Available On: Mobile (iOS, Android)

Once upon a time, Warcraft was a strategy game series. Then World of Warcraft blew up the MMORPG world, becoming a household name.

Like Hearthstone before it, Warcraft Rumble is a spinoff that takes place within the world of Warcraft (ahem). Unlike the digital card game, Rumble is a return to real-time strategy greatness. The mobile game sheds most of the excess RTS fat in favor of small, quick matches that remain engaging and perfectly suited for the smallest of screens.

Let’s Get Ready to Rumble

Warcraft Rumble is a hybrid between tower defense and real-time auto-battler. That sounds like a poor bastardization of the genre Warcraft used to dominate, but works amazingly well for mobile gaming (see also: Clash Royale).

Armed with a big name leader from Warcraft lore and a “deck” of six troops or spells, players complete missions throughout a gigantic PvE campaign, or in PvP matches. 

Gold is gradually earned during a match, and harvested via several nodes on a map, adding a nice mix of RTS resource management and area control. 

Gold is then used to summon troops at a player’s base or captured towers (or cast spells). Troops, often referred to as minis, automatically walk along various lanes, battling enemies and capturing towers. 

The core strategy revolves around a simple but effective counter-triangle of melee-ranged-flying (Flying units are good against melee, but fall quickly to range attacks). But things get interesting with squad units (which are susceptible to AoE attacks and spells), and unbound units (which can be placed anywhere on the map), among other unique traits, such as the healing shaman, bloodlusting ogre magi, and skeleton-summoning necromancer.

Without direct control of units, the game plays more like an older 90s strategy game, before the onset of heroes with special abilities, which eventually begat the entire MOBA subgenre of micromanagement.

Every leader comes with a different special ability that I can build entire teams around, such as Rend’s discount on flying enemies, Jaina’s stronger spell attacks, and Cairne’s health boost for Horde troops. Customizing decks, unlocking new units, and playing through matches is an enjoyable gameplay loop.

Thanks to a huge variety in map configurations, boss abilities, and deck loadouts, I never felt limited or restrained during the bite-size matches.

World of Minis

One of Rumble’s greatest strengths is its casual attitude toward monetization.

There’s no daily energy.

I repeat, there’s no energy system whatsoever — I can play as many matches as I like throughout the day. There are no ads spamming me with deals, nor half a dozen differently monetized forms of currency.

The huge campaign spans dozens of maps and bosses, each with their own specific map layout and special abilities, from dreadnoughts pelting me with cannon-fire, to summoning catapults, water elementals, or harpies to constantly harass my troops and towers.

Progressing through the campaign unlocks new troops and leaders, as well as earns gold (not to be confused with the in-match gold as the energy resource). Gold is used in the store to purchase new minis, and upgrade existing units and spells.

Every mini has its own level, rarity, and traits, which add to the overall grind of improving my teams over time.

Rumble’s other strength is the Warcraft brand. Warcraft’s colorful, cartoony art style shines brightly on the small screen, and the emphasis on placing literal miniatures on a tabletop battlefield is incredibly charming.

The Rating

Warcraft Rumble is rated E10+ with fantasy violence. It’s a miniature wargame, but the art is very cartoony, and there’s no blood (slain creatures simply disappear).

The Takeaway

I haven’t stopped playing Warcraft Rumble since launch, and I’m always highly skeptical of mobile spinoffs. The mobile strategy game is supremely polished, fun to look at, and easy to navigate. But most importantly, the core gameplay is a lot of fun. The quick-paced matches offer just enough strategical depth and real-time tension to satisfy an old craving, one small bite at a time.

This article was written by

Eric has been writing for over nine years with bylines at Dicebreaker, Pixelkin, Polygon, PC Gamer, Tabletop Gaming magazine, and more covering movies, TV shows, video games, tabletop games, and tech. He reviews and live streams D&D adventures every week on his YouTube channel. He also makes a mean tuna quesadilla.