10 Bold Predictions for ‘Knights of the Frozen Throne’

10 Bold Predictions for ‘Knights of the Frozen Throne’

The following is a guest post from Tehl (@TehlHS), multi-legend player and my occasional arena co-op partner. He is the creator of Snakes and Drakes. You can catch him on the Hearthstone podcasts Top Deck Kings and Hearthcore.

10 Bold Predictions for The Frozen Throne

10. Rogue got the best Death Knight.

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Valeera the Hollow is an insane card.  This card essentially locks out the game with infinite Vanish followed by Arcane Giants allowing you to continuously swing in for 16 damage as long as your opponent doesn’t have removal for them.  In addition, to that the stealth that gives you when it comes down allows you the time that it takes in order to set up the combo.  The only decks that are going to punish this are burn mage and decks that play aggressively on the board,  which brings me to my next point…

9. Druid is going to be the only class playing on the board.

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With Mage and Taunt Warrior (particularly good matchups for Jade Druid) probably sticking around, Druid now has insane tools to combat aggro as well, especially Spreading Plague.  This card is at worst a stall of probably two turns and at best clears their board in the process, but either way, aggro is losing one of it’s best matchups in the game.  Rogue also has new tools to combat aggressive decks with the Shadowblade and it’s counterpart Doomerang which will undoubtedly see varying degrees of play depending on how long aggro sticks around.  Either way you will have time to play your Death Knights because I predict a much slower meta where aggro will be punished.

Bonus Bold Prediction: Skulking Geist was printed for the sole purpose of beating Jade Druid and it will see some (if it makes up over 30% of the meta a lot of) play for that reason.  (Note: I don’t count Taunt Warrior as a deck that plays on board)

8. Hunter is going to be worse.

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The new hunter cards that are being introduced are terrible…I guess that’s all I really have to say.  Deathstalker Rexxar is the worst Death Knight and arguably may give you a worse hero power than Steady Shot.  For Hunter to continue to challenge the meta they needed more sticky aggressive minions to pressure the opponent, instead they got durdly, inefficient, clunky minions that when everything goes perfectly you probably still are going to lose a majority of your games…

7. The Lich King is the best neutral legendary in the game.

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This one may be slightly hyperbolic, but if I said The Lich King is a very good card that wouldn’t exactly be a bold prediction.  The Death Knight cards are as powerful as the Ysera Dream Cards, with taunt it gives it initiative, and if all goes right it can give you insane value while smashing face for 8.  While I am less confident in this prediction than some of the other ones, I also have no doubt this will be in more meta decks than any other card currently in the game.

6. Ultimate Infestation was a mistake.

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When you look at this card it instantly looks like a Firelands Portal that gains you some life and gives you approximately 8 mana worth of card draw.  So we already have a card that should cost approximately 16 mana, but the card is actually better than that, doing all of this at the same time gives this card increased value.  Normally we would have to play one card that is a Firelands Portal, one card that is an Iron Hide and one card that is a super-Sprint, now all of this is combined onto one card, meaning that this card kind of reads draw seven cards and play three of them…

5. Priest moves up a tick.

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While most of their new cards are as disappointing as the Hunter cards, Eternal Servtiude should definitely see a good chunk of play and their Death Knight is a game-changer.  While Shadowreaper Anduin on it’s surface may not be that impressive as far as the Death Knights go, it gives priest an opportunity to do something that it’s never been able to do very efficiently, close games.  Raza the Chained also could see an appearance back in the meta allowing priest to machine-gun chain two damage as long as they can continue to play cards.

4. Aggro Paladin will see a come-back.

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I know this is completely contrary to point number nine, that no one is going to be playing on the board, but on the backs of Bolvar Fireblood, Righteous Defender, and Light’s Sorrow all of the board clears that are going to be in the game may be playing right into this decks trap.  I don’t think this will be a very good deck, especially out of the gate, but with some tweaking and as the meta starts to settle, you may be able to catch some people off-guard with this old classic.

