Part 1: The Dragon Aspects
As we all know, Descent of Dragons will be Hearthstone’s thirteenth expansion, with a special focus on dragon, possibly the coolest tribe in the game. To commemorate the launch of the first Dragon-heavy expansion (the second one if you count Blackrock Mountains), we’re going to go through a close analysis of all the legendary dragons in the game thus far (and of the new dragons when they will be released). In the first article, let’s go through The Dragon Aspects!
Dragons in Hearthstone
Did you know that there are more Dragons in the game than any other tribal cards? Most Dragon synergies involve Battlecries which activate if the controlling player is holding a Dragon card in their hand, and they are also the first tribe to have an effect that interacts with players’ hands.
Most legendary Dragons are high-costed and have high health and attack. The most frequently seen stats for a Legendary dragon are 4/12 or 8/8, and most of them are 9 or 10 mana.
What are the Dragon Aspects?
The Dragon Aspects are the leaders of the five dragonflights, empowered by the titans to protect Azeroth. They are extremely powerful, ancient and wise beings. In World of Warcraft, dragons are powerful, winged reptilian creatures, created from proto-dragons by the titans and the Keepers to safeguard the world of Azeroth millennia ago. In early history, there were many dragonflights (there were dragons in every color of the rainbow), but then, five of them – black, blue, bronze, green, and red – gained power over the rest, and became the dominant dragonflights today.
Deathwing – Aspect of Death
Deathwing the Destroyer, was one of the five Dragon Aspects and leader of the black dragonflight. Ages ago, Neltharion was empowered by the Pantheon with dominion over the earth and the deep places of Azeroth. However, driven mad by the Old Gods, he turned against the other Aspects during the War of the Ancients, eventually becoming the Aspect of Death. He was perhaps the most powerful servant of the Old Gods.
In Hearthstone, both existing Deathwing cards are among the heaviest drops in the whole game – 10 drops.
The original Deathwing is usually a last-ditch effort after you’ve exhausted as many of your opponent’s resources as you can and your back is against the wall. Because he destroy your hand, he didn’t often see play in many ladder decks, a format where hand resource is really important. That said, there were niche uses for the legendary with one of the best entrances in the game.
Deathwing was used as a top-end for some midrange decks such as Dragon Warrior or Murloc Paladin. By the time you play Deathwing, you don’t really have much resources anymore and/or you have lost the board, and he serves as a really good option for a sudden swing. When Dragon Warrior was a thing, there wasn’t that many option to remove a single 12/12 on the board. RenoJackson once reached #4 Wild Legend with a heavy Murloc Paladin back in Un’goro, with The Curator being able to tutor the lone dragon in the deck.
Deathwing was also used, in fringe cases, to utilize his discard ability. Un’goro seemed to be the height for the card, with Xixo’s Discard Murloc Warlock also uses Deathwing to pull off miracles on the game that aren’t going so well. Sometimes he can even give you a free Silverware Golem to accompany.
Forward to Rastakhan’s Rumble, where there were more support for Discard as an archetype, we saw Deathwing made an appearance in Kibler’s Discard Warlock. He can complete the quest all by himself, and is able to return to hand with Soulwarden if he’s unfortunately discarded. The second deck is the Wild version that was capable of reaching Rank 5.
The final application for Deathwing was for when you just want to cheat big dragons out without activating their battlecries. Thijs reached #73 Legend back in Witchwood with a Big Druid utilizing a dragon package, where Deathwing can be pulled from a Dragonhatcher.
Deathwing is a great card in Arena, acting as both a huge drop and a boardclear. If your opponent doesn’t actively plays around Deathwing (they rarely do) and doesn’t topdeck a 1/2 poisonous snail, you can win the game before a lack of resource from hand matters.
Like the original Deathwing, the Dragonlord was a niche card that only fit into a few decks. Decks that play Deathwing, Dragonlord look to cheat him out early, so that they can make a huge board of dragons that threatens lethal. Big Shaman in the past used a Dragon package, with Ancestor’s Call and Eureka! to get Deathwing on board without having to pay full mana. Here’s a deck that’s reached Wild legend back in Boomsday.
Before Wild Growth’s nerf and before there were so many options to cheat out stuff, Astral Druid used to be a favourite deck of many. One iteration of Astral Druid played both Deathwings in the deck, since you would want to play every single card you topdeck anyway. This deck reached #60 Legend in Standard back in Karazhan.
Everyone hates Big Priest. But if you play Dragons in Big Priest, you’re hated less. The ability to cheat out an early Dragonlord makes playing Dragons in Big Priest worth it, kinda.
Alexstrasza, Aspect of Life
Alexstrasza the Life-Binder, Aspect of the Red dragonflight, is the guardian of all life in the world of Azeroth. She was one of five great dragons chosen by the titans to be empowered with a portion of the Pantheon’s power and rule over her flight while they watched over Azeroth and its inhabitants. The titans also appointed her queen of all dragons.
In Hearthstone, Alexstrasza has one of the most unique ability to grace the game, one that has never been replicated: Set a hero’s health to 15. She’s really flexible both for setting up for a combo AND for healing yourself up. Do you know Alexstrasza used to be able to remove ALL armor as well? That would be some messed up stuff if it exists now (and also a hard counter to Druid and Warrior).
For this unique effect, Alexstrasza was one of (if not) the most frequently used Legendary dragon in the game. She has seen appearance in almost every single meta from alpha to Saviors of Uldum. We’ll only be showcasing some of the most iconic decks that’s played her.
Freeze Mage was one of the strongest decks in beta, and are some of the strongest counter in past meta to oppressive decks, for good reasons. The ability to lock up the board and unleash lethal damage was integral to Freeze Mage’s gameplay, to the point some people felt hopeless playing against it. With Alexstrasza setup, the player only needs to deal 15 damage minimum, that equates to two Fireballs and one Frostbolt. Too easy! We’re showcasing the most primordial form of Freeze Mage once reigned the Classic meta, to the point that Frost Nova, Blizzard, Cone of Cold AND Pyroblast were nerfed because of it.
Alexstrasza and Ysera were also used in old Wallet Warrior back in The Grand Tournaments as late game options. Things were so much simpler before, in a meta where simply having big dragons mean you can outvalue your opponent. This deck has reached #8 Legend back then.
The most recent meta deck that played Alexstrasza was Mind Blast Priest, which was a pretty strong deck. The huge fire-breathing dragon wasn’t an essential part of the OTK combo, but when she gets onto play, it makes things much easier. She is also a dragon, so she activates all the synergistic cards on your hand. Several players have reached Top 10 Wild Legend with this deck before Uldum was released.
In the next article, we’ll be looking into the other Dragon Aspect: Nozdormu, Ysera, Malygos, and Kalecgos. Stay tuned!
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