Top 15 Most Broken Cards of Runeterra’s Past
We’ve seen a lot of crazy broken decks over the years. And while many of the decks were insanely powerful as a whole, others were pushed so far and beyond due to their sheer unbalanced power.
It’s Trevor “Shugo” Yung here and today we’re taking a trip down memory lane to showcase some of LoR’s most broken cards of all time.
A few things to note beforehand.
- I believe every card on this list would still be absurdly strong and meta-defining today, if not busted.
- I’ll be avoiding the changes from the very early days, as many cards from Beta were fundamentally different from how they exist today. Everything will be post-Rising Tides.
- There have been an insane amount of powerful cards in Runeterra. Even former staples such as pre-nerf Pale Cascade, Twin Disciplines, Petricite Broadwing, and Merciless Hunter, are not good enough. As powerful as they may be, they are not game-breaking.
- Some of Runeterra’s most broken decks were overpowered by the entire package of cards. Keep that in mind if you feel I’m missing a particular archetype.
- Lastly, take this list with a grain of salt (especially the ordering). We can never truly know which cards from the past would be the best in today’s age. This is my opinion, but I’m gonna make a strong case for each card I’ve included!
Here’s a handful of honorable mentions:
- Bard (Shuffles chimes on turn one)
- Bastion (3 Mana)
- Flawless Duet (1 Mana)
- Grizzled Ranger/Loyal Badgerbear (4|1, 4|4)
- Nami (+2|+1 Buff)
- The Grand Plaza (+1|+1 Buff)
- Wiggly Burblefish (3|1)
- The Serpent (2|1)
- Wounded Whiteflame (2|4)
- Yordle Explorer (+1|+1 Buff)
#15: Crescendum (Summoned 2-drop from deck)
While not a direct main-deckable card itself, Crescendum was an incredibly powerful tool that broke Aphelios during his inception. Those were the days of Targon + Bilgewater splash to summon a healthy 3|4 Boxtopus.
In addition, Gifts from Beyond became a way to effectively run six copies of Eye of the Dragon. This made getting two copies on board very consistent, which allowed greedy Ionia decks to completely shut down aggro when it’d otherwise be vulnerable to it.
It’s no surprise that Crescendum was eventually changed. It was a reliable tutor for 2-drops, which limits design space going forward. Poor Sparklefly got gutted because of it… And now that Aphelios is (nearly) back at full strength, there’s no way we could revert Crescendum.
#14: Sands of Time (Instant Century non-Fleeting)
Thralls proved to be one of the most powerful combo decks we’ve ever seen. Even despite its many changes, the patch that introduced the 2-drop and Sands of Time took the deck to an unbelievable level.
While Sands of Time isn’t necessarily the only culprit here, it’s certainly the card that pushed the deck well over the edge. The fact the spell was often cast on an empty board goes to show just how unfair it was.
Akshan Infinite was also a deck that took advantage of this card. Instant Century is such a powerful accelerant, and when it’s tacked onto a protection spell, it both halted aggression while setting up the combo kill.
Sands of Time is still a solid card, but now its ideal window for play is much smaller, and that’s a good thing.
#13: Crimson Disciple (When survives, deals 2 damage)
Some of you may have to look up this card, because we haven’t seen Crimson Disciple in ages. But if you played back since Rising Tides, then you’re definitely familiar with how insane it was.
Crimson Disciple was Imperial Demolitionist’s best friend. Having an ideal three-health target made Demolitionists far more consistent, all while threatening a Decimate’s worth of damage for the cost. Even just attacking as a 2|3 made it difficult for the opponent to block, because unless you had a 3|2, you were pretty much taking two damage no matter what.
Transfusion was a crazy spell back then because aside from just being a solid combat trick, it dealt two damage at burst speed! It only takes an additional card or two to make Burn decks absolutely bonkers. It’s a good thing Crimson Disciple isn’t around today!
#12: Deep Meditation (4 Mana)
Original Deep Meditation didn’t last long, and it’s obvious because it’s the best card draw we’ve ever seen. It was straight up two mana draw two, and even in today’s age, we have to put in some extra work to get that rate.
