Our story begins with a tweet from Feno on February 16th:
In this post, the popular streamer shared a new take on the Frost Death Knight archetype, where he takes a page from the Unholy's playbook and includes many early units.
With this change, the deck appears to be much faster out of the gate and able to pressure the opponent rather than simply collecting damage in hand. Many times you could even be forced to use some of these for defensive purposes.
In this new iteration, there is no such thing as "defending early in the game" or trying to assemble a combo of numerous spells together. The deck will likely finish the match with direct damage, but the largest part of its strategy is based around minions and generating pressure the opponent has to deal with.
The deck is still relatively new, as Feno shared the build less than a week ago. Yet, several players have caught on to it, and it should be the Death Knight archetype you see the most if playing in the Top 1,000 legend ladder currently. It's only a matter of time before the other ranks catch up to it as well.
Today, let's explore the strengths of the deck, how it is built, and why we had to wait for the mini-set to see it created.
Construct Quarter is the OP-iest of OP
The big reason why Frost Death Knight was forced to use its damage spells to protect itself was the lack of a strong early game.
Through including a similar minion package to what Unholy Death Knight is running, this problem was already partly solved. With various one-cost cards, this deck can definitely put on pressure when it has initiative.
What Construct Quarter brings to the table, though, is the ability to deal with opposing units even when you are behind, and it makes a world of difference. Now, instead of using a damage spell in order to remove an opposing unit or having to leave it on board for a turn before we can trade with this turn's development, you can play any card or just press the hero power and get a 4/5 rush minion to get the job done.
This is where the mini-set was particularly important for Frost decks, as without Construct Quarter, the early package of units would be limited as just another way to deal damage to the opponent. With the new location, it is another reactive tool, which replaces the need to use spells when we can't wait for a turn to remove a problematic card.
Proactive because of the big numbers it creates, reactive because of the rush keyword, and plenty of synergies naturally included in the deck... Construct Quarter is one hell of a card currently in Hearthstone.
Keeping the opponent busy makes the damage much scarier
The second thing this deck does really well, compared to previous iterations of Frost Death Knight, is in keeping the opponent busy.
Once again, the ability to play synergistic units in the early and mid-game forces the opponent to be reactive out of fear of taking too much damage otherwise. In the past, decks like Ramp Druid, Blood Death Knight, and Control Paladin knew there was a threshold to reach which meant being safe. Even Mage decks could keep Solid Alibi in hand and play it when it felt clear the opponent had amassed enough damage in hand, delaying their game plan by a turn for just two mana.
Now that there is early pressure, health is much harder to keep intact, and trying to draw to find those healing or protective cards is being punished by units pushing damage in the meantime.
Lastly, the freeze spells also feel improved in that deck, as they gained a new utility: protecting units in tempo-based matchups.
When you are facing a Pure Paladin, Unholy Blood Knight or Evolve Shaman opponent, the match can quickly be about who is seizing the board first. Gaining initiative will force the opponent to use cards reactively, open more opportunities to push some damage to the face, and produces an overall easier time to manage your resources.
In that regard, the ability to freeze the opponent's board is another way to prevent the opponent from using their cards, while clearing yours to push damage and set your spells to close the game the following turn.
It seems like it didn't take long for some players to notice, notably Reqvam who includes Might of Menethil in his take on the archetype.
Discover your way to victory
Last on our list of what makes a great deck is the ability to never run out of cards to play, something the Death Knight class was praised for as soon as it was released.
First, the deck packs solid draw attached to its units. Harbinger of Winter, Chillfalen Baron, and Overseer Frigidara are all solid units. The first two are amongst the best targets for the Construct Quarter, and can even be buffed with Arms Dealer or Skeletal Sidekick to force the opponent into dealing with them.
Then, through cards like Nerubian Vizier, School Teacher, and Frost Strike, Frost Death Knight can discover cards from outside its deck or additional copies of the best ones.
This last part is particularly important, and rounds off the deck, especially as the new early minion package can empty your hand quickly early on. With six cards able to provide some refill, you can have a very aggressive mindset without fearing running out of cards to play before being in position of closing the match with our damage. Reciprocally, bringing the heat with your cheap units will buy you the necessary time to develop your draw minions, which are typically weaker in stats because they carry a powerful effect.
Undoubtedly, Frost Death Knight is one of the biggest winners of this first week in good old Naxxramas.
Several popular players have reached rank 1 legend using the deck, sharing their take on the deck and claiming it looks like a real metagame juggernaut.
With only a few days since its rise to popularity, we could still see a rise of other archetypes trying to counter it, now that the surprise effect is gone. This should represent the real test to know if this new iteration of Frost Death Knight can claim the title of best deck in the metagame.
Also, there might be other surprises on the horizon, as Frost Death Knight isn't the only deck putting up great numbers lately…
Until next time, Good Game, Everyone!
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