Part 1

by Nick ‘Hellthrower’ Gkavra


Tons of hype and conspiracies surround the release of each expansion or adventure in Hearthstone. Professional players and Streamers review and rate the cards, while experienced deck-builders introduce us to their ideas on which are going to be the strongest decks.

However, it requires a few weeks for the meta to settle, and for us to figure out which are, after all, the most impactful cards of each new card set. Although the percentage of cards played from each set is quite low, a few of them could be considered meta-defining, and those are the ones we are covering today.

It is noteworthy that, even though some of these cards were immediately included in many decks, some others did not prove their effectiveness until later stages of the game, where their synergy with other cards unlocked. Prime example of that case is [Alexstrasza’s Champion], which released in TGT but was not used until after The Old Gods expansion.

So jump into the train, as we travel across all the Expansions and Adventures of Hearthstone, and recalling the most impactful cards that were released in them.

Due to its length, this article will be divided into two releases. The first one will cover the cards up until the Blackrock Mountain’s release, and the next one will cover the rest. So stay tuned for more!

  1. Curse of Naxxramas (Adventure)
    Release Date: July 22, 2014
    Removal date from Standard format: April 26, 2016

Hearthstone expansions naxxramas

[Mad Scientist]

          Try imagining a card that allows you to draw another one and instantly play it for free. Now imagine that this card only costs two mana and its effect is a deathrattle. In a tempo game like Hearthstone, everyone can understand how absolutely strong this can be. [Mad Scientist] saw play in both Hunter and Mage decks. In Hunter’s case, not only did it synergize with the pre-nerfed version of [Undertaker](Get +1/+1 instead of +1 attack), but it also worked really well with [Eaglehorn Bow]. As far as mage is concerned, the card was played to draw both [Mirror Entity] in a Tempo deck and [Ice Block] or [Ice Barrier] in Freeze Mage.


Rightfully every player’s nightmare in 2014. Before its nerf, Undertaker would gain +1/+1 whenever a deathrattle minion was summoned. This effect fit exceedingly well in Rexxar’s card pool and his original nature to be aggressive. With access to some very cheap deathratlle minions like [Webspinner], [Mad Scientist] and others, Hunter became capable of quickly getting on the board with Undertaker and finishing the game within very few turns. Needless to say, after many complaints [Undertaker] ended up being nerfed.

Worthy Mentions:

          [Nerubian Egg]: Huge value in a cheap minion. Buffing or taunting this card up was the key to success,thus why it saw so much play in Zoo Warlock.

          [Loatheb]: The most efficient counter to Freeze Mage and predictable combo decks like Druid and Rogue.

          [Death’s Bite]: All around an extremely solid weapon, filling Warrior’s weak 4 mana spot and also helping the rise of the Patron Warrior deck.

          [Sludge Belcher]: A sticky taunt minion that helped slow down the meta and prove itself a large burden for aggressive decks.

  1. Goblins vs Gnomes (Expansion)
    Release Date: December 8, 2014
    Removal date from Standard format: April 26, 2016

Hearthstone Expansions Goblins vs Gnomes


Hearthstone’s first expansion introduced us to mech minion synergies. Some examples of commonly played mechs are [Mech Waper] and [Annoy-o-Tron]. Particularly decks that took advantage of the mech synergies had a definite tendency to be aggressive.

[Piloted Shredder]

          As mentioned before with [Sludge Belcher], sticky minions can truly fit in every deck. [Piloted Shredder]’s high attack value, forced opponents to quickly deal with it, and consequently leaving behind a potentially strong 2 mana drop, such as [Annoy-o-Tron], [Shielded Minibot] or [Snowchugger]. [Piloted Shredder] additionally brought forth a lot of unique and hilarious moments, especially when it summoned [Doomsayer].

[Antique Healbot]

          Healing in Hearthstone is most definetely a controversial topic. In fact, Healbot was the only neutral minion commonly played for its healing battlecy and has not been replaced by something equal ever since. Clearly, it assisted against aggressive decks, and was utilized in many combo and control decks to stall the game for a few more turns.

[Dr. Boom]

          Possibly the fiercest Legendary minion that has existed in Hearthstone. Although the 7/7 body didn’t quite seem too strong, its frequent appearance became one of the few reasons that numerous decks included [Big Game Hunter]. However, the true power of this card derived from the boom bots. The potential to deal 8 damage to the opposing hero, or sniping down a 4 health minion made [Dr. Boom] an auto-include in many decks.

Worthy Mentions:

          [Snowchugger]: The card that caused mech Mage to become a powerful aggressive deck.

          [Muster for Battle]: Assisted Paladin in quickly getting back on board and was mostly used in aggressive variants.

          [Velen’s Chosen] and [Lightbomb]: The two cards that made Priest a decent class. A powerful minion buff, that also provided spell damage, and a magnificent board clear.

          [Imp-losion]: Perfect example of a badly designed card. A spell that was guaranteed to make one of the players really frustrated.

  1. Blackrock Mountain(Adventure)
    Release Date: April 2, 2015
    Removal Date from Standard format: Around April 2017

Hearthstone Expansions blackrock-mountain

Blackrock Mountain established a large pool of Dragon minions. However, Dragon decks were without a doubt weak, until later, when [Twilight Guardian] and [Alexstrasza’s Champion] were released. Those minions enabled the appearance of midrange decks with pretty compelling battlecries.


          This minion is the sole reason that Tempo Mage is a viable archetype. A deck with several RNG elements, single target and area of effect damage. [Flamewaker] synergizes extraordinarily well with the cheap Mage spells, like [Arcane Missiles] and [Arcane Blast]. Moreover, [Sorcerer’s Apprentice] plays a huge role, as it reduces the cost of those cards to 0, allowing for a terrific [Flamewaker] powerplay on as early as turn 3.

[Emperor Thaurissan]

          [Emperor Thaurissan] propelled many decks to Tier 1. It signaled the return of Freeze mage, enabled the Patron Warrior archetype and made Combo Druid even more powerful. Undoubtedly a must-remove minion with decent enough stats that is still played, despite the fact that the density of OTK decks in ladder has been greatly reduced.

[Grim Patron]

          Another card that brings nightmares to most people. The card after which Patron Warrior got its name, a deck that dominated both ladder and tournaments for a couple months, until it eventually got nerfed. Generating a deck with tons of AoE removal, armor gain, board presence and many OTK capabilities, [Grim Patron] can obviously be considered Meta-defining.

Worthy Mentions:

          [Blackwing Corruptor]: The only dragon-related from BRM that is automatically included in all dragon decks. Hiding great value in its Battlecry, it can be considered a small [Fire Elemental].

          [Imp Gang Boss]: Splendid value in this Warlock card. Included in both Zoo and control variants, it is certainly one of the strongest 3 mana minions.


This wraps up the first part of our flashback.  We can safely notice that the first two sets had a great deal of powerful cards; cards that would be included in every possible deck, such as [Dr. Boom] and [Sludge Belcher]. On the contrary, BrM provided some more unique cards that would give birth to new deck archetypes, like [Flamewaker] and [Grim Patron].

Part 2, similarly, will cover the most impactful cards from The Grand Tournament, League of Explorers, Whispers of the old Gods and One night in Karazhan.

Read Part 2 right here!

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