Knights of the Frozen Throne is Hearthstone's sixth expansion, and will be released in the US a little later on today, with the UK and European regions getting a taste of the new card set early tomorrow morning. Expect lots of Deathrattle and Freeze cards, and more than a little of the flavour enjoyed in the Curse of Naxxramas Adventure from all the way back in the summer of 2014.
We've teamed up with Eurogamer's specialist competitive gaming site Metabomb to bring you not only an overview of everything you need to know about the latest expansion, but also guides to playing the latest decks as they pop up in the metagame. These will be added into this article as and when they become available, and we'll update the list over time as well, so you're always playing the most powerful decks for the current meta.
UPDATE 12.08.17 6.36PM - Today's update adds a whole heap of new deck guides to this page, with just about every hero getting something new to mess around with. So far it looks like the Druid is receiving the lion's share of the love out there, but we have high hopes that the Paladin and Warlock classes are going to do pretty well out of things this time around. The Warrior's another class with an embarrassment of options right now, although we suspect few of them will prove truly competitive in the logn run
Frozen Throne decks
In this section of our Frozen Throne guide, you'll be able to access all of Metabomb's guides to playing the latest decks in the game. These contain an overview of how the deck works, a deck list (subject to change, of course), and some strategy advice in the form of a breakdown of all the combos that power the deck. The most promising guides will be updated considerably in the weeks after launch, and we'll make a note next to each one as they're updated.
One quick word of caution which is always applicable at the start of a new expansion. Please be careful when it comes to spending crafting dust in the early days of the new card set. There are always a few cards that are theorycrafted as being disgustingly overpowered, but in fact turn out to be rather damp squibs in the live meta. If you've limited funds or crafting resources, it's usually best to wait a couple of weeks for the dust to settle (no pun intended).
You only need to glance through the Druid's collection of cards from the Frozen Throne set to know that Taunt is going to be a big part of this hero's play for the next few months. We've got a Taunt Druid guide up for you now, as well as a revised version of our old Jade Druid guide - that's another deck that's tipped to be big for the next few months. Aggro Token Druid's still looking good as well, and so we've updated that guide with a meta-relevant deck list.
- 1. Midrange Druid - Midrange Plague Druid deck list guide
- 2. Taunt Druid - Taunt Druid deck list guide
- 3. Jade Druid - Jade Druid deck list guide
- 4. Aggro Token Druid - Aggro Token Druid deck list guide
- 5. Ramp Druid - Ramp Druid deck list guide
- 6. N'Zoth Druid - N'Zoth Druid deck list guide
- 7. Malygos Druid - Malygos Druid deck list guide
- 1. Token Druid - Budget Token Druid guide
Deathstalker Rexxar is the new Death Knight hero for the Hunter class, and a Deathrattle Midrange deck is likely to prove very popular in the Frozen Throne meta. We've also got a more traditional Midrange Hunter recommendation for you, and a guide to the much faster Secret Hunter - this one could be huge going forwards!
- 1. Midrange Hunter - Midrange Hunter deck list guide
- 2. Control Hunter - Control Hunter deck list guide
- 3. Deathrattle Hunter - Deathrattle Hunter deck list guide
- 4. Face Hunter - Face Hunter deck list guide
Secret Mage continue to look like a very interesting option for this hero, although one of the signature cards associated with this latest deck list - Glacial Mysteries - may prove too slow. Worth a look for now though, and we'll have additional Mage deck lists ready for you very shortly.
- 1. Freeze Mage - Freeze Mage deck list guide
- 2. Secret Tempo Mage - Secret Tempo Mage deck list guide
- 3. Control Mage - Control Mage deck list guide
- 4. Elemental Mage - Elemental Mage deck list guide
- 5. Exodia Quest Mage - Exodia Quest Mage deck list guide
Murloc Paladin thrived in the Un'Goro meta, and while we'll almost certainly have a revised version of that archetype in short order, for now we're very interested in the fortunes of the aggro deck built around the Divine Shield mechanic. We've also got early guides to playing the new Control and Hand Buff Paladin decks as well.
