LOR Meta Analysis and Proposed Buffs, Nerfs, and Nerf Reversions

By Spike, Regular Contributor

Hello, Legends of Runeterra fans! I’m Spike, a writer for Amiibo Doctor. You may know me from my articles on Hearthstone, but I’m now doing some articles on Legends of Runeterra. I’m not a top player by any means, but I hope you’ll enjoy the articles regardless.

Today, I’m writing about the current meta. The Rise of the Underworlds expansion is soon releasing alongside buffs and nerfs, and there’s no doubt the current meta is frustrating. Trundle/Lissandra, also known as Watcher Control, pushes a majority of Control style decks out of the meta. Even after some small nerfs (and a ‘bug fix’ buff) Irelia/Azir is incredibly strong, while its counter, Thresh/Nasus, is yet another meta-warper. The meta revolves around these three decks, with a few others such as Ezreal/Draven and variants of Dragons sneaking in some success as well.

So, what makes this meta tick, and what are a few nerfs and buffs that would shake it up? That’s what I’m looking at today.

First off, I’m fully aware that most of you guys have no idea who I am, unless you read my Hearthstone articles! Yeah, a new writer popped out of nowhere, doesn’t stream, not a Master player, not active in the community, and is going to analyze the meta. No credibility whatsoever, pretty much an unknown entity, all that.

You know what? That’s fine. You may not agree with everything I write, you may not want to read an article written by someone that’s not a figurehead in the community (though if that’s the case, I assume you already closed the tab or didn’t read any of this to begin with, in which case I’m just boring the people who want to read the article- sorry guys, hang in there), you may be bored out of your mind already.

However, I’ve written what I think is a fairly interesting article, and I’m hoping you guys will enjoy it. I also kind of hope you don’t perfectly agree with me on everything– Legends of Runeterra is a game of logic and planning ahead (in theory), and there’s a million ways to approach it and then some. I write articles that put my opinions out there, but I hope you all (the readers) use those logical bits of your brain and draw up your own conclusions as well.

Alright, I’m sure I lost a few folks in that long and boring introduction, but for those who stuck it out, away we go!

Meta Analysis- what’s up with the viable decks, and what’s up with the meta-warpers?

In every meta of nearly any card game where players build their own decks, you’re almost always going to have a couple decks that warp the meta around them. Unless you balance the game to the point everything is roughly equal (which, let’s face it- that would probably be both impossible, and, if it happened, kind of boring competitively), there are going to be top decks. Then you get the counters to those top decks, the counters to those counters, and whatever preys on the remaining stuff. Alternatively, you can wind up with “rock-paper-scissors” metas with three decks that beat one of the other top three, lose to the other, and beat everything else as the entire viable meta.

Right now in Legends of Runeterra, those decks are Irelia/Azir, an aggressive deck based around repeated Blade Dance/Sand Soldier board flood attacks, Thresh/Nasus, which runs the gamut from Aggro to Control to Combo, often looking to kill off its own units, Level Up Thresh to pull a gigantic Nasus, and either hit Nexus or use Atrocity to hit Nexus with it, and last but not least, TLC. TLC is probably the most meta-warping of the bunch, despite not being the strongest, because it single-handedly pushes Control out of the meta. Its ability to Level Up Lissandra with Trundle’s Ice Pillars or some combo with Spectral Matron, follow up with a cheated out Watcher (by Spectral Matron or summoning more expensive followers), and then destroy the opposing deck is terrifying. It has the Control tools to get to that point, and just to top it all off, even if the Watcher (and/or your Ephemeral copies) gets destroyed- bwahahaha, you’ve got a small chance of stalling until Lissandra’s Frozen Thalls become active and winning with them.

If you feel you understand those three decks, feel free to skip the next section.

So, what’s the issue with each deck?

