Updated 12-Dec-2014: 1. Changed Sea Giant reference to Faceless Manipulator in handlock description (this was an error). 2. Clarified that only the regular non-golden Elite Tauren Cheftain and Gelbin Mekkatorque can be disenchanted. 3. Added Sunwalker and Piloted Sky Golem as alternatives to Cairne Bloodhoof.
If you’re just starting out in Hearthstone, then you’ll know that arcane dust is very hard to come by in those initial months. If you’re an F2P player, your dust income is limited by how many times per day you can play arena, and your gold income for that will probably be sucked up by the campaign for a while. You’ll be wanting to concentrate on the foundation cards at first – those commons and rares that are fundamental to most decks. With some pretty angry Goblins and those tinkering Gnomes just around the corner, then if you are at the common/rare crafting stage, you’ll want to be checking out Ra-V’s excellent guide Crafting before GvG: Invest In The Future to get yourself on track.
But what if you’ve gathered up most of the staple cards you need? Where do you go from here?
There are plenty of legendaries to craft of course, and sweet mother of Hades, they cost a lot of dust! Therefore, it’s really important to select the most useful ones. In this guide I’ll speed through all of the classic (formerly ‘expert’) and GvG legendaries, present a recommended crafting order and why.
In this guide I will assume that players may be unfamiliar with certain cards – since the material is aimed at beginners – so I will give brief explanations of how each card is intended to be used.
Please remember that you do not need legendaries to rank up on ladder! Two of the most successful current decks – zoolock and aggro hunter – don’t use any legendary cards at all and many people have reached Legend rank using these. If you can’t win games at hearthstone now, you are unlikely to be able to win when you have crafted legendaries either, so don’t expect these cards to solve all your problems! The majority of legendaries are quite situational and the main purpose of crafting them is to enable you to play a wider variety of decks, not to increase your win rate per se.
Acquiring arcane dust
Playing arena grants dust in some rewards, but also card packs which you can disenchant if needed. Once you have most of the commons and rares the dust value of each card pack will go up significantly.
You can also buy card packs with real money. As a very rough guide, if you disenchant everything in a pack, you will on average acquire 90-100 arcane dust per pack opened. A legendary card costs 1600 to craft.
In terms of drawing lucky, you have an approximately 1 in 20 chance (5%) to open a random legendary in a given card pack. Golden legendaries appear once per 200 packs (0.5%) on average.
You should disenchant cards that you own more than 2 of, or legendaries that you own more than 1 of. These cannot be used in any decks you create. Crafting Mode automatically notifies you with a glowing dust icon on the My Collection page if you have surplus duplicates that can be safely disenchanted.
Some people will differ on this, but in my opinion you should also disenchant any golden cards you own while you acquire the first few legendaries, in cases where you have 2 normal and 1+ golden, or 1 normal legendary and 1+ golden legendary. It may hurt, but ultimately we’re looking for function over form for the time being, and the golden cards are purely aesthetic improvements. Disenchanting 4 golden epics for example is enough to craft a single regular legendary, whereas you would have to disenchant 16 normal epics to accumulate the same amount of dust. Note that Crafting Mode will not notify you if you have these kinds of duplicates – regulars and golden cards are counted separately so you need to go through your collection to check for golden card surplus.
Finally, there are some cards that are safe to disenchant even if you don’t have duplicates, because they are not used in the meta and are unlikely to be used in a future meta. Cards which are almost completely useless but also epic or legendary – such as Bestial Wrath
I write this article with Goblins vs Gnomes just a few days away. The value of these legendaries may go up or down although I have attempted to pick the most “stable” cards. I run briefly through the new GvG legendaries below but the analysis may be incorrect.
I have used deck lists from Hearthhead to provide usage statistics. Bear in mind that a deck database that anyone can contribute to will feature a lot of worthless decks, but also many good ones, so I hope these stats balance out. Skimming over the data, they appear to be reasonable usage estimates, but be aware that the stats include decks created before nerf patches (for example, Leeroy Jenkins
The crafting order below is approximate. Minor changes may be desired based on the decks you prefer to play.
