My eyes look like bloody puddles this morning, having stayed up into the small hours playing (and watching other people play) Hearthstone's new Knights of the Frozen Throne expansion, which yesterday. As expected, many players are experimenting with greedy control decks that look to leverage the expensive as their win conditions, but occasionally you'll also run into someone running a brutally refined aggro deck with no cards from the expansion. These guys provide a vital role in the Hearthstone scene, ensuring that nobody is allowed to have too much fun.
So what should you be playing? If, like most of us, you're not a Kolento-class deck builder, you'll probably be looking at what the pros and streamers have been trying for inspiration. To help with that process I've collated what I think are some of the most potentially interesting decks at this early stage. Bear in mind that these decks, with the possible exception of Jade Druid which basically builds itself, will almost certainly not be what's considered tier one in a couple of weeks. So craft new cards cautiously.
That said, I've tried to pick archetypes I think are likely to have legs, and given a few choices for each class. Note that each of subheadings is hyperlinked to the exact decklist, and most of the host sites will enable you to copy a code to your clipboard which you can then paste into your Hearthstone collection manager to populate the deck, provided you have the correct cards. Now let's start with one of the biggest surprises...
Defile, as suspected, is an incredible effective (and cool) board clear, particularly when facing token-based decks.
Before the arrival of Knights of the Frozen Throne, Gul'dan was in the worst shape he's ever been. The Warlock class was regularly posting single digit percentage representation on the ladder according to , and few experts predicted the class being anything other than trash tier. But trust memelord to nail a playable build on day one. In fact, his value-centric demonlock deck is quite a bit better than playable, as he went on a 26-2 tear with it. The aim is to stay alive using board clears, single target removal spells and healing effects, then summon all your Demons back with Bloodreaver Gul'dan. It's an absolute blast to play, and given the deck's early popularity if you queue into a Warlock this weekend there's a good chance it'll be this.
Alternatively: If you're determined to make the Discard Warlock (or: discolock) archetype happen, then check out Brian "Kibler" Kibler's . I haven't played it personally, but Kibler banged his head against the Discard wall harder than anyone last expansion, so if anyone can make it work it's probably going to be him. Meanwhile, Janne "Savjz" Mikkonen has been having fun with one of his decks, which runs Lord Jarraxus, Bloodreaver Gul'dan, The Lich King and even Krul the Unshackled at the top end. Greedy much? Yes, but in an awesome way.
Corpsetaker fits perfectly in Paladin, where the presence of Wickerflame Burnbristle and Tirion Fordring all but guarantee you get multiple buffs.
Paladin got a ton of new tools with this expansion, and there's no one I'd trust more with them than Cong "StrifeCro" Shu. His current concoction is built around Divine Shield synergies in conjunction with the derided 'hand buffing' mechanic, which I'm still not entirely sold on. But still, if you've unpacked an Uther of the Ebon Blade and a couple of Corpsetakers, it's certainly fun to mess around with—particularly if playing dudes with fat stats is your jam. But speaking from somewhat bitter experience, I'm not sure I'd recommend crafting Prince Keleseth to try this—his deck buffing effect feels a little underwhelming. I'm more sold on The Lich King, who's already made his way into a lot of the decks being tested currently. So much so that teching in The Black Knight isn't a bad idea at the moment.
Alternatively: If you like your Paladins even slower, Andrey "Reynad" Yanuk was testing Blackguard—which deals damage at random equivalent to the amount you've healed—in a . Or, if you want fast, "Noblord" is running a version of the familiar , but with Skelemancers added to act as insurance against AoE spells. That card also makes a great target for the buffs from Spikeridged Steed or Blessing of Kings, though Polymorph will ruin your day.
Deck: Kolento's Midrange Druid
People thought this was going to be nuts, and they weren't wrong. In practice Druid is finding getting to 10 Mana easy enough, and the effect is like Firelands Portal on PCP. Don't be scared to craft it either, as the card is one of the most likely nerf targets in the set.
