March of the Lich King is Hearthstone’s 22nd card expansion releasing on December 6th, and it brings with it the brand new Death Knight class. The expansion itself will include 10 Death Knight class cards, but that wouldn’t be anywhere near enough to make a deck. Because of this Death Knights will also have a core set containing 32 cards, and a secondary set called the Path of Arthas which contains 26 cards. This means that on launch Death Knight will have 68 cards, more than any other class on launch! But why so many cards?
Unique Death Knight Mechanics
Death Knights have a unique rune system which determines which cards they can include in their deck. There are three rune slots and three types of rune, blood, frost, and unholy. Certain cards can only be included in your deck if you have chosen the correct runes. For example, Soulstealer requires you to have chosen three blood runes when making your deck. You can see this from the three red blood runes underneath the mana cost. This makes Death Knight deck building much more complicated than other classes.
Each rune type seems to lean towards a specific type of deck. Blood looks to be firmly establishing itself as the control option for Death Knight. Frost seems to focus on burning down your opponent with spells, weapons and aggressive Battlecries. Unholy focuses on more of a zoo archetype by generating a lot of small bodies and buffing them up. When you choose your three runes for your deck you can choose to either go all in on one of these strategies, or use a mixture like two unholy one frost, which gives you access to some cards from both unholy and frost, but none of the strategy defining cards from either.
On top of this, Death Knight has its own unique class mechanic, corpses. Every time one of your minions dies you generate a corpse. These corpses can then be spent by your cards to generate powerful effects. Death Knight’s hero power is designed around the mechanic. It generates a 1/1 ghoul with rush that dies at the end of the turn. This of course leaves behind a corpse, which is perfect for synergising with other Death Knight cards.
As a result of all of this new stuff, it is really difficult to predict which Death Knight cards will be good and which will be bad, but I’m going to give it a go. Here are my top 5 most exciting cards for the new Death Knight class. If you have read any of my previous articles you will know that I try to avoid saying “these are the 5 most powerful cards.” Instead, these are the 5 cards that I am most excited to play when Death Knight is released into Hearthstone on December 6th.
My Top 5 Cards for Hearthstone’s New Death Knight Class
Alexandros Mograine is the capstone card for the full blood Death Knight strategy, which is definitely the strategy that I am the most excited about playing. Blood seems to get a loads of tools that allow you to heal and even get more maximum hp. With Vampiric Blood (which I will talk about later) and Prince Renathal blood Death Knights can get up to a ridiculous 60 maximum HP. When you have twice as much max HP as your opponent, dealing 3 damage to them every turn will add up very quickly. Alexandros Mograine will make it extremely difficult to win a battle of attrition against a blood Death Knight.
From a mana perspective, if you value a vanilla 7/7 body at 5 mana, and 3 damage at 2 mana, you are breaking even after just 1 turn. Even if you value 3 damage extremely generously at 1 mana, then you still break even after only two turns. A control vs control matchup can easily go to turn 20 or 30. This means that if you play Alexandros Mograine on turn 7, you could easily get 18-28 mana worth of value. I think this card will make blood Death Knight the defining control deck in the upcoming expansion.
Vampiric Blood is the other big piece of the full blood Death Knight puzzle in Hearthstone. My explanation for Alexandros Mograine highlights the main reasons why it is very good. As Prince Renathal has already shown us, having more maximum HP is very powerful. Vampiric blood gives an extra 20 max HP on its own if you manage to play both copies. 20 max HP puts you so far ahead of any other control deck that it is hard to see how they would compete.
You probably won’t be playing Vampiric Blood early, as the 5 corpse requirement is a bit more difficult to meet for the blood Death Knight. This isn’t a problem though because of the added card draw. You can hold on to Vampiric Blood for as long as you want, and once you are ready to play it it will replace itself in your hand. Overall not super flashy, but a very good card.
It is also worth mentioning that Reno Jackson is in standard, so a 50 or 60 HP reno heal is not out of the question. I don’t expect that to actually be good, but I am sure it will be a fun meme deck.
Lady Deathwhisper is the deck defining card for the full frost Death Knight in Hearthstone. I don’t think it will be as good as full blood, but I do think it will be fun. Frost Death Knight cards center around dealing damage with spells and distributing damage randomly amongst enemies. Lady Deathwhisper is a pretty cheap card that is fairly bad on its own, but I am sure that it will be part of a degenerate combo using some combination of Horn of Winter, Glacial Advance, Icy Touch, and Frost Strike.
The hard part of a Deathwhisper combo is the fact that the effect is a Deathrattle rather than a Battlecry. This means it is difficult to get the effect to happen on demand. Frost strike does seem to be perfect for potentially killing your own Lady Deathwhisper, but I am not convinced that it will be good if you have to spend 2 extra mana to trigger the effect yourself. Nevertheless I am sure that it will be a fun deck to try out.
