River Tram has average survivability (max at level 5 with 4 hp), and a “build around” grade, so her spells grades aren’t unduly influenced by needing her in play.
Harmony - ?. Generating multiple 0/1 dancers is quite strong on its own, and flipping them into 2/1 unstoppables will end many a Starter game. Just getting a single 2/1 isn’t worth the 2 gold and a card, but getting 2 of them would be, so you need to have some cheap spells, preferably ones that draw cards, and the ability to get out two heroes (or protect River, but if you can protect a hero while casting multiple spells, you’re doing fine regardless).
Discord – B+. Great early game for making your board wreck an opponent’s board of Tech I stuff. Especially nice as a counter to token strategies, or for killing Nullcraft, Prospector, or another non-patrolling 1 hp annoyance, while maintaining utility elsewhere. Loses a lot of steam in the mid to late game, and is often a 5th or 6th worker.
Two Step – B. +4/+4 for 2 gold is no joke, but needing two units in play, and being vulnerable to removal (or just a trade) on any of the 3 pillars makes this a high cost maneuver. This will usually be as good as Rampant Growth, and could be better if you have two units that can attack immediately, but the set-up cost is not trivial.
Appel Stomp – C. Even without chaining them, being able to sideline 1 patroller per turn, forever, at no loss of cards is a very nice ability. If you are in a position to maintain a max-band River, you are also in a position to want this effect. However, it’s by no means mandatory, and sidelining is just wasting gold if you aren’t getting good attacks or other effects out of the deal.
Troq has poor survivability (max at level 8, with 5 hp), and an “F” grade as a stand alone hero, so his spell grades are worse than they would be on an average hero.
Wrecking Ball – ?. Even in the most all-in base damage decks, spending a card to deal 2 base damage is a desperation late game play. This might come in eventually to sneak in the last few points, but it’s not worth it otherwise. Certainly not worth it if your plan is to trade cards in an attempt to break enemy tech buildings (if you have the card engine to not worry about the card cost, there are much better payloads for it).
The Boot – F. Very inefficient removal that trades at parity or worse against any Tech I in the game outside of Twilight Baron. While this could be useful as a tempo play, being tethered to Troq instead of, say, Grave makes this not worth the deck space.
Intimidate – C. An efficient way to keep your unit in play during an early or late game trade. The setup cost of needing enough attack to get through the opposing unit/hero, and the problem that it does nothing when you’re not the one attacking, limit the upside potential.
Final Smash – F. Dragged down mostly by how expensive and inefficient Troq is to level up, and then how little this spell actually does. At any point in the game, it is unlikely that your opponent will have a Tech 0, Tech I, and Tech II unit in play at the same time. If they don’t have a Tech II unit, you are paying 6 gold to get a 2-for-1, but they get to keep their Tech I unit, so you’re trading at card and gold parity at best. If they do have a Tech II, then this is similar to Mind Control, but more expensive, and with the potential to partially backfire if you’re the only one with a Tech 0 / Tech I unit. Mind Control only gets a C, and being (slightly) more expensive, on a much worse hero, just makes Final Smash not worth attempting.
Zane has the worst survivability in the game, since he will often be trading the turn he enters play, and doesn’t level up very quickly or easily (as well as having fewer hit points than normal until he reaches level 6). However, he’s one of the best heroes to play & use immediately, so his non-ultimate spells get a little bit of a boost.
Chaos Mirror – A. The Mirror does everything except kill Illusions. While best with artificially low attack units like Spore Shambler or anything affected by Battle Suits, the Mirror is excellent as long as you have anything with 1 or 0 ATK on the board, and passable with a 2 ATK unit or hero (for example, Zane himself). The typical use is to take the opponent’s biggest attack – especially potent against Tier III Swift Striking walls, but just as demoralizing against a Centaur or max-band Vandy (and you don’t have to pay for resist or get stopped by untargetable), and put it on your lowest ATK unit. Then kill the shrunken enemy without dying, making it function as a 2-cost Dinosize quite often. If that isn’t an option, you can also just get one half of the combo or the other: swap a high ATK onto an opponent’s thing you aren’t killing to keep your attackers alive, or attack with your own big thing (eg, max-band Zane) and then swap the attack onto your Wisp token or Smoker. Did I mention that this is the best way to make Smoker, Nullcraft, or Traffic Director attack for more than they were designed for, which is very potent, even if you aren’t being absurd and summoning Terras Q.
