The Death Knights are joining Duels! Following RegisKillbin's reveal, we know that two Death Knight characters will join the Hearthstone Duels game mode as playable Heroes, each one with different Hero Powers and Signature Treasures.
If you want to learn more about what's next for Duels, we advise you to check out the complete patch notes.
In the article you're currently reading, we're going to take a look at Sai Shadestorm, one of the two aforementioned Death Knights that will join Duels starting from December 6th, the release date of March of the Lich King and Death Knight as a class. We already covered our expectations for Scarlet Leafdancer in a previous article.
In case you're interested in a particular portion of our commentary, make sure to click on any of the links below to jump immediately to that section:
Sai Shadestorm - General Overview
Sai Shadestorm is a Hero with a very high power level, which however doesn't come at the cost of flexibility. Sai's Hero Powers are well rounded and have the potential to support any stategy: from Frost, Unholy and Blood to multiple Runes at the same time.
On the other hand, Sai's Signature Treasures feature a few generally good tools, as well as a couple specific, but very powerful payoffs. All in all, we think this Hero has what it takes to make an impact in the upcoming Duels meta: expect us to feature some 12ers!
From a very early look at the Hero Power, we can tell that Sai Shadestrom has the potential to work with all Runes: there is Corpse generation, card draw and burst damage, meaning that Frost, Blood and Unholy have great Hero Powers to build around.
In our opinion, Sai has strictly better starting Hero Powers than Scarlet Leafdance.
Ghoul Charge, but strictly better, since it generates twice the corpses you'd receive from the Constructed version of this Hero Power. If our understanding is correct, the summoned Ghoul will die at the end of the turn, but in case you don't trigger the Reborn effect, the "second" 1/1 will survive your turn, leaving you with something on the board.
Ghoul Blitz's corpse generation deserves respect, since it can singlehandedly allow some neat Blood and Frost effects very early in the game while also allowing decent board control.
Very, very solid Hero Power for Death Knight, just like the other two. The card draw portion of Gathering Storm compensates Unholy's lack of cycle, while the Corpse generation benefits Frost strategies.
In our opinion Frost decks will probably prefer Ghoul Blitz over this, so our guess is that Gathering Storm will be a centerpiece for Blood and Unholy strategies.
Think about this Hero Power as a repeatable Power Overwhelming: not bad, huh? In order for Lichborne Might to be strong enough, you want a deck that is good at spamming small and resilient units: Eggs (like the new Foul Egg) and Unholy cards seem to be perfect for it.
Leaving any units alive in the first few matches of the run against this Hero Power is going to be very dangerous for everyone.
As for Signature Treasures, we have Gluth, Gluth-sicle and Remembrance of Ice as payoff cards for specific strategies, while Glaciaxe, Unholy Embrace and Inexorable Ghoul are available for petty much any strategy.
Like Regis said, this is Soul of the Forest and Arbor Up for Undead minions. Although Gluth only works with Undead minions (and therefore is not as generally good as Arbor Up), it gives them Reborn, which is such a powerful upside, as it makes your board really awkward for your opponent to dealt with.
We estimate that, if you manage to play Gluth on curve, 2 to 3 Undead are going to be more than enough for the Battlecry to be worth its cost.
A 4 mana Arcanite Reaper in a class with Runeforging; even if this is not enough for you, once you used up all the Durability hits you get a second weapon with Windfury for even more damage output; done yet? No: in case it's needed, here are for you 4 1/1s with Reborn for some serious board control.
As we see it, this Glaciaxe is packed from start to end with an insane amount of power without needing any particular synergies: we think this is the best Signature Treasure for Sai Shadestorm. Busted.
Remembrance of Ice
As of now, most Frost spells Death Knight has at disposal have Frost Runes (the only exception is Icy Touch), this Signature Treasures can be put to good use only by starting decks which feature at least one Frost Rune, therefore cutting out a large portion of Unholy and Blood synergies from the get go.
Now that we cleared it, Remembrance of Ice is a very neat payoff for Frost strategies, allowing them to capitalize on their removal kit with a massive board swing. What we fear is that, with the current pool of damaging Frost spells (Icy Touch, Remorseless Winter, Frost Strike, Howling Blast, Glacial Advance), players won't be able to find enough reasons to run this Signature Treasures. On the other hand, Lady Deathwhisper has the potential to change our opinion drastically.
A The Sunwell-type of card that is meant to represent a late-game value tool, like Devout Blessings is for Vanndar. The fact that Unholy Embrace isn't capped at 10 corpses but can be cast even when you have less at disposal makes this Signature Treasure much, much better to our eyes.
All in all, Unholy Embrace is a bit on the random side, so you won't be able to obtain consistent results from it, but it circumvents the Rune deckbuilding restriction and can potentially give birth to some really amusing shenanigans. Fun Signature Treasure.
A buildaround for a deck that doesn't appear to be quite there yet: as you may understand, Death Knight is yet to move its very first steps, so it is only reasonable for certain builds to be lacking playable support. Well, this is exactly the case of Gluth-sicle: if you take a look at the cards available, you'll notice that there are some really neat Undead to Recruit for 7 mana, but your strategy seems too frail to be viable.
For clarification, Revive is a keyword we've already seen in the Book of Mercenaries solo content (see Whelp Hugger Guff for example). Revive: (X) can be read as "Deathrattle: Summon this minion in (X) turns" - it's basically a keyword that allows a unit to always come back from death after a certain amount of turns has passed.
Not terrible, but not great either, especially considering your other choices. Inexorable Ghoul is a 5 mana 5/5 with Rush, which isn't good enough for Constructed, let alone Duels; the fact that it comes backs 2 turns after dying is a nice upside, but we don't think it's worth its lost. As we see it, why would you ever pick this one over Glaciaxe? Simple: you wouldn't.
What do you think about Sai Shadestorm and Death Knight in general joining Duels? Let us know in the comments below!