What to look for in a legendary
In most (not all) cases, the card’s utility is more important than its body, so we are looking for cards with nice abilities. In the beginning when arcane dust is harder to come by, we would also like to select cards that can be used in multiple decks so they are not just sitting unused in your collection. Third, we want cards that will be relatively futureproof when new cards are released periodically. Finally, we want cards that have value in the current and likely near-to-mid term future meta. This last point isn’t quite the same as being futureproof; it means that as the meta adapts but no new cards are released, the crafted legendary should still have applicability.
Typical uses in current decks
We also consider the total crafting cost of oft-used decks and give a certain additional weighting to the crafting order of our legendaries:
- Zoolock is the cheapest to craft at the current time, followed by the Aggro/Undertaker Hunter-style decks. Neither of these decks require any legendaries.
- The next cheapest to craft is the Control Priest, where the primary cost comes in the form of two Cabal Shadow Priests and one Sylvanas Windrunner.
- Miracle Rogue based on Gadgetzan Auctioneerand Preparation, Shaman and Druid are the next most expensive and all roughly equal in cost, although the Rogue may be slightly cheaper and the Druid slightly more expensive depending on the exact cards you use. Bloodmage Thalnosis commonly seen in these decks. Rogue decks benefit greatly from Edwin VanCleef.
- Handlock is the next most expensive since you’ll be needing a veritable stack of epics including Mountain Giants, Molten Giants, perhaps Faceless Manipulatordepending on your build, and of course my personal favourite card in the game (besides Knife Juggler), the inimitable Lord Jaraxxus.
- Control Warrior is by far the most expensive to craft as you need a slew of legendaries, generally as a minimum including Grommash Hellscreamand Ragnaros the Firelord, and most likely The Black Knight, Cairne Bloodhoofand others.
My recommendation is to build your decks from cheapest to most expensive. Zoolock and Hunter are perfectly viable to reach legend with at the present time, and it’s important to understand that you do not need legendaries to rank up. They will probably make it more fun, though!
Work through the sections below in order as you craft. Legendaries towards the top are more relevant to the current metagame and more futureproof overall.
Premium neutral legendaries
1. Sylvanas Windrunner
She might not be as sexy as Ragnaros, but Sylvanas has outrageous utility value. At 5/5 for a 6-drop, her body is slightly weak, but not only do we not care, we are actually happy about it, because we are playing this card almost entirely for its effect. Sylvanas is virtually guaranteed to 3-for-1 your opponent, and 2-for-1 her even if silenced.
Why 3-for-1 you say? First, your opponent has to remove Sylvanas from the board. Let’s assume she can do this with a single minion or spell. This costs them one card. One of their remaining minions is then removed from the board. This costs them one more card. Finally, the minion that was removed from their side of the board appears on yours. This gives you one additional card in card advantage, which is essentially the same as costing your opponent one card, since the difference in number of cards the two of you have on the board and in hand combined is increased by one in your favour.
In the silence scenario, the opponent must first silence Sylvanas, then kill it, costing two cards.
In situations where the opponent has no remaining minions, Sylvanas drops in utility to a 1-for-1, and with 5 health can often be removed with less mana expenditure from your opponent than it cost to cast. However, these instances are less common and Sylvanas usually represents amazing tempo gain.
Sylvanas can be used in almost any mid-range or control deck, but is too slow for aggro decks.
Sylvanas is used in 11% of all decks and is most often found in priest decks, with 19% of these employing her to do their bidding*.
2. Cairne Bloodhoof
In a nutshell, this card is a removal nightmare, and it’s not uncommon to see ladder players ignore it altogether and just attack to the face.
With 4 attack points, Cairne can’t be traded by most 4 or 5-drops, can’t be removed by Shadow Word: Pain
Cairne can be used in pretty much any mid-range or control deck, we play it simply for the two bodies it produces at essentially an 8/10 for 6 mana – except it’s more annoying than that, because it has to be removed twice.
