Legends of Runeterra: Ionia Region Guide

Legends of Runeterra: Ionia Region Guide

Legends of Runeterra: Ionia Region Guide

So you fancy yourself a clever and cunning player, staying ahead of your opponent with sneaky units and spells that deny advantages. Ionia is the right place for you! In this guide, we’ll cover the champions of Ionia, its signature mechanics, as well as the synergies it has with other regions.

By the end of this article, our goal is that you’ll really understand Ionia as a region and be able to create your own decks with our Legends of Runeterra deck builder.

Signature Characteristics

“Ionia, in original Vastayan nomenclature: The First Lands, is a land of unspoiled beauty and natural magic. Its inhabitants, living in scattered settlements across this massive archipelago, are a spiritual people who seek to live in harmony and balance with the world. There are many orders and sects across Ionia, each following their own (often conflicting) paths and ideals. Self-sufficient and isolationist, Ionia has remained largely neutral in the wars that have ravaged Valoran over the centuries – until it was invaded by Noxus. This brutal conflict and occupation has forced Ionia to reassess its place in the world. How it reacts and the future path Ionia will follow is as of yet undetermined, however, animosity against Noxus has led to militarization and vigilantism. Thirst for the dark arts is on the rise.” – from Universe.

Ionian is home to many different beliefs and spiritual faiths. As such, in LoR the region has many different types of decks you can focus on. You can choose stealth and subterfuge with Ephemeral, control and mobility with Recall & Sun, or even ramp and scaling with Enlightenment.

Ionia is an isolationist nation. Cards that allow them to overwhelm or deal direct damage to their opponents are rare. They focus on ways to avoid direct conflict with other followers by using stuns, recalls, and elusive. It also means they have many ways to defend and protect themselves. With effects like barrier, recalling their own allies to protect them, and a few healing effects, you will never be lacking for clever tools.

Mechanics and Playstyle

Outsmart your Enemies

As an Ionian, you’ll be using creative tactics to defeat your opponent rather than outright destroying them with might and power.

Recall and Stun

This is reflected in their Recall and Stun mechanics which are used to manipulate the flow of battle to your favor.

Recall allows you to return a unit to their owners hand (similar to Rogue’s playstyle in Hearthstone).

It’s is a key mechanic that can be used offensively or defensively in Ionia’s gameplan. Ionia has a lot of units that trigger effects when they are summoned like Windfarer Hatchling. Recall lets you get repeated value out of those effects.

Ionia - WIndfarer Hatchling

Cards like Minah Swiftfoot can Recall multiple enemies so that you can have some time to push through damage before they can replay their cards.

Ionia - Minah Swiftfoot

If you’re able to think and plan ahead, Recall is incredibly flexible and can be useful in many situations from buffing and protecting to disrupting and deceiving.

Stun is another flexible mechanic at Ionia’s disposal that can be used in a number of ways. Stunned units cannot block or attack and are removed from combat.

This makes it useful for stalling against opponents when you’re waiting for a key round to really go off. It’s also good for temporarily removing followers from combat for a turn while you look to push through damage.

Ionia has a few strong payoff cards for stunning units. Namely Fae Bladetwirler and Yasuo (see the champion section below).

Strike from the Shadows

If you’re familiar with League of Legends lore, you’ll know that Ionia is a land of ninjas. To play into this theme of stealth and assassination, they have Ephemeral units that can appear, strike, and then disappear at the end of a round.

Ionia - Shadow Fiend and Death Mark

An example of Ionia’s use of Ephemeral, is using a simple Shadow Fiend combined with Death Mark to create a cheap strong follower while removing a bigger expensive unit at the same time.

Zed’s core mechanics revolve around Ephemeral, we’ll talk about that more in his champion section later on.

Sidestep and Nullify Danger

As a society that strives to live in harmony and cooperation, Ionian spells and units have numerous ways to protect themselves and their allies from harm.

Elusive

In Legends of Runeterra, Elusive units are able to ignore blockers that aren’t Elusive themselves (this is similar to Flying in Magic the Gathering).

