We recommend following along with the official Riot patch notes if you’re looking for their explanations related to game design. We’ll be focusing more on how impactful the changes are in regards to their strength in the game and the general meta.
Our key going forward will be green = buffed, red = nerfed, and yellow = adjusted (changed but still around the same relative strength).
- Anivia was one of the most problematic champions during the closed beta due to her general standalone strength – she was incredibly sticky, served as AoE removal, and applied constant pressure. You often needed to commit a good amount of resources to remove her and if you couldn’t, she could run away with the game.
- In response, Riot is changing her niche to make her more of a late game option that is geared more toward Enlightened decks (she’ll probably be paired with Karma).
- Overall, she’s receiving an increased mana cost in exchange for better stats at level 1 and 2 along with the ability to block.
- This exchange will make her less snowbally when you’re ahead but will make her more useful when you play her from behind.
- Note that Enlighten works when you have ten mana by any means, including the ramp mechanics that are included in Freljord, so you can often proc her level up before turn 10 if you build accordingly.
- Tryndamere’s leveled up form is seeing a substantial nerf as he loses his Tough keyword. Tough is exponentially better the more health because it forces your opponent to have multiple big units in order to take them out.
- He’ll still likely trade 2 for 1 and even 3 for 1 but now you’ll be able to take him down with smaller units whereas they were useless before. Just make sure to factor in his Overwhelm.
Piltover & Zaun
- Ezreal’s leveled up form is taking a hit as his Fleeting Mystic Shot will no longer be 0-mana.
- This makes him less oppressive if you’re able to bring him online early on and will give his opponents more time to respond since you’ll have to dedicate more mana to proc his direct damage.
- From a design standpoint, it seems like Riot wants to keep combo decks in check so we’ll see if this continues to be a trend.
- Not a huge change, just a slight quality of life improvement to make leveling up more consistent when you have multiple copies of Vlad.
Followers & Spells
- This isn’t really a nerf in terms of performance but it can be considered a nerf for Expeditions if you were a fan of drafting many Battlesmiths.
- It isn’t included in image form in the patch notes but note that Silvering Vanguard will be changed from Rare to Common, trading spots with Battlesmith.
Fleetfeather Tracker (nerfed)
- Tracker has been a really solid card so Riot is bringing it down a notch by making its Challenger keyword have a condition.
- That being said, it’ll still be pretty good so don’t let it deter you too much.
Avarosan Hearthguard (nerfed)
- As one of the more popular cards with a potent ability for ramp decks, Avarosan Hearthguard also doubled as a body with solid value at 5|6.
- He’ll be slightly worse in control vs control matchups but will still have a place in the decks he was already in.
Catalyst of Aeons (nerfed)
- Time is everything in ramp decks as you want to gain momentum as soon as possible. Being delayed by one turn with the increase of one cost will make playing against ramp decks more forgiving.
Wyrding Stones (nerfed)
- In the last patch, Riot increased Wyrding Stones’s cost from 2 to 3 and increased its health to 4, so they’re reverting its health here.
- This nerf goes hand in hand with the change to Catalyst as another change directed at ramp decks.
Cloud Drinker (nerfed)
- We mentioned during Ezreal’s commentary that it seemed like Riot was a bit worried about combo decks creeping up. This is another change that appears to be targeting that as Cloud Drinker loses its Enlightend ability.
- Seven health is also incredibly hard to remove so they’re toning down its defensive ability to give it less time to enable cheaper spells.
Piltover and Zaun
Flame Chompers (buffed)
- In the previous patch, Flame Chompers! was nerfed from 3 to 1 health. Turns out they went a little overboard so they’re meeting the nerf halfway with a semi-revert buff to 2.
Underperforming P&Z cards (buffed)
Piltover & Zaun has been one of the weaker regions, especially in Expeditions, so it’s receiving a ton of tune ups across the board to cards that needed some love. Here’s our quick lightning round:
Back Alley Barkeep
- For it’s cost and its unreliable ability, being a 2|2 was just a bit too much in meme territory. Being a 3|2 will make it slightly more attractive but won’t be too impactful.
- This buff is actually pretty significant as 4 health is huge for a 2-cost card. Now it’ll likely be a mainstay in aggressive decks as it’s a big early game blocker that can apply pressure.
- Similar to the line of reasoning for Back Alley Bar Keep, the lack of consistency and reliability just wasn’t enough to make you want to play a 2|2.
- Power increase is always nice but you have to consider the break points when measuring impact. There aren’t a ton of popular 6 health (Power + 1 from ability) units out there so it isn’t really a big deal.
- Even though it’s losing 1 power, the increase to 4 health outweighs it so much that it’s undoubtedly a buff instead of a powershift.
- Keep in mind how difficult it is to remove 4 health minions so there aren’t that many options out there above 3 health removal.
- That being said, this isn’t too impactful for the wider meta as copy decks are still sort of more for fun than competitive.
- These are solid buffs but the spell deck that Plaza Guardian fits best into currently aren’t that great. We’ll keep a close eye on it though to see how open beta deck builders do with it.
- This is another one of those buffs directed at a card with a niche ability. It was pretty hard to justify a Sumpsnipe as a 4|2 in a constructed and a 4|3 is slightly more attractive but probably still won’t be worth it.
Used Cask Salesman
- A 3-cost 3|2 is pretty close for viability and the card becomes more appealing than some of its other PZ peers that were buffed, it could see some more play in aggro decks.
The Rekindler (nerfed)
- The Rekindler has a powerful ability (resurrecting the likes of Commander Ledros and Tryndamere) so it isn’t surprising that Riot is toning down its stats.
- Now it will fulfill its purpose without getting too much more value from its body.
- Wraithcaller is receiving more survivability as well as Fearsome which is pretty nice. However, the other archetypes of Shadow Isles are just too good to really make you want to consider building around Allegiance.