Forge the Blade: Riven and Noxus Cards Analysis and Ratings

Hey everyone, Shane here again to break down the newest Champion of Runeterra, Riven! Noxus desperately needs something cool to play with since as of now the region is a bit straightforward in what it can do, and it hasn’t gotten a new champion in a really long time. Luckily it looks like Riven is everything we wanted her to be! Let’s dive in!

Here is our rating scale:

  • 5.0: Meta-defining card, proven itself as a staple in multiple top-tier archetypes. (Pre-nerf Vi…).
  • 4.0: Archetype staple, or auto-include in multiple archetypes. (The Harrowing, Twisted Fate, Mystic Shot…).
  • 3.0: A solid playable, could serve as a staple for some archetypes. (Yasuo, Culling Strike, Statikk Shock…).
  • 2.0: Can be used for specific synergies, or to counter some decks (Vanguard SergeantThorny Toad…)
  • 1.0: Doesn’t find its place in the meta (Unstable VolticianParade Electrorig…)

Firstly we can’t fully evaluate Riven and her support cards without understanding her new mechanic of Reforge. I won’t put a rating here as these cards are not used for deckbuilding, but gained from various effects.

Essentially when you have a card with Reforge, you create a Fragment that is still needed to ‘restore the blade’, meaning you won’t get duplicates of the Fragments that you have in hand or cast already.

These fragments are Burst-speed buffs (well, sort-of, can we get a new keyword for this ‘Gem’ speed already?) that all cost 1 mana. They are designed to be only truly useful when you have the attack token, since Quick Attack and Overwhelm do nothing defensively.

Once you have played all 3, you get Blade of the Exile in hand, which is Slow speed but permanently grants you all 3 of the Fragments’ buffs on one unit at once. This is a massive offensive buff, and as long as there are some good Reforge cards I think we will be seeing plenty of this mechanic.


Riven – 4.0

I am coming in very high on Riven. Her stats are really solid for a 3-drop and they only get better when you look at all of her support cards. 4 health is just massive!

Her level-up condition just requires you to have Blade of Exile in your hand while she is on the board, which you can do seemingly easily. She also gets to Reforge every time you get the attack token, either through it becoming your turn or rallying. This helps her level-up if you didn’t get the supporting Reforge cards early.

Her level-up bonus is also pretty insane as it doubles the power she gains for the first time each round. This allows her power to get very high very quickly and become an absolute force to be reckoned with.

The main reason I am placing her so high at a 4.0 is because of her flexibility. I think she has a lot of viability in various decks and if you want to know more about what I am going to be crafting with her, you can check out my theory-crafting video here:


Weapon Hilt – 2.0

As far as 2 mana Burst-speed combat tricks go, this one isn’t the strongest in terms of output, especially when you compare it to things like Pale Cascade and Troll Chant.

That being said, Reforge has to count for something. With this specific synergy, this card might be included in order to make sure you are getting your Blade of the Exile. If Riven leveling up is not your primary focus and you are using her just for her solid stat-line and other effects, this probably won’t find a spot in your deck, especially since Noxus has other great Burst-speed + damage spells. Still, you do get an additional buff card in hand after casting which is a solid value.


Sharpened Resolve – 1.5

3 mana for a Burst-speed buff is a lot to ask in my opinion.

Usually, these cards exist at the 2-mana price for a buff, and then for 3 mana you normally get a more drastic effect like a Barrier from Prismatic Barrier or a Frostbite from Flash Freeze.

Obviously using this on Level 2 Riven is solid as she will get +6 Power, but you could also do that for 1 mana with Elixir of Wrath. 2 mana just for 2 health doesn’t seem great to me, especially since this buff is not permanent.


Survival Skills – 1.5

This card is very interesting. It is my understanding that this will not save units from kill effects like Vengeance or Culling Strike, but will save them from direct damage from spells or strikes.

For 5 mana and slow, there are just so many ways to play around this card. That being said, it does have a secondary effect that can be activated just by discarding it. This could fit nicely with some of the PZ cards or even with Draven and his Spinning Axes.

I don’t think it’s effect fits aggro all that much, so I am not really sure where to place this card. I am going in low but I have hope that it could find a spot someday.


Blade Squire – 2.0

Having cheap units with Reforge will be important for leveling Riven up earlier in the game.

That said, attaching a Reforge to Last Breath on this unit is a bit awkward, and allows your opponent to play around it and stall out its trigger. Eventually, this unit will die, but unless you’re playing Shadow Isles you won’t have a ton of control over exactly when.

In most cases, this won’t be a huge problem, but it could be in some fringe ones. Still, if you are looking for Reforge cards to fit your synergy then you are probably including Blade Squire!


Runeweaver – 2.5

For my Reforge triggers, I much prefer the Runeweaker to the Blade Squire. Realistically there is a lot of value on both of these since card generation is always powerful.

1 health is a bit weak on Runeweaver, but you get to Reforge on-summon, so you know exactly when you are getting it. This unit also becomes a magnet for some of the spells since 3 power early on is nothing to laugh at.

I really like Runeweaver and she should be a staple in Riven decks and might even see some play outside of that.


Hunt the Weak – 2.0

We have not seen a whole lot of hand disruption in Legends of Runeterra, and it is very interesting to see Noxus get access to this style of play. Previously we have seen Bilgewater have a little bit (Sleight of Hand), but this card is a cheaper and more direct way to disrupt your opponent’s hand.

Hunt the Weak is particular to discarding followers, which will be pretty weak into certain decks. On the other hand, it can be very strong into certain things, particularly after your opponent has played Trundle and you force them to discard that pesky Ice Pillar.

I am putting this at a 2.0 because hand disruption has been a very strong effect in almost every other CCG I have played and it could very well end up being strong here.


Brutal Hunter – 1.5

Challenger and Quick Attack are two insane Keywords to give one unit. They essentially allow you to kill a unit freely while on the offensive.

Obviously, in this case, the Brutal Hunter only keeps Quick Attack for the round it is summoned, but that is still a really strong effect.

The stats here are lacking, and the card is pretty vanilla overall, so it probably won’t see too much competitive play but it will be a staple in Expeditions!


Wrathful Rider – 2.0

Here we have another pretty ‘vanilla’ unit.

The big stand-out here is the 7 power on a 5-cost unit, which is very-very high and could be abusable with Overwhelm or Elusive.

For this reason alone I am putting it slightly above the Brutal Hunter but I don’t believe either card will see competitive play.


Arrel the Tracker – 2.5

I am extremely intrigued by Arrel the Tracker.

At first glance, she looks really weak. She has awful stats, but her ability has a lot of possibilities. I really like the flavor of this, as it fits very well with the Noxkraya Arena already being in Noxus. It will play much better than that though, as the unit Arrel strikes doesn’t strike back.

The new Blade Fragments offer a lot of value on Arrel as cheap options to trigger her ability. The biggest downside I see is that if you are going against a spell-heavy or control deck then the value of Arrel goes down a lot.

I am putting her at a 2.5 because with ability this interesting there are definitely going to be ways to make use out of it.


Conclusion

I feel as if there was a lot of pressure on the Noxus release this time around. As a region, they don’t have a very diverse identity and are overall quite one-dimensional.

That being said, I think Riven is exactly what they needed. She offers her own little mini-quest to complete as you play the game and forge the Blade of the Exile – and once you do that you can pile all of those awesome spells into one massive unit.

This is nothing like the way Noxus has previously played the game and I am very excited to give it all a shot!

So what are your thoughts, did Riven live up to the hype? What is the first Riven deck you are building when Cosmic Creation drops on December 16th?

Shane

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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