Knights of the Frozen Throne Card Reviews - Arena Edition, Part 1
Hello everyone. It's that time of the year again. Knights of the Frozen Throne is the new Hearthstone expansion coming up and with new cards being revealed it's time to take a look at them from Arena's perspective. Just as with my previous card evaluations I will be putting all cards into these categories: Terrible, Bad, Below average, Average, Above average, Good, Amazing. For this series of reveals I will not be going through legendaries for a few reasons. Firstly legendaries in Arena are very rare and I've still yet to get a chance to draft and play with all the legendaries from Un'Goro. On top of that legendaries are very difficult to evaluate and those evaluations become useless if you don't even get the chance to play with the card. And lastly there are a lot of cards to be reviewed in a short period of time. By not reviewing legendaries I will have less cards to review which will help me rush through the cards less and put more thought into each one. Let me know what you think about this change in the comments below and I can adjust it based on feedback. Before going straight to reveals let's look at the new mechanic released with KotFT - lifesteal.
Lifesteal is a new ability being released with Knights of the Frozen Throne. Cards with the lifesteal keyword restore health to your hero equal to the damage they deal. If you read my articles, you will know how much I look down upon health in Arena. It's not near as important in Arena as in Constructed. There isn't enough aggression in Arena to be afraid of losing your health too quick. If you're losing health quickly chances are you don't have the board and restoring health won't help with that. Yet in some situations or classes such as Rogue or Warlock health can be an important resource since you can exchange it into tempo or cards. Because of that I believe lifesteal won't be a strong mechanic in Arena. The way I see it, for a lifesteal card to be good it has to have good vanilla stats. A 3/2 minion with lifesteal will be good, however a 2/2 minion with lifesteal wouldn't. Therefore a card needs to have enough vanilla value and the lifesteal should be just a cherry on the top.
Looking at Shallow Gravedigger it seems quite similar to Stonehill Defender. Shallow Gravedigger is a bit weaker in stats and you don't get to discover the card. However deathrattle cards are usually more powerful than taunts. Compared to Stonehill Defender Gravedigger seems worse and more random which isn't great. Looking at class specific deathrattle minions there are a few great ones. Paladin with Tirion Fordring, Mage with Pyrosand Shaman with White Eyes. Yet the chance of getting them isn't great. Overall a worse Stonehill Defender but Defender is good in Arena so it makes Shallow Gravedigger not too bad.
Rating: Above average
Spirit Lashis a Priest version of Arcane Explosion, however it also deals damage to your own board. Lifesteal in Spirit Lash will usually only give 4-6 health which doesn't matter at all for the Priest. Which makes it a downgrade from Arcane Explosion since you don't want to damage your own minions.
As I've said cards with lifesteal need to have good base stats to be worth picking. Chillblade Champion doesn't have the stats to back it up. It does have charge, however it pales in comparison to Stormwind Knightwhich has 2 more stats for the same mana or Wolfriderwhich is 1 health less for 1 mana. The card just has poor stats compared to other charge minions.
Rating: Below average
Ticking Abomination gives extra stats for it's mana cost in exchange to a negative deathrattle. Ticking Abomination has +1/+1 stats in exchange for it's deathrattle which is a terrible deal. Ofcourse you won't want to nuke your board and because Ticking Abomination is a deathrattle there is almost no way to play around it. In the best case scenario you have a Chillwind Yetiwith 2 more stats. Worst case scenarion you can't play any minions since they will all die to Abomination. Simply the 2 extra stats aren't worth the trade off.
Just by first glance Plague Scientist seems very powerful. It can give poisonous to a minion which is ready to attack. This means with Plague Scientist you can have charge with poisonous which is nuts. The only card to compare that to would be Envenom Weaponwhich is an amazing card by itself. Plague Scientist is arguably even better than Envenom in certain scenarios since you get a 2/3 body and don't take the face damage. Plague Scientist also has amazing tempo which is the most common way Rogues play. I only costs 3 mana which means it's combo can be activated easier than Vilespine Slayerand it has a similar effect. I can already see the Reddit posts complaining about this card since it's going to be bonkers. So far seems like this card will be among the top cards released in KotFT.
It is well known that weapons are very strong in Arena. This is because health isn't as important which is the biggest downside of using weapons in Hearthstone. Yet Ice Breaker is one of the rare cases where a weapon sucks even in Arena. Synergies are usually hard to achieve in Arena. At the moment we haven't seen all the cards Shaman will have so it's hard to say how reliably Ice Breaker can kill minions. Blizzard would have to release 3 common cards which freeze minions for Shaman to be able to utilize Ice Breaker efficiently. When it works of course Ice Breaker will be amazing since when it's ability triggers 3 times it's a better version of Envenom Weapon. However that is unlikely and most of the time Ice Breaker will just be a 1/3 weapon for 3. Will have to wait and see what freeze synergies Blizzard releases but until then I'm pessimistic about the card.
