- "Always remember that power is a double-edged blade. One side light, the other dark. It calls to you, where you are most desperate; when victory seems worth any sacrifice. There is a price to be paid for such a gift, and many eagerly accept the bargain. The righteous and the meek may recoil at its cost, but they have no vision. Power alone is not to be feared. Fear instead, those who wield it!"
|Collection name:||Frozen Throne|
|Release date:||August 10, 2017|
|Year of the Dragon, Knights of the Frozen Throne is now a Wild format card set, which means cards from the Knights of the Frozen Throne will no longer be playable in Standard format matches. For more information, see Game format.|
Knights of the Frozen Throne (KotFT, KFT) is the sixth expansion to Hearthstone, featuring the tenth new card set with 135 collectible cards and the new Prince Arthas hero. The expansion released on August 10, 2017 in the Americas region, and August 11, 2017 in the Europe and Asia regions.
Set in the frozen wastes of Northrend and the frigid halls of Icecrown Citadel, the expansion sees each of Hearthstone's nine heroes embrace the power of the Undead Scourge, becoming death knights in the service of the mighty Lich King. The expansion features the introduction of hero cards, an entirely new card type which replace the player's hero and Hero Power, and the Lifesteal mechanic.
Knights of the Frozen Throne is also the first expansion to feature Missions, a new type of free single-player content. The expansion features a total of eight Missions which take the player through Icecrown Citadel, culminating in a battle with the Lich King himself. Completing the Missions will reward a total of three Knights of the Frozen Throne card packs and a random Legendary Death Knight Hero card.
- 1 How to get
- 2 Cards
- 3 Missions
- 4 Themes
- 4.1 Death knights
- 4.2 Deathrattle
- 4.3 Freeze
- 4.4 Ice trolls
- 4.5 Lifesteal
- 4.6 Nerubians
- 4.7 Recurring cards
- 4.8 Enemy deck manipulation
- 4.9 Undead
- 5 Battlefield
- 6 Card backs
- 7 Trailer
- 8 Lore
- 9 History
- 9.1 Development
- 9.2 Teasers and announcement
- 9.3 Misadventures of the Lich King
- 9.4 Card reveals
- 10 Trivia
- 11 Gallery
- 12 References
- 13 External links
How to get
Knights of the Frozen Throne craftable cards can be obtained by one of the following methods:
- Opening card packs with the usual prices and purchasing options
- Crafting for the usual amounts of Arcane Dust depending on the cards' rarity
- Uncraftable cards
These specific cards can be obtained through other means. For more information, see individual articles.
- A total of 3 Knights of the Frozen Throne card packs will be rewarded from the expansion's single-player Missions. Completing the prologue Mission will reward a random Legendary hero card.
- Prior to the expansion's release, players are able to pre-order a bundle of 50 Knights of the Frozen Throne packs for $49.99 USD/€49,99 EUR/£44.99 GBP/$64.99 AUD or equivalent.
- The packs will not be available until after the expansion is released.
- The pre-order bundle comes with a unique card back (see below).
The set contains 135 collectible cards in total - 45 neutral cards and 90 class cards (10 per class). There are in total 49 Commons, 36 Rares, 27 Epics, and 23 Legendaries. Knights of the Frozen Throne cards can be recognized with a special watermark ('s helm) behind the card text, not found on other cards.
- "The first steps you’ll take to join the Knights of the Frozen Throne will be within Icecrown Citadel. There you’ll be faced with eight Missions – new single-player content for Hearthstone. Beginning with the Prologue, and then proceeding through grueling battles with Icecrown Citadel’s mightiest denizens, your trial will culminate in a showdown with the Lich King!
- Be forewarned! You may find that these are unlike the battles you’ve fought in the past. The forces of Icecrown Citadel are dangerous, and only the determined will prevail. The Lich King himself is a fiendishly difficult opponent, and his tactics will vary when facing each of the nine Classes.
- Though you risk your soul merely by entering Icecrown Citadel, the Missions will cost you nothing! The rewards for braving them, however, are enticing indeed: after completing all the Missions, you’ll receive a total of three Knights of the Frozen Throne card packs. Completing the Prologue mission will also add a random Legendary Death Knight Hero card to your collection!"
- "Fight your way through Icecrown, take on the Scourge’s most terrifying leaders, and ultimately face off against the Lich King himself in a series of solo missions that will pose a significant challenge to even the most experienced Hearthstone players. The task before you is great, but so are your rewards!"
Knights of the Frozen Throne marks the introduction of Missions — free single-player content intended to help develop the narrative and lore of the expansion similar to the discontinued Adventures. The mission for Knights of the Frozen Throne is named "Icecrown" and features the player working their way upwards through Icecrown Citadel and ultimately coming face-to-face with the Lich King himself.
The Prologue Mission and the first wing, consisting of three bosses, will become available as soon as the the expansion releases. A week later, the second wing will roll out with three more bosses. Finally, in the third week the final Mission will unlock, featuring the Lich King. There are no Class Challenges in Knights of the Frozen Throne. Like Adventures, all Missions are played in Wild format, allowing the use of any cards in the player's collection.
Completing the Prologue Mission will reward a random legendary death knight hero card, and completing all 8 Missions will reward a total of 3 Knights of the Frozen Throne card packs. If the player is able to beat the final boss, they will also be shown the full art of their death knight hero, which is normally not visible in-game (though the full art of all the death knight heroes will probably also be featured on the official site).
If the player is able to defeat the final Lich King encounter with all nine classes, there will be a "special surprise" waiting for them in the form of the alternate paladin hero Prince Arthas. However, this has been described as an extremely challenging task, and it is not expected that a lot of players will be able to complete it.