First off- Irelia Azir. Blade Dance isn’t a super strong mechanic. Sand Soldiers aren’t insane. Irelia isn’t overpowered, but put them all together, and being able to level up both Irelia and Azir quickly, repeatedly attack with your little temporary units that’ve been buffed, and sometimes add Irelia into the mix with Bladesurge makes the deck incredibly strong. Synergizing with the board floods are Greenglade Duo and Sparring Student, which can be buffed enough to deal, say, 5+ damage in a single turn. That in itself isn’t incredibly scary, but the fact that the deck doesn’t need to go out of its way to do so turn after turn is. Added into the mix are the Recall tricks, which also allow for draw with Dancing Droplet and sometimes for pseudo-removal with Homecoming, as well as combat tricks from Shaped Stone, Retreat, and sometimes Syncopation. The deck can adapt just enough to force its gameplan through the majority of opponents, and if it can’t, there’s disruption! A lot of lists run Nopeify! and/or Deny, so there’s even less counterplay.

That’s not to say that Azir Irelia is an invincible deck that wins every single game. It isn’t. It’s just the best deck in the meta at the moment, entirely capable of posting win rates higher than 55%, even in Masters. It doesn’t force a rock-paper-scissors meta (probably because, other than Thresh Nasus, most decks don’t clearly counter it and it doesn’t absolutely destroy most of the meta), but you’ve always got to keep it in mind- and if you want to run a slower deck, good luck. It’s going to be an uphill battle against this meta titan.

Second, Thresh Nasus, the only viable hard counter to Azir Irelia. Yes, I know Scarground Braum and the like exist. I’m also aware that they’re not popular for a reason- even if they have a good time against Azir Irelia, they’re pretty weak otherwise.

Thresh Nasus, aside from its Azir Irelia matchup, is a fairly strong deck against the rest of the meta. In the early game, with the right draws, you can push a ton of damage. Starting turns such as a turn one Baccai Reaper or Dunekeeper (or a Dunekeeper destroying the Sand Soldier with Ravenous Butcher), followed up by turn two Fading Icon or Cursed Keeper and Ravenous Butcher are incredibly dangerous for the opponent. Spirit Leech or Glimpse Beyond provide draw in the mid game, so the deck can simply keep momentum and win the game early that way.

The deck also can stave off Aggro to some extent with its early boards, before transitioning to its namesake Champions in the later game. A Leveled Up Thresh pulling out a huge Nasus is often an unstoppable threat for decks not running removal, and the ability to use Atrocity on a Nasus and deal huge damage to the opposing Nexus is pretty much instant game over if the opponent dared take a little bit of damage.

The deck is just all-around solid, has a good Azir Irelia matchup, and welcomes decks playing small units. This causes it to be a pillar of the current meta, and any decks looking to be viable pretty much need a plan to deal with it in addition to the other 2 meta warpers.

Lastly, Trundle Lissandra Control, Watcher Combo Control, whatever you wish to call it. After Leveling Up Lissandra with some combination of Trundle’s generated Ice Pillars or Spectral Matron shenanigans, it either pulls a few more shenanigans or uses Spectral Matron to pull out the Watcher, Obliterate the opponent’s deck, and laugh as the opponent dies the next turn, barring shuffle into deck or other such cards.

Essentially, slow decks can’t hope to compete with TLC’s win condition. Due to Spectral Matron, it’s a consistent Turn 8-9 Watcher, barring horrible draws, and there’s not many decks that can hope to counter it. On top of that, the deck has a host of Control tools at its disposal, from premium removal such as Avalanche, Blighted Ravine, and Withering Wail, healing such as Grasp of the Undying, and hard removals such as The Ruination or Vengeance. That allows it to compete with aggressive decks to some extent, and cements TLC firmly in the top 5 decks, perhaps even the top 3.

So, if those are three of the top decks, what are the others?

This is just my opinion, but one of the other top 5 decks is Ezreal Draven. It has a lot of different ways to approach the game, and it has answers to a lot of early units and even Landmarks. Chip damage is the name of the game, and between Draven and Ballistic Bot/House Spider early, you’ve got a good amount. The deck has Ezreal as a closer, and if that doesn’t work, the deck can afford to run multiple other closers in buffed up Tri-beam Improbulators and Captain Farron. Rummage, Sump Dredger, and Statikk Shock provide draw, and the first two are easily fed discard fodder by Draven’s axes. The deck just has so many options and can adapt to most matchups so easily that it cements its top spot.