There’s not a whole lot else to say here other than it was one of the best spells in the game. Even today it’s still reasonable as a 1-2 of. As fun as it was getting to play such an efficient card draw, Ionia really doesn’t need it.
#11: Pack Your Bags (1 Mana)
Go Hard was one powerful tempo deck. We all mocked it during spoiler season, but oh were we ever wrong.. At one mana, it was essentially impossible to play around. Sure, you could choose not to commit as much to the board, but there was never a completely safe window as the opponent could always hold up one spell mana with ease.
Additionally, Pack Your Bags being one mana allowed Zap Sprayfin to tutor it, making it super consistent to draw, and even cast afterwards since the Attune would pay for it.
It definitely moved into a healthier spot, allowing for the card to exist, just at a fair cost. A five-damage one-sided board wipe for five mana is still super strong, but at least players can anticipate it a little easier thanks to having an actual mana cost.
#10: Poppy (4|3)
I know we’ve come a long way since the Bandle City days. But Poppy defined an entire era of LoR that’s impossible to forget. We still play her as a 2|3, so that should speak volume as to how polarizing she was.
Nothing came close to matching Poppy on board. The board buff was so egregious that when we initially saw her nerfed to 3|3, we knew it would barely do a thing, and it didn’t.
Despite today’s power creep, 4|3 Poppy would continue to be bonkers. It’s not surprising that Bandle Burn held a consistent 60%+ win rate, and top play rate, back in the day. Poppy was one of the strongest champions to ever exist, and it wasn’t particularly close.
#9: Legion Deserter (Overwhelm instead of Fearsome)
Part of me doesn’t want to include Legion Deserter, as the card is really just a big dumb unit at the end of the day. However, its interaction with Encroaching Mists felt like outright cheating. It was They Who Endure for five mana, except way easier to enable, and in a much better region (sorry Freljord).
It was far too easy to slam a huge Deserter on turn five or six, swing in with Overwhelm, then later follow up with Atrocity for lethal. And if you miraculously managed to stop it, you had to deal with the other five copies (2 Deserter + 3 Viego).
Red Viego didn’t last long as the patch quickly swapped Deserter’s keyword. It still keeps its ability to scale up quickly but lost its immediate game-ending pressure.
While the deck had its counters, it was overall very unhealthy for the game, and would still be a menace to deal with were it to exist again today.
#8: The Veiled Temple (+1|+1 Buff)
Alongside Crescendum, The Veiled Temple turned Aphelios decks into an unstoppable machine. This was probably one of the defining points where we all knew that permanent health buffs are a problem. The Temple quickly paid for itself and then some, all while stockpiling stats across the board.
The tempo loss was quickly recovered, and while it’s still easy to refill mana to this day, there’s just no real point playing it for an extra +1|+0. And good riddance, this was not a fun play pattern to experience, especially in the mirrors!
#7: Rummage (1 Mana)
Rummage had always been a ticking time bomb, especially with how much natural card generation and discard fodder exists. The card was already insane long before the days of Sion. In a world with Aphelios at his peak, Rummage was the best card in the game. Without it, Fizz TF would never have become one of the most iconic decks of all time.
Not to mention, at one mana it was possible to generate Rummage with Wiggly Burblefish. Oh what a time it was..
Would the card be bonkers today?
Do I want it back?
More than any other card in the game..
Am I biased?
I just miss Fizz TF, okay? 🙁
#6: Watcher (4+ Summoned, Obliterates entire deck)
Trundle Lissandra Control was probably one of the most hated decks of all time, and it was a meta staple. Spectral Matron + Fading Memories made the deck far too consistent for its own good, and it created a definitive inevitability that many decks just couldn’t handle. You were on the clock, but good luck trying to race it.
You know, it’s possible that this deck wouldn’t be problematic in today’s day and age. We have a lot more answers than before, and decks are generally just a lot faster.