Unlike Adventures, which had unique cards gated behind them and thus had to have a normal mode that most players could defeat, Missions will only have a single difficulty mode, allowing the developers to create much more challenging encounters. However, both a normal and a Heroic mode were added once again in The Dalaran Heist. The difficulty of Missions has been described as harder than the normal Adventure difficulty, with a few being close to Heroic difficulty, and were designed with the aim of providing a challenge for highly skilled players as well as content that every player should be able to enjoy. The Lich King himself has been described as a "fiendishly difficult" opponent, and his tactics will vary when facing each of the nine classes.
The below table summarizes the structure of the missions, with the date each mission was made available and links to a more detailed explanation of each mission.
|1 random Knights of the Frozen Throne hero card|
|1 Knights of the Frozen Throne card pack|
|Blood-Queen Lana'thel||1 Knights of the Frozen Throne card pack|
|The Frozen Throne
|The Lich King||1 Knights of the Frozen Throne card pack|
Prince Arthas Paladin Alternate Hero (if completed with all 9 classes)
- Your heroes have fallen under the Lich King’s sway, losing their souls but gaining formidable powers. When played, Legendary new Hero cards transform your normal heroes into terrifying Death Knights!
Death knight powers
- "We've got a lot of cool Deathrattle cards in the set. In fact, the set's got a lot of death in it!"
Enemy turn only Deathrattles
The expansion introduces Deathrattle effects that can only activate on the enemy's turn.
The ice trolls of the Drakkari tribe are a race of trolls that founded the mighty nation of Zul'Drak in eastern Northrend. When their empire came under attack from the Scourge, the Drakkari turned on and betrayed their loa gods, drinking from the wild deities' blood in an attempt to gain enough godlike power to repel the undead.
- Some of the Lich King’s spells and minions have the awful power to draw sustenance from the very life essence of a victim: Lifesteal. Lifesteal expands on an ability already found on some cards and gives it a new dedicated keyword. When a card with Lifesteal deals damage, your hero is healed for the same amount. A useful ability to have at hand when you’ve already got both feet in the grave.
Many of the forces of the Scourge have the ability to drain the life essence of their enemies to restore their own strength.
- Main article: Nerubian art
The nerubians are an ancient race of intelligent arachnoids who once ruled over the mighty subterranean empire of Azjol-Nerub beneath the wastes of Northrend. Many were raised as undead servants of the Scourge during the War of the Spider, but there are a few remaining holdouts of living nerubians seeking to retake their home from the Lich King... and from the horrors lurking further below.
"Recurring" cards are spells which can re-cast themselves if certain conditions are met.
Enemy deck manipulation
For the first time in Hearthstone, this expansion introduces cards that remove or destroy cards from the enemy's deck.
- Main article: Undead art
The Scourge consists of a wide variety of undead in a multitude of horrific forms.
Geists are agile, cackling, crawling undead, at least some of which are the result of executed criminals being reborn into undeath.
Ghouls are ravenous, cannibalistic undead who act as shock troops and manual labor for the Scourge.
The San'layn, or darkfallen, are a faction of undead, vampiric blood elves that were raised into undeath following Illidan Stormrage and Kael'thas Sunstrider's failed assault upon the Lich King. Ruled by Blood-Queen Lana'thel and a host of vampiric blood princes, the darkfallen often serve in high-ranking positions within the Scourge.
Skeletons are gangly, rattling, emaciated undead formed from the bones of the dead.
Many types of undead are created by stitching together the body parts of multiple corpses into new, horrific creatures. These include the hulking abominations, the massive flesh giants, and the ravenous plague-dogs.
The val'kyr are undead female vrykul. Though they were originally warriors of the Light created to bring the souls of the glorious dead to Keeper Odyn's Halls of Valor, the Lich King later acquired his own val'kyr to serve as his winged harbingers.
A special card back is available as part of the expansion's pre-order bundle. The card backs for Ranked play Seasons 38 and 39 are also related, as they depict locations which Arthas Menethil, the future Lich King, visited during the events of Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos: the Sunwell, used to resurrect the necromancer , and the magical city of Dalaran, which was ruled by and housed a powerful artifact which Kel'Thuzad needed to summon the demon lord Archimonde.
- Official site
- An icy wind howls outside the inn's walls, but the chill you feel crawling up your spine has little to do with the bitter cold. No deck is safe from 's evil influence; even the most stalwart champions of the Light have been turned into wicked Death Knights. As the agents of the undead Scourge plague the land, it falls to you to gather your cards, face these vile abominations, and turn their dark powers against them.
- Do not fear power; fear those who wield it!
- Press release
- In Knights of the Frozen Throne™, Azeroth’s greatest heroes are called to Northrend once again to battle the Lich King . . . in the tavern! Blizzard Entertainment’s newest Hearthstone® expansion brings players to the Icecrown Citadel, where they will encounter terrifying bear sharks, ridiculous geists, indigenous Tuskarr ice fishermen, and the mysterious influence of runic magic. With 135 icy new cards, the tavern is about to get a whole lot cooler!
- In Knights of the Frozen Throne, players storm Icecrown Citadel, the Lich King’s frozen fortress, in pursuit of the forbidden might of runic magic. Rumor has it the Lich King seeks champions to imbue with the icy essence of undeath [...]
- Announcement blog
- The Scourge. Death Knights. . These are among the most frightening, tragic elements of Azeroth’s past. The awful beings residing in Icecrown Citadel are dark, brooding, and terrifyingly powerful… but also really, really cool! The Hearthstone team knew they wanted to explore the story of the Lich King and his horrifying minions, but how to visit such grim themes while preserving the game's friendly and whimsical spirit?
- The answer was obvious: kill EVERYBODY!
- Well, not everybody. Just all nine Hearthstone heroes. . . In Hearthstone’s next expansion, Knights of the Frozen Throne, we ask the question: what happens when the heroes fall from the light? When the Lich King raises them from the dead as Death Knights, what will they do with the immense and terrible powers he gives them?
- But who is this Lich King we speak of?