The other top 5 deck is more arguable, but I believe that it’s either Shurima Nox Aggro (running either Azir solo or Azir and Darius) or some variant of Dragons, whether you want to go with a Shyvana-focused variant, Zoe/Aurelion Sol Invoke options, or both. Due to Dragons being a bit more complex than Shurima Nox Aggro, which has an extremely hard time if it loses its first few waves of aggressive attackers, I think Dragons sneaks into the top 5, but it’s difficult to say.

There are other viable decks in the meta- Discard Aggro, Spider Aggro, Nightfall Aggro, and Lissandra/Taliyah Turbo Thralls to name a few, but, for the most part, you’re looking at the 3 meta warpers, Dragons, and Ezreal Draven Burn. Sometimes, sure, you’ll see the decks I just mentioned, maybe Deep, Pirate Aggro, Shurima Overwhelm, LeBlanc/Ashe, or the odd Sokara/Tahm Kench combo control (I see this way more often than expected, probably just bad luck though), sometimes something more off-meta, but the meta is pretty chock-full of a few top dogs. Even other, viable decks are kind of pushed to the side.

A look at this season’s EU Tournament

At the time of writing, Riot has just published the graphic for the champs used in the open rounds for the EU seasonal tournament, supposedly. Not sure what they mean by open rounds as it doesn’t look like enough champions to be anything besides the Top 16, as it’s enough to be the Top 16 if every Top 16 player averaged just over 4 Champions a deck… but it can’t be Top 16, there are 17 Azirs.

Maybe I’m missing something, but the graphic seems off to me. Still going to analyze it, though!

Maybe it’s showing how many champions were brought counting the number in each deck? Seems unlikely, as the numbers for Azir in Azir Irelia versus Azir/Darius and Lissandra in TLC versus Turbo Thralls match up.

The big takeaway here is that the top 5 decks I mentioned showed up in full force. Assuming nobody paired Irelia with anything weird (I don’t see any Miss Fortunes on the list, so I doubt it), Azir Irelia was the most popular deck with 15 showing up. I assume the other 2 Azirs were Shurima Nox Aggro decks, and the 2 Darius showings seem to support that.

Assuming the Dravens and Ezreals were in the same deck, that makes EZ Draven the second most popular deck with 14 showings, but multiple Jinxes showed up and I’m guessing Draven was paired with them for Discard Aggro. Not sure what the other Ezreals were paired with in that case, maybe Teemo or Vi?

TLC has a large showing, assuming the Trundles are all in TLC, with 13. The other 3 Lissandras were likely in Turbo Thralls- and the 3 Taliyahs support that.

Thresh Nasus seems to also have 13 representatives, with one random Thresh in a different deck. Deep to pull Nautilus, maybe? There’re 2 Nautilus and 2 Maokai showings, so Deep showed up.

Dragons is one I’m more confused by, as despite the 14 Zoes there are only 9 Shyvana and 9 Aurelion Sol present, but Zoe is flexible enough to be paired with a lot of stuff. I could see her being paired with one of the Teemos and some of the Vis or one of the Champions that only had 1 representative.

Renekton, Sivir and Sejuani showed up in a lot of decks, probably the same deck in all honesty- Overwhelm with Shurima and Freljord. That’s a bit unexpected, but Overwhelm Aggro is a pretty strong deck. Sivir may have been played in LeBlanc Sivir as well, though I think the LeBlancs and Ashes match up due to Midrange Frostbite making a strong showing.

Outside of what I’ve discussed already, there were a few Vis, probably in a Vi-focused deck, a couple Jarvan IVs (no Shen, so no idea why those are there), a single Elise, probably repping Spider Aggro, 2 Dianas, maybe Nightfall Aggro despite the lack of Nocturnes, and then some Champions where I have no idea why they’re there. Karma, Aphelios, Zilean, and Leona aren’t exactly stellar (in Masters, all of them bar Leona are in the bottom 10 Champions), so best guess is someone was either memeing or tossed 1 copy in their deck to mess with the data. Which, cool.

