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April 27th Patch Wishlist and Expectations: Champion Reworks and Overall Balance of LoR

What to expect from April 27th Patch? Den analyses the informations available to us and shares his opinions in this wishlist article.

Hi everyone, welcome to our now routine wishlist of what I would like to see implemented in the soon-to-be-announced patch. This time will be a little different though as we already know what cards will be changed, alongside 3 cards being added to the game.

As Legends of Runeterra presents itself as a game, the champions are the very core of how we build our decks and develop our strategies during a match. Almost every deck in the metagame currently suffers a significant drop in win rate based on whether it drew its champions or not during a game. Championless decks also have disappeared from competitive play for the simple reason that champions are the best cards available to a player.

Because we are talking of the most important kind of cards in Legends of Runeterra, this patch obviously could have some huge repercussions on how the environment will evolve from April 27th, and makes it a potentially crucial one while we wait until the next expansion arrives.

So without further ado, let’s dive into what to expect from patch 3.6.0 and the changes I hope might happen.


Buffs and New Cards

When they announced that 3 champions were specifically under the radar (Garen, Leblanc, and Udyr) but other underplayed would also see some changes, I thought that we could get something along 6 to 10 champions receiving minor upgrades in order to shake up the metagame a bit. Well, I am delighted to see that 12 of the most underwhelming current picks are being buffed.

  • Raw Power upgrades :

In this list, there are some picks with easier possibilities to guess, as champions like Sion, Nasus, or even Darius should see raw power upgrades to support their gameplay based on being the enforcer in the deck they are played in. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sion and Nasus finally get reverted to their old self, while Darius keeps on getting beefier.

If we can have a clear idea of what Nasus and Sion could receive as buffs, for Sion it is going back to his 10 attack potential, and for Nasus gaining Fearsome on level 1 again.

I would like to see Darius’ change be applied mostly to the leveled-up part of the champion, the whole point of Darius being to flip when hitting the board. A new keyword or maybe a unique ability to ignore its blocker and target the enemy nexus directly could help Darius finally get that feeling of a powerful finisher for damage-based decks.


  • Level up and synergy upgrades :

Highly synergistic champions like Leona, Nocturne, or Ashe should also be fairly easy to imagine being reinforced as the key card of their archetype, helping the whole deck in the process. Seeing those cards with a higher health pool to help with survivability and helping them level up faster should be one of the 2 directions I expect the developers to take regarding these champions.

Ashe and Nocturne’s main problem is their weak 3 health count before they level up, making them quite hard to play on-curve without giving a good opportunity to the opponent to remove them. The thing is upping them to 5/4 or granting them something like Spellshield would simply make the champions threats without making them more important to their overall synergies, kind of how Sivir works in a way.

In order to keep the flavor of those champions, and keep the feeling they push their deck into a certain direction, the changes should be made on how their level up or how impactful they are once flipped. For Ashe, I could imagine a cost reduction to her Cristal Arrow, making it cost 1 or 0 to leave up more resources afterward to abuse the mass freeze on the opposing board.

Nocturne already is well-balanced in my opinion, the main problem being the Nightfall synergy as a whole which feels too weak. 2 possibilities I would expect is either to change Nocturne and align him with the Fearsome units rather than the Nightfall ones, as it could make the champion be featured in a Spiders deck or help the Mistwraith for example. Otherwise, a loss of attack points for more endurance would already make Nocturne much harder to kill and have a bigger impact thanks to a longer-lasting passive ability.

Leona kind of shares the same problem Nocturne features, as the champion looks well-designed, but doesn’t have a good enough supporting cast around them. As a 3/5 unit, it is hard to imagine giving Leona even more stats without making her impossible to remove once leveled up with anything less than a Vengeance. For this reason, I expect her change to be a synergy-based one, which would help the Daybreak units around Leona be more oppressive rather than make Leona herself a better card.


  • Gameplay upgrades :

Karma and Galio already are much more interesting possibilities to look at, as they could receive some help in very different departments of their gameplay. Compared to the previous champions, those 2 have the goal to stay on board and generate value, possibly locking down the game as their passive ability is abused. And while Leona could also fit this description, the difference with Karma and Galio is that they are much more flexible in how you can use them than Leona is, the latter being played only in a Daybreak deck.

Because Karma can basically fit any deck with the intent to outvalue the opponent through spell value, there isn’t a clear-cut archetype labeled as “The Karma deck”. The same could be said about Galio, a champion that we originally designed as the late-game bomb for the Formidable synergy, but instead found more value in a Cithria deck solely aiming to generate huge stats on the board, showing the champion had more versatility than we thought.

These changes are the hardest ones to imagine as they could be anything from a cost change to the level-up condition of the card. I would expect the change to be directed towards making the champion faster in how they can impact the game, like not requiring Karma to reach the enlightened status in order to level up. As for Galio, I can’t see much outside of a cost reduction to a 6 mana cost.


  • Reworks or Significant Upgrades :

Lastly, we have those in dying need of some help: Udyr, Garen, and Katarina if we ask the community, but also Leblanc if we believe the words of the last released patch from the developers’ team.

