The Machine Herald: Path of Champions Guide
Hey all, it’s Trevor “Shugo” Yung, and today we’re nearing the end of our journey.
It’s been a long time coming, but we’re finally here.
The last adventure awaits us. Let’s do this!
For articles on how to beat other runs, check out our other Path of Champions guides.
Defeating Nautilus has brought us up to Rank 11. Our Common relic slot has been upgraded to allow Rare relics. However, we’ll be sticking with the usual Stormrazer (Quick Attack) to keep Vi as our one card killing machine!
Coincidentally, we got the same starting random item as last time. Mystic Shot has the Elixir of Skill to let us draw a card when we cast it.
Before we continue, let’s revisit the usual disclaimers.
Your experience will vary depending on your champion, but this should serve as a reasonable baseline to compare to.
When it comes to PoC, the choices and possibilities are endless. One run can be completely different from the next, and your experience will differ from mine.
On theme with Viktor, this adventure’s global power can really shake things up in a dangerous way. Every single enemy summoned unit will be packing an extra keyword, and you’ll never know what it could be. Be prepared to be unprepared. A timely SpellShield, Elusive, Overwhelm, or Fearsome could spell disaster!
Thankfully, a lot of these will be useless. Regeneration or Overwhelm on a 1|1 isn’t going to do much. While keywords like Fated and Augment can scale, the units will typically trade or be removed before they’re ever relevant.
Overall, this is generally a lot easier than the perma-Tough from the previous adventure. While the potential ceiling is high, the floor is extremely low. Just be careful not to get blown out by any crazy RNG!
- The Foe’s Sand Soldiers everywhere have +2|+0.
Sand Soldiers are a menacing force in combination with a static attack buff and random keywords. These come down early and hit hard, wide, and fast! It can be extremely dangerous if they happen to roll Elusive, Overwhelm, or Fearsome. It’s not easy to outpace them on board, making it almost inevitable that some will get through.
Play cautiously with your Nexus health in the encounters leading up to Azir. You’ll want to be as healthy as possible in order to minimize the risk of losing to RNG. A couple keyword high-rolls can quickly spell doom. Ensure you’ve got enough early game units to hold off the initial aggression. Powers that provide stat buffs early are a great pickup if available.
- The Foe’s allies have +1|+1 for each keyword.
With Viktor’s passive and PnZ’s Augment capabilities, all enemy units can grow to become tremendous threats. While these normally aren’t that threatening in the context of a normal game, tack on a permanent Elusive or Overwhelm buff and suddenly you’re almost dead in just a few turns!
It takes a few turns for Viktor to really get going, but once he does, things escalate fast! Either build aggressive enough that you can race him down quickly, or have an efficient way to handle big threats in the mid game. If aggro is the plan, do be careful. All it takes is an unlucky Lifesteal roll and you’ll be in trouble.
Note: There’s more detailed info on the bosses as we approach them.
Starting off we’ve got a couple of reasonable options. Gearing Up is a way to guarantee we have units on board early to either pressure or block with. Poro Cannon synergizes well with Augment and would let us potentially have a solid aggressive opener.
Then there’s Grit. This power actually fixes our bad cards and turns them into good ones. Most notably, Boomcrew Rookie attacks as a 3|3, and Golden Crushbot attacks as a 5|5! Allowing Astute Academic to attack as a 2|2 on round one is also pretty nice.
Grit’s definitely the choice. It’s effectively like attaching an item to all of our units and will help give us a solid stat lead on board.
- Round Start: The Foe creates a Plaza Guardian in hand if it doesn’t already have one.
For a first encounter, Plaza Guardian can really pack a punch. Its Round Start ability means the deck never runs out of steam while doubling as free discard fodder for cards like Zaunite Urchin and Poro Cannon.
While Plaza Guardian is generally too slow to see regular play, the inclusion of the PoC exclusive Involuntary Testing gives the deck a powerful and consistent tool.
