Duelyst is getting its third expansion next week, here's a first look at six new cards

Duelyst's third expansion has been in full tease-mode for a couple of weeks now, but the new set, titled Ancient Bonds, will finally be arriving in less than a week. On March 15, Ancient Bonds will add 39 new cards to the game, a new keyword called Bond, and a whole lot of tribal synergies. We've got the first details on what Bond does, how it will be distributed, and a sneak peek at six new cards from the set.

Ancient Bonds is going to be focused around fleshing out some of the tribal mechanics, specifically for minions that are part the Golem and Arcanyst tribes. The two tribes have been split between the factions, with Lyonar, Magmar, and Vetruvian getting new Golem synergies and Abyssian, Vanar, and Songhai getting Arcanyst synergies. Each faction will get three unique minions [Update: this originally said four, but Counterplay reached out to correct the initial number we were given to three.]  from their respective tribe, and developer Counterplay told me it hopes this set will both open up more deck archetypes for each faction and make players look back at their old (and often unplayed) neutral cards in a new light.

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The new keyword, Bond, is also tied into this tribal theme. It's a minion ability that essentially works the same as Opening Gambit (or Hearthstone's Battlecry) but the effect will only trigger if there is a friendly minion from the same tribe already on the board when you play it. So if you play an Arcanyst minion with Bond (like Nightshroud, shown below) and you don't have any other Arcanysts in play, nothing will happen. But if you have at least one other Arcanyst in play, it triggers its Bond effect when summoned.

The real kicker is that Bond abilities will also activate when a minion with Bond is re-summoned, not just cast from hand. So casting Consuming Rebirth on Nightshroud or a Bond minion hatching from a Rebirth egg (like Ragebinder, also shown below) will activate the effect again, assuming you still have a friendly minion from the same tribe in play. Each Faction will get one Bond minion of its own, along with access to two more Neutral Bond minions for a total of eight in the set.

Ancient Bonds will follow an identical release model as that of Duelyst's last expansion, Rise of the Bloodborn. You can unlock the Ancient Bonds cards in packs that have three copies of three different cards each. Packs will cost either 300 gold or $3 and won't give duplicates, so once you've purchased 13 packs you are guaranteed to have the whole set, or you can buy three copies of all 39 cards outright for $20. 

As I mentioned (and probably what many of you really care about), we've got six new cards to show off, one from each of the factions and two of which have the new Bond keyword. I've included some description and a few of my thoughts with each card, and you can view theme all by flipping through the gallery below. You can also find the full resolution PNGs and animated gifs of each card here.

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Nightshroud (Abyssian) — This is the first of two cards we're showing off with the new Bond keyword, but it goes beyond simply having at least one other Arcanyst to activate. If you can flood the board with Arcanyst minions using something like Prismatic Illusionist, Nightshroud could deal some impressive burst damage and healing. Couple it with Consuming Rebirth and there's the potential for a massive swing turn. But the 1 health means it won't stick around on the board for too long on its own.
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Life Coil (Lyonar) — A spell that could maybe pull the now nerfed Divine Bond combo back into favor. Life Coil means that minions you plan to Divine Bond could take a hit or two without completely weakening their burst potential. The big drawback here is that 3 mana is a high cost for what is just a health buff on its own, which seems far too expensive in most cases. But Counterplay made the point to me that this card could be more valuable in Gauntlet where minions tend to stick around a bit longer, making the health more important.
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Ragebinder (Magmar) — Our second minion with Bond, Ragebinder highlights how the ability truly differs from simply being a conditional Opening Gambit. Ragebinder is a solid 3 mana 3/4 with Rebirth and the added perk that it could heal you or be buffed by other Golem synergy effects—but its Bond ability reactivates every time it hatches from its egg, assuming you still have another Golem out. It will be hard to get multiple procs of the ability, but it could potentially be a great sustain tool that you can use to chain heal your General.
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Calligrapher (Songhai) — At 7 mana and with the gained spells arriving after you've ended your turn, Calligrapher is not exactly the fastest Rush minion in the game. But 3/7 with Rush that also draws three cards (even if they are random) is definitely appealing. 7 mana means it's going to arrive late in the game, but it could give you the gas you need to finish off your opponent. Regardless of effect, I love the art on Calligrapher and hope it sees play for that alone.
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Ghost Seraphim (Vanar) — Another 7 mana legendary minion, though this one has a significantly more threatening body on its own. As an 8/9, Ghost Seraphim is a scary minion to face down, only slightly smaller than the neutral 7 mana 10/10 Dragonbone Golem. But the card shines when you consider that you can play literally any spell in your deck for free the same turn you summon this—and then again once every turn after that if Ghost Seraphim survives. How much value that gains you mostly depends on how you've built your deck, but this minion could pay for itself and then some fairly easily. Winter's Wake a turn early along with a free 8/9 Arcanyst, anyone?
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Thunderclap (Vetruvian) — Similar to the previously announced Songhai artifact Bangle of Blinding Strike, this is another effect we've seen used in a singleplayer boss fight. Counterplay tells me it's not its intention to use those bosses to test mechanics, but if that fight was any indication Thunderclap could be a strong card. The fact that it summons the minion nearby instead of in its place means it doesn't stop things like Rebirth or Dying Wish summons, but it will synergize nicely with Spinecleaver. And, of course, the already powerful Falcius can make this even scarier.

Duelyst is free-to-play and available through Steam.