Rastakhan’s Rumble - Battle for Azeroth’s Alternative Universe
As it is every year during December, Hearthstone receives an expansion. That alone is nothing special, but the name of that particular expansion - announced at Blizzcon three weeks ago - made Warcraft fans’ hearts flutter: Rastakhan’s Rumble!
Once again Hearthstone picks up not only general Warcraft lore but also recent events and storylines of WoW to use it as its core expansion theme. It’s not the first time Blizzard decides to double-down on cross-promoting their content between franchises.
But what could Rastakhan’s Rumble mean to Battle for Azeroth and the upcoming 8.1 patch, how does it compare to the “original storyline”, and what does the future of these two Blizzard franchises look like?
I'm Tharid, a writer for Wowhead's sister site Hearthstone Top Decks, and I'll be explaining the Warcraft lore behind Hearthstone's upcoming expansion. If you just want to check the newest card reveals of Hearthstone's upcoming expansion "Rastakhan's Rumble", don't hesitate to head over to
The Story of Rastakhan’s Rumble
In short, Rastakhan’s Rumble focusses on one of the major story arcs of Battle for Azeroth: Troll culture and Zandalar.
Once every generation,
, God King and Ruler of the Zandalari Empire, hosts a gigantic brawl in Gurubashi Arena to determine which of the many loa worshipped by the trolls are the most powerful.
A total of nine teams, one for every Hearthstone class, try to prove their worth through the power of one particular loa and its champion.
For World of Warcraft players, this background story looks to be perfectly relatable as it picks up the happenings around the
Zuldazar main storyline
, one of the fan favorites of all BfA zones.
The worshipping of loa, the deities in polytheistic troll culture, serves as the main focal point in Rastakhan’s Rumble. In Battle for Azeroth, loa are used as “key influencers” to make a contribution to the story around King Rastakhan and his empire; Rezan, Bwonsamdi, and even G’huun play starring roles on the stage set on the island of
Rastakhan’s Rumble utilizes this particular template to create the fantasy of rumble teams which battle for the honor of King Rastakhan. This fantasy of troll polytheism perfectly pairs up with the idea behind Hearthstone classes and deck archetypes.
Narrative Tie-ins with Battle for Azeroth
The core concept of different schools of thought fighting each other makes perfect sense when comparing troll culture and
the Hearthstone class system
. But looking at the troll teams, their champions and loa, Team 5 chose to not only combine Warcraft lore and Hearthstone gameplay; they tell both old and new Warcraft stories as well.
First off, there is a troll team called Bwonsamdi’s Zombies: Worshipping
Bwonsamdi, the Loa of Death
, they represent the Priest class, which sounds like a very suitable choice. The champion of Bwonsamdi’s Zombies is nobody less than
- King Rastakhan’s loyal daughter. That particular constellation of characters may just zoom by the average Hearthstone player; however, quite the opposite is the case for every World of Warcraft fan and Horde players in particular!
As it is told by the Zuldazar main storyline, Rastakhan has bound his entire bloodline to eternally serve Bwonsamdi - in exchange, he received Bwonsamdi’s supernatural powers to be able to take revenge on the Dark Prophet Zul.Therefore Talanji teaming up with Bwonsamdi marks a significant Warcraft story detail within the world of Hearthstone.
And not only that: It foreshadows what may come with 8.1, and,
without getting into spoiler zone
too much, we may very well hear Hearthstone tell a certain story between two of the most important characters of Battle for Azeroth when Rastakhan’s Rumble finally releases.
Besides the recent happenings within the Warcraft universe, Rastakhan’s Rumble picks up other, much older storylines involving troll culture and their loa.