Ionia doesn’t have the strongest units or ways to deal damage directly to the Nexus so using this mechanic Elusive their primary method of easily getting through with damage.

Ionia - The Empyrean

The Empyrean is weaker in terms of stats compared to other 7-drops but can still be a powerful card in the mid-to late game if your opponent doesn’t have answers.

Other regions don’t have as many Elusives and if they do, they’re much fewer than what Ionia has at their disposal. So against most matchups you’ll be able to get a few swings in uncontested unless they’re able to use AoE removal like Freljord’s Avalanche or Vengeance from Shadow Isles.

Lifesteal

With the power of nature and magic on their side, Ionia also has access to Lifesteal, which allows units to heal themselves based on the amount of damage they deal. Kinkou Lifeblade combines this mechanic with Elusive while Herald of Spring uses the Support mechanic to bestow Lifesteal on another ally.

Ionia - Herald of Spring and Kinkou Lifeblade

Support provides a benefit to the ally attacking to the unit’s right, so positioning is important.

There aren’t many Lifesteal cards in the game but Ionia is home to most of them. Because Ionia does not have a lot of hard removal, lifesteal and other healing effects give Ionia staying power when they fall behind.

Barrier

The third way Ionians are able to avoid danger is by using the Barrier mechanic, which allows a unit to ignore damage one time during a round (very similar to Divine Shield from Hearthstone)

Ionia - Greenglade Caretaker and Ki Guardian

Spells like Ki Guardian allow you to instantly give it to an ally with Burst speed, while cards like Greenglade Caretaker gain other benefits when another ally is receiving Barrier.

Deny: The Only Counterspell in LoR

This last aspect of this section isn’t a mechanic but focuses on one card because it’s truly unique in Legends of Runeterra. Deny is a 3-cost Fast spell that allows you to stop a Slow spell, Fast spell, or skill.

Ionia - Deny

On release, this is the only counterspell mechanic in the game, so if you enjoy that aspect of gameplay from TCG’s like Magic the Gathering, Ionia may be your thing.

Fast Spells can be used before, during, and after combat, so it can really ruin your opponent’s day or be used as an insurance measure to protect your own plans from disruption

Become Enlightened

Ionia is a land of mysticism and the Enlightened ability helps you tap into that. This keyword grants special bonuses if they’re played when you have 10 mana crystals unlocked.

Ionia - Insight of Ages and Cloud Drinker

Enlightened gives Ionia the ability to be flexible by playing cards that are average in the early game but become amazingly cost efficient late game.

Ionia’s Champions

Ionian Champions

In this section we’ll discuss the Ionian champions in order from lowest mana cost to highest.

If you’re unfamiliar with how champions work, check out our LoR mechanics guide.

The TL: DR is:

  1. Every deck can have up to 6 total champions, only 3 of the same kind.
  2. Champions fulfill conditions to level up.
  3. When they level up, they become stronger and gain new abilities. Leveling up causes all copies to level up.
  4. Only one copy of a specific champion can be on the board at once. If you draw other copies while a champion is on the board, they will transform into a spell form until that champion is removed. Playing the spell will shuffle the champion back into your deck instead of going to the graveyard.

Zed

Zed is a powerful low-cost unit that allows Ionia to strike swiftly and aggressively. He starts off as a 3-cost 3|2 unit with Quick Attack and the ability, “Attack: Create an attacking Living Shadow with my stats”.

Ionia - Zed

If you’re unfamiliar with Quick Attack, the mechanic causes an attacker’s damage to resolve before the defender. So if Zed attacks and a 2|2 blocks, the 2|2 will die and Zed will survive.

This allows Zed to apply a ton of pressure in the early game since he’s difficult to remove through combat and since he creates an Ephemeral 3|2 Living Shadow that can also swing at face or trade with your opponent’s permanent units.

Ionia - Living Shadow

To level up, Zed and his Living Shadows only need to hit the Nexus at least twice, so it isn’t the most difficult thing to do unless you’re playing Zed in later rounds when blockers are big enough to avoid his Quick Attack.