Similar to Whispers of the Old Gods, Knights of the Frozen features an alternate, "what-if" take on Warcraft lore, in which Arthas Menethil is still the Lich King and still carries the runeblade Frostmourne.
The Lich King
- The Lord of the Scourge
- The tale of the Lich King is a tragic one. It is the story of a young hero willing to take any risk and employ the most extreme measures to save his people. His fear and desperation drove him to take up the cursed runeblade, Frostmourne. While he did gain great power in the process, the promise of power was a trap. The evil in the blade consumed him, setting him on the path to become one of the most powerful and horrifying beings in existence: the Lich King.
- As the Lich King, he manifests his strength in the physical realm as the strongest of the Death Knights—commanding power over mortal blood, freezing ice, and unholy corruption. When combined with the soul-devouring hunger of Frostmourne, he is an unstoppable, armor-clad juggernaut. If that weren’t enough, he also controls the vast undead army known as the Scourge from his Frozen Throne atop Icecrown Citadel.
- All told, the Lich King and his minions represent one of the greatest threats to life on Azeroth. Foremost among those minions: the Death Knights!
- In World of Warcraft
The Lich King is the demigod ruler of the Scourge, a massive, ravenous army of undead monstrosities, insidious spirits and mortal cultists. The first Lich King was created when the orc shaman Ner'zhul (former mentor of Gul'dan) was captured by the demon lord Kil'jaeden, transformed into a spectral entity and encased in a block of ice called the Frozen Throne, which was then hurled to Azeroth and landed in the wastes of Northrend. The Lich King's task was to create a Plague of Undeath to wreak havoc on Azeroth's inhabitans, weakening the world and preparing it for the invasion of the demonic Burning Legion.
When the Plague began affecting the human kingdom of Lordaeron, the young prince Arthas Menethil set out with his mentor, Uther Lightbringer, and romantic interest, Lady Jaina Proudmoore, to investigate. However, Arthas' determination to stop the plague led him to commit increasingly desperate acts, such as purging the city of Stratholme in the belief that its inhabitants were infected by the plague, an act which caused him to sever ties with Uther and Jaina. During the Culling of Stratholme, Arthas encountered the demon , who presented himself as the leader of the undead and invited the prince to pursue him to the frozen continent of Northrend. Arthas did so, and once in the icy wastes he picked up the cursed runeblade Frostmourne despite the warnings of his old friend, Muradin Bronzebeard (brother of Magni and Brann). Although Frostmourne allowed Arthas to defeat Mal'Ganis, the blade consumed his soul and he became a death knight of the Lich King. Returning to Lordaeron, Arthas murdered his royal father and led the Scourge in its devastation of the kingdoms of Lordaeron, Dalaran and Quel'Thalas. Eventually, Arthas returned to Northrend to merge with the Lich King into a single entity, after which he was encased in the Frozen Throne and lapsed into dormancy for years. Meanwhile, his Scourge minions constructed Icecrown Citadel around the Frozen Throne, and his various servants continued carrying out his will across Azeroth.
Years later, the Scourge rose up once more to threaten Azeroth. The Alliance and Horde, as well as the Argent Crusade — a paladin organization led by — and the Knights of the Ebon Blade — a faction of death knights who had broken away from the Lich King's control — launched armies into Northrend to combat the Lich King's forces. After a long and grueling campaign, the Argent Crusade and the Ebon Blade launched an assault upon Icecrown Citadel, with Tirion and the heroes of Azeroth confronting the Lich King at the Frozen Throne at the citadel's pinnacle. However, just as the heroes began their assault, Arthas froze Tirion in a block of ice, forcing him to watch the battle helplessly. Eventually, the Lich King effortlessly killed all of the adventurers with a single devastating attack and began raising them as death knights of the Scourge, proclaiming that:
- "No questions remain unanswered. No doubts linger. You ARE Azeroth's greatest champions. You overcame every challenge I laid before you. My mightiest servants have fallen before your relentless onslaught... your unbridled fury... Is it truly righteousness that drives you? I wonder... You trained them well, Fordring. You delivered the greatest fighting force this world has ever known... right into my hands - exactly as I intended! You shall be rewarded for your unwitting sacrifice. Watch now as I raise them from the dead to become masters of the Scourge. They will shroud this world in chaos and destruction. Azeroth's fall will come at their hands -- and you will be the first to die. *laughs* I delight in the irony."
Tirion beseeched the Light for one final blessing, breaking free from his bonds and leaping forward to shatter Frostmourne with his sword, the . The spirits who had been trapped within Frostmourne attacked their former jailer, while the spirit of Arthas' father, King Terenas, resurrected the heroes, allowing them to finish off the Lord of the Scourge. Arthas expired in his father's arms, saying that he saw "only darkness" before him. However, as the Scourge would become an even greater threat and rampage across the world if they were not held in check by a ruler, took up the mantle of the Lich King in order to keep the Scourge contained.
In Knights of the Frozen Throne, however, the Lich King was evidently victorious and managed to raise several legendary heroes of Azeroth as his servants — the death knights.
- Dead and Loving It
- Each Death Knight was once a mighty hero of Azeroth—but after the Lich King raises a hero from the dead, they gain unimaginable strength from beyond the grave. In Knights of the Frozen Throne, each of Hearthstone’s nine heroes has embraced the Lich King’s dark power to serve him as a Legendary Death Knight Hero card! Despite their transformation, they have not fallen completely under the Lich King’s sway, so it’ll be up to you to decide how to wield the awesome abilities at their command.
- In World of Warcraft
- A hero... that's what you once were. You stood boldly against the Shadow and purchased another dawn for the world... with your life. But the evil you fought is not so easily banished; the victory you claimed, not so easily held. For now, the specter of death looms over the world yet again and it has found new champions to bring about its final reign. Knights of darkness, wielding runes of death and destruction, bound by the will of the Lich King. This is the hour of their ascension! This is the hour of your dark rebirth...
