Expeditions Post-Patch 1.2: Breaking Down Changes to Archetypes

Patch 1.2 has introduced some balance changes to individual cards that have brought major shake-ups in the meta. Last week, we unpacked how these changes would impact the individual cards in Expeditions and concluded that most of them maintained their average power level and playability. You can read the deep dive into each card change here: “Re-evaluating Champions and Card Ratings”.

Where we find the real shake-ups for Expeditions are in the massive adjustments to card offerings within each archetype. The overall power and consistency of an archetype can be dramatically impacted by adjusting the ratio of narrow/weaker cards to premium/powerful ones. The goal for Expeditions in patch 1.2 was simple: bring balance to Demacia and make room for other region combinations to more reliably reach 7 wins. Patch 1.3 have followed up on those changes with some additional adjustments to various archetypes.

Dethroning Demacia

Demacia has been widely agreed upon as the best class for Expeditions because of its strong midrange units and spells. With the advent of Rising Tides, it would have been sub-optimal to draft any other region if Demacia (or a region that shares an archetype with Demacia) was offered on your first pick. This was mostly due to Grizzled Ranger and Loyal Badgerbear being offered in too many archetypes. Their prevalence caused them to appear at an alarming rate that put Demacia miles ahead of the other regions. Now both of these followers have been nerfed, and entire archetypes have been adjusted to include these format-defining units much less often.

Relentless – Weakened

Region(s): Demacia/Noxus

Champion(s): Quinn/Katarina

Added: For Demacia!, Ranger’s Resolve, Reckless Trifarian

Removed: Greathorn Companion, Grizzled Ranger, Trifarian Hopeful, Vanguard Sergeant

This is a major nerf to the archetype. The game plan is to attack too many times with too many efficient units for your opponent to deal with. Losing Grizzled Ranger and Vanguard Sergeant is going to be felt the most. Ranger’s Resolve is too narrow to pick multiple times and you only feel good about For Demacia! when it comes from Vanguard Sergeant.

Retribution – Power Level Unchanged

Region(s): Demacia/Shadow Isles

Champion(s): Lucian/Kalista

Added: Chronicler of Ruin, EnGarde, Hapless Aristocrat, Mobilize, Purify, (1.3: Tortured Prodigy)

Removed: Absorb Soul, Ancient Crocolith, Back to Back, Scribe of Sorrows, (1.3: Sapling Toss)

I’m not entirely sure what the goal of these changes were, but they feel fairly even in my opinion. You gain a narrow spell in Mobilize, but lose a narrow one in Absorb Soul. You gain sacrifice enabler with Chronicler of Ruin but lose Ancient Crocolith that functions as both an enabler and payoff in the sacrifice strategy. The main losses are Back to Back and Scribe of Sorrows, but those are not enough to weaken the archetype like the “Relentless” adjustments do.

Scout it Out – Weakened

Region(s): Demacia/Bilgewater

Champion(s): Quinn/Miss Fortune

Added: Chain Vest, For Demacia!, Mobilize, Ranger’s Resolve, (1.3: Jagged Butcher, Make it Rain, Playful Trickster)

Removed: Back to Back, Vanguard Sergeant, War Chefs, Ye Been Warned (1.3: Golden Narwhal)

You can tell this archetype was over performing because it got hammered hard with these adjustments. Every added spell from Patch 1.2 is narrow in use and you usually only want to take one of them on your “Wild Picks”. By contrast, you are losing four above average cards that you would be happy to run in any Expeditions deck. However, you still have Loyal Badgerbear, Grizzled Ranger, Greathorn Companion, and Riposte to fall back on so don’t count this one out yet.

Patch 1.3 has compensated a bit for the harsh nerf to this archetype by adding Jagged Butcher and Make it Rain. Playful Trickster is on theme with the archetype but is a weak card and shouldn’t be prioritized. Removing Golden Narwhal is a buff any archetype would welcome and helps resolve the overkill this one faced.

