Hearthstone's next expansion is coming soon, and it will be called Rise of Shadows. The newest set will be coming to all available platforms on April 9, and will mark the start of Hearthstone's first year-long storyline. Previously, the game had implemented expansions as one-off events, visiting different settings and characters with each iteration.
Hearthstone remains one of the most popular digital card games in the world, but that space has certainly heated up with the release of Magic Arena. Wizards of the Coast famously infused $10 million into Magic Arena esports' first full year, and Blizzard has been reticent to do the same, focusing instead on developing the already established areas of its online card game's competitive scene. Unfortunately, Hearthstone has been the victim of a pretty stale Standard meta as the game finally begins to transition away from the Knights of the Frozen Throne expansion, which will rotate out shortly. That set was wildly broken, warping meta game after meta game even as Blizzard released more balanced and fun sets.
Hearthstone's newest expansion will be a welcome breath of fresh air, especially because it will rotate the aforementioned Knights of the Frozen Throne out of Standard. Rise of Shadows will also focus the story on a collection of the game's most recongizable villains banding together to terrorize Azeroth. That organization of villains will be called the League of E.V.I.L., and will feature characters like Arch-Thief Rafaam, Dr. Boom, and Hagatha the Witch, all of whom are iconic for their roles in previous stories or as powerful cards. Here's the full cinematic trailer:
The expansion will include 135 new cards, and will include 1/1 minions known as Lackeys, who are being described by Blizzard as "low-level operatives [that] will be crucial in unleashing the League's sinister schemes," and it appears they'll be meant to contest the board. Schemes themselves will be another new card type, and they will continuously grow more powerful every turn they remain in a player's hand. There will also be Twinspells, cards that duplicate themselves when cast to be used again on a later turn. Blizzard has indicated that it will reveal more on Twinspells and those who use them, the Defenders of Dalaran, shortly.
Rise of Shadows will feature the traditional pre-purchase models of 50-pack bundles that include a random Legendary, and the Jewel of Lazul set card back, or 80-pack Mega Bundles that feature a golden legendary, the set's card back, and a new playable Priest hero portrait named Madame Lazul. Those bundles will be available until the set releases on April 9th.
Rise of Shadows looks exciting, and it has the benefit of being the first expansion that will be released once players are free from the icy grip of Knights of the Frozen Throne. That means the standard for card power level might be lowered slightly, and there's a chance for new cards to shine. That's the kind of breath of fresh air Hearthstone desperately needs right now, and it could mean a resurgence in popularity for the early king of digital card games.