New LoR Card Set: Maokai Revealed
Our series of first impressions of new Legends of Runeterra cards continues with the recent batch from Shadow Isles, including its champion Maokai. We’ve also covered Quinn, Sejuani, Swain, and Vi as well so be sure to check them out as well.
These first impressions on Maokai and the other revealed cards are from one of our resident Master-level team members, Prohibit, who hit the top 10 in NA.
Note: these thoughts and opinions are subject to change based on the rest of the cards that will be part of this set!
New keyword: Toss
Toss is the newest keyword mechanic to be revealed alongside Maokai.
It obliterates X non-champion cards from the bottom of your deck.
This mechanic won’t really make sense until you realize that it enables Maokai’s level up (which we’ll cover below).
To give you a hint though, it’s basically a separate win condition where you race to Toss enough cards in order to force your opponent into a four turn clock.
Maokai (Shadow Isles)
Maokai is a very interesting card. Its level 1 is a strong card without leveling up as being able to continually summon Challenger units to remove enemies is a great way to generate value.
It also is able to punish your opponents developing since you gain an extra free body if you respond with a unit of your own.
Leveling him up is a different matter entirely. Ephemeral, Spiders, and Toss cards are what you’ll want to include to allow you to flip Maokai reliably but it requires a steep deck building cost.
His effect does not win you the game on the spot so I expect that Maokai will be played competitively for his level 1 form.
It may be an interesting deck concept to flip Maokai if championless decks become more meta.
On its own, Sapling is like a very slow speed 2 damage removal spell. However, the main way you’ll be generating these are through Maokai.
I’m not sure how to rate this card but I can only see it played as a card slot in a very control oriented deck, and the Ephemeral keyword does offer some flexibility.
This card can converts 1/1 spiders, Saplings, and cards like Haunted Relic into 4/3s.
However, it’s slow and easy to remove at 3 health but the pay off is huge.
Unless you have ways to protect it or resummon it, I don’t see this being a build around since it’s so fragile.
Shadow Isles seems like it’s getting a lot of tools that can stall and slow the game down to allow Maokai to level up.
Thorny Toad can slow down aggro a lot. It blocks 1 health units like spiders and Legion Saboteurs before healing you for 2, all while increasing your Toss count.
Deadbloom Wanderer provides another stall tactic in the form of a Lifsteal follower.
At two Health, you won’t be able to get that much value of it but it can trade into higher cost 3 Health units.
Looks like Maokai will be paired with regions that offer follower buffs, like Freljord.
Sap Magic provides an AoE heal to allied units. I’m not a fan of this card.
It seems like it’s part of the stall + Toss package to all-in on a flipped Maokai win condition but it requires a lot of high health units to get value out of it as well.
Healing units is always worse than buffing their health because you can’t use it in reaction to removal spells unless your unit has already taken damage.
A lot of the new Maokai units have high health so maybe when combined with Freljord that has buffs and high unit health, you can get value out of Sap Magic.