- 1 Mana PnZ Slow Spell
- Create in hand 2 copies of a random 1 cost card from your deck.
There’s of course the inclusion of the typical PnZ removal suite; Mystic Shot, Get Excited, and Thermogenic Beam. This makes it challenging to race before Plaza Guardians come down.
You’ll likely need to beat at least 2-3 Plaza Guardians, and that can be difficult with a starting deck. Don’t forget, these bots also come with a random keyword on top of their 6|6 Quick Attack stats! Mulligan for your champion and let your starting relic(s) and power(s) carry you.
With options like these, the choice is pretty clear. Wraithcaller makes no sense, and It That Stares is just too slow. Vi’s starting deck does have a bit of synergy with Puffcap Peddler, so not a horrible pick.
None of these are great. Vi takes up our 5-drop slot, making Quinn and Thresh awkward inclusions. Both packages require better synergy in order to reasonably function, and Vi’s deck just doesn’t support it. Lucian isn’t amazing, but it does let us lean towards an aggressive game plan. We can also take advantage of the AI’s inability to play around with Lucian’s level-up.
The first crossroads of this adventure will determine our next encounter. Choosing Golden Crushbot will lead you to Vekauran Vagabond while Profit Seekers will lead to Patched Porobot. One path levels the playing field while the other creates a game of chance. Take the time to evaluate carefully before you proceed!
- ALL units have “When I’m summoned, set my stats to 2|5.”
Golden Crushbot can be incredibly annoying. Adjusting every unit to 2|5 makes it difficult to win through combat. Don’t forget, the enemy’s 2|5’s will have keywords. Intrepid Mariner and Sumpsnipe Scavenger will make their units Elusive so they can get through to your Nexus while you’re stuck behind the 2|5 wall. Fearsome is an incredibly annoying keyword when all you have are 2|5’s.
You’ll want to either have your own evasive keywords, or a way to break the stat parity. If not, just make sure you can outvalue them in the end. Overall, this encounter is more annoying than it is dangerous.
- Round Start: The Foe has a 50% chance to create a Lucky Find in hand. The Player has a 25% chance.
Welcome to RNG Fest where the odds are never in your favor. Each round there’s a chance of generating Lucky Finds. While one buff isn’t usually the end of the world, paired with Viktor’s global passive and a ton of Vulnerable grants, it can do some serious damage.
Rock Hopper will set the traps and lay the groundwork for the Shuriman bunch. But don’t think the coast is clear just because there are no Roiling Sands. Exhaust can be a blowout if you’re not ready for it.
Ruinous Path, Treasure Seeker, and Waking Sands make this somewhat of a Burn deck. Between all the Vulnerable grants and random keywords, Profit Seekers can apply a lot of pressure. Beyond that, the deck also has some midrange power with units like Callous Bonecrusher and Vekauran Bruiser. Watch out for Bloody Business in the mid game.
Having good spells is a big advantage in this encounter, as Vulnerable + random keywords make blocking rather difficult. Keep a couple of fodder units in hand for when you need to pop Roiling Sands.
Grit makes the Golden Crushbot encounter a complete joke. Talk about a good way to break parity. All my units are immediately 5|5’s? Yes, please.
I really didn’t want any more 3-drops, but Loyal Badgerbear with the Philosopher’s Stone is good enough to allow me to save my rerolls. Hexcore Foundry is hilarious, but I really can’t afford to take up extra board space against all the wide aggression. Not enough discard synergies to warrant Survival Skills.
At this point, I’m mildly concerned about our late-game potential. Picking up Lucian’s package has slanted our deck towards aggression, but it’s not quite strong enough to push through on its own. While I typically prefer to load up items on lower-costed champions, I think it’s important to pick up another copy of Vi. Quickstrike Blade is awesome with her huge attack and Stormrazer. We can also flip her with her free attack, then swing in again!
