Hearthstone: Four things you should be worried about in Knights of the Frozen Throne
Blizzard has announced that that we won’t be seeing any new Knights of the Frozen Throne cards until July 24. Hearthstone addicts cannot wait that long, so let’s do some speculation. Better yet, let’s do some doomsaying! Everybody likes looking into the grimdark future, right?
Un’Goro was one of Hearthstone’s greatest expansions yet. It made the meta incredibly healthy and diverse, and although it made some mistakes (Quest Rogue I’m looking at you), it largely made both the standard and wild environments far more fun to play in.
That being said, it wasn’t perfect. Quests were a big flop. Only three were viable: Priest, Warrior, and Rogue. The Priest quest, despite its viability, was only viable at low tiers, being vastly over shadowed by Inner Fire Combo Priest. The Warrior quest was good, but was overshadowed by Pirate Warrior. The Rogue quest was great, and no one saw it coming (not even me when I previewed the set.) Unfortunately, it was just too good and has recently been nerfed into unplayability. Of nine quests, only two are surviving, and surviving just barely. Yet the very possibility of any of these quests being playable led to Un’Goro being one of the most expensive sets in Hearthstone history.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear as if Blizzard has learned from this mistake, or any of its other past mistakes, when it came to crafting Knights of the Frozen Throne. Does this mean the set will be bad? No. In fact, it might be just as good as Un’Goro. However, it does mean that there are a few things we should be worried about.
Heroes May Not Be Useful
The new hero cards are cool, but there are more than a few problems with them. Granted, we only have one example so far – Rexxar’s Death Knight form – but if the rest follow this pattern, we are going to have some issues.
First of all, new heroes seem to be geared around control-type decks. The very fact that they give you armor makes that clear. Unfortunately, most classes don’t specialize in control decks. Hunter, Shaman, Paladin, Rogue, and even Warlock and Druid to an extent, have never been known to have successful control archetypes. I put Warlock and Druid in their own category here because Warlock used to play control with Reno decks, except Reno isn’t in standard anymore, and Druid has Jade Druid, but that’s not really a control deck even though it can play the long game.
It’s entirely possible that hero cards will be viable for only a few classes - Priest, Mage, and Warrior - but even those classes present a problem. Hero cards change your hero power, but many of the classes that these cards would be viable for already have good hero powers to use. Warrior already has a new hero power they want to be using, the one granted to them from one of the only viable quests from last set. Mage really doesn’t want to change their hero power because it’s arguably the most useful in the game. Priest could go for a new hero power, but then they are locked out of all of their healing synergy, including their main draw engine, Northsire Cleric. Whatever hero power these new heroes grant you, it better be spectacular, or else they will be completely passed over.
Lifesteal May Shut Down Both Aggro and Control
Lifesteal is a great mechanic, but there’s a reason we have only seen it on a few cards so far. It’s a very powerful mechanic that makes it difficult to get anywhere in the damage race. Now that it will be more prevalent, it presents a problem for both fast and slow decks.
Fast decks win their matchups by racing the opponent to 0 life. Control decks usually set up a defense made of high-value minions and early game heals in the hopes of stabilizing the board and eventually steamrolling over the Aggro deck’s lineup, regardless of how low their life is. Now that lifesteal is a major part of the game, Control decks can establish board presence and heal at the same time. That’s going to make them much harder to race down.
Similarly, Control and Mid-Range decks will have a hard time overwhelming Aggro decks with value when their Aggro drops also produce value! If enough cheap and efficient lifesteal minions hit the table, Aggro decks can now last until the late game, which was supposed to be their one weakness.
Overall, it seems like the addition of lifesteal might make all games of Hearthstone drag out longer and longer, and while I love the idea of fatigue decks coming back, forcing all decks to run to fatigue will not be healthy for the meta.
Deathrattle Might Bring Back the Sticky Minion Problem
Back in the days of Naxxramas and Goblins vs. Gnomes, deathrattle minions were the best minions you could play. Their very existence totally shut down Control decks because board wipes wouldn’t, you know, wipe the board.
Now it appears as if deathrattle is coming back in a major way in Knights of the Frozen Throne and we might see this problem all over again. That, of course, means that Aggro decks will rule the day, and with Pirate Warrior still one of the best decks in the meta, this seems like a really risky decision.
Class Balance Will Break as the Card Pool Gets Bigger
This is one of the most fun and diverse metas we have seen in Hearthstone recently, but there’s a reason for that. The card pool is small. Un’Goro came in when a lot of other incredibly powerful cards were rotating out. Smaller card pools create a need for innovation, a need for using cards in ways we hadn’t tried before. As the card pool gets larger, however, innovation will fall and players will simply look for the card that makes existing archetypes even better.
What do you think? Will Knights of the Frozen Throne help the Hearthstone meta or harm it? Let us know in the comments and stay tuned for more reveals on July 24.