3. Mage will not play any of the cards released, and it will still be good.

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Frost Lich Jaina and Sindragosa are definitely cuspers, and I may end up being wrong about them not seeing play, but neither of these cards buy you the late game tempo advantage that Medivh the Guardian does that usually wins you the game just fine on his own.  With the deck already relying on Alexstraza to stabilize, I don’t think there will be room for the new cards.  That being said, this will be one of the most fun decks to mess around with, although I think the best Mage list is already established, and it will continue to stick around, as it is one of the premier decks to contend against new Rogue.

2. Freeze Shaman will not be a thing.

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While you aren’t going to be bummed out ripping a Voodoo Hexxer from a Stonehill Defender, it is still going to be the third-best taunt that you are hoping for and that’s the best freeze card to be introduced by a mile.  Blizzard is definitely afraid of making another overpowered Shaman deck and acknowledges the power of Jade/Token Shaman in the meta, so they do the thing they are apt to do, which is try to introduce a new mechanic.  This deck will not be good, it will not be fun to play, and it will lose to everything in the game, maybe including new players playing Chillwind Yetis and Boulderfist Ogres.  With nothing being implemented to help its existing archetypes, shaman will definitely be taking a major step back in the Frozen Throne meta.

1. Defile is the best card in the game, and Warlock still may not be playable in Standard.

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This card was my whole reason for wanting to write this article to begin with.  I rated Ultimate Infestation a 10/10 and could see a nerf, I rate this card an 11/10 and will probably see an emergency nerf. Everyone is sleeping on Defile.  This is the most efficient, cheapest, and easy to accomplish board clear in the game, that requires little to no set-up.  Next time you are playing a game pay attention to how many huge boards could be cleared with a Defile.  On top of this, after this card stops clearing the minions on the board, it starts clearing their deathrattles, making minions like Dragon Egg and Haunted Creeper also susceptible to it’s reign of devastation, if you are playing Egg Druid or Pirate Warrior in Wild, I’m sorry to say that your days are numbered.  On top of this, this card has an insane synergy with Grim Patron which allows you to defile ad infinitum and wipe all boards and leave yourself with 15-21 power on the board.  Okay so we’ve established that this card is the most broken wild card ever printed, but will it have any impact on Standard?

If Warlock is viable in standard, it will be on the back of Defile.  Possessed Villager is still around to kick the defile train off and it will really punish Token Druid, Shaman and Pirate Warrior, furthering point #9, but Warlock may not have powerful enough tools to contend in the late game, even with the most efficient AoE in the game.  Honestly it makes my brain hurt trying to think of what a standard warlock deck would look like these days, cards like Kabal Trafficker have never seen any play and on an unchecked board, may make for an alright deck with the new warlock Death Knight which is okay and the Lich King definitely making a cameo, but even I am not bold enough to say that Kabal Trafficker Warlock will be the new meta.

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My Top 10 Cards from Whispers of the Old Gods

All the cards from Whispers of the Old Gods are out in the open now before next week’s release. I watched the entire livestream, and spent the time afterwards feverishly checking the Facebook album releases.  From that point on, I tried to process all the new cards in my mind, how they work in the arena and constructed. Pro players are in the process of putting out their opinions on the cards. Heck, even two guys sitting next to me on the bus were busy looking at the cards and pointing out which cards sucked. Now that I have had a whole day to process the cards, here is my pre-release list of the Top 10 cards of Whispers of the Old Gods.

Honorable mentions: Twilight Summoner,  Embrace the Shadow, Call of the Wild

10. Thing From Below – This card was revealed fairly early on, and it’s power was recognized by many. Just by playing 1 totem in the game, the Thing will be worth it’s cost as a 5/5 taunt. With further reductions in cost, it will be an insane tempo play along with other stuff, or with removal spells.

9. Infested Wolf – This is clearly the spiritual successor to Haunted Creeper, with the deathrattle spider summons. It has a little synergy with Forlorn Stalker and Princess Huhuran. But the best part of it is that the Spiders summoned are beasts, and will have synergy with Houndmaster and Kill Command.