- The original death knights were created for Orgrim Doomhammer by Gul'dan as powerful soldiers of the Horde. These death knights were created by placing the souls of the slain warlocks of the Shadow Council into the corpses of fallen Stormwind knights, the first of whom was Teron Gorefiend. Unlike modern death knights of the Scourge, these ghoulish fiends were not battle hardened warriors; they were insidious necromancers who possessed superior intellect and tremendous magical power. They often favored the use of terror tactics and reanimated the corpses of enemy soldiers who fell in battle to serve them as mindless undead minions.
- Most of these death knights were destroyed during and after the Second War, either killed by the Alliance or transformed into liches by Kil'jaeden.
- Years after the destruction of Draenor, the immensely powerful Lich King created a new breed of death knights: malevolent, rune-wielding warriors of the Scourge. The first and greatest of these was the Lich King's chosen champion, Prince Arthas Menethil, once a mighty paladin of the Silver Hand, who sacrificed his soul to claim the runeblade Frostmourne in a desperate bid to save his people. The rest were primarily made up of other fallen warriors or paladins whose souls were twisted and bound to the will of the Frozen Throne. Unlike Gul'dan's death knights, these dark champions possessed unholy strength, however, they did not possess free will and their minds were inexorably entwined with and dominated by the Lich King's vast consciousness. Despite the heavy costs of free will, some powerful mortals were intrigued by the promise of immortality and pledged their souls freely into the Lich King's service to achieve it.
- In the years since Arthas shattered the Frozen Throne and merged with the Lich King, the power and fury of the death knights only grew. These unrelenting crusaders of the damned eagerly awaited the Lich King's command to unleash their fury on Azeroth once again.
- Death knights are the former champions of the Scourge. They fortify their bodies and drain life energy itself with the power of blood, sharpen their blades and strike powerfully with the power of frost, and raise the dead while striking with the unholy fervor granted by undeath. They are engines of destruction chosen by the Undead Scourge to serve the almighty will of the Lich King.
- The playable death knights are the uniformly undead members of the Death Knights of Acherus, a regiment consisting of hundreds of death knights stationed at the necropolis Acherus: The Ebon Hold under the direct command of the Lich King and Highlord Darion Mograine. These death knights were set loose upon the Scarlet Enclave, culminating in the flight of the newly-formed Scarlet Onslaught to Northrend and the subsequent massacre known as the Scarlet Apocalypse, in which the death knights decimated Scarlet reinforcements. After this, the Death Knights of Acherus were sent to Light's Hope Chapel to destroy the Argent Dawn.
- During the Battle for Light's Hope Chapel, the Lich King, in betrayal of his death knights, was willing to sacrifice them to kill Highlord Fordring. In a large burst of Light, the power of Light's Hope Chapel freed the death knights from the Lich King's grasp. Darion threw the to Highlord Fordring, purifying it and forcing the Lich King to retreat.
- The freed death knights took Acherus from the Scourge and formed the Knights of the Ebon Blade under the command of Highlord Mograine. The Ebon Blade sent many of its freed death knights to their respective factions – Alliance or Horde. The Knights of the Ebon Blade would later become a major factor in the death of the Lich King, joining the Argent Crusade to form the Ashen Verdict.
In World of Warcraft, death knights are split into three class specializations: Blood, Frost, and Unholy. Blood death knights manipulate and corrupt life energy to sustain themselves on the battlefield, using the blood and bone of the living to fortify their own defenses, while Frost death knights wield dual blades and combine martial prowess with supernatural cold to devastate their opponents. Finally, Unholy death knights spread vile plagues and diseases and raise armies of shambling undead horrors to do their bidding.
- The Hunger
- Death Knights may be vicious combatants, but they are only a small fraction of the Lich King’s monstrous army. The legions of the Scourge are a menagerie of ravenous undead beings, from lowly ghouls and zombies to hulking, unspeakable abominations that have been stitched together from the flesh of countless victims. The teeming armies of the undead are as gruesome as they are deadly—so you can expect to find some potent abilities among their number!
- The Scourge (or Undead Scourge and Scourge Army) is one of three major undead factions existing in the world of Azeroth (the other two being the Forsaken and the Knights of the Ebon Blade). Until recently, it was a major player for control of the world. Created initially as the precursor to an invasion by the Burning Legion, the Scourge broke free from their demonic masters and — under the iron rule of the dread Lich King — have built up their power base on the Arctic continent of Northrend. Their influence spreads throughout Northrend, as well as the Plaguelands in northern Lordaeron and southern Quel'Thalas, and even Kalimdor to a small degree. A terrifying and insidious enemy, before its downfall the Scourge was perhaps the most dangerous threat to the world of Azeroth.
Chilling Tales From the Tavern
- "In this Knights of the Frozen Throne comic series, a clever bard enraptures the Tavern’s patrons with his intriguing twists on some of the fabled heroes of Azeroth and promises of unfathomable power. Could any slivers of truth be hidden within the bard’s honey-tongued imagination? Read on to find out!"
- "Follow the grisly story of the Lich King’s return to power in this collection of harrowing illustrations!"
A series of free web comics was released a few weeks prior to the release of Knights of the Frozen Throne. The comics are set in the Hearthstone tavern, in which a , in exchange for coin from the local patrons, presents fanciful stories about the Frozen Throne and those who have succumbed to its power in order to warn others from following the same path.
The first issue, Undeath Conquers All, features the thespian presenting a tale of how Lady Jaina Proudmoore chose to join Arthas Menethil during his culling of Stratholme and subsequently become a death knight just like him, and how the two of them together laid waste to the living. Thrall and Uther Lightbringer soon rose to oppose the death knights, while the presence within the Frozen Throne told the undead Jaina and Arthas that only one of them would be chosen to inherit its power. The tale ultimately ends with a massive battle between the undead Jaina, Thrall, and Uther, and after being offered more coin, the thespian reluctantly reveals that Jaina was the one who was victorious in the end.
