How Patch 1.2 Will Impact Expeditions? Part 1: Re-Evaluating Champions and Card Ratings
All eyes are on the meta after the first major balance patch since the release of Rising Tides. Individual cards and champions, as well as entire decks, are getting major overhauls. It isn’t just the constructed meta facing major changes though. Patch 1.2 is bringing format shifting adjustments to Expeditions as well.
To give adequate attention to all the changes listed in the patch notes, I will be breaking the information down into two easily digestible parts. Part 1 will focus on the adjustments made to individual cards and Part 2 will focus on the adjustments to entire archetypes. So which cards are rising with the tides and which ones are walking the plank? Set sail with us and find out!
Champions are rated on a different scale than units and followers because they determine the archetype and general play style of your deck. Check out our Champion Tier List to see where they stack up in overall playability.
Vladimir – No Rating Change (2.0)
Vladimir has tended to underperform across constructed and Expeditions alike. His ability has the potential to get in extra damage, but his entourage of followers is weak and situational. Not to mention that dealing damage to each unit on attack leaves them vulnerable and leads to unprofitable trades. Adding drain to his leveled-up side is a nice touch, but not enough to fix the glaring weaknesses of his archetypes (Battle Scars, Crimson Guard).
Karma – No Rating Change (4.0)
Karma is value machine. Whether you are getting free spells at the end of your turn or doubling your spells when you are Enlightened. Increasing her cost by one may slow her down a little in constructed, but most of her value will be maintained in Expeditions. In constructed Karma is typically saved until you are Enlightened and can double your valuable spells. However, in Expeditions it is usually best to get her down earlier and generate card advantage from her random spells created at end-of-turn. Playing her a turn later decreases the number of turns she can generate spells, but I don’t believe it is enough to adjust her overall grade.
Shen – No Rating Change (3.0)
Shen is getting a buff but has generally underperformed compared to other champions. He can generate decent value that must be dealt with but doesn’t usually win games the way other champions like Lux or Heimerdinger have the ability to do. That fact that Shen is a support means that he isn’t a priority pick and will remain in a weird spot where you only take him to pair Ionia with your first pick champion (i.e. Fiora or Anivia).
Vi – No Rating Change (4.0)
Vi may not be the most exciting champion as far as abilities go, but she is able to hold her ground against a lot of units. Dropping to 4 health slightly decreases her value against a host of commonly played Demacia units with 5 power (Garen, Vanguard Cavalry, Radiant Guardian, Swiftwing Lancer, etc.). However, she will still often get at least a 2-for-1 and will perform best when paired with a region that can buff or protect her (Demacia/Ionia, Freljord).
Hecarim – No Rating Change (4.0)
Hecarim is a strong aggressive champion. Increasing his power by 1 point is going to help push through more Overwhelm damage to close out games. However, it won’t be enough to warrant a score increase. My main concern with Hecarim is that his “Shadows and Dust” archetype is very inconsistent. It rewards you for the dedicated Ephemeral strategy but offers a ton of weaker cards that require supporting cards to make them playable (i.e. Haunted Relic with Soul Shepherd). Some games you find that you have the supporting card, but no payoffs and vice versa. There are also many games where you do not have blockers because you are playing Ephemeral units that dies after combat. That is not to say the deck cannot come together, but it is unreliable.
Followers & Spells
Followers and spells tend to rise and fall in value based on the archetype you find them in. However, it is possible to get a general sense of their power level and flexibility based on individual merit. The following ratings are based on my (Krab Kore) tier list that ranks cards on average playability, rather than archetype specific power.
Greathorn Companion: 3.0 -> 3.5
At 4 power, this card was playable but not terribly exciting. It trades with more valuable enemy units at 5 power and is harder to ignore. That makes it a companion I am happy to have by my side on an Expedition.
Grizzled Ranger: No Rating Change (3.5)
A guaranteed 2-for-1 at minimum is still highly valuable, even when you take a point of power away from it. Grizzled Ranger was top end 3.5 and just moves closer to the middle of that tier now. He will still deal decent damage or remove a unit and leave behind a serviceable follower in his place.
