Life at the Low End: The Budget Guide to Crafting

Last Updated: November 16, 2015

Introduction

When browsing through the massive amount of information out on the Web talking about what you really need to become a force while playing Hearthstone, one can come across some very startling (and depressing) numbers. While I have spoken before about the dust cost issue, I find that there are some even more sobering numbers out there. Our fellow contributor Sheng, for example, has a Beginner's Guide To Crafting Legendaries here on Hearthstone Players (well worth reading) that would recommend only 5 "core" legendaries that everyone should have access to: Dr. Boom, Sylvanas Windrunner, Ragnaros the Firelord, Alexstrasza, and Justicar Trueheart. Only 5. That's all. A mere 8,000 dust worth of purchases are all that is required to get on the road to relevance. This is excellent information to have, if you are in the position to buy or otherwise generate 8,000 Dust. But, what about those of us down here at the low end, parked out in the cheap seats? Can anything be crafted that will make us better Hearthstone players? Is there any such thing as a list of cards that we should have to make our decks relevant? As a matter of fact, I believe that there is such a list. However, no one else that I can find has created such a thing so far. Therefore, I have taken it upon myself to create such a resource for us Free-To-Players - a list of the lower-end cards that I feel are essential cornerstones of developing decks. I will cover my "general" recommendations for the card you most want to have in Mana slots 1 - 6, and then will discuss the #1 card for each class that I believe is enough of an essential that it deserves to be in all your F2P or low-cost decks for that class. Fair enough? Also, a word to those who are concerned about the oft-repeated advice to "never craft common cards". I understand that there is an excellent chance that you will wind up with a duplicate (or two) of cards you have crafted as you continue to open booster packs if you continue to craft low-end cards. But a brief look at the numbers suggests that this is not as serious of a problem as it may at first seem. We are now a Base set and 2 Expansions worth of cards into the development of Hearthstone. The Classic set contains 245 (collectible) cards. Goblins and Gnomes contains 123 collectible cards, and The Grand Tournament added another 132 collectibles to that list. Any time you buy a pack, your odds of grabbing any particular common card are: 2 % (or 5 out of 245) for Classic, 4% (or 5 out of 123) for G&G or 3%  (or 5 out of 132) for TGT. If these cards are coming from an Arena win, where you can randomly get a booster from any one of the sets, your odds drop to 1% (or 5 out of 500 cards) to obtain any particular card. To me, these are not winning odds, and I would rather create them than wait around for them. So, let's craft some low-end cards!

