Why Hearthstone’s Frozen Throne expansion matters to Warcraft fans – VentureBeat

 In Technology
Blizzard has excited many of Hearthstone‘s fans by announcing that its next expansion, Knights of the Frozen Throne, will take players to Icecrown Citadel. But if you’re one of the digital card game’s many players who doesn’t have much Warcraft knowledge, you might be wondering what the fuss is about.

Icecrown Citadel is the final raid (large dungeons that require many players to beat) in the hit massively multiplayer online role-playing game World of Warcraft’s second expansion, 2008’s Wrath of the Lich King. The Frozen Throne, where the Lich King controls an undead army, sits at its peak.

But Icecrown Citadel isn’t just a memorable piece of MMO content. It represents a culmination of a story that started in Blizzard’s last fantasy strategy game, Warcraft III. And for many, it’s a fond reminder of World of Warcraft back when it was at the height of its popularity.

Above: Arthas before he became a jerk.

Image Credit: YouTube

Warcraft III

To understand why people care about the Frozen Throne, we have to go back to Warcraft III. It’s hard to remember these days, with the successes of World of Warcraft and Hearthstone, but the franchise was once all about real-time strategy gaming. Warcraft III was a huge hit when it came out in 2002. It introduced hero units, an idea that custom map-creators would use to create the MOBA genre.

But Warcraft III also expanded the franchise’s lore, introducing new characters like Illidan the demon hunter and the human mage Jaina Proudmore. And it also introduced us to Arthas.

Arthas was a human prince and paladin. Much of the plot in Warcraft III revolves around his initial quest to save his kingdom from a plague of undeath, a quest that would eventually lead to him taking up the cursed blade Frostmourne and turning into a death knight commander for that same undead army.

His story continued in Warcraft III’s only expansion, 2003’s The Frozen Throne.

Above: Arthas a death knight.

Image Credit: Background Bandit

Rise of the Lich King

The Frozen Throne’s campaign focuses on Arthas’s quest to Northrend and join with the Lich King. The Lich King’s origins are a bit convoluted. The Burning Legion, an intergalactic army of demons that wants to destroy entire worlds, turned the spirit of a dead Orc shaman, Ner’zhul, into the Lich King. His job was to raise undead armies and control them with telepathy. Ner’zhul sat in the icy grip of the Frozen Throne, which sat at the top of a peak in the northern continent of Nothrend.

Ner’zhul called out to Arthas, urging him to reach the Frozen Throne and free him while they merged as one being that could destroy stuff without having to answer to the Legion. Arthas goes on to do just that, shattering part of the Frozen Throne with Frostmourne and donning the armor inside it. Arthas and Ner’zhul then merge into one Lich King. The Frozen Throne ends with the image of the Lich King sitting on the Frozen Throne.

Above: The spire that leads up to the Frozen Throne.

Image Credit: GamesBeat

World of Warcraft

At first, players did not hear from Arthas again as Warcraft evolved into its new online world. We were fighting dragons and traveling to the shattered planet of Outland to fight Illidan, but nothing came of the Lich King. It was the single biggest question mark left from Warcraft III. Players assumed Blizzard would have to address it.

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