Gnar Review and Theorycraft
The last reveal of this season was extremely special for me, as it included my favourite champion of all-time – Gnar!
There was absolutely no disappointment, as the mechanics surrounding the new cards seem like a lot of fun, while also packing quite the punch! Find out my thoughts and opinions below.
- 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.
Gnar – 4.0
I will preface this by saying that my excitement for Gnar might slightly impair my judgment. It is an incredibly flavorful design, introducing a fresh mechanic into the game – the Round End transform effects.
There are many layers to Gnar as a champion, but let’s begin with the base version. Level 1 has fairly average stats, at 4/3 with Quick Attack for 4 mana. This will usually allow Gnar to attack safely but makes him fairly weak on defensive turns.
The ability to create a Pokey Stick in hand on Strike is really powerful. It makes the champion not only an attacking threat, but also provides card advantage. On top of that, the Pokey Stick can ping the opposing Nexus, serving as a way to enable transform effects, including Gnar’s own level-up.
This means the level up is extremely easy to achieve and the only thing that can stop it is the opponent killing off Gnar – which can be prevented with just a bit of protection.
The peculiarity of Gnar’s level-up is that it is not permanent – it is an endless cycle of switching between Mini and Mega form, just like its League of Legends version.
Mega Gnar is an overstatted beast, with two powerful keywords, and an ability that helps you clear the board of bigger threats. And you’re guaranteed to get on the offensive at least once per each Mega Gnar phase – even if you transform during your opponent’s attack turn, it’ll stay Mega until your attacking turn!
In short, I am quite sure Gnar and the transform archetype will be viable and make it on the meta tier lists. Gnar by himself is a great concept, with its unique recurring level-up, which brings a breeze of fresh air to the game.
This is likely the simplest and most obvious way to play Gnar and his transform crew. With the effects basically working like a delayed and more powerful Plunder, the synergy is more than obvious – so why not combine the newest addition to the game with an old reliable pirate in Gangplank.
This deck relies quite heavily on being able to curve out and deal damage to the opponent. Both Gangplank and Gnar serve as powerful finishers in their leveled forms – and achieving those levels should be a walk in the park between all the potential ways to deal damage to the enemy Nexus.
While the early game of Bilgewater is quite standard, Inventive Chemist is worth pointing to. While it is no special inclusion, it has a great synergy with Gnar: if you play it on turn 1, you guarantee Gnar level-up on 4!
The late game is secured through the big transform threats: Megatee will make sure your opponent is unable to progress their own gameplan, while Terrordactyl and Giga Gromp will provide even more damage.
I am sure that there is more creative potential in Gnar – I see him working with Freljord, Noxus, and even some Rally decks which can abuse Mega Gnar for two attacks or more before he gets tired and turns back into Mini form. I cannot wait to play with him!
Wallop – 3.0
At face value, it is nothing but average. Stuns are alright, the ping is generally not too significant, so at 3 mana it is just an alright card.
That said, we need to first look at the whole context around the card. It is in Bandle City, which has only one real competitor to this – Stress Defense.
To gauge Wallop’s usefulness, it is good to compare these two cards. Wallop denies the attack of a unit, but it also can potentially kill it if at low health. You can also use it to remove Barrier.
It is, however, worse against Ionia which can simply counter the Fast spell with its multitude of tools. Overall, Wallop is likely a powerful card that we will see a lot in a certain type of Bandle City decks.
Minitee – 3.0
Twitter has gone completely crazy about Minitee and at first glance, it is hard to disagree. Luckily, we have time for more than just first glance and the card just gets a little worse every time I take another look at it.
Don’t get me wrong – Minitee will still be great whenever it works. I just don’t believe it will work as often as we might think right now. In the end, it is a 7 mana card that does nothing on-summon and can be removed for a smaller amount of mana.
Of course, once it does transform, Megatee is incredible. The stats, the effect, it is a huge swing if it works out. In my opinion, Minitee will be a staple in some capacity in Gnar ping decks, but not necessarily as a 3-of or even a 2-of.
Primal Strength – 2.0
This simple buff is an alright card. Impact being a stacking keyword makes it much better than it seems at first sight, but it is still a lot more expensive than other cards that give better stats.
Getting +2/+2 is usually priced at 2 or 3 mana and I do not believe that Impact is worth so much to make up the difference in mana cost. Maybe the lack of other powerful buff cards in the region can push it to playability in some decks, but I do not foresee it becoming a staple.
Teenydactyl – 4.0
All the bad things that I said about Minitee are not relevant in the case of this card. But the upsides are nearly as good! Turns out, 4 mana ‘do nothing’ is just much better than 7 mana ‘do nothing’!
Terrordactyl enables the entire archetype that it is a part of with its ability to deal damage to the enemy Nexus at Round Start. This means that once it sticks, all your Round End transform effects are guaranteed to go off – as long as the units survive.
I believe in Teenydactyl, as well as ping archetypes in Bandle City, so it gets a strong 4 from me!
Spotted Toad – 2.5
I’ve seen some debates about the power of this card and I have to say that I am somewhere in-between. I believe it is simply a solid unit.
Dealing 1 damage to all enemies can help you get better trades the following turn, but the fact that it does not hit the Nexus is a big drawback – as it does not help with progressing the gameplan of most decks it would be included in.
In general, it is a pretty simple card, with the same issues as the entire package – it needs to be protected until Round End to unleash its power.
Bitsy Lizard – 2.0
While at first glance having a 2 mana 3/4 can seem great, it is much more complicated than that. First of all, the earliest you can get that 3/4 is turn 3 – much less impressive, isn’t it?
To continue on that note, in order to get the trigger to go off at Round End, you will likely need to have the attack token on turn 2, as well as a 1-drop played on 1.
There are just so many variables that go into enabling that 3/4 that I do not believe it can see too much play.
Chief Nakotak – 3.0
Every archetype needs a core synergy card, and for the transform archetype – it is Chief Nakotak. With its average stat-line and an effect that works great with transform allies, it seems like a great inclusion.
Because the upsides are so clear, I’d rather focus on the potential pitfalls. One such problem I see is that while it works great when your units are transforming, it does not help them transform in any way. Nakotak just sort of sits there trying to survive and be useful, hoping that other cards in your deck will do the job.
Even with that, however, Chief Nakotak is a good card that might be experimented with in Gnar decks, especially at the beginning of the expansion.
Gnar is my favourite LoL champion so I am just so happy to see him ported to LoR in such an interesting fashion. I am certain that a lot of fun strategies will form thanks to this release – and I’ll be sure to try them all myself!
I hope you enjoyed the write-up, whether you agree with my opinions or not. I, for one, love to go back to these articles every once in a while to see how far off I was with my predictions!