Since releasing on March 11, 2014, Blizzard’s Hearthstone has become one of the most frequently updated games in Video Game history. With new expansions, balance patches, modes, and so much more. The game is an ever-evolving one that adds new ideas, mechanics, and of course, cards!
But how good are these expansions? Some are better than others while some are lost to time as their newly introduced cards and mechanics fail to find reverence or meaning at launch. Or they simply lose reverence over time and ultimately get forgotten by fans. In this article, I’ll be ranking all of Hearthstone’s various expansions in terms of their impact on the meta, their lasting impact on the game, and of course, how fun they were! For this list, there are some rules I followed, and they are:
- I will include all Adventures (i.e. Black Rock Mountain) as expansions, even though they followed a different structure than the current expansions
- Mini Sets will be included and lumped together with their corresponding expansions and won’t be listed separately
With that said, let’s get started!
28. The Grand Tournament
One of the earliest expansions, the expansion heavily emphasized modifying or replacing your Hero Power along with Inspire, a keyword centered around using your Hero Power for various effects. A lot of the cards from this expansion failed to be meta-defining back in the day and have been lost to time as years, and more expansions have progressed.
Although it did give us Chillmaw, my favorite card of all time from Hearthstone.
27. Goblins vs Gnomes
The first ever proper expansion for Hearthstone, which left behind the Adventure style of card sets for the Expansion. This expansion is mostly very clunky and awkward in that a lot of the cards simply didn’t work back in the day, and like The Grand Tournament, many of these cards got lost to time. The Ogres, which gave a 50% chance to attack the wrong enemy, were clumsy and awkward to use. The Spart Parts didn’t really add much either. So what makes this better than the previous entry? For one, the expansion did introduce Mechs as a new minion type, and with them came the Shredders and Sky Golem cards which were fun to play back in the day.
26. Mean Streets of Gadgetzan
This expansion did add a lot of cards that were very effective but oftentimes broken. The Jade Golems were easy to produce large Golem’s and made for some fairly lopsided boards.
Even now, in some other modes, you’ll see Jade Golems make a return because they were just so incredibly broken. the expansion focused heavily on buffing cards in your hand which is a theme that pops up again every so often, but looking back, a lot of the buffs weren’t really as effective or fun as they are now. Making this a largely forgettable and frustrating expansion.
25. Ashes of Outland
Most notable for giving Hearthstone its first-ever class outside the core set of classic characters released at launch. Demon Hunter was simply broken and not fun to play against when this expansion launched. The expansion also provided each class with a Prime Legendary, which was fun but slow to play and with a slightly underwhelming payoff. Also, the inclusion of the Imprisoned Demons made the game even slower. With Demon Hunter dominating the meta and most other classes failing to keep up. This makes it a very disappointing expansion.
24. One Night in Karazhan
Not including Galakrond’s Awakening, this was the last Adventure before Hearthstone fully committed to Expansions. It introduced spell synergy cards, portals, and minion summoning cards, but all three failed to impact the meta. If anything, there were some Dragon synergy cards that helped those with fun Dragon decks. Aside from that, though, there’s not much to get excited about here.
23. Rastakhan’s Rumble
While not consistently entertaining, this expansion did make things fun for some classes. Hunter got a lot of cool cards, including Zul’jin, Halazzi, Baited Arrow, and Spirit of the Lynx. Cards like Jan’ali, the Dragonhawk, or Shirvallah, the Tiger were completely broken. This expansion could be fun for some but frustrating for others, so it’s in the 23rd spot.
22. The Witchwood
While this expansion introduced themes and keywords like the ‘Odd and Even’ effect or Echo. Both of these have been lost to time and never truly found reverence. This expansion did introduce Rush into the game, and for better or worse, Rush is still prominent today and a major keyword in Hearthstone nearly five years later.
