7 Defining Cards from Guardians of the Ancient Expansion

Shane shares his top 7 list of non-champion cards that have the greatest chance to break through into the meta.

Whenever there is a new expansion for Legends of Runeterra I love to make some sort of ‘Top X’ list. They always are great for getting a conversation started, and to see what other people are thinking about certain cards.

So today I am going to list the best 7 non-champion cards that will have the highest meta impact. What I mean by this is that I expect them to have really wide and consistent use in multiple decks. After you are through reading my list, feel free to chime in on what I missed or what I am overvaluing! Now let’s dive in!

Shurima really needed a solid 3-drop, and they sure got one with Merciless Hunter. 4/3 with Fearsome for 3 mana is already a strong unit, but add an amazing play effect and you have a unit that will become an absolute staple for the region. Granting Vulnerable is a very powerful effect as we have already seen with other cards within Shurima.

The great thing about the Merciless Hunter’s ability is its flexibility. You can either use this to get a key target off the board like a backrow champion or engine, or you could try to get Fearsome damage through by just granting their only viable blocker Vulnerable and pulling that unit to the side. Both of these are really solid options that will be used by various strategies within Shurima.

This unit also has a powerful effect even later in the game when combined with stronger units, and that value is a great bonus for early drops to have. Overall the Merciless Hunter is going to become an absolute staple for Shurima.

Even outside of dedicated Daybreak decks, the Solari Sunhawk will be an extremely valuable unit. The 2/3 stat-line on a 2-drop is really great and something we are seeing a lot more of in recent expansions.

The Sunhawk has a very versatile ability that can be used offensively or defensively. The fact that this stuns the strongest unit specifically is a very powerful tool. This can allow you to attack more freely around your opponent’s best defender, or limit their offensive power in a key situation. This is obviously something that Targon, an already absurdly versatile region, will love to have.

It is awesome to see Daybreak get some new tools to play with, but Sunhawk will most likely be seeing some play outside of that archetype as well.

Swapping 2 allies is an extremely versatile and, possibly, game-ending ability. Some of my favorite moments in Legends of Runeterra came from using Stand United for some seriously surprising damage or saves. Stand United was also burst speed, but at 6 mana it was rarely seen.

Adding a burst speed 2 mana swap can potentially change the game. This card will make players play around it in very particular ways, especially how they block. Syncopation is getting some insane hype, and people are already calling for nerfs. I don’t think I am quite there yet, but the potential for this card is extremely high and it will for sure be seen quite often.

Cheap combat tricks often end up as picks for top cards in new releases. A 1-cost burst spell that can save your unit is really solid. Add the new-ish Predict mechanic to this card and you have a really flexible and useful cheap spell.

Predict can be compared to draw in certain ways. It obviously doesn’t give you extra hand value, but it does allow you to choose more precisely what you want in your hand for the next turn, which can at times be even better than just random extra cards.

Even outside of a heavy Predict-focused deck, there is a lot of value in Scrying Sands! When you look at the other combat tricks of Shurima, you don’t find a ton of competition. Of course, in Overwhelm and aggressive decks, Exhaust will still be more valuable. But outside of that strategy, Scrying Sands could really find some nice homes as a very flexible card.

I have seen opinions on Blue Sentinel that are all over the place. Personally I think he is extremely valuable. Again we see a 2/3 body on a 2-drop, with the added bonus of providing some minor ramp on a future turn.

Before this release, outside of the Mountain Goat Targon did not have a universal go-to 2-drop. Blue Sentinel can potentially fit into this role. Targon as a region loves to spend mana. Whether it is some Invoked Celestials or Gems you have produced, having extra mana on any given turn is always useful.

The downside of Blue Sentinel is not being able to precisely control what turn you get your extra mana on, but in my opinion, a region like Targon is ok with that bonus on almost any given turn. Normally Targon has such hand advantage anyway, so they are bound to be able to find this mana useful in some fashion.

Add the landmark synergy of Shaped Stone, Malphite, Taliyah, Ground Slam, and more, and you have yourself a 2-drop that both is a versatile card and has its core archetype.

Even though there is obvious synergy with the Blade Dance archetype, this card will see play outside of that as well. Self-recalling is going to become slightly more prominent now as well, with that archetype getting some support, and this is a great alternative to Retreat.

For 2 mana, this is an incredible protection spell, as it allows you to dodge anything that is not Burst speed. Getting a Blade Dance 2 is not bad for any deck, but obviously has great synergy with multiple archetypes. Ionia desperately needed some more early high-value tricks, and this along with Syncopation they certainly have a handful of good options now.

Previously, Divergent Paths was the only fast-speed spell in all of Targon. Now Ground Slam has entered the game as a sort of versatile tool this region really had no access to before.

Targon is very similar to Freljord as they both are relying on either slow or burst spells, with Ice Shard and Ground Slam standing out from that pattern. This is the reason I believe Ground Slam deserves a mention – it breaks the ground for Targon in this sense.

Yes, just a stun for 4 mana at fast speed is not all that great, but since Ground Slam only requires you to summon one landmark, it is reasonable to run this card even outside of heavy landmark decks. You can even run this in a deck that doesn’t have any main-deck landmarks in it if you are using Blue Sentinel, Zilean, or Rock Hopper – and you will still consistently get the 3 damage clause in this case.

Once you add that portion of the spell, this card becomes extremely interesting for both pushing through extra Overwhelm damage by removing a blocker or removing an important attacker you can’t block.

This is my Top 7 non-champion cards that I believe this expansion will be remembered by, but honestly, there were just too many great cards to choose from! There are even a few others that have crossed my mind as possibilities on this list.

I am very excited to hear your thoughts, and to see what cards you think I missed. Also, please forgive me for not including Chip!


Shane has played strategy card games since before he could read, thanks to his older brother teaching him how to memorize what each card did. Currently, he is the Host of the Twin Sunz Podcast, a Legends of Runeterra podcast and community with offerings for players of all levels of skill.

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