Path of Arthas: Commons
Horn of Winter
This is one of the most important spells in Frost Death Knight’s toolkit. Mana manipulation should never be underestimated, especially in a class that can easily abuse it thanks to Deathchiller. Horn also opens the possibility for many late game combos involving Brann Bronzebeard that other Death Knights don’t have access to. Not as good as Preparation, but close enough to be a defining aspect of Frost strategies.
Solid early game weapon that can help clean off the board while pushing a guaranteed 4 face damage. Reminds us of Dreadprison Glaive, with an obvious lower ceiling but less dependence on other cards. Ghoul Charge on 2 gives us the opportunity to clean up a 3-health minion on turn 2. Serviceable, especially for aggressive decks that value the face damage.
An Arcane Shot that freezes. This is a decent Frost spell since it’s cheap, works well with Deathchiller and deals face damage. Fits the burn plan. May not be good enough for aggressive decks or late game strategies that are grindy in nature.
Decent 1-drop in theory. If you’re running a good amount of Frost spells, this can be a Flame Imp without a drawback. The issue might be that aggressive decks in Death Knight are naturally inclined to run fewer spells, making Frostbreaker less likely to be a good fit. You could treat it as a Mana Wyrm in a burn deck, but it might still not be worth running, for the same reason Vicious Slitherspear isn’t played in Fel DH. 1-drops that lack meaningful follow up are less impactful.
2 mana 4/5 rush sounds tempting, but Dark Transformation isn’t really that, since you lose the initial stats on the Undead minion you transform. You could play this on turn 4 in combination with Ghoul Charge, but that’s nothing special for a turn 4 play. It’s strongest on turn 2 as follow up to a 1-drop, but that doesn’t seem like a consistent plan, especially if you’re on coin. Unholy Death Knights have better options to swing the board.
Speaking of better options to swing the board, a connected Plague Strike has very strong impact on the board. You can think of it as a 2/2 rush minion that deals 3 damage to another minion for 2 mana, which would be an extremely good card. Obviously, you need to be able to kill a minion with it, so it’s a bit reactive and situational, but that’s what prevents it from being a completely busted card.
We can see many situations in which Plague Strike just decides a game, mostly in fast matchups since opponents are likely to play an early game target for it. Even though Unholy Death Knights should be extremely proactive, having such a removal card is probably too valuable to pass, and the nice thing about it is that it still generates a corpse for you.
You can think of this spell as a Deadly Shot that always hits the target you want it to hit. This makes it better against wider boards, though it’s still not an ideal card in that situation. It’s amazing against cheesy decks that drop a big threat early, like Miracle Rogue or Bless Priest, but it’s quite expensive to simply remove a mid-game threat. This is an important card in Blood Death Knight’s toolkit, but it’s meta dependent. More of a tech card than a core card you always want to run. Superior to Obliterate.
Blood does have another direction besides the survival game plan, which involves handbuffs. Neophyte has solid stats and a decent handbuff ability, though it irritates us that it doesn’t buff the minions’ health, which is the more important stat for these decks. A solid card for a very specific archetype that we don’t have too much faith in as it didn’t receive a ton of support.
We would be mildly interested in a spell that deals 4 damage for 3 mana, but Glacial Advance also discounts the next spell we play, making it quite good. It fits the mana manipulation plan of late game Frost strategies. It enables burst turns. It works well with Deathchiller and Horn of Winter earlier in the game. It’s just a very good all-around spell with a decent enough floor to see play.
Merge Icy Touch with an Arcane Explosion and you get this card. Very good removal/nuke. Compares favorably to Swipe, though Swipe would likely be unplayable in 2022. Makes us interested in running spell damage in Frost, as it can turn Blast into a devastating AOE effect. Should see play in any Frost Death Knight deck leaning towards the late game, and could even be good enough for faster decks.
This is a powerful 4-drop that can put a lot of stats to the board. A 2/4 with reborn is arguably good enough to be a 3-drop, so summoning 2 copies of them for 4 mana is a very good deal. This also scales with buffs, making it an attractive card for a Handbuff Blood Death Knight. What’s interesting is that each Malignant Horror can perpetually copy itself if left alone and there are enough corpses to spend.
The catch is obviously a steep corpse cost. This isn’t as big of a problem on the initial play, as you’re developing 4 potential bodies to make a return on the 5-corpse investment. But, if a Horror stays alive, your corpse count will be quickly drained. The worst part is that your opponent can leave up a 2/1 Horror after killing it once, forcing you to sack it or risk spending corpses very inefficiently. You obviously run this card in Handbuff decks, but the competition with Tomb Guardian is stiff in Unholy decks.
Triple Chain Gang. Swarmguard is another big handbuff payoff, forcing these Blood Death Knights to utilize an Unholy rune. It scales even better than Chain Gang as each buff is tripled. You’re likely never happy playing this at its baseline, as 3 Voidwalkers aren’t that attractive for 4 mana. So, it’s a weaker standalone card to Malignant Horror, but is net positive on corpses and protects you thanks to its taunt.
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