Cairne is used in 10.4% of all decks and is most often found in druid decks, with 23% of these featuring one*.
NOTE: There is a legendary in Goblins vs Gnomes which will compete for the 6-drop slot – Toshley
NOTE: If you are unable or unwilling to craft Cairne Bloodhoof, consider crafting Sunwalker
3. Bloodmage Thalnos / Ragnaros The Firelord
Which of these you craft largely depends on the type of decks you want to play; let’s look at them individually.
Card draw, increased spell damage and a deathrattle to proc Undertaker
Unlike the previous two cards, Bloodmage is situational; however, this is one of few cards which has so many situational options that he retains relevance throughout the game. You can drop him on turn 2 to draw a card and proc Undertaker; you can drop him in the late game to draw a card; you can drop him in the mid or late game right before a sweeper (this is particularly great with Lightning Storm
Bloodmage is used in 14.5% of all decks and of the decks which use it, is most often found in Rogue (34%), Druid (22%), Mage (21%) and Shaman (18%) decks*.
Ragnaros The Firelord
It’s the love-hate relationship. You love to play him but you hate to play against him; he’s widely regarded as the most handsome Firelord on the block, introducing our good compatriot Rag!
Now far be it from me to suggest Rag is overrated – and I don’t think he is – but what I do think is that beginning players overrate the value of crafting him before anything else. I think this perception stems from the fact that people always remember when Rag finished them off, but they never remember being killed by a Sylvanas, Cairne or Bloodmage. In reality, the tempo gain of these three cards probably swung the game several turns before you were extinguished, whereas when Rag comes down, it’s often an obvious swift and decisive end.
Having said that, Rag is still well up there on the crafting priority list, but I want to emphasize that the difference between having 1600 and 3200 dust may be many weeks of grinding, so when I say he is high on the list doesn’t mean you should swap him around with the previous cards because “it’s only one legendary order difference”.
In terms of stats, Ragnaros is big and dumb but his key ability is the effect, and specifically that it triggers at the end of the same turn it is played. Judicious use of timing and attacks can allow you to somewhat control Rag’s RNG targets and the drawback of not being able to attack is offset primarily by the fact the first damage blast comes on the same turn he drops, and secondly from the fact he himself doesn’t take any damage when this happens, increasing the chance he will proc again.
To a certain degree, Rag is what we call a win-more card. If you’re ahead, Rag pushes you further ahead, but if you’re behind he’s actually not that useful in helping you to stabilize. Shrewd opponents will try to pump out lots of small tokens if they have no immediate answer for Rag, diluting his ability to inflict face damage, and that makes stabilizing when you’re behind harder. More often than not though, Rag is a finisher within 2-3 turns.
Ragnaros is used in 15% of all decks and is most often found in druid decks, with 25% of these sporting a Rag*.
4. The Black Knight
Sludge Belcher has become incredibly popular and for good reason, but whereas The Black Knight previously only had applicability in certain deck archetypes – and is unfortunately too expensive to use in aggro decks where taunt poses the biggest challenge – new threats are looming on the horizon. It looks like GvG will lead to increased use of taunt. Why?
First there are the early game drops like the beautifully named Annoy-o-Tron
Increased use of taunt leads to increased demand for answers to taunt, and The Black Knight is the only card in the entire game that can directly deal with a taunter of your choice.
It’s worth noting that GvG will introduce the Ogre mechanic which provides a new workaround for taunt: Ogre cards have a 50% chance to attack the wrong enemy. This means cards like Ogre Ninja
If you are planning to play in professional tournaments, The Black Knight goes up in value (at the time of writing) because of the current tournament meta.
The Black Knight is used in 8.5% of all decks and is most often found in druid decks, with 23% of these enjoying the knight’s services*.
