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.

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February 2017: 30 Arenas Complete

February 2017: 30 Arenas Complete

Playing arena in Hearthstone was always a challenge in that accomplishments were never acknowledged. Your arena average isn’t officially recorded anywhere, and there is no counter on how many times you got 12 wins. Job postings for Blizzard still ask how many times you got Legend. Well, when they released the first arena leaderboards last month, it was the first time that arena accomplishments could be validated.

I set a goal at the beginning of the month to at least qualify for this leaderboard by playing 30 arenas. It was a tall task from the start given that February is a short month, and that #100 in the Americas had a 6.46 win average last month, a full 1.5 games above my regular arena average. In the end, I failed in getting anywhere near the leaderboard, but I was able to play exactly 30 arenas in February 2017. Let’s take a look at what went down for me.

Hearthstone Screenshot 02-22-17 00.20.59.png

Stats

feb17stats
Courtesy of Hearthstone Decktracker

The Decktracker recorded an average of exactly 5 wins per run, a 150-84 record, a 64% clip. A day of disconnects sabotaged 2 games I played out and won, but were counted as disconnects from previous games that disconnected me. In the end, costing at least 2 games wouldn’t even get me to 5.1, so that point is moot. I had the full range of arena games from 0-12 wins. I did not get high-win runs of 8, 10, or 11 in the month.

After 18 games my average was 5.94 wins, and I felt good. Then I closed out my last 12 games with a 3.58 average.

Despite being a self-proclaimed Rogue player, the class did not do well for me, averaging 3 wins per run for 8 runs. Warlock and Mage averaged over 7, with Mage only accounting for just 1 run. Paladin and Priest were also solid contributors with 6.8 and 6 wins on average.

On the opponent side, I faced Mage and Warlock almost half (43%) of my games on the month. This was predicated by Mage being OP forever in the arena, and the rise of Warlock thanks to broken cards.

Hearthstone Screenshot 02-18-17 00.09.34.png

Experiences

I don’t think I have ever played 30 arenas in month, as I usually take 1 or 2 days off each week. Making sure that I hit this mark was a bit tiring. As February was a short month, I had to double up runs a few days, or do 1.5 runs on certain days. There were also days that I didn’t play an arena because of life business, so I doubled up more than I wanted to.

I was out of it to start the month, and contemplated giving up on the task right away. But, the horrible ranked meta didn’t give me incentive to stop, and I felt like getting the dust rewards in the end. And of course, I like playing arena more than anything, so that kept me in it. I wound up playing 29 (19-10) ranked games during the month of February, ending at Rank 12, something I haven’t done in a long time.

There were highs, in that I got my 12th and 13th Lightforge Keys. I also possibly played against Hafu (and won!), who is known to play under the tag “Battlepants.”

My last arena of the month, my only Druid run, was played with a Wild deck, while the Standard arena was implemented for the first time. I got to play with GvG stalwarts Zombie Chow and Mechanical Yeti for the last time in that run, while I faced opponents with golden cards and spells.

Overall, I played this month of arena with the least  thought possible. While I did know to play around meta-heavy cards like Abyssal Enforcer and Potion of Madness, I just didn’t play around much else, and play a fast style. Opponents seemed to be playing fast as well, which was interesting.

I’m not going to play 30 arenas next month. Chasing the #100 spot on the leaderboard appears beyond my capabilities. But it was a good experience to partake in.

Kara Out! A Look at 2 RNG Cards

I painstakingly stayed up last night to watch the Hearthstone reveal, which turned out to be what most were expecting, a Karazhan adventure called “One Night in Karazhan.” Only 7 cards out of 45 were revealed for the adventure, but 2 RNG-based cards caught my eye, Firelands Portal and to a much lesser extent, Ivory Knight. Let’s look at the numbers and see how good these cards really are.

Firelands Portal

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This is an eSports portal with more predictable results, limiting to 5-drops. A cursory view of this card is saying you’re paying 2 mana for 5 damage, and getting fair value for the 5-cost minion. But this is wrong!

Standard
Attack 4.19
Defense 4.69
Wild
Attack 4.13
Defense 4.68

The table shows the average attack and defense of the current 5-drops in the game. Very similar numbers of a minion having a near-vanilla 5-drop stat points, like Chillwind Yeti. Whatever 5-drops coming from the new adventure would likely be a drop in the bucket to affect these averages too much.

