aggressive decks makes him Tier 1.
His position in this tier is heavily meta dependent. As it stands the strongest classes (Shaman, Rogue, Warrior, also Paladin) are all weapon using and so Harrison will find a target in very high percentage of games. Thus he is a valuable addition and a tech decision for essentially every non-aggro deck. Harrison currently sees play in some builds of Miracle, Mid-Shaman, Tempo Warrior, Ramp Druid, N’Zoth Pally, and almost all versions of Control Warrior and Priest. He was even brought to American Prelims in a Freeze Mage (!?!). Despite very common usage, bear in mind Harrison is not core to any list and could be replaced with an Acidic Swamp Ooze.
He is top tier solely based on the strength of Miracle and Freeze as he is indispensable to making both decks. While vital to only two lists they are both extremely strong—Miracle is currently meta-defining and Freeze was among the top 5 played lists in both European and American Prelims and strongly represented among top 8 finishers (despite being less common on ladder). To play either deck you simply have to craft him. Should other cycle dependent spell-heavy archetypes emerge in the future Thalnos will also assuredly be an auto-include. (Also in OTK Priest, other more niche builds.)
This card is on the border and an argument could be made either way for his inclusion in the highest tier. The argument in favor is that he is used in basically all builds of N’Zoth Paladin and Tempo Warrior, two meta-defining decks and he also sees play in Ramp Druid, N’Zoth style Renolock and some Control Warrior. With the exception of N’Zoth builds Cairne is arguably a somewhat easier card to substitute but is currently a high priority craft given the range of decks and classes that use him. One further caveat (besides just being a somewhat boring stat bundle) is that Cairne’s strength is meta-dependant and has thus been historically variable. He was significantly weaker before Loatheb and Sludge Belcher rotated out given how poorly his stats lined up against them and the introduction of N’Zoth has made him significantly more desirable.
View the rest of the tiers after the jump!
Tier 1 Class Cards
Criteria for inclusion here are cut and dry—is the card classic and core to a meta-defining list?
Indispensable to all variants of Miracle (Leeroy Jenkins, Malygos, no finisher), which is not only a dominant feature of the tournament environment but also very well represented on ladder. Other more niche rogue builds that include various combinations of Reno, N’Zoth and C’Thun are less standardized and so evidence of playability is a bit harder to come by but at least anecdotally Edwin is also well utilized in these archetypes. The diminished presence of silence and Big Game Hunter has improved his strength.
Played in every single viable Warrior build but Pirates, namely Tempo, Control, C’Thun, Patron (though the latter lives on as but a shadow of its former glory), and also some Dragon Warrior though the latter entity is still in flux. If you want to play the class in any of its non-aggressive variants Gromm is a must-craft and has always been a class staple.
Core to N’Zoth Paladin and a candidate for the strongest card in the list. Historically Tirion was also a staple of Secret Paladin, a very aggressive deck, and this evidence of inclusion in decks across a range of play-styles augurs well for his longevity. So while it is a relatively safe bet that he will also be used in any future Paladin lists, it is likely advisable to only craft him now if you can commit to the full N’Zoth Pally package.
Essentially a ›must-craft‹ for one strong list that likely also sees play elsewhere—i.e. creates a specific guaranteed strong reward with additional variable potential upside.
The core reason to craft is to be able to play N’Zoth Paladin. Due to the nature of the card, N’Zoth along with other deathrattles can be dumped into a list and experimental builds using him have appeared in essentially every class (Hunter, Shaman, Rogue, etc.). The most reasonable potential upside is found in N’Zoth Renolock lists which Crane used to advance in European Prelims and may be an increasingly popular build. It also enables N’Zoth Priest, which may be the most viable Priest list but that’s not saying all that much.
The core reason to craft is to be able to play C’Thun Warrior which may actually be a better build than the classic version largely based on the strength of the Ancient Shieldbearer. Variable potential upside includes also enabling C’Thun Druid which is viable but perhaps not as strong, and C’Thun Renolock. Significant doubt about the viability of C'Thun builds at high level play likely persists, but AKAWonder advancing in the top 8 EU Spring Prelims with these 3 C’Thun decks shows they are strong enough to bring results.
