The 10 most impactful neutral cards of 2015
Honorable mention #1: North Sea Kraken
I realize this is a weird card to see in a GosuGamers article, since our site focuses exclusively on constructed, but North Sea Kraken made such a huge impact on Arena that it cannot really be overlooked. This otherwise weak minion became an auto pick in arena for its heavy body and swingy battlecry, making for powerful tempo plays. A big brother to Fire Elemental which any class can play.
Honorable mention #2: Sir Finley Mrrglton
Although one of my absolute favorite cards in League of Explorers design-wise, Sir Finley didn’t have as much of an impact as his other legendary co-workers. The murloc’s presence is best felt in the aggro Shamans of recent days, allowing them to replace an otherwise worthless hero power with something to help the face onslaught. Certain versions of Anyfin Paladins also saw use of Finley, realizing that spawning a 1/1 token is about the worst thing in an OTK deck.
10. Elise Starseeker
Even though your perception might be affected if you’re constantly losing to aggro Shaman on ladder, League of Explorers truly onset a golden age for control decks. Once the meta slowed down sufficiently, said control decks received the freedom to experiment with some of the more adventurous cards in the set.
Elise Starseeker quickly found spot in the greediest builds. Standard control and Reno Priests value her immensely, due to her ability to create threats out of nothing, which in turn freed up deck space for even more answers. Control Warriors with their unstoppable drawing power also made friends with Elise, sometimes even dropping deck staples like Grommash Hellscream, Alexstrasza and Sylvanas Windrunner and focusing entirely on drawing the Golden Monkey for the win.
9. Jeweled Scarab
As I mentioned in the previous article, Discover was a big hit design-wise. Featured on cards such as Dark Peddler and Museum Curator, the mechanic allowed players to weigh each draw according to the current board state, their deck and their opponent.
Jeweled Scarab is another Discover card which did a lot for certain decks, even if it didn’t change the metagame completely. A 2-drop that gives a 3-drop, Jeweled Scarab smooths out the curve and for many decks that’s more than enough. Shamans were once again the happiest recipients, as they could skip an awkward T3 if they lack a Tuskarr Totemic on curve. Certain versions of Zoolock, particularly ones running Brann Bronzebeard were also happy to get a discover trigger or two.
8. Brann Bronzebeard
I personally am not a fan of Brann but the legendary dwarf did a whole lot for the metagame, particularly for Warlocks. Across all continents, pro players found a place for Brann in virtually every Warlock build, including Renolocks, Zoolocks and Malylocks. While never achieving the same success with it as Gul’dan, the other classes tinkered with Brann, too, creating Battlecry Shamans, Mill Rogues, Raptor Rogues and more.
Brann’s design also opens a lot of opportunities for him to shine in the future. Battlecry as a mechanic will never go away and with Brann’s low mana cost who knows what new synergies will break Hearthstone in 2016.
7. Argent Horserider
For the longest time I pondered where exactly Argent Horserider should be placed. His final #7 might be a bit too high for a card with such design, but as you will see as we progress through the article a lot of these cards have had very similar levels of significance.
Nowadays, Argent Horserider is an auto include in all aggro decks (which might be why you deeply hate him). Even though nowhere near the impact of other early drops such as Tunnel Trogg or Knife Juggler, the horseman gave fast decks another sticky, irritating minion. With both divine shield and charge, Argent Horserider is not only a source of burst damage but also a good way to chip at taunt minions while keeping board presence or sniping dangerous 2-health targets like Juggler or Huffer.
6. Blackwing Corruptor
Blackwing Corruptor is very possibly the best dragon synergistic minion in existence. A neutral version of Fire Elemental, it helped with the revival of the Malygos Warlocks in the BRM meta and kept it as consistent tier 1 deck for a long time.
As more dragon cards got released, BC’s value only increased. Dragon Priest became a thing with The Grand Tournament and Blackwing Corruptor fit right in, because who doesn’t like a 5/4 body that kills stuff. Literally every class capable of running a stable dragon build has the Corruptor to thank for that.
5. Justicar Trueheart
Do you remember what I wrote about the rise of control decks earlier? While League of Explorers did a lot for this particular resurgence, the foundations were laid during The Grand Tournament with Justicar Trueheart.
Although on paper Justicar sounded good in many classes, Warriors and Priests made the best use of her due to her improved healing hero power. You will not see a modern control Garrosh or Anduin without Justicar occupying one of the 6-slots and the card represents much of the survivability of these builds against relentless face decks and heavy-hitting midrangers. Honorable mention should go to Justicar’s role in midrange and control Paladin, where doubling the token generation meant winning a lot of the control match-ups for the class.
4. Twilight Guardian
The entire foundation of Dragon Priest is built upon two cards. One is Wyrmrest Agent which I talked about in my previous article. The other is Twilight Guardian.
Combined, this combo created the absolutely dreaded 1-2-3-4 of the deck with Twilight Whelp, Wyrmrest, Dark Cultist/Velen’s Chosen and Twilight Guardian. With a solid curve in its core, Priests could now forge a reliable midrange build that doesn’t just die to early pressure.
While Dragon priest never became a Tier 1 deck, it was a powerful tech choice in competitive line-ups to shut down aggro builds (example: ThijsNL’s and Ostkaka’s line-ups from HWC 2015).
3. Grim Patron
Gimmicky. Wonky. Unreliable. Just a few of the words used to describe Grim Patron when it was first revealed. A few weeks after its release, the Patron Warrior was wreaking havoc all across Hearthstone, and the cries of the community clogged reddit’s arteries, demanding a nerf.
Of course, Grim Patron wasn’t the sole reason why Patron Warrior became popular. It was more a perfect storm of events, with cards like Emperor Thaurissan getting released and Warsong Commander finally working as intended. But it was precisely Grim Patron that sparked deckbuilders’ imagination, leading them to the discovery of the combo in the first place.
Even now after the sever nerf to Warsong Commander, Patron Warrior remains in the meta, causing all sorts of trouble for the Druid players out there.
2. Reno Jackson
Reno Jackson might just be my favorite card released all year. It’s not (just) because it helped control decks a whole ton, but because it spawned brand new archetypes across multiple classes.
Before Reno Jackson, highlander decks were nonexistent, but are now practically everywhere. SuperJJ started the trend by winning SeatStory Cup IV with a Reno Freeze Mage, though that wasn’t a true highlander. Nowadays, RenoLocks have ascended to a top tier deck and are being brought to tournaments fairly often. Viable highlander decks are available to Paladins, Priests, Mages and Warriors, opening unheard of before possibilities to build, tune, perfect and play. It’s a style only made possible because of one single card.
The true beauty of Reno Jackson, however, is that it will only get better in the future. As more cards are released, more classes will join the Reno initiative, riding well-polished highlander builds. Personally, I can’t wait for the new expansion. I want to see what other tricks Reno can do.
1. Emperor Thaurissan
It couldn’t have been any other card. Emperor Thaurissan, with his trigger, easily takes the #1 spot in this ranking.
Mana cost reduction has always been a powerful effect, and Emperor Thaurissan brought this up to a new level. It revitalized Freeze Mage by helping them combo more easily. It strengthened Midrange Druids, allowing them to swing with FoN earlier or heavier (or both). It was a core part of Handlocks, Malylocks and Patron Warrior. In fact, many argue that the latter would’ve never become so dominant had it not been for the Emperor.
I do not expect that Thaurissan will go anywhere in the near future. And why should he? You can’t put a price on getting stuff for cheaper.