Legends of Runeterra Balance Patch 1.2: Nerfs to Burn, Demacia & Ionia, Vladimir Buffed

Patch 1.2 features the first balance changes since the debut of Rising Tides, as well as a bunch of card clarity updates. Below are the official patch notes originally posted at PlayRuneterra.com.

Dev Notes

What’s next for LoR

Executive Producer Jeff Jew and Design Director Andrew Yip are almost ready to share the details on what’s coming up next for Legends of Runeterra — look for the video at 10 AM PT on May 29. 

Balance in Rising Tides

During open beta we learned some important things about live design and balance (thanks again for the feedback!), and we’re using those lessons to add some additional metrics to our existing arsenal we use to help us decide what to change, and how we do it. And since we have some new players (welcome again!), I’ll first recap our existing goals and metrics, then cover what’s new.

Our overall goal for live balance remains to maintain a fair and diverse metagame, where every champion’s gameplay dream can be realized. It’s important to note that we don’t expect all champions to be equally competitive at the highest level. However, we do want achievable gameplay moments for all of them. 

In order to achieve this, we’ll continue to update cards for balance once a month (every other patch) in order to cultivate a healthy metagame over time. When deciding on changes, we look to a number of metrics (and your collective feedback), with particularly key ones including individual card win rates (especially in their most ideal region pairing), deck win rates, and champion play rates. We also want every card to have a home, which, taken with the above framework, helps us decide which specific cards to test and ultimately change (though again, this doesn’t mean we expect all cards to be equally competitive or prevalent across modes). 

Now for the new. For Rising Tides, we’re updating some of our internal metrics to better cover metagame health. For example, we’ve begun looking at top meta decks over time to evaluate how well they successfully test player skills such as within-game decision making, deck building skills, adaptability, etc. Similarly, we’re more broadly analyzing which parts of the meta are occupied by top decks, in order to help inform changes that encourage a wider variety of competitive archetypes.

Thank you for your continued feedback on how to make LoR better, and we hope you enjoy the changes below!

– RubinZoo, Live Design Lead

Card Updates

Champions

VLADIMIR (LEVEL 2)

ATTACK: For each other attacking ally, deal 1 to it and 1 to the enemy Nexus. → For each other attacking ally, deal 1 to it and drain 1 from the enemy Nexus.

While this patch is focused on numbers changes, Vladimir has been falling short of the play rate, gameplay satisfaction, and champion resonance levels we strive for in our champs, so we’re making a more complex change by making Vlad’s level 2 effect a drain. In addition to making Vlad feel even more like a life-draining battle mage, this change should provide Vlad decks with additional utility and a more exciting and impactful payoff for his level-up requirement.

KARMA

COST: 5 → 6

We want Karma to be both more difficult to protect and more taxing on your immediately available mana, so we’re bumping her cost to put more constraints on what else players can do on the turn they play Karma.

SHEN

POWER: 2 → 3

Shen has been among the least-played champions for some time, especially as he tends to require including Demacia in your deck to really shine. For now, we’re boosting his power to make him more of a threat on his own and easier to plan profitable attacks around.

VI

HEALTH: 5 → 4

While Vi doesn’t offer a particularly game-warping effect like some Champions, she’s overperforming in multiple decks due to the raw strength of her baseline stats. We want to adjust her to be less of a generalist, best-in-slot champion for Piltover & Zaun, while retaining most of her power in decks that synergize with her kit.

HECARIM

POWER: 4 → 5

Hecarim’s statline sometimes made it a bit too difficult to find profitable attacks, so we’re bumping his power to help him attack into more board states and improve his gameplay satisfaction and overall effectiveness.

Followers & Spells

GREATHORN COMPANION

POWER: 4 → 5

We want to move some of Grizzled Ranger’s former power (see below) up the curve, giving dedicated Scout decks more viable options. Of course, this is also a slight buff to Remembrance when it pulls you a Greathorn.

GRIZZLED RANGER

POWER: 4 → 3

(also see Loyal Badgerbear)

Grizzled Ranger is among the most value-heavy followers in the game. Not only is it resilient, but Scout allows the Ranger to push a ton of damage, force opponents to make suboptimal trades, and ultimately allow Demacia players a mid-game advantage that’s been feeling a bit too “free.” We’re reducing Ranger’s power (and Loyal Badgerbear’s) to allow players more flexibility and counterplay in deciding when and how to block him.

