- You are cheap and fundamentally against paying for a Freemium game like hearthstone where you have the option of buying packs, but you’d rather spend in-game gold to purchase them.
- You love collecting cards, even if it’s a Gold version of a really useless card so you don’t enchant them into dust when you could
Or you are:
- You are completely new!
- All of the above?
Then you may have run into a situation where you want to craft that awesome Aggro deck but you don’t have 1600 dust for a Leeroy Jenkins
Or you only have 800 dust but you have to choose between an Epic or saving for a Legendary…
Or you flat-out only have opened 10 packs in your life, and of course you don’t get any good cards! ORRR you open a pack and it goes nuts and says “LEEEEEEEGENDARY” and OH SWEET IT’S MY FIRST LEGEN-WAIT FOR IT-…oh, it’s only a Lorewalker Cho
Basics of substitution
- Health of the minion
- Attack of the minion
- Cost of the minion
- Special abilities, such as the following but not limited to: Taunt, Divine Shield, Charge, Increased Spell Damage
Let’s talk about some examples in detail to further demonstrate these ideas.
We’ve already started talking about Azure Drake
- +1 Spell damage
- 4/4 minion
- Draw a card
The biggest use I’ve seen for Azure Drake
So what is a common card that has +1 Spell Damage?
- Kobold Geomancer: 2/2 for 2 cost and +1 Spell Damage. Pros: Cheap. Cons: Dies too fast.
- Dalaran Mage: 1/4 for 3 cost and +1 Spell Damage. Pros: Cheap (3 cost) and has 4 life, so can withstand hits. Cons: Only 1 attack.
- Ogre Magi: 4/4 for 4 cost and +1 Spell Damage. Pros: Cheaper than 5. Cons: No Draw a Card feature.
- Archmage:4/7 for 6 cost and +1 Spell Damage.. Pros: 7 health makes him live pretty long. Cons: Costs 6…
So which would you go with? I would argue Ogre Magi
EDIT: DarkArbiter has given me some pretty good feedback about how a lot of players actually use Azure Drake
Here’s a pretty easy example. Harrison Jones
- Destroying your opponent’s weapon
- Drawing cards
I would argue #2 is nice bonus, so let’s go with #1. The only other card that destroys opponent’s weapons is Acidic Swamp Ooze
- Acidic Swamp Ooze: 2 cost for 3/2, destroys your opponent’s weapon. Pros: Cheap and free. Cons: No added sweet card drawing bonus.
- Cheap cost
- High attack
Doing a quick search for minions with Charge, we have the following similar minions:
- Wolfriderwith 3 cost, 3 attack. Pros: 3 cost, 3 attack. Cons: Ehh…..3 attack. That’s 3 lower than Leeroy Jenkins.
- Kor'kron Eliteif you’re a Warrior. 4 cost for 4/3, which is 2 lower now. Pros: Ahh, 4 attack! Cons: Warrior only.
- Arcane GolemAh! 3 cost for 4/2! Pros: Only 3 cost! Only 2 attack lower! AND you can have 2 of them in your deck, which makes them more likely to get drawn! Cons: Gives opponent a mana crystal
- Stormwind Knight4 cost for 2/5 ehhhh 2 attack moving along, nothing to see here
- Reckless RocketeerOh wow 5 attack? Which is only 1 lower? Oh wait it costs 6. Next.
- Argent Commander6 cost for a Divine Shielded 4/2. Is this what we really want? Pros: Divine shield! Cons: 6 cost.
As you can see, I would argue Arcane Golem
- +1 Spell Damage ability
- Deathrattle: Draw 1 card ability at a 1/1 for 2 cost.
This example is a little bit easier. Let’s look for similar minions with similar abilities.
- Kobold Geomancer: 2 cost for 2/2, also +1 Spell Damage. Pretty solid choice. Pros: 2/2 for same cost. Cons: no Draw 1 card ability.
- Dalaran Mage: 3 cost for 1/4 with +1 Spell Damage. Pros: 4 health, lasts longer. Cons: Costs 3 mana instead of 2
- Novice Engineer: 2 costs for 1/1 with immediate card drawing. Pros: Get the card immediately rather than Deathrattle. Cons: No +1 Spell Damage.