I’m sure that the deck lists are posted somewhere and I look like a fool for analysing the meta in a single picture, but hey, I write these articles for fun and to stay sharp. No better mental exercise than this, right?

Aside from, you know, actual mental exercises.

Oh, Spike, you realize you aren’t funny, right?

Yeah, yeah. I’m pretty much trying to sell my analysis and article-writing skills to a new audience, I’m not going to lay off the casually sarcastic failed, dead, buried and revived attempt at humor. You’ll just have to wince and bear it.

Now, onto nerfs and buffs. A couple quick notes- one, I know the new set is coming with them, I’m not predicting what nerfs and buffs will come with the new set. I’m just tossing out a few ideas. Two, I’m not changing cards based on lore or flavor, just from a gameplay perspective.

Nerf Ideas

Quick thing on my card game philosophy- I don’t like nerfing decks out of viability, and I don’t even like nerfing single cards out of viability unless they’re absolutely gamebreaking, as in breaking central mechanics of the game. Something like a card that circumvents paying all other cards’ costs, or something that locks the opponent from playing spells starting really early, that’d be gamebreaking. Therefore, the nerfs below are mainly meant to bring stuff in line with A Tier decks or make stuff that’s “unfun” or “noninteractive” less viable.

Nerf Ideas: Nerfing the 3 Meta Breakers

Azir/Irelia is almost assuredly the strongest deck in the meta right now, and no deck really has a better claim. There are a few options for nerfing it- the Recall engine that allows Dancing Droplet draw and protecting units, the Blade Dance package, the Sand Soldier package (Emperor’s Dais/Dunekeeper/Azir), or Azir. Personally, I think Greenglade Duo, Sparring Student, and the tech package are fine as they are.

To decide how to nerf Azir/Irelia without nerfing it to the ground, first you need to think about what makes the deck so much better than similar decks. Irelia/Miss Fortune is barely played, and it’s built around Blade Dance and triggering effects (Miss Fortune and Crackshot Corsair) with it. The Recall engine sees pretty much no play outside of Azir/Irelia and Irelia/Miss Fortune, and neither does the Blade Dance package. Again, I reiterate that Irelia/Miss Fortune is relatively weak, despite being a super similar deck.

However, the Shurima side of things is a different story- and, I believe, the problematic part of the deck. Dunekeeper is, as seems to be a common joke, a 1 mana Decimate that leaves a 2/1 in play if the opponent has no answer for it turn one. On top of that, it progresses both Irelia and Azir two ticks. The other big issue is Azir himself, because he’s ridiculously easy to Level Up in the deck and on top of that has an incredibly strong effect… and his 5 Health is no joke either. You can’t deal with him via Mystic Shot, can’t deal with him with Get Excited, he can take multiple hits from early units, then just get Recalled and played again and be just fine- yeah. He’s just amazing all around. The fact that he causes Shurima Noxus Aggro to exist almost on his own is also pretty impressive- sure, Noxus has a good set of Aggro cards, and Merciless Hunter is no joke, but it’s Azir that makes the deck.

I’d honestly nerf both Dunekeeper and Azir. Dunekeeper having Ephemeral seems fitting, as the Soldier he summons does. Despite the fact that if the opponent does nothing, it’s still a 1 mana Decimate, it leaves nothing behind, putting the player on the back foot next turn. Alternatively, you could simply drop his Power to 1 (I expect Riot to go this route), or change how Sand Soldiers work entirely.

So, I’ve simply given him Ephemeral. Apologies for the weirdness with the spacing on “Sand Soldier” and the little black line at the bottom of the card, the custom card maker I’m using is janky.

Yes, the art is centered differently. The alternative is the little black line covering more of the card, which kind of defeats the point of having the art positioned right anyways.

Old versus new (new outlined in black):

Now
Proposed Nerf

Decks nerfed: Azir/Irelia (best deck in format), Thresh/Nasus (top tier), Shurima Nox Aggro (high tier)

Decks possibly buffed: Any weird stuff using Hecarim or Zed/Death Mark and Shurima together. I have no idea if that’s an off-meta thing, but hey. Thresh/Nasus has more possible “deaths”, but less opportunities for “Slays”.