The "Basics" Cards

Each of these cards is selected on the basis of one thing alone: Value. If you watch any Hearthstone streamers at all, you will hear this term repeated constantly. The general idea is this - a card generates value in two ways. It can either be used to remove 2 (or more) of your opponent's cards (called Card Advantage), or it can require a higher amount of your opponent's mana to deal with it than it initially cost you to play it (called Tempo Advantage).  A good rule of thumb is this - did a minion manage to damage 2 opponents (whether minions or the opposing player) or more before it was removed from the board? If so, that minion has probably demonstrated positive value. Did a direct damage or removal spell remove threats costing more than the spell itself? Again, positive value. You get the drift. On to the cards! Leper Gnome: I considered a few others, but really - could it be any other card? The Leper Gnome is the semi-living embodiment of Value. He gives you an instant 2/1 body on the board, ready to remove most 1 drops and a healthy number of 2 drops. If he appears in your opening hand he can start plinking away at your opponent 2 points at a time if your opponent has no immediate answer for him - a solid argument for looking for him with your Mulligan. And the minute he departs the board, he delivers his payload - one last 2-point shot, directly to your opponent's face. It is a very rare match indeed where you do not get at least 4 points of damage out of your 1-Mana Leper Gnome - unless he is swallowed up by the effect of a 2-Mana card (more Value!) such as... Ironbeak Owl: Another 2/1 body, this time for 2 Mana, but Hootie is possibly the most versatile 2-drop in the game. Seriously, there is nothing the Owl can't do. He removes buffs. He cancels Deathrattles. He allows your attacking horde to ignore minions with Taunt. He is the Ginsu Knife of minions. (C'Mon, anyone? Ginsu Knife? It slices! It dices! It julienne fries! Surely someone remembers this.) Want to be more creative? How about using him to remove debuffs or cancel negative effects on your own creatures? Keep that Wrathguard from transferring damage he takes on to you. Heck, you can even prevent the development of your opponent's board when they use a self-replicator, such as. Harvest Golem: One of the many, many powerful mechs added by the Goblins and Gnomes expansion. There is a reason so many of these Mechs remain in the current Meta today - they are some of the most powerful minions in their mana slots. The Golem not only puts a reasonably-sized 2/3 body out on the board, but when he sacrifices himself he leaves behind a 2/1 offspring, requiring yet another round of removal from your opponent. This translates into 3/4 stats, which is fine for a 3-Mana card, and the frustration factor he presents opponents with is not to be underestimated. He absolutely requires 2 different hits from 2 different sources to remove him as a threat, completely destroying your opponent's tempo. If you think he is bad, you should meet his older sibling. Piloted Shredder: The Shredder is probably the most popular 4-drop not named Chillwind Yeti. Just like the Harvest Golem, she puts a decent-sized body for her Mana cost (4/3) out on the board, and when your opponent takes her out, she vanishes into a cloud of Magic Smoke, leaving behind a random 2-Mana cost minion. Now, the RNG factor is not to be understated here - many is the time that one has died and left me with a Captain's Parrot. But, more often than not, I wind up with something excellent, like an Anodized Robo Cub, a Bloodfen Raptor, sometimes even Bloodmage Thalnos. Something that your opponent still has to view as a threat, tying up even more resources to remove after figuring out a way to deal with the Shredder. If you are trading back and forth with your opponent, think of the Shredder's offspring as a free summon for turn 5, leaving you Mana to bring out. Azure Drake: One of only 3 100-Dust costing Rare cards on this entire list, the Drake is here with very good reason. First, He drops a large 4/4 body on the board - an immediate threat that your opponent has to answer somehow. He does not impact your tempo at all - he replaces his spot in your hand with an immediate 1-card draw, leaving you with more board development options for next turn. The kicker is that he adds +1 Spellpower to anything you might have lying around in your hand. Each Lightning Bolt is now worth 4 damage. Your Swipe will now hit for 5 damage on your main target and 2 each on all other targets. Fireball will now impact for 7 damage, allowing 1-shot kills of that pesky Boulderfist Ogre. The 1-2-3 combo provided by the Drake just by arriving on the board immediately changes your opponent's strategy - their next turn will be spent figuring out how to remove or get around him - leaving you in position to further control their board development by summoning. Sunwalker: The Sunwalker does SO many things for you. She puts a large 4/5 body on the board. She Taunts away your enemies. And she ignores the first damage dealt to her thanks to Divine Shield. Cards like Hex, Polymorph and Mind Control are the only really solid answers to her that will not involve the commitment of hideous amounts of resources by your opponent to remove her. Your offensive creatures can develop safely for a turn or two behind her towering form, and by this point in the game, usually a turn or two is all you need to secure victory. These 6 cards are totally worth having as you begin to develop decks - they can give you needed card mechanics, fill holes in your lineup, and provide Value where you need it. But, how about building for specific Classes? Is there one "go-to" card you should start off every Class deck with? Again, I believe there is. Here are my opinions on where you might want to start building your low-end Class decks:

