10 Bold Predictions for ‘Knights of the Frozen Throne’

10 Bold Predictions for ‘Knights of the Frozen Throne’

The following is a guest post from Tehl (@TehlHS), multi-legend player and my occasional arena co-op partner. He is the creator of Snakes and Drakes. You can catch him on the Hearthstone podcasts Top Deck Kings and Hearthcore.

10 Bold Predictions for The Frozen Throne

10. Rogue got the best Death Knight.

Valeera the Hollow(62876).png

Valeera the Hollow is an insane card.  This card essentially locks out the game with infinite Vanish followed by Arcane Giants allowing you to continuously swing in for 16 damage as long as your opponent doesn’t have removal for them.  In addition, to that the stealth that gives you when it comes down allows you the time that it takes in order to set up the combo.  The only decks that are going to punish this are burn mage and decks that play aggressively on the board,  which brings me to my next point…

9. Druid is going to be the only class playing on the board.

Spreading Plague(62841).png

With Mage and Taunt Warrior (particularly good matchups for Jade Druid) probably sticking around, Druid now has insane tools to combat aggro as well, especially Spreading Plague.  This card is at worst a stall of probably two turns and at best clears their board in the process, but either way, aggro is losing one of it’s best matchups in the game.  Rogue also has new tools to combat aggressive decks with the Shadowblade and it’s counterpart Doomerang which will undoubtedly see varying degrees of play depending on how long aggro sticks around.  Either way you will have time to play your Death Knights because I predict a much slower meta where aggro will be punished.

Bonus Bold Prediction: Skulking Geist was printed for the sole purpose of beating Jade Druid and it will see some (if it makes up over 30% of the meta a lot of) play for that reason.  (Note: I don’t count Taunt Warrior as a deck that plays on board)

8. Hunter is going to be worse.

Build-a-Beast(58725).png

The new hunter cards that are being introduced are terrible…I guess that’s all I really have to say.  Deathstalker Rexxar is the worst Death Knight and arguably may give you a worse hero power than Steady Shot.  For Hunter to continue to challenge the meta they needed more sticky aggressive minions to pressure the opponent, instead they got durdly, inefficient, clunky minions that when everything goes perfectly you probably still are going to lose a majority of your games…

7. The Lich King is the best neutral legendary in the game.

The Lich King(62922).png

This one may be slightly hyperbolic, but if I said The Lich King is a very good card that wouldn’t exactly be a bold prediction.  The Death Knight cards are as powerful as the Ysera Dream Cards, with taunt it gives it initiative, and if all goes right it can give you insane value while smashing face for 8.  While I am less confident in this prediction than some of the other ones, I also have no doubt this will be in more meta decks than any other card currently in the game.

6. Ultimate Infestation was a mistake.

Ultimate Infestation(62879).png

When you look at this card it instantly looks like a Firelands Portal that gains you some life and gives you approximately 8 mana worth of card draw.  So we already have a card that should cost approximately 16 mana, but the card is actually better than that, doing all of this at the same time gives this card increased value.  Normally we would have to play one card that is a Firelands Portal, one card that is an Iron Hide and one card that is a super-Sprint, now all of this is combined onto one card, meaning that this card kind of reads draw seven cards and play three of them…

5. Priest moves up a tick.

Shadowreaper Anduin(62889).png

While most of their new cards are as disappointing as the Hunter cards, Eternal Servtiude should definitely see a good chunk of play and their Death Knight is a game-changer.  While Shadowreaper Anduin on it’s surface may not be that impressive as far as the Death Knights go, it gives priest an opportunity to do something that it’s never been able to do very efficiently, close games.  Raza the Chained also could see an appearance back in the meta allowing priest to machine-gun chain two damage as long as they can continue to play cards.

4. Aggro Paladin will see a come-back.

Righteous Defender(62864).png

I know this is completely contrary to point number nine, that no one is going to be playing on the board, but on the backs of Bolvar Fireblood, Righteous Defender, and Light’s Sorrow all of the board clears that are going to be in the game may be playing right into this decks trap.  I don’t think this will be a very good deck, especially out of the gate, but with some tweaking and as the meta starts to settle, you may be able to catch some people off-guard with this old classic.