- Grant a random keyword to the first unit the Foe summons each round.
Keywords galore! This falls in line with Profit Seekers by continuing the RNG train. Most of the cards are pretty mediocre in isolation but get out of hand quickly when certain keywords are combined.
It’s important to trade-off and keep their board to a minimum. Leaving any units onboard opens up the possibility for a crazy Mechanized Mimic attack. You never know what keywords will be rolled, and it’s especially dangerous when there are already multiple keywords on the board.
Their removal is pretty limited with Statikk Shock being the only real interactive spell. Although Defective Swapbot and Iterative Improvement can function as removal depending on the board state. Lastly, don’t forget they could always roll Challenger!
- Game start: The Foe summons a Warlord’s Palace. When its Warlord’s Palace finished its countdown, steal a mana gem from the Player and summon a Warlord’s Palace.
This encounter uses some pretty unique mechanics that we don’t typically see. Most notably, the use of Unworthy and Rite of Dominance. Both of these spells can destroy the user’s mana gems, but the AI doesn’t care because it’ll just steal our gems instead!
Cool mechanics aside, this is honestly one of the easier encounters. The deck’s full of countdown reducers aimed to accelerate the Warlord’s Palace over and over.
But even if they steal your mana gems, you’ll still get them back. The only thing you’ll face on the other side is a bunch of essentially vanilla followers. So long as you don’t get high-rolled by keywords, you should be safe.
We’re forced into Vekauran Vagabond thanks to the previous encounter. It’ll be a nice safe transition towards the Event node on our way to Azir!
Our battle rewards have been pretty lackluster thus far. Two of these are mediocre early drops, and our deck’s already full of them. Furious Faefolk isn’t fantastic but does have some cute potential since it’s packing its own Quickstrike Blade. That’s some good synergy with its Impact 4, which should almost always be active by round seven thanks to Vi’s starting power.
We’re very fortunate to be able to pick up an additional passive power by this point, and Fixer Upper is a fantastic choice. This will give us the upper hand right from the start and allow us to block easily without taking permanent damage to our units.
We’ve maintained a healthy Nexus life total thus far, so I’m happy to be able to cut a card. I’m happy to drop the always mediocre Amateur Aeronaut and lessen our 3-drop count.
- The Foe’s Sand Soldiers everywhere have +2|+0.
The Azir encounter is a mixed bag of aggressive nonsense and unplayable trash, or so you’d think. The multitude of spells that summon Sand Soldiers has all been historically bad. But when every single Sand Soldier is +2 power stronger, they can push obscene amounts of damage.
The biggest challenge with Azir is the sheer volume of units that are summoned. With the Emperor’s Dais, Sandcrafter, and Azir himself, the board gets flooded at every turn. More units mean more random keyword rolls. You’re gonna have to cross your fingers sometimes.
During the mid game, Inspiring Marshall and Voice of the Risen buff the Sand Soldiers to even greater levels. It’s important to establish control of the board because even when their board is empty, it could be filled fast with the likes of Arise or Emperor’s Divide. Arise in particular can come at burst speed, so watch out!
Aim to get an early lead on the board. While Azir comes down as a 3|5, the deck lacks 1-2 drops outside of Dunekeeper and Emperor’s Dais. Use this as your window to get ahead before the Sand Soldiers come swarming in.
Yuck. Gallant Rider is underwhelming and Buried In Ice is too slow. I guess we’re stacking up with even more 1-drops. Could be worse.
None of these powers really do a lot. Counterfeit Production is generally useless outside of very specific spell combos. Enfeebling Strike also needs the right support to be worth running. While Sticky Fingers could give us some card advantage, I think now’s a good time to reroll for something better.
Rush Them Down does fit our aggressive theme, but it’s a pretty weak power overall. Share The Bounty has a high ceiling, but our deck sadly doesn’t support it. Enfeebling Strike again? Let’s try once more.
