The Master of Shadows Path of Champions Guide
Hey all, it’s Trevor “Shugo” Yung, and today we’re making our way back through Ionia to continue our Path of Champions adventure!
We’ll have to be more cautious this time as fierce enemies await us beyond the shadows. But I’m up for the challenge!
Our last adventure brought Vi to Reputation Rank 7. With this, we’ve finally unlocked the ability to cut cards at the Healer. This will really help weed out the cards we’ve been forced into playing. I’m lookin’ at you Golden Crushbot!
We’ll continue to rock out Vi with the Stormrazer. Challenger + Quick Attack turns Vi into a killing machine! As for our random starting item, “Gotcha!” was given the Oracle Lens to make it Predict on cast. Not too shabby.
Before we continue, let’s revisit a couple of 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.
The Master of Shadows makes every attacking enemy gain +1|+0 for the round. This global power can be devastating if you’re not prepared. Not only will the Nexus damage add up quickly, but it’ll force you to block when you otherwise wouldn’t want to. You’ll need to make multiple trades in the early game if you want to avoid taking any damage.
Ionia as a region is known for its Elusives, and since every one of them gets buffed upon attacking, they’re even more threatening than normal. Keep this in mind during your draft and prioritize cheap answers for Elusives. If possible, find your own Elusives or an item that grants it.
- When one of the Foe’s allies challenges an enemy, give the ally Tough this round.
Fiora redefines what it means to win a game. In this encounter, we’ll need to manage both our Nexus health and Fiora’s kill count. And don’t think you can get away with an easy trade, because this Fiora is a 5|4 and gains Tough on the attack!
Make sure you have some reasonable forms of interaction. Anything that can stop or slow down Fiora’s attacks such as stuns or recalls works great. Prioritize midrange units with good stats over weak 1-2 drops.
- Round End: If the Player’s Nexus took damage this round, the Foe’s strongest ally strikes it.
Block everything. Seriously, don’t get hit. Zed’s passive power will chunk through a ton of damage and put you on an insanely fast clock. However, holding off an army of Elusives is no easy feat. And once round five hits, you’ll be face to face with a 7|6 Zed!
Pings and cheap chump blockers are your friend. Many of the early Elusives die to a single point of damage. Zed forces through an absurd amount of damage on his own, so you’ll want units that can block the hit and not cost you your board.
Note: There’s more detailed info on the bosses as we approach them.
Our three starting powers aren’t too exciting. Raiding Party can be strong on offense, but since we’ll be forced to block more, won’t proc as much as we’d want it to. Seat of Power is another aggressive power. Not only do the Sand Soldiers not help against Zed, but they actually feed Fiora. Can’t have that. While there are no real synergy points with Reunited, it’s a solid overall buff that will improve our match against Fiora by neutralizing the Tough stats.
- Round Start: Create a Return in the Foe’s hand. Round End: Recall the Foe’s weakest ally.
We’re long past the days of easy first encounters. Shadow Assassin’s ability to create Returns is very powerful both on offense and defense. When we’re defending, we often have to make the choice either to block and trade or let damage through in order to capitalize on the recall. Either we negate the drawback of their power, or we take damage to weaken us for further encounters. Tough choice.
When we’re attacking, it’s important to remember they can defend at burst speed with Return. This makes it hard to open attack as there’s almost always a unit that can be summoned in response. Due to this, it’s often best to let them cast Return first. If attacking would mean your unit trades with theirs, just pass and let it be recalled instead. Only attack when you’ve got the upper hand.
Patience is key. Develop your board until you can overcome theirs. Take advantage of the forced recalls to punish them.
Astute Academic is fine, but too low impact to pick up additional copies. Ferros Financier is a solid value card that gives us some answers for the late game. I’m usually all for this, but 6+ is expensive and with this adventure, we’re on a fast clock.
There just may not be an appropriate amount of time. Teemo isn’t fantastic on his own but has extremely high potential to become a powerhouse with some items. Remember our run with Zoe against Lulu?
Oh man, so I guess we’re a trap deck now!? We just picked up Teemo and already had Chump Whump, making the Caitlyn package an excellent synergy pick this early on. Sting Officer gives us another Elusive to block with. The Fizz bunch bodes poorly against Fiora while Death Mark and Shadow Fiend are just plain awful. Easy choice.