8. Forbidden Ritual – Zoolock will be hit very hard with the phasing out of Imp-losion and Haunted Creeper, and weakened to an extent with nerfs to Leper Gnome, Ironbeak Owl and Knife Juggler. While it’s possible the deck will never come back from this, this card provides Warlock a reliable token generator. These weak bodies are perfect for boosting with Power Overwhelming and Abusive Sergeant, as well as synergy with Sea Giant and Gormok.

7. Evolve – A while back, I took a look at Master of Evolution, and found that a minion will typically gain something short of +1/+1, when moving up a mana crystal. I have yet to rerun these numbers, but there is a net positive. Also, minions get an artificial heal, after being transformed. Evolve will transform an entire board to make better minions for just 1 mana. Shamans have no trouble flooding the board with minions and totems, so this card will be well worth it’s value. Of course, hesitations of this card are like that of Bloodlust, in that the board has to be there for this card to be worth something. But I think Shamans are getting enough tools, and have enough removal to protect their board.

6.  Journey Below – A tried to figure out if there’s a word that means “metaphor of itself” but I couldn’t find this word. This is exactly what Rogues are going through once Standard Play hits. A journey below, in order to find a viable deck that can compete in the meta. As seen with Priests, Museum Curator became a big hit in decks, and regularly fishes out legendary cards. Though deathrattles take a hit from Standard Play, this card should still usually yield something powerful. Throw in the fact that it is a cheap spell, it helps even more. The problem with it is that Rogues are completely aimless at the moment.

5. Master of Evolution – I talked about this card at length before, but this card just has nothing but upside. If there is nothing to transform, it doesn’t hurt you with the Yeti-stated body.

4. Blood to Ichor – This card was not on this list, but then I realized how good it is. It doesn’t look too useful to deal 1 damage, but it fits into what the Warrior needs. First of all, it can used to weaken a 4-health minion to put it in range to getting killed by a Fiery War Axe or King’s Defender. Second, it can be used to hurt your own minions, which has synergy with virtually any card in the Patron Warrior deck, along with the new Blood Warrior card. Third, the 2/2 Slime itself is worth the 1 mana, so it’s a free 1 damage. So much flexibility with this card.

3. Cabalist’s Tome – I was doubtful of this card at first, until I saw it in use during the playstream. Mage spells are likely the best spells of all the Hearthstone classes, so you’re getting pretty good cards. This card also allows reloading without using the deck, preventing fatigue against control decks. Further, this has a good chance of providing reach, when needed for lethal. The question remains whether Freeze Mage decks can afford to fit anything else, given it was mostly unaffected by the nerfs.

2. Bloodhoof Brave – Let’s address the scrollophant in the room. It gets wrecked (or stolen) by Priests. With that class aside, I feel this card will be effective against every other class. First of all, it cannot be removed on Turn 4 by anything except for Mage Fireballs. The extra health over Sludge Belcher and Sen’jin Shieldmasta is big in allowing in to stick around. While it doesn’t hit the first minion hard for 2 attack, the enrage mechanic will force it to trade up with the next minion on the board. With 5 attack, it will usually be strong enough to clean up something around 4 mana. With Warriors, there is upside of becoming a 7/5 taunt with Inner Rage and Cruel Taskmaster, letting it trade with something even bigger. As a hefty taunt, it can protect a board of Patrons or Berserkers. Further, there is potential with taunt Warrior becoming a thing and the card Bolster. The possibilities are endless with Bloodhoof Brave, with it possibly fitting into any type of Warrior deck and really good in the arena as well.

  1. Hallazeal the Ascended – Whuspers of the Old Gods doesn’t seem to have outrageously OP legendaries at the moment, but this guy rises to the occasion. As a 4/6, it is just a shade under-stated. The thing you have to consider is that healing costs mana, and damage costs mana. When you get a card that does both like Holy Nova, it only damages/heals for 2 for 5 mana. Consider this: Shamans have a ton of damage spells. Single-target spells like Lightning Bolt (3), Lava Burst (5), and even the new Stormcrack (4). Shamans have decent AoE with Lightning Storm (2-3) and Elemental Destruction (4-5). Further, spellpower Totems are likely to be around to give a magic boost. Shaman overload has been mitigated with Lava Shock, and a new card Eternal Sentinal. With this card, a Shaman can control a board, deal damage, and heal himself completely, in the process. The value is just off-the-charts. The question is where this card will be, given the seemingly myriad of Shaman deckbuilding options.