3. Mage will not play any of the cards released, and it will still be good.

Frost Lich Jaina(61810).png

Frost Lich Jaina and Sindragosa are definitely cuspers, and I may end up being wrong about them not seeing play, but neither of these cards buy you the late game tempo advantage that Medivh the Guardian does that usually wins you the game just fine on his own.  With the deck already relying on Alexstraza to stabilize, I don’t think there will be room for the new cards.  That being said, this will be one of the most fun decks to mess around with, although I think the best Mage list is already established, and it will continue to stick around, as it is one of the premier decks to contend against new Rogue.

2. Freeze Shaman will not be a thing.

Moorabi(62845).png

While you aren’t going to be bummed out ripping a Voodoo Hexxer from a Stonehill Defender, it is still going to be the third-best taunt that you are hoping for and that’s the best freeze card to be introduced by a mile.  Blizzard is definitely afraid of making another overpowered Shaman deck and acknowledges the power of Jade/Token Shaman in the meta, so they do the thing they are apt to do, which is try to introduce a new mechanic.  This deck will not be good, it will not be fun to play, and it will lose to everything in the game, maybe including new players playing Chillwind Yetis and Boulderfist Ogres.  With nothing being implemented to help its existing archetypes, shaman will definitely be taking a major step back in the Frozen Throne meta.

1. Defile is the best card in the game, and Warlock still may not be playable in Standard.

Defile(62840).png

This card was my whole reason for wanting to write this article to begin with.  I rated Ultimate Infestation a 10/10 and could see a nerf, I rate this card an 11/10 and will probably see an emergency nerf. Everyone is sleeping on Defile.  This is the most efficient, cheapest, and easy to accomplish board clear in the game, that requires little to no set-up.  Next time you are playing a game pay attention to how many huge boards could be cleared with a Defile.  On top of this, after this card stops clearing the minions on the board, it starts clearing their deathrattles, making minions like Dragon Egg and Haunted Creeper also susceptible to it’s reign of devastation, if you are playing Egg Druid or Pirate Warrior in Wild, I’m sorry to say that your days are numbered.  On top of this, this card has an insane synergy with Grim Patron which allows you to defile ad infinitum and wipe all boards and leave yourself with 15-21 power on the board.  Okay so we’ve established that this card is the most broken wild card ever printed, but will it have any impact on Standard?

If Warlock is viable in standard, it will be on the back of Defile.  Possessed Villager is still around to kick the defile train off and it will really punish Token Druid, Shaman and Pirate Warrior, furthering point #9, but Warlock may not have powerful enough tools to contend in the late game, even with the most efficient AoE in the game.  Honestly it makes my brain hurt trying to think of what a standard warlock deck would look like these days, cards like Kabal Trafficker have never seen any play and on an unchecked board, may make for an alright deck with the new warlock Death Knight which is okay and the Lich King definitely making a cameo, but even I am not bold enough to say that Kabal Trafficker Warlock will be the new meta.

Advertisements

“500th” Arena Run: SMOrc-fest 2016

“500th” Arena Run: SMOrc-fest 2016

Last night, I played my “500th” Arena run in Hearthstone. While I have officially played more than 500 runs, it was my 500th recorded run, where I have the stats recorded on a website. Prior to stat tracking, I had 2 12-win runs, along with a number of likely really bad runs. So now, I have my 500th recorded run in the books. For the sake of nostalgia, let’s take a look at what happened in this run.

