Season 3 is nearly upon us and Blizzard has given us a peak at what it brings! If you haven't seen it already, you can check out the official news, which should get you up to speed. To summarize, the main features we'll see next Season are:

  • Emperor Thaurissan joins the Blackrock as the third Leader
  • Enchants - New modifiers in PvP
  • Per-game map rotations in PvP
  • New cosmetics

Emperor Thaurissan

Emperor Thaurissan is the flagship mini for Season 3 (note that this means he will not be available for purchase from the Grid until Season 4). He is the third and cheapest leader for the Blackrock, coming in at 4g. Emperor Thaurissan is a ranged mini but with the bombard trait, so he specializes in fighting ground units, like Charlga, Plague Farmer, or Bat Rider.

Emperor Thaurissan has an unusual attack mechanism, Lava Spike. He targets the farthest mini in range (7), and slams the ground. The ground slam deals a small amount of physical damage to mini in front of Thaurissan, but also summons a magma pillar at the targeted location. The pillar erupts, dealing a small amount of damage in a tight AoE, applying burn to all targets affected. If he targets an enemy in melee range, the effects can overlap.

Both components of the attack deal 85 damage, with a swing speed of 2.6, giving a total combined dps of roughly 65 (same as a Gnoll Brute). Even though this is AoE damage, it's still fairly low, showing that the Burn is the main component of Emperor Thaurissan's damage output.

Emperor Thaurissan is bulky, coming in at 1330 health, just in-between Gnoll and Grommash. This is by far the most health of any ranged mini, so it's safe to say that we should regard Emperor Thaurissan as a 'long-range melee' rather than a ranged mini.

The other major feature from Emperor Thaurissan is his Fiery Weapon aura. When on the field, allies that deal physical damage apply burn to the target hit. This gives Emperor Thaurissan an interesting synergy with minis like Huntress, Harpies, Defias Bandits, Worgen, or Vultures. With the poison talent and Emperor T in play, even the 1g Defias can trade up with an Ogre Mage. Maintaining his presence on the field alongside these minis might be tricky in some cases, but thankfully he is not too expensive himself.

Let's look at talents:

Incinerate makes the burn from his magma pillar permanent. Note that on bosses or barracks, this is capped at 16 seconds instead. Guaranteeing the demise of the enemy base with a single hit might have been too much. Also note that incinerate blocks other sources of burn from being applied, so you want Emperor Thaurissan to be the highest level burner around.

Since this has no effect if Emperor Thaurissan keeps on swinging at the target, to get value, we need to look at the situations where that doesn't happen. One is that it makes trading with Thaurissan difficult, since if he hits you, you're going to lose that mini. The other is that since he targets the farthest enemy, he can rotate between multiple target in some situations.

Next we have Hubris, which makes the next non-elemental mini played after Thaurissan gain two levels (as worded, this should not require that your next mini is non-elemental to gain the benefit). This is similar to Charlga's Spirit Passage talent, but trading stealth for an extra level. This should work on traits, so Spiderlings will count, as well as spells like Execute. Gaining two levels on minis that you want to play alongside Thaurissan in order to take advantage of his Fiery Weapons is very strong and I expect this will be the most popular talent and probably the safest one to pick for your first.

Finally we have Moira's Wit which grants a 1% health per second heal to Thaurissan for every burning enemy within 8 range. This is not a huge amount of health, and because the magma spike deals impact damage I'm not sure if he can slurp up 8% health from crushing chickens. Pairing him with other sources of AoE physical damage like Huntress might grant him a fair bit of extra health, as well as other sources of Burn directly, like the Safe Pilot's Coming In Hot talent.

If we compare it to Drain Life from Thalnos, that grants 15 health per swing, scaling with targets and Thalnos levels gained. Moira's Wit gives 13.3 health per second, per burning target. Since Thaurissan is a bulky mini himself, it's easier for him to take advantage of the healing, so I think the comparison is in his favor.