The Class Cards

Druid: Druid of the Claw. The Druid of the Claw is the most expensive of our Class cards, at 5 Mana, but I believe he typifies the Druid class as a whole. Most Druid decks are built with the idea that early-game minions are filler as the deck develops towards the true heavy hitters that will grant victory. The Druid is the first of those heavy hitters. For 5 Mana you can pull out a 4/6 Taunter to slow your opponent's board development and give you a little breathing space. Or, for 5 Mana, you can lay down a 4/4 Charge Minion able to start wreaking havoc the moment he hits the board. These two minions are located on the same card. Card space is at a premium in Hearthstone - you have 30 slots to work with, and no more. Being able to fill two different tasks with the same card is typical of the Druid class, and it is best utilized here. Hunter: Glaivezooka. A staple of the Face Hunter deck, the Glaivezooka is worth placing into just about any Hunter deck due to its versatility. For the cost of 2 Mana it places a +1 Attack bonus on a minion, giving you additional Minion Attack pressure, then the weapon remains on your character providing you with essentially 2 free, aim-able Steady Shots. It is perfect for removing early opposing minions in a Control-style deck, or simply providing a little extra "Oomph" into your opponents's face when trying to burn them down as quickly as possible in a Face deck. No Hunter should be without it. Mage: Mana Wyrm. There may be those who disagree with me, but I firmly believe that the best thing you can do to immediately improve a "Basic" Mage deck is the addition of 2 of these little critters. The immediate problem for your opponent is that they just don't look very menacing, and are therefore frequently ignored. But the turns after you have summoned them, after the casting of a Mirror Image or an Unstable Portal or two, that can change rapidly. A Control-style Mage, brimming with Frostbolts and Fireballs, can very quickly find themselves armed with 4/3 or 5/3 Wyrms inflicting massive damage on the opponent's developing board or even their health. It is VERY easy to get a massive Value return off these little guys with a little planning in your deck design. Paladin: Muster for Battle. The card really typifies the Paladin play style. Turns one and two your Paladin has not done much of anything, on Turn 3 your opponent blinks - and he now somehow has to deal with 3 bodies and a weapon. 3 1/1 bodies and a 4-charge 1-damage weapon represent 7 points of Offense for only 3 Mana, an excellent return on Mana invested. (Remember, a Mage's Fireball gives one less Damage for one more Mana.) But given the existence of Blessing of Might, Blessing of Kings, Seal of Champions - these tiny little bodies can be turned into major offensive forces on Turns 4 and beyond. And if you manage to combo with a Quartermaster any time after turn 5 - many opponents will be instantly demoralized, and begin spiraling downward into defeat. This card should be the starting point for most Paladin deck designs. Priest: Velens Chosen. Selecting a single card for many of these Classes required serious thought on my part. Not so the Priest class, and Velens Chosen. What other card can turn a meek and helpless little Northshire Cleric into a 3/7 Monster, also armed with +1 Spellpower? For only 3 Mana, no less. The amount of resources that can be required in the early game to get rid of a Priest minion enchanted with this card is enormous - it is very easy to get 2 or 3 cards invested by your opponent just to deal with the results of this one card. While their game grinds to a halt as they try to deal with the result of Velen's, you can be developing as you choose, leaving your opponent hopelessly behind in both Tempo and Board Control. A game-changer, in and of itself. Rogue: Tinkers Sharpsword Oil. This card and its effect are so powerful that an entire deck and play style, the Oil Rogue, have developed around it. For 4 Mana, when used as a Combo, this card adds an immediate +6 Attack to your side of the board. This isn't a one-turn only effect either. As long as your weapon and the enchanted creature remain in play, this bonus will continue to apply - wreaking havoc on your opponent's board, or, more commonly, their health. Used in combination with Blade Flurry this card can destroy your opponent's entire board and wreck their health, giving them no way to catch up with your enhanced offense. A Tinker's Oil applied to a freshly summoned Assassins Blade gives you a total of 24 Damage to hand out as you wish - an assault very few players are prepared to deal with. Embrace the Oil, and watch what it can do for your basic Rogue deck. Shaman: Stormforged Axe. One of the greatest problems Shaman decks have is the struggle with the Overload mechanic - you get something this turn, but get crippled next turn because of it. The Stormforged Axe is one of the few uses of Overload that allows you to stay on tempo - after summoning the Axe you still have 2 points of direct-able damage to use every turn for 3 more turns. This allows you to respond to low-end threats, create gaps in Divine Shields, and, lacking other inspiration, to smack your opponent in the face for 6 total damage. The following turn after summoning the Axe you can still bring out a Totem and do some damage - sometimes the best you can hope for in the early turns of a Shaman deck. You need this tool to stay relevant in the early turns as your board develops slowly due to other uses of the Overload mechanic. Warlock: Power Overwhelming. 1 Mana. +4/+4. What more could a Warlock ask for? This is the tool that allows the Warlock to blow holes in defenses, remove annoying offensive creatures, even deliver killing blows. In short, Power Overwhelming turns any creature in the Warlock deck into a real threat. Only for one turn, true - but that one turn can be the difference between victory and defeat. For extra fun, hang on to them till Turn 8 or later, then use 2 of them on a harmless Blood Imp and use it to take out your opponent's Alexstrasza or Nefarian, just to watch the smoke curl out of their ears. The joys of being a Warlock! Warrior: Cruel Taskmaster. Back to the "Value" concept, there are few cards in the Warrior lineup that embody Value quite as well as the Cruel Taskmaster. For 2 Mana you get: a 2/2 body, a direct-able 1-point strike, and potentially a 2-point attack buff. I have seen Taskmasters used to finish off wounded opponents, used to buff harmless looking allies into surprise threats, and most especially to trigger Enrages on allied creatures - giving both the +2 bonus AND the bonus from the Enrage effect. The +2 Attack buff is not temporary - it will remain wherever you place it, meaning that it can potentially continue generating value for you turns after it is applied. Combine it with an Axe Flinger, a Gurubashi Berserker, a Grim Patron - the possibilities boggle the mind.