Shield Wall – Weakened

Region(s): Demacia/Ionia

Champion(s): Fiora/Shen

Added: Blinding Assault

Removed: Greenglade Lookout, Grizzled Ranger, Herald of Spring, Laurent Protege, Sonic Wave, War Chefs

I don’t really know what a single addition of Blinding Assault does for this archetype, but I do approve of removing these units and spells that gave too much flexibility for it as whole. The game plan of playing combat tricks on a few good units seems to be the initial intention for this archetype and narrowing in on that brings balance by keeping it within that lane.

Suit Up – Weakened

Region(s): Demacia/Freljord

Champion(s): Fiora/Sejuani

Added: Detain, En Garde, Plucky Poro, Radiant Strike, Ranger’s Resolve, Scarthane Steffen

Removed: Alpha Wildclaw, Greathorn Companion, Loyal Badgerbear, Riposte, Single Combat

These adjustments aren’t as brutal as {those for} “Scout it Out” but they are pretty close. All of the removed units and spells are top-tier for these Champions. Riposte and Single Combat are staples with Fiora. Wildclaw, Companion and Badgerbear usually push damage for Sejuani. You are happy to gain Detain, fine with Scarthane, and pretty much unhappy with the rest. These aren’t crippling changes, just balanced ones.

Overall, I am fairly happy with these adjustments to Demacia in Expeditions. I think the addition of such narrow spells and units will make players think twice about how consistent their Demacia deck is going to be. There are quite a few duds that will be offered on your “Synergy Picks” and I expect that Demacia will still be top tier, but not guaranteed every time.

Other Major Adjustments to Archetypes

Demacia isn’t the only region receiving a major overhaul in Patch 1.2/1.3. Since we will likely see an increase in the rate of play for other archetypes, it is important to look ahead at which ones are performing well and which ones are already struggling to stay afloat.

Cloning Program – Strengthened

Region(s): Piltover & Zaun/Freljord

Champion(s): Vi/Anivia

Added: Vi

Removed: Ezreal

Ezreal may be a strong contender in constructed, but he often falls short in Expeditions. It is very difficult to level him up and maximize his value as a champion. Vi on the other hand is a well-rounded champion that can benefit from making extra copies of units and spells. I do not recommend this archetype as a whole though. It just doesn’t have the same level of consistency and strength that others do.

Death’s Door – Strengthened

Region(s): Piltover & Zaun/Shadow Isles

Champion(s): Ezreal/Thresh

Added: Black Spear, Hapless Aristocrat, Shady Character, The Rekindler (1.3: Atrocity, Puffcap Peddler)

Removed: Brood Awakening, Funsmith, Deadbloom Wanderer, Trail of Evidence (1.3: Tortured Prodigy, Unlicensed Innovation)

These adjustments remove situational cards from a struggling archetype. The plethora of removal spells makes this combination sound great on paper, but the serious lack of valuable units is the downfall of this archetype. Expeditions, like other limited formats, is unit focused and an archetype is only as strong as the units it boasts. The Rekindler is strong, but heavily relies on drawing your champions first and usually not enough to carry an entire archetype.

Disruption – Strengthened

Region(s): Ionia/Noxus

Champion(s): Yasuo/Darius

Added: Darius, Navori Highwayman, Jeweled Protector, Shadow Assassin

Removed: Swain, Ghost, Retreat, Scaled Snapper

Let’s be real. Disruption may be a dual-region archetype, but you were usually not picking it for Darius or Swain. This archetype is all about Yasuo and you take every subsequent copy of him you see. Swain was a cute addition with the whole “stun” synergy, but this archetype is about tempo and Darius helps as a strong tempo finisher. You are unhappy with adding Highwayman and losing Retreat, but the rest are welcomed changes.

