New Cards and Archetypes LoR Needs (Theorycrafting)
Legends of Runeterra has been available for well over a year now and throughout its history, we’ve seen tons of unique archetypes and playstyles.
We’re partway into our third expansion and the cards now are stronger than ever before. In fact, some cards that were previously nerfed have been reverted to their original state.
With the overall increase in power, it’s possible we’ll see even more changes down the road. Despite all this, what’s something YOU would like to see in Runeterra’s future?
It’s Trevor “Shugo” Yung here. Grab your notebooks and put on your thinking caps. Today we’re going to get creative and theorize some new concepts and clever ways to support existing ones!
For a long time now, Runeterra’s metagame has prioritized playing for tempo, then closing out games with a combo finisher.
Aggressive decks try to deal enough early damage so they can end games with Decimate and Get Excited!.
Midrange decks, while more value-based, often utilize finishers like Atrocity and Captain Farron.
Control decks of the past were pretty diverse, but in today’s age, nothing can compare to the power of Matron-Watcher.
Of course, there are always exceptions. But generally speaking, combo finishers are a huge part of the game.
I’ll admit, I’m a huge fan of combos myself. However, due to their ever-present and difficulty to interact with nature, perhaps we can come up with some new tools for counterplay!
When we think of disruption, the first thing that probably comes to mind is counterspells. While Deny and Rite of Negation can stop a game-winning spell, they’re more often used to protect their own win condition.
Not only that but you’re restricted to playing Ionia or Shurima in order to have access to them.
However, there’s a more important point we need to consider.
Runeterra’s combos are powerful and proactive while available answers are reactive and situational. Denys, Freezes, and Silences all fill their niche in counterplay.
The tricky part lies in having the right one at the right time.
While this is overall healthy for the game, it does favor the combos. Having a combo finisher comes at almost no cost whereas situational removal will vary depending on your matchups.
One common means of counterplay in other card games comes in the form of hand disruption. Specifically, having ways to make your opponent discard their cards.
This can be a controversial mechanic as it’s not very fun to be on the receiving end of forced discard. However, it would give us the ability to preemptively stop or delay combos.
Doing this helps avoid the problem of situational counterplay and could balance out the edge towards combo finishers.
While we do have two “forced discard” spells in Hunt the Weak and Sleight of Hand, they’re both too situational to get the job done effectively.
More Support for Certain Archetypes & Mechanics
There are several mechanics in Runeterra that we don’t often get to experience.
A few of these have seen some success in the past but eventually went away due to their inherent flaws. Imagine how much variety there’d be with a little more support for these archetypes.
Let’s explore a few different mechanic’s struggles and theorize some ways to help get them on their feet!
Note: When evaluating my theoretical cards, focus on the concepts instead of the numbers.
Let’s face the facts, units that die after striking are at a significant disadvantage.
Those that can’t live after combat can’t stick around to block, which means we’re unable to contest the board.
They also die as the round ends which means they can realistically only be played every two rounds when it’s your turn to attack.
Ephemeral units are intended to be more powerful and are given the keyword as a means of balance. However, the additional stats aren’t good enough to justify their severe drawback.
- Shadow Isles
- 1-Cost Unit
- When you summon an Ephemeral ally, remove its Ephemeral until the start of the next round.
This concept helps temporarily remove Ephemeral, allowing us the ability to play units during defending rounds.
Darkwater Scourge becomes much better as you can summon it to block and survive for the following strike next round.
One of the classic mechanics during Beta, Hand Buff was once a real player.
Inspiring Mentor used to be the strongest 1-drop in the game when it also gave the target a +1 health buff.
Another key factor was that Elusives were the prime buff candidates, but alas several nerfs have generally put this archetype to rest.
Lastly, it can be tough to find the right target to invest in and even harder to have enough units in hand to capitalize on multi-buffs like Greenglade Elder.
- 2-Cost Unit
- Play: If you’ve granted stats to an ally this game, create 2 Navori Brigands in hand.
Here we add a cheap way to fill our hand with buff targets while having a clause that prevents other decks from gaining easy access to discard fodder or chump blockers.
This card keeps our hand size healthy so our multi-buffs can apply to more units.
There’s not much wrong here. Predict is a pretty handy supporting mechanic that helps smooth out your draws. However, one minor flaw is that it works poorly with itself.
If you’ve already chosen the desired card, it’s pretty wasteful to Predict again that same round unless there’s a more important card you need to find.
While you could obviously just save your Predicts for the following turns, certain hand states can be awkward if you drew them in multiples.
- 2-Cost Spell
- Costs 2 less if you’ve Predicted this round. Draw a card, then Predict.
I may be approaching broken combo territory with this one… But you get the idea. Predict feels bad when all you wanna do is draw the card, but you can’t.
The choice of Focus speed at least helps limit this card’s interactive potential.
Once a strong mechanic of the past, the pirates have unfortunately struggled to pillage any treasure. Nerfs to Make it Rain, Yordle Grifter, and Riptide Rex were a big hit to its viability.
Both Bilgewater and Freljord have some powerful Plunder cards. The issue is both regions struggle to find consistent ways to trigger it. This forces us to separate the two, giving us fewer overall Plunder cards, while also relying on another region’s support to enable it.
- 3-Cost Unit
- Plunder: Create 2 Warning Shots in hand.
Since Petty Officer was nerfed, Bilgewater lacks reliable 3-drops outside of Miss Fortune. This card would help fill out the curve while providing additional fuel for more Plunder activations.
In each game, you’ll spend time trading off units or removing them with spells and abilities.
This natural fact makes the Support archetype have a real difficult time establishing anything consistently. The mechanic itself is great!
Just look at cards like Shen, Soraka, Mentor of the Stones, and Kato the Arm.
These are all-powerful in their own right. However, jam every Support card together, and things tend to fall apart.
- 1-Cost Unit
- When I’m supported, give my supported ally Barrier this round.
A simple attempt at providing more reliable Support triggers. Sometimes attacking with a Support comes at the cost of the Support unit itself. This should help avoid that.
Well, there we have it. It’s fun to analyze the mechanics and theorize their true potential.
As you can see, a few new cards could be all we need to fix any previous issues. Card games are all about discovery and as new expansions are released, there’s always a chance for old relics to move into the spotlight!
Shugo’s Productivity Thought of the Day
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is to write down everything. It doesn’t even matter how important it is.
If a thought comes to mind that’s even remotely relevant to you, write it down.
It’s easier to delete it later than waste time trying to remember what it was.
Or even worse… Forgetting it all together.