The new set is coming and a number of familiar faces have returned.

The latest Hearthstone expansion – Rise of Shadows – has just been revealed! Rise of Shadows will feature 135 new cards, and will launch on April 9 in North America and April 10 in Australia/New Zealand.

The set introduces the “League of E.V.I.L.”; a coalition of returning villains led by Arch-Thief Rafaam, and featuring King Togwaggle, Madam Lazul, Dr. Boom and Hagatha the Witch.

These familiar faces bring with them a number of new gameplay mechanics. Schemes, for instance, are spells that grow in power each turn they’re in your hand. So far we’ve only seen Hagatha’s Scheme, which is obviously a horrible top deck, but can be insanely powerful if given time to charge up.

Each turn this is in hand it gains one additional damage.

Each turn this is in hand it gains one additional damage.

Lackeys are also new – these minions are generated by cards like EVIL Miscreant and have powerful battlecries relative to their cost. Players that have been around since Goblins vs Gnomes could think of them a little like Spare Parts, except with a body attached. There are five Lackeys in all.

A Rogue Lackey generation card and the five Lackeys.

A Rogue Lackey generation card (far left), along with the five Lackeys.

Insane scaling.

Insane scaling.

In a neat touch, the set will also debut a number of “callback cards”. The new Priest spell Forbidden Words, for instance, riffs on Forbidden Shaping from Whispers of the Old Gods, except instead of spending all your mana to summon a random minion that costs the same amount, you’re able to spend your remaining mana to destroy a minion with that much attack or less. It’s powerful single target removal for Priest that very much fits the class’ identity and goes well alongside the similarly tricky board clear Mass Hysteria. It’s also fitting that the card art features Madam Lazul, who fans will remember from the Whispers of the Old Gods trailer, and who is debuting as a new playable Priest hero with this expansion.

Rise of Shadows isn’t just about bad guys, however, as the expansion will also feature cards themed around a “mysterious crime-fighting group” known as the Defenders of Dalaran. These heroes also bring their own mechanics, such as the new Twinspell keyword. A spell with Twinspell generates a copy of itself into the player’s hand when cast. In other words, they’re spells that can be cast twice.

A bit expensive for Token Druid but you can't argue  with its ability to instantly create a board.

A bit expensive for Token Druid but you can’t argue with its ability to instantly create a board.

A few other cars have also been revealed, and they’re pretty interesting…

Two  huge late game  plays and one card with utility.

Two huge late game plays and one card with utility.

Rafaam is also back...

Rafaam is also back…

Rise of Shadows pre-purchase bundles are available now, with two options: a 50-pack bundle that includes a random Legendary and the Jewel of Lazul card back, and an 80-pack Mega Bundle that includes a random golden Legendary, the card back and the new playable Priest hero Madam Lazul. These bundles are available for USD $49.99 / AUD $66.95 and USD $79.99 / AUD $109.95 respectively. They’re limited to one of each per account.

The release of Rise of Shadows will usher in the Year of the Dragon, which is set to shake up the game considerably, particularly with Genn and Baku being sent to the Hall of Fame early. It will also mark the first chapter in a yearlong story for Hearthstone that will be told across three expansions and three solo adventures. The solo adventure for Rise of Shadows will be released starting in May, and the first chapter will be free, with the additional four chapters unlocked for 700 gold each or AUD $9.50 / NZD $10.99 each. The complete set can be purchased for USD $19.99 / AUD $26.95 / NZD $31.99.

Cam Shea is Editor in Chief for IGN’s Australian content team and spends a lot of his time in the worlds of CCGs. He’s on Twitter.

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