Summary

I am a firm believer that low-end decks can be made relevant, and are not doomed to spend all their time stuck between Ranks 25 and 21. Spend a little time in the Arena, identify a few cards that you can live without and Disenchant them, and get to crafting some of the cards on this list! The improvements can be remarkable, if you are willing to put in a little time, combined with some spit and polish. Think I have hit these right on the money? Or maybe violently disagree with me? Feel free to let me know in the comments section below, or contact me via Twitter or on my blog if you are so inclined. I hope to see you, and your must-have cards, on the Ranked Ladder soon! - Hawkwind Want more Life at the Low End? Take a look here and here. Thanks for reading!

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Life at the Low End: The Budget Guide to Crafting

Last Updated: November 16, 2015

Introduction

When browsing through the massive amount of information out on the Web talking about what you really need to become a force while playing Hearthstone, one can come across some very startling (and depressing) numbers. While I have spoken before about the dust cost issue, I find that there are some even more sobering numbers out there. Our fellow contributor Sheng, for example, has a Beginner's Guide To Crafting Legendaries here on Hearthstone Players (well worth reading) that would recommend only 5 "core" legendaries that everyone should have access to: Dr. Boom, Sylvanas Windrunner, Ragnaros the Firelord, Alexstrasza, and Justicar Trueheart. Only 5. That's all. A mere 8,000 dust worth of purchases are all that is required to get on the road to relevance. This is excellent information to have, if you are in the position to buy or otherwise generate 8,000 Dust. But, what about those of us down here at the low end, parked out in the cheap seats? Can anything be crafted that will make us better Hearthstone players? Is there any such thing as a list of cards that we should have to make our decks relevant? As a matter of fact, I believe that there is such a list. However, no one else that I can find has created such a thing so far. Therefore, I have taken it upon myself to create such a resource for us Free-To-Players - a list of the lower-end cards that I feel are essential cornerstones of developing decks. I will cover my "general" recommendations for the card you most want to have in Mana slots 1 - 6, and then will discuss the #1 card for each class that I believe is enough of an essential that it deserves to be in all your F2P or low-cost decks for that class. Fair enough? Also, a word to those who are concerned about the oft-repeated advice to "never craft common cards". I understand that there is an excellent chance that you will wind up with a duplicate (or two) of cards you have crafted as you continue to open booster packs if you continue to craft low-end cards. But a brief look at the numbers suggests that this is not as serious of a problem as it may at first seem. We are now a Base set and 2 Expansions worth of cards into the development of Hearthstone. The Classic set contains 245 (collectible) cards. Goblins and Gnomes contains 123 collectible cards, and The Grand Tournament added another 132 collectibles to that list. Any time you buy a pack, your odds of grabbing any particular common card are: 2 % (or 5 out of 245) for Classic, 4% (or 5 out of 123) for G&G or 3%  (or 5 out of 132) for TGT. If these cards are coming from an Arena win, where you can randomly get a booster from any one of the sets, your odds drop to 1% (or 5 out of 500 cards) to obtain any particular card. To me, these are not winning odds, and I would rather create them than wait around for them. So, let's craft some low-end cards!