21. United in Stormwind
An expansion that made Hearthstone unplayable for many players. This expansion introduced Questlines, which essentially turned them into One-turn-kill (OTK) decks for many classes. Priest, Warlock, Mage, Warrior, Demon Hunter, and Hunter all became fairly one-note as they dominated the meta with frustrating decks that were near impossible to counter as you just stood there and watched your opponent set up what would be your inevitable fate. It’s one of the worst expansions, and many are quick to try to forget that it existed.
20. Forged in the Barrens
There’s not much to say about this expansion, either good or bad. Its biggest addition was Frenzy which has already been abandoned and forgotten about. The expansion is nothing spectacular, and not really bad either; It’s very much the textbook definition of Mediocre. Its Mini Set (Wailing Caverns) did, however, add Stealer of Souls and Mutanus the Devourer, which in themselves defined the meta for quite some time.
19. Kobolds & Catacombs
Most notable for adding a lot of cool cards, including Spellstones, Legendary Weapons, Treasures, and so much more. Every class had a lot to play and a lot of fun meta’s to play around with. You could run a Kingsbane rogue deck, Evolution Shaman, Rin Warlock, etc. There hasn’t been this much reliable spread of power among the meta since.
Sadly, most of the cards from this expansion have been lost to time. Perhaps one day, Blizzard will bring some of these cards into the Core Set, and remind us why this expansion was so great!
18. Descent of Dragons
This was a fun expansion with all the fun Dragons and Dragon synergy cards added. Galakrond made for some fun decks, and while Shaman’s Galakrond, the Tempest was quite broken, it was still a fun way to play with Dragons and if you’re a fan of them; this expansion gave you a lot to like!
17. Galakrond’s Awakening
While not the most exciting set, this Adventure (hey, remember those!) was a fun way to add some cards that helped compliment Rise of Shadows and Saviors of Uldum quite well. The set also added The Amazing Reno, which was not a super competitively viable Hero card, but it was a lot of fun to play, and it earns this set points for that alone!
16. March of the Lich King
Much like Ashes of Outland, this set added a new class in The Death Knight (and not the only Death Knight-themed expansion on this list). While a new class is a huge deal, it didn’t feel like the class was too overpowered compared to Demon Hunter in the previous new class release. The new Undead minion type and Dual-Type minions are also great additions if a tad on the unexciting side. The biggest controversy, and the reason why this isn’t higher on this list primarily, is from the Signature cards. It is meant to be an exciting new card rarity, but when it debuted, it used a lot of dull tones and didn’t impress most fans. Luckily, Blizzard listened and improved on Signature cards in future expansions.
15. Rise of Shadows
With the League of E.V.I.L., Schemes, and the introduction of Twin Spells and Lackeys. There are a lot of cool additions which haven’t really been retained in Hearthstone but back when this was released it was a lot of fun.
14. Festival of Legends
The most recent expansion at the time of publishing. The music-themed cards with Finale, Musicians, Songs, Instruments, and so on. There are a lot of cards added to this. Time will tell how relevant they are but it’s mostly a well-balanced and fun expansion.
13. Scholomance Academy
This expansion added Dual-Class cards which are a lot of fun and were even brought back for the Festival Of Legends’ Mini-Set. They add a nice dynamic to the game and are generally a lot of fun. Spellburst and Studies cards also work very effectively.
12. Madness at the Darkmoon Faire
The Old Gods are always a lot of fun, but they were re-envisioned for this expansion. These returned cards all played very well, and with the new keyword, Corrupt, you were able to have a lot of fun with powerful and yet balanced cards such as Tickatus, Blood of G’huun, Deck of Lunacy, and Il’gynoth.
11. Voyage to the Sunken City
Naga’s got added to the game with this expansion and made for many great decks, particularly with Mage and Priest. The Collosals were and still are fun cards to play. Dredge also turned out to be a very effective keyword, particularly with synergy cards. Its Mini-Set added even more Collosals and Naga to make the expansion even stronger than it initially was.
10. Murder at Castle Nathria
Who murdered Sire Denathrius? This expansion turns Hearthstone into a murder mystery. The game adds ten new Legendaries as suspects. You have the new Infuse keyword, which makes trading minions more enticing. There was also the inclusion of Locations, which have proven to be a great addition to Hearthstone even to this day.