Zed Leveled Up

Ionia - Zed Leveled Up

Once he levels up, Zed gains access to scary abilities that make him capable of ridiculous amounts of damage. Because his shadow copies his stats and keywords, you can use cards like Twin Disciplines to attack with two 7/3 units.

Ionia - Twin Disciples

Since Zed maintains his Quick Attack when leveled up, he can safely break through much bigger blockers and pave the wave for his shadow and other allies to finish the job.

Zed’s Champion Spell

Ionia - Zed's Shadowshift (champion spell)

Zed’s champion spell is Shadowshift, which appear if you draw a Zed when he’s already on the board.

If you draw multiple Zeds, you can activate Shadowshift to protect him from removal and combat tricks while shuffling another Zed back into your deck to draw again later.

Yasuo

Yasuo is a very one dimensional but powerful card. He only really excels when in a deck with a surplus of Recall and Stun so he can reliably level up, so be sure to build around that.

His base form is a 4-cost 4|3 with the ability, “When you Stun or Recall an enemy, I deal 2 to it.” Like Zed, he also has Quick Attack at his Disposal.

Ionia - Yasuo

This makes Yasuo a potent unit as you enter the mid game since he can trade with Quick Attack and remove any small threats that you’re stunning.

Yasuo Leveled Up

Ionia - Yasuo Leveled Up

Once Yasuo is leveled up he can easily carry the rest of the game since each Stun and Recall card will be doing 5 or more damage (if you buffed Yasuo).

This combos with cards like Yone, Windchaser into back breaking 2 for 1s that give you huge tempo swings and allow you to take a dominant position in your match.

Yasuo’s Champion Spell

Ionia - Yasuo's Steel Tempest (champion spell)

Yasuo’s champion spell is pretty straightforward, it just helps you level up Yasuo or help him strike enemies if he’s in his final form.

As a Fast spell, remember that you can use this during combat to get the edge in a trade.

Karma

Karma is a champion for Ionian players who like to play the long game. She starts off as a 5-cost 4|3 with the effect, “End of Round: Create a random spell in hand”.

Ionia - Karma

This means that if you can protect her, she can give you continual value and increase the amount of options you have versus your opponent. Be sure to have effects like Barrier and Recall to protect her from removal since 3 Health is quite low for a 5 drop.

Karma Leveled Up

Ionia - Karma Leveled Up

To level up, you fittingly need to become Enlightened by having 10 mana crystals. This is when the fun really begins.

When Karma is Enlightened, she automatically casts a free copy of each spell you play on the same target. Games end pretty quickly when you get double value out of each spell, so each round that Karma stays alive, the closer to death your opponent becomes.

Karma Champion Spell

Ionia - Karma's Insight of Ages

Her champion spell isn’t amazing on its own before Karma levels up but it starts creating dominant card advantage when you become Enlightened.

Since Burst spells can be cast at any time (before, during, and after combat) and allow you to act after casting them, you can often get insane value in a single turn (especially if you generate more Burst spells).

Shen

Like his League of Legends form, Shen is a beefy champion that is amazing at protecting his allies.

He starts off as a 4-cost 2|6 with the ability, “Support: Give my supported ally Barrier.”, which protects the attacker to his right from damage when Shen attacks during a round.

Ionia - Shen

At 6 Health, it’s incredibly hard to remove Shen without spells so he’s a great addition to give even more protection to Elusives and other units when you’re taking the offensive.

Shen Leveled Up

Ionia - Shen Leveled Up

To level up, Shen needs to see at least 4 allies receive Barrier. The key thing to note here is that “see” requires the champion to be on the field in order to fulfill the condition. It will not count if Shen is in hand or in your deck.

Shen’s leveled up form upgrades him to a 3|7 and gives his Supported ally an additional +3 Power on top of their Barrier for the round. This makes it near impossible to lose combat trades and will give you additional oomph to help your Ionian units that usually have relatively weaker power, destroy the enemy Nexus.

Shen’s Champion Spell

Ionia - Shen's Stand United (champion spell)

Shen’s spell, although expensive, is incredibly powerful during combat since you can effectively protect two allies from a situation they would have otherwise died in.

