Hearthstone Knights of the Frozen Throne Card Review #4 (Part 1): The rest of the set revealed

Well, all the rest of the cards in Hearthstone’s Knights of the Frozen Throne expansion have been revealed and we finally have an idea of what the new meta will look like. We see Death Knights with “win the game” conditions, cards built specifically to hate on existing strategies, and the arrival of The Lich King himself. Let’s take a look at what the new expansion has to offer.

Play Dead

1 Mana

Common Hunter Spell

Trigger a friendly minion’s Deathrattle

Our Take: Play Dead can create some incredible value plays. Spending one mana on nearly any Hunter minion with a Deathrattle effect is well beyond what you would normally get for a single mana. The issue is that this card takes up a space that would normally be reserved for a one mana minion and it cannot be played on turn one. In addition, it is simply a dead card if you top deck it from behind. It will see some experimentation, however I’m not sure it will be run in any final decklists.

Deathspeaker

3 Mana 2/4

Common Neutral Minion

Battlecry: Give a friendly minion Immune this turn.

Our Take: Immune is an insanely powerful effect, but right now there is very little synergy built around it. With no tags or other special effects and a mediocre body at best, the most this can do is save your most powerful minion. However, few decks actually revolve around summoning one insanely powerful minion. This makes it a good arena pick but not something you will see in constructed play.

Rattling Rascal

4 Mana 2/2

Epic Neutral Minion

Battlecry: Summon a 5/5 Skeleton

Deathrattle Summon a 5/5 Skeleton for your opponent.

Our Take: Under normal circumstances this card is useless, even in Arena. Since you and your opponent are both getting a 5/5 all this really is is a 2/2 for 4. However, when combined with Treachery you can give Rattling Rascal to your opponent, granting you the extra 5/5. Then again, that’s a seven mana two card combo to get two 5/5 creatures and to give your opponent a 2/2. It’s not fantastic but it’s certainly on curve.

Frost Clone

3 Mana

Common Mage Secret Spell

After your opponent plays a minion, put 2 copies of it into your hand.

Our Take: One again I feel I need to reiterate how powerful Secret Mage is right now, both in standard and in wild. In wild, however, Secret Mage gets an extra boost by running Duplicate, which gives you two copies of a minion that dies on your side of the battlefield. Frost Clone isn’t quite Duplicate, but it’s close, and depending on what your opponent plays, you can get monstrous value. I’m not calling this a must-play yet, but I am saying it’s a card to look out for.

Wailing Felhound

3 Mana 3/6

Common Warlock Demon Minion

Whenever this minion takes damage, discard a random card.

Our Take: Discard Warlock already suffered from being unable to keep up card advantage through all their discard synergy. Wailing Felhound just makes that problem worse. 3 mana for a 3/4 minion is on curve, so essentially this is giving you two extra health for an enormous drawback. Don’t expect it to be run in any deck.

Shadow Essence

6 Mana

Rare Priest Spell

Summon a 5/5 copy of a random minion in your deck.

Our Take: This card is phenomenal. Unlike most effects that summon or copy a random minion from your deck, this ensures you that you will get, at the very least, a relatively heavy body. If all you get is a 5/5, you end up slightly behind curve, but no harm no foul. If you score a minion with a good effects like Northshire Cleric, Radiant Elemental, Lyra, or any other number of good Priest minions, then you can very quickly snowball in value. Expect this to be experimented with heavily, and likely even make it’s way into a few high tier decks.

Rotface

8 Mana 4/6

Legendary Warrior Minion

Whenever this minion survives damage, summon a random Legendary minion.

Our Take: If you think Grim Patron was good, meet Rotface, everyone’s new friend. Rotface gets you far more value than Patron ever did, even if it gets hit once. Granted, he costs 8 to cast so making sure he gets hit and survives damage will be tricky, but that’s what the new Warrior Weapon, Blood Razor, is for. It produces a Whirlwind effect when it gets destroyed, so simply play Rotface the turn it’s about to go and watch your value snowball. You can also use Enrage, Cruel Taskmaster, Slam, and any other cheap damaging effect to squeeze value out of him as well.

Breath of Sindragosa

1 Mana

Common Mage Spell

Deal 2 damage to a random enemy minion and Freeze it.

Our Take: Arcane Blast was a 1 mana 2 damage spell that saw some play, but it was primarily good because it got double the bonus from spell damage. Without that effect, one mana for two damage doesn’t stack up. Just look at Holy Smite. Will the added Freeze effect make it worth your while? Most likely not, especially since it can only target things randomly.

Rune Drake

6 Mana 6/5

Rare Neutral Dragon Minion

Deathrattle: Add a random Dragon to your hand.

Our Take: More and more dragons are entering the meta, making dragon synergy decks more and more viable. Rune Drake is a dragon with a fat body, much fatter than Book Wyrm, the standard dragon six drop. It’s also one of the only dragons in standard that has a hefty value effect. I wouldn’t call this card amazing, but it’s certainly good enough to make pre-existing dragon decks even better.

