On top of the deluge of Druids and Death Knights, Hearthstone’s recent Knights of the Frozen Throne expansion also introduced Icecrown, a new singleplayer adventure. While the lower wing encounters are nothing unusual for Hearthstone PvE, Icecrown’s final boss, the Lich King himself, is a doozy. Beating him a single time to earn a free pack is one thing. Beating him with all nine classes to earn a sweet animated Arthas portrait for the Paladin class takes some doing.
To help make it happen for you, we’ve put together a comprehensive list of the most affordable and effective decks that you can use to trounce the Lich King with every class in order to unlock Arthas. I've skewed towards budget lists, and avoided recommending niche strategies that rely on one-in-a-million mulligans. And for those of you who don’t mind spending some dust or flexing your credit card, I've also noted what expensive cards you can add to improve your chances.
The Lich King battle overview
First, let’s briefly go over the fight. The Lich King starts with 30 health and 30 armor, and his starting hero power summons 2/2 Ghouls. On his seventh turn, he will always play the Frostmourne weapon and summon six 2/6 Trapped Souls which, coupled with his new hero power, make him immune. All of his minions that are currently in play disappear when he plays Frostmourne, but return when it’s destroyed. To destroy the weapon, you’ll need to kill all six Trapped Souls, but you’ll want to prepare for stage three before doing so. Because once you do kill them all, the Lich King gains his final hero power, which deals escalating damage to you every turn, meaning you need to end the game quickly.
The Lich King will be able to keep swinging for 5 damage every turn with his weapon until you remove all of the Trapped Souls.
Depending on which class you're playing , the Lich King will also present a unique challenge, which we'll get to in the main guide. Before that, let's look at the two basic strategies: 1) Rush the Lich King down before he can play Frostmourne. 2) Quickly dispatch the Trapped Souls and grind him out with greater value. Budget decks tend to have an easier time just rushing him down, often by playing Vicious Fledgling and lots of Murlocs. It might seem random, but because Murlocs synergize with each other and quickly snowball, they’re the perfect way to exploit the Lich King’s limited removal. Most of the good Murlocs are also cheap neutral cards, so this strategy works for several classes.
Problem cards: Compared to previous adventure bosses, the Lich King’s deck is fairly tame, but there are still a few cards to watch out for aside from Frostmourne. The Lich King plays Blizzard, The Black Knight and Bonemare, all of which can totally ruin your strategy if you aren’t careful. He also runs two Death Knight cards: Obliterate, which destroys any minion, and Anti-Magic Shell, which gives all of his minions +2/+2 and spell immunity. With all that in mind, let’s move onto the best strategies for each class.
The challenge: The Lich King destroys all the minions in your hand and deck that cost three mana or less.
The deck: Budget Jade Druid
The plan here is to play as much of the Jade Druid package as you can afford. The key cards are Gadgetzan Auctioneer, Jade Idol, Wild Growth and Innervate. It’s possible to win with just these alone, but adding in extra ramp like Jade Blossom, Mire Keeper and Nourish, as well as minions like Jade Behemoth and Jade Spirit, is a huge help. Swipe is also good against the Lich King’s minions, and Spreading Plague counters the Trapped Souls and buys you time. Fill the rest of your deck with soon-to-be-destroyed three-cost minions to thin it and increase the odds of drawing what you need. If you can afford to add in Ultimate Infestation or Aya Blackpaw, great!
You want to mulligan for Jade Idol and ramp spells. Always Summon with your first Jade Idol, then shuffle with your second. Defend with Swipe and Spreading Plague to buy time for Gadgetzan Auctioneer, then go nuts with Jade Idol and other spells. Fill your deck with Jade Idols and build a board of huge Jades before you kill the last Trapped Soul, that way you can kill the Lich King quickly afterward.
The challenge: The Lich King destroys all the spells in your hand and deck.
The deck: Midrange Rogue
Rogue’s challenge is the most straightforward. There’s really nothing to it. Put together a basic list of efficient minions, mulligan for a good curve, make smart trades, and you’ll do fine. In other words, play Hearthstone. Brian Kibler’s Rogue list is another good starting point, though pricey cards like Vilespine Slayer and N’Zoth aren’t necessary. Sub in well-built rares and commons like Vicious Fledgling, Bone Baron, Bonemare, Bog Creeper and Sunwalker. If you do want to splurge, spring for Doomsayers to counter the Trapped Souls, or Kel’Thuzad to lock in your late game. Don’t be afraid to include a few spells like Hallucinate or Counterfeit Coin—you can either play them on turn one, or they will thin your deck when the disappear making you more likely to draw the cards you really need.
Or try: Tommy J’s dirt-cheap aggro list
The challenge: You can’t use emotes. No, really, that’s it. There’s no challenge.
The deck: Combo Priest
Priest has a history of cheesing adventure bosses, and I’m pleased to report that it’s still going strong. ZeroMana’s Combo Priest list (skip to the 9-minute mark in the video above) has everything you need: card draw, the ripe gorgonzola that is the Divine Spirit and Inner Fire combo, and two copies of Shadow Word: Horror to handle the Trapped Souls. There’s no real need for improvement, but Shadow Visions is a welcome addition.
Mulligan for card draw, particularly Northshire Cleric, and early game removal like Shadow Word: Pain. Use Wild Pyromancer, cheap spells and Circle of Healing to draw into the Divine Spirit combo. And remember, the Lich King is a Wild fight, so craft two Velen’s Chosen (drop the Auchenai Soulpriests for them) to ensure your Divine Spirit target survives Shadow Word: Horror. This makes it easier to get your combo set up before turn seven, not to mention control the early game.