Premium class legendaries
By this point, you have the basics covered and increased the utility of many of your decks. We now turn our attention to filling in the gaps in specific class decks to finish them off. The legendaries for Shaman, Miracle Rogue and Handlock below are the only ones you strictly need in these decks to complete them; this is not true of the control warrior, so while the order to craft these – or whether to craft them at all – depends on what types of decks you prefer to play and you can approach them in any order, I would strongly recommend leaving control warrior til last due to its exorbitant crafting cost. I have listed the decks in approximate order from cheapest to most expensive. Don’t forget to pay attention to the meta in case it has changed since I wrote this!
Shaman: Al’Akir The Windlord
This Shaman card is less threatening than it initially appears: once the initial 6 damage is dealt, you are often left with an 8-mana Sen'jin Shieldmasta
Enough with the superficial analysis though; the bottom line is that Al’Akir wins games, it has the flexibility to be used as a finisher or as a defensive Sunwalker
Al’Akir The Windlord is used in 23% of all shaman decks*.
Rogue: Edwin VanCleef
Edwin VanCleef is a 3 drop with a base stat of 2/2. Where this card comes into its own is its absolutely insane synergy with cheap rogue spells like Backstab
One of the great things about Edwin is that he scales up as the game wears on and remains relevant at any stage of the game. If you need him early on, you can play one other card first and get a 4/4 for 3 mana – but if you can hang onto him for the late game, you can easily drop an 8/8 bomb with a little planning.
Edwin VanCleef is used in 32% of all rogue decks*.
NOTE: Miracle Rogue looks set to be severely impacted by the Goblins vs Gnomes expansion. Defer crafting this card until the post-release meta has stabilized.
Warlock (Handlock): Lord Jaraxxus
YOU FACE JARAXXUS! EREDAR LORD OF THE BURNING L…. OOH LOOK A BUTTERFLY!!!!! *stares at butterfly* …. INNNNFEEERRRNNNOOOOOO!!!!!
Lord Jaraxxus is probably the ultimate bomb in the entire game of hearthstone at the time of writing. Your life total is changed to 15, you get a 3/8 weapon and your 2-mana hero power generates a 6/6 Infernal token – every turn! When Lord Jaraxxus comes down, GG’s are usually quick to follow.
The primary application of Jaraxxus is in handlock whereby one would like to reduce one’s health to 10 or less – or may be forced to do so due to the very slow starting nature of handlock. At these low levels, the classic double Molten Giant
Mr. Jaraxxus is used in 27% of all warlock decks AND HE IS VERY PLEASED ABOUT THAT*. INNNNFFFEERRRNNNOOOOOO!!!!!!!**
Warrior: Grommash Hellscream
WARNING: For the Shaman, Rogue and Handlock, the legendaries listed above are the only ones needed to complete their respective decks. At this time, control warrior decks also often rely on Baron Geddon
Grommash is a typical control warrior finisher, where the charge lets you bust through unsuspecting taunt defences then combos nicely with the enrage to be poised to deal 10 damage next turn. He obviously works better if the opponent already has at least one minion on the board so that you can enrage him the same turn he drops, but even if that’s not the case, Grommash is a toned down version of handlock’s Jaraxxus in the sense that he gets the job done.
Mr. Hellscream is fighting the good fight in 40% of all warrior decks*.
Secondary neutral legendaries
These are neutral legendaries that are only generally useful in one or two deck types, as opposed to the premium neutral legendaries which can be used in most decks. They are listed in approximate recommended crafting order but please see the note on Ysera if you are making a control warrior.
Primary applicability: Priest, Control warrior, Paladin, Druid
The card is incredibly slow for three reasons: unlike many legendaries, Ysera has no immediate effect on the board besides a minion that ultimately only has 4 attack points. Ysera is also slow because once you get a card from its effect, you then have to wait another turn to play it and then another turn to attack if its a minion. The third reason Ysera is slow is that the Dream cards you draw are random so you might not get a contextually useful draw from it straight away.
Ysera is pretty hard to get rid of, firstly because by this stage in the game you’ve probably used most of your removal already, and secondly because using minions to take out its titanic 12 health will be grossly inefficient more often than not.