Fishbones – Strengthened

Region(s): Piltover & Zaun/Bilgewater

Champion(s): Jinx/Fizz

Added: Gotcha!, Hired Gun, Monkey Idol, Mystifying Magician, Patrol Wardens, Shellshocker, Thermogenic Beam (1.3: Barkbeast, Coral Creatures, Daring Poro, Fleetfeather Tracker, Hapless Aristocrat, Legion Saboteur, Lonely Poro, Mageseeker Conservator, Navori Bladescout, Omen Hawk, Precious Pet, Sparring Student)

Removed: Boomcrew Rookie, Brash Gambler, Jury-Rig, Pocket Aces, Sump Dredger, Vault Breaker, Zaunite Urchin (1.3: Pilfered Goods, Scrapdash Assembly)

This archetype seems to want to maximize value from 1 cost units. 1 cost units are weaker by design and tend to get outclassed by a decent curve from any opponent. Professor von Yipp is obviously meant to counteract their inherent downside, but you are not guaranteed to draw him and his stats leave him vulnerable to removal if you manage to draw him in the first place.

Patch 1.2 added a decent number of well-rounded removal spells and units that could help support the midgame, but this archetype just falls short of what other more consistent ones are doing. Patch 1.3 added more premium 1 cost units from each region, but that doesn’t fix the weak and inconsistent game plan this is striving for. Sorry Fishbones, the only Expedition you are going on is to Davy Jones’ Locker.

Grand Moments (previously Spellbound) – Weakened

Region(s): Demacia/Piltover & Zaun

Champion(s): Lux/Heimerdinger

Added: For Demacia!, Redoubled Valor (Eminent Benefactor, Suit Up!)

Removed: Riposte, Vanguard Sergeant (Assembly Bot, Plaza Guardian)

The name change is honestly a bigger nerf than the card adjustments in Patch 1.2. The choice was probably made so it didn’t get confused with the “Spell Slingers” archetype, but I digress. Grand Moments is super powerful and will not be impacted much by losing Riposte or Vanguard Sergeant. For Demacia! will generate a Final Spark from Lux or buff a board of turrets from Heimerdinger. Redoubled Valor is more situational, but still playable on any valuable unit or champion (such as Lux).

Patch 1.3 weakens the archetype a bit more by removing Plaza Guardian, but the other changes feel fairly even in their impact. Suit Up actually can be used to protect Heimerdinger and Assembly bot was playable, but often slow. This still remains my choice for best archetype overall.

Shadows and Dust – Strengthened

Region(s): Shadow Isles/Ionia

Champion(s): Hecarim/Zed

Added: Yusari

Removed: Claws of the Dragon, Deep Meditation, Eye of the Dragon, Mark of the Isles, Rush, Sonic Wave

This a highly synergistic archetype that rewards an all-in Ephemeral strategy. I agree with removing units and spells that do not contribute to that game plan. Yusari is a flexible unit with Challenger and Elusive that has most likely been added to offer much needed damage to close out games. You always take a chance on this archetype of having an absolutely broken deck or a garbage one with situational cards. I usually save it for my free-play after completing three Expeditions for rewards.

Smash and Grab – Weakened

Region(s): Piltover & Zaun/Bilgewater

Champion(s): Vi/Twisted Fate

Added: Eager Apprentice, Hired Gun, Jaull Hunters, Lure of the Depths

Removed: Boomcrew Rookie, Brash Gambler, Pick a Card, Pilfered Cards, Rummage, Salvage, The Beast Below

It doesn’t take a Veteran Investigator to see that most of the card draw is being removed from an archetype that rewards you for drawing cards. I understand the change though. I have been testing out this archetype with Twisted Fate andit was super efficient. Moving to single-draw cards (Pool Shark, Statikk Shock, and Lure of the Depths) will bring more balance to keep Twisted Fate in check who mostly struggled against Demacia.