The "Basics" Cards

Each of these cards is selected on the basis of one thing alone: Value. If you watch any Hearthstone streamers at all, you will hear this term repeated constantly. The general idea is this - a card generates value in two ways. It can either be used to remove 2 (or more) of your opponent's cards (called Card Advantage), or it can require a higher amount of your opponent's mana to deal with it than it initially cost you to play it (called Tempo Advantage).  A good rule of thumb is this - did a minion manage to damage 2 opponents (whether minions or the opposing player) or more before it was removed from the board? If so, that minion has probably demonstrated positive value. Did a direct damage or removal spell remove threats costing more than the spell itself? Again, positive value. You get the drift. On to the cards! Leper Gnome: I considered a few others, but really - could it be any other card? The Leper Gnome is the semi-living embodiment of Value. He gives you an instant 2/1 body on the board, ready to remove most 1 drops and a healthy number of 2 drops. If he appears in your opening hand he can start plinking away at your opponent 2 points at a time if your opponent has no immediate answer for him - a solid argument for looking for him with your Mulligan. And the minute he departs the board, he delivers his payload - one last 2-point shot, directly to your opponent's face. It is a very rare match indeed where you do not get at least 4 points of damage out of your 1-Mana Leper Gnome - unless he is swallowed up by the effect of a 2-Mana card (more Value!) such as... Ironbeak Owl: Another 2/1 body, this time for 2 Mana, but Hootie is possibly the most versatile 2-drop in the game. Seriously, there is nothing the Owl can't do. He removes buffs. He cancels Deathrattles. He allows your attacking horde to ignore minions with Taunt. He is the Ginsu Knife of minions. (C'Mon, anyone? Ginsu Knife? It slices! It dices! It julienne fries! Surely someone remembers this.) Want to be more creative? How about using him to remove debuffs or cancel negative effects on your own creatures? Keep that Wrathguard from transferring damage he takes on to you. Heck, you can even prevent the development of your opponent's board when they use a self-replicator, such as. Harvest Golem: One of the many, many powerful mechs added by the Goblins and Gnomes expansion. There is a reason so many of these Mechs remain in the current Meta today - they are some of the most powerful minions in their mana slots. The Golem not only puts a reasonably-sized 2/3 body out on the board, but when he sacrifices himself he leaves behind a 2/1 offspring, requiring yet another round of removal from your opponent. This translates into 3/4 stats, which is fine for a 3-Mana card, and the frustration factor he presents opponents with is not to be underestimated. He absolutely requires 2 different hits from 2 different sources to remove him as a threat, completely destroying your opponent's tempo. If you think he is bad, you should meet his older sibling. Piloted Shredder: The Shredder is probably the most popular 4-drop not named Chillwind Yeti. Just like the Harvest Golem, she puts a decent-sized body for her Mana cost (4/3) out on the board, and when your opponent takes her out, she vanishes into a cloud of Magic Smoke, leaving behind a random 2-Mana cost minion. Now, the RNG factor is not to be understated here - many is the time that one has died and left me with a Captain's Parrot. But, more often than not, I wind up with something excellent, like an Anodized Robo Cub, a Bloodfen Raptor, sometimes even Bloodmage Thalnos. Something that your opponent still has to view as a threat, tying up even more resources to remove after figuring out a way to deal with the Shredder. If you are trading back and forth with your opponent, think of the Shredder's offspring as a free summon for turn 5, leaving you Mana to bring out. Azure Drake: One of only 3 100-Dust costing Rare cards on this entire list, the Drake is here with very good reason. First, He drops a large 4/4 body on the board - an immediate threat that your opponent has to answer somehow. He does not impact your tempo at all - he replaces his spot in your hand with an immediate 1-card draw, leaving you with more board development options for next turn. The kicker is that he adds +1 Spellpower to anything you might have lying around in your hand. Each Lightning Bolt is now worth 4 damage. Your Swipe will now hit for 5 damage on your main target and 2 each on all other targets. Fireball will now impact for 7 damage, allowing 1-shot kills of that pesky Boulderfist Ogre. The 1-2-3 combo provided by the Drake just by arriving on the board immediately changes your opponent's strategy - their next turn will be spent figuring out how to remove or get around him - leaving you in position to further control their board development by summoning. Sunwalker: The Sunwalker does SO many things for you. She puts a large 4/5 body on the board. She Taunts away your enemies. And she ignores the first damage dealt to her thanks to Divine Shield. Cards like Hex, Polymorph and Mind Control are the only really solid answers to her that will not involve the commitment of hideous amounts of resources by your opponent to remove her. Your offensive creatures can develop safely for a turn or two behind her towering form, and by this point in the game, usually a turn or two is all you need to secure victory. These 6 cards are totally worth having as you begin to develop decks - they can give you needed card mechanics, fill holes in your lineup, and provide Value where you need it. But, how about building for specific Classes? Is there one "go-to" card you should start off every Class deck with? Again, I believe there is. Here are my opinions on where you might want to start building your low-end Class decks:

