The Comprehensive Whizbang’s Workshop Preview

Shambling Zombietank

This Undead 2-drop offers a strong target for hand buffs. It works like Saronite Chain Gang at half the cost, provided you spend 5 corpses to copy it. Death Knight does have good ways to accumulate corpses in the early game thanks to Mining Casualties and Crop Rotation. So it’s probable to activate a buffed Zombietank in the mid-game after Spinel Spellstone or Amateur Puppeteer.

Handbuff Death Knight additionally has a lot of freedom in its Rune selection with Rainbow as an available option. This makes Zombietank a compelling option to boost Climactic Necrotic Explosion with Malignant Horror’s rotation.

Our main issue with Zombietank is it’s terrible if we don’t have the corpses to spend. It might be a bit slow if we don’t draw and play Mining Casualties or Crop Rotation early on.

Score: 2

Rambunctious Stuffy

Rambunctious Stuffy gains reborn when we play a Frost spell. The idea is we could repeatedly rush Stuffy into enemy minions, revive it, then give it reborn again with another Frost spell. On paper, a Stuffy and a Frost chain could help us clear a massive board.

We see a problem with the lack of a list that wants to play this card. Furthermore, Frost Death Knight support is non-existent in this set. Thus, the archetype will have to rely on its competition getting watered down through rotation. It’s quite far from being competitive in its current state. But even if this archetype emerged, it’s still unlikely to utilize Stuffy because it tends to run a small, curated package of Frost spells anyway.

Stuffy simply doesn’t have any meaningful interactions.

Score: 1

Darkthorn Quilter

Darkthorn Quilter is a bigger payoff for a Handbuff Death Knight archetype compared to Shambling Zombietank. It deals random damage split amongst enemies equal to its attack value. With its baseline 2-attack, the damage doesn’t seem to be that significant, but Quilter’s damage scales extremely well with buffs.

Quilter’s effect also triggers every turn. Its immediate impact when entering play is only one of its more attractive aspects. It’s a constant threat that the opponent must remove, because Quilter will repeat its damage effect if alive and, thus, capable of crippling the opponent’s board position and life total.

This is a versatile card that gives Death Knight both a board control tool and scaling damage tool. In the early to mid-game, Quilter can control the enemy’s board. In the late game, Quilter scales to deal an oppressive amount of damage that can potentially go face. The utility in both faster and slower matchups is convincing.

Score: 3

Lesser Spinel Spellstone

Spinel Spellstone upgrades every time you gain 5 corpses while it’s in hand. Its fully upgraded form buffs all Undead in your hand by +3/+3. Note that we only need to gain corpses to upgrade it, unlike Shambling Zombietank that requires you to spend corpses.

Since the upgrade is passive in nature, it’s mostly time-gated. Death Knight’s Handbuff archetype is going to be minion-dense, so it’ll be able to quickly generate a significant number of corpses. Spinel Spellstone reminds us of Warrior’s Conditioning. It may only affect Undead, but it costs half the mana. That makes it very easy for us to develop buffed Undead on the same turn we play Spellstone.

This is probably the best handbuff card thus far for Death Knight and gives the archetype a great chance of seeing competitive play.

Score: 3

Threads of Despair

This spell affects all minions in play, so it hits both friendly and enemy minions. Threads of Despair reminds us of Defile: it’s an AOE effect that snowballs into a huge board clear in the right board state. The main difference is that you don’t need to have all health breakpoints to keep chaining the damage. Instead, you just need enough minions to die to reach the desired damage number.

Considering that Threads of Despair only costs 1-mana and can be used alongside Death Knight’s hero power to start off a damage chain, it seems incredibly flexible. It is very powerful with Crop Rotation specifically since it guarantees dealing 4-damage AOE.

Blood-Ctrl Death Knight will most likely run this card. Even though it’s a very slow deck, most builds are minion dense and seek to aggressively contest the board. This makes it easier to land Threads of Despair and activate a chain of damage via trades. The archetype is also losing Blood Boil, so it will need to find an alternative answer to a flooded board. This is perfect for that purpose.

Score: 3

Amateur Puppeteer

Puppeteer is another hand buff card, but a more expensive one that comes online in the mid-game. A 5-mana 2/6 is quite a slow body, but the unconditional +2/+2 buff on its deathrattle is very powerful and its taunt makes it difficult to ignore. The fact it’s Undead means we can buff Puppeteer itself to prolong the game and allows us to stabilize.