9. Knights of the Frozen Throne
Before The Death Knight became a designated class in its own right, this expansion featured Death Knights as fun Hero cards that changed the ways you played with each class in drastically different ways. Both Arfus and The Lich King add Death Knight powers into the game, and with the Undead Scrouge come many Deathrattle cards and Deathrattle synergy. Many freeze and Lifesteal effects are also got highlighted.
Many of these got repurposed into the Death Knight, so they’ve found new life in the current meta, and it’s a reminder of how much fun this expansion was and still can be years later.
8. The Boomsday Project
Between the Legendary scientists, Legendary spells, and the strong Mech presence, this expansion strongly emphasized big minions, impactful spells, and a fun meta. Legendary Mechs like Mecha’thun, Zilliax, and SN1P-SN4P were fun to play and utilized the new Magnetic keyword well. Blizzard is bringing back Magnetic and with it many of these cards and like with the previous entry, we’re reminded how much fun the expansion is.
7. Fractured in Alterac Valley
While a contentious choice possibly, this expansion brought in Hero cards for all the major classes. Many of these Hero cards have defined the meta for a long time now. Cards like Wildheart Guff, Lightforged Cariel, and Kurtrus, Demon-Render often times set up some crazy great plays and were the bane of many people’s existence. Say what you will as to whether you loved or hated them, but this expansion spiced up the meta in an interesting way.
6. Saviors of Uldum
While it was a lot of fun to play as the League of Explorers (again), they’re a bit tried and true in Hearthstone but it was the Plagues and even more so, the Quests that really defined the meta. Untapped Potential allowed you to combine your Choose One cards for powerful effects. Supreme Archaeology allowed for some crazy cheap setups for powerful cards and even OTK plays. Making Mummies let you make cheap copies of powerful or impactful minions. The meta was wild in a fun and exciting way.
5. Curse of Naxxramas
The game’s first-ever expansion and it’s an Adventure, but it introduced many cards that became integral to the game and its meta for a decade and more at this point. They aren’t all the most exciting cards, but they’re so integral to the DNA of Hearthstone at this point it’s hard not to imagine a meta without Voidcaller, Avenge, Duplicate, Webspinner, and so many more. At this point, I was even surprised to be reminded that many of these cards weren’t a part of the Classic Hearthstone set as I’ve just become so acquainted with them over the years.
4. Journey to Un’Goro
Elementals got added to Hearthstone in this expansion, and they’ve been a huge staple of the game ever since. The expansion also added Quests, and while they have been brought back a handful of times in different manners, it’s still a great twist on the gameplay and gave us all huge minions and effects. Unlike other Quests, the ones in this expansion felt distinct and fair; despite their massive power level.
3. The League of Explorers
Much like Curse of Naxxramas, the cards from this Adventure are so integral and utilized in Hearthstone that to this day, we still see them in play. In particular last year Blizzard brought back Brann Bronzebeard into the Core Set, and it became one of the most used cards last year to many players chagrin. That illustrates how fundamental these cards are.
2. Whispers of the Old Gods
The Old Gods are fan-favourites for many great reasons, but many will cite this expansion as the reason why they fell in love with these cards. So many cards in this were amazing powerful cards that gave a lasting impression on players who still yearn to play these cards or get excited when Hearthstone brings them back in new and exciting ways. This era of Hearthstone is admittingly some of the best times to be playing the game, and it’s mostly attributed to this expansion.
1. Blackrock Mountain
While not the first expansion from Hearthstone, and admittingly looks quite different as an Adventure. Which saw players paying a set price for a set of cards. Unlike the Expansions we see these days, the Adventures were more like Mini Sets, but really nothing was miniature about this expansion. Cards like Grim Patron and Emperor Thaurissan dominated the meta; cards like Imp Gang Boss and Quick Shot continue to be played to this day. Also, it featured a lot of cool Dragons and Dragon synergy cards. What’s not to love about that?