The Bad Boys Of Rastakhan’s Rumble Are Here!
On December 4, Hearthstone is going back to brutal basics with the Rastakhan’s Rumble expansion. Gone are Dr Boom and his sophisticated Mechs, with their pistons, lasers and ever-unreliable explosives. Stone clubs and flint-hewn spears will lay waste to the mechanical inventions of Azeroth’s cleverest inventors, the beasts of Un’Goro Crater have more toothy friends and the Lich King will witness the ultimate test of his undead hordes in the sands of Gurubashi Arena!
Smashing onto every rung of the Ranked ladder, an array of spiritual Loa and their Troll representatives are set to dominate the metagame (at least for the first two weeks). At first glance, King Rastakhan and his Troll kin are shaping up to become this year’s strongest expansion. If The Boomsday Project was aimed at the late game, with huge Magnetic Mechs combos and Omega cards - even though these strategies never caught on - Rastakhan’s Rumble is more sprawling.
We have Spirits, totem-like 0/3 cards that create non-aggressive value combos. The Overkill keyword rewards players for essentially wasting excess damage on minions. There are a lot of solid Common or Rare Neutral minions, which will help shake up Arena. Several old themes, like Discard Warlock and Pirate are getting boosts, which some players may see as Blizzard beating a dead horse. That was certainly the case with some archetypes, like Freeze Shaman, but Pirates and Beast decks seem to be getting a fair chance at success with Rastakhan.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the standout heavy-hitters of the Rastakhan’s Rumble. Only about 60% of the set has been revealed, so set-wide trends are still subject to a lot of change. As always with any meta predictions, it’s best to take them with a grain of salt - luckily, a seasoning us Hearthstone players have in abundance!
Starting off small, we have a 2 Mana 1/4 Taunt that doubles to 2 Attack if your opponent has 2 or more minions. This is really, really good value. 6 worth of stats for 2 mana is premium, and at this low price point enemy Zoo and Pirate decks will struggle to break through without losing all their tempo.
Experienced players might remember Wyrmrest Agent, from the Grand Tournament expansion (way back in 2015!) It has identical stats and gains +1 Attack from having a Dragon in your hand. Agent was a must-have in Dragon Priest. This guy really helped put an end to the dominance of Zoolock and was nearly essential if you wanted to have a chance against Face Hunter - two of the best decks at the time.
This feisty Gnome will fit into both control and aggro decks. It’s a Tar Creeper with double the offensive power and a third less cost. In Arena, Belligerent Gnome will be a very attractive pick and can be used to build up a durable board presence when played on curve.
And in this corner, we have an aggressive Zoo super-steroid! Don’t mistake Grim Rally for a worse Mark of the Lotus. Having a card like this in Warlock is a world apart from Token Druid. In Wild, egg-Zoo will be crazily good. Nerubian Egg, Devilsaur Egg, even Swamp Dragon Egg (if you’re feeling adventurous) are your tickets to value heaven when playing minion-heavy aggro Warlock.
There are so many good, cheap Deathrattle cards to choose from (Plated Beetle, Mecharoo, Voodoo Doll, Arfus) that the requirement to kill a friendly minion does not need to be a setback at all.
At 1 Mana, you can sacrifice a token or an Egg for a game-winning surge, or set up advantageous trades in the earlier turns. Many players will cringe at the thought of another boost for aggro decks, but it’s clear that Zoolock needs some help to make it out of Rank 20. We’ve got it.
High Priest Thekal
If Control Paladin becomes a Tier 1 deck, High Priest Thekal will be the reason why. It’s hard to overstate how powerful this card is. Paladins can play Thekal on turn 2 or 3, creating tempo with his premium 3/4 stats, then allowing unrestrained healing up to a maximum of 59 hitpoints!
It’s good in aggro. It’s amazing in control. Thekal is without doubt the best Paladin legendary since Sunkeeper Tarim. Those are some big shoes to fill, and I think Thekal has what it takes. He has no effect on the turn he’s played, of course, but it’s the combo potential that’s limitless. Put him in your slow deck, maybe with the little-known Crystalsmith Kangor who doubles your healing, and suddenly even Holy Light isn’t half bad.
Team 5 has opened the door to what could become Hearthstone’s most ludicrous combo (and I’m well aware that the title of craziest combo is a very big one). Imagine High Priest Thekal and two Molten Giants in your opening hand. Now we know why they were rotated out of Standard.
If you intend to play Paladin even a little during Rastakhan, Thekal should be top of your crafting list. Zandalari Templar, Spirit of the Tiger with Lay on Hands, and cool cat Shirvallah, the Tiger are all perfect synergy for this card. Move over Wallet Warrior - it’s time for Pecuniary Paladin.
Revenge of the Wild
Revenge of the Wild illustrates how the third expansion of the year is usually the strongest. The devs did not hold back with this card. We had Call of the Wild - which was nerfed to 9 Mana from 8 - and now Huffer and co. are back with a vengeance. It effectively gives your Beasts Immune for a turn, with the added bonus of activating their Deathrattles.
It will fit very well into the current most popular Hunter decks, Spell and Deathrattle/Deathstalker Rexxar. Summoning back even one big Beast (Savannah Highmane, Charged Devilsaur) will be worth it - and if you go all in with Flark’s Boom-Zooka, it’s likely to win you the game outright.
On other occasions, which will be relatively common, drawing this will be not so good, a bit like Play Dead. It remains situational and there is a risk that it will not net you enough value in a given turn, especially if you’re playing a faster, higher-churn aggro Hunter. I wouldn’t say it’s an auto-include like High Priest Thekal - but it’s close.
Hunter players will now be able to get creative with their decks and win much more reliably, which is an issue for current Beast gimmick decks (Dire Frenzy, Stonetusk Boar/Charged Devilsaur, Carnivorous Cube).
Combine Revenge of the Wild with Houndmaster Shaw, or Unleash the Hounds (all the hounds!), Animal Companion and Emerald Spellstone. Even reviving just one Death Knight Zombeast will probably be worth it.
It’s All Kicking Off In Stranglethorn Vale!
Everything changes on December 4th. Come back in a couple weeks for an early Rastakhan summary, where I’ll compare some of these predictions to the early reality on the Standard ladder.
What are you looking forward to in Rastakhan’s Rumble? Did I miss any crazily good cards? Let me know in the comments below!