Legends of RuneterraGuides

WhatAmI’s Philosophy of Victory 2.0 (For Legends of Runeterra and Life!)

LoR’s Philosophy of Victory 2.0

This is usually the part of these articles where I tell you what we’re going to be talking about today. Generally, it’s some deck, or type of deck, play pattern, counter pattern, or cool new card reveal.

I’m Jordan “WhatAmI” Abronson and this time we’re going to go a little deeper and a lot crazier than that.

Today we’re talking about something that applies not only to Runeterra, but to pretty much every other part of life if you want it to. Hold on to your deck codes and dive in with me as we talk about what winning actually means at the end of the day, and how to best get there.

Define Your Win Conditions

This is one of the most important building blocks. It’s so close to inanity in its simplicity that many people simply overlook it, knowing it for truth and not bothering to put it into action. You personally get to decide what victory is.

In Runeterra terms maybe it’s reaching Diamond, or Master rank, qualifying for or winning Seasonals. Or maybe that’s not for you. Maybe you care about creating cool and silly new deck concepts. Seeing how far you can push the boundaries of mushrooms in your opponent’s deck. Maybe you just want to have fun.

Fiora level 2 (LoR splash)

Maybe it’s the path of completionism that wants to master every new Lab that comes along, or you want to win your first gauntlet, but we can also boil it down to single games or single moments. Smaller victories that can be focused on with immediacy that add up to the larger. 

In terms of a single game victory could be the actual win-screen at the end, your opponent’s nexus at zero, or your Fiora finally finishing her flourishing animation. It could even be simply assembling the combo you’ve created, win or lose. We can even drill deeper and call getting that Sivir off the board a victory condition on a given turn.

But whatever we are attempting to accomplish, in Runeterra or life, we can only figure out the best way to get there if we have our destination firmly in mind. Too often people simply flail at what seems correct instead of checking this step.

Find Efficiency

Once we know where we are going, all actions are taken in context either help or hinder our chances of getting there. Yes, there are theoretically things we could do that would result in a net-neutral change in our probability of success, but in that case, we have expended energy to do nothing, which puts us back in the red.

This step touches on the fundamental core of deck-building games and perhaps the reason they are my favorite genre. Before the game even starts, we get to ask ourselves, “What is my deck trying to accomplish and how can I maximize its chances of doing so?”

Mechanized Mimic (LoR splash)

You as the player and the deck builder have agency long before loading into the game against your wily opponent. And I suspect that if you went through your deck load-outs and asked yourself of each and every card “Is this the best possible choice I could make at this moment to fulfill my own personal victory conditions?” some things would change. I know they certainly do for me almost every time. 

This applies within the game itself though as much as in the pre-game. Once the game has begun, each turn we can ask ourselves, “What does victory look like from here and how best can I achieve it?” It sounds like a small thing, but it’s the root of the play-power of basically every top-level player in the world.

Don’t Let Past You Hold You Back

Alright, so now we’re getting a little bit meta but stay with me here for a moment because this one is important. Don’t be afraid to update your victory conditions, or think that doing so somehow betrays the sanctity of creating them in the first place. It’s trite but true that the only thing certain is change.

In life, there are plenty of moments when humans will sit up and simply realize that they do not want what they wanted yesterday. The only question at that point is whether they will act in according to their new victory conditions, or hamper themselves by clinging to old ones. 

Zilean Level 2 (LoR splash)

In Runeterra the same things apply. If we had defined our short-term victory as removing a problematic unit our opponent possesses, but they over-protected it leaving their nexus vulnerable, then of course we should be updating our plan to account for that. 

We could easily be missing a way to win the game as a whole if we dump resources we could be using to kill our opponent into an outdated objective. Constant re-evaluation of our trajectory is the key to achieving the greatest height. Where we were last turn doesn’t matter, only where we are now.

On a larger scale, you might have the ambition of getting to Diamond rank and then realize that actually you want to buckle down and see if you can hit Masters or even higher. Conversely, you might be a high-level player trying to make a run at the very top of the game and realize you really just want to take a step back and just have fun with it for a while. 

