Article written by PeacefulSea.
When Blizzard announced a new class, Death Knight, would be added to Hearthstone starting with the new set, March of The Lich King, the Hearthstone player base was ecstatic. Other than the initial launch where it was overpowered, Demon Hunter has been a fantastic addition to Hearthstone, and hype began to grow about what new decks and play styles would be possible with the new class. Unlike other Hearthstone classes, Death Knight utilizes a rune system that adds another layer of deck building complexity that many players had been asking for. However, there was always the fear that Blizzard would over tune the cards, and ladder would become nothing but Death Knights, until the inevitable nerfs brought its power level back to a healthier level.
Well, suffice to say, that did NOT happen.
Death Knight currently sits at 7th in win rate on HSReplay. When you look through the top current decks, it becomes apparent that only Triple Blood Death Knight control is really making any sort of meta impact, where it is barely hanging on at the bottom of tier 2.
Frost and Unholy are even worse, with Unholy in Tier 3 and Frost buried at the bottom of Tier 4. Even though it is early, a discouraging trend is revealing itself: Although Death Knight is fun, flavorful, and brings a lot of fun new twists to deckbuilding, it doesn’t have the raw power necessary to compete with the top decks in the metagame.
A quick look through the top current decks makes it clear why. Demon Hunter, Druid, Rogue, and Warlock, the four top classes currently, have a distinct advantage on nearly every axis. Broken card draw like Impending Catastrophe in Warlock or Relic of Dimensions in Demon Hunter; insane mana cheating like the new Druid legendary Anub’Rekhan; the list goes on. Death Knight simply doesn’t have the tools in its arsenal to compete consistently with what the top decks in the format are doing.
All hope isn’t lost. Unlike with the other classes, Death Knight doesn’t have an established set of cards from prior sets that players know work. Druid, for example, has the tried and true curve of Wild Growth into Nourish. Demon Hunter has the Relic package. With Death Knight there is still a great deal of experimentation going on, and no consensus “best cards” to be running. Unholy swarm decks in particular have seen a constant shift, slowly growing more and more aggressive as players have tested with the cards. There’s hope that in time, players will figure these things out and allow Death Knight to grow more prevalent in the metagame.
Moving forward, however, there is reason for concern. If Death Knight does not find its footing, new sets and mini sets will have a harder and harder time making an impact. Death Knight has three distinct flavors of decks, plus the possible rune combinations you can play, which makes it harder to print relevant cards for each archetype every expansion.
The excitement around Death Knight remains high, and players are still finding the best possible decks and combinations of decks possible. Can Death Knight find its footing in the top tier of the metagame? Or will it continue to struggle? And how will Blizzard keep every archetype relevant with three distinct runes and only 10 cards per expansion? I’m holding out hope. For the Lich King’s sake.