The core reason to craft is to be able to play Control/C’Thun Warrior. She is essential to any Control Warrior build and defines games in which the winning play is to repeatedly hero power pass. The additional potential upside is perhaps a bit less certain than either Twin Emperor Vek'lor or N'Zoth, The Corruptor. Justicar can be included in N’Zoth Pally lists and will improve the match-up against other control decks but is not essential (run by ~50% of N’Zoth Paladins at NA and EU prelims). She is commonly seen in Control Priest builds, but Priest as a whole is not presently very strong. A no-brainer to craft for dedicated control players, but never seen outside the archetype.
Must crafts if you wish to play a single particular deck though not key to unlocking an entire archetype or class (minus Fandral).
Auto-include and core in every existing Druid list — Beast, Ramp, and C’Thun — that comprise around 3% of recent tournament decks. If you want to play any variety of Druid from aggro to control-ish in Standard you essentially have to craft Fandral. The biggest thing that prevents him from being higher tier is that while several Druid lists are viable they are not meta-defining nor widely seen as particularly strong (note the low play percentage). Fandral’s inclusion in every type of Druid list underscores his flexibility and power which suggests he will remain relevant in future expansions.
An essential part of Tempo Warrior and played in every version of the list used by players who made top 16 at the EU Prelims. Malkorok’s Tier placement is based on the established Tempo list, which is probably the strongest deck in the meta, though it’s worth noting that he is also included in experimental Dragon Warrior builds (see lists by Th3Rat, Fr0zen, Tides at American Prelims). According to Sjow, a warrior specialist and expert on the deck, Malkorok is a crafting priority above Varian and perhaps the strongest 7-drop in the game.
Not quite must-craft for Tempo Warrior. In original pre-OG builds of the deck he was the defining card of the archetype. Players on ladder have lately been running a modified version that replaces Varian with Arch-Thief Rafaam following a build Sjow used to reach #1 Legend as the substitution improves the match-up against control decks. Among tournament builds Varian remains an almost omnipresent feature of the deck, used just ever so slightly less than Malkorok–in 7/8 of the EU top 16 and in 4/5 published lists from NA prelims. Warrants inclusion in Tier 2 as though he could be substituted for Arch-Thief Rafaam current play patterns still use him far more than other flex cards. Craft after Malkorok.
Must craft for N’Zoth Pally. Although this is a strong list and Good Rag is indispensable to making it work, he is Tier 2 because it really only makes sense to craft him after Tirion Fordring and only if you are willing to invest in all the other legendaries for a deck that requires at least 12k dust. Enthusiasm for the list may be waning and it remains to be seen whether the Lightlord will see play outside of a heavy control style deck.
Must craft for Freeze Mage and a key part of the deck’s winning game plan in many match-ups. While Alexstrasza does have potential uses elsewhere presently they are not well defined enough to warrant inclusion in a higher tier. Most notably she also appears in some Renolock lists, and a limited number of Control Warrior and Reno Mage builds. She is not all that common in Dragon decks which usually prefer to anchor their curve with Ysera, but has seen some play there.
Must Craft for Tempo / Reno Mage. While Tempo Mage is not a particularly common in tournament play (~1.25%), the deck is fairly well represented on ladder (4-6%). Antonidas does appear in some variants of Freeze although the general consensus is that he is too slow and is not part of the core build. He has historically been included in pre-Torch Freeze and Mech Mage builds representing a spectrum of deck archetype from control/combo to very aggro that bodes well for his potential longevity and versatility.
Specialized / Flex Picks Commonly Seen in Strong Decks (These cards are still very good!)