- Loot Hoarder: 2 cost for 2/1 with Deathrattle card draw. Pros: 2/1, still has card draw ability. Cons: No +1 Spell Damage.
If you are looking for the Spell Damage for a low cost, Kobold Geomancer
- 4/5 Health
- Deathrattle: summon another 4/5 minion
- 6 cost
Let’s start looking at some alternatives:
- 2 4/5 Chillwind Yetis? Pros:…you can summon both at the same time, given enough mana? Cons:8 cost, and is two cards instead of one
- Hey look, Harvest Golemhas the same ability… but it’s only 2/3…
Maybe we are looking at this the wrong way. When you are going up against a Cairne Bloodhoof
- Sea Giant: an 8/8 tank. Pros: 8/8, potentially can get out a lower cost than 6. Cons: Potentially can’t get out for a lower than 6.
- Molten Giant: also an 8/8 tank. Pros: 8/8, potentially can get out at a lower cost of 6. Cons: That means you already took at least 14 damage.
- Mountain Giant: yet another 8/8 tank. Pros: 8/8, potentially can get out at a lower cost of 6. Cons: Need to draw a lot of cards for that.
- Boulderfist Ogre: a 6/7 for 6 cost. Pros: Guaranteed 6 cost, pretty tanky, stronger than 4, got 7 life. Cons: Doesn’t have a Deathrattle summon so when it dies, it dies.
HOLD IT! You can argue that Cairne has a “soft taunt” where he poses enough of a threat to get rid of him through trading. Who else has a taunt, soft or hard? Cue the lights!
- Sunwalker: tadaaaa, a 4/5, 6 cost, taunt and divine shield aka “gotta hit me twice” card. Sort of like Cairne. Pros: 6 cost, a hard Taunt, Divine shield! Cons: With Cairne, you need to do 5 damage to the first cow, then another 5 damage to the second cow. For Sunwalker, you can get away with 1 damage, then 5 damage.
So I would argue Sunwalker
- Core Hound: 9/5 for 7 cost. Pros: No deathrattle benefits for the opponent. Still a Beast. Oh, and it’s free. Cons: Costs 1 more, has 2 less life.
- Ravenholdt Assassin: 7/5 for 7 cost, but with Stealth. Pros: Has Stealth for higher chance of staying alive. No Deathrattle benefit. Cons: Costs 1 more, 2 less life, 2 less attack, and not a Beast (if you care about that).
- War Golem: 7/7 for 7 cost. Pros: Same life as The Beast. No Deathrattle benefit. And again, he’s free too. Cons: Costs 1 more, 2 less attack.
I don’t see anything else closely related, so those are your 3 options. Which will you pick? I will argue that Core Hound
I am assuming Hunters will utilize The Beast
But it really depends on your deck. If you didn’t have a charge ability, then maybe staying alive is more important, so the other two options are potentially better.
Don’t get discouraged when you are looking for a deck and the author has published a deck that requires 4 legendaries. Try your best to find the best substitute and never get discouraged.
Ask yourself what it is you want to accomplish and stick with that idea. Don’t try to diversify your options by looking at other “suitable” substitutes if they digress from what deck you are building. The only way to finally replace your substitute with the Legendary is to get win more games, get more gold, and open more packs.
I’ll leave you with some food for thought: You might be tempted to buy packs, maybe even in bulk. Even though I am in support of Blizzard and I love this game, I wouldn’t advise you spending real game cash for packs (instead, maybe buy the Naxxramas expansions, or future expansions).
Once you slowly begin to saturate your collection with basics and rares, opening packs come with diminishing returns. Each pack will most likely have 4 commons and 1 rare at worst. That disenchants to 40 dust per pack. You would need to disenchant 40 packs on average to obtain 1 Legendary. That is $49.99 if you buy in bulk. For one Legendary. Assuming you only get commons and rares that you are willing to disenchant.
Let me know if this guide was useful. Feel free to leave me comments and suggestions or any other great substitutions you have found to work well. Good luck and don’t get too discouraged!