The Long Path
Choosing Ren Shadowblade will lead you to an additional encounter and lock you into the lower path. If you’re going for S Rank Speed this will certainly take more time, and you’re also at greater risk of being weakened before Fiora. However, more encounters means more rewards! I’d suggest evaluating the forced encounters on this route before you decide.
- Round Start: Create a Fleeting Death Mark in ALL players’ hands.
Ren Shadowblade is just straight-up damage. They’ll be jamming Shadow Fiends, Shadow Apprentices, and Evershade Stalkers to relentlessly bash into your Nexus. These aren’t fun units to block if you can’t chump the Ephemerals.
The fleeting Death Marks can be annoying if the game prolongs. This forces you to hold up three mana in order to counteract the enemy’s Death Mark.
If you lack a reliable early game, it may be best to skip this encounter to avoid taking too much damage. While it’s certainly not a challenge to defeat, it can leave you pretty beat up.
- Round End: If one of the Foe’s Elite allies died this round, grant its weakest ally +1|+1.
Battlesmith is about as straightforward as it gets. It’s basic Demacia Elites with next to no interaction aside from Challengers and Cataclysm. So long as you can at least trade evenly there’s very little to fear. The +1|+1 buff is fairly minimal unless you let things get out of hand, but often enough you’ll leave the board empty so that there’s no actual target.
I chose Battlesmith in order to open the Champion Item Chest that follows. This gives me a chance to potentially make Teemo a powerful threat.
Cursed Symbol makes Stony Suppressor worthless, especially when we need defense. Shark Trainer is far too slow to have an impact when Zed comes out by turn five. Chempunk Pickpocket is actually a two-mana 4|4 thanks to Reunited. Can’t complain, this is a solid addition.
Focusing Crystal? Perfect! It was excellent on Zoe and could make Teemo insane! The other two items are okay but have a much lower ceiling for power. While we’re currently limited to a few spells like Poro Cannon, Mystic Shot, and generated Mushroom Clouds, it doesn’t take much to draft more. I’ll take temporarily mediocre in exchange for busted future potential.
- When a unit dies, grant a random unit in that players’ hand +1|+1.
Note: This is a forced encounter if you chose Ren Shadowblade.
Choosing Ren Shadowblade earlier will lead you towards this bonus encounter. Silent Shadowseer is a familiar face from our previous adventure, and follows the same sort of game plan as Ren. The focus being Ephemeral damage.
Don’t forget, Silent Shadowseer’s passive ability builds up a giant Horns of the Dragon. And where there’s Horns of the Dragon, there’s Dawn and Dusk.
Again, not a particularly challenging encounter. But you may struggle and take some damage if you can’t answer the onslaught of Elusives and Ephemerals.
- Round Start: Stun the player’s weakest unit.
Note: This is a forced encounter if you chose Ren Shadowblade, or one of two choices if you chose Battlesmith.
This encounter just won’t go away. Fae Bladetwirler makes an appearance yet again for the third time. We should be well versed in how to handle this encounter by now, but here’s a brief refresher.
Your weakest unit will be perma-stunned, so go wide and have enough available blockers. Watch out for additional stuns and recalls that would leave your Nexus wide open.
- When the Foe gets the attack token, it summons a Fleetfeather Tracker.
Note: This is an optional encounter along the Battlesmith path.
Swiftwing Flight is another midrange Demacia encounter, except this one is more slanted towards aggressive Challengers. Every attacking round gives them a Fleetfeather Tracker which can make it difficult to control the board. With Scout triggers, it’s possible to summon even more.
Thankfully the AI doesn’t utilize Scout attacks properly, so unless it’s their only option they’ll likely attack with everything instead. Just make sure to always account for the extra +1|+0 buff as it’s particularly relevant with Challengers.
The Epic node above leads to Poros while the Rare node is an Item Chest. I’d rather grab an item, so Fae Bladetwirler is the choice.
All three of these are pretty useless. Twisted Catalyzer is effectively vanilla, although it does heal two. Used Cask Salesman may be good at chump blocking, but only against ground units. It won’t help against the Elusives, and the Caustic Casks force me to take damage. Greathorn Companion is passable, and at least has Fearsome to make it a bit better. We’ve got plenty of early-game already, so this adds a bit more for the mid-game.
