Hearthstone: Knights of the Frozen Throne Card Reviews (Part 8)

The card reveals for Hearthstone's next expansion are flying in furiously, so Shacknews is taking time to analyze each of the Knights of the Frozen Throne cards. (Featuring the all-powerful Lich King himself.)


Hearthstone's next expansion, Knights of the Frozen Throne, is slated to release this coming Thursday, August 10. While the main attraction will be the new Death Knight heroes, the expansion is also 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)
Hearthstone: Knights of the Frozen Throne Card Reviews (Part 5)
Hearthstone: Knights of the Frozen Throne Card Reviews (Part 6)
Hearthstone: Knights of the Frozen Throne Card Reviews (Part 7)

Analyzing Frost Lich Jaina
Analyzing Thrall, Deathseer
Analyzing Valeera the Hollow
Analyzing Shadowreaper Anduin
Analyzing Malfurion the Pestilent
Analyzing Uther of the Ebon Blade
Analyzing Scourgelord Garrosh
Analyzing Bloodreaver Gul'dan

(4) Phantom Freebooter (3/3)
Type: Minion
Class: Neutral
Rarity: Epic
Battlecry: Gain stats equal to your weapon's.
Source: stancifka via YouTube

Nobody really thought Blizzard would go an entire expansion without a single pirate. Phantom Freebooter is the sole pirate to hit the Knights of the Frozen Throne expansion, but it's a doozy. In fact, this will likely be a staple in most Pirate Warrior decks.

The vanilla 3/3 stats are bad, but the fact that it gains the player's weapon stats in addition to those base stats is outrageous. If the Warrior player has buffed up their weapon using Upgrade or Bloodsail Cultist, this minion has the potential to be a massive presence. Even Paladin players might want to give this a second look, given their use of weapons like Truesilver Champion or Tirion Fordring's Ashbringer.

There is one major downside to packing this over Kor'kron Elite, aside from the lack of Charge. It's the vulnerability to Golakka Crawler. No matter how big Phantom Freebooter gets, it's still subject to Golakka Crawler removal, just like any other pirate. Keep that in mind when constructing that Pirate Warrior deck.

(3) Mindbreaker (2/5)
Type: Minion
Class: Shaman
Rarity: Rare
Hero Powers are disabled.
Source: Inven Global

Mindbreaker! OOO-WEE-OOO!!

This guy has some intriguing possibilities, especially in the late game. Let's say the Quest Warrior has completed his quest requirements and is ready to fry some insects. Oops, no Ragnaros Hero Power for you! This ability would be interesting on a bigger, more viable late game minion. On a 3-mana minion, it's merely semi-decent, mostly because of that 2/5 stat line.

This is an okay play, but nothing that's going to knock anyone's socks off. He can be very annoying under certain circumstances, but he isn't going to swing games on his own.

(6) Bone Drake (6/5)
Type: Minion
Class: Neutral
Rarity: Rare
Deathrattle: Add a random Dragon to your hand.
Source: Alliestrasza via YouTube

Dragon Priests rejoice!

Bone Drake is definitely the best of the new Dragons. Boasting a 6/5 stat line for 6 mana, Bone Drake's Deathrattle gives him insane value across any deck. He'll serve Quest Priets incredibly well, offering multiple dragons after its initial play and after it comes back from the N'Zoth, the Corruptor play. Dragon Priests will welcome this guy into their ranks, with the only issue being a possible glut of 6-mana options with Book Wyrm.

But it's not just Priests that'll get a good use out of Bone Drake. Pretty much any deck rocking N'Zoth will get great use out of Bone Drake. The worst case scenario drop would be the 2-mana Faerie Dragon, but everything else would be aces.

(5) Webweave
Type: Spell
Class: Druid
Rarity: Common
Source: Jia via Twitch

Alright, I confess I need some help from the readers here. This looked to be a sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek tweet from Disguised Toast in regards to Webweave's viability. However, a very real response from Hearthstone designer Dean Ayala, saying this was actually a 4-mana spell at first, but was changed because it was too powerful.

Am I missing something here? Somebody walk me through design school here, because this seems... bad. Two 1/2 Poisonous minions that are highly vulnerable to removal, costs over twice as much as Stubborn Gastropod, and don't have Taunt seems like a particularly bad spell. It's honestly hard to see this in any kind of Druid deck, especially when there are so many better options in the 5-slot, with Living Mana at the top of the list. I'll freely admit I don't know everything about the Hearthstone design process, but this one is a head-scratcher.

(4) Saronite Chain Gang (2/3)
Type: Minion
Class: Neutral
Rarity: Rare
Taunt. Battlecry: Summon a copy of this minion
Source: Evangelion via YouTube

Saronite Chain Gang is Feral Spirit without the Overload downside. Shaman players won't (and honestly shouldn't) give this card a second look, since Feral Spirit will fill this same need nicely for one mana less.

