Heimerdinger is a perfectly viable build-around champion in the Expeditions mode – and a pretty great one at that. He is an absolute star of the Spellbound archetype that combines Demacia with Piltover and Zaun to create a core for one of the best decks in the draft mode.
So, what exactly constitutes an ‘archetype’ in Legends of Runeterra draft? As you may know, game designers separated all the cards in Expeditions into distinct ‘pools’. During the draft process you are offered various picks where cards are arranged in groups based on ‘archetypes’. They all have their assigned names (‘Spellbound’, ‘Shadows and Dust’, ‘Demacian Steel’, etc.) and region allegiances. Currently there are a total of 23 archetypes in Expeditions – six ‘mono-colored’ ones for each region, 15 ‘duo-colored’ for each possible two-region combination, and two special archetypes (‘Cataclysm’ and ‘Fluft and Tuft’).
In this article I would like to introduce you to one of my favorite decks available to draft in Expeditions – Spellbound archetype.
- Regions: Demacia, Piltover and Zaun.
- In-game description: “Cast spells early and often”.
- Champions: Heimerdinger, Lux.
- Premium commons/rares: Detain, Flash of Brilliance, Mystic Shot, Thermogenic Beam, Unlicensed Innovation.
- Best epic: Progress Day.
Spellbound card pool
Here’s a complete list of all the cards that Expeditions mode algorithm can offer you in the Spellbound archetype:
Assembly Bot, Chump Whump, Cithria the Bold, Detain, Eager Apprentice, Flash of Brilliance, Hextech Transmogulator, Judgment, Mageseeker Conservator, Mageseeker Inciter, Mageseeker Investigator, Mageseeker Persuader, Mystic Shot, Prismatic Barrier, Progress Day!, Puffcap Peddler, Purify, Reinforcements, Remembrance, Riposte, Scrapdash Assembly, Silverwing Scout, Statikk Shock, Succession, Thermogenic Beam, Unlicensed Innovation, Vanguard Sergeant.
Spellbound archetype wants you to build a control deck. Its main goal is to hold out the opponent until the arrival of Heimerdinger and then drown your enemy in value generated by The Revered Inventor. The 3/1 elusive towers – the infamous ‘groundbreaking inventions’ – are your main means to close out games.
As the deck is heavily centered on one champion, it is best to have as many copies of Heimerdinger in your deck as possible. As you accumulate wins and advance through the trial, prioritize picking Heimer over any other champion to increase the consistency of your deck.
It is also important to note that the archetype actually works as intended only if get Heimerdinger in the first two champion picks of the draft. It is not worth to start building a Spellbound deck without him in hope to get him later. Just switch to another archetype instead.
Lux can act as a great supportive unit in Spellbound decks, so having one copy of her will never hurt. After the latest patch (0.9.0), where she received a +1/+1 stat buff, Lux boasts a decent on-board presence the turn she comes down. The young mage also provides massive value in form of generated Final Sparks – an abundance of high-cost spells in the deck will make sure of that. If not immediately dealt with, she can sometimes take over the game – just as well as Heimer does it.
In Spellbound decks you must adopt a somewhat different approach while building a mid-to-late creature curve. Try to avoid generic followers with no utility, even if they are decent on their face stats value.
If the draft algorithm offers you some random Vanguard Cavalries or Silverwing Scouts – just move on. Prioritize unit-spells over them – Unlicensed Innovation is better than Cavalry in this archetype and a simple Succession is often more useful than elusive Scout. Both these cards trigger Heimer and Lux spell synergies, which advances our game plan much more effectively.
Still, utility creatures like Vanguard Sergeant (that creates a 6-cost spell) or Swiftwing Lancer (challenger) are both perfectly fine and can fill their curve slots pretty nicely.
It’s best to completely avoid Mageseeker units if possible. Unfortunately, this rule is relevant not only for the Spellbound archetype but for the Expeditions mode as a whole. Mageseeker Inciter and Mageseeker Persuader require you to discard a spell, which converts its mana-cost into a stat buff. We absolutely do not want to do that.
Mageseeker Conservator has an irrelevant body. Meanwhile, his cute spell-generation effect often feels redundant in a deck that has a ton of random spell-creation due to Flash of Brilliance. Mageseeker Investigator is probably the best one in this poor company as his silence ability can be triggered very easily. She can useful, but still doesn’t feel essential at all.
Eager Apprentice is another ‘trap’ card as it adds nothing to our game plan. Effectively converting its own mana-cost into spell mana is almost never useful in the early game. We often float mana anyway as we wait for Heimer’s arrival. In late stages of a game, Apprentice is a plain dead draw. Do not pick this guy.
