Soon, we will be leaving the Mean Street of Gadgetzan and leaving for a trek to the crater of Un’Goro. Before we pack our bags, we are going to see who won this turf war and what were the best cards in the set.
Jade Idol, Second-Rate Bruiser, Mistress of Mixture, Alley Armorsmith, Jade Spirit, Burgly Bully, Kun the Forgotten King, Manic Soulstealer, Raza the Chained
10. Dirty Rat
Dirty Rat created a lot of excitement when it was first released. It was Hearthstone’s first way of interacting with your opponent’s hand, and it did create some amazing youtube videos. It broke stalemates in control decks by forcing out cards and wasting battlecries. The card was extremely skill testing to know the right moment to play Dirty Rat to take the best card from your opponent hand. Proper timing of the card was needed against the aggressive decks, as you walked a fine line between helping your aggressive opponent out versus brick walling them.
9. Finja, the Flying Star
This Murloc was overlooked on the first pass because people thought of it in the context of a Murloc deck and you wouldn’t want to have a 5 cost card with such low attack. But it turns out that you didn’t have to run a full Murloc deck, but rather just 2 Bluegill Warrior and 2 Murloc Warleader. This way you either bring in largely stated Murlocs or charge damages, which was very good for aggressive decks after the turn 5 investment. Joined with Pirates, the “Water” package made splashes in Warrior and Rogue decks.
8. Dragon Operative
This card gets its place on the list because it is a big ball of stats for a good mana cost with a card advantage effect. There isn’t much to say here. Just pure value. Finally, Priest has some love in the OP treatment.
7. Blastcrystal Potion / Abyssal Enforcer
Both cards were key in making Reno Warlock a strong versatility deck by being usable in both control and aggressive matchups. Blastcrystal Potion is strong against control decks in the late game, when you can cheaply remove an opponent’s threat and play your own big threat, gaining tempo. Against the aggressive matchup, it was cheap enough to use in a pinch to kill something. Abyssal Enforcer is a board clear with a big body. Strong enough board wipe to deal with aggro, big enough body to be a threat against control.
6. Volcanic Potion
Volcanic Potion is key in making Reno Mage a top deck. The spell is a cheap board clear for a control deck that really wants to reach the end game. It is consistent and well suited for the meta.
5. Jade Claw / Jade Lightning
Part of the reason of these two cards is up here so high up the list is because Jade Golem was an extremely strong mechanic. The other part is that Shaman is a strong class right now. One of the weaknesses of Jade decks is that the mechanic takes some time to build up. It has weak turns when the golems are just 1/1s and 2/2s. However, when that 1/1 or 2/2 is attached to a weapon or a damage spell, you have incredible tempo cards that wipe out the opposition and place minions on the board.
4. Aya Blackpaw
A 5/3 sizable minion that needs an answer when it also creates two progressively larger Jade Golems. It is one card that makes three minions, which is hell for control decks and their removal to deal with efficiently. It is the backbone and ace for all Jade decks, aggro, midrange and control. Worthy of the boss title.
Kazakus is the only reason why the meta isn’t overrun by Pirate decks. It is a powerful control tool that has efficient and a varied of answers against aggressive decks. Easily the coolest and more inventive card of the set, Kazakus was an extremely skill testing card. Players had to know all the possible combinations of the possible potions in all mana costs and know which potion to make at the right situation and matchups. Kazakus was a big reason not to play aggressive decks and instead make a control deck. Once control decks were popular, Jade decks became popular as a good matchup against control decks but there were aggressive decks that could beat the Jade decks. This created a cyclic meta. Or as people like to call it a rock-paper-scissor meta. Though keep in mind, rock-paper-scissors is an all-or-nothing game. Trading card games just work with favorable matchups or unfavorable matchups.
2. Patches the Pirate
The third crime boss of the set, Patches, lead the weapon classes in charge. While it seemed harmless because it was a 1 mana 1/1 with charge, it was essentially free once it comes blasting out of the deck. Still, it is a balanced card because there is a cost in drawing Patches. Disguised Toaster, a popular streamer, and the Hearthstone community have done a study, showing that having Patches in your hand, as Aggro Shaman for example, brought down your win rate from 59.5% to 42%. This does make sense. You would never run Stonetusk Boar, as that is never enough value in one card.
1. Small-Time Buccaneer
The small-time buccaneer can’t invest all any more time in sailing the sails because he is too busy raiding the Hearthstone ladder. The true boss of the Mean Street meta is this small 1/2 one drop. The common curve for the aggressive deck in this meta was Turn 1 Small-Time Buccaneer and charge in with Patches. Turn 2, play Jade Claw, Fiery War Axe or Dagger Mastery, and then hit the face with the weapon and a three attack Buccaneer. It is easy to see that it was the top card of the set when Blizzard had to step in and nerf the card to keep it from raiding the ladders uncontested. Due to the nerf, this pirate is left to one health. This makes it much more vulnerable to hero powers, driving it out of the aggro decklists. While one can argue it doesn’t make the top ten list any more in its new state, its existence and time in the meta when it was released definitely impacted the player’s existence.
As mentioned in Kazakus’s review, the meta did turn out to be filled with Pirates, Jade Golems and Kazakus. Dragon Priest took off immediately as people clamor to finally give Priest some love. Reno Mage, Priest, Warlock all seen play with Kazakus being its trump card over the meta. Kazakus was so strong that it also pushed Control Warrior out of the meta, because if you weren’t playing Kazakus, why were you playing control? Jade Druid was extremely popular in that it was easy to build and Jade Idol was a complete control-bane card. Jade Shaman was a great deck as well, but its aggressive cousin was just better for climbing the ranked ladder quickly. Pirate Shaman was definitely the deck dominating the ladder, so much that Blizzard had to step in and nerf Spirit Claws and Small-Time Buccaneer. During this time, Finja and the Water package rose into popularity, as a small efficient offensive package. This left Pirate Warrior and Water Rogue as the new aggro decks in the meta, since they were the only classes with strong 1 mana Pirate class minions. Hunter and Paladin were left in the dust this time, as the Grimy Goons mechanic didn’t hold up against the fast-paced aggression or out-valued the late game Jade Golems. Sorry, Don Hancho. This city belonged to the Jade Lotus and The Kabal … and The Patches.