Joseph's Brew: Knights of the Frozen Throne - Priest/Paladin/Warrior
Neeewwww caaarrddssss. Yes, yes, yes. I, as always, am over the moon about the new set. While I was very stoked (and rightly so) for the Journey to Un'goro, I think our trip to the frozen north could be even more exciting. There are a ton of interesting cards coming with KFT, which means it could very well be a deck builder's paradise. Even if everything doesn't work out in the end, there are still quite a few things that I want to try. In this article I am going to break down some decks I think have some real potential. While not everything here is going to be top-tier right out of the gates, all of these should serve as a good starting point for you to tweak and mold to your liking.
Four Minion Priest
This deck is easily the one I am the most excited about. In the past (before Call of the Wildgot nerfed) Y'shaarj Hunter was a very strong deck. I took it to legend two straight seasons, and while I don't say that to brag, I do know how a big minion combo deck works. The idea of that list was to find Barnes and then power out Y'shaarj as soon as humanly possible. This list has the same idea, except you get three copies of Barnes (the 3/4 and two Shadow Essences) in addition to four different big finishers. Ysera, The Lich King, Y'Shaarj, Rage Unbound, and Obsidian Statueare all amazing pulls that will immediately set up a way to end the game. These cards don't just generate value, they end the game if they aren't answered right away.
The reason this deck works is because, unlike many combo decks, you have two different finishers. One, there is the Barnes/Shadow Essencepackage, where you high-roll Y'Shaarj, Rage Unboundand win with some huge value threats your opponent can't answer. That is going to work a lot of the time. However, if you pull something that dies right away, you also have two copies of Eternal Servitude(not to mention Shadow Visionsto go get servitude) to immediately bring it back. That extra power is insanely strong and helps build extra consistency into a deck that needs it. Beyond the four finishers, everything else is going to be classic Control Priest. You want to clear the board, kill minions, and do everything you can to stabilize before your combo comes down. The spells may need to be tweaked, but there is a lot of tools here you can play with. Just don't cut the Pint-Size Potion/Shadow Word: Horrorcombo. You need AOE, and that is one of the best around.
Taking a trip back to the Mean Streets of Gadgetzan (*shudders*), I think Buff Paladin has quite a bit of potential in the coming days. Now, many of you may shy away from that idea because of how weak the archetype has been in the past, but don't let that hold you back. As I see it, this archetype has some major things going for it. We live in a time of minion combat and where snowballing boards matter. There are many matches where, if you get ahead, you quickly leverage that to victory. Nobody does that better than Handbuff Paladin. The reason it hasn't been good is because it hasn't had the proper cards to cement its curve and make up for any tempo loss. However, I believe it does now. Corpsetakeris an amazing card with buffs, as are more simple things like Righteous Protectorand Acolyte of Pain. Just getting one bonus on those cards makes a big difference, and if you can hit two or three buffs things get real scary real quick. I could easily see a world where you curve your 4/5 Saronite Chain Gangright into a board of 4/4 Doppelgangsters the following turn. Now that's power.
I will admit that some of the numbers here may be off. You definitely want to get buffs going early on, but it is not easy to tell just how many of those cards you want. Double Grimestreet Outfitterand Grimestreet Enforcerseem to be a given, but everything else is a bit loose. I have one Smuggler's Runright now, but zero or two could be just as good. In addition, there are a lot of different minions that could fit into this shell. Currently, the list has a range of toolbox tempo plays that help push pressure. The extra Argent Squireis to give more early consistency, while a buffed Argent Commanderis one of the best tempo swings in the game. The numbers are going to change as I test, but I think most of these choices are right.
Those of you who have been following my set review know that I am extremely excited about Tempo Warrior. I think this deck will definitely be top-tier at some point in the next meta, and I want to be apart of that movement. Looking at the list, there are likely two things that should immediately stand out to you. One, the sheer number of three drops. As much as I don't like that look, I'm not sure what to do about. There are a ton of strong turn three plays for this list, and I kinda want them all. Acolyte of Pain, Ravaging Ghoul, and Frothing Berserkerseem to be apart of the core, but I also definitely want to try Val'kyr Soulclaimeras well. Even Mountainfire Armorcould find a spot if there is a lot of aggro or Mage early on in the new set. Those tweaks are going to be up to you.
