Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft has quite a bit about its design that is truly clever. One of the most interesting aspects of this game’s mechanics is the set of legendary class minions for the Classic set.
Each of these cards serves as a sort of ultimate introduction to the primary mechanics of the class they represent. They reflect the play-style of that class, what’s important tot hem, and essentially serve as the “ultimate” card for any given class.
Starting with Mage, which I think serves as the best possible example, Archmage Antonidas gives you a Fireball each time you cast a spell. With Fireball being the ultimate spell for this class, and a really strong representation of the combination of aggressive and control playstyles that in their most versatile forms, can only really be executed by Mage.
Priest gets Prophet Velen, who doubles the healing and damage of spells and hero powers. Cards like Mind Blast, Holy Smite, and many others are given a massive boost in viability. Not to mention that Velen is a 7/7 anyway, making him a significant body on the board.
Warrior has Grommash, who is both the father of Garrosh and arguably the best charge minion in the game. An 8-cost 4/9 with charge and enrage +6 attack, means that if you can find a way to do instant damage to Grommash (which is easy with cards like Inner Rage and Whirlwind) then you can do a quick 10 damage. This really drives home the importance of having damaged minions. Warrior is the master of Charge minions as well. So this is an incredibly reflective card.
Hunter has King Krush, who is the definition of aggressive play. A 9-cost Beast with 8/8 and Charge. Play this card, and go for face. Pretty much just capitalizing on the aggressive style of Hunter.
Warlock has potentially my favorite legendary minion in the whole game. LORD JARAXXUS! This card replaces your hero in a heavily risky system that cuts your health in half, and opens you up to instant kill by Sacrificial Pact, in exchange for a 3/8 weapon and a hero power that summons 6/6 minions. It’s a creative and fun card, and an interesting way to close out a game.
Shaman has Al’Akir, who maybe represents the class the least. But with him being an 8-cost minion with 3/5 as well as Taunt, Charge, Windfury, and Divine Shield makes him really good for removal. Now in the new expansions he can be evolved after being used to get an even more devastating minion.
Tirion Fordring still reigns as one of the most game-ending minions in all of Hearthstone. Makes sense, given his value. An 8-cost 6/6 with Taunt, Divine Shield, and a Deathrattle that equips a 5/3 weapon. It doesn’t get much better than that. It also really strongly represents the natur eof Divine Shield and powerful weapons in Paladin decks.
Druid has Cenarius, yet another that doesn’t quite have the same mechanical reflection as the rest, yet still with a combination of the “Choose One” mechanic that Druid cards are known for, combined with the use of Treants, Malfurion’s main weapon these days, a lot of really cool options are present.
Finally, there’s the best and yet simplest card. Edwin Van Cleef for Rogue, just uses the combo system in the best way possible. This 3-cost 2/2 will gain +2/+2 for every other card played on the turn it is summoned. This can be combined with the coin and Shadowstep to get a very early game 10/10 or higher.
As you can see, there’s quite a bit to be found here, in way of design. Very thoughtful, well executed card design that to be honest, isn’t as potent in the newer expansions. This isn’t to say they don’t have interesting setups and styles, but they rarely reflect the state of the class as much as these older cards. Most of them are in fact still used regularly in a lot of decks.