LOYAL BADGERBEAR

POWER: 4 → 3

This change overlaps with the one to Grizzled Ranger, though Badgerbear has proven problematic on its own, particularly in Expeditions where it was pushing Demacia’s general strength in raw stats a bit too far.

LAURENT CHEVALIER

HEALTH: 1 → 2

Laurent Chevalier was a bit too fragile for its cost to realistically chase the dream of multiple triggers. It deserves a boost on its own, and we’ve got a good opportunity given that Demacia is seeing a few nerfs in this patch.

STAND ALONE

COST: 3 → 4

Stand Alone can lead to undesirable gameplay patterns, particularly when one player goes all-in on one unit as early as round three, leading to deterministic games that undermine decision-making and turn too sharply on whether the opponent has the answer (or is even playing the right region). We’re pushing Stand Alone’s early game potential back with a cost increase that cuts off the ability to attack on round three with a three cost unit + Stand Alone combo.

LEGION REARGUARD

HEALTH: 2 → 1

Rising Tides has introduced much more direct Nexus damage into LoR (more commentary in the watchlist below), and we’re seeing a bit too much consistency in the most powerful variants of burn / aggro decks, particularly in their favored matchups. We’re making targeted adjustments to Legion Rearguard and Boomcrew Rookie (below) to rein in some of these decks’ early snowball power.

When looking at the data for burn / aggro decks utilizing Legion Rearguard, we saw that a round one Rearguard often gave decks a significant boost in win rate compared to other cards when played on curve. In the right decks (or against them), Rearguard provides too much punishment potential for a simple one drop, and we don’t want players to feel so consistently and immediately behind (or that they’ve already lost) for lack of a suitable round one answer. This adjustment also evens out counterplay to Rearguard among the various regions.

KINDLY TAVERNKEEPER

POWER: 2 → 3

Healing is part of Freljord’s regional identity, but hasn’t been as available to non-ramp decks as we’d like. A general usability boost for Tavernkeeper should make it appealing as a flex slot for a wider range of Freljord Decks.

DEEP MEDITATION

COST: 4 → 5

Deep Meditation provided too much overall value at its old cost, offering high redundancy, card advantage, and consistent spellcasting. While this card should be a high-performer in dedicated spell decks, it was doing a bit too much all around, even at its regularly-costed “floor.” Given that Ionia has a large variety of efficient and powerful tools, we want the high access to them offered by Deep Meditation to be more difficult for general Ionia decks to tap into.

BOOMCREW ROOKIE

HEALTH: 4 → 3

Boomcrew Rookie is a standout card in burn-based aggro decks, with its high health and attack trigger allowing for consistent Nexus damage over time. Decreasing its health makes the Rookie more answerable through both removal and combat, giving opponents a better shot at preventing multiple triggers from hitting their Nexus.

BROOD AWAKENING

COST: 5 → 6

We’re reverting a change we made to Brood Awakening during beta, where we wanted to buff spider decks in the wake of nerfs to Mark of the Isles, Crowd Favorite and Frenzied Skitterer. In the end, this change overly pushed the raw efficiency of Brood Awakening, to the extent that it’s become overly potent as a defensive tool in control decks or “kill your own units” combo decks.

LONGTOOTH

(Chum the Waters / Fizz’s Chum the Waters)

HEALTH: 1 → 2

We’re adjusting Longtooth to allow Chum the Waters to be a bit less punishable and more reliable, especially in Expeditions where associated decks have been struggling. Chum the Waters can now also be played without an enemy unit in play—while this is actually a bugfix, it should allow for added versatility.

MONKEY IDOL

HEALTH: 4 → 5

Giving Monkey Idol the potential to create another Monkey should make the effect more meaningful and create more interesting and satisfying decisions around when to play it.

SLOTBOT

POWER: 0 → 1

HEALTH: 3 → 4

We’re giving Slotbot a simple stat boost to help get the reels spinning a bit more quickly.

The Watchlist

Unyielding Spirit

Unyielding Spirit has been among the more contentious cards in Rising Tides due to its powerful Burst speed effect and ability to circumvent opponents’ interaction. This card offers some unique challenges in adjusting, as a quick numbers change is more likely to just push the card out of playability rather than addressing any core issues, so for now we’re watchlisting it while considering adjustments.

