Duelyst's next expansion is out this week, take a look at six new cards

Duelyst's second expansion, Rise of the Bloodborn, has snuck up on all of us. It was expected sometime this month, but it's actually just days away, going live this Thursday, December 15. A smaller set, Rise of the Bloodborn will add 39 new cards to the game, along with a new keyword: Blood Surge.

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Check out our interview with Counterplay Games from PAX West. And if you're new to the game, here are six tips for getting started

A minion with the Blood Surge ability will activate a unique effect any time you use your general's Bloodborn Spell—basically the same as Inspire keyword with Hearthstone's hero power, but Bloodborn Spells are cheaper and can't be used every turn.  As you might have guessed, the set generally revolves around using and empowering Bloodborn Spells, which Counterplay Games's Emil Anticevic told me is an attempt to make using those spells more strategic, rather than just activating them whenever they are available. 

While you'll still get Rise of the Bloodborn cards by purchasing orbs (card packs) unique to the set, these orbs function a little differently than the ones for the classic and Shim'zar sets. Instead of paying 100 gold for five random cards, a Bloodborn orb will cost 300 gold and contain three copies of three different cards, so nine cards total. None of the cards from this set are craftable or disenchantable, and once you've acquired a certain card, you won't ever see it in an orb again. 

That means, with 39 different cards and three per pack, you only need to open 13 packs to guarantee you'll have unlocked three copies of the whole set. Alternatively, you can buy the orbs for $3 each, or $20 for all 13. If you buy a few orbs individually before deciding to spend cold hard cash, the $20 option will also come with a refund on any gold you already spent on Bloodborn orbs. Anticevic told me they think this method of distributing a set is better for players when releasing a smaller set like this, but it won't necessarily become the way they always release new sets from now on. 

Now then, onto the card reveals. Counterplay has given us a sneak peak at six new cards to share with you from Rise of the Bloodborn, four of which have the new Blood Surge keyword. We'll be showing off one from each class, and you can flip through them all in the gallery below, along with my impressions. You can also find the full resolution PNGs and animated gifs of each card here

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Furosa (Abyssian) — A cheap minion meant to help out swarm decks. The Blood Surge effect will activate after Lilithe's Bloodborn Spell summons its two Wraithlings, immediately buffing them and any other Wraithlings on the board. This card could be a great way for swarm decks to make their boards more resilient, but getting a minion's health from 2 to 3 is a lot more valuable than going from 1 to 2, so Furosa will either need to stick around or get some help to really shine. I do love the Mad Max reference, though.

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Stone to Spears (Vetruvian) — I am incredibly excited for this spell. Even if you completely ignore the +3 attack, Stone to Spears gives Vetruvian a chance to reposition out of place Obelysks as fights move away from wherever you initially placed them. And the bonus attack is nice on its own, allowing silenced Obelysks to pose even more of a threat after Shim'zar added Whisper of the Sands.

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Drogon (Magmar) — A potential Game of Thrones reference and an absolutely terrifying 4 Mana minion. As Vaath's Bloodborn Spell starts stacking up his attack, Drogon gets more and more valuable. Combo'd with Grove Lion to preserve your health, Drogon could let your hero easily deal with huge minions. Or, for a combo much later in the game, playing Bounded Lifeforce and your Bloodborn Spell with Drogon on the board will give your general a 22 damage punch out of nowhere. That's a thing to be feared.

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Scintilla (Lyonar) — A common minion that lends some love to the healing Lyonar decks. Compared to the other cards we are revealing, Scintilla isn't very flashy, but it's a card that could find a comfy home in a slower Zir'an deck. Her Bloodborn Spell would now cause minions with effects that activate form healing to proc twice, which could help those decks find a stronger foothold in the meta.

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Concealing Shroud (Vanar) — This is a powerful card, plain and simple. Even if it could be too situational, this is an unanswerable way to guarantee you get to play at least one more turn of Duelyst. It could let you spend a full turn setting up a win for the next turn, ignoring any imminent threats because you know you'll live to see it. It can also save you when you know a combo might be coming. I could easily be wrong, but Concealing Shroud seems like the type of card strategies are built around.

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Twilight Fox (Songhai) — And finally, Songhai gets a wonderful way to troll its enemies. Comboing nicely with backstab, Twilight Fox is a fantastic minion to mess with your opponent's plans. You can pull their minions, or even their general, completely out of position. But it could come with some risk, as if you can't kill whatever you pull, you've brought a threat in close to your own general instead. I don't quite know what to make of this card, but it's going to be hilarious, that's for sure.

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