Zoo decks might consider this, but at 4 mana, it might be a little too expensive to maintain the torrid pace needed of that deck type. There are better choices out there in the 4-slot, but if Arena players need Taunts in a pinch, this will suffice nicely. Think of it as somewhere on the level of Arcanosmith.

(3) Happy Ghoul (3/3)
Type: Minion
Class: Neutral
Rarity: Rare
Costs (0) if your hero was healed this turn.
Source: Tempo Storm's Frozen Pwn Showmatch

Happy Ghoul is a 3/3 that becomes free to use if your hero gets healed on this turn. It's hard to imagine a place for him in constructed, although some classes may find some use for this guy. Think Warlocks with Earthen Ring Farseer, fresh off a Life Tap. It's possible to get a pair of 3/3 bodies on Turn 3 with this combo and that's not too bad.

However, Happy Ghoul is another minion that's too circumstantial to work in constructed decks. There are far too many better 3-drops to use in that slot. This may work better in an Arena setting, but it's a mid-tier pick at best.

(5) Despicable Dreadlord (4/5)
Type: Minion
Class: Hunter
Rarity: Rare
At the end of our turn, deal 1 damage to all enemy minions.
Source: Tempo Storm's Frozen Pwn Showmatch

Warlock hasn't gotten a lot of strong minions over the last few expansions, but this Demon is a clear winner. Despicable Dreadlord can wreak havoc on zoos, dealing 1 damage to every enemy minion on the board. On top of that, it's a solid 4/5 body in the 5-slot, which isn't shabby for that effect.

Warlock doesn't have a lot of good 5-mana plays, aside from maybe Bane of Doom, so this will fill a void left by good neutral minions like Sludge Belcher and Antique Healbot. It definitely has the potential to become a Warlock staple, though players should be wary of playing it around Enrage minions and cards like Acolyte of Pain, at which point the effect will become a liability. Warrior will be a particularly bad matchup for Warlock and Despicable Dreadlord.

(2) Forge of Souls
Type: Minion
Class: Warrior
Rarity: Common
Draw 2 weapons from your deck.
Source: Hearthstone Top Decks

Forge of Souls is a handy dandy spell that allows Warriors to have weapons handy for the next couple of turns. It's a cheap enough spell, but here's the issue for those aggro Warriors, particularly the ones of the Pirate variety: Where in the deck does this thing go?

The name of the game for aggro Warriors is quickness and efficiency, so don't necessarily look for this as a Turn 2 play. The early turns are all about establishing board presence and just hitting face as much as possible. If the later turns come up and the Warrior runs out of resources, then this might be useful to pick up that Arcanite Reaper. Otherwise, it's taking up precious space in a deck that's already filled top-to-bottom with Pirates and weapons.

(11) Snowfury Giant (8/8)
Type: Minion
Class: Shaman
Rarity: Epic
Costs (1) less for each mana crystal you've Overloaded this game.
Source: DawN & Handsome Guy via YouTube

Ah, the lone giant of this expansion. Most of the giants are Neutrals. Untrustworthy Neutrals.

Snowfury Giant, however, is a Shaman-specific giant and one that becomes cheaper with every Mana Crystal that has been Overloaded over the course of the game. It's easy to Overload over the course of the game, especially with the 4-mana 7/7 terror known as the Flamewreathed Faceless still lurking about.

This encourages the use of area-of-effect spells, like Lightning Storm and Volcano. With most Shaman players also packing in Stonehill Defender, picking up Earth Elemental suddenly becomes a more tantalizing selection.

But don't look to pack this guy if you're playing Evolve Shaman. Since the idea of the early game Evolve Shaman is to establish board presence with numerous low-cost minions, the giant of choice should be Sea Giant. There should be enough minions on-board between both players that Sea Giant should be playable around Turn 5. That's a much more solid way to go.

(8) The Lich King (8/8)
Type: Minion
Class: Neutral
Rarity: Legendary
Taunt: At the end of your turn, add a random Death Knight card to your hand.
Source: Knights of the Frozen Throne live card reveal stream with Ben Brode & Brian Kibler

Finally, the end of the road is in sight, as the only cards left to analyze come from Monday's final reveal stream with Ben Brode and Brian Kibler. Shacknews will look at the remainder of these cards starting on Wednesday, but let's get a headstart with the fearsome Lich King.

The Lich King is a twist on the Ysera effect, only he offers Death Knight cards. Some of those cards have severe drawbacks, others offer damage or healing, and one even includes the powerful weapon Frostmourne, which feasibly allows all classes to wield a powerful 5/3 weapon.

The Lich King himself is a massive titan with 8/8 stats, boasting Taunt. He should be easily taken off the board with any of a variety of removal spells or even with The Black Knight. However, the fact that he gets off at least one Death Knight card makes him exceptionally valuable. Some of those Death Knight cards have serious downsides and may not see much play (Doom Pact, for example, destroys one top card in your deck for each minion removed from the board), but even the potential Frostmourne draw is worth the gamble.

