When you play the Game of Thrones, you win or you die.

Queen Cersei Lannister's (Lena Headey) warning is also the perfect title for HBO's glorious new promo film, celebrating the long-awaited April 1 premiere of Game of Thrones' second season.

And if you're one of the unfortunate souls who missed the fantasy series' epic first season, this video includes an in-depth recap with essential background on the characters and the fantasy kingdoms in which they live…and die.

(Spoiler Alert: If you haven't seen the full first season and want to be surprised, stop watching the video at the 13-minute mark!)

Now read on for a non-spoilery sophomore-season primer from creators and executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss with fresh photos of new and returning characters…

"This season is largely about how [a major character's] death leads to a series of events that ultimately culminate in a war, pulling all the different factions in this world into open-armed conflict with each other," says Weiss. "Almost every character is directly affected by the war in some way or another. Even Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), who are on far different corners of the world, feel the effects" after some characters lose their heads. (You could say the whole kingdom goes mad!)

"I think fans of the show can expect to be surprised by some of what happens," says Weiss, adding that "we're taking approaches that might surprise [fans of the books] as well. A lot of the characters that George created are so rich and so wonderful that you often find yourself wondering what would happen if this one met that one…So there will definitely be some nice surprises [and] excitement for both longtime readers and newcomers to the material."

LAST SEASON'S FINALE RECAP: Game of Thrones Finale Redux: Here Be Dragons

Benioff points out, "We're not looking at our series as a book-by-book adaptation so much as an adaptation of George's entire saga. In other words, in our minds season two is not A Clash of Kings [the series' second book]. It is the second season of our adaptation of [the entire saga], A Song of Ice and Fire."

With psychopathic kings, black magic, dragons and direwolves afoot, it's no wonder that Princess Arya learns much too young the meaning of the Valyrian phrase Valar morghulis:

All men must die.

Are you fired up like a dragon for Game of Thrones' return? Which new character are you most excited to meet? Are you OK with the show's deviation from the original books? Sound off in the comments!

UPDATED GALLERY! Game of Thrones Season Two Pics

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