Hearthstone's next expansion, Knights of the Frozen Throne, is slated to release on August 10. While the main attraction will be the new Death Knight heroes, the expansion is set to receive 135 new cards. Shacknews is going to do its part to march towards this new expansion by analyzing the new cards through the big release date.
For anyone that needs to catch up:
Hearthstone: Knights of the Frozen Throne Card Reviews (Week 0)
Hearthstone: Knights of the Frozen Throne Card Reviews (Part 1)
Hearthstone: Knights of the Frozen Throne Card Reviews (Part 2)
Hearthstone: Knights of the Frozen Throne Card Reviews (Part 3)
Hearthstone: Knights of the Frozen Throne Card Reviews (Part 4)
(2) Ice Walker (1/3)
Your Hero Power also Freezes the target.
Source: VKingPlays on Twitch
This has the potential to be an amazingly annoying card if not dealt with in a timely manner. This turn's the Mage's Hero Power into a Freezing Potion and, in certain instances, it could be a game saver when facing down a particularly large minion. There are also some circumstantial plays where this guy will come in handy. Pulling a Shatter off of Cabalist's Tome now becomes much more useful.
On top of that, it falls right into the Elemental Mage archetype, which goes wonderfully with Frost Lich Jaina. Imagine discovering this guy late in the game with Servant of Kalimos. It's got the potential to be a game saver, freezing hapless minions until the Mage has the finishing blow ready. And on top of all of that, this will be crazy powerful in Arena, giving Mages another potent weapon to go with the numerous ones they already have.
This idea should be funny to think about. Picture a Priest or Warlock getting this off of Kabal Courier. Priests will heal and freeze their targets, while Warlocks will self-freeze for every card draw. Although it's hard to think of how this would work with Lord Jaraxxus. Would it freeze his Infernals? Can someone get DisguisedToast on the case?
(4) Meat Wagon (1/4)
Deathrattle: Summon a minion from your deck with less Attack than this minion.
Source: J4CKIECHAN via a YouTube rap
I appreciate this sudden surge of Hearthstone-based raps.
World of Warcraft veterans (like our own John Keefer) will recognize the Meat Wagon and here it is in Hearthstone form. The Meat Wagon has resulted in head-scratching and theorycrafting across the Hearthstone community over its Deathrattle effect. As a 4-mana 1/4, it's weak. So surely the Deathrattle would have to make up for it. But what can the Deathrattle possibly do to make this worth any kind of play?
One of the first answers was Doomsayer. Using the Meat Wagon as bait, the idea would be for an opposing player (preferably with a zoo of minions already on the board) to get suckered into destroying it. The result would leave a Doomsayer on the board, which would wipe out the opposing board. The same principle could apply to Validated Doomsayer, which would turn into a 7/7 pain in the rear on the next turn.
So in that case, the response should be to simply leave the Meat Wagon lie, right? Well, the problem then lies with the Paladin, who likes to pack Doomsayers, but also has several buffing spells that could up the value of this Meat Wagon at any time. Imagine using Blessing of Kings or Spikeridged Steed, which would then drop a significantly better minion after its death. Picture taking out a 3/7 Spikeridged Steed-boosted Meat Wagon, only to wind up with up with Finja, the Flying Star on the board.
Other classes can find some creative uses for this thing. Shaman might use it as something to trade into a minion in order to bring out some totems. The problem ultimately becomes that it's just too expensive for its stats. Constructed decks should take a step back and think if they're willingly blowing 4-mana on a Mech with pitiful 1/4 stats.
(6) Necrotic Geist (5/3)
Whenever one of your minions dies, summon a 2/2 Ghoul.
Source: Lucius Hellsing via YouTube
This is a tough sell and it's mostly because of its expensive cost and its stats. There's no other way to put it, but a 5/3 stat line for a 6-cost minion is awful. Most low-cost spells wreck it and even some 2-cost minions can simply trade into it.
The best case scenario would be if a Druid gets this thing off a Tortollan Forager and plays it on Turn 6, at which point most of the Druid's zoo minions are worn down and ready to trade into opposing minions for fresh 2/2 Ghouls. It sounds preposterous, but that's how hard it is to make a solid case for this card.
Hunter may also find a use for this thing with Unleash the Hounds, but that scenario is best saved for Arena. Constructed Hunters shouldn't even think of packing this thing ahead of Savannah Highmane and if other constructed classes really want 2/2 minions, consider using Hogger instead.