Blood Razor is a bit hard to evaluate. First of all it's a weapon which makes it nice already. When you first equip it it deals one damage to all minions and lets you deal 2 more. Same goes after you use the 2nd charge of the weapon. This means the weapon is a 3/2 when there are no other minions but one. In that sense it's not great but it isn't bad either. The main buying point of this weapon, however, is the AoE it provides. It's like a Fiery War Axeglued together with two Whirlwind. This means it's 3 cards in 1 which is amazing in Arena. There are a few problems which prevent this card from being amazing though. Firstly it's bad if you are ahead on board since you will be damaging your own minions. Secondly it's in Warrior who already has many great weapons to choose from and you don't want to stock up on too many weapons. Overall this card has strong upsides and strong downsides. Very hard to give an accurate rating.
Because the effect is mirrored, both players suffer from it equally and it cancels out. This means you are playing a 5/5 minion for 6 mana. This is an awful deal. Ofcourse the goal is to pick it in a minion heavy deck and let it do work, however the effect is not permanent and Nerubian Unraveler can be simply killed. Looking from mana perspective it's not even a great deal. If your opponent plays a spell to kill Unraveler, it's as if it costed 4 mana for a 5/5 body. This is great of course but not worth the hassle. Overall stats are too poor for a mirrored effect, however in the right deck it has the potential to do wonders.
Rating: Below average
The deathrattle isn't too important for a Warrior who doesn't struggle with health problems. This means this is a vanilla 3 mana 4/3.
To evaluate Ghastly Conjurer we have to know how good is Mirror Image. As a standalone card Mirror Image is terrible. The effect isn't too terrible and taunt could come in handy in certain board states, however it's not worth a card. With Ghastly Conjurer you get Mirror Image for free. Because of that it negates the main weakness of Mirror Image. As for Ghastly Conjurer itself the stats aren't great, however the ability compensates it for a bit. Oasis Snapjawis bad and doesn't get picked often and Ghastly Conjurer has 1 less health. The question is whether Mirror Image is worth more than 2-3 stats that Ghastly Conjurer is missing. And I think the answer is yes.
Rating: Above average
2 mana for 0 value.
First of all the stats. For 3 mana you get 7 stats in total. On top of that 3/4 is the best distribution of 3 drops since it trades favorably with 2 drops and many 3 drops unlike 3/3 or 4/3 minions. So just by the stats alone this card is above average. On top of that we have a conditional effect with the potential to make the card amazing. Therefore if the effect doesn't trigger we have an above average card, if it does we have an amazing card. Granted it won't trigger more times than it will since we're talking about Arena. Still I will go in the middle between 2 potential outcomes.
Bring it on
Armor doesnt matter for Warrior in Arena. So the card is 2 mana lose the game. Doesn't seem like a good deal to me.
Best comparison is with Stegodon. Stegodon is below average in Arena. Hexxer has 1 more health and freezes anything it hits. Freezing can be very strong in Arena for sure. With 7 health most of the time Hexxer will be able to freeze 2 minions before dying. The question is whether the freeze effect of Hexxer is worth 1 mana since the stats and taunt ability are worth 4 mana. I think it's worth it especially when combined with Ice Breaker
Rating: Above average
Right of the bat the stats are sufficient. The can't be targeted by spells or hero powers ability is great too. This card is very similar to Faerie Dragon. Both have good stats and elusive ability. Faerie Dragon is above average and so will be bearshark.
Rating: Above average
Fatespinner has a very interesting mechanic. You choose one of the deathrattles and the opponent doesn't know which one it is until he kills Fatespinner. Both effects are applied to all minions. Accordingly you will want to choose the buff when you have more minions than your opponent and damage when you have less minions than the opponent. When you have the same amount it equals out. The beauty of this card that it always has value. It doesn't matter whether you are ahead or behind on the board Fatespinner will always have value given you choose the correct option. It's a hard card to play for sure and can be very punishing if you choose wrongly. But I think in the right hands Fatespinner can do wonders.
Abominable Bowman has a very powerful ability. Given you have at least 1 beast died Bowman will be worth at least 7/8 stats which is alright. If a simple 3/2 beast died, Bowman will be worth 9/9 value which is huge. And that is in a simple scenario of resurrecting a 2 drop. The potential of this card is through the roof. You can play Savannah Highmaneon turn 6 and follow it up with Abominable Bowman next turn. Of course you will want to draft this card if you have at least a handful of beasts in your deck. Overall the chances of Abominable Bowman being bad are very slim and the potential is very huge.
Light's Sorrow has the base stats of Light's Justice. Unless they release a bunch of divine shield commons for Paladin, it's going to be very hard for the ability to trigger. For Light's Sorrow to be better than Truesilver Championit would have to trigger 2 times which is hardly feasible in Arena. This card is meant for Constructed and doesn't have a place in Arena.
Value of Corpsetaker depends on what you have in your deck obviously. Therefore it's very hard to rate the card in void. Though looking at the abilities you want at least 2 to trigger. Otherwise the card is worse than it's counterparts. Very hard to rate in void as it's value entirely depends on your deck.
