Heart of the Huntress: The Good, The Bad, and The Future

Heart of the Huntress: The Good, The Bad, and The Future

My Thoughts on Heart of the Huntress

We’re about a week into LoR’s latest expansion and are now moving past the honeymoon phase. Heart of the Huntress has brought a bunch of sweet new designs and created some exciting moments for both new and existing players alike. However, as with any new release, it’s only a matter of time before the meta begins to take shape. The “everything is awesome” time can’t last forever, as players inevitably adapt and move towards what’s working.

It’s Trevor “Shugo” Yung here and today I want to share my overall thoughts about the expansion. I’ll cover the good, the bad, and suggest some ideas for the future. Let’s get into it.

The Good

I want to start off by commending the devs because the three new champions are really cool! Not only were we given three different archetypes, but there’s just so much flavour behind each design. Heck, they even gave us exactly what the community was asking for.. The Poro King! I really appreciate the fact they are willing to expand design space beyond just what exists in League of Legends. Unique champions are a great direction for LoR, and I hope they continue to create more!

New Mechanic: Ambush

Shadow in the Brush lor card

Ambush is a great new mechanic that adds a lot of new decisions and play patterns from both sides of the table. Should I set down this unit now? Would that prevent me from setting a more important unit later? Do I activate its Ambush before committing the attack in order to trigger the effect and/or threaten more damage? Or, should I send in the Shadow and force my opponent to choose their blockers wisely? Doing so could result in the opponent passing and taking the damage, making me miss out on extra damage or benefits.

On the flip side.. Can I risk attacking into the Shadow when they could win the exchange with Prowl? What if they flip into Blimp-Pack Poacher? Do I have a way to remove it to prevent the capture and/or get my unit back later? Would I lose the game to Avenging Vastaya? If there’s potential of that, do I have a way to remove the Shadow ahead of time, just in case?

These are only a few examples among many. As you can see, Ambush adds a whole new level of play that previously didn’t exist in LoR. This is fantastic and allows players more opportunities to showcase skill and outplay their opponent.

New Build-Around Cards

Age of Dragons lor card

One of the best ways to increase deck building variety is to introduce cards that offer a unique game plan that expands upon the existing card pool. The best examples from this expansion are Age of Dragons and Temple to True Ice. The former is a brand new win condition to an old fan favourite archetype, while the latter creates opportunities for underplayed units to potentially shine.

What’s great is that while these cards give us the chance to be creative now, they also have potential to scale in the future!

Power Level

A common concern about new releases in any card game is power creep. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it simply refers to when newer cards exceed the power level of older cards. When too far over the line, it can invalidate existing strategies and take away a lot of what makes games fun. However, if new cards are too weak, expansions feel lacklustre and boring to explore. It’s a difficult balance and an ongoing challenge for even the most experienced developers. I could never fully fault anyone for missing the mark, because all it takes is a couple of wrong numbers to throw things off.

With all that said, I’m actually pretty happy about the overall power we’ve received in Heart of the Huntress. All three new champions can do some powerful things, while not being overtly pushed above the rest. Just look at Glory in Navori. Samira was far above and beyond almost every champion in the history of Runeterra. Even post-nerf she was a key piece of the best deck in both Standard AND Eternal! Needless to say, as much as I love Samira, I’m glad the new champs aren’t completely breaking the game. Doing high powered things is a ton of fun, but not when it clearly outperforms every other existing archetype.

The Bad

There are two main aspects I take into account in order to consider an expansion successful. First off, it needs to create a splash in the meta while allowing new waves to flow and adapt for a while. Secondly, it should allow players to explore and compete with strategies that involve multiple new cards.

In all fairness, it’s a bit early to come to a consensus.. But as it currently stands, many of the new cards seem to have fallen by the wayside. I believe there are a few key reasons this is happening, so allow me to explain.

Narrow Champion Designs

Whenever a champ is released, we are given a package of support cards that coincide with the champion. This is perfectly normal. However, this can be a problem when the champion’s design falls around a niche strategy or mechanic. Each of the new champions have this issue, and it’s what I would call the Tahm Soraka problem. Now, Tahm Soraka are the pinnacle of this, being two champs released at the same time that essentially must go together, based on their regions’ card pools. Lurk suffered this same issue. These decks are so ingrained in their niche that they can’t function outside of it. The three new Heart of the Huntress champions may not exist to the same degree as its predecessors, but they aren’t far behind.

Nidalee lor card

Nidalee has the most potential. While the Ambush cards are somewhat limiting, Nidalee is playable regardless of the support cards. It’s possible to level up by simply playing units, and also has synergy with the older transform cards. Overall I’d say Nidalee is mildly limiting as transform has been nonexistent up until this point. Plus, without synergy points, it’s hard to choose Nidalee over more powerful and efficient options like Akshan or Varus.

Neeko lor card

Neeko is definitely one of the more flavourful champions we’ve received, but this whole subtype mechanic is incredibly underwhelming. Honestly, it just feels like a new flavour of Yordles or Elites. Play some units on-curve, take advantage of cost reduction when you can, then swing with a big buffed up board. Neeko actually does nothing at level one other than disguise itself as a manifested unit (which is often obvious). In order to have Neeko do anything, you need to attack with six different subtypes, and then what’s your reward? More stats. There’s nothing unique to explore aside from throwing together a silly tribal deck.. But we’re far from the point where Cats and Birds would be their own playable archetype.