Webweave

5 Mana

Common Druid Spell

Summon two 1/2 Poisonous Spiders.

Our Take: This is an interesting design for a Druid removal spell. Since Druid is a very creature based class, its removal should also be creature based. Only one problem: Druid already has a lot of direct removal, like Wrath and Swipe. As a result, this will be largely irrelevant, but I still like the design.

Saronite Chain-Gang

4 Mana 2/3

Rare Neutral Minion

Taunt

Battlecry: Summon a copy of this minion.

Our Take: Ever wanted to cast Feral Spirit in neutral? Well, now you can! Granted you have to wait one turn more instead of overloading, but that doesn’t make the creature bad. In addition, the 4 mana cost makes this a phenomenal evolve target, unlike Feral Spirit. Expect this to be run in quite a few Shaman decks.

Happy Ghoul

3 Mana 3/3

Rare Neutral Minion

Costs 0 if your hero was healed this turn.

Our Take: This is another one of those interestingly designed cards that most likely won’t be run. Happy Ghoul provides quite a bit of value, but few decks focus on healing your hero up as a style of control, especially with Justicar Trueheart out of the meta. This is one of those cards that could get quite good as time goes on, but simply doesn’t have the support to be played now.

Despicable Dreadlord

5 Mana 4/5

Rare Warlock demon Minion

At the end of your turn deal 1 damage to all enemy minions.

Our Take: It’s rare that you see board wipe effects that only hit your opponent’s side of the board, which makes Despicable Dreadlord somewhat unique. If you think about it, Arcade Explosion has the effect of dealing 1 damage to all enemy minions and costs 2 mana. If we accept that that’s the basic cost for this effect, then you are getting a 3 mana 4/5 body on top of it, plus the extra added bonus of maybe being able to cast it again. In short, this card has some decent value. The question, however, is whether it’s enough value to warrant running in any Warlock deck. I’d wager yes since there still seems to be no viable Warlock decks in the meta, so it doesn’t seem like a stretch to just run whatever gives you the most value.

Malfurion the Pestilent

7 Mana 5 Armor

Legendary Druid Hero

Choose One- Summon 2 1/2 Poisonous Spiders or 2 1/5 Scarabs with Taunt

Plague Lord

2 Mana

Druid Hero power

Choose One - +3 Attack this turn or Gain 3 Armor.

Our Take: Malfurion the Pestilent isn’t actually all that powerful. His Spiders effect can already be done with Webweave and his Scarab Effect can be done more efficiently with Spreading Plague. So why play him? Because he gets both effects with Fandral Staghelm. He also gets both effects on his hero power with Fandral Staghelm. With Fandral, this hero is a monster. Without him, he is OK at best.

Uther of the Ebon Blade

9 Mana 5 Armor

Legendary Paladin Hero

Battlecry: Equip a 5/3 Lifesteal weapon.

The Four Horsemen

2 Mana

Paladin Hero Power

Summon a 2/2 Horseman. If you have all four, destroy the enemy minion.

Our Take: This is another absolutely phenomenal hero which will see quite a bit of play. First, its battlecry is fast. It gives you immediate damage and immediate healing, which is something Paladin wants. Second, Its Hero Power is great. It’s essentially the same as the Justicar Trueheart buff, in that two mana gives you 2/2 worth of stats, except this time you can also just randomly win the game sometimes. Any effect that can just randomly win the game is worth looking at closely.

Druid of the Swarm

2 Mana 1/2

Rare Druid Minion

Choose One – Transform into a 1/2 with Poisonous or a 1/5 with Taunt.

Our Take: In one circumstance this is an overcosted 1/2 Poisonous minion, in another circumstance it’s a fairly costed but bad 1/5 taunt. Either way, it’s not very good, unless you run it with Fandral Staghelm, which gives you both effects at once, but the chances of you landing this combo are small compared to the value lost by running this minion in the first place.

Blackguard

6 Mana 3/9

Epic Paladin Minion

Whenever your hero is healed, deal that much damage to a random enemy minion.

Our Take: Another fantastic Paladin card with incredible synergy with other cards in the deck. Just imagine the applications. This gives you a 2 damage ping when using Truesilver Champion. This turns Lay on Hands into an 8 damage nuke that draws you three cards. This turns Ragnaros Lightlord into…. Just plain old Ragnaros. It is a fantastic card that is incredibly hard to kill and that can do work on the turn it is played. A definite run for Paladin control decks.

Forge of Souls

2 Mana

Common Warrior Spell

Draw 12 weapons from your deck.

Our Take: Drawing two cards for two mana is powerful, even when conditional, but you usually don’t want two weapons in your hand at once, since you can only equip one at once. You can argue that this can be run in weapon heavy decks, like Pirate Warrior, but it’s far too slow for decks like that. However, there might be a use for this card in that it can be used to tutor weapons from your deck. Pulling out your Blood Razor in a Whirlwind synergy deck, for example, would be exceptionally powerful.