Detonate – D+. Detonate is an inefficient answer to opposing buildings, and an inefficient way to get gold advantage (early gold is better than later gold), and an inconsistent way to delay an opponent’s Tech II (although you might be able to do it going second). As a package, though, it can be worth it if you expect 2 or more of the effects to be plausible, and you also expect to have Zane in play early (ie you aren’t summoning another hero or teching their spells too).
Surprise Attack – C. 5 gold for 6 hasty damage is an OK deal, but if you can’t press your advantage, you’re probably trading at a loss, gold-wise. The timing window for Surprise Attack to be good is very narrow, but it can be super potent when you hit that turn 4 / turn 5 timing window where you can blow up their Tech I patrol zone, and then break their Tech building and strand good cards, while you draw into your own Tech II stuff.
Maximum Anarchy – D-. This effect gets you out of any situation, maybe. You do need to follow-up by generating a good board, and somehow need to have Zane survive a turn at max-band (not too hard to do) while still losing on board (an unlikely scenario), and being able to generate enough board presence afterwards to beat whatever the opponent is doing that forced you to Anarchy in the first place.
Drakk has below average survivability, but is quite potent to keep in play, so you are already incentivized to protect him, and getting his spells is a nice bonus. This has the net effect of not influencing his spell ratings.
Desperation - ?. If your hand is empty, and your deck is full of Blood magic and units, this gives you a potent burst of cards, at the cost of forcing you to discard 0, draw 2 at the end of the turn. As such, you should plan to already be at discard 0, draw 2 when you draw into Desperation, since you don’t want to be in the position of spending all your gold first, then drawing 3 cards and only being able to play 1 or 2 of them.
Kidnapping – A-. Take their best guy, trade it with their second best guy. That’s the dream, and very often it’s the reality, especially if you have Drakk at mid-band for the +1 ATK. Kidnapping will usually trade even or better on gold, and even if you can’t kill both units, you at least remove two patrollers, and damage the stronger guy (and then maybe sacrifice it to Orpal or a Sacrifice the Weak?). Even if they only have 1 unit, you can still steal it and run it into their hero.
Bloodlust – A. Charge, but for two things, can target heroes (hey Drakk, get in there!), kill Illusions (and other back row 1 hp guys who aren’t Nullcraft). The 1 damage is annoying, but the sudden burst of damage from Nautical Dog, Drakk, Bloodlust Both (that’s 5 gold and 2 cards for 5 hasty ATK, and you can do better).
War Drums – B-. Given a few units who can attack, War Drums is a very cheap way to add a ton of attack power. Red, and especially Blood, is full of hasty units (not to mention Drakk’s max-band), so even if you lost everything except Drakk, you could still dump your hand and end up with 10+ atk worth of hasty units on the next turn. Does require setup of either a full hand or a full board, but this is one of the best ultimates in the game (recall that Ultimates can’t get better than a B due to automatic conditionality of keeping a max-band hero alive).
Jaina is very hard to keep alive, but has a moderately powerful effect if you can keep her in play, which is duplicated by her spells, for the most part. This redundancy means that there are significant diminishing returns to teching additional copies of her spells. The first one will almost always find a good target, and can be rated “B,” while the second is a B-, the third a C-, and subsequent fire spells would be a ?, because at that point you are going all-in for a direct damage plan (which isn’t a bad plan).
Fire Dart – The cheapest option, best for supporting a primarily Unit based attack force that just needs some help clearing the patrol zone
Ember Sparks – The best at direct damage to buildings, also good for clearing small patrollers, or as a counter to swarm / Illusion strategies
Flame Arrow – A good answer to Heroes on its own, or redundancy with Ember Sparks for building damage.
Burning Volley – If you can protect a max-band hero, Burning Volley plus Jaina tapping to deal 3 will dominate most non-haste based Tier I play, and with some card draw can lock out Tier II completely.
To be written