After what seemed like an eternal wait, The Frozen Throne has arrived! The Lich King’s minions are sweeping through the Hearthstone metagame, and right now no one’s quite sure who’ll end up on top… Last week we examined the spoilers before the expansion’s launch and picked a few with the most potential. (If you missed that article, you can check it out here.) But which cards are proving dominant, and which are worth ignoring? Let’s see how accurate those guesses were, now that we’ve got a week’s experience under our belts!
Frozen Throne: Winners & Losers
I expected this card to be very strong… but it’s actually game-defining! Druid is arguably the best class on ladder right now, with Jade Druid actually performing ok versus Aggro and stomping Midrange and Control decks. An Ultimate Infestation in your hand guarantees you’ll never run out of cards or get out-valued, so you can focus on ramping up quickly. For this reason, lists are currently using Nourish to ramp almost every time. It feels odd that Blizzard released this card, because it’s even more insanely strong in-game than it looks. Druid can easily reach 10 mana, and thus the card is much better there than it would be for any other class. This is all setting aside the fact that Druid already had two very strong and competitive decks before the Frozen Throne came out!
The Black Knight
The Black Knight is the clear winner from the Classic set. We just got a great new target in The Lich King, arguably the best new neutral Legendary… but fortunately the Knight presents a clear counter. The Black Knight is strong against the Druid menace, but also can kill targets buffed by another Frozen Throne powerhouse – Bonemare. Expect this guy to find a home in almost every single list, unless people start (improbably) cutting The Lich King from their decks!
As just touched upon, Bonemare has turned out to be exactly as good as I expected. Very decent in decks with multiple sticky minions like Druid, but he’s more of an offensive card and thus also shines in Murloc Paladin in place of The Curator. The latter is a big tempo loss relative to its Cost and is mostly played for value. I personally don’t think it’s a viable option for the deck any more… You could spend 7 mana on your 4/6 and wind up facing The Lich King, which requires an immediate response.
Big Game Hunter
Big Game Hunter used to be one of the best neutral cards, since it cost only 3 mana and could immediately deal with huge threats like Dr. Boom. Since being adjusted to 5 mana, it’s hardly seen any play… For a long time, the only common target it had was Ragnaros. But with The Lich King running rampant, this helpful hunter has a solid use in almost every game! It also seems that Jade Druid is holding strong in the Frozen Throne metagame, and you’re guaranteed to “bag a kill” if you play the long game against them. Big Game Hunter is at its best when used as a tempo swing instead of holding it for maximum value – much like the superior Black Knight.
Murloc Paladin was one of the best decks pre-KotFT, but it struggled against other aggressive decks like Pirate Warrior. Righteous Protector is exactly what you need in these matchups… It’s a cheap, powerful, and very annoying Taunt that has an amazing synergy with buff spells and the little-used Redemption Secret. It’s also decent against slower decks because of the Blessing of Kings / Spikeridged Steed / Bonemare package, as well as Sunkeeper Tarim and Rallying Blade. This card was expected to be very strong… and it actually is! Sometimes simple is best.
I didn’t include this card in my original review, but it’s turning out to be unexpectedly potent! Taunts in Druid are quite good given that the deck wants to take the game extremely late. We don’t yet know if this will see more play, but playing a Strongshell Scavenger that buffs two or more Taunts feels great!
The Priest Death Knight was expected to be one of the strongest (alongside Druid), and this is definitely the case. The new form of Anduin could secure a place in most Priest variants! It’s actually at it’s best in a highlander deck (also called Reno) because of the synergy with Raza the Unchained, but it’s a strong card nevertheless. The mass Shadow Word: Death effect is devastating against Jade Druid, but also helps against decks with buffs such as Murloc Paladin. A clever player can actually stall the game until the moment they benefit most from the board clear!
Definitely a Frozen Throne sleeper… This card originally looked like a worse Bloodmage Thalnos. However the Divine Shield makes it very difficult to remove in some matchups! The factor that pushes this over the top is the synergy with Defile, where it guarantees a (minimum) 5 damage sweep – talk about value! Warlock also doesn’t really care about having the extra card draw, and Spell Damage also combines extremely well with Lifesteal effects.
Malfurion the Pestilent
The card is super strong, and that should come as no surprise. Both the immediate effect and the Hero Power have amazing synergy with Fandral Staghelm. What’s more, the Mana Cost (7) is relatively low for a ramp deck. Jade Druid is busted right now, and the new Malfurion hero is a huge part of why! From last week’s article: “Very solid card, and underrated by many right now. The Hero Power is the best part of the card… A Waraxe-sized attack or 3 Armor each turn can be dominating in longer games. Both the Poisonous and Taunt minions are strong options depending on the matchup.”
Uther of the Ebon Blade
And finally, our big loser! This card earned a #2 rating in the Vicious Syndicate pre-release poll, with 57% of respondents classifying it as meta-breaking… Thus far, it’s turned out pretty meh. This card never made the cut in my opinion, but as a slow late game card it should (in theory) shine against late game decks. The reality is that it matches extremely poorly with the two most dominant Death Knights. Druids can easily pick off the 2/2s with their Hero Power and the Priest’s better-than-Shadowform just mocks them!
So there you have it! These cards are standing out from the pack after just one week of play with Frozen Throne… Do you agree with my observations? Which cards do you think are better than originally expected… or were hyped for no reason? If you think you’ve discovered an innovative new brew or just want help refining your plays, consider booking a lesson. See you next week with a brand new article!