Kindred Review and Theorycraft

Hello everyone, den here with some more hype about the new cards! Today I got asked to review Kindred and the Shadow Isles cards coming in the Shurima expansion.

Hello everyone, den here with some more hype about the new cards! Today I got asked to review Kindred and the Shadow Isles cards coming in the Shurima expansion.

Let’s start this article with a big thank you to the dev team as Kindred – just as most of the champions’ designs so far – are amazing, and it’s really building up a great hype train in every community I could observe. But let’s get into the real talk here, as there are a ton of things to say about Kindred, as I believe the champion will definitely leave its ‘mark’ on the game.

As usual, I’d like to divide this article into several parts. The first one will logically be about Kindred, but I believe a couple of cards from today’s release deserve some attention as well, as they offer the synergistic potential for some decks – so I’ll go over those in the second part.

Lastly, as it’s become a tradition, I’ll try to theorycraft something using Kindred. And while a lot of people have seen the obvious connection we could make with Nasus who was released the other day in a deck aiming to Slay a lot of units, I decided to go in another direction and slot Kindred into a particular popular archetype of the recent months.

So let’s head to the Shadow Isles as their newest champion awaits us and is ready to enter our favorite card game. Here’s our rating scale for new cards:

  • 5.0: Meta-defining card, proven 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: Can be used for specific synergies, or to counter some decks.
  • 1.0: Doesn’t find its place in the meta.

Kindred – 3.5

Just as Nasus, that was revealed the other day, Kindred is another champion we would want to play in The Undying deck, where the goal would be to abuse synergies of killing our own units to grow our more important ones. But while Nasus looks pretty one-dimensional, Kindred has more versatility to them, and I think that’s the reason why they have a weak 4/4 stat-line for a 5-mana champion.

Their unique ability of basically removing one unit per round as long you can achieve a Slay requirement can be used in a lot of different ways. Kindred can act as a removal machine in a deck that doesn’t play too many removal spells itself but Slays its own units. They can also be seen as another removal tool in a deck that aims at destroying the opponent’s board and suffocating any attempts of development.

This versatility comes with a price though, and it should be the most important question when playing the champion: when’s the best time to apply the mark?

Kindred marks the opposing unit, but the opponent can still use that unit before the end of the round when it would die. That means that he can take advantage of it for example to draw with a Glimpse from Beyond, use it as a tribute for Rites of Dominance or Crumble – or simply block one of our attackers with it to chump or trade.

This particular time gap between our activation of Kindred and the actual resolution of the effect is what would make me grade Kindred at only 3.5 on our scale. I believe most decks in the metagame should be able to find something to do with their soon-to-die unit.

In order to make Kindred really efficient, we have to set up situations where the mark will target a unit our opponent does not want to lose (to the point where even if he could make use of it before it dies would be a poor consolation). And this is where things get interesting.

There are two situations that would make Kindred a superstar. The first one is a deck that can set up that situation efficiently turn after turn, removing the opponent’s threats and taking control of the board, growing Kindred in the process once they are leveled up.

A deck like Ledros Atrocity for example, which never found a good second champion and suffered too much from Trundle’s nerf, could be looking to use Kindred as this mid-game pace-controller. And if the opponent can’t answer Kindred in time – it can be paired with Atrocity quite efficiently. Freezing opposing units is another nice piece of synergy as it essentially allows us to choose which unit will get the mark (since it always applies to the Weakest enemy).

The other situation is much more metagame dependent, but for months now, the best champion in the game has been Twisted Fate. He is an incredibly powerful card regarding its effects, but a weak unit if we are talking stats. If our beloved cowboy keeps his run of dominance, I wouldn’t be surprised for Kindred to become a popular answer as it should be able to mark Twisted Fate pretty consistently considering he only has a 2/2 body.

All these possibilities are making me believe Kindred should find a way to be useful in the upcoming release, whether in an archetype that would maximize their potential or as an answer to particular low-statted problem units.