I will just say it, this card is fun because I enjoy playing one card and seeing my opponent surrender. Patchwerk destroys a card from the opponent’s hand, deck, and battlefield. This effectively makes it a removal for one card on the board, plus two chances of forcing your opponent to discard something crucial to their strategy. If the card was just a 4/6 for 7 which destroyed a random minion on board it would probably be a bit too expensive to see any play, but the extra destruction of a card in hand and deck really pushes it over the edge value wise.
I expect this card to be played a lot in blood Death Knight. Getting the card advantage and board swing in a control matchup is really powerful. It also has the added bonus of making the opponent concede if you discard their win condition.
This may be controversial, but I think this is the real payoff card for going three unholy. The value from this card is just insanely high in a deck that really need corpses to get going. Is it as flashy as Lord Marrowgar (who I will talk about later!)? No. Will it win more games in the long run? I think the answer is yes. Many unholy cards rely on spending corpses to give large beneficial effects, so gaining 4 corpses is very valuable. On top of that, the archetype that this card supports is a zoo archetype, which typically means the deck will draw a lot of cards and get the bonus 2/2 Undeads quite easily. The card isn’t super flashy, but I do think it is super solid.
These cards didn’t quite make the cut into my top 5 for various reasons. I still think they are worth talking about though.
Horn of Winter
I think this one is obvious to anyone that has played Hearthstone for a reasonable length of time. 0 mana refresh 2 mana crystals is insanely good. Cards that temporarily gain or refresh mana crystals are consistently nerfed. For evidence just look at Innervate, Lightning Bloom and Refreshing Spring Water. This card will be great, but we have seen a similar effect many times before.
I expect to see this minion in every blood Death Knight deck in Hearthstone forever. It also makes one blood rune a very tempting dip for a two unholy or two frost deck.
For one mana 1/2 is premium stats, in addition it has an extremely flexible Battlecry which can go face. The 2 damage will almost certainly be more impactful to your opponent than to you as blood has plenty of access to healing effects. Very few popular 1-cost minions have more than 2 health, so the Battlecry can also be used to get rid of the opponents minion and contest the board early. Overall it isn’t a very exciting card, but I do think it is extremely good.
This is the payoff card for going full unholy, and it is honestly the one I am least excited about. I can easily see unholy zoo dipping into either frost or blood instead of going three unholy.
Most zoo type decks start to really lose steam around turn 7 or 8. This means an 8 mana zoo card really needs to end the game. Although Marrowgar provides a huge amount of stats for its cost and lets you totally take over the board, it isn’t game ending as none of the damage can go face immediately. Nevertheless I am still excited give the card a go. There is no doubt that it will be a big board swing and might win the game if the opponent doesn’t have a board clear.
This is another card that isn’t very exciting, but will see a lot of play. Because of Reborn it generates 2 corpses for 4 mana, while also doing 2 damage to a random enemy 3 times and having a 3/3 body. The main strength of this card is its value. If we value a 3/3 body at 2 or 3 mana, and 2 damage to a random enemy at 1 mana we get 5 or 6 mana worth of value from this card. Above average, but nothing too exceptional.
The key is in the corpses I think. The equivalent mana value of a corpse will change depending on whether you are blood, frost or unholy. Frost seems to have the least access to corpse generation out of the 3 deck types, so this card could be a key corpse generator in an otherwise fairly corpse starved deck. I think this is one of those cards that is just fine on paper, but has the potential to be very good if the corpse generation turns out to gel really well with the curve of the deck that it is in. At the very least I think it will see play in a lot of decks as a decent filler card.
Holy Nova is crying. Control priests still run holy nova, and as far as I can tell this is just better in most situations. For one extra mana you basically have a holy nova worth of damage every turn. On top of that it heals you for 2 hp for every minion that is damaged. The only downside is that it doesn’t heal your minions.
The healing potential of this is just insane, especially against decks which go wide on board. Against a zoo type deck it wouldn’t be unreasonable to play this on turn 5 to clear five minions and be healed for 10 health. That just seems really good. Your extra max HP from blood also means that you will be in a better position than other classes to wait multiple turns for this to clear larger minions. This is just a really solid card. I expect it to be an auto include in all blood Death Knight decks in Hearthstone.
There are obviously far more exciting cards that I haven’t mentioned here. Condensing 68 cards down into just 5 that I was excited about was really difficult. With such a massive set I am bound to have missed the implications of some really exciting cards, so let me know in the comments if I haven’t mentioned your favorite.
If you want to try and build your Death Knight deck before release, Hearthstone have already put all of the cards up on their deckbuilding tool, so you can experiment as much as you like.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you are as excited for Hearthstone’s new Death Knight as I am!