Written by Sam Swindell // Edited by Andrew Busch // All Images courtesy of Blizzard
On July 6th, Blizzard revealed their upcoming Hearthstone expansion: Knights of the Frozen Throne. Following the new release format, this set will contain 135 cards themed around Northrend, the frozen north of Azeroth. On top of that, you have the option to invade Icecrown and stop the Lich King in the expansion’s free single-player adventure.
The Frozen Throne, resting deep within Icecrown harbors a terrible power; the Lich King’s influence spreads throughout the land, swaying all life to his unholy purpose. An undead Scourge now plagues the land of Icecrown and it is up to you, as the player, to take up arms and defeat this evil threat. However, this does not come without a price. Powerful as our heroes may be, the Lich King is able to turn even the most steadfast of champions to his command. Watch as your favorite heroes transform and embrace the evil ways of a death knight.
The Hearthstone design team aimed to immerse players in the story of Icecrown. They considered what it really meant to invade the territory of one of Warcraft’s most sinister villains. In the recent announcement trailer, Hearthstone game director Ben Brode shared their unsettling idea, “What if everybody dies?”
The cold truth of it is no one escapes the Lich King’s presence untainted and thus we have Hearthstone’s first new card type: Hero cards.
Each of these new legendary cards will transform your hero into a death knight, granting them a new ability.
The first revealed hero card is Deathstalker Rexxar. When cast, the card’s written effects will take place and your hero will gain five additional armor. Next, as Rexxar gives his soul to the Lich King, he will be granted a new Hero Power: Build-A-Beast. For two mana, you will “craft a custom Zombeast.” You will discover a beast not once, but twice, and combine the chosen creatures’ mana cost, health, attack power, and card effects, adding a powerful new Zombeast to your hand.
In addition to hero cards, Knights of the Frozen Throne introduces a new keyword to the fray: Lifesteal.
A card containing this keyword will heal the player for any damage it deals. For example the new minion, Chillblade Champion, enters the battlefield as a three-attack, two-health minion with Charge and Lifesteal. Upon damaging an enemy the controlling player’s hero will heal equal to the damage dealt. You may recognize this as the effect of Wickerflame Burnbristle from the Journey to Un’goro expansion.
However, lifesteal is not limited to minions and Blizzard has revealed a spell card utilizing the new keyword. Spirit Lash, a two-mana priest spell, deals one damage to all minions and heals your hero for any damage dealt. When combined with spell power, you can expect to see some absolutely bone-chilling plays with this effect.
All heroes must fall; death doesn’t stop the powerful from getting their way in all cases, however. An old favorite keyword is coming back in full force with deathrattle minions. The undead swarm under Arthas’s command is crawling with abilities that take place from beyond the grave and we are certain to see powerful plays come at deadly cost in this expansion. The Shallow Gravedigger card above should be a healthy (or maybe unhealthy, unholy, and evil) indicator of things to come.
Icecrown Citadel holds a soft spot in many player’s hearts as an epic raid encounter during the golden days of World of Warcraft. To mimic the brutally tough raid, filled with all sorts of terrifying atrocities of the Scourge, Blizzard has promised a serious challenge with Knights of the Frozen Throne’s new single-player adventure.
To battle your way to the top and ultimately defeat the Lich King, you will face off against a slew of his strongest minions. Players familiar with the classic raid should expect to see some familiar faces and abilities. You will receive card pack rewards along the way to bolster your collection, starting with a death knight card after beating the prologue.
In addition, Blizzard recently explained that the legendary card acquisition is due for a change. First off, each player is guaranteed to receive one legendary card within their first ten expansion card packs. Subsequent legendary cards opened will be unique to your collection as well. That’s right; no more duplicate legendaries from card packs. If by some stretch you obtain all the legendaries, this rule no longer applies.
Blizzard also gave us a sneak peek at one of the new legendary cards from the expansion. Prince Keleseth is a two-mana minion that packs a serious punch… but not right away. When played, he will buff every minion in your deck with an additional one health and one attack if you meet his conditions: no other two-cost cards remain in the deck.
Hearthstone has seen a rise in cards with unique deck building mechanics since they first introduced Reno Jackson in The League of Explorers. These such cards require players to format their deck around a restriction to benefit from their effects. It is unknown whether more of these cards will exist within the Knights of the Frozen Throne expansion.
Shivering with excitement? Got chills up your spine? If you’re trying to capitalize on the expansion early the pre-order is available now. Blizzard is offering 50 Knights of the Frozen Throne card packs for the special price of $49.99. Order before release to obtain an exclusive Frozen Throne-themed card back.
The expansion is set to launch in August with new cards being revealed starting July 24. Watch the full announcement trailer below.