Spell Slingers – Strengthened

Region(s): Ionia/Bilgewater

Champion(s): Lee Sin/Fizz

Added: Deny, Ki Guardian, Pocket Aces, Spirit’s Refuge, Ye Been Warned (1.3: Sleight of Hand, Slotbot, Will of Ionia)

Removed: Bubble Bear, Greenglade Duo, Razorscale Hunter, Shipwreck Hoarder (Playful Trickster, Spirit’s Refuge

This archetype takes the trophy for biggest glow up! It gained a bunch of spells to protect your valuable champions and it dropped Bubble Bear. I don’t know why, but Bubble Bear always showed up when drafting this archetype and it made you want to surrender the draft immediately. Razorscale Hunter and Greenglade Duo are pretty big losses as well, but I am excited to see how this archetype performs with the ability to maximize value out of Lee Sin and Fizz.

Patch 1.3 gives this archetype even more of a buff by adding Will of Ionia and removing Playful Trickster. It is also receiving a major bonus to the chance it will appear on your “Wild Picks” which can increase the average consistency of your deck.

Raiding Party – Strengthened

Region(s): Freljord/Bilgewater

Champion(s): Sejuani/Gangplank

Added: Chum the Waters, Jagged Butcher, Jagged Taskmaster, Monkey Idol, Parrrley, Yordle Grifter

Removed: Golden Narwhal, Petty Officer, Sheriff Lariette Rose, Warning Shot

I see Golden Narwhal removed and I say, “Sign me up for the Raiding Party!” In all seriousness though, these are decent changes that work well with the theme of the archetype. I am very happy taking most of the added cards (except for Jagged Taskmaster). I would have been fine being offered Petty Officer and Sheriff Lariette, but they won’t be missed either.

Scrapheap – Power Level Unchanged

Region(s): Piltover & Zaun/Noxus

Champion(s): Jinx/Draven

Added: Chempunk Pickpocket, Clump of Whumps, Shady Character, Thermogenic Beam

Removed: Arena Bookie, Flame Chompers, Insightful Investigator, Jury-Rig, Professor von Yipp, Sump Dredger, Vault Breaker

The majority of units and spells within this archetype are too weak and situational for my liking. The draft would have to go very well for the pieces to come together and you really rely on Jinx to close out the game since your units quickly get outclassed. The balance changes in Patch 1.3 are much needed, but not enough to make this reliable enough for me to pick if offered.

Conclusion: The Winners and The Losers

It is apparent which archetypes have been over performing and which ones have been underwhelming based on the cards added and removed. I feel that many of these have been adjusted to a point where most archetypes stand a chance of reaching 7 wins, but I believe the following are worth keeping an eye on.

The Winners:

  1. Spell Slingers: Losing units that weren’t cohesive with the archetype and gaining protection spells that maximize value of champions.
  2. Raiding Party: Gaining valuable units that take advantage of dealing damage each turn.
  3. Cloning Program: Replacing Ezreal with Vi as a more consistent champion.
  4. Fishbones: Gaining a ton of valuable units and spells that slot into any midrange deck. 

The Losers:

  1. Relentless: Losing its strongest Scout units and gaining narrow buffs/combat tricks.
  2. Scout it Out: Losing premium units and spells in place of very narrow ones.
  3. Smash and Grab: Losing premium draw spells in place of narrow single-draw ones.
  4. Suit Up: Losing premium spells and units that compliment their respective champions.

It has been two weeks since patch 1.2 released and the impact on Expeditions can truly be felt. Demacia are still powerful, but not always the best pick.

Bilgewater is proving itself to be a strong contender with how diverse its units and spells are. It curves out about as well as Demacia and can end games with larger Elusive units like Slippery Waverider and Abyssal Eye. Not to mention it has efficient card draw (Pilfered Goods) and incidental card advantage on units (Black Market Merchant, Pool Shark, Abyssal Eye).

Overall though, these changes have led to a fairly balanced format and I believe any region combination has the potential to reach 7 wins if you draft and play well. I hope you are enjoying the possibilities that have opened up now that Demacia has been dethroned!

Keep experimenting, keep exploring, and good luck on your Expeditions!

krabkore

KrabKore lives by a simple motto: “Rock at Games. Rock at Life.” He strives to provide resources that help players reach their goals in card games. He currently specializes in Expeditions on Legends of Runeterra.

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