Of course, I also said nerfing Azir would be good as well, and there’s two things that could really be nerfed without changing the essence of the card. The first is his Health, because he survives a lot of small removal, and the second is his first Level Up condition, which is super easy to fulfill in Azir Irelia. I decided to drop his Health only one point- now he can’t trade into a pair of 2 Power units and shrug it off. He’s also within Black Spear range. He’s still out of Get Excited range, but oh well.

His Level Up condition has been increased by 2 unit summons, which is honestly not a big deal.

Old versus new (new is not outlined in black and there’s a huge black strip at the bottom, plus the Sand Soldier spacing issue… yeah, I’m aware, still trying to figure out how to deal with this card maker)

Now
Proposed Nerfs

Decks nerfed: Azir/Irelia (best deck in format), Shurima Nox Aggro (high tier)

Now, there’s one more Shurima nerf I propose, and I’m sure anyone who’s keeping tabs on the meta saw it coming a mile away. Seeing as it sees play in literally every meta deck using Shurima except Azir/Irelia (that’s Thresh/Nasus, Overwhelm, LeBlanc/Sivir and Shurima Noxus Aggro), Merciless Hunter needs a nerf.

Its effect is amazing, its stats are on par for the cost, and it has Fearsome just to top everything off. It could be nerfed in a lot of ways- cost up to 4, Health dropped, effect changed to summon Roiling Sands, effect removed and give it Challenger, stats dropped overall, Fearsome removed, or some combination. However, I’ve chosen to simply drop its Power to 3, making it a 3/3. It’s still really good, just not completely over the top like it was before. I’ve also changed Fearsome to a this round Play effect, so overall the card can still be used as pseudo removal but will have a harder time pushing Nexus damage.

I’m not sure if this really brings it back in line, and maybe making the Vulnerable “this round only” would be more fair. 3 damage is still enough to take down a lot of popular units, but you would deal less damage putting Vulnerable on a strong defensive unit and then matching it against one of your weak units to push more Nexus damage, which is honestly a pretty big deal for LeBlanc/Sivir and Shurima Noxus Aggro at the least.

Old versus new

Now
Proposed Nerfs

Decks nerfed: Thresh/Nasus (top tier), Shurima Nox Aggro (high tier), Overwhelm (high-mid tier), LeBlanc/Sivir (viable)

I’ve pointed out my ideas for nerfing Irelia/Azir and Thresh/Nasus, but what about EZ Draven and TLC?

Well, I honestly think that there’s no need for a nerf to EZ Draven. It’s strong, sure, but it isn’t polarizing and it feels pretty fair. If anything, maybe nerf Culling Strike to read “Kill a follower with 3 or less Power or a Champion with 2 or less Power.”? This puts a few popular Champions such as Draven, Irelia, Thresh, and Shyvana out of Culling Strike range (before buffs or Leveling Up), while leaving other popular Champions such as Zoe, Vi, Elise, Azir, Lissandra, Ezreal, and Nautilus within range of instant death.

TLC, on the other hand, needs one of two things- the Watcher to be less of a feel-bad closer, or to less consistently cheat it out turn 8-9.

I’ve chosen to change how the Watcher works. It feels absolutely horrible to see your deck Obliterated, it’s pretty much a next turn loss, and even if you shuffle into deck, Silence the Watcher or something like that, it’s a beefy body attacking that you have to deal with.

Old versus new

Now
Proposed changes

As you can see, I’ve changed the effect. It’s still really good against other Control decks, but it doesn’t completely shut them down or win the game like the current effect does, and can actually be a downside against Aggro decks by allowing them to find their final Decimate, Noxian Fervor, Get Excited!, Imperial Demolitionist, and similar burn to finish out the game.

I’ve also dropped both the Power and Health of the Watcher to make it somewhat easier to deal with, and given it Tough in exchange. Lissandra has Tough and gives your Nexus Tough once Leveled Up, so why not?