Bonus: Bold Prediction

Fandral Staghelm will be the Troggzor of this set.

 

Facetime Inc.

The decision to go face or trade is one of the toughest things to do in Hearthstone, as the situation seems to be unique is many cases. In constructed, trading ranges from never to always, while in the Arena, it all depends on the board and game state. And as such, minions vary in their ability to go face. Some minions like Wobbling Runts are much more useful when trading into something, and have little benefit going face. Well what minions always/should go face? And the answer is not all Hunter cards. Here are the top Hearthstone face-goers.

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In the face!!!

10. Leper Gnome – Leper Gnomes are a face staple because of their ability to put our 4 damage for 1 cost. If you want to crank out 6 damage, face is the place.

9. Cutpurse – You don’t see this guy much in the game, but his only use is going face. A 2/2 for 2 is not good. Usually, he won’t trade effectively. So just go face and get that Coin.

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#ArenaWarriorsMatter

8. Frothing Berserker – The Warrior Miracle card was pretty powerful when Warsong Commander  allowed a charge. Now he is more a “stop me if you can” guy. Still a very deadly face hitter.

7. Southsea Deckhand – The main Rogue charge minion , whose ability is helped much my Rogue daggers and Tinker’s Sharpsword Oil. The “Ha Ha” opening cry is 9/10 BM.

6. Wolfrider – This guy has a pretty badass attack cry of “Taste my steel!” It is not right if he isn’t saying that to a minion.

5. Arcane Golem – To play Arcane Golem, you have to give your opponent an extra mana crystal. Not worth it if you’re not going face.

4. Grommash Hellscream – Grom is a great card, given the plethora of enrage mechanics that the Warrior has. It’s also refreshing to see Warriors not armor up.

3. Huffer – Its a known fact that Hunters don’t like to trade, and when you get Huffer (which is always), it is a good idea to get closer to that W. If Huffer trades, take a screenshot!

2. Treant – It’s a known fact that Druids have spent thousands of years perfecting Force of Nature + Savage Roar. That’s probably what happens in the Emerald Dream.

  1. Leeroy Jenkins – He didn’t go into that cave with a plan. He didn’t wait for Pals for Life to give him enchantments. He didn’t become a pop culture icon by trading. If minion has to go face, it’s Leeroy.

 

 

My Favorite Hearthstone Cards (That Suck)

I’ve been playing Wizard Poker for a little over 2 years now, and its impossible to not grow attached to certain cards. I’ve played through various metas from Closed Beta to Present Day, and have seen my collection grow from meager scraps to one with quite a few legendaries. Through and through, I’be been fond of certain Hearthstone cards, despite them being mostly horrible in constructed and arena play.

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Like Worthless Imps, except I like them for some reason!
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The One-Eyed Cheat wasn’t fooling anyone.

10. Misdirection – This has always been the Hunter spell that nobody expects at all. Almost all the Hunter secrets played are Explosive Trap and Freezing Trap, with a smattering of Snake Traps. Very rarely in the arena, you’ll see a Misdirection. Misdirection remains bad because it is situational, but when it triggers, there are usually devastating results. This is also the only card in which a hero with a weapon can hurt their own minion.

9. Shadowform – Shadow Priest isn’t a thing in Hearthstone, rather just appearing in the names of purple-colored minions. Shadowform goes all the way, putting a purple filter over the hero’s face. Unfortunately, Shadowform remains antagonistic to Anduin and his healing synergy cards.

8. Mini-Mage – Currently, the only Stealth + Spellpower minion of the game. Unfortunately, it has a body worse than Magma Eager, at a greater cost. Mini-Mage will appear in the arena, when some absurdly bad epic cards are choices for drafts, or occasionally drop from Sky Golems. The 1 health Stealth body though makes me root for it. Can he survive the rankest of AOE spells? He also looks like Patient Assassin’s brother or something.