I guess we’re just destined for duplicate powers. Hard pass on Counterfeit Production. I’m still not big into Gearing Up. Quick Draw does work well with a bunch of 1-drops and allows us to occasionally play cards earlier than usual, or make additional plays. Bonus synergy with all our card draw items.
In this adventure, we actually have the option to skip right through to Viktor. However, this comes with a greater challenge. Taking on Foundry. Those who have played against the original Foundry encounter from past Labs know just how tough it can be. Choosing this path will award yet another power, so it can certainly be worth it.
Additionally, you will still have the option to continue along the east path to take on one more encounter and stockpile rewards before Viktor.
- Game Start: The Foe summons a Hexcore Foundry. Its cards cost 1 less.
Foundry is essentially just a big pile of PnZ cards. No card is exceptional, but when they draw two cards per turn and every card costs 1 less, it becomes a lot to keep up with. You’re inevitably going to take some damage between all of the puffcaps, so if you’re going for S Rank Health, you may wanna skip this encounter.
Death Ray is an annoying piece of removal that comes back to haunt you again later. Drawing two cards per turn removes its inconsistencies, and the cost reduction makes it very efficient. Of course, we also have the standard Mystic Shot and Get Excited. Then there’s Hextech Transmogulator as hard removal, but only when the AI figures out how to use it.
The original Foundry was mostly just a nuisance. While that’s still true to an extent, the addition of random keywords puts this encounter over the top. The constant swarm of cheap units, removal, and puffcaps will peck away at your Nexus until you can finally push through to the end. It may not be the most challenging to defeat, but if you take too long, your Nexus will pay for it.
- When the Foe summons a Grumpy Rockbear, grant it Overwhelm and +2|+2, then summon a Hibernating Rockbear.
Landmarks are notoriously slow and clunky. The tempo lost is hard to make up, even with a few extra stats. But what about when they gain extra stats PLUS Overwhelm? Well, it starts to get a little crazy.
You’ve got a few turns to establish some pressure before the tide turns. Once the first landmark pops, out comes the next one. And those Grumpy Rockbears are angry… 7|6 Overwhelm is no joke, and as always, they’ll come out with an additional keyword. The deck’s full of countdown reducers, so don’t be fooled and think you’ve got an extra turn or two.
Aside from creating giant bears, the deck doesn’t really do much else. Removal isn’t a concern, so any value engines are free to put in work, barring any random Challenger rolls. Get your champions out and let them get the job done!
In the interest of more power, I’ve opted for the Foundry encounter. However, I’ll still be taking a detour before meeting up with Viktor.
Really? Three duplicate powers again? Kidding, I’ll happily take another Fixer Upper! Doubling up on this will give us a massive advantage early on. I’m feeling very comfortable now.
With two Fixer Uppers we really want to have a unit on turn one. I’m happy to upgrade Astute Academic here. Nab gives us some extra value while also triggering a draw for a +1 power buff. Also works great with Quick Draw.
- Round Start: Summon a Turret.
Another familiar encounter from the old Labs, Guard Bots is the true race against time. The Round Start ability will continue to summon a turret every single round. Each time it scales up until eventually reaching an endless stream of 8|8’s. We can’t allow that to happen.
The deck itself is pretty underwhelming. Most of the units don’t really do anything, and there aren’t many copies of spells. Trueshot Barrage is one to look out for as it can decimate certain board states. Outside of that, it’s really just about pushing through before the bots start to take over. This is easier said than done as there’s at least one guaranteed summon every round, on top of any units from hand. Then add random keywords to the mix!
Either be aggressive enough to beat down the bots fast, or make sure you’ve got a solidified win condition for the late game. A poor draw could slow you down long enough to where the bots take over, and bad luck with keywords will only make it worse. Have a solid plan, or perhaps look to challenge the other encounter.
- When the Player summons an ally, give it -2|-0 this round.