And the secret is all of those are ok

Chip (LoR splash)

More importantly, once you’ve internally made those decisions you can either accept how you feel about the world and redefine victory, or you can try to ignore it and the same things will eventually happen. The only difference will be hurting yourself more in the process.

Mountains don’t tend to move just because you get all judgmental or guilt-trippy at them. Emotions and game states are much the same. I think the biggest cause of burnout in an absolute sense is people failing to realize, or actively denying, what they want to be accomplishing. 

Assume Victory

One of the most important tools in any strategy gamer’s arsenal is the ability to envision a universe in which victory has been achieved. It doesn’t matter how unlikely it is, or how many different things would have to fall your way, you have to be able to look for that possible path.

If there’s only one card in my deck that will save me and I need to draw it in the next three turns, then correct play involves assuming I will do so and maximizing my chances starting from that assumption. They might call me a lucker later, but if I’m setting up for that possibility every time maybe I make a bit of my own luck. 

Jinx Level 2 (LoR splash)

If there are certain subsets of cards that will certainly or almost certainly result in my loss then I must simply play as if my opponent cannot have them. It might look like going full NA and refusing to play around with anything, but if I’m gaining percentage points then what does the visual matter? The important people will know the difference. 

To put it in simpler terms, affect what you can, discard what you cannot, and add what is unmistakably your own. Tao of Bruce Lee right there, and it has gotten me through more tough times and to more victories than I can count.

Give Fail a Chance

This step takes the idea of assuming victory all the way out to its logical extreme. If the deck is stacked against me, the matchup is bad, and everything has spiraled down Bilgewater’s own drain pipe, sometimes the only path to victory is for my opponent to make a mistake. 

If on review of evidence, all other paths are closed, then the final attempt lies in seeing if you can find or force an error. This is the step you get to by always asking “How can I achieve victory here,” and not being willing to take “You can’t.” for an answer.

Zoe Level 2 (LoR splash)

But here’s the thing. Sometimes they don’t realize how the cards you have interact. Sometimes the blocks line up just wrong. Sometimes your opponent gets overconfident in their position and gives you those trades you need to steal their power right out from under them. 

Do we get that many percentage points out of this bit of philosophy? No, probably not, especially against canny players. But in a game of inches and randomness, where every single pip on the dice we roll can count if we roll enough of them, you take what you can get. 

Speaking in strictly Runeterra terms here for a moment; to win a high-level tournament on any day you need to be both very lucky and very good. Sometimes the luck can come from your opponent’s misplays, but only if you are good enough to give them the chance to happen.

Learn From Loss

Sometimes no matter what you do you were never going to win. However, that happens much, much more rarely than people tend to assume it does. And even in those cases you generally had options to give yourself more percentage points.

Akshan level 2 (LoR splash)

If you brush off a failure in Runeterra or in life as a curse from Rngeezus and walk on down the road, you are giving up an opportunity to gain power. In the other direction though, whether you won or lost, every time you find a place you could have done better, your future odds of victory increase. 

And On We Go

The long-term reader may have noticed by now that this is primarily a repeat of an older article by yours truly. Sometimes, at the end of things, we look back and find that the most important things we have to say have already been said. 

In that case, rather than spending our last article blathering on about something less important, a strategy writer might take the opportunity to re-draw attention to what they believe to be worthwhile. 

Defining victory applies to all parts of life, not just Runeterra, and something being finished doesn’t mean it has failed. I’ve had a heck of a ride writing these articles and seeing this game grow and change and getting to do it with all of y’all out there reading who supported me doing it, and I appreciate you.

If someone out there reading this takes a minute and makes sure that what they are pursuing is what they actually want, even if the answer is yes and nothing changes, then that’s victory to me. 

And, as always, may the odds be ever in your favor. 


Thanks for reading! If you have any questions, feel free to ask WhatAmI during his streams (around 10AM PST basically every day).

WhatAmI streams at twitch.tv/xxwhatamixx around 10AM PST every day