7. Goldshire Footman – “Ready for action!” remains one of the best entrance quotes in the game. He probably saved your butt a few times too, during the first week of playing Hearthstone. Heck, he saved me in the arena, when I desperately needed a taunt from Dark Peddler. The guy in the art representing Goldshire also did something significant in the WoW comic. Before he got completely immolated.

6. Hogger – Hogger’s notoriety in WoW comes from being a tough boss encounter for early players. When Classic cards were the rage, I think a lot of people wanted a Hogger. I mean unlimited taunts? Soon, it became evident Hogger sucked. While he still can provide use I the arena, he may never appear in constructed again.

5. Dreadsteed – I lost a game against Dreadsteed once, and I was actually overjoyed. It was just a cool experience. The rub is that Dreadsteed never made it as a viable card to use, in arena or constructed. The 1/1 for 4 mana is just too much to overcome. But hey, we can have hope for the embodiment of 100 duck-sized horses.

4. Mimiron’s Head – As embarrassing as it is, one of the first things I did once GvG came out was craft Mimiron’s Head. I was determined to pull off the Voltron OTK. I pulled if off successfully a few times, amidst a gazillion losses in casual. I guess it was worth the dust.

3. Felguard – If there were no numbers or words around Felguard, this guy would be amazing. He is just a badass demon, who is threatening Gul’dan when he could, and has cool art. Unfortunately, losing a mana crystal is a really bad effect, which makes this guy unplayable even in demon decks. But when he comes out of a Bane of Doom, not bad!

2. One-Eyed Cheat – This guy has a unique Stealth ability, which allows him to pull off a hit-and-run. The problem with the card remains the 4/1 body, which is killed by anything. Even in the most competitive Pirate decks, he is not a guaranteed add. But hey, I like this guy a lot because of his unique ability. Plus he has pretty good card art. A goblin pirate with at least 3 weapons and a bright red parrot. That counts for something!

1. Mana Addict – I think it is pretty obvious that Mana Addict is my favorite card that sucks. Heck, this blog was named from the quote. Thematically this card makes sense, given the whole blood elf lore. I like Mana Addict mostly because I got a good few wins from old Miracle Rogues, where this card played a big role. Have it under Conceal, play/draw a gazillion spells, and wham! The usefulness of Mana Addict died with Miracle Rogue, and it remains bad in the arena. I’ve been toying with the possibility of reviving Mana Addict with a spare parts deck. But that remains a work in progress.

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I’ll never forget this moment…
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That one time Mini-Mage killed several superior minions in the arena.
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Tasting the Mana since 2013 (or early 2014).

The Most Annoying Minions in Hearthstone

All minions in Hearthstone are not created equal. There are different characters, with different stat points, with different effects, and with different art and voiceovers. Thanks to the advent of netdecking and drafting tools, certain cards will be faced on the battlefield significantly more than others. All of this shapes how we perceive cards in Hearthstone. It is likely that anyone who plays Hearthstone has opinions on minions, just like they would in any game. In Diablo III, I have a preference of playing Demon Hunter. In Borderlands 2, I have a preference of playing Gaige. In Final Fantasy VII, I liked having Cid in my party.

In my nearly 2-year history of playing Hearthstone, some cards just make me say/think “not this again.” With this thought in mind, I sought to find the most annoying Hearthstone minions, in my opinion. Some factors that go into my judging of annoyance include frequency of minion seen, it’s relative effectiveness as being a pest, and it’s voiceover/quotes. My frequency of playing a certain class will also influence what goes in this list (i.e. no Rogue staples).

Honorable mention – Mysterious Challenger – If I was a decent ranked player, or even a Hearthstone player who plays a lot of ranked, this guy would definitely crack the Top 10. A 6/6 for 6 mana with the potential to put out 6 more mana worth of secrets is just ridiculous. Otherwise, the MC is not particularly annoying voice-wise or what he says.

Honorable mention – Undertaker – A former most annoying card that got buried in history with a big time nerf. It was so unbalanced that it was common to see a 2/3 + 1-drop on turn 1 or a 3/4 + 2 1-drops on turn 2. If you played Hearthstone back in the day, hearing “Bring out your dead” was likely heard in a nightmare at some point. The “Skeletor undead” voice is a little annoying but not bad in the overall spectrum.