Fluffy Ice Dragon Cobalt Scalebane (5/5)
At the end of your turn, give another random friendly minion +3 Attack.
Source: Jupanda & reniehour via YouTube
A translation issue saw this card misidentified at first as "Fluffy Ice Dragon." And honestly, why couldn't it have stayed that way? Imagine wrecking someone's face with something called "Fluffy Ice Dragon."
At 5/5 stats, it's a solid choice for a Turn 5 drop and that's even before its effect kicks in. If there's another minion on the board, it gets its attack buffed up significantly.
Dragon Priests may not necessarily find a place for this guy in constructed decks. However, there's the strong possibility of finding this on Turn 7 with Netherspite Historian. Not only is it a 5/5 body, but that Netherspite Historian gets boosted to 4/3. That's not a bad combo right there.
Shaman might also find some use for Cobalt Scalebane. Not only does it survive a board-clearing Dragonfire Potion, but it can also potentially give a +3 Attack boost to any Shaman totem, making it an offensive threat. Zoo decks will love this guy, with or without Dragon synergy.
(2) Gnomeferatu (2/3)
Battlecry: Remove the top card of your opponent's deck.
Now comes arguably the most controversial of the expansion's new cards. Gnomeferatu introduces another new mechanic: reaching into your opponent's deck and directly eliminating a card from their deck. It's a far-more extreme version of Dirty Rat and one that has some Hearthstone players crying foul.
The wailing and gnashing of teeth is understandable, because it can potentially decide the game. It's entirely possible to lose a Death Knight card forever. That precious Alexstrasza could be lost forever. Oops, there goes Archmage Antonidas. Goodbye for the rest of the game, Malygos! See what I'm getting at? It can all happen on Turn 2 and it's all out of the player's control, in what sounds like a far less fun manner than Dirty Rat.
There's no doubt that this becomes a Warlock staple. It's an obscenely powerful card with decent stats, to boot. But this is going to be a bitter pill to swallow and it's a card that I can easily see growing out of control. I hope I'm wrong on this one, but I sense bad things on the horizon with this card.
(3) Val'kyr Soulclaimer (1/4)
Whenever this minion survives damage, summon a 2/2 Ghoul.
Warrior is taking all kinds of advantage of Whirlwind effects. Val'kyr Soulclaimer will join Acolyte of Pain, Armorsmith, Frothing Berserker, and pretty much any minion with an Enrage mechanic as a minion that gets better as it gets damaged. In this case, it's a Blood To Ichor effect on a 1/4 body, putting 2/2 Ghouls on the field whenever it survives. Personally, I think it looks like a slightly worse version of Imp Master.
This could be useful in the early game against low-attack zoo decks, but its effect is entirely dependent on its survival. And because it's such an easy target for removal spells, it may not be worth the trouble. Warrior has all of those aforementioned minions that would be better in a constructed deck than this guy. He could be a decent Arena option, though.
(3) Stitched Tracker (2/2)
Battlecry: Discover a copy of a minion in your deck.
Source: Tempo Storm's VLPS & Ratsmah via YouTube
This is Hunter's unique take on the Priest's Shadow Visions card, only it finds minions in a deck. Unfortunately, Stitched Tracker simply isn't very good
The first thing to note is the lack of Beast synergy, which means everything in Hunter decks. If it could Discover a fresh minion and then get buffed up by Houndmaster on Turn 4, it becomes much more playable. As it is, it's a 3-mana minion with an inadequate 2/2 stat line and few options beyond that.
It's also a disruption to the typical Hunter's tempo plays. It doesn't synergize with any of the Turn 1 and 2 plays, like Jeweled Macaw and Crackling Razormaw. And it simply pales next to Animal Companion, which is a much better option under any circumstance.
(5) Sunborne Val'kyr (5/4)
Battlecry: Give adjacent minions +2 Health.
Zoo decks are getting a lot of love in this expansion and this one can prove useful to the Shaman, in particular. While Sunborne Val'kyr's effect is useful to any zoo deck, there's something that feels doubly useful out of boosting the Shaman's ever-useful array of totems.
It's 5/4 stats are decent and help it stand out from Defender of Argus, though both of these minions have their merits and their uses. It's got its uses in constructed, though it'll likely shine a lot more in Arena, where its 5/4 body can truly be put to use.
