Death Knights’ Reign

So, the new expansion set came online a while ago and what happened? Well, we got a bunch of cool new cards from including Death Knights and the meta went through a cataclysm, which is nice. That pirate warrior is still as annoying as ever though. I’ll chop up the expansion into clumpy bits to examine closer. I only play Standard so no Wild analysis is found here.

General overview

At the moment (beginning of September) Standard is saturated mostly with the broken druid. Evolve shaman and paladin tempo decks with rare refreshing splashes of distinctive deck design like some creative hunters appear from time to time. The majority of the games are played by typical meta slaves as some might say. Control / resurrection priest is (still) very noteworthy and consistent especially with the new 4-cost resurrect card, Eternal Servitude. That gives a potential The Lich King or Y'Shaarj, Rage Unbound with full stats on turn four if you get lucky with Barnes and you start with coin.

The expansion also offers a new branch of solo adventure quests. You even get a random Death Knight as a reward for the first win. The last boss is naturally the Lich King who is quite bad ass with his cheats enabled but if and when you down him with every class you’ll be rewarded with a shiny new Paladin hero – well met!

The Darker Heroes

The biggest new feature in the expansion is of course the arrival of the Death Knights. Every character has a legendary Death Knight card they can play to replace their hero with granting five armor and a new improved hero power. They are extremely powerful and can change the game upside down in one turn (for example Shadowreaper Anduin). They also make new juicy win-con combos possible.

Sweet combos

Just to list a few: mill rogue is back with the helping (backstabbing) hand of Death Knight Valeera the Hollow. It is a very potent deck as you still have many ways to loop Coldlight Oracle and with Valeera even one more plus stealth for a turn! Also as Rogue being one of my favorites I just had to make The Caverns Below work after the nerf and I just managed do that (check out the picture below).

Paladin has now one of the most stylish game finishers with Death knight Uther of the Ebon Blade. It relies on first burgling a few coins with Burgly Bully. Then hitting Uther for the hero power. Finally playing Auctionmaster Beardo and spending all the coins  while summoning the four riders that will end the game instantly – apocalyptic!

And just to mention, the infinite fireball-combo with Archmage Antonidas is back anew (was it ever gone?) and is very strong.

A meta opportunist druid getting served by a Cavern Rogue.

Broken druid

This is the worst thing: Druid is broken on so many levels that it is clearly the most played hero at the moment. I don’t know what were they thinking as jade druid was already one of the most consistent and power ridden decks there is and then they decide to boost druid even more with ridiculous cards like Ultimate Infestation and Spreading Plague. In addition the Death Knight, Malfurion the Pestilent is way too strong.

Even when there is a 6-cost creature Skulking Geist that shreds every 1-cost spell in both players’ hands and decks, it’s still usually not enough to counter the shitload of jade golems. And if the ramped jade druid is not wrecking you, you can bet the tempo piece of crap druid is with buffed pirates, Fire Flys and Bittertide Hydras. So. Damn. Annoying. Plus this does a great job smothering growing enthusiasm for the new possible innovative decks that might work but don’t because of the current meta. To look at the bright side: it feels extra good when you beat one of these cancerous decks!

Special Mentions

I want to raise two cards above all else on the pedestal of fresh card design. The first one is Warrior’s Dead Man's Hand which is a really nice shuffle mechanic that makes some surprisingly wicked shenanigans possible for Warrior like infinite deck for example if you get to shuffle another to your deck. With Arcane Giant + Blood Warriors this can flood your board with giants in no time. DMH is maybe the most entertaining mechanic on Warrior at the moment.

The second one is my favorite Death Knight by far: Hunter’s Deathstalker Rexxar. His hero power enables you to craft your own ZOMBIE BEAST. Now how cool is that. When activated it simply gives you three random choices times two to pick from and then combines those cards into one. For example a Stonetusk Boar and Bloodworm picks would make a 6-cost 5/5 charger with Lifesteal. When you get to make a zombie beast every turn it really starts to add up to an avalanche. So much fun.

Summary

I really like this expansion. It made bold new moves that enriched the game play a bunch. The flavor of Lich King’s realm is audio visually very pleasing and surely a cool breeze after the previous hot Un’Goro jungle. Blizzard has announced that they will nerf the overpowered Druid some way in the near future so the ladder will be even more enjoyable as it presently is. Anyways, the ‘Stone is looking and playing jolly good again!

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