- 1. Aggro Paladin - Aggro Paladin deck list guide
- 2. Control Paladin - Control Paladin deck list guide
- 3. Hand Buff Paladin - Hand Buff Paladin deck list guide
- 4. Murloc Paladin - Murloc Paladin deck list guide
- 5. Midrange Paladin - Midrange Paladin deck list guide
- 6. Exodia Paladin - Exodia Paladin deck list guide
Can Dragon Priest not just survive but thrive in another Hearthstone meta? Let's hope so, as we're not seeing a huge number of options for this hero in the immediate launch window. The more complex - not to mention horrendously expensive - Highlander Priest is definitely rising up the ranks of early competitive decks as well.
- 1. Dragon Priest - Dragon Priest deck list guide
- 2. Kazakus Highlander Priest - Kazakus Highlander Priest deck list guide
- 3. Control Priest - Control Priest deck list guide
- 4. Big Priest - Big Priest deck list guide
This first edition of Miracle Rogue doesn't quite feel like the finished article and so we'll be revising it over the launch weekend once we've had some time in the live game. It's a good enough starting point though, and is based on a theorycrafted deck by Jeffrey 'Trump' Shih.
- 1. Miracle Rogue - Miracle Rogue deck list guide
- 2. Jade Rogue - Jade Rogue deck list guide
- 3. Thief Rogue - Thief Rogue deck list guide
The concept of Freeze Shaman is telegraphed pretty clearly by the new cards provided for the hero, but it remains to be seen if it proves competitive. Still, we've got a starter guide to playing a taunt-heavy version if you've drawn into the necessary cards during your frenzy of pack openings. If you'd rather mess around with the Shaman's new Death Knight card, Evolve Shaman should be right up your alley.
Zoo Warlock is back! Or is it? It's early days for this deck after a fall from grace in Un'Goro, and you should expect plenty of revisions to the deck list in the first few weeks of the expansion. We've also got a guide to playing the Control Warlock deck that a prominent player went 26-2 wins with in the opening hours of the expansion! Finally, there's a really fun Demon Warlock deck which we think is going to be quite the thing in the Frozen Throne.
- 1. Control Warlock - Control Warlock deck list guide
- 2. Zoo Warlock - Zoo Warlock deck list guide
- 3. Demon Warlock - Demon Warlock deck list guide
- 4. Handlock - Demon Handlock deck list guide
You're going to need deep pockets for the first of our recommendations, and so our advice about being conservative with crafting dust goes double here, but it looks very much like Control Warrior is going to be back with a vengeance. If you lack the cards, consider going down the Pirate Warrior route instead, although it's uncertain how long it will remain viable for. Blood Warrior and Tempo Warrior are other options, but you'll need quick wits to wield the former.
- 1. Control Warrior - Control Warrior deck list guide
- 2. Pirate Warrior - Pirate Warrior deck list guide
- 3. Blood Warrior - Blood Warrior deck list guide
- 4. Tempo Warrior - Tempo Warrior deck list guide
- 5. Dragon Warrior - Dragon Warrior deck list guide
Those are the decks that are breaking out in the new meta then, but if you're just after an overview of the new expansion itself, here's what you need to know:
Frozen Throne cards
The release of Knights of the Frozen Throne will see a total of 135 new cards added to the game. As well as adding the usual assortment of Common, Rare, Epic and Legendary cards across the class-specific and Neutral sets, each hero is getting a special Legendary Hero card which transforms them into their Death Knight equivalent!
Once the transformation has taken place, you'll gain five points of Armor, a Battlecry effect will be triggered, and you'll also gain a completely new hero power! Expect many interesting new decks to be formed around this radically new kind of card for Hearthstone.
Druid - When played, Malfurion the Pestilent allows you to summon either two poisonous 1 / 2 spiders, or two 1 / 5 minions with Taunt. Your hero power now grants either three points of Attack on the current turn, or three points of persistent Armor.