(7) Archbishop Benedictus (4/6)
Battlecry: Shuffle a copy of your opponent's deck into your deck.
Yowza! This is an insanely powerful effect and should be a staple of every Priest deck. However, it should be noted that certain Priests shouldn't go clumsily playing this at Turn 7.
Remember that Shadowreaper Anduin reveal from Friday? The Death Knight Priest is going to truly shine in Highlander decks, where Raza the Chained reduces its Hero Power cost to zero. So Priests shouldn't go mucking that up by playing Archbishop Benedictus and risking adding duplicates to their deck.
Archbishop Benedictus will mostly likely be used for replenishing resources towards the late turns of any game. It should add about a dozen or so extra cards to the Priest's deck, which should help them survive most fatigue circumstances. This is another strong Priest Legendary to go alongside Raza and Lyra the Sunshard, making this a pretty good time to play Priest in Standard.
(6) Embrace Darkness
Choose an enemy minion. At the start of your turn, gain control of it.
Source: Virtual via Facebook
Embrace Darkness is a very intriguing card, because it's basically a cheaper Mind Control, but one that gives the opposing minion one final parting shot.
When this spell hits as intended, the benefits don't get any better. Take a Spikeridge Steed-boosted Paladin minion or a Taunt-boosted Humongous Razorleaf. The trouble is that there's a lot the opponent can do on that last turn to get around this effect beyond simply trading the minion in. Warlocks can utilize Shadowflame, Rogue can Shadowstep before the effect kicks in, and Shaman can simply Evolve the minion. An opposing Priest could theoretically Purify the minion to remove the effect. (If that idea doesn't work, it should at least clean it of any buffs.)
When Embrace Darkness hits, it's going to hit. But it's far too risky to waste a 6-mana turn.
(3) Crypt Lord (1/6)
Taunt: After you summon a minion, gain +1 Health.
Source: Zaltir via YouTube
Crypt Lord is built for Druid zoos, in the sense that the more minions a Druid places on the board, the more Health it'll gain. The trouble is, that 1 Attack value won't do anything to ward off opposing minions. Worse, it's vulnerable to a majority of spell removals and minions like Stampeding Kodo.
While Crypt Lord may look like a nice Turn 3 play, in practice it's not as good as Tar Creeper, which offers a decent 5 Health value, but also presents a more daunting 3/5 body for minions to try and plow through. Use Tar Creeper in this slot instead.
(5) Tomb Lurker (5/3)
Battlecry: Add a random Deathrattle minion that died this game to your hand.
Source: NaviOOT via YouTube
Tomb Lurker is another tough minion to make a case for, mainly because of its weak stats. A 5/3 stat line is immensely weak, so the case for Tomb Lurker is his effect.
Depending on the deck build, Tomb Lurker could bring in some high-powered minions for another round. Builds utilizing solely high-powered Deathrattles, like Cairne Bloodhoof or Aya Blackpaw, will ensure the Battlecry offers the most it can. This will set up a Turn 10 N'Zoth play that fills the board with high-powered, high-value Deathrattle minions. In the Druid's case, he could set up Hadronox for an encore performance.
But is it worth a paltry 5/3 minion? Maybe in the late turns under the aforementioned circumstances, but it's hard to justify Tomb Lurker in any other instance. His weak stats feel like they're too much to overcome.
(1) Righteous Protector (1/1)
Taunt, Divine Shield
Source: Sol via PandaTV
But what makes Righteous Protector a fierce minion is how useful it is even in the late turns. Adding Spikeridged Steed gives Paladin players a 3/7 Taunt minion with Divine Shield that summons another 2/6 Taunt minion when it dies for only 7 mana. That's bonkers! How about a 5/5 Taunt minion by adding Blessing of Kings, all for only 5 mana? Or how about in the early game, taking a Redemption Secret off a Hydrologist and having your Righteous Defender die, only to come right back at full strength?
The possibilities for this minion are bananas. It is impossible to imagine a Paladin deck without a Righteous Defender, given its multitude of uses across all phases of the game.
That's all for now. Come back tomorrow for another round of card analyses, as we march towards next week's release date. Plus, remember that Blizzard is promising more Death Knight reveals. Shacknews will do deeper analysis on those individual Heroes as they are revealed.
Any synergy ideas or thoughts? Join the conversation and let us know in the comments.