Here Comes Vi! New Legends of Runeterra Champion from Piltover: Early Impressions and Card Ratings

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Here’s our rating scale:

  • 5.0: Broken card. (Hecarim before the nerf).
  • 4.0: Meta staple. (Zed, Karma, Deny, Cithria the Bold).
  • 3.5: Good in multiple archetypes. (Stand Alone, Get Excited, Will of Ionia).
  • 3.0: Archetype staple. (Corina Veraza, Anivia).
  • 2.5: Role-player in some decks. (The Ruination, Fae Bladetwirler)
  • 2.0: Niche card. Underpowered card, or tech card or currently from an unfleshed archetype. (Ren Shadowblade, Parade Electrorig).
  • 1.0: Never sees play (Unstable Voltician, Basilisk Rider).

VI – 3.5

Let’s pass on evaluating Vi’s base statline as it adds almost nothing to the conversation. The thing is, we will almost never deal with her ‘vanilla’ version on the battlefield. She will only enter as a 2/5 body after she was topdecked on the same exact turn – which is a fairly narrow use-case.

Instead, let’s think about the average-case scenario – how much attack will Vi consistently have in a generic, unfocused deck? If you’ve had her since your opening hand and after that managed to land a drop on every turn, she would arrive as a 6/5 unit for 5 mana. If, say, you’ve missed a 1-drop, she would still be a 5/5 for 5. Hands down, this still makes Vi into one of the best units in the game to see during mulligan phase!

But let’s say you weren’t so lucky and have drawn into her a bit later into the game. There rarely will be a reason to sandbag her so she is unlikely to sit and stack buffs in hand for too long. But still, given some time spent in hand and also considering spell mana available, I believe Vi will enter the battlefield as a 4/5 unit, effectively, in an average scenario.

Add to this the possibility for future attack stat growth (this is somewhat guaranteed and protected by Tough keyword) and the utility of Challenger mechanic, and we have a top-tier champion on our hands already.

Vi will almost always trade for two of opponent’s cards – and not that unlikely even more. Vengeance and Thermogenic Beam can deal with her with appropriate efficiency, but still trade down on mana. Culling Strike will almost never work on Vi due to the treat of a buff with any fast/burst spell. And good luck trying to finish her off with Grasp of the Undying or Get Excited – Tough makes Vi into a very sticky threat. Take note that she also dodges Ember Maiden’s global ping effect – a card that has all the chances to become a meta staple when the expansion hits.

Vi’s only true weakness lies in the existence of Will of Ionia (and Detain, if you’re into Expeditions). Recalling a 5 mana champion and resetting all the progress on her attack charge-up feels like a cruel counter. However, I don’t believe that Ionia will kill Vi in the same way it has erased Braum from the competitive meta. Even at 2 attack, Piltover Enforcer can enable some favorable trades, so she isn’t disabled by Will of Ionia that much.

Still, what Will (and bunch of other Ionia & Freljord disruption spells) threatens to do is to completely disincentivize players from trying to level Vi up. Upgrading her naturally takes a whole lot of time – she will probably have to survive a few combat phases before ever getting to 10 attack. So, in order to reach her level up condition, a player has to go for some combo, buffing her up with a bunch of spells like Rising Spell Force or the newly revealed Vault Breaker. That might feel like a very lucrative strategy for all-in Vi decks. Rising Spell Force, for example, gives the champion effectively +5/+0, and Quick Attack is insane on a Challenger. However, Recall, Stun or any Frostbite effects would all completely shutdown those attempts of Vi players and would leave them feeling pretty bad.

In her level 2 form, Vi becomes a 10/6 monster with a pseudo-Overwhelm ability that can be abused with strike effects like Whirling Death or Judgement. Any time she strikes a unit while in attacking row, she deals 5 damage to the enemy Nexus –it feels powerful, but still somewhat clunky. There will be times when this ability is straight up worse than Overwhelm as it can be denied by effects like Glimpse Beyond.

Given that, I can’t help but wonder – if Vi is such a good value proposition on her front-side, why would you take on the risks associated with her level-up quest? I would be satisfied with just employing her as one of the best Challengers in the game – and then would look for other, more reliable, win-conditions.

However, there’s still another thing about her level-up mechanics that could change my mind. The stitch is that we currently don’t really know if Vi retains her +X/+0 buffs gained in level 1 form. If she does, she can be insanely big as level 2 champion – up to 18/6 in stats. Let me explain. I believe currently the champions keep all their granted buffs after leveling up (not to confuse with until the round ‘give’ effects like Vault Breaker). For example, after you’ve granted Braum +3/+3 with Take Heart and he becomes a 3/8 unit, he then evolves into a 3/10 unit after leveling up. It works that way because +3/+3 buff granted by Take Heart is put on top of his new base 0-7 statline.