Decks nerfed: TLC (top tier), Turbo Thralls (hard to say, probably high tier or high-mid tier)

I think that’s actually all that needs a nerf. Other top decks such as Dragons, EZ Draven, Draven/Jinx Discard Aggro and Spider Aggro feel pretty fair despite being strong, and other than perhaps Tahm Kench/Sokara, there aren’t any decks that do especially “unfair” stuff. TK/Sokara would need to have significant changes to feel “fairer” (specifically changing Star Spring’s payoff) and isn’t strong enough to warrant a nerf anyways.

Buff Ideas

Another word on game philosophy, oh joy. Surely you’re excited to read this.

Personally, I’m a fan of the idea that to shake up a meta, the best way to do it with buffs is small buffs for decks that are already high tier, larger buffs for decks that are good to tip them into being high tier, and then significant buffs to decks that are just barely viable and off-meta to tip them into being good. I don’t like taking cards or decks that are currently extremely weak and forcing them into the meta with buffs, though in Legends of Runeterra the Champions are a big enough deal to likely warrant significant buffs to underperformers.

I will not be creating custom cards to show the buffs, it takes longer than coming up with and writing about each buff.

First off, I’m going to look at possible buffs for a few decks that are currently high tier, to push them to the top tier. With the nerfs I suggested, Thresh Nasus would likely remain really good, while Irelia/Azir, Shurima Noxus Aggro, and TLC would probably remain good as well. Pushing a few currently high tier decks slightly would (in theory) create a meta where there would be a lot of decks in the upper tiers, though that comes at the cost of an easy time for homebrews.

A buff to Draven/Jinx Discard Aggro would likely push it into the top tier. The deck can have struggles with running out of cards in the mid game, and needs to discard good cards to play Get Excited!, Zaunite Urchin, Poro Cannon, and the like. Ideally, a card that draws when discarded would be printed to push Discard Aggro to the top, but as far as small buffs go, I think there are two that would push Discard Aggro quite well.

Yes, I’m aware that during the last patch (Azir/Irelia nerfs, Malphite and Taliyah buffs) Riot snuck in a small wording change to Rummage- from “Discard 2 to draw 2. If you have exactly 1 other card in hand, discard 1 to draw 1.” to “To play, discard up to 2 cards. Draw 1 for each card you discarded.” I’ve tested it, the wording is incorrect- you don’t choose how many cards to discard, you still have to discard 2 if you have 2 or more in hand.

Making the wording correct and letting the player decide how many to discard would be both a small buff and a significant quality of life improvement.

Along the same lines, changing Augmented Experimenter would be a small but impactful buff. Currently, Augmented Experimenter looks like this:

The best buff for it would be to change the text to “Play: Discard 3 cards or your hand. Deal 3 to anything and draw 3.” With that, the card would be all 3’s stats wise and effect wise, and it could be played even in those rare cases where you have a stuffed hand in the mid game (usually due to some Leveled Jinx, Zarunite Urchin or Rummage mix) and don’t want to discard everything. It would still discard your hand if your hand was small, but it’s a small buff that makes it less of a potentially dead card.

Another buff to a currently good deck would be either a nerf reversion on Make It Rain or Miss Fortune, in an attempt to bring up the standings of the Pirate Burn deck featuring Miss Fortune and Gangplank. Whether the Lounging Lizard list or the somewhat faster one going all-in on Noxus’s amazing 1 and 2 mana units, they would be improved by either Miss Fortune (Leveled Up) getting Overwhelm back or Make It Rain returning to 2 mana, though the latter would be pretty strong.

Let’s face it, Bilgewater isn’t great right now, and the Rise of the Underworlds set seems to only offer hope for it to be paired with Shurima in a Lurk-based archetype. To play Bilgewater, you’re playing the aforementioned Miss Fortune/Gangplank/Noxus deck, a Deep deck utilizing Nautilus, Tahm Kench/Soraka Combo Control, or something off-meta. While 4 of the 6 Bilgewater Champions are seeing meta play and we haven’t seen Pyke yet, in Masters, according to Mobalytics data, only one Bilgewater card has a win rate above 50% at the time of writing. While the data is skewed by off-meta decks and odd inclusions, that’s really bad. In comparison, 16 PnZ cards are over 50%, 15 Shadow Isles cards, 15 Shurima cards, and 17 Ionia cards. Noxus has thirty. Demacia only has 2 cards over 50%, and Targon only has 1, but there’s an important difference- Demacia has the majority of its cards sitting in the 40-50% range, and Targon has only 11 cards below 40% as opposed to Bilgewater’s 22. That’s pretty crazy- and, for the record, Bilgewater currently has less cards than Targon.