The second issue, Forest for the Weary, features the night elf telling of how the forest home of Rexxar became threatened by an unknown evil, later revealed as the death knight version of Malfurion Stormrage. After losing his beloved animal companions to Malfurion's corruption, Rexxar complied with the promises of the vampiric death knight Gul'dan and was transformed into , allowing him to craft an army of horrifying, stitched-together Zombeasts, including the terrifying "sharkbear", and defeat Malfurion. However, in his final moments, Malfurion revealed that he, too, had become a death knight by trying to protect the forests at any cost, and that he and Rexxar had succumbed to the same force. The night elf finishes his story by stating that no one knows what became of Gul'dan, but that it was rumored that he, too, was merely acting on the orders of a darker power.
The third and final issue, Freedom, features the thespian presenting a story of how Valeera Sanguinar ventured forth to search for her missing friends, King and his son, Prince Anduin. Along the way, she encountered the death knight version of Garrosh Hellscream, who gave the rogue a pair of special blades and claimed to know who had taken the Wrynns, while also telling a story of a death knight who had fled from the Lich King's control and began raising his own army of the dead. When Garrosh and Valeera encountered this creature and its army, the rogue jumped into battle, her blades slowly transforming her into a death knight herself. However, just as she prepared to kill the leader of the army, she discovered that it was Anduin. Valeera turned on Garrosh, who admitted to having taken the Wrynns himself and urged Valeera to kill Anduin if she wanted to gain true freedom. Valeera turned around and stabbed Anduin in the chest, but the thespian's story ends with a cliffhanger as he states that "nothing" happened, and that the point of the story was to think about Valeera's choice, and if "freedom" is all it's cracked up to be if one takes it to its logical conclusion. The comic ends with the thespian taking his gold and stepping outside of the tavern, chuckling to himself that death knights are a thing of the past. However, he is sudenly approached by a hooded stranger, who asks if he would like to know the truth about the Frozen Throne.
Due to the way these stories are framed, it's possible that the entirety of the Knights of the Frozen Throne "what-if" version of events originates from the fictional stories made up by this one elf to serve as cautionary tales, rather than from a "real", existing alternate reality of its own.
The Hearthstone developer team have been talking "forever" about making an expansion themed around the trip to Northrend, and the theme of Knights of the Frozen Throne is something that they "always kind of had in the back pocket, as something that would be great for Hearthstone". However, the team also wanted to time it right; Dave Kosak comments:
- "We like to mix it up a lot with Hearthstone – have some funny stuff, charming stuff, and kind of make sure you’re always surprised with each expansion. So it felt like this was a good time to bust out with this one. It’s got a little bit more of a serious take, but at the same time it’s still Hearthstone, and you saw some of that – it’s the Hearthstone version of this theme in the preview stuff we’ve shown so far."
The Lich King is one of the most iconic and tragic figures in Warcraft history, and the Hearthstone team knew they wanted to explore the story of him and his Scourge minions, but visiting such grim themes while preserving the game's light-hearted, friendly and whimsical spirit proved to be a big challenge for the developers. Moreover, they had to make sure that every class and every hero had a lot of fun and "something really cool going on", to ensure that all classes had something to do and that things would still fit into subsequent expansions added down the line. Early on in development, the developers discussed how to implement death knights in Hearthstone and explored the idea of making the heroes of Warcraft − such as Jaina and Gul'dan − into the main characters of the set, as those characters had not previously received much attention in Hearthstone. This led to the idea of "killing everybody" and turning them into death knights, a concept the developers began iterating upon early and which stuck throughout the development process. Mike Donais elaborates:
- "[...] showing what Hearthstone is about, showing that it’s more fun and relaxed and funny and warm and inviting was important. We’ve established that over the years. Now we can break away from that and do something where everyone dies instead. People realize that’s not Hearthstone’s identity, that it’s an exception to the rule. That really helps us. [...] It’ll still be Hearthstone-ified. We’ll be true to the Death Knight fantasy, making these pretty dark heroes. I don’t know if you’ve seen Anduin’s art, but he’s scary. He’s this weird shadow guy. I love his art. I think that delivers on the sort of dark fantasy of the Lich King. But there’s also going to be some cool, fun stuff. The missions especially have a cool storyline with some fun lines as you go through. As always, our flavor text is sort of relaxed and funny. I like the mix that we do. I think it’s going to go over well."
Matt Place was the Lead Initial Designer for the set while Mike Donais was the Lead Final Designer. Senior Concept Artist Jomaro Kindred created initial designs for death knight versions for each of the heroes and worked with game design to find out what the "dark side" of these iconic characters would look like. Kindred worked with Ben Brode and Ben Thompson in a highly collaborative process, the first pass of which consisted of getting an idea of what the death knights could be, and, as design tightened up, what they wanted to do mechanic-wise, which in turn informed the art. Something that came from the art team was the idea of embodying the three presences of death knights — the blood, the frost, and the unholy — and the nine death knight heroes all fall into those categories to a certain extent.
Mechanically, the team tried several different things to express how the heroes of Warcraft became death knights. Initially, they explored the idea of making the death knights into legendary minions, with one of the ideas for their effects being to shuffle different cards into the player's deck. However, the team found that it felt strange for a hero to play a minion version of themselves; Matt Place cites the example "It's kinda weird for Gul'dan to play Gul'dan". As the cinematics team explored the concept, they came up with a lot of the visuals that would eventually be featured in the expansion's cinematic trailer, and it became clear to the developers that the heroes of Warcraft being transformed into death knights would be the major, central piece of the set. Thus, the team concluded to do something "even beyond just legendary minions", leading to the creation of hero cards. The team arrived at the idea of having the death knight cards change the player's Hero Power and have them enter the board with a "huge splash". Once the team had created a handful of heroes with this design, they concluded to do it for all of the death knights and doubled down on the concept. FX artist Hadidjah Chamberlin was responsible for creating the entrance effects for all of the hero cards.