Level 1 Vi grants herself +1/+0 for every card, so she accumulates permanent buffs on top of her base 2/5 statline. Upon leveling up, she gets a new 10/6 base statline. With how currently the granted buffs work, she should keep all those buffs earned throughout the game – on top of her new base statline. It means that if she has had +8/+0 granted to her in her Level 1 form, she would then have 18/6 statline in her Level 2 form! I’m not really sure this works that way exaclty, but imagine the potential combo implications if it does. Atrocity or Might, anyone?

UPD: This is in fact the way how it works, and a split-second screenshot from the video confirms it:

All in all, Vi feels like a solid champion with a fairly wide range of possible use. For now it is hard to see how the ‘Hothead Aggro’ with Vi as a wincon would work exactly (see Gotcha! below). To pull off this kind of strategy, one needs to both put a fast clock on the opponent and have a reliable card draw engine to get the job done. But where I have no doubt is that Vi would absolutely shine in any of those midrange-oriented builds using PnZ as its support region.

And, on the last note, big credit goes to the design team, who once again have managed to capture the identity of  League of Legends character so well. Vi sticks to her target (Challenger), she feels really Tough, and she charges up her gloves for a massive punch. And looks incredibly good while achieving all that!

VAULT BREAKER – 1.0

Compare this one to Brothers’ Bond and leave all hopes for this card to be any good. Noxian troops can casually get +4/+0 for just two mana, meanwhile you Piltover enforcers pay 6 mana for the exact same stat boost. An abysmal deal. Vault Breaker will not see any play outside of appearing as Vi’s champion spell, not very likely. It has one redeeming quality though – a Fleeting copy feeds Rummage effects and such.

There’s also a tricky interaction with Vi’s Vault Breaker – particularly with how the Fleeting copy of the champion spell could suddenly transform into a Fleeting copy of Vi champion card. This is something that will rarely come up, but it certainly adds a small bit of value in marginal cases.

GOTCHA! – 2.0

This is a fun design, and I will definitely enjoy exclaiming “Gotcha!” after top-decking this card. It has the potential to act as a more efficient Get Excited in some situations, but note that it still can’t go to the enemy’s face. As such, burn decks and most aggro builds will refrain from playing Gotcha over Get Excited. Same goes for most control decks probably, given how easy it is to generate a throwaway card for Get Excited.

When we’ll get to the new PnZ followers in a bit, we’ll see more of the cards that enable the new ‘Hothead Aggro’ archetype. It seems to involve spell spamming, rummaging, card-drawing and playing topdecked stuff for discounted costs. Gotcha will fit into that deck like a glove, but so far, given that so few cards have been spoiled, it is hard to say how well the archetype is supported in the new set.

VETERAN INVESTIGATOR – 3.5

A great two-drop that will undoubtedly affect the future meta. It can be used as a pure aggro beater – 3/2 stats for 2 mana are to make sure of that. Fast decks love those symmetrical draw effects – they do have the ability to immediately cast those cheap cards they’ve just drawn. Meanwhile, control opponents will likely have to wait for some time to make use of their just-drawn heavy drops.

But there’s also a wide range outside of aggro where Veteran Investigator can still find a use. Teemo players are drooling all over this 2-drop – making their poor opponents draw into more and more mushrooms is the definition of fun for them. Some Maokai aficionados are also excited – but their reasons are harder to understand for me. Sure, Veteran Investigator speeds up the win-clock after you’ve obliterated their deck – but that still makes Investigator just a win-more card.

Anyway, almost any PnZ combo deck will be interested in this 2-drop, that’s a no-brainer. And another little thing… ‘ALL players draw 1’? 2v2 multiplayer mode confirmed?

INSIGHTFUL INVESTIGATOR – 2.0

This card is a lucrative little engine, but I have my doubts about its reliability. PnZ have a plethora of sick 2-cost cards that will get only better with this (Boomcrew Rookie, Chempunk Pickpocket, Mystic Shot) and it even enables some previously marginal cards in new ways (Eager Apprentice). She does fit into the previously mentioned ‘Hothead Aggro’ archetype that Riot seem to push for PnZ, but there’s still something off about playing 4 mana 3/3 in dedicated aggressive decks.

PATROL WARDENS – 1.0

This is a generally bad card that will once in a while crush your soul a little. You will feel it when the opponent topdecks Patrol Wardens on turn two exactly and slams a 4/3 unit for 2 mana. Fitting this and another cheap creature on some of the other early turns might be fine as well, but after that Wardens lose their appeal quickly. In mid-to-late game you really stop caring about tempo that much, and it becomes just a mediocre card. I feel like any PnZ-based aggro decks will be better off by putting their trust in Used Cask Salesmen.

Thank you very much for reading! Do you disagree with any of the ratings? Let me know in the comments below and stay tuned for more spoiler discussion & ratings at RuneterraCCG.com! Follow our Twitter to receive updates when the new articles come out!

Rainmaker

Rainmaker’s love for Magic: The Gathering and League of Legends is fertile soil for his immense Legends of Runeterra passion. His goal is to constantly get better in and enjoy all the aspects of this game, be it brewing, tuning, piloting, or drafting - and report all of his experiences along the way!