Draft – Hunter

  1. Emperor Cobra, Coldlight Oracle, Injured Kvaldir – Clear pick.
  2. Illuminator, Defender of Argus, Sunfury Protector – Early in the draft, going with value pick.
  3. Razorfen Hunter, Pantry Spider, Salty Dog – These are equally bad, but liked the beast synergy and stickness of Pantry Spider.
  4. Cult Master, Unleash the Hounds, Cloaked Huntress – All good, Unleash is just on another level, used offensively and defensively.
  5. Murloc Raider, Cult Master, Blackwing Technician – Clear pick, not punished by taking Cult Master before.
  6. Tinkertown Technician, Spellbreaker, Puddlestomper – Felt I needed a 2-drop, Spellbreaker not good enough to change my mind.
  7. Frost Elemental, Polluted Hoarder, Blackwing Corruptor – Wanted to go faster as a Hunter.
  8. Multi-Shot, Arcane Shot, Faerie Dragon – Situational, but one of the best removals.
  9. Ironforge Rifleman, Desert Camel, Fiery Bat – Solid 1-drop that works great with Hunter.
  10. Imp Master, Questing Adventurer, Arcane Nullifier X-21 – Questing Adventurer gets out of hand, but taking the sure thing with Imp Master. My plan was to be aggressive and swarm the board.
  11. Voodoo Doctor, Volcanic Drake, Annoy-o-Tron – Fills lack of 2-drops.  
  12. Gnomeregan Infantry, Abusive Sergeant, Kvaldir Raider – Just the value pick. Didn’t have any card above 4-mana at this point.
  13. Tinkertown Technician, Violet Illusionist, Grotesque Dragonhawk – Best pick.
  14. Jungle Panther, Kill Command, Squirming Tentacle – Another easy pick as Kill Command is great for face and killing a 5-health minion.
  15. Evolved Kobold, Mechanical Yeti, Blackwing Technician – Clear pick.
  16. Acidic Swamp Ooze, Carrion Grub, Explosive Sheep – Carrion Grub has more value, but severely lacked 2-drops.
  17. Tracking, King’s Elekk, Tundra Rhino – 2-drop beast and draw upside. Can’t get better than that.
  18. Elven Archer, Mechwarper, Dragonhawk Rider – Another 2-drop. Helps 2 other Mechs.
  19. Armored Warhorse, Eater of Secrets, Questing Adventurer – Skipped on Questing again for an aggressive pick that worked well with deck.
  20. Forlorn Stalker, Nerubian Egg, Infest – Good for replenishing the hand, and the other choices were not convincing enough.
  21. Kindly Grandmother, Brave Archer, Houndmaster – Tough choice, but I took a chance to pass on the 2-drop for a great card in Houndmaster.
  22. Stormpike Commando, Spider Tank, Twisted Worgen – Not a great 2-drop, given things like Twilight Flamecaller, but needed a 2-drop.
  23. Kindly Grandmother, Lord of the Arena, Arcane Shot – I’m a broken record, but 2-drop.
  24. Bear Trap, Arcane Anomaly, Arcanosmith – At this point, Bear Trap had the most upside to put a 3-drop beat on Turn 2.
  25. Core Hound, Cloaked Huntress, Archmage – At this point, I had nothing big. Core Hound has poor value, but beast works okay.
  26. Arcanosmith, Frostwolf Grunt, Cult Apothecary – I figured Arcanosmith has upside, as the shield will protect my minions, while they go face.
  27. Zoobot, Tracking, Southsea Deckhand – I felt fine with my draws to pick Zoobot to buff my beasts.
  28. Boneguard Lieutenant, Jungle Panther, King’s Elekk – Best of these early drops.
  29. Misdirection, Bloodsail Corsair, Jeeves – All horrible, but Misdirection provides the most upside and keeps the enemy guessing.
  30. Argent Commander, Arcane Nullifier X-21, Abomination – Clear pick.

Hearthstone Screenshot 11-09-16 22.14.56.png

Gameplan

  • As evidenced by the draft, I had 1 each of 5-6-7 drops, and nothing but 2’s, 3’s, and 4’s. With this draft composition, I had a clear path to play my fast tempo game. The low cost minions also allows me to hero power a good deal as well.
  • I drafted a lot of beasts, which allows me to use cards like Houndmaster, Kill Command, and Zoobot for max value.
  • With cards like Cult Master, Infest, and King’s Elekk, I had the card advantage game down pat. Given I am hardwired to play tempo, I often topdeck in the arena.
  • Taunts in the deck also allow me to go face and trade less.

Game Replays

Thanks to the folks at HearthSim, all of my games under Deck Tracker are now uploaded to the Internet. You can see all my questionable gameplay below.

Upshot

  • Despite not having weapons or Freezing Trap or Savannah Highmane, this deck did a ton of work to make my 500th arena a good outcome.
  • Cult Master and Infest won me card advantage as expected, and the small minions were great for that. Infest in particularly gave me stupid-good value minions.
  • Arcanosmith did a ton of work. The 0/5 Shield was often on the board while I went face.
  • Mechwarper did work getting the 3-drop Yeti.
  • Misdirection, being the “unknown secret,” worked 2 times in this run. It was played around otherwise.
  • Overall, a very solid run, and one that was very fun to play. Given my tempo mentality, this was right in my wheelhouse. On to the next one!