10. Voidcaller – The Voidcaller itself only makes on the list due to it’s amazing effect. A Warlock could put out some really big demons right off the bat, or put out a no-cost Doomguard with charge. Like other demons, the voice is not annoying and is just hammy.

9. Armorsmith – A fairly staple Warrior 2-drop that provides virtually endless armor. Control Warrior decks are annoying in the same way that Priest decks are (before Dragon), they revolve on completely reactionary gameplay, and there is nothing proactive. Just sit and armor up and ping here and Execute here, and armor up some more. Armorsmith plus Whirlwind plus Death’s Bite just adds layers and layers of armor that make the Warrior untouchable. There isn’t anything annoying about the voice.

8. Cabal Shadow Priest – When I first played Hearthstone, I thought Priests were the most annoying class. I believe they did nothing but steal things from you. This is a completely valid mindset. As Priest got better class cards, this stealing happened less and less. Well, it still does with Cabal Shadow Priest. This card isn’t that annoying if you have cards in hand, but it is the worst in a topdeck situation, and your only minion is stolen. The voice isn’t annoying at all, and is actually a decent medium-deep female voice.

7. Mad Scientist – The meta-dominating classes all use secrets, and no wonder Mad Scientist makes the grade. Like Voidcaller, you don’t really want to kill it off, but then you don’t have a choice when it starts trading with your minions or going face. Annoyance perpetuated by aggro decks. The voice is hammy that is a bit entertaining and just a tad annoying.

6. Murloc Knight – Murloc Knight is often referred to as “adorable.” But then your opponent’s board just fills up, and good luck coming back from that. The only saving grace is that people would put Murloc Knight out on Turn 4 or 5 sometimes just for tempo or not expecting you can handle it that turn. When aggro Murloc decks were strong in the meta, I found murloc noises the most annoying thing ever. Now, they are just a novelty. The Murloc Knight has a high-pitched murloc noise, which makes it a little more annoying.

5. Harrison Jones – Oh gawd. Nothing like losing a poisoned weapon you’ve been saving up for the Blade Flurry to this guy. Your opponent breaks your weapon, draws cards, and has a decent body on the board. I find the “That belongs in a museum!” call annoying in it’s pedantic tone. Like an annoying teacher who nags you too much. It doesn’t help the depicted art is some creepy guy.

4. Mechwarper – A staple mech that makes this list primarily thanks to Mech Mage decks. For all the powercreep discussion on Ice Rager and Evil Heckler, this card was actually a powercreep to a bunch of cards like Razorfen Hunter, Defias Ringleader, and Murloc Tidehunter. For 2 mana, you could play a 2/3 and a 2/1 (Clockwork Gnome), better than the before mentioned cards. Anywho, the potential to put out a wall of cheap mechs like Annoy-o-tron on turn 2 is annoying. It also has that “annoying robot voice.”

3. Knife Juggler – I’ve long hated Knife Juggler. For one, the annoying, high-pitched gnome voice is just grating to hear for me. My disdain for Knife Juggler is primarily because of it’s inclusion in aggro decks. It is rightfully good and justifiably used.

2. Leper Gnome – Aggro decks are like the New England Patriots. Year after year, they are very good, and they do it with overlooked players. The Leper Gnome is that unassuming little guy that does a lot for an aggro deck. Leper Gnomes are the Julian Edelman/Danny Woodhead/Wes Welker of Hearthstone. It’s annoyance is bolstered by the annoying gnome voice, and it’s auto-inclusion for aggro. Yes, everyone knows you feel icky.

  1. Shielded Minibot – You are playing against a Paladin. Doesn’t matter if it’s Constructed or Arena. Doesn’t matter what type of deck. You know it’s coming. You more than likely can’t kill it this turn (especially on Turn 1). It also has that annoying robot voice on Mechwarper. Understandably, the Paladin has nothing to do on Turn 2, so that is why it is in every deck.

So that’s my list of the most annoying minions in Hearthstone. Agree? Disagree?