Hey, Mezume here! No one expected it, but we have been pleasantly surprised with yet another champion reveal on the very next day after Viego has been spoiled – and it is Akshan!
Akshan was released alongside only two other main-deckable cards, so this time, I won’t need to go over a ton of ratings for support cards, which gives me a chance to focus more on theorycrafting with the champion himself, who seems like he would fit in with multiple existing champions. Let’s dive in!
Here’s our rating scale for new cards:
- 5.0: Meta-defining card, should prove itself as a staple in multiple top-tier archetypes.
- 4.0: Archetype staple, or auto-include in multiple archetypes.
- 3.0: A solid playable, could serve as a staple for some archetypes.
- 2.0: Could be used for specific synergies, or to counter some decks.
- 1.0: Unlikely to find its place in the meta.
Akshan – 3.5
Akshan is a 2-mana champion with a mediocre stat-line – 2/2 with Quick Attack is significantly weaker than Lucian, or even Diana, who has a conditional Challenger. So what does he offer for us to start considering him as a viable champion, given the fact that the other two 2-drop quick-attackers with better stat-lines don’t see much play?
Well, for one, he has an additional effect on summon: he creates a Warlord’s Palace – a landmark with a countdown 8. This countdown completion is also a requirement for his level-up. Nothing too exciting is going here on so far, at least at first glance.
When Warlord’s Palace counts down to zero, it creates a Relic of Power in hand, which can do one of three things for free: Predict, then draw 1 – essentially a 0-mana Time Trick; summon a Sandstone Charger – a free Waking Sands; or grant all allies +1/+0.
The big upside here is that Relic of Power is at Focus speed, so you can spawn a 5/2 attacker without passing a priority. This, however, does very little as a pay-off and does not justify Akshan taking up a champ slot in your deck.
I’ve been negative about his kit so far, so what was it that in the end justified a fairly good rating? Well, it all gets better when we look at his leveled form.
When he is Level 2, his core gameplay patterns remain the same, except his stats are now increased to 3/3 and the landmark he summons is now Warlord’s Hoard. This is essentially an upgraded Warlord’s Palace – it has the same countdown 8, same text, but a much stronger reward at the end of it all. The Sentinel’s Hoard gives you a choice between three different spells, and each of those is really powerful.
The question is – is Akshan worth building a deck around? Is getting either of those spells strong enough to actually put him in the deck? Tentatively, I would like to say yes. I do not think he is a complete game-winner, but he has some great synergies with other champions and regions – below I present two decks that I think he can fit in.
Both of those decks showcase some of the strengths and synergies of Akshan, but keep in mind that we are missing a lot of context and there are still cards to be revealed that could change our perception of what might and might not work. It is also possible that besides Riven and Taric, Akshan could also work with Zed and Sivir supported by Ionia, which has access to Flurry of Fists that has been all the rage in the past few days!
This deck relies on its two champions and the way they are are naturally synergizing with each other. Riven is a win condition that wants to be targeted with buffs, while Akshan works great with any kind of effect that targets your units.
Blade Fragments from Riven and her followers work towards Akshan’s level up and, after that, towards the countdown of Warlord’s Hoard. You are not pre-determined to select any particular option offered from the Sentinel’s Hoard. Giving all champions, present and future, Spellshield with Shield of the Sentinels; drawing more cards and reducing their cost with Fount of Power, or even resurrecting either Riven or Ruin Runner with
The Shurima package helps Riven reach her true potential and potentially one-shot the opposing Nexus, but you also have the access to another win condition in Ruin Runner.
Akshan plays a supporting role, as he will in most decks, giving access to additional buffs or combo plays. Both of the new spells make an appearance, as Grappling Hook will nearly always be active, while The Absolver synergizes strongly with both champions.
This list is a little more speculative than the Riven build. It focuses on the fact that Taric and Akshan want to do the same thing to get to a level-up. However, this deck might feel like it lacks a win condition at times.
Here we aim to level Akshan and Taric as soon as possible and get access to the powerful pay-offs of both – Taric’s offensive prowess, as well as the versatile tools from Sentinel’s Hoard. Gems and other buffs let you turbo-level both champions, while also creating an advantage on the board.
This advantage can be turned into a win with the use of The Absolver’s Return, as well as with Overwhelm units: Ruin Runner and one copy of the new Thrumming Swarm, serving as a threat that the opponent has to deal with every turn.
This deck is much less oriented on a single combo as compared to Akshan Riven; instead, it wants to take over the board. As mentioned before, that can be achieved with buffs, but also with units that grant Vulnerable, allowing Taric and whoever he supports to force favorable trades.
Grappling Hook – 3.0
Cheap strike cards tend to be really powerful and act as staples in their archetypes – Single Combat and Concerted Strike are great in Demacia, while Bloody Business is a must-have card in Reputation decks.
This one has a great upside of being a one-sided strike like Bloody Business, while its prerequisite is fairly easy to achieve in decks that want to run it.
Its biggest problem is that it is a Slow-speed spell, which can hinder its viability. It cannot be used in response to enemy spells or utilized during combat – and strike effects often shine the brightest in those situations. I do believe, however, that any buff-oriented deck in Shurima will want to play this card.
The Absolver – 3.5
Looking at the front side alone, it is a +2/+1, which means it gives a total of 3 stats for 2 mana. That is slightly weaker when compared to staples like Troll Chant or Sharpsight – but it is in line with Twin Disciplines – which trades in a stat point for versatility.
Playing The Absolver for just its initial effect is probably not worth it, considering most Shurima decks would rather just play Shaped Stone instead.
However, if you’ve leveled a champion, this card creates another 2-mana +2/+1, except this time it also gives Overwhelm. In such a case, The Absolver effectively becomes a 4-mana that gives +4/+2 and Overwhelm, split over two ‘buff instances’.
You want Overwhelm by the later stage of the game mostly – which means, since you will be likely to level a champ by then, you will get The Absolver’s Return when you really need it.
Overall, I think this card will be quite powerful – it is flexible and can give something Overwhelm at Burst speed. I will want to play it in my Shurima decks.
Overall, Akshan seems like a very flexible design. Steve Rubin, one of the leading developers of the Ruination expansion, wrote about him: “Akshan really fits my playstyle of an aggro player who loves to get scrappy wins and maintain the ability to play for a longer or shorter game given different circumstances. He’s also a deck-builder’s paradise, I’m not even sure what the best decks he’ll land in might be!”
Another curious thing about Akshan is that he is the first champion that is being simultaneously introduced into all games set in the Runeterra universe – League of Legends, Wild Rift, Teamfight Tactics, and Legends of Runeterra. In fact, we are getting him in LoR even earlier than he is hitting live servers in LoL!
So far this spoiler season has been a blast – at first, we thought we will be getting only Viego, but now after we’ve got a second champion on the very next day after The Ruined King reveal, it makes me wonder if this release has even more in store for us!