Since this is a guide for beginners and many of you may have no idea what Dream cards are, give yourself a crash course by checking out the hearthstone Wiki page on Dream cards. There are five Dream cards so you have a 1-in-5 chance of drawing a given card, and each one is essentially a more powerful and cheaper version of some standard card:
- Laughing Sisteris a pimped up Faerie Dragon
- Emerald Drakeis a Chillwind Yetion crack
- Nightmareis a beefed up Power Overwhelming
- Dreamis a free Sap
- Ysera Awakensis an extreme Hellfirethat leaves Ysera itself untouched
While all of the cards are useful, the one you’ll usually be rooting for is the devastating Ysera Awakens
Ysera is chillin’ with my ladies in 7.2% of all decks and is most often found in priest (13.5%), druid (13%) and warrior (11%) decks*.
NOTE: If you are building a control warrior deck, I would posit that Ysera is the least important legendary for this archetype and should be crafted last.
Primary applicability: Control warrior, Mage
Alexstrasza is a great multi-purpose card. You can use it to instantly heal yourself to 15 life, or take your opponent down to 15. On top of that, it leaves behind a huge body. There is not much more to say about it as the use-case is fairly simple here – it’s a great catch-up card when you’re behind, and a win-more card when you’re ahead. Alexstrasza is best suited to control decks and can be found in various deck archetypes including control mage and handlock.
Alexstrasza is used in 6% of all decks but is most often found in control warrior decks where he features 18.75% of the time*.
Primary applicability: Control warrior
This is an oft-forgotten card and it tends to be one of those cards with a “soft taunt” effect. Its brutal AoE will compel your opponent to clear it at the earliest opportunity – and they probably will because 5 health for a 7-drop is pretty weak – but by then his ability will have proc’d once already which is the most you can often hope for.
You don’t really expect the Baron to survive for more than 1-2 turns, so the general policy is to drop him when you need to throw out a Consecration
Warrior’s only real AoE is Brawl
Baron Geddon is lurking in 2% of all decks, almost half of which are warrior decks where he features 10.5% of the time*. Usage in all other classes is split approximately evenly.
Low priority neutral legendaries
Legendary cards which are good but only useful in specific cases – do not craft these unless you have a specific need to, or you have already crafted everything else above. The cards are once again given in recommended crafting order.
Primary applicability: Mage, Rogue, Druid, Priest
Another unique finisher, Malygos
The synergies are a bit different depending on which hero you employ: Mage users can enjoy 11 damage per 4 mana with their Fireball
The priest doesn’t have direct damage besides Holy Smite
Malygos decks have fallen out of favour of late and as such we consider this a low priority crafting option now. If the meta was different I would move this to the top of the Secondary neutral legendaries category above Ysera.
Malygos is used in 2.75% of all decks and is most commonly pimping mage’s ride in 6% of mage decks*.
Primary applicability: Tournament meta
You don’t see Acidic Swamp Ooze
To repeat, at the current time you should generally only craft this card if you are planning to play in tournaments where it will be useful. It is not particularly useful in ladder at the moment; however this may change if Paladin becomes popular after the GvG release because Muster for Battle
Regular players will know that the infamous Leeroy Jenkins
For those not familiar with the card, it is a classic big dumb finisher – a cheaper Reckless Rocketeer
So is Leeroy still worth crafting now? I believe the answer is yes, but only as a low priority when you have pretty much everything else you want. He can be used in most decks although despite the nerf he is still most favoured in rogue decks, but at the current time he is no longer needed for any particular deck. If you are cruising around the internets looking for decks, make sure you check the date on the deck build as the nerf made some combos non-viable.
Premium class legendaries not currently popular
These legendaries are just as good as the Premium class legendaries earlier, except that they feature in classes that are currently weak or unpopular in the meta, therefore crafting them for laddering purposes is less relevant. This is subject to change as the meta changes.
Paladin: Tirion Fordring
A bigger Sunwalker
Tirian Fordring shields up 46% of all paladin decks*.
Druid’s theme is big minions and big taunts and Cenarius
Cenarius is taunting you from 25% of all druid decks*.