After Bonemare was revealed, many people were very concerned for Arena. And rightfully so. The card offers 18 Stats for 7 mana 8 of which have taunt and charge if you use it on a minion which can attack on that turn. The card is going to be broken in Arena and because it's common there is not much you can do against it. The card is way overpowered for several reason. First of all the stats alone. 9/9 stats for 7 mana already makes the card good and one of the best late game cards right away. On top of that you get taunt which is very powerful in Arena if you use it correctly. So by now the card is already great in Arena. And to put a cherry on the top 4/4 stats get charge if the minion you use it on can attack. Overall way too overpowered for Arena.
It's hard to get any synergy from Animated Berserker since not only it's hard to draft specific minions but also there aren't that many enrage minions in Arena at all. The stats for the card are alright, however the card loses value once you play more minions. Yet another card meant for Constructed and bad in Arena.
Sanguine Reveler is designed to have synergy with small minions with 3 or 2 stats in total. The problem is that in a normal Arena deck you have 0-1 minions under 2/2 stats. If you want to get value from Sanguine Reveler you have to eat exactly 1/1 minion. If you eat a 2/1 or a 1/2 you only get 3 stats from Reveler which is bad. So Sanguine Reveler needs to kill exactly 1/1 minion to be good. Even at it's best case scenario Sanguine Reveler will be just a 1 mana 2/2. And you can't even play it if you have a 3/3 or bigger minion on board. Meant for Constructed, terrible in Arena.
Firstly let's look at Emperor Cobra. It's an above average card in Arena and it costs 3. Venomstrike Trap costs 1 less but needs your opponent to attack your minions to trigger. Is the 1 mana worth the Venomstrike condition? The answer is yes. Arena is all minion based. If your opponent doesn't attack your board you should be happy with that most of the time. Granted Venomstrike Trap isn't good when you are behind as the opponent can just attack your face. In addition don't forget that it's a secret which may confuse your opponent since he will have to check for each one. Overall a better card than Emperor Cobra.
With cards like these you want to look at best case scenario and worst case scenario for the card. In the worst case scenario Howling Commander is a 3 mana 2/2. 2/2 minions for 2 mana are already bad. For 3 mana it's just terrible. Therefore if you don't have a divine shield minion in deck the card becomes trash. Let's look at the other side of the spectrum. Best case scenario is you draw a divine shield minion from your deck. Then it becomes 3 mana 2/2 draw a card. Now is that good? Compare it to Acolyte of Pain. Both have same amount of stats., however Acolyte almost always guarantees a draw and can draw up to 3 cards. So in it's best scenario Howling Commander is still worse than Acolyte of Pain - an above average card. In the end it depends on your deck how good Commander is.
Basically same as Wisp. Wisp is terrible. Therefore Snowflipper is terrible too despite how cute it is.
As I've said before weapons are very powerful in Arena. This is especially true in the early game where it gives a lot of tempo. First of all the stats of Shadowblade. For 3 mana you get 3/2 weapon. Let's look at other cards with similar stats. Eaglehorn Bow, Rallying Blade. Both these weapons are amazing in Arena even if their abilities don't trigger. The same goes for Shadowblade. Even without it's battlecry it would be great in Arena. The ability is just the icing on the cake. Not taking damaage for the swing can matter in the late games. But even without the ability the card is great.
Defile is similar to Arcane Explosionyet still a bit different. The question is how many times will defile trigger? Realistically you shouldn't expect more than 2 triggers and most of the time Defile will only go off once. If Defile goes off only once it's a strictly worse Arcane Explosion. If it goes off 2 times it becomes like Volcanic Potionfor 1 less mana which isn't too bad. Overall seems very situational and I believe it is going to be worse than it looks on paper.
Rating: Below average
When reviewing Ice Breaker I've said how shaman will need good freeze synergies for it to be good. This is surely not good enough. You will never want to use Cryostasis on an enemy because why would you want to buff it. That leaves it with allies. But why would you want to freeze your allies. The main problem with Cryostasis is that for 2 mana you expect 5 stats whilst Cryostasis gives 6 stats in total. Only 1 point increase in exchange for freezing a minion. Overall not good to use on allies, not good to use on enemies.
The main problem with Eternal Servitude right away is that you can't play it on curve. Playing on curve is a very important aspect of Arena. Eternal Servitude sucks if you play it on turn 4 since by then the only minions that have died were 2 drops and 3 drops. In the late game this card is very good. Yet in all your games you will have to play some early drops too. This means that the pool of dead minions is going to be stuffed with early game drops. Yet Eternal Servitude does have a very high potential. When it works right it can summon 6+ mana minions. However to get that you need to draw Eternal Servitude in specific time not too early. Overall has very big potential but can be a dead card in hand too.
Doomed Apprentice does have an interesting effect, however the problem that the effect is on poor stats. 2 health is very fragile and Doomed Apprentice will get killed before you get any value from spell cost increase. Another important thing to note is that Doomed Apprentice has stats of a 2 drop. This means even if opponent casts a spell with increased mana, you only get equal in terms of value. Very rarely Apprentice will stick on the board and prevent more than 1 spell.
That concludes part 1 of the series. Thanks for reading through. Let me know what are your thoughts on the new cards in the comments below. Stay tuned for more card reviews for Knights of the Frozen Throne. Until next time.