Hello and welcome to another class spotlight - the Valrath Deathwalker. Deathwalkers find purpose in shepherding the lost souls of the dead to their final resting place. Frosthaven is no stranger to death, meaning a Deathwalker’s work is never done.
To answer this, we should consider both complexity and playstyle.
The Deathwalker is a medium-complexity class in Frosthaven. Most of their turns revolve around simply moving and attacking, but they typically do so through their unique mechanic of Shadows, which require looking at the board through a different lens than other classes.
In terms of playstyle, the Deathwalker is a damage-dealer. There are other ways to build a Deathwalker, but for this spotlight we’ll be focusing on one consistent and simple build: a ranged damage-dealer.
The Deathwalker brings Shadows, lost souls of the dead, onto the battlefield. Shadow tokens may move around the map unhindered by terrain and enemies. With your Shadows in position, you may then attack enemies directly from the Shadows, all while keeping your character at a safe distance.
While the added safety is a bonus, the drawback is that attacking mostly from Shadows will require planning and prediction. You’ll need to have an idea of where the fighting will be over the next few turns in order to properly position your Shadows and remain effective. And most of your actions only move either Shadows or yourself, so if you’re constantly maneuvering Shadows around the battlefield, you’ll often be standing still. To make up for this, you have abilities that allow you to teleport to a Shadow, which is how you can catch up (and pick up loot). For these abilities to be effective, you need to pay attention to advancing at least one Shadow through each room.
Most of the Deathwalker’s cards interact with Shadows - moving them, attacking from them, or spending them for abilities or bonuses. But few cards actually allow us to place Shadows, making these cards integral to everything we can do.
Call to the Abyss will go in every Deathwalker’s hand from level 1 through level 9. The first turn of every scenario should involve playing either its top or bottom action. How do we decide on which half to lead with? Pressure. If our party is under immediate pressure, the bottom of Call to the Abyss provides resources with which to fight back right away. If we can afford to take it slowly at the start, then it will be better for us to activate the top instead (and you should always try to activate the top eventually even when you start with the bottom).
Speaking of the top, there is one very important mechanic you should remember: you do not need to kill the enemy yourself to get the Shadow. You can mark an enemy and then still place a Shadow when your ally finishes that enemy off, during that round or later.
If our party needs us to be as effective as possible as soon as possible, Eclipse’s top action gets us there. The more Shadows you have in the current area of combat, the stronger you will be. A turn 1 play of Eclipse top alongside Call to the Abyss bottom puts us nearly at our maximum strength immediately.
Understanding when to use Eclipse is a key skill for every Deathwalker. In many scenarios, without it you may feel like you can’t contribute soon enough. But as it’s lost once played, you need to be equally careful not to waste it.
Let’s take a look at a sample level 1 hand:
Call to the Abyss, Anger of the Dead, Sunless Apparition, Fluid Night, Dark Fog, Black Barrage, Call of Doom, Eclipse, Wave of Anguish, Forceful Spirits, and Rest in the Shade.
Key actions to highlight in this hand:
The bottoms of Dark Fog and Black Barrage are essential for Shadow movement.
Fluid Night’s top is our best source of consistent single-target damage.
The top of Forceful Spirits is a great way to use Dark (which can be easily made with Call of Doom) to deal solid damage without needing to spend any Shadows. You’ll often pair this with a bottom action teleport to a Shadow to move into range.
Wave of Anguish’s top is our best damage-dealing loss and when set up properly can turn the tide of most fights.
We want more cards that provide Shadow movement, ranged attacks, and attacks we can perform from Shadows. We’ll avoid any melee attacks as we don’t plan on moving adjacent to monsters. While loss actions can be flashy, you should primarily evaluate the merits of a card based on its non-loss actions, as those will see much more use. Finally, a special mention of Fleeting Dusk at level 4, whose bottom action lets you have it all by creating a Shadow on turn 1 while still setting up Call to the Abyss.
Boots of Speed are a great initial purchase for a Deathwalker. Using your feet to move is for suckers - you don’t need walking boots. Being able to modify your initiative to mark an enemy before your ally kills it can lead to extra Shadow generation.
Crafting early items:
A Spyglass is essential for securing kills and guaranteeing that Fluid Night’s large attack isn’t wasted.
A Crude Bow helps Forceful Spirits to hit two targets by increasing the range of one of the two attacks.
For potions: pass off any defensive potions you craft to your allies, and if they make anything offensive or that gives card recovery, ask for those.
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