If you haven’t leveled up Shen yet, it’ll count as 2 Barriers to bring you closer to fulfilling the condition.

Synergies with Other Factions

In Legends of Runeterra there are many, many synergies to take advantage of by strategically pairing with other regions. In this section, we’ll be discussing a few of them for Noxus but there are definitely way more.

Use our Deck Builder to experiment and let us know in the comment section below what you think would work!

Shadow Isles (Zed + Hecarim)

Ionia and Shadow Isles are home to ALL the Ephemeral cards in the game, so combining them really opens up your possibilities for using the effect in creative ways.

For example, Shadow Isles’s Soul Shepherd can increase the value and pressure of your Ephemeral units, such as Zed’s Living Shadows.

Shadow Isles - Soul Shepherd

In terms of champion pairing, Hecarim is the perfect match for a Zed Ephemeral deck since Zed’s Living Shadow’s can help Hecarim level up, and Hecarim can give even more buffs to Ephemeral units.

Shadow Isles - Hecarim Leveled Up

Once Hecarim is online you can easily fill the board with throw away ephemeral units each turn for massive damage that can easily OTK (0 to death) from full health.

Noxus (Yasuo + Katarina)

When combined, Ionia and Noxus have numerous ways to Recall and Stun units. They use this in conjunction with units and spells, such as Decisive Maneuver and Intimidating Roar, that gain special bonuses based on these mechanics to outmaneuver and destroy their opponents.

Noxus - Decisive Maneuver and Intimidating Roar

Noxus looks to supplement Ionia with a plethora of stunning cards and Katarina who is champion that can continually Recall to trigger effects.

Noxus - Katarina Leveled Up

This makes Yasuo much easier to level up, and when he is, you can really apply the pressure since Strikes the enemies you use the rest of your Stuns and Recalls on.. This helps clear the field for Katarina and other Noxus threats to push through and hit the enemy Nexus.

Demacia (Shen + Fiora)

Demacia works with Ionia through synergy with their Barrier effects involving cards like Brightsteel Protector and Prismatic Barrier.

Demacia - Brightsteel Protector and Prismatic Barrier

With the high number of protective cards at this combination’s disposal, you can use risky and high payoff cards like Fiora with more confidence that they can survive. This is especially exemplified when you realize how well Shen works with her.

The turn after Fiora is played, Shen can be a continual source of protection for Fiora granting her Barrier every time she attacks while Fiora Challenges the correct unit to keep Shen safe from taking hits.

Demacia - Fiora Leveled Up

If your opponent doesn’t have the right answers, you’re 4 unit kills away from winning through Fiora’s Level Up ability.

Piltover & Zaun (Zed + Ezreal)

Ionia and Piltover & Zaun use their high density of aggressive Elusive units like Amateur Aeronaut and Jae Medarda to aggressively push through enemy lines with unblockable damage.

Ionia - Amateur Aeronaut and Jae Medarda

With Stuns and Recall effects covering your Elusive units, you can make it very difficult for an opponent to defend themselves. Meanwhile, Ezreal can provide you with some extra oomph in the mid to late game with direct damage from his Mystic Shots and level up ability.

Ionia - Ezreal Leveled Up

Freljord (Karma + Anivia)

Ionia works with Freljord by combining the Enlightened mechanic with Freljord’s ramp that allow you to cheat the mana system and get ahead of the curve with Wydring Stones and Catalyst of Aeons.

Freljord - Wyrding Stones and First Bloom

The goal is to unlock 10 mana gems as fast as possible so that you can drown your opponent in value from Karma and other Enlightened cards.

Freljord - Anivia Leveled Up

Meanwhile, Anivia can maintain a sticky and consistent pressure and AoE removal to pave the way from the mid game to the late game where Karma spells can take over.

Closing Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed our deep dive on Ionia! Check out our other articles that explore Demacia, Freljord, Noxus, Piltover & Zaun, and Shadow Isles. LoR is a brand new game and we’re still figuring it out ourselves, so if you have any suggestions for decks or other feedback, let us know in the comment section below.

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