This passive is a rough one. Every time you summon a unit its attack gets debuffed, making it extremely tough to effectively deploy anything. More often than not, your units won’t be attacking the turn they come down. On defense, it’s even worse. Wanted to block and trade? Nope, too weak for that.
The deck is full of Vulnerable effects, well beyond even the earlier encounters. On top of Exhaust, they’ve got Ruthless Predator and multiple Vulnerable-granting units. Be careful not to play a unit on their turn if they have mana open. There’s a very high chance your -2 power unit will become Vulnerable and die immediately. Patience is important in this encounter. You’ll likely have to take a hit or two in order to start combating the board.
Alongside Vulnerable, there’s a whole bunch of Fearsomes and Overwhelms. Raz Bloodmane makes blocking brutal while Ruin Runner and Thrumming Swarm crash in hard.
Raz Bloodmane can be a brutal encounter. Aggressive decks will pale to the stat debuff. The best bet is to take advantage of any busted cards you’ve managed to acquire. If your items, relics, and powers make your units’ stats way above the curve, you’ll be set.
Our deck is extremely aggressive at this point so I’m confident we can push past the Guard Bots before it’s too late. Plus, there’s an Epic Spell Chest that awaits us!
Rally Banner is pretty solid on Astute Academic once you factor in everything else. That may be just what we need to close out the game even faster!
Two of these are completely useless, but the Riposte is actually quite nice. I’m always an advocate of having healing cards in PoC, but even without, it’ll help us potentially trade up against the likes of Viktor.
Rest well friend, you did well this time. You may be first on the chopping block every other adventure, but you really showed up in the end. Take care Golden Crushbot.
- The Foe’s allies have +1|+1 for each keyword.
This is it, the final encounter.
Starting things off there’s Armed Gearhead and Ballistic Bot, already here to strike. Armed Gearhead has a Pickaxe for an additional +2|+0, and that’s on top of the +3|+3 stats and keywords! Yep, it’s a one-mana 6|4 with Augment, Quick Attack, and a random keyword. That’s insane! Ballistic Bot comes down as a 3|5 which is troublesome enough already.
Fortunately, there aren’t a ton of these in the deck, so if you’re lucky you may not encounter them early on. A good chunk of the deck doesn’t get going until turn three. Assembly Bot and Nyandroid are slow but scale quickly. Calculated Creations will generate threats but at the cost of time.
Viktor always comes down on four and naturally has Overwhelm from the Greatclub. This removes chump blocking from the equation and makes Viktor an absolute kill-on-sight. Many of his units feel this way in general. There’s just so much Quick Attack and Elusive that makes it really difficult to block, and that’s if you can even match the insane stats.
Mechanized Mimic makes another appearance but is far more dangerous than before. Alongside Viktor, the pair can easily one-shot the player. Prepare your hard removal because they’ve gotta go.
It’s important to have a clear win condition going into this fight. Even if it feels like you’ve stabilized, RNG is just waiting around the corner. Trail of Evidence and Flash of Brilliance could spark some wild outcomes. Iterative Improvement can even use your own cards against you.
Embrace the unexpected and do your best to not let things get carried away. If you’ve gotta choose between a safe play and a greedy play, you may wanna lean on the safe side. Or don’t listen to me and roll the dice, it’s up to you!
That’s it, we’ve completed the Path of Champions! In case you were curious, I can now confirm the entire run was finished on the first attempt. There were definitely some close calls, but we did it. Vi’s adventure has come to a close.
I hope you enjoyed this series. That about wraps up my PoC content for now, but don’t worry, an even greater adventure is near.. See you all for PoC 2.0!
Shugo’s Productivity Thought of the Day
How we frame something in our mind can greatly influence the experience. If our initial thoughts are negative, we’ve already clouded the picture in front of us.
Take a moment to clear your intentions. There may still be a few clouds, but choosing to look past them will give you a better view.
If you enjoyed this guide, check out our past and future Path of Champions guides.