Pilfered Goods & Card Stealing

Losing against your own cards when an opponent draws from your deck can be a frustrating experience, especially if you’re playing with deck-buffing Freljord effects. Pilfered Goods is a particular culprit as its power level is rather high, and drawing multiple cards is more likely to create “stole the perfect card” situations. We’re investigating possible adjustments that can ease some of the pain surrounding the mechanic.

Nexus damage in Rising Tides

Rising Tides thematics and mechanics (pirates, Plunder, Noxian siege weapons, etc.) have significantly increased the amount of direct nexus damage available to players. We’ve seen some problematic, potentially overloaded nexus damage decks arise as a result, and have made some targeted adjustments in this patch aimed at making early damage more preventable. Access to healing is another potential lever for the regions that boast it, and we’ve adjusted a few cards to provide better options.

The scope of this issue is rather large, so we’ll continue to monitor it (and the effect of the changes in this patch) over time.

Karma and Ezreal

We shared some thoughts on these two towards the end of beta, detailing some of our problems with their existing designs. We’ve adjusted Karma in this patch, and Ezreal has seen a drop in win rate since the release of Rising Tides, so at the moment we’re just continuing to monitor both champions

Rules Text Clarity

We’re updating rules text on a bunch of cards for clarity; thank you (as always!) for your feedback since launch on improvements we could make. As we’ve mentioned before, we expect to continue making similar (hopefully smaller) updates over time, especially as we add new content. Highlights in this batch include changes to clarify “enemy” targeting, as well as various cards that draw from your opponent’s deck now correctly calling out that they only draw “non-champion” cards.

  • Rules text on the following cards (collectible and non-collectible) updated for clarity:

Mageseeker Investigator | Absorb Soul | Shatter | Avarosan Marksman | Bullseye | Chempunk Shredder | Face-Melter | Shunpo | Withering Wail | Augmented Experimenter | Reckless Research | Captain Farron | Corina Veraza | Final Spark | Vile Feast | Ezreal | Yeti Yearling | Island Navigator | Fizz | Pool Shark | Imperial Demolitionist | Black Powder Grenade | Death’s Hand | Strong-arm | Double Up | Armored Tuskrider | Caught in the Cold | Noxian Fervor | Dragon’s Rage | Lee Sin’s Dragon’s Rage | Miss Fortune’s Make it Rain | Make it Rain | The Dreadway | Black Market Merchant | Pilfered Goods | Yordle Grifter | Chief Mechanist Zevi | Concerted Strike | Riptide Rex | Vladimir’s Transfusion | Terror of the Tides | Super Mega Death Rocket! | Aurora Porealis

Personalization

Rainbow Poro Guardian + Emote

The new Rainbow Poro guardian and accompanying emote are available for free until July 7, when they’ll disappear from the store. To permanently unlock your guardian and emote, just head to the store and “purchase” the bundle for 0 Coins.

Poro-v2.pngPoro_Pride.pngBPXM20_120_Arcade_01A_1.gif

Rainbow Poro

Personality: Accepting

Loves: Love

Rainbow Poros are known for having the biggest hearts and brightest colors in all of Runeterra.

Boards

Arcade.png

Arcade

Take your board to the next level with pixel powerups and chiptune chimes.

Emotes

  • 4 new emotes available for purchase:
combined_emotes.png

Card Backs

CardBack-v2.png

Arcade

Take your game to the next level.

Expeditions Archetypes

First, we’ve removed the bonus chance to see Rising Tides archetypes, so all primary archetypes will now have the same chance of showing up in the initial Champion Picks.

  • Rising Tides archetypes no longer twice as likely to appear in initial Champion Picks.

We’ve also begun using trade pick data to improve the quality of the trades that the shopkeeper is offering, and we’ll continue doing so across patches going forward, even when it isn’t specifically called out.

With regards to balance, we’ve been relatively happy with where the new archetypes have landed (yes, even Deep), although one region in particular has continued to stand out as a formidable choice: Demacia. With that in mind, rather than focusing nerfs on a particular archetype, we’re adjusting almost all of the archetypes from that region with the goals of reducing consistent access to efficient statlines and increasing the prevalence of situational utility cards.