Battlecry 33%
Taunt 9%
Inspire 9%
Charge 4%

This table is more telling. 1/3 of your outcomes will be battlecry minions, meaning you are not getting battlecry from the summon, and you will be left with an under-stated minion. This is the main downfall of Firelands Portal. Getting a Faceless Manipulator (3/3), or Ram Wrangler (3/3), or BGH (4/2), with no battlecry. On the flipside, you could get Earth Elemental (7/8, taunt). Otherwise, taunts and inspires come up a good amount. Important to note that Firelands Portal costs 7, meaning you can inspire the same turn after Turn 9. Your rare chargers have a good chance to be big time reach with Leeroy Jenkins and Doomguard.

So is Firelands Portal good? Yes. It will practically kill most 0-6 drops with 5 damage and leave something on the board. Just don’t expect that minion to be too valuable. With that said, it looks to be a better arena than constructed card, because Mages just need more good common cards in the arena. (/sarcasm)

Ivory Knight

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The more boring card I will spend less time on is the Paladin card above. You’re basically paying a 2+ mana anti-tempo to discover a Paladin spell, and heal yourself for that value. A unique mechanic I must say, and I dig the chess theme.

Wild 2.94
Standard 3.04

The average costs for Paladin spells sit around 3. So you’re healing 3 and getting a 3-cost spell.

Secret 26%
Buff 23%
Destruction 13%
Card Draw 13%

The percentages in the table above aren’t exactly accurate, as discover allows you to pick from 3 cards. 26% of Paladin spells are 1-cost secrets, with most of them being bad. Paladin buffs on the other hand are typically OP cards. Some form of damage and destruction (Enter the Coliseum) and card draw cards are also other outcomes.

So is this card good? It’s hard to tell at the moment. In the arena, it is card advantage of getting a good spell. Just not sure if the big cost of a 6-drop is worth it.

In the coming days, the rest of the cards will be leaked. Excited to see the rest.

Back on Track Mage Arena Run

Either due to bad drafts or being distracted of watching the World Series, I have had 2 straight 2-win arena runs in Hearthstone. Time to get back on track!

Draft

Courtesy of heartharena.com
Courtesy of heartharena.com
  1. Saboteur, Grim Patron, Coldlight Seer – Clear pick hear as Saboteur is the only decent card for arena.
  2. Flame Juggler, Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Spider Tank – This one can go all 3 ways. Sorcerer’s Apprentice is too early to pick due to no spells drafted. Flame Juggler got picked because of it’s active ping ability.
  3. Amani Berseker, Darkscale Healer, Blackwing Corrupter – Amani Berserker gets duckets for Mage decks, and always useful for more early game.
  4. Worgen Infiltrator, Venture Co Mercenary, Maiden of the Lake – Value-wise, this one is closer than it seems. All of these cards have their uses at times, but Worgen Infiltrator is a pesky 1-drop that is good for early game aggression. If anything, it lets me play something after Flamestrike.
  5. Darkscale Healer, Kobold Geomancer, Mirror Image – Not the best picks, Darkscale Healer has the most value.
  6. Micro Machine, Stormpike Commando, Lance Carrier – More mediocre cards here, but going with Micro Machine because it can single-handedly win games if uncontested.
  7. Blizzard, Injured Blademaster, Fencing Coach – Blizzard is a card you should never pass on, except if you get… Nevermind.
  8. Flame Lance, Shieldbearer, Refreshment Vendor – Flame Lance provides big threat removal. Sometimes it may make you think a bit about whether to use it on something that has significantly less than 8 life.
  9. Murloc Tidehunter, Stoneskin Gargoyle, Ironforge Rifleman – The mediocre minion train chugs on. Murloc Tidehunter gives me an option to bring out Turn 1 + Coin aggression.
  10. Coldarra Drake, Molten Giant, Blood Knight – I’ve never used Coldarra Drake before, and it provides my first big minion pick. Molten Giant just isn’t great in Arena, and Blood Knight is a low-risk, high-reward type.
  11. Worgen Infiltrator, Jungle Panther, Archmage – Going with another Worgen here to build up my early game. The other picks are okay, but not cards I really love.
  12. Mind Control Tech, Arcane Nullifier X-21, Gadgetzan Auctioneer – MCT punishes overcommitting to the board, but it often clogs up the hand. It is still the best value over these other picks.
  13. Sen’jin Shieldmasta, Ice Barrier, Ironbeak Owl – Slam dunk for Sen’jin here.
  14. Fallen Hero, Flamewaker, Unstable Portal – This is another pick that could really go 3 ways. Fallen Hero is the safest pick here, as it has a pretty good ability. Flamewaker is reliant on more spells in the arena deck, and Unstable Portal is true RNG.
  15. Flamestrike, Grimscale Oracle, Mechanical Yeti – I really needed a Yeti here, but you can’t skip the Flamestrike.
  16. Mana Wyrm, Dragonhawk Rider, Razorfen Hunter – Half of my deck is picked already, and I have 3 spells and 12 minions. Mana Wyrm is a premium 1-drop that can get really dangerous if I pick more spells.
  17. Fen Creeper, Mogu’shan Warden, Bloodsail Raider – Fen Creeper is the clear value pick compared to the others.
  18. Shattered Sun Cleric, Frost Elemental, Unstable Ghoul – Heartharena favored Frost Elemental, but going with the faster pick.
  19. Gnomish Inventor, Worgen Infiltrator, Mirror Image – Going against the value grain again, just becuase I have 2 Worgens already. Gnomish Inventor gives me something to do in turn 4 and a card draw, which is something I really struggle with in the Arena.
  20. Unstable Portal, Pint Sized Summoner, Target Dummy – Well I can satisfy the RNG requirement with Unstable Portal. A really dangerous card that allows me to play something big on an early turn.
  21. Flamewaker, Mana Wraith, Ancient Mage – As said before, Flamewaker is a dangerous constructed card with less effectiveness in the Arena. I have 4 spells so far. Still the best pick here.
  22. Pit Fighter, Dragonhawk Rider, Micro Machine – Pit Fighter satisfies the need for some solid mid-late game.
  23. Frostwolf Warlord, Ice Barrier, Wisp – Another good pick for my mid-late game department.
  24. Water Elemental, Captured Jormungar, Nightblade – Water Elemental is tough to pick against, but I’m not choosing against a Fireball or Flamestrike.
  25. Spectral Knight, Faerie Dragon, Argent Squire – I picked Spectral Knight, and boy I have a lot of 5-drops.
  26. Flame Lance, Frost Nova, Lord of the Arena – Getting a second big removal with Flame Lance. I will be more aggressive using it to clear threats, now that I have 2.
  27. Stormwind Champion, Dragonling Mechanic, Ice Rager – Stormwind Champ is often a hidden win-condition, or something that can help trading up.
  28. Water Elemental, Ice Lance, Dalaran Aspirant – Another Water Elemental picked to annoy weapon users. Dalaran Aspirant is not bad, given I have a few spells in this deck, but not better than Water Elemental.
  29. Lowly Squire, Stormwind Champion, Flying Machine – I went with a big anti-value pick here, just because my deck was leaning too heavy. I don’t have any early removals like Flamecannon or Frostbolt (and I have one pick left). So I figure I would have to rely on early game minions to fill that void. There is why I took Lowly Squire.
  30. Polymorph: Boar, Madder Bomber, Gnomish Experimenter – Polymorph: Boar gives me a 3rd pseudo-removal, or some extra push for lethal or to kill something.