Overall, I think Emperor Thaurissan will be a very impactful leader, fitting in nicely with his Blackrock brothers. The synergy with physical damage dealers thanks to Fiery Weapons and Hubris is impressive, increasing their output substantially. As a combatant, he is decent, but fairly specialized in squashing squads, having neither the ability to hit air not substantial single target damage.


Enchants are a new category of PvP modifier, replacing the maps (which will now rotate per-game). Blizzard has announced the following:

  • Collateral Damage Towers deal 20% damage to their owner's Barracks when destroyed.
  • Hero's Resolve Leaders level up each time they are played (former modifier).
  • Stonebind Towers convert to Meeting Stones when destroyed.
  • Adrenaline Rush Your income increases as your Base health decreases
  • Ward Same as Clean Fight, no changes.

We saw some of these mentioned at Blizzcon, but Adrenaline Rush is new. I think these are pretty exciting from the perspective of changing up the gameplay in PvP. Adrenaline Rush in particular offers the possibility of an interesting strategy to sacrifice base health in order to gain a dominating gold advantage for the rest of the game.

Collateral Damage puts the focus on tower control for the match, since five dead towers equals a loss. Players will have to be very cautious about which towers they even seek to control, since a poorly secured tower probably leads to death. A leader like Maiev might just let you retake a tower and attempt to snipe it again and again.

Stonebind is harder to judge. It makes maintaining secure control of a map area harder, which may favor unbound as ways of flipping control points cheaply.

There's lots of rooms for Enchants to grow. We could see towers changing type as they are destroyed, rebuilding as Rocket or Dragon, or potion-throwers perching on top of meeting stones.

Overall, I think these are good additions. We saw already that Hero's Resolve was an impactful modifier, boosting the prospects of Hogger and Tirion. I'm a little less excited about the possibility of unbounds being better with some of these Enchants, but modifiers provide an extra tuning knob to balance and shake up the game, with plenty of room for expansion for future content.

Random Maps

The other large change coming to PvP in season 3 is the introduction of random maps. Rather than having a season-long static map, each game you'll be placed in a different one, forcing you to adapt your strategy and build dynamically.

Overall, I expect the effect is that specialized builds for particular maps will become less frequent and general builds to become more common. This usually means fast or unbound minis, where you won't be caught out by an unfavorable map geography. Since these are already popular, this leaves a sour taste in the mouth for many players, concerned it accelerates a negative trend.

Is this a good change? I think PvP in Rumble needs to be more exciting. Even though high-level players have valid concerns about the meta centralization on Safe/Whelps/Quilboar, as well as the effort-to-reward ratio required for climbing, the majority of players just aren't stepping into PvP to get to the point where those are their major concerns. If this gets more people to play PvP, then that's more voices in the future to advocate for further improvements. The other question I linger on is whether or not the problems with map randomness would go away if those minis weren't already far too good.

Another concern is that minis like Sappers, Sneed, or Defias Bandits with lockpicking will no longer see play, because the risk of getting a bad map with them is too high. I think this unfortunately likely, and a negative of the change. Ideally, we'd have map pools, rather than completely random maps. This would allow minis that have specialised roles to see play during certain map pools.

In the end, we're just going to have to see how this experiment pans out. I'm hopeful, but apprehensive. The bittersweet note is random maps are unlikely to make the meta centralisation that much worse, because we already see those three minis in almost every deck.

One other small change is the addition to the Modifier pool of Bounty Hunt, which grants a bonus gold for every 5 minis killed. This should push us towards bulkier compositions and away from squads like Whelp Eggs, which will be a refreshing change when it comes through.

Overall, I think these are positive steps forward for PvP. There are still a great number of issues to be addressed, but this is tackling the biggest one, which is whether or not PvP is fun to play. Enchants in particular seem to be bold enough in design to provide genuinely different strategies to approach as the Season unfolds. The addition of a new leader to play with is also welcomed. Sadly we have not seen Scholomance or met Moonglade in Season 3 (not to mention Raids), but hopefully they are just over the horizon in Season 4.