Strongly consider crafting for classic Control Warrior. Essentially everything that was said about Ragnaros, Lightlord also applies to Geddon, where the list in question is Control Warrior instead. While Geddon is a common inclusion he is probably the most replaceable part of the CW package. A majority of recent tournament lists include him in CW (~75%), but this has not always been the case, i.e. when the build was mostly Elise + removal. Furthermore, if C’Thun Warriors supplant classic Control archetypes it may be worth crafting Twin Emperor Vek'lor instead as the C'Thun flavor does not run Geddon. He does see limited uses elsewhere.
Historically Jaraxxus has been a defining card of Control Warlock builds, and currently Renolock is an undeniably strong list and has only seen increasingly more play from European to American Prelims. The only reason Jaraxxus is not a Tier 2 ›must craft‹ is that he has actually been cut by a significant fraction of Renolock decks. Of American Prelim lists published on Hearthpwn 50% (5/10) do not include Jaraxxus as the availability of other strong late-game threats has rendered the sometimes difficult to use card less necessary. Given that Reno builds require around a Legendary worth of epics (Doomsayer, Twisting Nether, Big Game Hunter, Faceless Manipulator, +/- Mountain Giant) it may be prudent to invest in these first and play non-Jaraxxus builds before making a decision about whether to add Jaraxxus.
Ah the debate over Xaril rages on! Xaril probably sees more play than most of the cards in Tier 2, just given how common Miracle is. If the card’s ultimate strength is still undecided what is decisively clear is that he is not essential. He was included in around half of the Miracle lists from notable players in the American Prelims (more commonly in Malygos than Leeroy Jenkins variants), and swapping him with Violet Teacher or some other configuration of Shiv / Deadly Poison / Conceal / Journey Below is not necessarily a sub-par substitution but may be a more optimized list. If you’re a Rogue specialist he may certainly be worth crafting before any Tier 2 cards to have flexible build options. At the same time it’s possible to play miracle at the highest levels without him.
Despite being a neutral legendary, Gormok is for all intents and purposes a Warlock class card as he is only seen in Zoo. Even then, he seems to have fallen out of most Zoo lists. He was only in 33% of the Hearthpwn sample of American Prelim lists and some of the very best Zoo players chose not to bring him. Though this may be due to players running heavily tech-ed lists even during peak usage, Gormok was never core to any Zoo build. He is easily replaced by a Dark Iron Dwarf, which is a more consistent card even though it provides less potential upside. Gormok remains powerful and Zoo is the list in which his battlecry is most likely to proc and so he is the definition of a flex pick, i.e. Tier 3.
Druid remains the rule-breaker. Of all the cards in this group Cenarius may be the only one that is a part of the vital core of a viable deck, in this case Ramp Druid. But again, owing to the general weakness of the class as a whole it nevertheless seemed more appropriate to put him here as opposed to the Tier above.
Perhaps initially dismissed as a joke card, the fact that he is being brought in a variety of tournament lists argues for taking him more seriously. While RNG does not lead to deterministic outcomes simulation runs and play experience suggest that on average he has net positive effect when played on appropriate board states as he tends to clear board and draw cards. He is currently in at least five different player’s decks at American Prelims in Shaman, Druid, and Mage and has been in a reasonably popular/successful ladder deck (Lock and Yogg Hunter). However, with the exception of the Hunter it remains unclear whether he is core / build-around in any of these lists as Ramp Druids and Tempo Mages have all been built without him.
If Malygos Rogue and Malygos Reno Freeze are taken as independent archetypes then Malygos is obviously a must-craft for these lists. However, it’s possible to play both Miracle and Freeze without him, so while he changes the playstyle of both decks significantly it seems most appropriate to consider him a flex inclusion. While he enables these two significant variants, it would seem crafting him does not take priority over Bloodmage Thalnos, Edwin VanCleef, or Alexstrasza. It may be worth noting that Malygos has also historically been a ›build around‹ card using GvG Ancestor's Call and Malygos continues to appear in somewhat more niche Dragon lists.
Not used by the vast majority of mid-range Shaman builds, though a non-negligible number of players do choose to play him.