Do I craft? Do I disenchant?
The following legendaries are reasonable to have and may find occasional use. Generally you do not need to craft these and if you do it should be with a specific deck or reason in mind. Generally it is also safe to disenchant any of these but you should only do it if you don’t have any worse cards to get rid of first. I have listed them in approximate order from best to worst (noting that I rate the best card in this list as worse than all of the cards above), so if you have more than one to get rid of, start at the bottom of the list. Taking the usage percentages with a pinch of salt is particularly important here since many of these cards used to be more popular.
Hunter: King Krush
Mage: Archmage Antonidas
Priest: Prophet Velen
Abandon ship! These bad boys are sitting on 400 dust each just waiting to be used for something better. This wouldn’t be a complete guide if I didn’t explain why they are bad though, so once again listing from least bad to worst, and without further ado…
Elite Tauren Chieftain
TLDR – What do I craft?
If you are out to build one specific deck archetype, use the table below. The left-to-right order is the average crafting cost for all the standard cards (including rares and epics not shown) for the deck archetype from cheapest to most expensive. This table only applies for the current meta (November 2014). For more general advice and non-deck-specific information, read the full article.
|(none)||(none)||Sylvanas Windrunner||Al’Akir The Windlord||Edwin VanCleef||Lord Jaraxxus||Ragnaros The Firelord
The Black Knight
Goblins vs Gnomes Legendaries
It remains to be seen which GvG legendaries will be worth the dust investment, and where these will slot in with the above lists. For now, we keep things separate and make some educated guesses about the likely worth of these new cards. Each class has received a new legendary in addition to no less than 11 new neutrals! I have listed them in a very approximate crafting order that I would go for, from best to worst.
How important is it to start crafting these cards right now? If you’re a beginner, and while the new meta gets figured out, I recommend you start with the non-GvG legendaries, with the possible exception of the two or so best neutrals here. These cards are likely to trickle into play slowly rather than explode onto the scene, so there is time to adapt. Keep an eye on the meta – if it seems to be rife with particular GvG legendaries, go check them out on the web and consider crafting them. I will produce a new guide with the pre-GvG and post-GvG legendaries merged as soon as we know where we’re at!
Neutral Goblins vs Gnomes legendaries
Foe Reaper 4000
Sneed's Old Shredder
Troggzor the Earthinator
Mogor the Ogre
Class-specific Goblins vs Gnomes legendaries
These are listed in alphabetical class order, not crafting order, as that depends on which classes you enjoy playing the most.
Mage: Flame Leviathan
Paladin: Bolvar Fordragon
Rogue: Trade Prince Gallywix
Warrior: Iron Juggernaut
Crafting legendaries is expensive, but with only 1 in 20 packs containing a legendary, 35 craftable legendaries in the Classic set and 20 more in GvG, the chance of you getting a specific legendary in a pack is a mere 1 in 700 for classic packs and 1 in 400 for GvG packs. Crafting is your best option.
Once you have crafted the premium neutral legendaries, craft only the legendaries you need and save your dust until you know what you will use the card for. This is especially important right now with GvG looming because the value of some legendaries is temporarily uncertain until the new meta stabilizes.
Good luck on your travels, and remember: if the light is burning you, you should probably sit further away from it.
Don’t miss Katy’s special Goblins vs Gnomes launch show on Tuesday 9th December at 18 CET / 17 UK / 12 EST. Katy will be opening 60 – that’s SIXTY – Goblins vs Gnomes packs live on air, and asking the viewers to guess how many Mech cards will be inside. The person who guesses the closest will win 15 Goblins vs Gnomes packs – but you have to be in the chat room and watching the stream to win! Details and rules on the web site. See you there!
Check www.katyhearthstone.com for Facebook, Twitter and YouTube links, and follow the Twitch channel to be notified when the show goes live.
* figures from hearthhead.com. Includes all old decks, pre-patch and pre-nerf decks and previous metas, therefore the figures should not be taken too literally.
** subject to inferno availability