Or try: Chakki’s high-roll Priest
The challenge: At the start of the game, you take two damage for every minion in your deck.
The deck: Scavenging Hunter
Clearing Hunter’s challenge on a budget requires no small amount of patience. Mulligan for Alleycat and Scavenging Hyena, and try to follow them up with Vicious Fledgling or Crackling Razormaw. Stitched Tracker and Tracking will also help you find your combo pieces. As Hearthpwn user lunarphobia explains, the plan is to ride a massive Hyena or Fledgling to victory by turn seven, and if necessary finish with spells like Kill Command and Quick Shot. It won’t be easy, but with a little luck and a lot of retries, you’ll get the win. (Note: when it goes wrong remember to click 'restart' rather than 'concede' to get back to the mulligan phase quicker.)
Your life total is irrelevant in this fight, so you can safely run as many as 12 minions. If you have them, throw in two Molten Giants. You can drop them early since your health takes a hit at the start, and they represent a huge damage boost.
Or try: Brian Kibler’s Reno Hunter
The challenge: The Lich King gains an additional 100 armor, putting him to 160 total health.
The deck: Alarm-o-Warrior
All credit to Reddit user LNebula for this one. The plan is simple: fill your deck with two Stubborn Gastropod, two Alarm-o-Bot, and the 26 biggest minions in your collection. You need to play a Gastropod on turn two to protect your Alarm-o-Bot on turn three, so you’re probably going to have to restart several times. But when you finally hit the perfect mulligan, it’s a guaranteed win. The Lich King will be preoccupied with the first threat your Alarm-o-Bot pulls, and it just snowballs from there. If you’re low on big minions, craft some commons like Tar Lord, Stormwatcher, Bog Creeper, Giant Mastodon, Faceless Behemoth or even Ultrasaur. Pack filler has never been so useful.
The challenge: At the start of the game, you take two damage for every duplicate card in your deck.
The deck: Kripparian’s Murloc Warlock
Warlock does Murloc aggro with ease. Life Tap keeps the cheap Murlocs coming, and class cards like Soulfire and Power Overwhelming provide good burst damage, especially in combination with Vicious Fledgling. The deck is so consistent, in fact, that you don’t even need a perfect opener. Hitting any one-two-three is usually good enough. Start with this trimmed-down version of Kripparian’s list. If you’re missing some epics, sub in Zoolock staples like Direwolf Alpha, Darkshire Councilman and Knife Juggler. If you’re having trouble finishing the game by turn seven, add in Shadowflame to handle the Trapped Souls. And if you can spare the dust, Murloc Warleader, Gentle Megasaur and Molten Giant are once again top-class additions.
Or try: Brian Kibler’s Renolock
The challenge: Whenever a friendly minion dies, the Lich King summons a copy.
The deck: Brian Kibler’s Murloc Paladin
If Warlock can make Murloc aggro work, you’d better believe Paladin can pull it off. Hydrologist secures your early game curve and gives Rockpool Hunter another target. Buff cards like Blessing of Kings and even Spikeridged Steed work wonders with Vicious Fledgling and help keep your Murlocs alive and snowballing. And when you do lose one of the fish folk, Hungry Crab is there for the revenge kill and easy buff.
Righteous Protector, Rallying Blade and Truesilver Champion should be used to protect your minions when possible, thereby negating the challenge effect. If you can’t win by turn seven, get aggressive with cards like Grimscale Chum and Avenge. Failing that, add in Equality and Consecration to answer the Trapped Souls. As always, the best epics to craft are Murloc Warleader and Gentle Megasaur, but Vilefin Inquisitor is also great. If you’re missing some epics, jam in common murlocs like Grimscale Oracle and Murloc Tidehunter.
Or try: Tommy J’s discount aggro list
The challenge: At the start of the game, your health is set to one.
The deck: Tempo Mage
ZeroMana really came through on this one (check out the video here). See, the Lich King casts a unique spell to set your health to one, and by mulliganing for Kabal Lackey and Mana Bind, we can take that spell for ourselves. That’s right: zero mana, 29 face damage. And would you believe it, casting three Pyroblasts for free on turn two makes things pretty easy. A few retries is all it takes to find our devious combo, and at that point, it’s just a matter of rushing the Lich King down.
The Murloc package works here, but a standard Tempo Mage is just as effective. An early Mana Wyrm backed by cards like Frostbolt, Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Flamewaker and our good friend Vicious Fledgling will tear through the Lich King’s remaining 31 health. Legendaries aren't needed for a strategy as beautifully simple as this, but epics like Primordial Glyph and Arcane Blast are strong fuel for Mana Wyrm and Flamewaker.
Or try: Elemental Control Mage
The challenge: All of the minions in your hand and deck become 1/1s.
The deck: Token Shaman
Whereas Priest literally doesn’t have a challenge mode, Shaman might as well not. The game plan here is the same as what you’re used to in Standard: flood the board with tokens and totems, Devolve the threats away, and finish with Bloodlust. Look for cards like Primalfin Totem and Firefly, beef them up with Flametongue Totem, and protect them with Jade Claws and Maelstrom Portal. Murlocs are great too, along with the now one-attack Nerubian Egg and Devilsaur Egg, though sadly Vicious Fledgling doesn’t make the cut. And remember, the challenge only affects minions that start in your deck, meaning those upgraded by Evolve will be full-fat. Naturally, the Shaman Death Knight is an excellent choice if you have it. And while it’s a niche craft, Hobgoblin also works exactly how you’d hope.
Or try: Tommy J’s threadbare Shaman