Hearthstone: Rise of Shadows shines the spotlight on Warcraft villains

Hearthstone’s Rise of Shadows will shine the spotlight on villains that have appeared in previous expansions of Blizzard’s digital card game, while introducing two mechanics and 135 new cards.

Rise of Shadows will kick off the Year of the Dragon, Hearthstone’s new Standard rotation that will start with the set’s release on April 9. The expansion will also launch a year-long storyline, which is a first for the digital card game.

In Rise of Shadows, Rafaam brings Madame Lazul, Hagatha, Togwaggle, and Dr. Boom together to form the League of EVIL, with the villains hatching a plan to get revenge against the heroes that have foiled their plans with a mission to siege the magocratic city-state of Dalaran.

It remains to be seen what exactly the League of EVIL is planning, but some clues can be taken from the Rise of Shadows cards that have so far been revealed. Each villain in the League of EVIL will get Lackeys, which are 1-cost 1/1 minions with powerful Battlecry effects that would not be possible to add to decks, as they will only be generated by other cards. For example, Rafaam’s Ethereal Lackey has a Battlecry effect that allows the player to Discover a spell, while Hagatha’s Witchy Lackey has a Battlecry effect that transforms a friendly minion into one that has a cost of 1 more.

The new expansion will also introduce the new mechanics of Twinspell and Schemes. The previewed card with the Twinspell mechanic is the 8-cost Druid spell The Forest’s Aid, which summons five 2/2 Treants and then adds a copy of the spell to the player’s hand. It works similarly with the Echo mechanic of The Witchwood set, but instead of being able cast multiple copies in a single turn, Twinspell only allows one copy of the spell, but with the possibility to cast over different turns. Meanwhile, the previewed Hagatha’s Scheme is a 5-cost Shaman spell that deals 1 damage to all minions, but the damage that it deals increases by 1 for every turn that it is held by the player.

A total of nine Rise of Shadows cards have been spoiled on the official Hearthstone website, with more to be revealed over the coming weeks. Blizzard has also opened pre-purchases for the expansion, with the Rise of Shadows Bundle offering 50 packs, the Jewel of Lazul card back, and a random legendary card from the expansion for $50, and the Rise of Shadows Mega Bundle that bumps up the number of packs to 80 and adds the Madame Lazul Priest hero portrait.

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