Surprise! Hearthstone players are getting a free card expansion today

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Card images and art from Hearthstone's Knights of the Frozen Throne expansion.

Guess who's back! The OG Hearthstone Death Knight hero cards are getting a month-long comeback in Standard. (Image credit: Blizzard)

In an act of unprecedented generosity (or unprecedented hype-building, if you're more cynical), Hearthstone is bringing one of its most iconic card expansions back and giving every player free access. The Knights of the Frozen Throne set will be legal in the Standard format from today, and will remain so up until the release of the March of the Lich King set on December 6, at which point it will be banished back to Wild.

Thematically, bringing Knights of the Frozen Throne back is a cool teaser, because it was the first Hearthstone set to dip into Death Knight lore in the form of an undead 'hero card' for each class. It also added The Lich King as a legendary minion, which was Arthas Menethil's first appearance in the card game. As was also announced today, the forthcoming March of the Lich King expansion will finally add Death Knight as a playable class, with Arthas providing the starting hero. So yeah, as a tie-in, it makes total sense—especially given how beloved Knights of the Frozen Throne was. 

Originally released in August 2017, Knights of the Frozen Throne contains 135 cards, several of which subsequently had to be nerfed. Those changes have mostly been reverted, as has been the trend once cards have spent some time in Wild. Previously, the biggest number of Wild Cards that Blizzard has reintroduced into Standard as part of a promotion was October 2019's Doom in the Tomb event, which saw 23 cards come back (and also resulted in a diabolically unbalanced meta, but let's not dwell on that right now).

Making such a large injection of old content into the traditional expansion cycle is bound to shake things up substantially. Knights of the Frozen Throne was an incredibly powerful set in its time, and although power creep means the likes of Frost Lich Jaina are unlikely to be as strong as they once were, I think we're bound to see surprises in terms of potential synergies with our modern collections. Here are 20 of the most noteworthy Knights of the Frozen cards, with thoughts on where they might fit in now.

Spreading Plague

Indisputably one of the greatest anti-aggro cards. Unlike many of Knights of the Frozen Throne's strongest cards, it hasn't had its nerf reverted. It did however get the Nature spell tag added, which provides some Topior the Shrubbagazzor and Lady Anacondra synergy. Also good to get off Convoke the Spirits in a pinch. (Image credit: Blizzard)

Ultimate Infestation

Again, another of the strongest spells ever printed. Deal damage! Gain armor! Draw cards! Build a board! Still almost certainly bonkers in stuff like Jailer Ramp Druid(Image credit: Blizzard)

Malfurion the Pestilent

Here's one of the hero cards that was undoubtedly strong back in the day, but probably won't see play now because Druids will not want to lose Wildheart Guff's Mana ramp effect. (Image credit: Blizzard)

Deathstalker Rexxar

Simply one of the coolest cards ever printed. Blizzard's devs have told me that the hunter hero card is again being updated to include the newest Beasts in Standard. (Image credit: Blizzard)

Frost Lich Jaina

Another powerhouse hero card that might be too slow these days. There are a lot of strong elementals in Standard right now though, not least Lokholar and Neptulon, both of which have Rush. (Image credit: Blizzard)

Shadowreaper Anduin

Probably still be viable even without his buddy Raza the Chained, Shadowreaper Anduin's hero power overlaps with Xyrella the Devout's, but has the potential to be more aggressive, especially in a deck that can spam cheap spells. Naga Priest, anyone? (Image credit: Blizzard)

Obsidian Statue

Still one of the best (read: most obnoxious) Deathrattle minions Priest has ever had access to. Quest Priest does not need a 9-Drop, but the synergy with Xyrella the Devout is so good that maybe a Deathrattle deck could be a thing. Will definitely be a good Discover pick off Call of the Grave in the ultra-late game. (Image credit: Blizzard)

Valeera the Hollow

Again, the question is can you run it in the same deck as its more modern equivalent, Shadowcrafter Scabbs? Maaaaaybe? (Image credit: Blizzard)

Leeching Poison

Uh, so you'll be able to apply Lifesteal to the giant weapon made by Necrolord Draka. That seems… fine? (Image credit: Blizzard)

Spectral Pillager

More enormous burst damage for the current iteration of Miracle Rogue? Cool, cool. (Image credit: Blizzard)

Thrall, Deathseer

Evolve Shaman is barely a thing right now, but maybe this combined with return of the self-duplicating (and unnerfed) Saronite Chain Gang is enough to put it over the top. (Image credit: Blizzard)

Moorabi

Okay, yes, Snowfall Guardian got nerfed, but hear me out: Freeze Shaman. (Image credit: Blizzard)

Bloodreaver Gul'dan

Other than Mo'arg Forgefiend, there really aren't many huge demons to resummon with the Battlecry. The hero power will still be incredible in grindy games though. (Image credit: Blizzard)

Blood Razor

Having two whirlwind effects in one card adds even greater redundancy to the slept on Enrage Warrior deck. Should see play. (Image credit: Blizzard)

Rotface

Card images and art from Hearthstone's Knights of the Frozen Throne expansion.

A fat legendary that saw a little play first time around, but with the abundance of self-damage effects in Standard could merit a place as a value engine in Enrage Warrior. (Image credit: Blizzard)

Dead Man's Hand

I hate this card. It makes my head hurt. And the sort of Fatigue-based strategy it promotes probably doesn't work in a world where Quest Priest exists. Don't rule out some degenerate finding a way to bring back Infinity Warrior, though. (Image credit: Blizzard)

Prince Keleseth

Card images and art from Hearthstone's Knights of the Frozen Throne expansion.

Oh. Oh no, no, no. (Image credit: Blizzard)

Bonemare

Card images and art from Hearthstone's Knights of the Frozen Throne expansion.

Now unnerfed and back to 7-Mana, baby! Bonemare might not be good enough, but we are in a very board-centric meta, which is where the spooky nag thrived before. (Image credit: Blizzard)

Skulking Geist

Card images and art from Hearthstone's Knights of the Frozen Throne expansion.

No Jade Idols to target now, but here are some notable cards it can delete: Fury, Relic of Extinction, Wildfire, a bunch of Paladin crap, Shadow Word: Devour, Blackwater Cutlass, Schooling, Muck Pools, Flame Imp, Wicked Shipment, Sanguine Depths, Elwynn Boar, Irondeep Trogg, Sir Finley, Vicious Slitherspear.  (Image credit: Blizzard)

The Lich King

Card images and art from Hearthstone's Knights of the Frozen Throne expansion.

Last, but very much not least, is the frosty value engine himself. Note that the cards he adds to your hand will be the same as before, and not (fairly obviously) cards from the new Death Knight class which is coming with the March of the Lich King expansion. (Image credit: Blizzard)

With over two decades covering videogames, Tim has been there from the beginning. In his case, that meant playing Elite in 'co-op' on a BBC Micro (one player uses the movement keys, the other shoots) until his parents finally caved and bought an Amstrad CPC 6128. These days, when not steering the good ship PC Gamer, Tim spends his time complaining that all Priest mains in Hearthstone are degenerates and raiding in Destiny 2. He's almost certainly doing one of these right now.