Demacia adjustments

Relentless

Retribution

Scout it Out

Shield Wall

Suit Up

Other major adjustments

Cloning Program

Death’s Door

Disruption

  • Added: Darius, Navori Highwayman, Jeweled Protector, Shadow Assassin
  • Removed: Swain, Ghost, Retreat, Scaled Snapper

Fishbones

  • Added: Gotcha!, Hired Gun, Monkey Idol, Mystifying Magician, Patrol Wardens, Shellshocker, Thermogenic Beam
  • Removed: Boomcrew Rookie, Brash Gambler, Jury-Rig, Pocket Aces, Sump Dredger, Vault Breaker, Zaunite Urchin
  • Fishbones champion packs will now always include both Jagged Taskmaster and Professor von Yipp. This may force you into a tri-region deck, which is a known issue we’ll fix in a future patch.

Grand Moments (previously Spellbound)

Shadows and Dust

Smash and Grab

  • Added: Eager Apprentice, Hired Gun, Jaull Hunters, Lure of the Depths
  • Removed: Boomcrew Rookie, Brash Gambler, Pick a Card, Pilfered Goods, Rummage, Salvage, The Beast Below

Spell Slingers

  • Added: Deny, Ki Guardian, Pocket Aces, Spirit’s Refuge, Ye Been Warned, Yordle Grifter
  • Removed: Bubble Bear, Greenglade Duo, Razorscale Hunter, Shipwreck Hoarder

Minor adjustments

Ancient Evil

  • Added: Stalking Wolf
  • Removed: Ruthless Raider

Cataclysm

Crimson Guard

Demacian Steel

Discipline

First to the Draw

  • Added: Jagged Butcher, Slotbot
  • Removed: Brash Gambler, Hunting Fleet, Pick a Card

Shroom and Boom

  • Added: Patrol Wardens
  • Removed: Amateur Aeronaut

Terrors from the Deep

Total Recall

  • Added: Amateur Aeronaut, Windfarer Hatchling
  • Removed: Used Cask Salesman, Fae Bladetwirler, Shadow Flare, The Empyrean

Language Support

We’ve added additional language support to LoR—new players should be correctly auto-detected, while existing players can swap languages in their login screen settings.

  • Polish now supported.

Miscellaneous

  • Due to a rare bug that could cause it to show incorrect information, we’re temporarily disabling Oracle’s Eye from functioning while it’s your opponent’s turn to act (i.e., while you can’t do anything). Functionality remains normal while it’s your turn to act. We’ll fix the bug with Patch 1.3 in two weeks and revert this change.

Bugfixes

Hotfixes since last patch

  • Fixed an issue where players could receive less XP than intended when simultaneously receiving it from multiple sources.
  • Players who are caught mid-game during a service interruption will no longer receive a loss. If both players get disconnected, the game won’t count.
  • In French, Eye of the Dragon’s text now matches its function.
  • Vi no longer counts Overwhelm damage duplicatively, and properly sheds her base buff after leveling up under all conditions.

New fixes

  • Fixed an issue where players could sometimes enter a different queue than the one selected.
  • Fixed a bug where music from your previously used board would play at the start of a new match.
  • The “This Spells Trouble +” quest now correctly rewards 1500 XP.
  • The Bilgewater home screen background now appears in the regular rotation with all other regions.
  • Fixed an issue on the VS screen where your opponent’s icon would incorrectly mirror your icon.
  • Various level ups (Swain, Elise, Vlad) should now function correctly when using Turkish or Russian language settings.
  • Fixed an issue preventing Shellshocker and Strong-arm from showing up during Expeditions picks.
  • Flyout description added to Ye Been Warned.
  • Vi’s Vault Breaker now properly links to Vault Breaker.
  • Removed rarity gem from various non-collectible Rising Tides cards.
  • Chum the Waters can now be played without an enemy unit in play.
  • The Box no longer deals extra damage to units that have been played multiple times, and now interacts properly with control-changing effects like Possession.

Rainmaker

Rainmaker’s love for Legends of Runeterra was born from his passion for Magic: The Gathering and League of Legends. His aspiration is to enjoy and improve in all the aspects of LoR - be it brewing, tuning, piloting, or drafting - and report all of his experiences along the way!