Leblanc to me suffers from the 2 Health curve, which sends every important card with this amount of endurance to the “Dies to Mystic Shot club”. If we add to this, the fact that Leblanc’s supporting cast never really found its groove, it looks indeed like the champion would need some help. But I would expect her to be reworked, rather buffed in terms of survivability or simply help the reputation synergy as a whole.

When it comes to the last trio, I think Udyr is the least likely to change, as the champion is both new and possesses a real identity. Coupled with the Hyara Allseer being buffed as well and a new card being named “Udyr support”, Udyr should be in line to receive a solid buff to the whole Stances mechanic but isn’t going to be reworked from an identity standpoint.

Garen and Katarina though, both have been abandoned a long time ago and could benefit from an identity change as rallying is something that several cards can provide now, and obviously, these two aren’t doing it well enough.

Noxus and Demacia are quite narrow when it comes to potential identities. The first one features very aggressive, damage-based deck, or off-tempo, removal-based strategies. With her Blade’s Edge, I feel like Katarina could actually work in both decks, either allowing damage decks to access a bit more reach, or removal decks to enable Ravenous Flock or Scorched earth more easily. Swain, for example, is a champion that keeps changing its pairing as it cannot seem to find that perfect synergy, but could benefit a lot from a champion who can generate some ping spells along the way like a pre-nerf Lecturing Yordle could do.

Blood For Blood is an interesting card from Noxus mentioned in the buffs, the card usually being associated with Vladimir. I don’t expect the card to change its effect and be associated with another champion, which begs the question if Katarina alone can function without some other buffs to her mechanic, or if she will be attached to an already playable one.

Also, we know the new Noxus card will not be directed to help Katarina but rather Leblanc as it is labeled “Reputation Support”. This is another reason to believe Katarina should be a completely new card when the patch goes live on April 27th.

Garen, to me, needs a complete overhaul in order to make him devoted to the Elite tribe rather than just being a good one amongst an otherwise disappointing synergy. Something very impactful like “Grant other elites Barrier this turn” or “Grant me +1+1 for each Elite that died this turn/game” would make Garen less versatile but more useful overall.

With 2 other Elite-related units being buffed (Swifting Lancer and Vanguard Squire) and a new card added to the mix, the tribe led by Garren and Jarvan IV could finally be somewhat playable after so many attempts. In a region like Demacia, which has routinely been amongst the best ones over the last year, everything is in place for a synergy to immediately become a contender once it finds a couple of cards it can build its gameplan around.


Nerfs

Yordle In Arms, Buried Sun Disc, and Bandle Tree all fall under the same distinction currently: “too strong of a win condition”. It will be difficult to change the card outside the numbers printed on it (Changing the mana cost to slow it down or make it more difficult to activate basically) because these cards also are tied to the identity of their region.

Considering the number of buffs we are receiving, I believe the main reason for these changes is to push the community to play with the new cards and create a big sense of change. In order for us to have a feeling of power with what were considered unplayable synergies up until this point, it is necessary that we also get the feeling that the strongest win conditions in the game are weaker than they were.

Once the patch goes live, most of the stronger decks will be slower to complete their gameplan, making it easier to test and build around the newer synergies. Even the usually very popular aggressive decks should be toned down thanks to the Ambush and Balistic Bot nerfs.

Just like the other 3 cards, I expect all these nerfs to be raw power changes, either making the card slower to activate or easier to counter for the opponent. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ballistic Bot became a 1/2 or maybe lose its augment keywords, making it effectively a burn unit or a support to Viktor rather than being a potential threat on its own.

As for Ambush, I would guess the card will be upped to 3 mana, as there isn’t much that can be done to it otherwise. It will likely become a similar card to Might, but for Piltover and Zaun.

Something interesting to look at is the decks that have not been nerfed while being considered good to great in the current metagame. Yuumi Pantheon (who were nerfed in the previous balance patch), Scouts, or Akshan Sivir, alongside most burn decks like Pirates or Spiders, come to mind in the pressure department. As for slower decks, Ezreal Caitlyn, Taliyah Ziggs or Feel The Rush should all keep their relevancy, at least until we figure out more of the upcoming metagame.


Closing Words

I honestly wasn’t expecting so much out of this patch, but it is looking to be a great shake-up in this 3 months long season and should give a lot of people a reason to grind the ladder before the seasonal tournament.

In my previous wishlist article, I put the emphasis on how a patch should provide the feeling that something changed in the environment even before proving the feeling that the game is now balanced. The balance of a metagame is something that comes once the player base has tested and found what are, in theory, the best decks. But in order to find those decks, the community needs to be enticed to actively play the game, something that usually finds its motivation in the change the patch managed to bring.

We will only know the precise changes on Tuesday night, but such a big list is reminiscent of the balance change we got at the end of March, one that was a success in my book. One month later, we might regret the popularity of a deck like Mono Shurima but can’t deny the fact that the deck brought some long-awaited change to the game and one can only hope the upcoming patch is as good if not even better than the previous one. It should be, as this time we’re talking about the most important cards in Legends of Runeterra.

Good game everyone.

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den

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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