However, from a pure enjoyment standpoint, it was a miserable deck to play against. Despite having a hand stocked full of answers, if they had more Fading Memories than you had removal spells, you lost. 🙂
#5: Kinkou Wayfinder (Summons two 1-drops from deck)
Two of the most broken decks of all time existed off the back of this card; Ahri Kennen, and Ezreal Kennen. The funny thing is, these decks existed during two different versions of Kinkou Wayfinder.
There’s a good chance Ezreal Kennen was the definitive best deck of all time, although it’s hard to make that claim when it only existed in its prime for one week. At that time, Wayfinder pulled two Kennens at a time. Afterward, it was changed to two different 1-drops.
But that didn’t stop the card from carrying Ionia far and beyond the rest. Ahri Kennen took over as top players dominated the ladder with unbelievable win rates. The deck was almost unbeatable when in the hands of a good player.
It wasn’t long ago that Ezreal Kennen rose to the top, as three damage marks gave Kennen an arsenal of answers. Additionally, the play-cast changes are fully abused with this deck whereas the original Ezreal Kennen existed prior to the rule shift.
Imagine if we had the original Kinkou Wayfinder now.
#4: Buried Sun Disc (Advance 10 rounds per level up)
At first, it was funny to see a deck go from a meme to a monster, but that changed quickly. Sun Disc became an unbelievably fast combo deck that was regularly popping off by turn six.
Aggressive decks couldn’t even outrace it due to all the cheap blockers that flooded the board while progressing Azir’s level-up. Additionally, slower decks auto-lossed to Sun Disc’s inevitability. You know it was bad when the Scorched Earth deck had an unfavorable win rate against it.
In all fairness, it wasn’t just the Sun Disc buff that defined the deck, but Azir’s ability to level off of landmarks, along with Quicksand’s rework. Combine that with Ancient Hourglass, Rite of Negation, and Rite of Calling. The deck was unstoppable.
I fully believe this would still be the case had the deck not been quickly patched. The powerful inevitability still exists, but the clock is easily a few turns slower, and that makes all the difference.
#3: Second Skin (Focus Speed)
I’m sure this would be number one on a lot of players’ lists, and rightfully so. The Kai’sa meta was probably the worst we’ve ever seen in all of Runeterra, perhaps next to Azir Irelia as a close second.
I don’t think I need to go into much detail with this one. If Second Skin ever goes back to focus speed I’m pretty sure the community would explode.
#2: Boomcrew Rookie (1|4)
Arguably one of the scariest cards in Annie Jhin, even as a 1|3. But back when it was a 1|4, it was the best card in the entire game. Does anyone else remember Championless Burn? If they played Boomcrew on two, you’re dead. If they played two copies by turn three, you’re super dead.
There was no efficient way to answer it on-curve, and even now with removal like Quietus, I still think Boomcrew Rookie would be meta-defining. Forget all the busted combo decks.. 1|4 Boomcrew Rookie kills you by turn four.
All you old nostalgic Rising Tides fans forget how the expansion truly launched.. 🙂
#1: Lee Sin (4 Mana, 3|4)
Number one on my list is the combo champion himself… Lee Sin. Does anyone else remember that very brief time when he was four mana, alongside three mana Bastion? Yeah, that was a fun week.
It’s funny thinking back to when Lee Sin was six mana and completely unplayable. I can hardly remember, as Lee’s been a tournament staple for so long. I can only really imagine Lee as a 5-drop. Four mana Lee was INSANE.
Forget losing to aggro, four mana Lee beat absolutely everything. You controlled the entire board from turn four and had answers to anything thrown your way.
While we did have fewer answers back then, we also have a ton of extra support now. After all, just before Seraphine was released, the previous meta’s best two decks both included Lee (Akshan Lee, Lee Nami).
I hope you enjoyed this little blast from the past, I know I sure did! What do you think of this list? Are there any cards you strongly disagree with?
Any specific cards you think should’ve been included? Feel free to hit me up to discuss on Twitter @Shugo_LoR!
Shugo’s Productivity Thought of the Day
I’ve recently been living life with a simple catchphrase that acts as a quick reminder whenever my mind derails to a negative thought.
Life will inevitably get in our way, as external factors challenge us outside of our control. But we don’t have to view it that way.
Choose the picture you want to see.
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