Spirit Leech and Unto Dusk – 3.0

Drawing cards is something very powerful in Legends of Runeterra, and I usually tend to rate the cards with that effect pretty high. Here, Shadow Isles gets two new ways to draw cards, one through a unit and the one with a Burst speed spell.

Spirit Leech has synergy all over and should be reminiscent of the Chronicler of Ruin in the way it operates as they share the same mana cost and the aspect of destroying an ally. Drawing two cards for the price of a unit sacrifice is something Shadow Isles knows too well, as Glimpse Beyond has been a staple in most builds with the region.

Looking at the moderate use Chronicler of Ruin got in decks like Anivia Reborn or even Go Hard, Spirit Leech should find at least the same amount of success, if not more in decks looking to cycle fast.

With the arrival of Nasus and Kindred to the game, decks with strategies built around Slaying units should rise in popularity, and I’m sure those decks would very much welcome some solid card draw.

Unto Dusk is a more complicated card to use, but still has two very big upsides to it: it draws at Burst speed (we’ve seen what Pale Cascade and Guiding Touch could do in the Targon region) and it helps the Nightfall synergy, which Shadow Isles doesn’t really use outside of Doombeast.

But if you’ve played the game recently, you might have encountered a champion who loves to activate its Nightfall: Aphelios. The sole fact that Aphelios has been terrorizing the game lately and that there already is a deck that also includes Eclipse Dragon (Zoe Invokes, which replaces Diana with Aphelios) makes Unto Dusk a card with great potential.

On another note, and as an amateur of the Mistwraith archetype, I want to say the card looks to be really promising in such a deck, allowing us to keep cycling towards our threats while having that Burst possibility when paired with Doombeast.

The Kindred Nasus concept built around the keyword Slay has attracted plenty of attention already, so I decided to go the other route and think outside the box for this theorycraft.

Kindred is a hero that should shine when we can reduce the amount of targets on the board so we can control where the mark will land. With that in mind, the idea of using Kindred in the Go Hard archetype comes from the fact that we can remove the 1HP targets with our signature spell – so the units that are left to mark should often be somewhat valuable for the opponent.

It means we have to remove Elise from the deck, which should slow down our aggressiveness in the early game. However, Kindred gives us a virtually never-ending board control tool and a really good late-game unit once evolved.

Since Pack Your Bags went up to 5 mana, the synergy with Commander Ledros has never been the same. Unlike Ledros, Kindred will work to dismantle the opponent’s board instead of the opponent’s health, but their capacity to stack up stats once evolved still represents a threat.

The deck should be able to play more tempo-oriented gameplay – it will pressure the slower opponents through damage, using Doombeasts and Wiggly Burblefish to chip away at their Nexus. Against aggressive decks, Go Hard should still prove to be a great card, and even if Kindred might feel pretty slow, they should be incredibly easy to evolve if we can place them in a good setup.

Against other tempo or midrange decks, Kindred should be a star and force our opponent to get out of their way to remove the champion, giving us some precious tempo in the process. This is also where using Go Hard efficiently, to setup the mark on important units for our opponent, will become very important.

This is where we’ve landed with our in-depth analysis of Kindred, the new Shadow Isles champion – the one that I cannot wait to try.

I hope this article could help you get a better grasp on what to expect from these cards, and I would love to hear your ideas with the champion!

As usual, feel free to drop by my Twitter or come talk with our team on Discord if you want to share your ideas and reactions to the madness that Shurima is shaping up to be.

Good game everyone, den


Den has been in love with strategy games for as long as he can remember, starting with the Heroes of Might and Magic series as a kid. Card games came around the middle school - Yugioh and then Magic. Hearthstone has been his real breakthrough and he has been a coach, writer, and caster on the French scene for many years now. Although it took him a bit to get into Legends or Runeterra, his EU Seasonal Tournament win was the perfect start to get involved in the community. He now coaches aspiring pro players and writes various articles on the game. Find him on Twitter at @den_CCG!

Articles: 131