The only epic rarity unit in the Spellbound’s card pool is Cithria the Bold. By now, you are probably very well aware that she is a bomb in Expeditions. However, you should not go out of your way to pick her up in our case. As powerful as she is, Cithria has a low synergy with our deck and could feel redundant.
Removal and utility
Piltover and Zaun has a great suite of removal – and almost all of it could be in your possession. Mystic Shots, Thermogenic Beams or Statikk Shocks – pick your poison. The only PnZ removal spell not included in the archetype’s card pool is Get Excited, which is a pity. On the bright side, it is compensated by Detain from Demacia region.
Flash of Brilliance is a key spell that you should pick pretty aggressively as it perfectly synergizes with Heimerdinger. As we have mentioned before, 3-cost towers are your main striking force – and FoB generates a tower and another random spell for free. There were instances I had as many as six Flashes with 3 Heimers in my Spellbound decks – and it never felt redundant.
The archetype does not boast an abundance of combat tricks in its pool – Riposte and Prismatic Barrier are the only two spells to fill this role. You can still always pick up some Back to Backs and Stand Alone’s in your ‘wild picks’ during the draft – but they all are not essential. The only unit worth protecting in our deck is Heimerdinger – all other ones are disposable. Moreover, you will often find yourself intentionally throwing away followers in combat as you need board space for more and more towers.
Last but not least, we should talk about Progress Day, which certainly is the best epic the Spellbound pool has to offer. With the help of it, we are able to out-grind even the stickiest decks in Expeditions. Progress Day combines with Heimerdinger to create 8/8 T-Rex – with this kind of power we have the inevitability in almost any matchup out there. In addition, every additional copy of the Heimer himself converts into yet another Progress Day, so we are guaranteed to never run out of cards.
Best regions to splash for
It is clear that we are all about spell-slinging here – so the regions with quality fast interaction cards are quite welcome to join the party.
We definitely do not want Noxus cards as their spells are mostly aggressive and do not fit our stalling game plan. Sorry, Draven, the party starts without you this time.
If you consider splashing, Freljord can be a great choice. Freezing effects like Harsh Winds and Flash Freeze can all be quite useful. The utility creatures such as Stalking Wolf and Icevale Archer are decent inclusions as well. However, I wouldn’t chase Alpha Wildclaws or other big bodies. Normally they are at a premium in a generic board-centric deck, but we can easily close out without their help.
Ionia offers some quality tools that we’re in the market for – in particular, Will of Ionia, Spirit’s Refuge, Deny and Twin Disciplines can be of interest. When it comes to creatures, Shadow Assassins fit in the middle of you curve while providing an additional card draw.
In theory, Shadow Isles’ controlling style is what we should be looking for. In practice I often find myself reluctant to splash for SI in Spellbound decks. Sure, Vile Feast and Vengeance are both top-notch spells. However, SI-based archetypes in Expeditions often work in their own unique ways that do not sit well with Spellbound decks. For example, after you have picked up your Vengeance, soon enough the algorithm will start force-feeding you Cursed Keepers and Chroniclers of Ruin. All Shadow Isles’ sacrifice stuff has no place in our deck. Meanwhile, SI removal can easily be replaced by Piltover and Zaun’s, so it is rarely worth to dilute our draft pool for that splash.
As an example, let’s quickly break down a Spellbound-based deck that I recently managed to get to 7 wins.
So, first of all, this is a great example of ‘big units redundancy’ we have previously talked about. Not once (!) in the whole draft run was I compelled to play out Tryndamere or Alpha Wildclaw. Heimerdinger and his towers did all the work.
It is Avarosan Sentry and Stalking Wolf who were the real reasons Freljord splash. The card draw and the ability to pick off threats with challengers was very welcome.
Going over other creatures, Radiant Guardian proved to be invaluable for stabilizing against aggressive decks. Vanguard Sergeant, Chump Whump and Mageseeker Investigator acted as mediocre fillers, while Assembly Bot flat-out underperformed.
Three copies of Detain and three Flashes of Brilliance have all put in a massive amount of work alongside Heimerdinger. Prismatic Barriers and Riposte were used mostly defensively – on Heimerdinger. Notice the abundance of 3-cost spells in the deck to generate elusive towers.
The Spellbound archetype is a perfect embodiment of why Expeditions mode is such a fun limited environment. Out there, you can actually draft highly synergistic decks that are really rewarding to both build and play.
Contrary to some popular opinions, a successful draft in Runeterra is not a product of sheer luck. In fact, it requires a lot of knowledge of the Expeditions mode itself. One can high-roll their way into a broken deck once in a while, but to consistently get good results you have to know archetypes – how they work and interact with each other.
I hope today you enjoyed our deep dive into peculiarities of the Spellbound archetype. Thank you for reading – and good luck venturing into Heimerdinger shenanigans on your own!