Grab your spectator snack of choice and place your bets now - Hearthstone is heating up with the launch of Rastakhan's Rumble. At long last, we're treated to a set that puts World of Warcraft's troll race front and center, with 135 fresh cards themed after rowdy brawls in the Gurubashi Arena in Stranglethorn Vale. After the spookiness of The Witchwood and the mad science of The Boomsday Project, experiencing Hearthstone's take on the spectacle and fan service of pro wrestling should be a treat. But, as with any new set, the most exciting aspect is getting to see how the Standard meta gets shaken up - and Rastakhan's Rumble could bring back some archetypes that inspire real shifts regarding the competitive decks where previous sets really didn't.
If you missed the Rastakhan's Rumble reveal at BlizzCon 2018, each class is affiliated with a team worshipping a unique Loa, the animal (save for Bwonsamdi) gods who represent the core Legendary cycle of the set. In addition, there's the Rare cycle of Spirits for each class: 0/3 totems that come into play with stealth for one turn and provide extremely powerful passive effects that demand your opponent deal with them ASAP. The new keyword Overkill isn't super intuitive, but it basically rewards you for using Overkill cards to destroy minions with more damage than was necessary.
Yes, we're still going to be seeing plenty of Death Knight hero cards from Knights of the Frozen Throne - their power level is too high to deny, and they'll continue to be a staple of deckbuilding until they rotate out after the first set of 2019 drops. But I'm very excited to try out three deck archetypes that have been revitalized by Rastakhan's Rumble cards: Heal Paladin, Discard Warlock, and Quest Hunter. All three of these classes have enjoyed dominant decks in the Boomsday meta (somehow managing to keep Druid in check), but after months of facing the same archetypes, it'll be a thrill to play as - or face - something different.
In contrast with the aggro Paladin decks that pump out endless armies of buffed-up Silver Hand Recruits, Heal Paladin has a much more unique strategy: outlast the enemy using massive amounts of lifegain. It's more in line with a control strategy - something that hasn't been too viable for Paladins outside of inconsistent OTK decks - and a refreshing change of pace from the class' go-to decks. Discard Warlock and Quest Hunter both revolve around the underused Journey to Un'goro quests, which are far easier to complete and plan for thanks to Rastakhan's Rumble additions. After watching Zoo Warlock and Deathrattle Hunter matches play out ad nauseum, I'm so stoked to see pro players take a chance on these potentially powerful archetypes. Other classes also got some old-school love, with Pirate Rogue and Dragon Warrior decks primed to make a splash, even if they ultimately don't see much competitive play.
As with the previous three expansions, Rastakhan's Rumble will also be getting a single-player experience a little while after launch. On December 13, you'll be granted access to Rumble Run, another PvE gauntlet akin to Dungeon Run and Monster Hunt, where you guide the troll gladiator Rikkar to victory with an ever-expanding deck. And, just like previous expansions, you'll be rewarded just for logging in while this expansion is still new, gifted with six Rastakhan's Rumble card packs, a random Loa Legendary minion, and two copies of that Loa's Spirit totem. Dabbling in Valve's card game competitor Artifact has really made me appreciate just how polished and tightly designed Hearthstone is at its best, and I'm ready to run into Rastakhan's Rumble swinging. Come join me in the fray, why don'tcha!
If you're hungry for more card gaming goodness, check out these 10 games like Hearthstone you should be playing right now.