Loyal Badgerbear: No Rating Change (3.0)
My first impression on the Badgerbear was that it was slightly above average at a 3.0 rating. It was probably closer to a 3.5 with how well it contended against everything at 3 mana. As a 3/4, the rating is more accurate at 3.0 and therefore will not be adjusted.
Laurent Chevalier: No Rating Change (3.5)
I imagine there will be very few instances in Expeditions where you are increasing the value on Laurent Chevalier by picking off a 1 power unit before trading up with another one. The extra health is cute, but not entirely significant.
Stand Alone: 3.0 -> 1.0
Stand Alone was already narrow in its playability concerning Expeditions. Increasing the cost outside the limit of spell mana means your turns are going to be more awkward to set up a decent time to play it. Especially in a region that wants to get on the board early and fill it with efficiently costed units. Stand Alone often gets stranded in hand or forces you to sacrifice momentum in order to play it before dropping other units. I would strongly suggest avoiding a pick with it unless the other card is top tier or shores up a weakness in your deck.
Legion Rearguard: 3.0 -> 2.0
I will most likely still want to play this in my aggressive Noxus decks, but it is far less exciting. His strength was in outclassing most 1 mana units and being able to swing for more than a single turn. There are too many 1 cost units with 1 power (Inspiring Mentor, Pool Shark, Poros, etc.) that trade with him and kill valuable momentum from round 1.
Kindly Tavernkeeper: 2.5 -> 3.0
This “Kindly” gentleman has been breaking up too many fights in his tavern and getting ripped in the process! Going from 2 power to 3 is a very significant jump in this game and I will gladly welcome this Tavernkeeper on my Expeditions.
Deep Meditation: No Rating Change (2.5)
I had Deep Meditation rated too low in my initial impressions for how well the card performed. It will often be 3 mana to draw 2 which is right about average for this ability.
Boomcrew Rookie: No Rating Change (3.0)
The decrease to 3 health is going to be felt a ton in constructed. However, with removal being scarce and units being weaker on average in Expeditions, I am hesitant to make a major tier change to the Rookie. The aggressive decks that want it will take it highly and the more defensive decks will likely opt for something else.
Brood Awakening: No Rating Change (3.0)
This was a good spell at 6 mana before it was decreased to 5. It is still good now that it is back at 6. The spider decks will want it more than others, but it is a serviceable spell for control decks too.
Longtooth (Chum the Waters): No Rating Change (3.0)
Bumping the health of Longtooth to 2 increases its resiliency and should make it a reliable removal spell with the potential for Overwhelm damage. Who knows? Maybe you even get lucky and kill off a 1 power unit and get extra value! However, it will still most often play out as a 1-for-1 and shouldn’t be valued too highly.
Monkey Idol: 2.5 -> 3.0
Adding an extra Powder Monkey makes this a valuable unit for a number of Champions (Gangplank, Sejuani, Swain). You don’t have to invest too much and will likely get decent value out of your explosive friends. I have a feeling you will put your opponent is positions where they debate whether or not to use removal on the Monkey Idol and you will be happy either way.
Slotbot: 1.0 -> 3.0
Slotbot was a unique card to rate initially. The 0/3 stats made it very weak the turn it was played and it was unclear just how much it would scale within Expeditions. I don’t know that the card will prove to be a jackpot, but it is still a safe bet.
Overall, the buffs and nerfs to individual cards were minor and most maintained their average power level and playability. However, it became apparent that Demacia was in desperate need of balance with how efficient Grizzled Ranger and Loyal Badgerbear were. But if you think it wasn’t enough to simply nerf these cards, then I have great news for you!
Entire archetypes have been adjusted to “Dethrone Demacia” and restore balance to the format. In part 2, to be released later this week, we are going to dive into these major changes and see which archetypes are setting course for 7 wins and which ones are doomed to Davy Jones’ Locker.