So, aside from Pirate Aggro buffs (and Miss Fortune unnerfs would also buff the off-meta Irelia/Miss Fortune deck, though I’m guessing Blade Dance will get nerfed in the Rise of the Underworlds patch), what would make Bilgewater more viable?

Ignoring any Deep or Sokara/Tahm Kench buffs, as both decks have decent shells already and probably only need a new card or two to be good, the first thing I’d think of is buffs to Fizz or nerf reversions on Twisted Fate or Wriggly Burblefish. Simply put, I think that despite how overpowered it was before, reverting some of the Fizz/Twisted Fate nerfs now would be fine as long as Pick A Card was left nerfed. Wriggly Burblefish could go back to being a 3/1 (especially with TLC, EZ Draven, Discard Aggro and even decks such as Dragons or Ashe/LeBlanc’s ability to stave off the low-Health Elusives. Twisted Fate could see either a nerf reversion back to Leveling Up after seeing you draw 8+ cards instead of 9 or possibly a change from 4 mana 2/2 to either a 3 mana 2/2 or 4 mana 3/3. I know he dominated the meta for some time, but I think the Pick A Card nerf hit him hard enough even without the direct nerf to him. Also, he’s currently terrible, with a 42.7% win rate in Masters.

I think Fizz kind of deserves a buff as well, and you could simply revert his nerf- from the Elusive only staying for 1 round to being permanent after you cast a Spell. That might be too strong, though, so I think buffing his Health by 1 would be a better buff. That would change him to a 2/2, then 3/3 upon Leveling Up.

I would put some sort of buff to Nightfall Aggro out there, but it’s getting a pretty sweet new card in the Rise of the Underworlds expansion. Heavens Aligned is a super useful card that either triggers Nightfall effects or advances Diana towards Leveling Up for just 1 mana, and it’s a Focus Spell. On top of that, it generates more resources.

For my last couple buff ideas, I’m looking at just slightly improving a few underperforming Champions and nothing else. From current worst to current “best” (still terrible!) Champion, here they are:

  • Aphelios: +1 Health on non-Leveled version (from 3/2 to 3/3), and creating a Moon Weapon to be a Play effect rather than a Nightfall effect. This would keep Aphelios around more easily, as well as Level Up more easily.
  • Kindred: from 5 mana down to 4 mana. Currently, Kindred is just too expensive for what he offers. Considering his effect only triggers after expending other efforts, he needs to be cheap enough to combine with something the turn he drops- and he needs to drop earlier for a deck built around him to work.
  • Teemo: Level Up effect from “You’ve planted 15+ Poison Puffcaps” to “You’ve planted 10+ Poison Puffcaps”. Currently, you need more expensive 3-4 mana cards to plant Puffcaps that aren’t from Teemo, and that removes some of the point of playing him early- plus, the Puffcaps are relatively weak early. Cutting the amount of Puffcaps by a third allows Teemo to plant them himself in 2 attacks instead of 3, and Level Up early in the game.
  • Zed: Gain Overwhelm on Level Up. Simply put, Zed is risky. If the opponent cannot answer him or his Shadow, he Levels Up easily, but if he’s dealt with (which is pretty easy as he only has 2 Health, despite his Quick Attack), bam. Not going to do anything. He’s not terrible, but he’s a glass cannon- so this buff leans on the cannon bit. This would allow him to deal damage more easily once Leveled Up, as his Living Shadow has his keywords as well.

Alternatively, a survivability buff to 3/3 (Draven is a 3/3 with Quick Attack, and it works pretty well) could make Zed viable.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this article. Good luck on ladder, and until next time

-Spike

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