Strategy

  • I have a deck with plenty of big removal, AOE, and spell-triggering cards.
  • The 3-4 drop game is lacking, but I have more ground on 1,2 and 5.
  • The general strategy seems to be aggressive with small minions and control big threats with my spells. I can also have control on big boards with my AOE spells and MCT.

Games

  1. Paladin – Coin – 1-0 – The Paladin simply didn’t have enough early game to establish a board. I got a Frostwolf Warlord out on Turn 5, and was in control thereafter.
  2. Paladin – First – 2-0 – My opponent was threatening with Muster for Battle, Questing Adventurer, and even Justicar Trueheart! I ended his/her progress with a Flamestrike and put out big minions like Frostwolf Warlord and a portaled Drakonid Crusher.
  3. Hunter – Coin – 2-1 – Face Hunters ruin everything. I actually had my Flamewaker fall victim to a Snipe in this game. I set up taunts, and even played Saboteur to prevent my death in my final turn. And then I get a North Sea Kraken ping to the face. Good gameplan by the Hunter.
  4. Mage – Coin – 2-2 – This game went to Turn 15, and was mostly a product of my opponent being cautious. It also shows that not having card advantage will lose games. My opponent had cards in hand the whole game, while I resorted to topdecking for a while.
  5. Druid – First – 2-3 – Another long 15 turn game, where I played a cautious opponent. I lost a Stormwind Champion to MC Tech, and things went down from there. I faced a Mech-Bear-Cat that seemed to be in the game trading my opponents till I had none.
This literally happened: "For the Alliance!" "For the Horde!" "For Nazjatar." That's why we went 2-3. We didn't have a united cause!
This literally happened:
“For the Alliance!”
“For the Horde!”
“For Nazjatar.”
That’s why we went 2-3. We didn’t have a united cause!

Upshot

  • Welp, the reclamation Arena run proved to be my third straight 2-win arena run. The slump is official.
  • My arena win average is 5.03, drifting down to my plight of 4.9’s.
  • Something is wrong right now, or I am distracted from playing my best.
  • I need a Rogue run to get me going again.