Look for The Lich King to become an automatic inclusion in any Quest Warrior deck. A slew of Death Knight cards going alongside a Ragnaros Hero Power sounds downright filthy and could potentially make this deck nigh unstoppable in the new meta.

(4) Arfus (2/2)
Type: Minion
Class: Neutral
Rarity: Legendary
Deathrattle: Add a random Death Knight card to your hand.
Source: Knights of the Frozen Throne live card reveal stream with Ben Brode & Brian Kibler

Next up, DOGGO!

This is an adorable ghostly puppy dog, cheekily named Arfus. He's got some menial 2/2 stats for a 4-cost minion, but whether he merits inclusion to any deck depends on how badly the player wants that Death Knight card Deathrattle. The Death Knight cards, as mentioned with The Lich King, have the potential to be huge game-changers, but some of them have some truly massive downsides. By extension, Arfus is a huge risk for a huge reward, especially given those paltry stats for that high a mana cost.

With that said, the best decks to utilize him include the Quest Priests that are looking to get as many Deathrattle minions on the board as possible. However, since these decks will likely be running Shallow Gravedigger, maybe take a chance on getting Arfus as a random drop.

Hunters should take advantage of Arfus' Beast subtype and buff him up whenever the chance presents itself. Give it an extra push with Houndmaster or Crackling Razormaw. Maybe even summon it for less with the new Corpse Widow.

Of course, Hunters can also get Arfus as a random drop, maybe from a Turn 1 Jeweled Macaw, so maybe think twice before including the little pupper into your Hunter deck.

(6) Furnacefire Colossus (6/6)
Type: Minion
Class: Neutral
Rarity: Epic
Battlecry: Discard all weapons from your hand and gain their stats.
Source: Knights of the Frozen Throne live card reveal stream with Ben Brode & Brian Kibler

"Too many weapons" is not a complaint one hears too often, but Furnacefire Colossus is here to help with that issue. As a vanilla 6/6, it's amazingly strong for a 6-drop. But add any weapons to it and it has the potential to grow insanely powerful.

Got a pair of Fiery War Axes that don't quite work for the late game anymore? How about discarding both of them to turn Furnacefire Colossus into a 6-cost 12/10 minion? That's bananas, isn't it?

Rogues might get the most out of Furnacefire Colossus, since they have so many minions and spells that take cards from opposing classes. Pulled a bad weapon like Piranha Launcher? Get rid of it and buff up your 6-drop.

Its vanilla 6/6 stats alone make it a formidable choice for Arena and it has the potential to be a sleeper pick for constructed decks. Keep an eye on this guy.

(4) Deathaxe Punisher (3/3)
Type: Minion
Class: Neutral
Rarity: Epic
Battlecry: Give a random Lifesteal minion in your hand +2/+2.
Source: Knights of the Frozen Throne live card reveal stream with Ben Brode & Brian Kibler

Those that have missed the stat-boosting effects from the Mean Streets of Gadgetzan expansion, this guy is for you! Deathaxe Punisher offers a +2/+2 boost to a random minion in hand, but only if it has the Lifesteal mechanic.

On the one hand, it offers some marginal improvement to Blood-Queen Lana'thel, especially since Warlock decks are unlikely to pack many other Lifesteal minions. It makes that Legendary marginally more viable, but not by much, since it's still vulnerable to removal effects.

The problem with Deathaxe Punisher is that 3/3 stats are weak for a 4-drop. The minion itself is vanilla and is entirely dependent on having a Lifesteal minion in-hand. It's too circumstantial to be effective, so it won't quite work in either constructed or Arena.

(3) Drakkari Enchanter (1/5)
Type: Minion
Class: Neutral
Rarity: Epic
Your end of turn effects trigger twice.
Source: Knights of the Frozen Throne live card reveal stream with Ben Brode & Brian Kibler

Here's another potential sleeper hit of this expansion. Basically, any card with the word "twice" written on it is virtually guaranteed to be a hit and Drakkari Enchanter is no exception.

Drakkari Enchanter takes cards that have an end-of-turn effect and executes that effect a second time. That can apply to a surprising amount of cards, including The Lich King, Ysera, and Y'Shaarj, Rage Unbound. Of course, anyone looking to take advantage of this effect in a single turn may look at cards like Kabal Trafficker, Primalfin Totem, Mana Tide Totem, Hogger, or Despicable Dreadlord.

Wild players will love this guy, because it means a Turn 9 combo with Emperor Thaurissan, which will offer a 2-mana discount on all cards in-hand. Spectacular!

That's all for now. Come back tomorrow for the final two rounds of card analyses, as we march towards the Thursday release date.

Any synergy ideas or thoughts? Join the conversation and let us know in the comments.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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