Despite some minor synergy with Flashbomb Traps or additional Mushroom Clouds, none of these are remotely desirable. I think it’s time to use one of our rerolls.
Start of the game, draw Gotcha.. No thanks! For some reason, the game keeps offering us more Astute Academics.. Not taking those either. Amateur Aeronaut really isn’t great, but the Shadow Totem actually gives us some nice utility. Not only will it provide two blockers in one action, but they’re both Elusives. Very well suited for this adventure.
We’re finally given the chance to cut cards at the Healer, except none of these are actually worth cutting. While Veteran Investigator can be undesirable at times, it’s an excellent card in our trap-built deck. Poro Cannon and Mystic Shot are both staples. Pass.
- When one of the Foe’s allies challenges an enemy, give the ally Tough this round.
Fiora’s passive power can be brutal. You’ll be facing down Tough Challengers such as Laurent Protege and Screeching Dragon, plus any others that have been granted Challenger via Confront. Don’t forget Fiora herself, which is buffed up to a 5|4 and guaranteed ready for turn three.
What’s tricky is the need to contest the board of followers, while not falling victim to Fiora. Every attack from the enemy is effectively +1|+1* (Tough) to the board from both passive powers. Your best bet is to match stats the best you can and use spells to supplement.
The buffs from War Chefs, Laurent Bladekeeper, and Vanguard Bannerman can make it difficult to trade evenly. But the good news is Fiora lacks sustainability for the late game. So as long as you can refill the board, you’ll eventually be able to even things out.
Make sure you play your units with purpose. Anyone who’s played against Fiora back in the day should know the importance of NOT summoning units. Always be aware of the Fiora win condition and plan accordingly. Use spells to buy time when needed.
Fiora lacks overall interaction, so thankfully we don’t need to be worried about the likes of Single Combat or Concerted Strike. However, Cataclysm is still a way for Fiora to strike an additional time. As far as protection, her only reactive response is her champion spell.
Be careful with damage-based removal. It can be important to cast removal preemptively to prevent a Bladekeeper or Bannerman buff. Damage spells are also weakened against Tough, so you may need to cast prior to combat.
Two clunky cards and an efficient cheap spell. Purpleberry Shake offers reasonable support for our spell-powered Teemo and also summons a unit at burst speed. Looks good!
As fun as the Epic power can be, we have no support for it whatsoever. Grit gives a mild buff to a few of our units but is ultimately a waste with Reunited. Bouncing Blades however is an excellent option. There are a ton of targets we can ping down, and this guarantees a spell for Teemo every single turn!
- Round Start: Give ALL players’ Strongest unit Challenger and ALL players’ Weakest unit Elusive this round.
The Yusari encounter is true to itself. Just like the card, it gives the combination of Challenger and Elusive. A very strange mix. Each round you’ll have to account for which units receive each temporary keyword. This can really throw a wrench into your plans and make things awkward without proper sequencing.
You’re unlikely to get as much benefit from the Elusive buff since the enemy deck is full of other Elusives. Challengers from the enemy side can be dangerous by removing your Elusive blocker to let their attacks strike through, and they’re packing Sonic Wave for even more pull and punch. Additionally, watch out for Young Witch giving Quick Attack to a Challenger.
The majority of these units have poor stats, so if you can effectively manage the keywords you’ll make quick work of the enemy.
- Once the Foe has cast a 6+ cost spell this game, its spells cost 2 less.
Mageseeker Inciter starts off slow until it can build up to its 6+ cost spell. It’s very easy to take advantage of this early on, as all of these units are subpar at best. Vanguard Sergeant is the only unit with good stats, but do note the Mageseeker Persuaders come down with a Barrier.
There’s not much to look out for unless the game goes on long. If that’s the case, be sure you can overpower the Remembrances, Detains, and For Demacias. Their grand trick is a cute Redoubled Valor that casts itself twice. That’s one heck of a unit if gone unanswered, but let’s be honest, it’ll be over long before that.
I always follow the reward I desire, and behind the Mageseeker is another power.
If I could, I’d happily skip all three of these. I have enough created cards for Tenor of Terror to be enabled, but there are many other cards I’d rather play on turn four. Hextech Anomaly is a complete meme. I guess I’ll take The Wings and the Wave. At least it gives us two chump blockers for one mana. That could be of some use.