The Poro King lor card

The Poro King is amazing and I have nothing negative to say about it. We’ve always wanted to jam every Poro into the same deck and now we can!

So now let’s get to the point.

Don’t get me wrong, all of these champs are awesome designs in their own rite. They offer unique gameplay that we can’t experience with other decks, and in the case of Lurk and Tahm Soraka, have become iconic archetypes for Runeterra. It’s great that they exist. So what’s the problem?

With the way that expansions are released, we get only a small amount of new cards per set. This is understandable, as it takes a lot of time to develop and balance new content. But here’s the thing.. When the majority of new cards exist only to serve their niche archetype, it leaves the players with little to explore. What’s available is fun, but there needs to be far more to experience. It’s hard to do that with these narrow champion designs.

If expansions launched with twice the amount of cards, this wouldn’t be an issue. But alas, that’s not the reality we live in. I hope the devs will consider this in the future, and at most have one champion with a narrow design per set.

Siren Song

Siren Song lor card

While I’m not one to cry for nerfs, I do honestly believe Siren Song is problematic for the game. Or at the very least, a detriment to this expansion. This card is crazy powerful, and puts other “everywhere” effects to shame. There’s a reason other similar effects have come with a higher cost or restriction. Having a permanent game rule change in your favour can lead to a massive advantage and snowball games.

Siren Song has escalated Husks to an absurd power level, further increasing uncontrollable variance due to a crazy resurgence of Husks. What makes this worse is that all three new champions are combat based. Each one wants to play for the board and overcome the enemy. While Siren Song is a great addition to the likes of Poros and is playable in other archetypes, none come close to the spammy nature of Husks. It’s just far too many stats with no work involved, and rolling the correct keyword at the right time often breaks the game.

I expect we’ll see a nerf or change to this card soon, because Siren Song has singlehandedly shut down every new champion. It’s unfortunate, as the other new cards aren’t strong enough to compete, and therefore end up being dormant on the sidelines.

What I’d Like to See in the Future

I don’t want to come off as all doom and gloom, but I believe in order for things to improve, we need to open up and talk about it. There’s still a lot to like about the expansion, and it’s possible we’ll see a greater impact in the near future. A balance patch could change a lot and bring more new cards into the spotlight. But let’s talk about the future.

More Flexible Champions

If you asked me what are some of my favourite champion designs, the first three that would come to mind are Akshan, Gwen, and Samira.

Akshan lor card

Akshan promotes using cards that self-target units. This is something that all regions can do to some extent, which opens up a ton of deck building potential. Players can use Akshan for early game value, or even build around his late game landmark reward. There’s a ton of options, and many feel worth exploring.

Gwen lor card

Gwen, and more specifically the Hallowed keyword, offer a huge power buff for ANY unit. Perhaps you want to buff up Fizz to make an elusive, near-uncounterable threat. Then there’s overwhelm. Those units love to hit hard, so why not let them grow even bigger! How can we abuse it even further.. Oh yes, with rallies. Why get just a single boost in power when you can attack twice and double the effect! Once again you can see, endless possibilities. This is fantastic design.

Samira lor card

Samira is certainly one of the strongest champs we’ve ever received, and while she’s fairly flexible currently, I want to focus more on her pre-nerf design. Having access to challenger on demand was really fun and opened a ton of cool play patterns. A favourite pet deck of mine was Samira Viego, utilizing the challenger with Encoaching Mists or The Undying. There were a ton of options.

Of course, Samira no longer has access to that, and it’s understandable as she’s still one of the best champs ever printed even post-nerf.. But you get the point. When champions are designed with a more generically useful mechanic in mind, we get to constantly experiment with a variety of different champions and regions. New mechanics are fun, but flexible design is what breeds long term creativity.

More Balanced Releases

I understand there can only be so many cards per set, and I know there’s no way we’re getting a new champion for each region. That’s fine. However, instead of distributing 90% of the cards to support the new champion and 10% region filler, I’d like to see every region get roughly the same amount of cards. Besides, if the new champions are universal enough, they shouldn’t need an entire package to go with them!

Let’s use Samira as an example again, except this time, focusing on the issues. Samira and her supporting cards were so absurdly powerful on release that they dominated the format. Fizz Samira is so strong that even after multiple nerfs, it still exists as one of the best decks in the format. Glory in Navori released Sett, Samira, and Jack. As such, the majority of support went to Ionia, Noxus, and Bilgewater. With Samira being so dominant and other regions lacking new cards, it leaves us in a similar place as we are now. Lack of viable options to explore.

It’s a different scenario, but ultimately feels the same as it limits our creativity. What would help a lot is splitting the card pool so that every region has something new to explore. Receiving only 2-3 new cards every few months is really underwhelming, and especially unfortunate for those who favour a specific region. Combine that with narrow champion designs and your favourite region gets nothing. I feel for newer players who have smaller collections.


At the end of the day, this is all just my opinion. However, I do believe there are others who share the same sentiment. Despite these challenges, Legends of Runeterra is a fantastic game and we’re still incredibly spoiled by the developers. They answer our questions and listen to feedback regularly, all while providing us the most generously monetized CCG of all time. I just want Runeterra to be the best game that it can be!

If this has helped spark some conversation and you want to voice your own thoughts, please feel free to tweet at me @Shugo_LoR!