Snowfury Giant

11 Mana 8/8

Epic Shaman Elemental Minion

Costs 1 less for each Mana Crystal you’ve Overloaded this game.

Our Take: Giants are always interesting cards. Greatly decreasing a card’s cost by doing something you would be doing anyway is a great way to gain tempo. The problem with Snowfury Giant is that you are, essentially, spending every crystal you Overload. So over the course of the game you are actually losing 11 mana to cast this, making it the most expensive card in the game. Not to mention, Overload Synergy dropped out of Shaman with the last standard rotation.

Night Howler

4 Mana 3/4

Common Neutral Minion

Whenever this minion takes damage gain +2 attack.

Our Take: With the set finishing up its final reveals, it’s time to get into the pack filler. Night Howler has a body that is abysmal for a 4 mana cost and a weak effect that has proven time and again to not be worth whatever mana you spend on it. Maybe pick it up in arena, but otherwise avoid it.

Hyldnir Frostrider

3 Mana 4/4

Common Neutral Minion

Battlecry: Freeze your other minions.

Our Take: There are exactly two uses for this card: playing it on an empty field or freezing your minions in order to make Moorabi copy them. Either way, the drawback seems too steep for the effect. File this one under pack filler as well.

Avalanche

4 Mana

Rare Shaman Spell

Freeze a minion and deal 3 damage to adjacent ones.

Our Take: This removal spell is interesting because you can’t directly target it. Keeping this in mind, it’s essentially six damage plus a freeze effect which makes it “better’ than the old standby of Fireball. However, it’s so conditional that it’s rare we will see this card played at its maximum value.

Arfus

4 Mana 2/2

Legendary Neutral Beast Minion

Deathrattle: Add a random Death Knight card to your hand.

Our Take: Death Knight cards are special spells that have incredibly powerful effects. Think of them like the Dream cards that you get from Ysera. Arfus is a pretty highly costed beast, but put together with some beast synergy and the overwhelming power of the Death Knight cards and he will work just fine in pretty much any deck. Don’t sleep on him in Deathrattle synergy decks either.

The Death Knight Cards

Death and Decay

3 Mana Spell

Deal 3 damage to all enemies

Our Take: This is probably one of the best Death Knight cards you can get. It’s a cheap and efficient board wipe that only hits your opponent. Expect this to grant you board position every time you play it.

Army of the Dead

6 Mana Spell

Remove the top five cards of your deck. Summon any minions removed.

Our Take: Speaking of tempo advantage, Army of the Dead is a great way to cheat out high cost minions from your deck. However, even if you only summon low cost minions you will still get value from this card. In short, you’d have to somehow draw into a number of minions whose value adds up to less than six mana for this card to be bad, and when revealing five cards that’s actually quite hard to do.

Death Grip

2 Mana Spell

Steal a minion from your opponent’s deck and add it to your hand.

Our Take: People thought Gnomeferatu was a good way to counter combo decks, Death Grip is even better. You literally take a card out of their deck and put it into your hand, allowing you to cast it. It’s a combination of card advantage for you, card disadvantage for your opponent, and a low cost steal/draw effect. It’s just good all around.

Doom Pact

5 Mana Spell

Destroy all minions. Remove the top card from your deck for each minion destroyed.

Our Take: Doom Pact is probably the worst Death Knight card you can draw. It’s a cheap board wipe, but it comes with an insane drawback that will send you rocketing toward fatigue. Hilariously, this is better used to pick off one straggling minion than to remove a whole board.

Frostmourne

7 Mana 5/3 Weapon

Deathrattle: Summon every minion killed by this weapon.

Our Take: And this is the best Death Knight card you can draw. The tempo swing that this provides is enormous. You will likely be killing three of your opponent’s minions and gaining them for yourself, and all it costs you is some health. That Lyra? It’s mine. That Gadgetzan Auctioneer? Mine. All of your minions are now part of the undead scourge!

Death Coil

1 Mana Spell

Deal 5 damage to an enemy or restore 5 Hearth to a friendly character.

Our Take: One half of this card, the damage, is one of the best direct burn spells in the game, nearly doing Fireball damage for two less mana. The other half, the heal, is one of the worst healing spells in the game, doing exactly what Flash Heal does at one mana more. You decide which half you are going to play. Here’s some advice: pick the good half.

Obliterate

2 Mana Spell

Destroy a minion. Your hero takes damage equal to its Health.

Our Take: Obliterate is ok, but that’s most of what we can say for it. Other classes have destroy effects that are just about as good but have no drawback. You really only want to be using this on small minions, which makes it a Shadow Word: Pain that costs health. Using it on a big minion might create a life swing that just isn’t worth it.

Anti-Magic Shell

4 Mana Spell

Give your Minions +2/+2 and “can’t be targeted by spells or Hero Powers”

Our Take: Welcome to the best buff spell in the game. Make everything stronger and impervious to spot removal? Yes, please! Unfortunately, it doesn’t protect your minions from board wipes, so it won’t really be useful in token decks, but every other deck will happily use this as long as they have a board.