The Class Cards

Druid: Druid of the Claw. The Druid of the Claw is the most expensive of our Class cards, at 5 Mana, but I believe he typifies the Druid class as a whole. Most Druid decks are built with the idea that early-game minions are filler as the deck develops towards the true heavy hitters that will grant victory. The Druid is the first of those heavy hitters. For 5 Mana you can pull out a 4/6 Taunter to slow your opponent's board development and give you a little breathing space. Or, for 5 Mana, you can lay down a 4/4 Charge Minion able to start wreaking havoc the moment he hits the board. These two minions are located on the same card. Card space is at a premium in Hearthstone - you have 30 slots to work with, and no more. Being able to fill two different tasks with the same card is typical of the Druid class, and it is best utilized here. Hunter: Glaivezooka. A staple of the Face Hunter deck, the Glaivezooka is worth placing into just about any Hunter deck due to its versatility. For the cost of 2 Mana it places a +1 Attack bonus on a minion, giving you additional Minion Attack pressure, then the weapon remains on your character providing you with essentially 2 free, aim-able Steady Shots. It is perfect for removing early opposing minions in a Control-style deck, or simply providing a little extra "Oomph" into your opponents's face when trying to burn them down as quickly as possible in a Face deck. No Hunter should be without it. Mage: Mana Wyrm. There may be those who disagree with me, but I firmly believe that the best thing you can do to immediately improve a "Basic" Mage deck is the addition of 2 of these little critters. The immediate problem for your opponent is that they just don't look very menacing, and are therefore frequently ignored. But the turns after you have summoned them, after the casting of a Mirror Image or an Unstable Portal or two, that can change rapidly. A Control-style Mage, brimming with Frostbolts and Fireballs, can very quickly find themselves armed with 4/3 or 5/3 Wyrms inflicting massive damage on the opponent's developing board or even their health. It is VERY easy to get a massive Value return off these little guys with a little planning in your deck design. Paladin: Muster for Battle. The card really typifies the Paladin play style. Turns one and two your Paladin has not done much of anything, on Turn 3 your opponent blinks - and he now somehow has to deal with 3 bodies and a weapon. 3 1/1 bodies and a 4-charge 1-damage weapon represent 7 points of Offense for only 3 Mana, an excellent return on Mana invested. (Remember, a Mage's Fireball gives one less Damage for one more Mana.) But given the existence of Blessing of Might, Blessing of Kings, Seal of Champions - these tiny little bodies can be turned into major offensive forces on Turns 4 and beyond. And if you manage to combo with a Quartermaster any time after turn 5 - many opponents will be instantly demoralized, and begin spiraling downward into defeat. This card should be the starting point for most Paladin deck designs. Priest: Velens Chosen. Selecting a single card for many of these Classes required serious thought on my part. Not so the Priest class, and Velens Chosen. What other card can turn a meek and helpless little Northshire Cleric into a 3/7 Monster, also armed with +1 Spellpower? For only 3 Mana, no less. The amount of resources that can be required in the early game to get rid of a Priest minion enchanted with this card is enormous - it is very easy to get 2 or 3 cards invested by your opponent just to deal with the results of this one card. While their game grinds to a halt as they try to deal with the result of Velen's, you can be developing as you choose, leaving your opponent hopelessly behind in both Tempo and Board Control. A game-changer, in and of itself. Rogue: Tinkers Sharpsword Oil. This card and its effect are