Hearthstone: Knights of the Frozen Throne Review
As CCGs become more and more popular, it's invariable that those holding the most mindshare in the space will iterate and try to stay at the head of the pack. And Hearthstone is no different. With Knights of the Frozen Throne, Blizzard has made a series of improvements to do just that. From Legendary Hero Cards that allow players to replace their heroes and hero powers to new mechanics such as Lifesteal that allow players to heal their heroes by dealing damage with certain cards, a lot has changed in Hearthstone -- and we dug into the new expansion to find out if it's worth your time.
Knights of the Frozen Throne Single Player Missions
The new single-player content in Knights of the Frozen Throne is loosely based on the World of Warcraft raid Icecrown Citadel. The missions are separated into three wings, with the prologue and Lower Citadel available to players at launch and the remaining two wings unlocking over the next two weeks. These missions are similar in structure to the adventures Hearthstone introduced in earlier expansions, but the primary differences here are that these new missions are free-to-play and do not unlock exclusive cards. Instead, they reward players with card packs as they progress.
Overall, the prologue is a relatively brief experience, but full of the usual Hearthstone charm. Characters break the fourth wall in amusing ways while staying consistent with their established personalities and lore from the overarching Warcraft franchise. The Lich King, for example, threatens to disenchant players for arcane dust and exclaims, “Your ranking will suffer!” during this early mission, which coincides well with his character and lore.
The writing here also pokes fun at World of Warcraft raids. The prologue features a raid leader that is late to the game (Tirion Fordring), as well as cards such as Eager Rogue (which deals no damage when attacking), and Terrible Tank (which does not taunt). While players that are not familiar with World of Warcraft may not get the jokes, the writing helps make the mission fun and entertaining.
On the mechanics side of things, this first mission acts as a tutorial that introduces players to some of the new cards found in Knights of the Frozen Throne and provides a taste of what the single-player missions will be. After completing the prologue, the player is rewarded with a random Death Knight Hero Card.
The Lower Citadel continues to display much of the same writing style found in the prologue. However, the difficulty is significantly higher than previous single-player Hearthstone content. This level of challenge will make it hard for new players to complete missions, as the strategies required essentially need a large card collection and multiple decks in order to succeed. The Lower Citadel rewards players with a Knights of the Frozen Throne card pack on completion.
Knights of the Frozen Throne Opening Packs
I opened 50 packs from the new expansion and received 178 Common Cards, 57 Rare Cards, 12 Epic Cards, and three Legendary Cards.
These results are roughly in line with the official probabilities that Blizzard released in China. Legendary cards should drop from roughly 1 out of every 20 packs, with epic cards coming from 1 in every 5 packs. The guaranteed legendary card introduced with this expansion will be useful for players that buy packs exclusively through in-game currency and for newer players. In larger sample sizes, it makes no appreciable difference for the drop rate. So overall, the packs seem to provide a good value for the price, but the experience of opening them is largely unchanged from previous expansions.
Knights of the Frozen Throne Cards and Mechanics
The new cards and mechanics introduced by Knights of the Frozen Throne are still finding a place in the metagame. Prior to the expansion, several of the most common decks were highly aggressive. These typically focused on overwhelming opponents with a large number of low-cost minions early in the game.
The new Lifesteal mechanic is a potential counter to these types of decks and was used against one of my own decks in exactly that way on launch day. The legendary Death Knight Hero Cards received a lukewarm reception from the community because although some of these cards fit immediately into existing deck archetypes and are already common in online matches, others are struggling to find a place on deck lists.
Compared to the previous expansion, Journey to Un'Goro, the new cards and mechanics are well-executed. Knights of the Frozen Throne is less reliant on randomly generated effects like adaptions, and the Death Knight Hero cards, even if they are a little situational, are able to complement a deck instead of requiring a very specific list like the quest cards from Journey to Un'Goro.
Knights of the Frozen Throne has a lot to offer Hearthstone players. The introduction of new mechanics and card types will breathe some life into multiplayer matches, giving players new approaches when building decks.
The single-player missions are entertaining and challenging, providing a worthwhile alternative to multiplayer when you need a break. All this means that existing players should load up the game just to try out Icecrown Citadel -- if for no other reason.
However, this expansion does not give new players much of a reason to jump in. If you have not been interested in Hearthstone, this expansion is unlikely to change your mind.
Hearthstone is available on PC, Mac, iOS, Android, and FireOS.