Best Base Cards
Cards are the building blocks of your Hearthstone strategy. Despite Blizzard’s ongoing efforts to ensure a balanced game, some cards are always going to offer more value for your Mana than the others. Whether with their own direct effects or through the synergy they set up with other parts of your deck, those cards can mean the difference between victory and defeat. Naturally, many of the best cards are difficult to get, requiring you to spend real money, farm daily quests, or take on difficult content. However, some of the Basic cards in the game can be every bit as formidable and useful in play. Those cards are either available from the start or will unlock automatically as you gain access to new classes or level them up. On top of being easily acquired, those cards tend to have nice and straightforward mechanics and are guaranteed to always be useable in Standard format matches.
Some classes have substantially stronger Standard decks than do others, granting them a major advantage throughout the game. For instance, Mage heroes owe much of their popularity in Arena matches to their rich array of powerful and versatile Basic cards. Fireball is the most popular among those due to its high damage at a relatively low price. Keeping two in your deck can enable you to finish off an enemy Hero with unparalleled ease. Flamestrike is more costly, but it is perfect for clearing away armies of minions in one move. On the colder side of the elemental spectrum, Frostbolt and Water Elemental can inflict decent damage while Freezing enemies, making them invaluable tactical assets. Polymorph presents a cheap way to remove any minion from play while avoiding setting off any Deathrattle effects.
Paladin is another class with several very strong Basic cards. Possibly the most important among them is Truesilver Champion, a powerful weapon card that also heals the hero with every attack, which can go a long way towards ensuring their survival. Consecration is a highly efficient area of effect spell, good for swiftly exterminating weaker minions or steadily chipping away at stronger ones. Blessing of Kings can turn a weak minion into an unexpected powerhouse, while Guardian of Kings summons a minion who both attacks and heals, potentially turning the tide late in the game.
Although Shaman players have fewer optimal choices in this category, they can still bring some powerful Basic cards to bear on their opponents. Hex is a highly effective removal spell in the same vein as Polymorph. Unlike that spell, it gives the altered minion a Taunt, but this is partly offset by it being powerless to attack unless enhanced; it also enables a potentially life-saving play in which you use it on one of your own minions to redirect an attack. The Fire Elemental is among the stronger attack minions in the game thanks to its solid base stats and Battlecry. Meanwhile, Flametongue Totem and Rockbiter Weapon offer a quick way to strengthen previously non-threatening creatures, overturning enemy plans. The latter spell may also be a welcome boost to the shaman’s own power.
While expensive, Ironbark Protector gives Druids a very strong defensive minion — provided they can keep it from being removed from play early with the likes of Polymorph or Hex. Being able to deploy it earlier is one of the many potential advantages offered to the class by Innervate’s one-turn Mana boost. Swipe’s combination of solid single-target removal and area-of-effect cleanup against opponents with low health makes it a highly versatile spell. In the early game, it may dispatch the weaker hostile minions in waves, while later on it can finish off stronger yet wounded creatures while maintaining the pressure on the enemy hero. With Savage Roar, you can temporarily power up your hero and any minions on their side, enabling a devastating burst of damage that might just win you the match if you have enough forces in play.
Voidwalker offers Warlock heroes one of the finest Taunt minions in the game, and certainly the single most cost-effective one given its single-Mana price. Most other Warlock Basic cards are more limited in nature or come with significant trade-offs. Still, cards in the latter category can be very useful if you could time their deployment just right. You can use Felstalker in an aggressive opening or deploy it more efficiently when there are no more cards for it to discard. A similar calculation applies to Soulfire, which is an otherwise highly tempting cheap attack option. Both Hellfire and Dread Infernal inflict high damage on both sides, making them very useful when heavily outnumbered.
Even the classes that are relatively underserved in terms of Basic cards still have some that are very useful at all levels of play. Backstab and Sap allows Rogues to run minion control on the cheap. Warriors benefit similarly from the combo of Whirlwind followed by Execute. The Arcanite Reaper provides them with a very strong mid-game weapon for aggressive builds. Animal Companion’s random beast summoning instantly puts enemies on the defensive and synergizes well with other Hunter skills, making it one of the most popular Basic cards in the entire game. Between Shadow Word: Death and Shadow Word: Pain, Priests can eliminate most minions without the drawbacks of many other removal cards, while Mind Control gives them the single strongest (if also most expensive) control effect in the game. Sightless Watcher’s Battlecry ability offers Demon Hunters unparalleled control over their draw, allowing them to set up cunning stratagems or respond swiftly to unexpected openings or threats.
Neutral Basic cards can also prove invaluable, especially for classes with poor minion selections of their own. Chillwind Yeti is probably the single most well-rounded and versatile minion in the game, though Sen’jin Shieldmasta comes close as a solid Taunt expert. The Gurubashi Berserker plays well with classes that can cause it minor damage to raise its attack power, such as Warriors or Mages. Conversely, Priests can focus on giving it more health and therefore more room to survive their “power-ups”. Meanwhile, the Acidic Swamp Ooze is handy as a cheap minion, but devastating when deployed against weapon classes that are vulnerable to being disarmed by its Battlecry. The Stormwind Champion is difficult to deploy effectively, but it can grant a decisive advantage when you already have a large army of minions in the field.
The cards mentioned in this guide can serve you well at any level of play. They can form the indispensable backbone of a deck that also incorporates higher-rarity cards, allowing you to play off the many synergies behind the latter and the free cards. Attempting to win ranked matches using only basic cards is a considerable and risky challenge, but with enough player experience, or coaching, it can still be done. Few gaming accomplishments feel as rewarding as finding a way to win using the cheapest assets available!