Hey Runeterra! So far Shurima has not quite made the splash you would want from a brand new region. It has been held back by the decks that were already established prior to the Empires of the Ascended release. Shurima-based lists has had a hard time competing with the top-tier decks such as Shen Fiora, Fizz TF, Targon Invoke and Lissandra Trundle Control.
The three decks of Shurima that are showing a decent win rate are Thresh Nasus, Azir Lucian, and Sivir LeBlanc. The champion that is lacking the most so far is Taliyah – every single deck that includes her is currently below 40% win rate.
I think it is safe to say that Riot is aware of this and we can potentially see a buff for Taliyah, but I also do not think that she had the highest expectation as a card. Today I would like to talk about some of the cards from Shurima that we DID have high expectations for, but which also did not quite live up to them.
I will go over 5 cards that were initially highly rated by the community but have not quite reached their potential – whether it is because they haven’t found an archetype or possibly just because they turned out to be not as good as we anticipated. Keep in mind that some of these cards could see more play after the patch on Wednesday.
It has been one of the most disappointing cards from Shurima. Most people thought this would be an insane spell – I still think this card has some potential and could definitely see play in the future, but there are a few reasons why Ancient Hourglass is not useful right now.
I think it is fair to say that this spell was overrated in general. We had never seen an effect like this before and that fact made judging a card like Ancient Hourglass pretty hard of a task.
Removing a unit from play for a turn – even if you do so to protect it – is rough, and a bigger cost than initially expected.
Something else that might have been missed is that the Stasis Statue summons an EXACT copy of the obliterated unit. While we knew it does copy keywords and stats that were granted, it also copies all the other attributes of the card – and we weren’t initially as aware of that. For example, if you hourglass an Aphelios who already has phased in a Moon Weapon for the round, you can not get a new weapon on the turn he comes out of the Stasis Statue.
The biggest deal-breaker for Ancient Hourglass has more to do with Shurima as a region. The thing is, Shurima just does not have an engine worth protecting with Ancient Hourglass.
While it is possible to get a card from another region that might be worth protecting, it means you are locked into Shurima as your other region. Even you consider additionally enabling Lee Sin with a reliable champion tutor like Rite of Calling from Shurima, often cards like Deny or Nopeify will still do a better job of protecting Lee Sin than Ancient Hourglass, making Shurima tools obsolete.
I can definitely see Ancient Hourglass becoming better in the future when Shurima gets more units with effects and abilities that you want to protect. Currently, the fact that we have to look for that unit in another region is holding this card back. And the fact that Shurima doesn’t have a big selection of defensive options apart from Hourglass, makes it hard to justify picking Shurima as your support region.
During the spoiler season, many people were comparing Quicksand to Hush. It definitely has some similarities in that they both often help you win combat by lowering the attack of an opposing unit and removing its keywords.
However, Quicksand definitely has not turned out to be Hush 2.0. It misses some of the key things which make Hush great.
The most noticeable reason being it that it does not affect the health of the unit that you are targeting. Hush often is used as a combat trick and a way to remove health or some other resiliency buff. Quicksand definitely misses this effect and this is what is holding the spell back.
Other moments where Hush can be great is when you specifically want to remove not only the keywords but also the text part of the unit. Quicksand is not a ‘silence’ effect, which often means it only has applications in combat, and it can’t stop units like Watcher.
Unfortunately, I don’t think Quicksand will be seeing play in its current form as it just does not have enough uses. It is too narrow to be competitive. In combat, it can swing a fight, but it is too limited outside of it – and even while in combat, not lowering health is a huge problem.
Many had quite high hopes about Spirit Fire. It looked like a solid card that punishes open attacks, as 2 points of damage is often enough to deal with swarm decks, or other lists running smaller units. Spirit Fire is also at burst speed which means that it is not prone to cards like Deny.
Spirit Fire might seem really good on the surface, but it struggles because Shurima overall doesn’t have many great control tools. Rite of Negation can be used for that purpose, but currently, it sees more play in aggressive decks to stop the opponent from clearing your board. This is similar to how Deny was used in the past when Ionia was mostly running Elusive decks.
Spirit Fire also costs 7 mana, which is awkward in a lot of cases. The earliest it can ever be played is on turn 4 and it will fully tap you out of mana in that case. Compare this to Avalanche which threatens a similar board clear on turn 3.
