4 Essential Strategy Tips for Lab of Legends: The Saltwater Scourge

These essential strategy tips from Den will get you started with the newest Legends of Runeterra PvE mode.

Hey everyone, Den here to introduce you all to the latest PvE mode added to Legends of Runeterra: a Lab of Legends adventure ‘The Saltwater Scourge’.

In this mode, we go on a journey to Bilgewater to find Gangplank and defeat him! Much like other rogue-like games out there, this mode will allow you to explore the procedurally generated map and go through fights, face boss encounters, and acquire treasures and new powers. All those challenges will help you strengthen your deck and get ready for the most important fight against Gangplank.

It clearly is a work-in-progress project for Riot – it will keep evolving over time. However, being this early in development, it offers a lot already, and to me, it is a great sign of what the future has in store for the mode.

If you haven’t got a chance to try the mode yet, but enjoyed Lab of Legends, I would highly recommend you to check out The Saltwater Scourge.

Below I will offer some core tips that will get you started with this new spin on the Legends of Runeterra rogue-like. Remember that many of the strategy and deckbuilding tips from the classic Lab of Legends still apply to this new mode, but all the advice offered in this piece will be specific to ‘The Saltwater Scourge’. For more general tips, you can check out our other Labs guides.

1. Take Your Time

Unless you are trying to go for the highest score and rush towards Gangplank with a time record, you are free to clear all the nodes on the map, pick up all the treasures, collect and spend all the gold, and build up your character to the maximum level.

Building your deck to be as strong as possible and maximizing your chances of winning the last fight will take some investment. Luckily, you have all the time and space in the world in this mode – explore the map, find the many treasure chests and see what could be interesting in all the shops to get the best possible deck before the Gangplank fight.

Your health will sometimes limit the number of fights you can take on, but usually, between healing nodes on the map and healing cards and items you can pick up, there’s more than enough sustain for you to clear every encounter.

Now be careful though, because as you keep winning fights, you also keep adding cards to your deck, which dilutes your build and reduces the chances of drawing your strongest ‘carry’ cards. So, for example, if you have built your deck around your crazy-powerful itemized champion, adding more random cards that have no strong synergy with it can be a mistake.

2. Don’t Spend Too Much Too Early

The Shop mechanic is brand new to Lab of Legends. This map node allows you to use some of the gold you collected on the way (by clearing enemies and acquiring treasures) to ‘buy’ additional cards for your deck.

While it is tempting to go on a shopping spree every time you enter a shop and use all your hard-earned coins to quickly get some sweet cards for your deck, what I would recommend you to do is practice restraint instead.

Firstly, there’s only a limited number of coins you can earn per run, and if you blow your savings early, you could end up passing on some very good options later on.

Also, and this is the most important point of understanding the shop – sometimes the shop will have on offer a card that you already have itemized. This would usually be the best pickup for your deck. The price for such a card might be higher, but adding another copy of one of your carry cards to your build is worth it.

Additionally, the advice I gave in the first section applies here as well. Be careful with adding too many cards to your deck simply because they are ‘decent’ – they are reducing the probability of you drawing your very best cards.

3. Remove Cards from Your Deck

If you don’t have much experience with deckbuilder rogue-likes and only discovering how the genre works, this is the most important tip for you.

We’ve said this in every section so far, but it’s so crucial that we should repeat it once again – the small deck means you will consistently draw the most important cards to your gameplan. Therefore, you should take an opportunity to remove some bad or suboptimal cards from your deck every time you have the chance to do so.

In The Saltwater Scourge, you most commonly can cut a card (and all of its copies) from your deck in ‘healing nodes’ – you can choose to do so as an option that is an alternative to healing. Additionally, you can encounter some random ‘event nodes’ that could also sometimes present you with an option to cut a card.

During the early parts of your run, I would recommend skipping your healing nodes and save them up for later when you might need some emergency healing. Remember, you can always return to any point on the map later and use up its effect when it makes the most sense.

However, be mindful that healing in the map nodes overall negatively affects your run grades, so aim to heal as little as possible and working on your deck’s stability by cutting cards instead.

4. Nab is Better Than You Think

In this mode, we are very often playing various Bilgewater vs Bilgewater battles, which means that most of the time, we will steal a card that is actually a part of our own region and we will likely be able to make good use of it.

Additionally, Bilgewater is a pretty synergistic region, and if you are able, for example, to snatch some Plunder activators or the Plunder payoffs, you would reduce the pressure Gangplank is able to apply in the final fight.

I’m not saying that going all-in on Nab is the perfect move. Building for tempo and powerful itemized carries – similarly to the classic Lab of Legends strategy – will usually be a safer option.

But the fact that we’re playing Bilgewater champions, and because there is almost always a Bilgewater opponent that we are facing on the other side – compared to the huge range of champions we can pick and many diverse opponents from different regions we will face in the regular Lab of Legends – all that makes Nab much more consistent in this new mode.


The Saltwater Scourge is a really nice twist to Lab of Legends, and although there are other more dedicated and intricate deckbuilder games out there, I still had a lot of fun grinding the mode. There is a lot of promise in here, and it feels it can only get better in the coming months as they add new features to it.

For now, The Saltwater Scourge doesn’t have a difficulty setting, and it feels quite easy as it is. However, for newer players with less experience, this mode is great and should be a perfect starting point to learn the basics.

Overall, I think we’ve got another great addition to the game, and if the future brings some solid replayability to the mode, we should have one of, if not the best PvE mode among all the digital CCG’s on the market.

Hope these tips helped you get a grasp of how to approach this new challenge. If you want to share your achievements of defeating Gangplank, feel free to join our Discord and the RuneterraCCG community.

As for myself, you can find me on Twitter or helping players improve on Metafy.

Good game everyone,



Den has been in love with strategy games for as long as he can remember, starting with the Heroes of Might and Magic series as a kid. Card games came around the middle school - Yugioh and then Magic. Hearthstone has been his real breakthrough and he has been a coach, writer, and caster on the French scene for many years now. Although it took him a bit to get into Legends or Runeterra, his EU Seasonal Tournament win was the perfect start to get involved in the community. He now coaches aspiring pro players and writes various articles on the game. Find him on Twitter at @den_CCG!

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