Hunter - Deathstalker Rexxar has a Battlecry which dishes out two points of damage to all enemy minions, and also grants the Build-a-Beast ability. This allows you to stitch together two previously expired Beast minions into a monstrous new creation.
Mage - Frost Lich Jaina's Battlecry summons a 3 / 6 Water Elemental onto the board, and all Elementals have the Lifesteal ability for the rest of the game. Her hero power now does one point of damage to a target, and if that target dies she gets another Water Elemental for free!
Paladin - Uther of the Ebon Blade has a Battlecry which pops a 5 / 3 weapon with Lifesteal into your hand. You gain a new hero power called The Four Horseman as well, which summons a 2 / 2 Horseman onto the board. Summon all four horsemen and the opponent will be destroyed!
Priest - Shadowreaper Anduain has a Battlecry which destroys every minion on the board (including your own) that has five or more points of Attack. The new Voidform hero power deals two damage, but can be used again on the same turn after you play another card (and assuming you have the Mana to spare, of course...)
Rogue - Valeera the Hollow grants you Stealth until the next turn comes around. Although this sounds like the Mage's Ice Block, note that if you are indirectly targeted by damage you can still lose the match. You also gain a passive hero power called Death's Shadow which duplicates the most recent card you've played on your turn.
Shaman - Thrall Deathseer's Battlecry transforms all of your minions into randomly chosen ones that cost two Mana more. It's a big Evolve play basically, for those familiar with that card. Your hero power also now allows you transform a friendly minion into another one that costs one Mana more.
Warlock - The Warlock's Death Knight spell card is called Bloodreaver Gul'dan and costs 10 Mana to cast. When you do so, every Demon that died earlier on in the game gets resummed onto the board! You'll also receive a new hero power called Siphon Life, which for two Mana will deal three damage to a target and restore three points of health to your hero.
Warrior - The Warrior's Hero card is Scourgelord Garrosh, and when you play it for 8 Mana you'll transform into your undead form and gain a 4 / 3 weapon that also damages minions adjacent to your target. New hero power Bladestorm does one point of damage to all minions (friendly or otherwise) for two Mana each turn.
Frozen Throne Lifesteal mechanic
It's not actually a new mechanic as such, but a rarely used effect is being brought more to the fore in Frozen Throne. Lifesteal is now the official term for any card or spell that returns damage dealt as bonus health.
Frozen Throne Missions
UPDATE: Our Frozen Throne Mission guide page is now live, and will contain walkthroughs for each encounter as soon as we've beaten them!
Remember the Hearthstone Adventures of old? Blizzard retired Hearthstone's single-player content following the release of last year's Return to Karazhan card set, but it's making a comeback in the Frozen Throne.
There will be a total of eight Missions spread across multiple wings of the Icecrown Citadel. When Frozen Throne launches, the Prologue Mission and the first wing (containing three bosses) will be released. In the second week, the next wing - again with another three bosses - will be released.
The final Mission will arrive in the third week, and will task you with beating the Lich King himself. He'll present a different sort of challenge depending on the hero you choose to take him down with, but if you beat him with all nine Hearthstone heroes you'll receive an alternative “Young Arthas” Paladin hero portrait.
There are other rewards to be had from these missions as well! If you finish off the Prologue Mission you'll get a random Legendary Hero card (see above), and if you beat all eight Missions you'll be rewarded with a trio of Frozen Throne card packs.
Don't expect these Missions to be a cakewalk like the Normal difficulty setting of the old Adventures either. Blizzard believes the content will be much tougher, and more like the Heroic challenges of old.
Here's a rundown of all the characters you'll face off against in Icecrown Citadel. Note that only the opening and closing fights against the Lich King have been confirmed at this point - we won't know the release order of the others (and their respective wings) until the expansion goes live:
- Prologue: Lich King
- Missions 2-6: Blood Queen Lana'thel, Professor Putricide, Sindragosa, Deathbringer Saurfang, Lord Marrowgar, Lady Deathwhisper
- Mission 8: Lich King
As soon as each wing goes live and the guides are ready, we'll add links to Metabomb's walkthrough for each one.