Dragon’s Rage is useless when you’re unable to block and survive, and that’s often the case in this adventure. The same applies to Endurance. Wild Inspiration is actually better than it looks. Not only does it make our Daring Poros and Mushroom Clouds free, but it also applies to our fleeting Blade’s Edges!
We’ve found an incredible synergy piece. Messenger’s Sigil is typically a bad card, but the ability to cycle itself, buff Teemo, and create five one-mana dogs in our deck is excellent. That’s right, more cards that benefit from Wild Inspiration. I’ll grab three copies and a reroll token for the road.
- Round Start: Create an exact Fleeting copy of the least expensive unit in all players’ hands.
Zephyr Sage is a continuous train of nonsense. Inspiring Mentors, Greenglade Elders, and Navori Highwayman clog up the board. With its power, it’ll never run out of steam throughout the entire game. In time the buffs will start to stack up and make larger units, but none are threatening on their own.
Simply establish a board and take over from the start. It’s easy to get the ball rolling and push through before they actually do anything. It helps to hold a 1-drop in hand to prevent copies of Navori Highwayman. This way there’ll be far fewer chump blockers in your way.
Cithria of Cloudfield: If the Foe’s weakest ally survived damage this round, transform it into the next Strongest Cithria.
This is a unique encounter compared to many others. With Cithria’s power, we’re actually incentivized to avoid blocking, unless we can kill her guaranteed. If you see the enemy make a questionable attack, be aware of the potential Chain Vest or Prismatic Barrier.
Outside of attacking and blocking, Single Combat can be used to force Cithria to take and survive damage. Regardless, you’ll either need Elusives to attack over her or answers to deny the transform.
This is a fun one, but I’d advise against it if you lack good interaction.
I took the top route towards Zephyr Sage for the Champion Item Chest. Additionally, I can take advantage of the created units thanks to Wild Inspiration.
Okay, seriously, enough with the Astute Academics. Farsight Alteration makes Messenger’s Sigil a great choice. It’s always a perk having access to an additional starting card in hand, provided that we don’t draw it.
Quickstrike Blade is tempting, but it could actually make Teemo unplayable at times. As much as I’d like a free strike, there are too many potential Elusives that could wall him as he comes down. We’re nearing the end, so it makes sense to reroll.
None of these are particularly exciting, so let’s run it back one last time.
Farsight Alteration, perfect! At this point, our deck is well set to take on anything. Teemo grows insanely fast, so our only real lose condition is not drawing him. That’s no longer an issue.
It took long enough but.. GOODBYE GOLDEN CRUSHBOT!
- Round End: If the Player’s Nexus took damage this round, the Foe’s strongest ally strikes it.
Zed is the Nexus-striking master. He plays similarly to Silent Shadowseer and Ren Shadowblade to force Elusive threats out the gate. And with his passive, every hit matters. Damage stacks up very quickly so you’ll need immediate blockers or removal to avoid it.
Zed himself doesn’t show up until turn five, but that’s due to his +4|+4 buff making him a 7|6. Don’t forget, that grows to an 8/6 on attack and doubles up onto his Living Shadow. If you have removal for Zed, use it pre-attack to prevent the Living Shadow. Just be aware of Twin Disciplines if you’re relying on the damage.
As is the case with the other encounters, Zed really doesn’t have much defensively. The bulk of the units are weak and can be taken advantage of once you get ahead. Unless you’ve got a crazy amount of chump blockers, you’ll want to remove Zed as soon as possible.
Key cards to note are Sonic Wave and Will of Ionia. Sonic Wave allows Zed to kill nearly anything while Will of Ionia will punish any expensive units. As long as you’ve dealt with Zed, these cards won’t be nearly as effective.
Lastly, Zed takes a page from Silent Shadowseer and packs Dawn and Dusk for the finishing blow. It’s also cost-reduced to only four mana thanks to its item. Even if you’re winning, another Zed plus Dawn and Dusk could turn the tide against you. It’s easy enough to counter but is devastating if you’re not prepared.
We’ve overcome The Master of Shadows! I guess we just had to scout ahead. 😉
Looking forward to our next adventure! It’s going to be the toughest one yet.
Shugo’s Productivity Thought of the Day
What do you wish you were doing right now? How can you make that a reality for the future?
If you enjoyed this guide, check out our past and future Path of Champions guides.