Similar to the Quests and Elementals of the preceding Journey to Un'Goro expansion, a big focus for Knights of the Frozen Throne is to give each class a multitude of new decks to build. Matt Place cites the example of hunters traditionally focusing on a highly aggressive "Face Hunter" playstyle by virtue of their Hero Power and many of their class cards, with providing an option for more midrange- and control-focused hunter decks.
The team considered making "Undead" into a full-fledged minion type, an idea that had been the subject of discussion even during the development of Curse of Naxxramas. The developers ultimately decided that it was not quite worth it, and there are no current plans for making Undead into a new type. In Mike Donais' opinion, there aren't too many disadvantages to making a new minion type, but one of the reasons the team chose not to do it was because of the addition of the Elemental type in Journey to Un'Goro, and "doing two new minion types in a row didn't really make sense to me".
- Main article: Mission#History
The Mission design of Knights of the Frozen Throne was informed by the fact that Blizzard wanted to not only provide "fan service" for players who were already familiar with the characters of Warcraft III and the bosses of Icecrown Citadel in World of Warcraft — such as the fact that the bosses in Knights of the Frozen Throne echo the mechanics of their raid boss encounters in WoW, albeit with a "very Hearthstone spin" — but also establish and introduce the characters to Hearthstone players who had never encountered any of the characters before.
The Lich King himself was something the developers iterated on quite a bit, since they knew that he would definitely be included in an expansion about Northrend and death knights, but he was quite at odds with the whimsical, charming tone of the game. Initially, the developers mainly just wrote jokes for him to tell, but the team didn't feel like that approach properly fit the character and his chilling past, and preserving the character was something they considered to be highly important. Instead, they went in a different direction, described by Kosak as "he’s still the Lich King, he’s still Prince Arthas, he’s got that ego, he’s got that aggression, but now he’s uniquely Hearthstone". Instead of breaking character, the Lich King instead breaks the fourth wall, referencing game mechanics such as cards and crafting and making fun of the player's deck, in addition to being "really good at Hearthstone". The developers had fun with the process, but it took a while to get to that point, and Kosak was initially worried that they were losing the character.
When asked why the developers decided that completing the Prologue Mission would reward a random death knight hero card, rather than allowing the player to choose which one they wanted, Senior Concept Artist Jerry Mascho explained:
- "It's really hard to know which one is the best when you've only played the Prologue and seen none of them. I feel like, whichever one you choose, you'll feel like, "Oh, I have no idea which one to pick. Which one's the best? Which one's the most fun one?" So you'll have a lot of regret after you pick the wrong one. I think this makes it sort of fair for everyone and you don't have to feel like you have to wait a month to wait before picking."
The expansion's battlefield (see above) was created after the team heard Kosak's description of what the Lich King would be like, and is based around the idea of Arthas commissioning his minions to create a board for him. The frost wyrm frozen in the ice in the battlefield's upper corner is a reference to the World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King opening cinematic, in which Arthas raises into undeath. The "create-your-own ice sculpture" in the bottom right was added to offset the dark fantasy of death knights with a comical Hearthstone twist.
On Thursday, February 16th, Blizzard announced on the official Hearthstone website the changes coming with the Year of the Mammoth, the second year of standard format. The announcement post included a teaser image for the planned main events of the year, including "Expansion II" in the year's third quarter, the image for which was surrounded by glowing blue runes. Some players speculated that the runes were indicative of the magical city of Dalaran, home of the mages of the Kirin Tor, while others believed it to be hinting at an expansion themed around the Lich King and Icecrown Citadel.
On the 29th of June, it was announced that the newest Hearthstone expansion would be revealed at the HCT Spring Championships in Shanghai on the 6th of July. However, on the 5th of July, only one day before the official reveal, the Chinese version of the official Hearthstone website was updated to display the key art and Chinese logo for Knights of the Frozen Throne, thus "leaking" the theme of the expansion.
After the main announcement portion of the video, Brode briefly appeared again to inform viewers of available job positions on the Hearthstone team. The very end of the video revealed the Lich King himself watching the announcement on his laptop and chuckling darkly to himself.
Misadventures of the Lich King
The Lich King Interviews for a Job at Blizzard
On July 11th, the official Hearthstone YouTube channel posted Hearthstone: The Lich King Interviews for a Job at Blizzard, a short video in which Arthas unsuccessfully attempts to get a job at Blizzard Entertainment through a job interview with Ben Brode. The video was accompanied by a corresponding blog post on the official site supposedly written by the Lich King himself, stating:
- "Greetings, mortals. I have arrived in your world to assert my dominion over the Hearthstone development team, but first I must get a “job” at Blizzard Entertainment.
- The accursed Brode speaks of ‘qualifications’? Of ‘experience? I will show him a resume from the grave, and the true meaning of entrepreneurial! I will master all mortal professions and prove myself lord not only of the Scourge, but of all “jobs”. Soon he will learn that no one rules forever."
The Lich King Announces New Hearthstone Esports Team
On July 12th, the official Hearthstone Twitter account posted a tweet reading "Accursed @bdbrode! Job experience is for fools. I will align my efforts with whom I hear is the TRUE creator of Hearthstone! @Tempo_Storm", accompanied by a short animated GIF of Arthas inspecting a t-shirt with the logo of TempoStorm, a competitive Hearthstone team.
On the following day, a blog post appeared on the official site, announcing that the Lich King had taken control of TempoStorm, turned its members into death knights and rebranded it "The Frozen Pwn".
- The Lich King™ Announces New Hearthstone® Esports Team
- Lord of the Scourge raises an army of professional gamers!
