The latest Hearthstone expansion to emerge from Blizzard is Rastakhan’s Rumble! TopDeck learned a lot by attending Blizzcon 2018, and we want to breakdown some of our takeaways as we approach this month’s spoiler season;
1. Overkill’s been worked on for a long time
The new mechanic has not been released yet, but Team Five has been developing Overkill since Blackrock Mountain. It was originally meant to showcase the power of dragons by applying left over damage from killing a minion to the enemy hero, but game designers discussed how this did not present Hearthstone players many interesting options. Overkill was also explored as a possible addition to the Witchwood as splash damage applying to random enemy minions, but Over three years later, and we’ve seen the likes of Sul’thraze and Baited Arrow revealed at Blizzcon.
Overkill will have a wide range of effects that will change how players approach minion damage in the new expansion. With Hearthstone’s emphasis on the attacker’s advantage, combat changes caused by Overkill may be significant.
2. Rastakhan’s team-oriented theme
Nine Loa were selected by Team Five to represent each of Hearthstone’s nine classes in the expansion’s gladiatorial theme. Peter Whalen described how each of the class cards were designed (mechanically and artistically) to emulate the Loa themselves, from the feral raptor Gonk to the board-swarming Hir’eek. We can expect each of the Loa’s to force new archetypes into the Hearthstone meta space or to redefine current ones, regardless of how viable these decks may become.
Similar to the Death Knight effect from Knights of the Frozen Throne, known decks could end up being worse if a Loa isn’t included.
3. Independent Champions
Though only one troll champion was revealed, designers revealed that most of them will be mechanically independent from the late-game set up of their respective Loa. Meaning that most champions won’t be needed to make their Loas better, and vice versa. Malacrass was revealed to place a copy of your opening hand back into your hand in the mid-game you may draw it. As for how independent this ability is from the fiery Amani lord of dragonhawks, Jan’Alai, that has yet to be revealed, but the ability is strong enough to warrant seeing experimentation in the earliest days of Rastakhan’s Rumble.
For now, it’s safe to assume that there will be similarly unique champions for each Loa that will have more flexibility to be placed in decks of their respective classes, requiring less building around than the Loas themselves.
4. Loas need Spirits
Spirits will directly complement the set-up of each Loa, the mighty legendaries who are “great in the right decks.” From what was revealed, the Spirit of the Bat captures this strategy best, rewarding players who trade, kill or sacrifice their own minions to buff random minions in hand. We’ve seen the success of Saronite Chain Gang and Val’ynyr in the pre-Call to Arms nerf version of Even Paladin. Now we can see a Warlock archetype make use of Doubling Imp as well as the great swarmer Hir’eek. Team Five made Spirits especially resilient and mana-flexible, with none costing more than four and all having stealth for one turn. While the Loa may not see play without Spirits, the same can’t be said for Spirits needing the Loa to find use in the coming meta.
For decks with a Loa, expect Spirits to occupy one or two of those deck spaces as well, potentially forcing players to remove what were once considered key cards in exchange for the power a Loa may provide.
5. Warlock’s class identity
The reveal of Void Contract completes the destructive trio of Gnomeferatu and Demonic Project, all recent cards that grow a greater distance from past additions to Warlock’s discard mechanic. Now a player can have six cards of their deck be composed of a combination of hand and deck destruction. In Blizzcon’s Hearthstone press conference, designers Peter Whalen described how destruction-oriented cards like Gnomeferatu and Void Contract fit the “evil” identity of Warlock, while also saying that it’s a style of card they look to release in great moderation. 8-mana is steep for a card that has no impact on the board (from what we know at this stage of the reveal), but it leaves us curious about what decks we may expect to rise that would warrant the introduction of such a card?
This can give Gul’dan a possible role as the designated anti-control class of the upcoming meta until Hearthstone’s in a phase where more combo prevention becomes available across more classes.
These are only some of the discussions being had about what to expect in the coming month, but we’ll keep a look out for troll champions, the godly Loa, and most importantly, the sleeper card of the set.