Even as a one-time , I have to say some of the cards the class has received with this set are ridiculous. The addition of Ultimate Infestation to Jade Druid is proving as people predicted, and that deck hardly needed help. More interesting is Kolento's new take on Midrange Druid, which also uses Infestation, but pairs it with a strategy based on filling the board with Taunt minions and tokens and then buffing them using cards like Bonemare (which is one of the early MVPs of the set) and Strongshell Scavenger. It's early days, but this deck already feels like it has to be the potential to be an absolute terror, so be careful not assume it's Jade or traditional ramp when you see Wild Growth played on turn two. There could be a bunch of big spiders on the way.
Alternatively: If you prefer just slamming big dudes down, (you'll also see this archetype called BIG EZ DRUID in the community, for no better reason than its funny) has you covered. And if you insist on playing Jades (firstly, boo, but also fair enough because it's really good right now) then check out these updated builds by Jon "Orange" Westberg and Paul "Zalae" Nemeth . The all-in aggressive style is also still perfectly viable, to the surprise of nobody, and if that's what you're into, you should give a spin. It adds Druid of the Swarm and Grim Necromancer, and looks very nasty indeed.
Deck: Ant's Evolve Shaman
Saronite Chain Gang
These double Taunt dudes are a good fit in any deck that wants to spam tokens, which means they make a perfect target for the Shaman Evolve upgrade.
There's not a ton to be said about this revised version of the already powerful Evolve strategy for Shaman. The big additions from Knights of the Frozen Throne are the two copies of Saronite Chain Gang, which provide an earlier target for Evolve than Doppelgangster, which Ant is now only running as a one-of. Another cute inclusion is the Rattling Rascal, which you hope to Evolve before your opponent can trigger the Deathrattle drawback. The big reason to play this deck is of course the new Hero Card, which casts a double Evolve effect when played. Thrall, Deathseer is the cheapest of the Hero Cards at 5 Mana, so it was always likely to see substantial play. I suspect some version of this deck will become even more prominent when people stop experimenting with super greedy Priests and decide they want to win consistently again. You've been warned.
Alternatively: If by some chance you got insanely lucky with your packs, or spent a fortune, you could try Kripps , for which he's currently using Shaman as the shell, precisely because of Thrall, Deathseer. If you'd prefer to test some of Shaman's new freeze-based synergies, Disguised Toast has a that uses pretty much all of them, including the new legendary Moorabi. Expect to see this archetype explored and refined more in the coming weeks. Frodan is also back with a new take on his slow, grindy, . I'm not all that convinced the Snowfury Giants are much better than Arcane ones though.
The 2/6 statline and pair of 0/2 Taunts provided by the Mirror Image spell make this the a great addition for any Mage deck that's looking to drag the game long.
Frost Lich Jaina was the Hero Card I was most excited to try, even if our placed her in the power ranking dumpster. The answer according to Wehguz's is to stick with the familiar Burn Mage build from the Un'Goro meta, but splash in a few Frozen Throne cards to support Jaina. The Lich King and Ghastly Conjurer both help stall aggressive decks while you set Jaina up, after which you can heal back up with a big Pyros, or just Alexstrasza face as usual. Not a radical departure from what anyone's used to, but that's because it feels like the secret package (Arcanologist, Medivh's Valet, Ice Block etc.) has to remain if you don't want to die. Which is probably sensible. And if you'd prefer to move off the Alex plan, uses N'Zoth and Sindragosa to generate massive value from the Fallen Champion tokens.
Alternatively: For a more Elemental-heavy take on the Frost Lich, with Ice Walkers, Tar Creepers and even Barron Geddon for an AoE Lifesteal heal. Elsewhere, though best known for his fast tempo Mage decks, APXVoid has been messing around with a that includes two Glacial Mysteries to yank secrets out of the deck by the fistful and Neirea has been using Simulacrum to update the . I'd test it but my head is sore enough as it is.
Dead Man's Hand
Plenty of pundits thought this would be so slow as to be unplayable, Dog and his army of magic giants had other ideas.
