Volcor, Iyslander, and the New Horizon

by Alex Truell 22nd April 2022 4 : 40

Yesterday, Legend Story Studios gave us an unexpected first look at the next expansion, Uprising.

Prior to this, we knew only the name of the set (and even that we can't say with certainty is true- Tales of Aria was known to fans as Kingdoms for quite a long time). Speculation had pointed to many regions as the possible home for such a set: Volcor had ranked high among the potential prospects, but I think most had their money on Metrix and the Pits due to hints of conflict between them seeded within the lore.

LSS began previews with an absolute bombshell: Iyslander, who had previously appeared as a Young hero in Everfest, was making the leap to a full core set hero.

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This is groundbreaking for a number of reasons:

  1. The preview article makes clear that this set is centered around the region of Volcor; but if her card frame and talent are to be believed, Iyslander is from Aria.
  2. We've previously been told that talents are region-specific; yet an Elemental hero is planned for a non-Aria set.
  3. Iyslander is the first hero to debut in one set as a Young hero, and get upgraded to an Adult hero in a later set.
  4. Iyslander represents the first core set hero to repeat a talent from a prior set.
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As fans of the game, we love to apply logic of the past to preview season, trying to predict where the designers may be going. That's made Iyslander all the more interesting.

Tales of Aria and Monarch would have you expect a 2nd Ice Elemental in the set, as past sets have used talents as a point of crossover between heroes in draft; but as we've never seen a talent repeated in another core set, we have no assurance this will be true. In fact, as Elementals are reportedly region-locked to Aria, it would be exceptionally unlikely! Perhaps this set will see the class, and not the talent, used as the connecting point between two heroes; after all, Volcor is known for producing characters naturally attuned to aether.

If you've been following my Skirmish Season 4 evaluations over at fabtcg.com, you know that Iyslander has been doing quite well for herself in Blitz. This is in spite of having one of the smaller card pools in the game; Wizard has only seen one core set release, and Iyslander has the smallest Elemental card pool due to her single affinity. Her higher profile and growing card pool from Uprising is likely to see her become a major player in the meta- especially as she's turning out to be a direct counter to Viserai!

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Alongside new Ice cards are the expected Elemental Wizard cards. But what we didn't expect was a brand new combination of subtypes on an Action card: Ice Wizard. This may not seem like much, but if you've played any quantity of fusion you understand how significant it is that a class card (read: defaultly eligible for 3 defense) can be used in a fusion.

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Wherever Iyslander may be going, it's clear that Uprising is fine with breaking norms of the past. So what else might we have to look forward to?

The elevation of Iyslander from Blitz-only hero to full Classic Constructed eligibility makes you wonder who else might receive the same treatment. Kassai stands out as a likely candidate, as she calls the deserts of Volcor her home. In reading the story of Iyslander's journey from Aria to Volcor, there's no direct mention of Kassai- yet she could very well be connected to the moment when Iyslander confronted a slave driver. Is Warrior ready for a 3rd set release? And if they do plan to revisit Kassai, will she pick up a Talent, possibly tied to the region of Volcor?

Shiyana also appeared in Iyslander's story, so perhaps we're about to see an expansion of the Shapeshifter class. It would be incredibly wild to have a Shapeshifter card pool, especially when you consider what Shiyana is already capable of doing via her access to others' specializations. Or might we see the first instance of a character changing class? Is Shiyana's presence in Iyslander's story simply a red herring or bit of connective continuity?

Both of those heroes would make obvious sense because we know they're in Volcor for parts of their story. But until yesterday, we had no idea Iyslander would end up there; in truth, any of our Young heroes could move to another region in their Adult years.

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Iyslander's story makes this abundantly clear, and reminds us that these regions are not all that far apart. She travels through Solana, still embroiled in a war with the roaming Demonastary, on her way to Volcor. It called to mind a card from Monarch that also hinted at the interconnectedness of Rathe: Seek Horizon.


"They hear the distant echoes of a rising storm,
and know that their days of peace are numbered."

Look, the World of Rathe is a savage place. It's hard to read a line like that and draw any real conclusions. Was this referring to the war in Solana, thus tying it to the theme of Monarch? Or was this foreshadowing, pointing toward the battles in Volcor promised by Uprising's title? Misteria is adjacent to both; if that's Katsu in the card art, is he headed toward the conflict in the neighboring regions? Will we see a Ninja in the set?

We haven't even addressed the question of Volcor's region-specific talents. Assuming the region isn't simply Elemental: Fire, how will they connect a region where most people are born attuned to the aether, and how might they apply it to a class already known for dealing arcane damage with fire and lightning? While Kano is known both as the definitive Volcai and the definitive Wizard, it's entirely possible that Iyslander already represents Wizards in this set and Volcor will instead have a talent unrelated to the fiery visuals of the class. When we've seen Volcor on generic card art, it's largely focused on warfare, armies, and soldiers- not the fire-flinging combat of Kano.

When I got into the game during Arcane Rising, I remember hearing that there were 5 sets already developed at the time of Welcome to Rathe's release. If there was any truth to that, then Everfest would have been the first set entirely developed in response to the actual gameplay seen across the world; and Uprising the first core set designed with the lessons of past releases informing every aspect. Truly, we cannot assume anything based on precedent; every release has defied our prior assumptions in some way.

Uprising is coming. Be prepared for anything.

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Alex Truell

Alex Truell is the editor for the Rathe Times. Alex is a casually competitive player overseeing the growth of a Flesh and Blood scene in Ripon, WI. Alex is a player who cares about the competitive environment, but doesn't have to live in it; an optimist who loves the game, but can take a step back to critique it; and a deckbuilder who revels in novelty.

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