It’s hard to not get excited over a Legendary card, especially with its entry animation, voice line, and unique abilities. From randomly adding other Legendary cards with Prince Malchezaar to dealing damage to a random enemy character with Ragnaros, Legendary cards are where Blizzard is able to flex their brains and experiment with the mechanics available to them using Hearthstone’s digital format. With Journey to Un’Goro, Blizzard amped up their Legendary game by providing each class with not one, but two Legendary cards (a quest and a minion). However, with each Legendary card, Blizzard had to be wary not to introduce too many overpowered Legendary minions.
Back in the Mean Streets of Gadgetzan, strong decks typically required one or more Legendary cards at its core. For example, Jade Druid pretty much needs Aya Blackpaw to pump out all the Jade Golems, but it tends to also include cards like Brann Bronzebeard and Fandral Staghelm to help them really milk out the value of their other cards. Additionally, as Kabal archetypes (Mage, Priest, and Warlock) capitalize on having a deck be composed of 30 different cards, they tend to require different Legendary minions to patch up their deck. They also tend to be control decks which will need to make use of strong control or value cards (some of which happens to be Legendary). Although Legendary minions can be really satisfying to use, it also makes the game less accessible to newer players as Legendary cards tend to be difficult to come by and really expensive to craft.
In Journey to Un’Goro, the increase in Legendary cards was a new variable that pushed Blizzard to print less impactful Legendary cards. This had led Blizzard to turn towards epic cards to fill the roles Legendary cards usually would take. Today we’ll be looking at two decks that has been born from epic cards: Discover Mage and Aggro Druid. Discover Mage takes advantage of Primordial Glyph to squeeze itself out of tough situations. Need to finish off the enemy hero? Pick either a spell that draws into more stuff or a spell that deals damage like Pyroblast. Want to deal with the enemy’s board? You can end up picking cards like Meteor (which is also another epic card from Un’Goro), Polymorph, Blizzard, and more. Of course, the deck also excels with its synergy with secrets, but an epic card like Glyph is a strong card with unique abilities that is also fun to use.
Aggro Druid, on the other hand, relies on Living Mana to suddenly create a board state that the opponents can’t deal with. With cards such as Mark of the Lotus or Savage Roar, this card is able to quickly get out of hand. However, upon dealing with those treants, the Druid will regain access to the mana that was sacrificed to play the card. It’s a unique effect with an impact that was really difficult for players to predict, but it really brought back Aggro Druid. Again, of course, Fledgling Hatchling also plays a big part in Aggro Druid, but Living Mana brought a new way for Druids to play as their decision to sacrifice their mana crystals for minions could be countered by a spell like Devolve that transforms your minion.
There are also other epic cards with unique abilities such as Shadow Visions, Curious Glimmer Root, Explore Un’Goro, and Stampede, but these cards weren’t as impactful to the meta as the aforementioned cards. I hope Blizzard continues to move epic cards out of the ‘overly-gimmicky-and-entirely-unplayable’ realm and towards the ‘viable-unique-and-impactful’ realm.