What puts the card over the edge is its Miniaturize keyword, which gives us a 1/1 taunt with the same deathrattle effect. That is once upgraded Spinel Spellstone baked into a very cheap deathrattle. Amateur Puppeteer’s total amount of handbuffs is impressive. A 6-mana investment into this card means that Undead minions in our hand will gain +4/+4, which is more than what the Azerite Dragon provides in Excavate Paladin.

This card makes Handbuff Death Knight far more intimidating in the late game with the sheer number of stats turning every Undead in our deck into a serious threat.

Score: 3

Silk Stitching

Silk Stitching adds a deathrattle to a friendly minion that casts a discoverable spell of your choice. The spell’s cost is 4-mana or lower, so your best-case scenario has you “gaining” 2-mana on the play, but discovering from a random pool of spells makes this far less attractive.

We don’t understand this card’s purpose. Silk Stitching’s value is unreliable. It requires us to have a minion in play that’s ready to die and trigger the deathrattle within a reasonable time frame. We could use our hero power, but we’ll be spending 4-mana to trigger a discovered spell that may not even be worth that cost or suit the game state.

For us to leverage Silk Stitching, we need to combo it with Yelling Yodeler or Death Growl. These cards haven’t pushed better and more reliable deathrattles into competitive play and, so, we have no reason to believe that they’ll salvage Silk Stitching.

Strange all around.

Score: 1

Rainbow Seamstress

Seamstress is a Corpsetaker-esque 3-drop that gains keywords depending on the types of runes you have in your deck. If you have a Blood rune card, then it gains Lifesteal. If you have a Frost rune card, then it gains Reborn. If you have an Unholy rune card, then it gains Rush.

As the name suggests, this minion is a perfect addition to Rainbow Death Knight, as it will gain all three keywords. A 3 mana 3/3 with Rush, Lifesteal and Reborn is a very strong card that quite effectively helps us challenge for early game board control.

Seamstress is also a fantastic card for Handbuff Death Knight, with the two most important scaling keywords in such a deck (Rush and Lifesteal) available through its Unholy and Blood runes. We can even see this archetype going Rainbow, so there’s a good chance Seamstress will be in its peak form in this deck too.

It looks like a staple in two archetypes that gives it good chances of seeing competitive play. One of those archetypes, Rainbow Death Knight, was firmly established as a powerhouse during the second half of Badlands.

Score: 3

Dr. Stitchensew

Dr. Stitchensew is likely to become the stickiest minion in the format. Upon entering play, you discover minions at 5-cost, 3-cost, and 1-cost to include in its deathrattle.

Notably, the deathrattle is an ordered chain. When Stitchensew dies, the 5-cost minion is summoned. When the 5-cost minion dies, the 3-cost minion is summoned. When the 3-cost minion dies, the 1-cost minion is summoned.

This makes Dr. Stitchensew incredibly hard to cleanly remove from the board as you need to deal with 3 separate deathrattles in the process. When facing such a minion, it’s likely that opponents will have little choice but to ignore it, as sinking their resources into trading with the card will likely leave them behind on board and in resources.

Dr. Stitchensew is not a card you’re happy to ignore either, since its 6-attack is going to hurt. This becomes a bigger problem if the doctor enjoys some hand buffs before he’s dropped to the board. Alternatively, Dr. Stitchensew is very punishing to ignore if you’re running deathrattle synergy cards such as Death Growl or Yelling Yodeler.

A subtle bonus is the number of corpses Dr. Stitchensew generates, which is a minimum of 4, but could be even more if your discovered minions end up being deathrattles themselves.

The absence of rune restrictions and its standalone power makes it a prime candidate for many different types of Death Knight decks. Its only drawback is that it’s a 6-mana minion with no immediate impact on the board, but its value over the course of several turns is hard to rival. Slower decks without silence-type effects will suffer most when faced with this card.

Score: 3

The Headless Horseman

The only class-specific hero card in the upcoming format, The Headless Horseman’s instant effect is Asphyxiate (i.e., destroy the enemy minion with the most attack). Death Knight’s hero power then switches to Pulsing Pumpkins, which deals 3 damage for 2-mana.