Speaking of headaches, David "Dog" Cacero spent much of the first night of Frozen Throne working on this incredible creation. I won't insult either of our intelligence by trying to explain exactly how to pilot it, ( for that), but the gist is you're trying to use Blood Warriors and Dead Man's Hand to create an endless stream of Arcane Giants that eventually overwhelm your open-mouthed, furious opponent. Not one for the feint-hearted, but if you want to play something really complicated, this could be the deck for you.
Alternatively: A number of other players have been trying to get a new tempo warrior deck based around self-damaging effects off the ground. Mitsuhide's , uses the new Warrior legendary Rotface and looks promising, and of course you should also pay attention to what Fibonacci the Warrior god himself is doing. includes his beloved N'Zoth, and one copy of Forge of Souls, the new card which searches your deck for weapons and draws them.
Double Prep sitting dead in your hand? Swap them out for potentially better spells (or double Purify) by slamming Lillian onto the board.
As long as there's Hearthstone, it seems there'll be some version of Miracle Rogue spamming cheap spells and doing massive amounts of burst damage. Even this early, it seems like the pros have agreed that Valeera the Hollow, the Rogue Hero Card, is going to be a staple in every deck. The fact she gives you Stealth for a turn, which prevents lethal almost as reliably as Ice Block, and then doubles up one of your cards each turn is exactly what the class wants from a 9-Mana card. is particularly sweet because it also includes the other new Rogue Legendary, Lillian Voss, who can upgrade the Razorpetals in your hand to more valuable spells—especially handy in slower matchups. Otherwise this is very much modern Miracle Rogue as we know it, and as such probably a good counter pick against the slower decks doing the rounds.
Alternatively: MrYagut is one of the best Rogue players in the world, so his , which retains the Arcane Giants, is definitely something to give a go if you enjoy the class. Interestingly, he's running r as his only 4-Mana card (thereby ensuring it gets a buff), which makes sense as Rogue has struggled for turn four plays since Tomb Pillager rotated out. Alternatively, if Jade is more your bag, give Justsaiyan's list a try.
Aside from having one of the best pun names in the set, this card is emblematic of Blizzard's attempt to push a more late-game-orientated Hunter deck.
As the lucky recipient of a golden Deathstalker Rexxar from my packs, I'm keen to find a deck for him that works. The perennial problem with any sort of late game Hunter is the anti-synergy of the Hero Power combined with the lack of healing and card draw. Nonetheless plenty of players are giving it a go, including HCT caster . What I like about is the addition of double Bloodworm, which is the only Beast with the Lifesteal effect. Perfect for helping to keep Rexxar alive until his Death Knight brother rocks up. I've faced a few Deathstalker decks on ladder, and lost to the ones that were able to play the upgraded hero on a relatively even board. Which isn't to say it's going to solve Hunter's issues with keeping the board in the early game, but slower decks for the class might at least be possible finally.
Deck: Kibler's Kazakus Priest
This value bomb is a classic Priest greed card for games that last longer than tennis matches and end with one player questioning their life choices to date.
Of course Kibler's first love (well, aside from Shiro, and dragons) is Priest, and it's no surprise he's been working on a singleton that also uses Shadowreaper Anduin for those sweet Voidform damage combos. (Raza the Chained is crazy good with the upgraded Hero Power.) If you've seen him play this sort of deck , you'll know the aim of the game is grinding your opponent out by getting stupid amounts of value off your cards, and new additions like Eternal Servitude and Obsidian Statue certainly help with that. Not the easiest, quickest or cheapest deck to play—but perfect for those of you who like to actually feel your opponent raging impotently at the other end of the internet.
Alternatively: If total RNG madness is your thing, Noxious has (inevitably) given his makeover. It crams the most degenerately random Priest cards into the same deck, then hopes for the best. But if you pulled an adorable Arfus from your packs, it could be worth a spin at the casino. Finally, for those looking for a simpler Priest life, the young savage Amnesiac is trying out some new stuff. It's less flashy, but probably quite a lot more likely to win games.