- ICECROWN, Northrend – July 13, 2017 - The Lich King, master of the undead Scourge™, Lord of Icecrown Citadel™ and Northrend, and wielder of the cursed, soul-devouring runeblade Frostmourne™ is now focusing his cold, dead gaze on Hearthstone. Today he officially announced the creation of a new, global Hearthstone esports organization entitled The Frozen Pwn®.
- “Effective immediately, the organization previously known as Tempo Storm will have fallen permanently under my control. I knew a team with a name that spoke of such power must surely be a force to be reckoned with—so I conquered it.” said the Lich King, CEO, CFO, Director of Communications, owner, and uncontested overlord of The Frozen Pwn and immortal conqueror of the mortal team Tempo Storm. “I then looked up “utter domination” on your Internet circa 2005 and found the mighty vowel-less word PWN. It was the perfect term for a team that will annihilate all those who stand against me.” From this auspicious beginning, the shift from Tempo Storm to The Frozen Pwn was born.
- The Lich King promises to forge a team the likes of which this pathetic mortal world has never seen. The key will be a unique process that includes raising players from the dead as evil, soulless Death Knights. “Your typical esports mortal must eat, sleep, and have relationships. My players will no longer be concerned with such petty human foibles as rest, nourishment, or happiness. They will practice through the passing of the sun and moon, every day, with unstoppable determination. In the future ALL livestreams will be 24 hour... deadstreams.” The organization also boasts a lean and agile financial profile, conserving costs that would normally be applied to salaries, living quarters, and the molten food parcels and caffeinated syrup water that mewling living whelps seem to crave. The Frozen Pwn has not yet played a match but it is already the most powerful esports organization in the world*.
- The new team has already attracted the financial backing of several prominent sponsors, and The Frozen Pwn is proud to receive support from purveyors of mortal trinkets, foodstuffs, and other paltry material concerns the living apparently concern themselves with: Kaza-kola Energy Potion, IceCream Citadel™, The Gadgetzan Emporium, The Gadgetzan Mega Market, Tuskarr Bros. Famous Funnel Cake Factory, Mysterious Flatbread Inc., & Baron Tomes, H.G. Doyle Expeditions Inc., and Malone’s Original Floor Polish. Hand-crafted soul-devouring keyboards and mice will be provided by The Runeforge™. O.G. Whisper® headsets will be provided by Y.O.G. Corp.
- Be on the lookout for more The Frozen Pwn news at www.thefrozenthrone.com.
- *Based on the internal opinions of The Lich King and from key dominated partners in the industry.
- About The Lich King – A pioneer among Death Knights, The Lich King is based out of northwest Northrend. After a long, successful career as an implacable undead overlord who was definitely *not* defeated by a handful of uppity mortals, The Lich King is now turning his considerable talents to social media, frozen desserts, pet grooming, game development, streaming, multimedia entertainment, gaming peripherals, hospitality, and esports.
- Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-looking and Past-looking Statements: Information in this press release is farcical and fanciful. Reynad and Tempo Storm still exist as entities unaffiliated with the Lich King and Blizzard Entertainment. Reynad is not actually a Death Knight (though he does in fact hate the living). The Lich King does not actually own an esports team or successful hospitality business. He doesn’t even have an unsuccessful hospitality business. Forward-looking statements may prove to be untrue, especially since The Lich King is a fictional character. But please don’t tell him we said so. Frostmourne is scary.
The official website for TempoStorm was updated accordingly to feature an animated banner image of the Lich King and a text informing readers that "Effective immediately, the organization previously known as Tempo Storm has fallen permanently under the control of the Lich King. A team with a name that speaks of such power must surely be a force to be reckoned with—so he conquered it.", with links to the official Knights of the Frozen Throne website and expansion pre-order page. The Twitter accounts of Tempo Storm and several of its team members, such as Andrey "Reynad" Yanyuk and Jeffrey "Trump" Shih, were also updated to feature The Frozen Pwn's logo.
The Lich King's Ice Cream Citadel
On July 17th, the official YouTube channel posted Hearthstone: The Lich King’s Ice Cream Citadel, a video in which the Lich King attempts to open an ice cream business. Once again, the video was accompanied by a blog post on the official site, this time announcing that the Lich King and his "Ice Cream Citadel" would be present near San Diego Comic-Con and give out free ice cream, as well as allow attendees to take photographs with the Lord of the Scourge.
- Greetings, mortal whelps!
- As part of my efforts to prove to the accursed Brode that I possess the necessary experience to command the Hearthstone development team, I have decided to expand my efforts to all aspects of mortal enterprise.
- At first I considered peddling power and vengeance, but according to my focus testing, the foremost human craving seems to be for cold, creamy, sweetened sludge. I have decided to create a frozen-cream sugar-ooze unlike any you have ever tasted. You will desire it.
- Prepare yourselves for the grand opening of Ice Cream Citadel, a fortress of refreshment in the scorching heat that afflicts this place. I will be on hand to personally help you conquer the heat with free ice cream. You need spend no money for your first taste of my power.
- Choose from an endless selection of TWO flavors:
- Behold my tasteful brochure:
- Attend the Petco Park Interactive Zone in San Diego near San Diego Comic-Con® and be guided to your just desserts by this map:
- You may also take photographs of me with no immediate fear of retribution. Share proof of your delicious ice cream conquests on social media using the #icecreamcitadel “hashtag,” whatever that means.
- Begin preparations for your journey now. Ice Cream Citadel will receive supplicants between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. PDT July 20 through July 23.
On July 21st, Hearthstone released its first-ever official web comic, Undeath Conquers All, to celebrate Comic-Con. July 22nd saw the release of the second issue of the comic, Forest for the Weary, while the third and final issue, Freedom, was released on July 23rd. For more information, see above.
- Part 1
On July 20th, a blog post titled "Icecrown Tours - Part 1" appeared on the official site, featuring a chat log in which Arthas orders to gather his most powerful servants and prepare them to lead mortal tourists on tours through Icecrown Citadel. The full chat log can be viewed here.
