Al Unlocked One-Offs – Thoughts on Hearthstone: Rastakhan’s Rumble

A while back I mentioned that I would be playing around with the new Rastakhan’s Rumble expansion for Blizzard’s online collectible card game, Hearthstone. Now that the expansion’s been out for a couple of weeks and I’ve had the opportunity to play a lot of both ranked ladder and the single player adventure, I’d like to share my thoughts on it so far. For some context about my experience playing Hearthstone, I’ve played the game on and off since the beta test phase in 2013. I played a lot during the launch of the game, but fell off up until the release of the Whispers of the Old Gods expansion in 2016, and after that I stopped until now. Before all of this I played a lot of Magic: The Gathering as well, so I’d like to say I have a decent amount of experience in competitive card games.

Rastakhan’s Rumble introduces a brand new mechanic in Overkill, and three different series of cards based around the Loa, spirits, and troll champions. The Overkill mechanic triggers the card’s effect when the card kills a minion by doing an amount of damage that exceeds that minion’s current health. A good example of Overkill is the Baited Arrow card, which deals 3 damage and summons a 5/5 Devilsaur when Overkill triggers, meaning the target has to have no more than 2 health.

Just jam some meat onto an arrow and SHOOT!

The Loa are a series of animal deities that are all legendary minions specific to each individual class, and are meant to be used to either win the game or turn it in your favour. However, some Loa are much better than others. The absolute best Loa card in my opinion is the mage exclusive Jan’alai, the Dragonhawk, a 4/4 beast that costs 7 mana to play, and also summons Ragnaros, the Firelord if you’ve dealt 8 damage with your mage hero power over the course of the game. For those unfamiliar with Ragnaros, he’s an 8/8 legendary minion that costs 8 mana to play. He can’t attack, but at the end of your turn he deals 8 damage to a random enemy, including the enemy hero. He was part of the original set of cards that Hearthstone launched with, but he was deemed so obscenely powerful that Blizzard saw fit to remove him from standard play and into the unlimited Wild format only. A conditional method to play such a powerful card is an amazing tool for mage decks.

I don’t have anything clever here, he’s just good.

The spirit cards are another series of class-specific cards that are meant to have strong synergy with that class’s Loa. These cards have 0 attack, and thus no offensive capabilities on their own, but they do have stealth during the first turn that they’re on the field, giving the player at least one opportunity to make use of the spirit’s effect until it’s dealt with. The mage-specific spirit is Spirit of the Dragonhawk, which causes the mage hero power to also damage minions adjacent to your target. Considering Jan’alai triggers once you’ve dealt 8 damage with your hero power, this isn’t bad at all.

Spooky dragon ghost….

The final set of cards is the troll champions. Each class has their own champion, a legendary minion (barring hunter, which I’ll explain in a bit) that differs from that class’s Loa in usage and play style. The example I’m using for the troll champions is also my absolute favourite card from the entire expansion; the hunter champion Zul’Jin. Zul’Jin is the one champion that isn’t a legendary minion, but a legendary hero. Costing 10 mana, Zul’Jin replaces your current hero, gives you 5 armour, upgrades your hero power to a targeted 2 damage shot, and recasts every single spell you’ve played throughout the game with random targets. This card is absolutely amazing and almost doubles the power of a spell powered hunter deck. This card is also why I focused on the spell hunter deck archetype for quite a while. It’s so much fun to just drop this guy in the late game and watch the chaos ensue, to the point where I’ve thrown games away just because I wanted to play Zul’Jin instead of just winning the game right then.

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From my time playing in the ranked ladder, it’s evident that a lot of people share my feelings about Zul’Jin, since spell hunters are damn near everywhere at my level. They make up about 60-70% of the decks I’ve played against since the expansion has released. I see a few other cool and interesting decks such as Kingsbane rogue and Mecha’thun (think mecha Cthulhu) druid, but it seems like hunters along with paladins are dominating ranked right now, which is a bit disappointing to see.

I’ve gone on long enough, so I would just like to say that overall I really like the cards themselves, and I’m really excited to see how the meta for Rastakhan’s Rumble develops. Let me know what you think about these one-off discussions! Should I do more of these? Should I look at Hearthstone more? Stay tuned!

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