Let’s paint a scene. It was a dark and stormy night, no that doesn’t really work.
It is a gray, cold morning. OK, that is something we can work with. Let’s talk about the bitter winter! Snow in gigantic piles and most people really wanting to just stay inside instead of braving the elements. Still there is something about the cold weather that calls to me. I’ve always enjoyed colder climates rather than the heat. Given the conditions outside I decided to have some brainstorming fun about a deck that has been rolling around for a while centered around one of the strongest mages in Azeroth: Jaina Proudmoore. Jaina has actually had several incarnations in the WoWtcg but let’s look at her hero:
Alliance Human Mage – 25 Health
3 → Flip Jaina
Back – Frost Focus: If Jaina would deal [frost] damage to an opposing hero or ally, she deals that much +1 instead.
For those familiar with the classic format this should look pretty familiar as Jaina has a very similar flip to a certain infamous goblin rogue. Now she does not have the same benefits that Vorix offers, but mages have their own tools. Although Jaina doesn’t have a specialization printed on her card, the default assumption is that you’ll be utilizing her flip so you clearly want to be loaded up with frost based cards. Why bother going to that length? Well here is a very good reason.
3cc Mage Ability -Frost
This ability enters play with 3 ice counters.
Ongoing: If your hero would be dealt damage, remove an ice counter from this ability. If you do, prevent that damage. Then if no ice counters remain, destroy this ability. At the start of your turn, your hero deals 5 damage to target opposing hero.
This card certainly saw play in previous core formats but to my knowledge hasn’t really appeared at classic tables. There are a few reasons for that but let’s focus on the positive for now. The card is incredibly flexible, cheap, and meets our theme requirements! The downside here is that Jaina’s +1 doesn’t matter too much. Sure the extra damage doesn’t hurt (you), but it isn’t breaking any major thresholds. Odds are if you get multiple ticks of Ice Barrier off you are winning anyway. The extra 1 damage usually isn’t going turn.
Blizzard is frost damage! You might exclaim, and that is true. It is also true that going from 1 damage to 2 damage is a Big. Deal. However that’s a turn 4 play at the earliest so we aren’t blown away, but it is something to keep in mind. From there a number of frost damage cards deal 2 (now 3) or 3 (now 4). Depending on their costs this can vary from significant to meh. There really aren’t too many cards that actually cause your hero deal frost damage which was a little surprising when I first went looking. There are certainly lots of playable frost cards, just not many that won’t make you cringe a bit when they are in your hand.
Not where you thought this was going to go huh? Like I started out with, this is a skull session. Just flinging…uh poop…at the wall and seeing what sticks. As long as it is cold related. While I do like the idea of the Jaina build, I think the support isn’t quite there to go all in on frost spell damage. Without that you can talk about other heroes. What is interesting?
- “Black Ice” Fizzlefreeze
- Lady Sira’kess
- Loraala the Frigid
- Queen Angerboda
- Vor’na the Wretched
Those aren’t the only options of course but they stood out to me as being “interesting”. I use that specific word and not “good” because we aren’t there yet. I’m going to skip the gnome since those decks were a thing way back when already. The builds also would probably create themselves. My memory is fuzzy but I believe Vor’na also had some options (and her traitor counterpart of course). You might be able to swing something with the blood elf alongside cards such as Ring of Frost. Flip to keep their side locked down and then remove them with effects that care if the other side is ready. Personally, that seems a little too shaky for me.
Now Lady Sira’kess has potential. She is hampered by being a monster as there are fewer options but you don’t inherently care about doing frost damage. Stuff like Glaciate make her perfectly happy. You’ll still get access to Pythissssssssssssssssss
OK, enough of that. Pythisss, Herald of Frost will make an appearance in any of these builds most likely. However, this ally is especially important here given that monsters are limited on allies. You could explore something like a soft lock with Ice Barbs and Veteran’s Dreadweave Belt alongside other “taxing” cards. I’m not sure there is a critical mass of those just yet though. That particular idea has been on my radar for a while but I haven’t found a combination that really works.
If you leave the green machine by the wayside and look back at the blue team you can get other iterations of Jaina to support this plan. The version from Reign requires Daelin to tax your opponent, but the Icecrown version does it all on her own while decreasing your costs too! Staff of Silence, Frostbite, maybe even the tax allies from earlier sets could work their way in. While this strategy could certainly earn some frustration concessions at the kitchen table it may not be ready for prime time.
The scourge does offer some potential. Angerboda can play for either the red or blue team. Her flip isn’t setting the world ablaze but it does have utility. You likely won’t want to remove your Broderick Langforth, but you could and having options is important. Additionally, since her allegiance is ambiguous you get an element of surprise. Although your opponent may just be surprised due to the hero choice regardless. Something worth noting is that her flip costs 0 resources. You just simply flip assuming you have a mage to RFG. This means you can play Ice Barrier on curve and still keep counters if they have an ally in play which could make or break certain lines of play. Another point in the Queen’s favor that she plays well with another queen. Specifically Sindagosa, the Frost Queen. While the frost wyrm is a juicy Hesriana target, Sindy will end games fast. If she lives to attack and there is enough fodder she is dealing 19 damage combined with activations of her ability. Plus she has the added benefit of messing with your opponent’s graveyard shenanigans. Another favorite card of mine in Phylactery of the Nameless Lich is in the scourge mage’s repertoire. With this trinkey you could have her command legions of vrykul to help keep Ice Barrier up and pounding.
Lastly there is Loraala. I cannot quite recall, but I believe she saw some play in Drums of War block constructed. She championed a more aggressive build that utilized her flip to enable stronger hits from Everlasting Cold. Ice Barrier doesn’t care if it lives in a slow deck or a fast one. Ice Barrier just want to tag your opponent for 5 as many times as possible. Given some early pressure you may be able to do exactly that as you also get the chance to put your opponent is the awkward position of decided between removing the barrier or trading with your allies. You on the other hand can theoretically just go for the throat with your team and utilize the ongoing to keep your face unscathed. In theory anyway.
There are of course other advantages to dealing in the cold arts. Water Elemental is still pretty strong as allies and heroes still want to attack. The unfortunate part is that the list beyond that is very sparse. Ice Block could have potential, but you generally won’t be happy about Enduring Winter, Icy Veins, or Fingers of Frost. You do enjoy the support of cards like Servant of Neptulon, but you can very easily cross from strong but odd into super jank.
Most likely the aggressive variant, whether it utilizes Loraala or not, is going to lead the pack. I really want to believe that the scourge version, or the taxman lists can work as well. In the latter’s case it may require a certain meta to thrive and the former isn’t inherently better than just playing traditional Zombie-Go. Or maybe it is I’m not sure yet.
Either way please let us know if you have your own frosty homebrews. Until then keep slinging those cards in Azeroth!