Teams like Shirvallah’s Tigers and Hir’eek’s Bats tell the tale of
High Priest Thekal
High Priestess Jeklik
, who were both sent to Zul’Gurub out to free the imprisoned loa. The history of Zul’Aman is represented by Jan’alai’s Dragonhawks and Halazzi’s Lynxes and their champions
Hex Lord Malacrass
And despite all the praise that Rastakhan’s Rumble already deserves in terms of uniting Warcraft and Hearthstone lore, it should be mentioned that Zul’jin’s affiliation to that particular team caused quite a stir - why would the Warlord of the Amani, who himself chained Halazzi’s spirit in Zul’Aman, team up with the loa he despised so much?
Yes, the Amani worship
as one of their main loa, but the happenings within Zul’Aman depict canonical lore. In this case, Hearthstone has to open up an alternate universe to justify any even remotely friendly relation between Zul’jin and Halazzi.
Another team that can only pair up within an alternate universe is called Akali’s Rhinos. The troll team of the Warrior class combines
Akali, the Loa of Rhinos
, a loa exclusively worshipped by the Drakkari ice trolls and
War Master Voone
, a forest troll mini-boss from the Lower Blackrock Spire.
Voone, a warrior through and through, fits as a champion of the Warrior team, but Akali? The only “Warrior thing” about this rhino could be its very light temper, as you may know from the questline that happened in Zul’Drak back in Wrath of the Lich King. But who knows, maybe Rastakhan’s Rumble will bring an answer to this not-so-obvious line-up?
But at least one of the greatest bugs in the history of World of Warcraft - thanks to a certain loa called
- will be perfectly transformed into Hearthstone lore as well as mechanics:
Want to know more about the world-famous "Corrupted Blood incident"? Read up the
comment section of the spell by the final boss of old Zul'Gurub
Foreshadowing of Zandalari Paladins - and Warlocks?
Looking at the team of Bwonsamdi's Zombies, it is obvious that Rastakhan's Rumble not only highlights both old and new storylines of World of Warcraft but also tries to look into the future of BfA.
In fact, the release of new Paladin cards at Blizzcon foreshadowed that the Zandalari allied race can indeed choose to become Paladins!
the WoW "What's Next" panel confirmed all the other possible class combinations
, and that marked the beginning of a big controversy within the WoW community. At first it was announced that Zandalari can become Warlocks as well, which was suddenly reverted by a blue post shortly after the reveal. In that post it is said that
"Zandalari have no connection to fel magic"
However, Zandalari Warlocks play a starring role in Rastakhan's Rumble! As mentioned before,
High Priestess Jeklik
will be a card and, in fact, serve as a champion to the Warlock troll team called Hir'eek's Bats. Besides that another Warlock card with Zandalari art called
has just been released:
Whether or not the removal of the Zandalari Warlock class combination was intentional, logical or just short-minded lies in the eye of the beholder, but one thing is certain: Zandalari Warlocks and fel magic are a thing in the Hearthstone universe, and it more than perfectly fits the general theme of Rastakhan's Rumble.
The Future of Franchise Cross-Promotion
Creating and and expanding an alternate Hearthstone universe has been the goal of Team 5 for the longest time. However, it should not exclude Warcraft lore, the history the game was initially built upon.
Two years ago, with the release of
One Night in Karazhan
, Hearthstone’s August expansion focussed on events within the World of Warcraft that were planned to happen with Patch 7.1 called
Return to Karazhan
in October 2016.
With Rastakhan’s Rumble, Team 2 and Team 5 managed to finally merge their calendars: Patch 8.1,
Tides of Vengeance
, and the single-player game mode of Hearthstone’s newest expansion called
will hit the servers on the very same day.
We all can agree that this looks very much intended - and that again could point towards impactful Warcraft story development not only through 8.1 but the Rumble Run as well!
And even if we won’t see any particularly interesting plot twists in Rastkhan’s Rumble, we can safely say that both development as well as promotion of lore-related content over multiple Blizzard franchises will - in the long run - enrich and benefit the future of the Warcraft universe as we know and love it.
More than two-thirds of the new cards have not been revealed yet. Will we see even more important Battle for Azeroth characters released and storylines unfold? Check out Wowhead's sister site
for the newest card reveals!
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