Elites Meta Incoming? | Assessing All The New Cards and Balance Changes in Patch 4.2
Hello everyone, it’s Raphterra back again! The notes for Patch 4.2, Legends of Runeterra’s first Variety Patch of 2023, have officially been released. This patch includes a new card for each region in the game, along with various balance changes to existing cards. In this article, I’ll be providing my personal assessment of all the new cards and balance changes featured in the patch.
10 New Cards Revealed – One For Each Region!
I will begin by sharing my initial impressions of the new cards unveiled in Patch 4.2. To do this, I will classify each card into the following categories:
- Meta-defining – Cards that will likely lead to the creation of new meta-defining high-tier decks.
- Good / Playable – Good, solid cards that can be included in several competitive decks.
- Mediocre – Cards that may see play in some competitive decks, but will likely be limited to mid-tier and low-tier strategies.
- Bad / Unplayable – Cards that I won’t consider including in any of the decks I play.
- Wildcard – Cards that are difficult to assess without actual testing. They could be anywhere between meta-defining and unplayable.
Ceaseless Sentry (Good/Playable)
Ceaseless Sentry offers Shadow Isles an additional card-drawing option that doesn’t require sacrificing allied units. Glimpse Beyond and Spirit Leech are the region’s typical card-drawing choices, but they can be challenging to use in situations where there aren’t any good units to kill.
Ceaseless Sentry will make it even more difficult for aggressive decks to penetrate the defenses of Shadow Isles‘ control decks. This card will be a valuable addition to conventional control decks like Spooky Karma, Anivia Control, and Darkness.
Generous Gemcrafter (Good/Playable)
Generous Gemcrafter is Targon‘s version of Starlit Seer! I’m personally concerned of what Generous Gemcrafter could do for Kayle‘s Empowered archetype. Since her buff in Patch 4.1, Kayle has become an excellent standalone card for several midrange and aggressive decks. However, most of her Empowered followers have yet to see the same level of competitive play. The introduction of Generous Gemcrafter could change all that.
Winged Messenger is an early unit that could snowball out of control if buffed early. Mihira, Aspect of Justice was a very fragile card prior to Patch 4.2, but Generous Gemcrafter might finally make it playable in competitive Empowered decks. For other champion synergies, Aphelios‘ Moon Weapons would be good enablers for Generous Gemcrafter’s buff effect.
Blocking Badgerbear (Meta-defining)
Blocking Badgerbear is an absolute unit. Elites have already had some competitive success in previous patches, and the addition of this colossal early unit could be what propels them to high tiers. Blocking Badgerbear’s base statline is already quite imposing, but don’t forget that it can grow even larger with buffs from Battlesmith and Vanguard Bannerman.
Elite enthusiasts have been in the shadow of other midrange Demacia decks for a long time, but it appears that the time for Elites to shine is approaching. It may turn out that all they needed was a little assistance from their adorable furry allies: Trusty Ramhound and Blocking Badgerbear.
Banana Blaster (Good/Playable)
Banana Blaster is a high-value tempo card that’s similar to the pre-nerfed Tri-beam Improbulator. Unlike Tri-beam Improbulator, Banana Blaster requires unit mana, but its damage output is easier to increase. This creates exciting deckbuilding possibilities with hand-buff mechanics. Targon‘s Generous Gemcrafter, Celestial Blessing, and Mihira, Aspect of Justice are some of the cards that synergize well with hand-buff strategies.
Even if Banana Blaster doesn’t immediately see competitive play in Patch 4.2, it’s likely to shine in the future as more hand-buff cards are introduced.
Priestess of Desert Light (Unplayable)
Priestess of Desert Light will not be viable in formats that follow the Standard deckbuilding rules. At best, it can be used for low-tier, meme strategies. To make the most of this card, you’ll need to use permanent buffs and healing to trigger its effect multiple times. However, running only one copy of each champion will make your deck very inconsistent. Even then, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to summon your strong champions on the first try, and hard removal will instantly shut down your deck’s game plan.
Priestess of Desert Light is better suited for the Unlimited Champions format, where running 6+ champions is encouraged.
Formula (Good/Playable, possibly Meta-defining)
Jayce, Lux, and Heimerdinger have all shown competitive winrates since the buff to Albus Ferros in Patch 4.2. Formula will further enhance the archetype’s strategy of casting 6+ cost spells. Formula effectively serves as a 3-mana spell that draws 2 cards that also activates the effects of Lux, Jayce, Heimerdinger, and Albus Ferros. One way to outplay Jayce decks is to force them to use their 6-cost spells inefficiently early on. Formula may provide these decks with the flexibility they need in such situations.
At least one copy of Formula should be included in all Jayce decks. It’s a great card for the archetype!
