Brian Kibler loves dragons. He's long been a pioneer in Hearthstone, always looking to adapt the theme to multiple classes. Dragon Priest, Dragon Mage, Dragon Warrior, you name it, Kibler has probably tried it. And it's not like these decks aren't competitive, he's typically up there duking it out in the Legend ranks. While one or two, particularly Priest, may have been considered a Tier 2 deck before, we're now in a situation where we find ourselves likely ruled by our Dragon Warrior overlords, especially if Vicious Syndicate's stats are to be believed.

You've likely encountered it on the ladder this month. Most meta reports put it solidly among the Tier 1 decks, ready to dominate the scene. But for longtime players, this is particularly interesting for one reason: Drakonid Crusher. Since its release in Blackrock Mountain, Drakonid has long been known as a great example of an Arena card: a big, beefy, relatively vanilla, minion that can really swing tempo into your favor. For more than a year that's what its identity has been synonymous with. But now we're suddenly starting to see it played throughout the ladder, all the way from Rank 25 to Legend.

How did this come to be? Let's take a look at a few of Kibler's older Dragon decks to see which minions he was using.



At this point the core of the deck consists of: Twilight Guardian, Azure Drake, Blackwing Technician, and Blackwing Corruptor with a really solid core of late game dragons to beef up the back end of things. Kibler very clearly prefers a Control oriented approach and we can't really blame him, it was basically the only way to get the archetype to work at the time. This is a little bit less true for the Dragon Priest and Warrior decks which actually averages a very reasonable 3.53 and 3.86 mana, respectively, but Mage is much more expensive at and 4.26. This alone tells us that the Mage is probably too slow to remain competitive. Many of the dragon-centric cards are tempo focused and if you're just going to play control, especially as a Mage, you might as well be playing a better archetype.

When Whispers of the Old Gods, and more importantly Standard released, things shifted pretty considerably, but Warrior and Priest were still the frontrunners for a full on dragon deck.



Ironically a smaller card pool caused the deck as a whole to become much more optimized. Each card was evaluated and refined to the point where it was arguably better off than it was before. A few high level players, Fibonacci included, even gave Drakonid Crusher a try, something many viewed as incredibly greedy. Without it's activation you're paying six mana for 12 stats, just short of what you're really hoping to get at that cost. But consider that when it activates you're getting 18 stats, a full 50% more than what you were before. A 9/9 is not easily removed. Ether your opponent will have to trade in a bunch of minions, waste some spell damage, or spend hard removal.

But all it took was one person connecting the dots to push this deck over the edge. If Drakonid being a 9/9 is such a great card when activated, why not shift the deck as a whole into something more aggressive and less controlling?



Reddit user Chiron explains it perfectly, "What's worse than being at 15 HP on Turn 6? Seeing your opponent slam a 9/9 on Turn 6. Seriously, it's not hard to get this activated on Turn 6 if you curve out. Now they have to deal with your current board as well as a 9/9 threatening 2-turn lethal. There's not even a downside to playing it, and at worse it's a 6 mana 6/6 which is just a slightly worse Boulderfirst Ogre with a dragon tag."

And thus Drakonid Crusher was brought out of the depths of the Arena and to the spotlight atop the Hearthstone meta in the span of just a month or so.