so powerful that an entire deck and play style, the Oil Rogue, have developed around it. For 4 Mana, when used as a Combo, this card adds an immediate +6 Attack to your side of the board. This isn't a one-turn only effect either. As long as your weapon and the enchanted creature remain in play, this bonus will continue to apply - wreaking havoc on your opponent's board, or, more commonly, their health. Used in combination with Blade Flurry this card can destroy your opponent's entire board and wreck their health, giving them no way to catch up with your enhanced offense. A Tinker's Oil applied to a freshly summoned Assassins Blade gives you a total of 24 Damage to hand out as you wish - an assault very few players are prepared to deal with. Embrace the Oil, and watch what it can do for your basic Rogue deck. Shaman: Stormforged Axe. One of the greatest problems Shaman decks have is the struggle with the Overload mechanic - you get something this turn, but get crippled next turn because of it. The Stormforged Axe is one of the few uses of Overload that allows you to stay on tempo - after summoning the Axe you still have 2 points of direct-able damage to use every turn for 3 more turns. This allows you to respond to low-end threats, create gaps in Divine Shields, and, lacking other inspiration, to smack your opponent in the face for 6 total damage. The following turn after summoning the Axe you can still bring out a Totem and do some damage - sometimes the best you can hope for in the early turns of a Shaman deck. You need this tool to stay relevant in the early turns as your board develops slowly due to other uses of the Overload mechanic. Warlock: Power Overwhelming. 1 Mana. +4/+4. What more could a Warlock ask for? This is the tool that allows the Warlock to blow holes in defenses, remove annoying offensive creatures, even deliver killing blows. In short, Power Overwhelming turns any creature in the Warlock deck into a real threat. Only for one turn, true - but that one turn can be the difference between victory and defeat. For extra fun, hang on to them till Turn 8 or later, then use 2 of them on a harmless Blood Imp and use it to take out your opponent's Alexstrasza or Nefarian, just to watch the smoke curl out of their ears. The joys of being a Warlock! Warrior: Cruel Taskmaster. Back to the "Value" concept, there are few cards in the Warrior lineup that embody Value quite as well as the Cruel Taskmaster. For 2 Mana you get: a 2/2 body, a direct-able 1-point strike, and potentially a 2-point attack buff. I have seen Taskmasters used to finish off wounded opponents, used to buff harmless looking allies into surprise threats, and most especially to trigger Enrages on allied creatures - giving both the +2 bonus AND the bonus from the Enrage effect. The +2 Attack buff is not temporary - it will remain wherever you place it, meaning that it can potentially continue generating value for you turns after it is applied. Combine it with an Axe Flinger, a Gurubashi Berserker, a Grim Patron - the possibilities boggle the mind.

Summary

I am a firm believer that low-end decks can be made relevant, and are not doomed to spend all their time stuck between Ranks 25 and 21. Spend a little time in the Arena, identify a few cards that you can live without and Disenchant them, and get to crafting some of the cards on this list! The improvements can be remarkable, if you are willing to put in a little time, combined with some spit and polish. Think I have hit these right on the money? Or maybe violently disagree with me? Feel free to let me know in the comments section below, or contact me via Twitter or on my blog if you are so inclined. I hope to see you, and your must-have cards, on the Ranked Ladder soon! - Hawkwind Want more Life at the Low End? Take a look here and here. Thanks for reading!

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