Winter’s Touch (Meta-defining)
Feel The Rush Control has been a highly competitive archetype for a long time, and it appears that it will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. Winter’s Touch offers Freljord decks additional ways to ramp up mana gems, making it even easier to play high-cost cards earlier in the game. While Deny and Aloof Travelers are the top counter cards against ramp strategies, they are no longer enough to stop the double threat of Feel The Rush + She Who Wanders, which ramp decks now commonly use.
The main weakness of this archetype is the limited card draw during the late game. Winter’s Touch is precisely what ramp decks require to gain more deck cycle in the latter stages of the game.
Skulking String-Puller (Mediocre)
Units that cost 6 or more must have a significant impact to justify their inclusion as main deck cards. Skulking String-Puller, however, is too expensive for its effect and lacks immediate impact upon summoning. While intended to serve as a finisher unit for swarm strategies, I doubt that this card will see any competitive play. In fact, describing this unit as “mediocre” rather than “unplayable” might even be overly generous.
Serene Sky-Singer (Wildcard)
Serene Sky-Singer is a major wildcard in Patch 4.2. The card’s theoretical potential is worrisome, as it has the ability to discount key spells such as Feel The Rush, Warmother’s Call, and Buried in Ice. Furthermore, the release of Winter’s Touch could speed up the timing of its summon. Additionally, other cards such as Go Get It, Splinter Soul, and Twin Wind Technique can generate multiple spell discounts from Serene Sky-Singer.
Despite these advantages, it is important to note that Serene Sky-Singer only discounts spells in the deck, necessitating the use of draw cards to fully exploit its value. While this card has immense potential, it remains to be seen whether it will prove to be mediocre or extremely powerful. We will have a clearer understanding of its impact once the patch is released in a few days.
Mischievous Marai (Mediocre)
Mischievous Marai is Bilgewater‘s equivalent of Funsmith, providing the region with a dependable method of generating Powder Kegs. This could lead to some exciting deck-building opportunities, as Bilgewater now has a unique method of increasing damage output without being overly reliant on Tybaulk from Noxus. Despite this, I believe that Mischievous Marai will suffer a similar fate to Funsmith, as it is likely to be restricted to mid-tier or low-tier decks that are more for casual or novelty purposes.
Card Adjustments in Patch 4.2
In this section, I’ll be discussing the card adjustments in the patch, including which changes I think will have a high-impact in the competitive meta.
High Impact Nerfs (Reveler’s Feast, Atrocity, Wandering Shepherd)
These are three significant nerfs that came with Patch 4.2, and they will have an impact on several high-tier competitive decks, potentially bringing them down a notch or two.
Reveler’s Feast remains a viable option for Noxus swarm decks, but its power has been greatly diminished with the change of its speed from Burst to Focus. The element of surprise, where opponents could not set up their blockers effectively, was one of the main strengths of Reveler’s Feast, and this factor is now absent in Patch 4.2. Decks that will be affected by this nerf include BC Noxus Swarm and Pirate Aggro.
The nerf to Atrocity‘s speed to Slow speed marks the end of an era. It was Shadow Isles‘ most reliable finisher spell since the days of They Who Endure, and all the way up to Tristana Shadow Isles in today’s era. Given that it is now a worse version of Ionia‘s Dragon’s Rage, I would be surprised if Atrocity sees any play at all.
Wandering Shepherd‘s nerf is another impactful one that will affect several competitive decks, including Kayle Leona, Tristana Teemo, Jax Ornn, and Pantheon Varus. It is still a decent card, but being vulnerable to pings will significantly reduce Wandering Shepherd‘s threat level in the early game.
High-Impact Buffs (Steem, Domination, Wraith of Echoes)
These are the buffs that I’m particularly excited about, and I think they’ll have a significant impact on the meta.
The rework of Steem gives players more reasons to play Evelynn‘s champion origin. It now acts as an engine, increasing the board control potential of Husk decks. If won’t feel as bad to not have Evelynn on Turn 4, since Steem is now a viable alternative 4-cost unit. The health increase of Domination is another useful buff, benefiting not only Evelynn decks but also Azir Irelia. We may see the return of the controversial combo deck to high tiers!
I’m not entirely sure if Wraith of Echoes will have a significant impact, but it’s definitely a more appealing engine to include in decks at 5 mana. It presents multiple deckbuilding opportunities with Spiders, Encroaching Mists, Legion Marauders, and many more. I’m looking forward to experimenting with it!
Other Card Changes in Patch 4.2
The following are changes which I don’t think will have much of an impact on the competitive meta. That being said, more changes are better than nothing! The change to Vaults of Helia might be a wildcard, since cost-decreases are usually always high-impact. That being said, I can’t think of any existing competitive strategies that can utilize the buffed landmark.
And that concludes my breakdown of the latest patch! This variety set is just the first of many more to come. If future variety patches are anything like this one, I’m excited to see what’s in store for us! Almost every new card in the set presents exciting opportunities for deck building, and I’m eager to explore them all.
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me on YouTube, Discord, or Twitter!