The other interesting thing about this list is the insane number of one-ofs. Normally, having a lot of single cards is not good for a deck because it typically means the list lacks focus. However, I think, in this situation, all of these cards work nicely together. Tempo Warrior runs a lot of legendaries, and it also does not care about the cards it runs as long as they leverage the game in some way. Here, I believe all the cards do that. Forge of Soulsis a great way to add early consistency and acts as a second Battle Rage, while Blood To Ichoranswers aggro. The single Executecould become two if you need to tangle with bigger threats, but the curve is so tight I don't think you're going to need more than one.
In terms of legendaries, Malkorok, Grommash Hellscream, and Cairne Bloodhoofare all standard fare for a deck that wants to go big with the midrange plan. Harrison Jonesis my tech of choice, Scourgelord Garroshis the best tempo finisher in the game (I honestly do not think this deck with will work without him), and The Black Knightis likely going to have a lot of targets once everyone starts playing The Lich Kingand Big Druid. All of those cards serve a specific purpose and they each help get the board in their own way. Now, while these cards can be tweaked, I also love The Curator/King Mosh/Deathwingpackage. Mosh and DW are both fantastic ways to close out a game, and being able to fetch them with your seven drop is great. Each above choice can be tweaked for your meta, but this is what I'm rolling with right out of the gates.
I think a lot of people are going to try and roll with Big Druid, and for very good reason. Malfurion has a ton of new tools at his disposal that are really going to punch up the curve. The idea of this deck is the same it has always been: get mana as quickly as you can so you can pump out as many big minions as possible. However, I think the overall feel of the deck is going to change. Now that Druid has access to double Ultimate Infestationon top of two Nourishes, this list can get much (much) more greedy. That does not mean you need to gut your curve by running more finishers or jam-packing in legendaries, but rather that you can truly play a two-sectioned build.
This deck is two things: ramp and finishers. Normally, I think it would be a bit silly to run this much ramp, but the inclusion of Ultimate Infestationreally changes things. You now have four strong draw plays that will help you instantly jump back into the game once you run out of cards. I could see many scenarios where you spend your first three turns ramping into some gigantic threat that then builds up to a huge draw play. Getting three cards off of Nourishis always going to be good, but when you can roll into an early infestation the game is almost always going to be over. While I may be going too in on the ramp in this one, I truly don't believe I am. You want mana and you really don't need cards. Not anymore.
Beyond the above choices, there are a few things I'm not entirely sure about. The two Earthen Scalesmay be reduced to one (depending on the amount of aggro running around), and it is possible that Fandral Staghelmdoesn't fit this build. He is still here because he just oozes value, but I could see a world where he's too small or doesn't make enough of an impact. Also, if you want to play Hadronoxyou could. I just think Cenarius' immediate impact is better than the slow (though powerful) spider.
Another deck I am interested, Freeze Shaman seems to easily slot around the already solid elemental shell. Kalimos, Primal Lordis always good, and both Fire Elementaland Blazecallerdo a wonderful job of controlling the board. In that way, this deck is a midrange build that supplements elementals with a few powerful icy tricks. Moorabimay have a weak body, but I think he could work well as a draw engine when combined with things like Glacial Shardand Cryostasis. In addition, the single Ice Fishinggives you some extra consistency with the double Brrrlocpackage. You could cut the locs for more elementals or further healing, but I believe the two extra freeze options play nicely with the Ice Breakers. That axe is not getting a lot of love, but repeated removal goes a long way. Especially for a tempo or midrange deck like this one.
Another reason I like this deck is the inclusion of Cryostasis. The buff card seems odd at first glance, but there are quite a bit of strong taunts in this list. Being able to give one of them 3/3 without having to worry about whether or not it can attack is a nice bonus. A turn three or four 4/7 Stonehill Defenderisn't going to care whether or not it can get in for damage, it is just going to shut down attacks. That gets even more potential when paired with things like Tar Creeper, Voodoo Hexxer, and Hot Spring Guardian. Elemental Shaman has always been on the fringe, and the freeze cards may very well push it over the edge. This is one I am particularly excited for because the support cards are not just strong, they are extremely cool.
It's tiiiiimmmmeee. Knights of the Frozen Throne is finally here, and it's time to hit the ladder. I have never been a huge fan of the snow, but in this one case I'll make an exception. The set has a ton of amazing things going for it, and there are going to be a lot of things I'm going to be building day one. The above lists are on my list, but I have a few other things I'll be breaking out as well. Stay tuned for those in the coming weeks. Until then, go enjoy the snow!