Lowering the attack of the whole opponent’s board by 2 is significant, but often not enough. Many aggressive decks have units that have 3 or more attack and taking that damage from multiple units still hurts. An example would be TF Fizz who can hit you for 3-4 points of damage with Wiggly Burblefishes even through Spirit Fire.
An interesting way to buff Spirit Fire could be to make it give -2/0 to the current enemy units, followed by a ‘Round End’ effect that deals 2 damage to ALL enemy units. This change would definitely make it more worthwhile to include in a control deck.
Spirit Fire probably won’t see play in its current form, at least not until more cards that can stabilize the early game appear in Shurima. Spirit Fire has too high of a cost and needs cards to help bridge the gap from early turns.
Rampaging Baccai saw some play at the beginning of the expansion, but its appearance rate decreased over time. It is currently often doesn’t even make a cut in Slay decks such as Thresh Nasus.
It requires you to have Slain 4 units to activate its effect. However, you can’t always achieve that condition by turn 5, and you really want to play this unit on-curve.
And even when Rampaging Baccai is played with its ability active, it often ends up being not that good. It usually sustains 3-4 damage from the unit he struck, which leaves it in a vulnerable state to die to a spell or small unit. Moreover, several popular combat tricks, like Troll Chant for example, often can render the effect of Rampaging Baccai completely useless.
It also has to compete with Ruin Runner which has proved to be a really good card. They are similar in that they both have Overwhelm, but the higher attack of Ruin Runner and the Spellshield are clearly superior over what Rampaging Baccai is offering right now.
Baccai could see play in the future, but it needs to become more reliable and active on turn 5 consistently. It helps control the board, unlike Ruin Runner, which can mean that some decks could have a place for Rampaging Baccai. Hopefully, we will see more cards that enable Slay in the future.
Rite of Calling
Rite of Calling currently is seeing a little bit of play, but not as much as some people expected from a card that tutors champions.
It suffers from a similar problem that Ancient Hourglass has – Shurima has no champions which are worth searching for (whereas Ancient Hourglass doesn’t have enough targets worth protecting). It also requires you to go into another region just to include a champion which you would want to look for – such as Lee Sin or Fiora.
It does help consistency, but Entreat currently can do the same. One difference is that Rite of Calling can also be used to trigger Slay for decks that need enablers, but overall, Entreat seems to be doing a better job right now. Rite of Calling being at slow speed can be awkward as well, while Entreat is burst speed. In addition, Freljord provides better tools for a champion like Fiora to be protected.
In the later stages, you can sacrifice a mana gem to Rite of Calling, but in the early game, you definitely prefer destroying a unit. The unit often will be small which means that your opponent might have a way to kill off the unit which would fizzle your Rite of Calling.
Rite of Calling is definitely worth thinking about and is powerful in what it can enable, but Shurima just lacks the champion to properly go with it. Many cards in Shurima are in need of such a champion who will tie it all together. This can be a champion like Fiora or Lee Sin which enables all-in strategies or a champion that can be used as an engine such as Aphelios or Heimerdinger.
Of the cards on my list, Rite of Calling is probably the closest to the power level required for competitive play as the ability to search for specific cards is very strong and enables you to build decks differently.
Shurima has not had the impact that we were hoping for from a new region. It mostly sees use in midrange decks that are aggressively skewed. The cards that have been disappointing from Shurima are the control cards that just don’t have a deck to slot them into right now.
A great example of this is Rite of Negation, and while I did not include this card in the list, it has definitely been underplayed for how good it seemed initially (while it is also not quite a ‘better Deny‘ like some people think). This is mostly due to the fact that Shurima just can’t play for value or control right now. Rite of Negation currently functions as a card to stop effects so you can finish the opponent off with your aggressive midrange decks.
The patch notes are right around the corner and we are likely to see more Shurima after the patch as I expect many top-tier decks to receive nerfs and some Shuriman cards to get buffed.
I don’t think most of the cards which I talked about today will see huge amounts of play in the new patch though, as Shurima’s core problem is that it is just not complete until we saw two remaining expansions of the ‘Empires of the Ascended’ set.
Thank you for reading and feel free to follow me on Twitter. Till next time again Runeterra.