- Part 2
On July 26th, the second part of Icecrown Tours was posted. In the chat log, Putricide checks in on how everyone is doing at improving Icecrown, with declaring that he has battled many Internet trolls for several hours, but that the inhabitants of Icecrown will soon need to face them "IRL". The full chat log can be viewed here.
- Part 3
The third part of the series, released on August 9th, features Putricide congratulating the inhabitants of Icecrown on their hard work of preparing Icecrown for the tourists. However, the Lich King suddenly joins the conversation and informs his underlings that all of their efforts have been in vain and that the citadel must be returned to its original state immediately, to the citadel bosses' immense frustration. The full chat log can be viewed here.
The Lich King at Blizzard
- Part 1
On August 4th, a video and accompanying blog post was released revealing that the Lich King had finally taken the first steps toward completing his goal of dominion over Blizzard, thanks to Ben Brode inviting him to become an intern at the Hearthstone team.
- "Greetings, Mortals.
- It is I, the Lich King. If you have been paying attention, you have no doubt witnessed my utter mastery of countless mortal enterprises. I have now taken my first steps toward true dominion in your world: a “job” at Blizzard Entertainment.
- As you can see, everything is going extremely well. Soon I will sear my frozen mark upon this, MY Hearthstone expansion."
On reddit, Ben Brode commented that "I mean, he's got a ton of job experience now. Ice cream store manager, running a successful esports team... I've been impressed. Hoping he's a good culture fit."
- Part 2
The second part of the Lich King's adventures at Blizzard was released the following day, on August 5th.
- "Greetings Mortals.
- It is I, the Lich King. The time has come for you to bear witness as my brilliant stratagem fully unfolds. The accursed developers, their support teams, and that guy with the coffee . . . ALL will yield before the Lord of the Scourge!
- They will come to understand that no one orders ME around. In the final hour, all must serve the one . . . true . . . king."
On July 24th, around two weeks after the initial announcement of the expansion, Knights of the Frozen Throne cards began to be revealed one at a time through selected streamers and fansites, as well as through the occasional blog post on the official site.
On July 27th, Blizzard released a blog post and accompanying video in which Lead Mission Designer Dave Kosak provided some insight into the design of the expansion's single-player Missions. The video also revealed the new alternate paladin hero Prince Arthas, as well as several new cards.
On July 28th, Senior Designer Matt Place and streamer Sean "Day9" Plott partook in a card reveal livestream showcasing 11 new cards, including the second hero card, . The stream also showcased the mechanic of "recurring" spells as well as some of the class themes in Knights of the Frozen Throne. At the end of the stream, Place announced that the following week would be "hero card week", featuring the card reveals of the remaining 7 death knight heroes, though Mike Donais later clarified that said week would feature most, but not all, death knight card reveals and that the remaining ones would be revealed during another livestream.
On Monday, August 7th, a special stream featuring Ben Brode and caster and streamer Brian "bmkibler" Kibler revealed the remaining cards through a series of showmatches against Associate Game Designer Steven "Puffin" Chang. Kibler won the series 4:0, beating Puffin's shaman, paladin, priest, and hunter with the premade "Garrosh Icecream", "Gul'Dangerous", "Malfurious", and "Vileera" decks, respectively. In addition to showcasing cards, including , , and the last two hero cards and , the stream also showcased the expansion's new battlefield as well as the new design of the 'Concede' button in the Options menu.
After the livestream concluded, the remaining cards of the set were released on Hearthstone's official site and Facebook page.
- This is the second Hearthstone content release to not include a song in its cinematic trailer, after Journey to Un'Goro. Instead, it uses a spoken introduction by a version of Jaina Proudmoore who accepts the power of Frostmourne in order to fight the Scourge, eventually assuming a new role as a death knight under its cursed power.
- Since the lack of a song in the Journey to Un'Goro trailer led to Ben Brode recording "Un'Goro: The Journey" — a video of himself rapping — the time immediately following the release of the Knights of the Frozen Throne trailer saw the creation of a player-created thread on reddit, entitled "Petition to make Ben Brode record another song". Within 3 days of the thread being posted, it had received roughly 13,400 upvotes. Brode responded to the thread with a tweet stating "This is some kind of bizzaro world we are living in where "rap petitions" have 10k upvotes". During his July 14th reddit AMA, when asked if he was going to perform another rap, Brode hinted at the possibility. On July 24th, Brode tweeted an image of the room and office chair seen in his Un'Goro rap video, with an accompanying message simply reading "ARTHAS" 07.31.2017. He also referenced the lyrics of "Un'Goro: The Journey" and stated that the tweet was not hinting at an upcoming card reveal, nor at the release date of Knights of the Frozen Throne, but rather at something "HOT". Indeed, on July 31st, Brode released "Ben Brode - ARTHAS", a rap video showcasing the story of Arthas Menethil.
- Most of the pre-release Knights of the Frozen Throne blog posts were written by Nik "Daxxarri" Gianozakos, but the script for The Lich King Interviews for a Job at Blizzard was written by Spencer Donald, while the Ice Cream Citadel sketch was written by Brian Posehn and Mike Drucker.
- The Lich King costume used in the expansion commercials and promotional material was created by Frank Ippolito's team from Tested.com, and took about 5 weeks to create.
- Eric Dodds has previously jokingly referred to a potential The Lich King vs Battle Pets expansion.
- "There was another idea out there... well actually it wasn't really an idea out there, but I was kinda wishing it would have been [...] because it's one that I think would be super awesome, is the idea that maybe we could do something like, you know, "THE LICH KING... VS... BATTLE PETS" [...] of course I've only put that up there to have a little fun with it, but on the other hand as I've been looking at it and thinking about it, it... it's starting to grow on me, actually..."
- Ice Cream Citadel at San Diego Comic-Con 2017
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(Expansions / Adventures / Mini-sets)