Hey, Agigas here!
After the reveal of the Attach keyword and the Fae tribe earlier this week, now we get yet another new mechanic – Formidable. In this article, I will go over all the recently spoiled cards and rate them from a competitive standpoint to help you evaluate them in the meta to come.
Here’s our rating scale:
- 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.
Galio – 3.0
With his high 7-mana cost, Galio needs to be extremely impactful right from the moment he hits the board. Having to go through most of the duration of the game without your champion is a big downside, so in general high-cost champions tend to underperform, unless they have the ability to close games right away, like pre-nerf Sion.
Unfortunately, Galio does not finish games by himself on the spot. With no evasive keywords and only granting a health stat on-summon, this card isn’t very threatening, and there aren’t enough Formidable units to consistently convert the health buff for your board into a massive attack buff.
On other hand, Galio’s level-up does add finishing power. However, it seems somewhat difficult to achieve – especially when you aren’t already in a winning position. His level-up is happening at the Round End, which means he will only start accelerating the game on turn 8 at best.
What I do like about Galio is the guaranteed value of his Spellshield and his on-summon effect. Even against decks running Vengeance, Minimorph, or Recall effects, Galio will have an impact. And sometimes, when your units’ health matters a lot – such as in a removal-heavy matchup, for example – the value of Galio will be very impressive.
Galio also packs out a significant amount of stats, and with a couple of health buffs will have a very menacing board presence – even if he does not close out right away, he should play out decently well in slow games.
All in all, Galio does seem to appear as a solid finisher as he should be able to level up regularly and finish games quite fast from there. However, at level 1, he falls short of expectations for a 7-cost champion, which will likely keep him out of competitive play, especially since metagames in LoR tend to always go faster and favor cheaper champions.
With this deck, the goal is to utilize Challengers with various buffs. I can call it right now, Petricite Broadwing is an amazing card that will help out a lot of archetypes, and its 0 attack combines particularly well with Yordle Smith and Poppy.
The deck also features Fleetfeather Tracker and Laurent Protege, rounding out our dense Challenger package. Quick Quill, Brightsteel Protector, Yordle Smith, Yordle Captain, and the spells we run – all help our Challengers to pick off the opponent’s key units without getting in the harm’s way, making the deck very good at snowballing the board.
With its numerous Challengers, combat tricks, and Rallies, the deck is able to close out games decisively and level up Poppy quickly. Galio comes down as a finisher, buffing our large board to make it very difficult to deal with, and can level up quite easily. This is not really a deck built around Galio, but he will do a great job as a top-end finisher.
In this section, I want to talk about the Formidable keyword, which is key to a lot of today’s reveals.
First, Formidable is of course a very good payoff for health buffs and healing, as the unit will get stronger the more health it has. When not supported properly, Formidable units are weaker than they might look at first – because their attack can be decreased easily. But in the right shell, they will be impressive – think of cards like Guiding Touch, Twin Disciplines, Shield of Durand, or Astral Protection.
However, I doubt Formidable as a build-around could aspire to become meta-dominant, at least with the current reveals. First of all, the pool of Formidable units is currently very small, and only 2 of them are cheap enough to impact the early turns.
Moreover, one big issue with the keyword is that it gets countered by a lot of cards and mechanics, such as Fearsome, Culling Strike, Reckoning, Rimefang Wolf, or even wilder options that could be pop up as generated cards like Winter’s Breath.
While a lot of these cards do not see too much play, these downsides do add up, and give decks centered around Formidable multiple lose conditions. Moreover, if Formidable decks’ popularity gets too high, these counter options will eventually see more play, reigning the archetype in quickly.
That said, you do not need to center your whole archetype around this mechanic. I think a lot of decks will do great with a couple of Formidable units, using them as an extra synergy for healing and health buff spells.
Petricide Hound – 3.0
This card will often play out as a 2/2 for 2 mana, which is a pretty standard stat-line for a Demacian 1-cost unit.
Having the Formidable keyword instead of the regular 2 power can be both a good and a bad thing. When damaged, this unit will lose attack. However, it will also effectively gain power from health buffs.
If a deck is able to exploit health buffs and is built around the Formidable keyword, Petricite Hound will be a very good 1-drop as it grows quickly and increases your density of Formidable units.
However, over-committing into the Formidable strategy might be risky, therefore Petricite Hound might see less play than it deserves.
Petricide Broadwing – 4.5
This card is not only an extremely good Formidable unit but it is also an amazing Challenger. There are a lot of Demacia decks looking for more Challenger units to buff, and Petricide Broadwing will be an auto-include in all of them.
With its 0 attack, Petricide Broadwing combines particularly well with Yordle Smith and Poppy, giving yet one more reason to play it.