Screenshots

Occasionally Huffer?

Hearthstone is over 2 years old, and players have been duking it out Wizard Poker style well before that in the beta stages. It’s safe to say that some cards are more well-known than others, owing to either effectiveness in the meta, being nerfed, or just being well-known for some inexorable reason. Take Annoy-o-Tron for example.

Annoy-o-Tron had utility when Mech Mages roamed the earth, but they weren’t typically a staple card. It’s still pretty good in the Arena, at all phases of a game. But Annoy-o-Tron became a factotum of Hearthstone because of it’s effective absurdity. The card fit as being good, but wacky and a butt monkey of GvG. These qualities allowed Annoy-o-Tron to have it’s own Tavern Brawl and have it featured in Hearthstone commercials.

Hearthstone Screenshot 09-30-15 13.22.25.png
OP pls nerf.

As such, another really well-known card amongst the Hearthstone community is Animal Companion. And of course, Huffer. Just plug in “always Huffer” into Google, and you’ll find 276,000 results.

Context

“Always Huffer” refers to Animal Companion always getting Huffer. Typically, this applies to your opponent playing Animal Companion, and having a 4-attack charge for insta-reach, and allowing cards like Kill Command to hit face. In a recent and spectacular Hearthstone cartoon, “always Huffer” was cleverly invoked with the Random Animal Generator (R.A.G.).

r.a.g..PNG

Animal companions

If you bootstrap it enough times, each Animal Companion should come out 33% of the time. And really, all of the Animal Companions are great value plays for 3 mana. Huffer is a +1/+1 over Wolfrider. Misha is a +1/+1 over Ironfur Grizzly. Leokk is a 0/+2 over Raid Leader. All have their respective uses and are appreciated.

Small sample results

Last night, I had my first successful Arena in a few days, taking a Hunter to 8 wins. And the deck had 3 Animal Companions. Through the run, I realized it wasn’t always Huffer. In fact, it was infrequently Huffer! I went back and looked at my Animal Companion summons over the 11-game Arena run.

  • Total Animal Companions played: 13
  • Huffer: 3/13
  • Leokk: 3/13
  • Misha: 7/13

Conclusion

In my Arena, I got Misha over half the time. And I can’t argue with the results, given we are in the “taunt meta” in the Arena, where taunts are just really good. Anyways, I’ve come to some conclusions about “always Huffer.”

  • It is a byproduct of “salt.” Huffer doesn’t come out 90% of the time, probably.
  • Hate for Aggro Hunter has always been a thing, and Huffer represents all that is bad with that playstyle.
  • Misha and Leokk deserve some love too!
Hearthstone Screenshot 05-07-16 23.40.59.png
Where the F is Huffer?

 

Hearthstone Sniper

Snipe is a pretty bad card that isn’t really present in Constructed and rarely seen in the Arena. It’s notoriety as a bad card lends to it never being seen. But then the element of surprise strikes, and hardly anyone seems to play around it!

I think in this 8-3 Hunter run, it was picked up 1 or 2 times total. It made for great tempo in removing useful minions.

Sniped Murloc to Insta-concede. Hey! You can be a Hunter and win by turn 6 without going face once!
Sniped Murloc to Insta-concede. Face Hunters hate him. One weird trick to winning on Turn 6 without going face.
2-cost Volcanic Drake kaput.
2-cost Volcanic Drake kaput.
Fact: I played a Spectral Knight next turn.
Fact: I played a Spectral Knight next turn.
Sniping a Legendary has a better ring to it than on a Common.
Sniping a Legendary has a better ring to it than on a Common.

Portrait of a Scumbag Deck

I admittedly “hate” aggro, though that only reflects my attitudes towards my opponents in constructed play. I have found myself draft arena decks (where I play most) towards fast decks, often classified as aggro in Heartharena. I just drafted this monstrosity.

Dang, I missed the Core Rager pick.
Dang, I missed the Core Rager pick.

A super low-value deck with 1 5-drop (not really) and 1 Molten Giant. It looks like my win conditions are Timber Wolf + Unleash + Kill Command. Yes, this deck will either get 1 win or 9.