Hi everyone, and happy patch day to all of you!
In a few hours from now, patch 3.4.0 will go live and with it, we are getting 3 new cards alongside around 30 cards or effects being changed in the game.
Looking at the first reactions from the community, it looks like the patch addressed most of the pressing needs that were talked about these last few weeks, and we should be in for some changes in the upcoming metagame. Obviously, the main talks currently are revolving around the changes to Conchologist, Pantheon, or Loping Telescope, but I believe other changes could be impactful and lead to the metagame evolving as well.
In this piece, I would like to discuss decks that were not part of the previous metagame but might have a shot at coming back or at least vastly improving with the upcoming changes.
With Aphelios, Viktor, Azir, Rumble, Jarvan, or Shen receiving direct or indirect help in this patch, there might be a hidden gem somewhere hiding being one of those changes, and we are going to try and find them today!
1. Mono Shurima Stops being a meme deck?
Every patch, it feels like Mono Shurima is getting a little help and grinds towards being a competitive deck eventually. In this patch, the deck is getting a buff to a champion (Azir) and a defensive spell (Quicksand), both helping the deck reach its win condition more safely.
Azir now advances its level up when a landmark is summoned, which, in a region like Shurima should bolster the speed at which Azir levels considering how many Landmarks are naturally played in most decks.
Mono Shurima is a deck that relies on leveling its champions to Level 3 as fast as possible and then abusing the mighty power of those ascended champions. Speeding up the way Azir achieves its level 2 will inherently also help him reach level 3 faster, strengthening the whole deck in the process.
The second change is Quicksand now being able to split to give -2|-0 to 2 targets, in addition to its already existing effect of reducing one target’s attack by 4. In this split effect, the card would also remove the positive keywords of both units it targets, a huge upside to this new version of the card.
Deckbuilding-wise, I don’t think the deck will change much and should play a similar list to what it was before the patch, but the overall power level should be greatly improved. It might finally be time to stop considering Mono Shurima as a meme and treat it as a real deck.
2. Rumble FINALLY has a whole package alongside him
Ever since it was released, Rumble never really found a way to climb the TierList high enough to be considered a top champion, or even a second fiddle in a top-rated deck.
In this patch, Rumble doesn’t necessarily get stronger as a card, but he does gain a bit of flexibility as the champion can now level without being forced to attack turn after turn in order to deal 12 damage. With the other Mecha-Yordles advancing its level 2 condition, all the cards of that completely unused package can now find utility in protecting Rumble, as the champion can stay in the back lane until leveling up.
As a featured deck for Rumble, I decided to work with an aggressive deck, simply because I believe the champion should keep that intention of pressuring the opponent and using the Mecha-Yordle to out-value if the aggressive game plan does not work out.
What the change allows, though, is to start playing cards in the Mecha-Yordle package like Scrapheap, arguably the best card in the mechanic outside of Rumble. The card already fit the discard mechanic and was extremely close to being playable, with another synergy being added to the mix, it could push the card over the line of playability.
3. Viktor and Aphelios pair up for some major value
It’s been a long time since the pairing of Targon and Piltover has been considered a successful one. Zoe and Vi have teamed up in the past, but never really managed to be considered more than a counter deck to specific strategies.
With both regions getting a major upgrade to one of their champions, and both being value-oriented, Aphelios and Viktor look to be poised to be considered as a team early in the patch.
These kinds of decks are difficult to pull off quickly in a new metagame as there is a substantial part of the deck that will be based on the other popular decks around. Nevertheless, there is a simple direction towards generating a lot of cards and maximizing Viktor’s level up that can be built around in those archetypes.
Aphelios looks to be a great support champion in this scenario, as alone, he can represent 5 different cards to help both Viktor and the Subpurrsible while also helping Viktor find Lifesteal or Overwhelm if he wouldn’t find it on his newly discounted Hex Cores Upgrade.
To be honest, I believe this kind of deck should be rather discrete early on after the patch, as the need to adapt to the environment might hold the deck back from posting good stats before finding the more refined lists. What the deck should be great at though, is being a breath of fresh air as it offers a gameplay that has been long gone from Legends of Runeterra competitive play.
4. Jarvan IV and Shen revive their old alliance
It’s been a wild since we saw the Ionia – Demacia pairing be dominant, although both regions have been amongst the best ones of early 2022. And to be fair, this one might be a stretch, as it is hard to consider the archetype got strictly buffed with the patch.
Indeed, while the patch buffed both champions tutors with Sacred Protector now granting Barrier to an Ally upon being played and King Jarvan III gaining 2 attack points. We cannot overlook the nerfs of Sharpsight (now only grants +1|+2) and Twin Disciplines (now +2|+0 or +0|+3) which have both been staples to any deck with those regions in the recent months.
I believe the nerf to Twin Disciplines won’t be so impactful compared to Sharpsight, Demacia being able to replace the card with Shield of Durand, a great defensive card to increase our Challengers or Champions survivability.
The impactful change to the deck, in my opinion at least, is the one to Sacred Protector. The card now granting Barrier will be able to help our deck be proactive even when playing what could be considered a support card. And thanks to that barrier, we can leverage a trade and play Shen in a much better setup on the following turn.
Unfortunately, none of these changes impact the relatively high costs of the deck’s key cards, and compared to other tempo-based decks, we still probably will be too slow until we level up Shen and can start being really aggressive on the board.
5. Akshan Lee becomes the new Blind Monk go-to deck.
Ever since Aphelios was revealed, and even after the champion’s nerf last year, Crescendum and Eye of the Dragon had a special relationship in any Targon – Ionia deck, especially the Zoe LeeSin deck.
With Crescendum now likely unplayable in a combo-oriented deck, there are a lot of talks about dropping Targon as the second region of the deck altogether. Luckily enough for the blind monk, another pairing already exists in the game, this one with Akshan and the vast desert of Shurima.
It doesn’t seem like the patch impacts Akshan Lee directly in terms of power level, apart from the nerf to Twin Disciplines, which I expect to be very minor for this kind of deck. I don’t see the new “Desert Duel” being played in the deck, although the improved Quicksand might be a consideration as a tech card in the future.
Just like Jarvan IV and Shen, this deck probably will stay a rather quiet one on the ladder, but its tournament play rate could go up a bit as it is for now the default Lee Sin deck for strategies looking to use the Monk as a counter pick.
I have seen a lot of negative takes on the patch, as a lot of popular figures in the community seem to firmly believe the changes are not enough and should lead to another solved meta pretty quickly. Personally, I believe a large number of buffs were needed, as it felt like the best way to breathe life into a metagame that looked incredibly stale over the past couple of months.
We did get a lot of buffs, and most of them touched cards that were almost or completely untouched at most ranks of the game, meaning we could actually see a real change in the play rate of certain cards.
The risk of this patch is to see barely any of the buffed cards make it to the competitive level, considering how wide the gap was between the Tier 1 deck and the barely used cards.
Anyway, I hope these few decks gave you some idea of what to try when the patch goes live later today. If you already have some homemade brews in-store as well, feel free to come and share them on the RuneterraCCG discord and discuss it with the community.
As for myself, you can find me on Twitter where I’ll share my progress in this new patch.
Good Game Everyone.