While this unit will also lose attack from being damaged, there are a lot of ways to prevent the units from losing health (Barrier, Quick Attack, buffs) and therefore it will be quite easy to get great use out of this stat-line.
Durand Protege – 1.5
This card’s impact on the game is pretty low and I have a tough time finding any deck that would have room for it.
Getting a Chain Vest and bonus health attached to a body might seem like a good offer at first, however, these bonuses do a lot better at Burst speed.
The 3/2 body will be quite mediocre and will have a very low impact in a lot of matchups, and does not justify the Play effect.
Durand Sculptor – 2.5
Health buffs are quite valuable as they make your units more resilient and allow for better trades. These buffs become even more impactful if you are able to rapidly flood the board.
Durand Sculptor combines especially well with Formidable units, especially Petricide Broadwing.
However, spending your turn 2 to develop a body that you don’t want to trade until you’ve been able to get a lot out of the effect can be a tough tempo loss. The metagame is very fast nowadays, and you can afford to concede tempo only for meaningful payoffs.
Competition among early drops is rough, and Demacia has a lot of very strong cards in this area. While Durand Sculptor isn’t a bad card, I doubt meta decks will have room to fit it in, but some flood decks might be interested in it to become more resilient.
Durand Architect – 3.0
Durand Architect is the card that has inspired players the most in their deckbuilding so far, as it offers countless possibilities.
While all those combinations do look good, I am not confident any will make it to competitive play. Durand Architect, while solid, is vulnerable while attacking. Moreover, those combos can be quite inconsistent.
Petricite Stag – 2.0
Petricite Stag is an interesting protection unit, helping its supported ally in a way that reminds of Shen, though not as effective.
What I do not like with Petricite Stag is that it will have to get into combat before its supported unit, which means if it dies – then the supported unit will take damage as usual since the Petricite Stag will no longer be there.
All in all, this is a tricky card that needs a very specific shell and scenario for things to go the right way, and while it comes with a pretty good stat-line, I do not think it will be played a lot.
Shield of Durand – 3.5
Shield of Durand is no doubt one of the most promising cards out of this batch, and the amount of health it grants a unit is very impressive.
With this trick up your sleeves, you can easily prevent the opponent from removing your key engine, which enables a lot of powerful champions.
This card is also particularly strong with Formidable units and will be one of the core enablers of the archetype.
That said, 3 mana is a sizeable investment. It can be hard to keep all this mana up, and sometimes you will have to let the opponent into the window to remove your engine.
While Shield of Durand is definitely strong enough to be a staple of its own archetype and should see play occasionally outside of it, it will not be a Demacia auto-include and unlikely to be an oppressive card due to its relatively high cost.
Winds of War – 2.5
We now have a lot of strike effects in Demacia, and Winds of War has tough competition in the form of Single Combat.
Because of its Slow speed, I do not consider WInds of War to be able to go toe-to-toe with Single Combat in its role.
However, this card does fill its own niche as a powerful heal, which will help it get its own spot in decks with high-health units, especially with healing synergies.
Mountain Drake – 2.5
Mountain Drake does show some very strong stats. Its modified Fury keyword will allow it to pick off small units without losing any health, and to grow quickly when protected.
This card is particularly interesting when playing Galio, as it will help him level up all the while benefiting from the bonus health thanks to the Formidable keyword.
That said, I am not too optimistic about Galio in competitive play. Moreover, Mountain Drake lacks an Elusive keyword or any other way to force the opponent into a threatening scenario.
I expect Mountain Drake to be a rather weak Formidable unit despite its strong-looking stat-line.
Gorlith the Unscalable – 3.0
Gorlith the Unscalable can be either a finisher or a comeback unit, as it can both heal you up to 10 – or be played to sacrifice a chunk of life to get a massive unit.
Gorlith will be pretty much unblockable if he has a large amount of health – which makes him into a threat the opponent must answer right away.
However, Gorlith the Unscalable is an extremely expensive unit and has neither protection (other than its large health pool) nor an on-summon effect that will be great for slow matchups.
This is a big obstacle for it to become competitive, as it seems to both be too expensive for hyper-aggressive matchups and too vulnerable to interaction in slower ones. With this card being such a large tempo investment, it really needs to close out games right away, or else you might give a great opportunity for the opponent to close it out themselves.
All in all Gorlith the Unscalable is a very interesting top-end and will likely be the center of a lot of builds, but I am not convinced it will be able to have a significant impact on the competitive meta.
I hope you’re enjoying the reveal season so far – there seems to be a lot of cards this time that look particularly spicy!
If you would like to discuss the reveals or have questions, feel free to comment below or to come to RuneterraaCCG Discord.
Thanks for reading!