Appears in some Renolock lists but only very rarely in any other decks. Obviously a tech decision based on the prevalence of large taunts in the meta-game. This has not been nearly as common as anticipated prior to the launch of OG.
Traditionally most commonly seen as a part of Dragon Priest. In Standard he may be one the more useful dragons after Alexstrasza and Malygos as being both a deathrattle and taunt makes him quite strong on N’Zoth boards. Accordingly he currently sees tournament play in somewhat experimental N’Zoth builds in Druid and Shaman sometimes without a full dragon package. It is worth noting that these builds have yet to achieve mainstream traction.
She is a rather difficult to get a hold on in the current meta. Ysera is usually integral to most dragon lists and while players have proven it is possible to climb to legend with Dragon Priest the overall strength of these lists remains significantly in doubt. Nevertheless given how difficult it is to remove her and the value she can generate if left unattended Ysera also continues to see play outside a dragon shell as a flex pick in some Control Warrior and Ramp Druid builds.
Playable but only used in a specialized list or by a single player. Worth experimenting with if you opened them, but are likely not worth crafting unless you want to play a specific list. Presented on a descending scale of proven to speculative use. Longevity is not assured and some of these cards may not be better on abstract value scales than cards in Tier 5.
- Prophet Velen – Core to Priest OTK.
- Hallazeal the Ascended – Used in Windfury Leeroy Shaman OTK and Tide’s wacky American Prelim Control Shaman.
- Soggoth the Slitherer – Used to notably poor effect in Jasm’s Control Warrior at Dreamhack Austin, in a Reno Druid at American Prelims, and Stonekeep’s high legend ladder Ramp Druid.
- Deathwing – Used by Neobility in his American Prelim Ramp Druid and Adidas5482 in a Dragon Priest.
- Deathwing, Dragonlord – Used by XXXX in a Dragon Druid at American Prelims, and on ladder by Snower in a N’Zoth Dragon Priest.
- Onyxia – Used by Fr0zen in a Dragon Warrior at American Prelims; more speculative ladder play in Onyxia-Evolve Shaman.
- Nexus-Champion Saraad – Used in Fr0zen’s Tempo Yogg Mage at Prelims.
- Y'Shaarj, Rage Unbound – Used by Dog in a Ramp Druid list at American Prelims.
- Tinkmaster Overspark – Used by Payton in his American Prelim Control Warrior as a supplemental removal option.
- Hogger – Used by Stancifka in a Yogg Warrior deck at European Spring Prelims.
- The Mistcaller – Used by TheRealDrWho in a Reno Shaman at American Prelims.
- Aviana – Could be used in Ramp Druid though it seems most lists have cut her.
- Rhonin – Used in Hafu’s Reno Mage list that found success at high Legend, also in a Reno Mage at American Prelims.
- Illidan Stormrage – Used in a Miracle Rogue list by LiveHigh on Legend ladder.
- Hogger, Doom of Elwynn – Appeared in some early Old Gods Patron lists and a Zetalot Priest build.
- Captain Greenskin – Appeared in an early Legend Pirate Warrior build by Lunk though has recently fallen out of favor.
- Skycap'n Kragg – Similarly part of the early Pirate Warrior list but does not feature in recent tournament builds.
- Mukla, Tyrant of the Vale – Reynad experimented with him in Tempo Mage on ladder around rank 4-5 to uncertain success.
Not aware of any tournament or ladder viable lists using these cards, though they certainly have the potential to see play due to their unique effects. They are not necessarily worse in the abstract than the Tier above, but are not currently used. Sorted purely by class and not in order of potential viability.
- Dreadscale – Possible tech against flood decks.
- Princess Huhuran – Decent on paper but not used in any of the Midrange Hunter lists.
- Herald Volazj
- Confessor Paletress
- Wilfred Fizzlebang
- Shifter Zerus
- Nat, the Darkfisher – Theoretically useful in Mill decks.
- King Mukla – Also a theoretical Mill option.
- Eydis Darkbane
- Fjola Lightbane
- Bolf Ramshield
Unlikely to ever see meaningful play.