When Headless Horseman is played, his “head” is shuffled into your deck. Once drawn, it attaches back to the Horseman’s body and improves the hero power, Pulsing Pumpkins. Pulsing Pumpkins then, on top of dealing 3 damage, also discovers an Undead minion.

We judge Headless Horseman on its immediate impact, its first form, and its second form.

Its immediate impact at 6-mana for Asphyxiate and 5-armor isn’t great.

Its first form hero power is strong both at controlling the board and burning down the opponent. The only issue here is that if we repeatedly use the hero power, we might be neglecting our own board development in the process. It’s still a decent source of damage and removal.

Its second form, once the head is found, the Headless Horseman’s hero power displays herculean strength since it offers value in minions in addition to damage. However, finding the head may take a significant and unreliable amount of time, which makes the second form only likely to activate at the late stages of the game. In many matchups, the second form may not be relevant at all.

In matchups against attrition decks, an upgraded Pulsing Pumpkins can carry games. One idea is utilizing Northern Navigation in a build that’s light on spells, which Rainbow Death Knight already tends to be. This way, we can tutor the head and consistently get our fully upgraded hero power earlier.

The Headless Horseman’s rune restriction makes it a good fit in Rainbow Death Knight or a Handbuff Death Knight, if these decks are interested in a late game value engine that doesn’t necessarily synergize with their original board-centric game plan.

Plague Death Knight can include the card but will have to give up the Frost-Runed Reska and the Excavate package, which is a tall order for that list. It’s also not an ideal fit in Blood-Control Death Knight since the deck trades Vampiric Blood for it and already utilizes Reno as a hero.

Headless Horseman should be strong enough to see play, but we don’t think it’s a particularly dominant hero card.

Score: 3

Final Thoughts

Whizbang’s Workshop Set Rank: 4th

Overall Power Ranking:  2nd

A kind rotation and a strong set could be setting up Death Knight for great success in Whizbang’s Workshop.

Death Knight is probably the biggest winner of the Core set update. It has seen many of its most important cards survive rotation, while receiving a lot of buffs, both in card improvement and the lessening of rune restrictions. This has increased the options available for both established archetypes and potential new ones.

The class’s established archetypes are also in a great position. Rainbow Death Knight is a deck that received its first serious support in Festival of Legends, so it’s not taking any significant hits in rotations, while receiving meaningful new additions. Rainbow Seamstress is the perfect fit for the deck, boosting its ability to dominate early game board control, while the Headless Horseman could boost its late game.

Plague Death Knight’s support came in Titans (Plague package) and Badlands (Excavate package). The Whizbang set may not give it much to work with, but the upcoming format could become very favorable for the archetype if it’s as draw heavy as we suspect it will be. With Warrior not expected to slow down and Reno decks looking to take a bigger portion of the meta pie, Plague DK will be looking to take advantage.

Handbuff Death Knight looks in a great spot to finally become competitive after receiving excellent support. While it is tribe restricted to Undead, the sheer volume of buffs it’s capable of producing cannot be underestimated. Its 3rd rune selection is completely up for grabs. There’s a lot of flexibility there.

In contrast, the triple rune archetypes first established in March of the Lich King may not be prominent players in the format. Unholy-Aggro is losing Marrowgar and received no meaningful support, which can be said of Frost as well. Blood-Ctrl has the best chance with Threads of Despair offering it powerful AOE.

There is little doubt that Death Knight will be up there as one of the stronger classes at the launch of Whizbang’s Workshop. We expect it to be an early frontrunner as its decks should be easy to build and refine quickly. The only question is whether it will have staying power once other classes optimize their strategies.

1 Comment

  1. Good read overall, but the write up on Timewinder Zarimi is a bit over the top. It just screams, “Blizz, if you’re reading our article nerf this card now!”, and I think it’s way too early to jump to that conclusion. Time Warp effects are strong, but it’s no more strong than OTK card strategies; one could argue it’s actually weaker cause you need two turns in a row to win when other decks can OTK.

    A weakness with Timewinder Zarimi that shouldn’t be ignored is its reliance on dragon tribe. Can’t just put in any deck, must devote enough other cards to get to 5 dragons.

    TLDR – Let’s try not to put a target on cards to nerf before they’re actually a problem.

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