Expeditions Tier List: Best Champions to First-Pick

When a player embarks on a new Expedition trial, the very first decision he has to make is to pick two Champions for his deck. This choice is of utmost importance as it will guide a whole draft in a particular direction.

The Expeditions mode algorithm offers draft choices based on the cards a player has already included in their deck during previous picks. Hence, starting champions determine your deck to a great measure, and knowing the criteria by which to select your champions comes a long way. The tier list presented in this article is a tool to help with that crucial drafting decision.


  • This guide is intended for newer LoR players who need help evaluating the strength of champions in the environment of the Expeditions mode.
  • Expeditions offer a player card choices within certain pre-built archetypes. Because of this, when making our Champion Picks we have to think of champions as staples from certain archetypes. The quality of those archetypes associated with a particular champion affects champions’ positioning in the tier list.
  • The tier list below evaluates each LoR champion card in a ‘first Champion Pick scenario’. It is not advised to rely on the list heavily in the later stages of the draft.
  • As you score more and more wins in a trial, you will also add new champions to your draft deck. However, at those later stages, many more factors affect your pick decisions than in the pure ‘first pick scenario’. By then, the deck will dictate your choice – in particular, the synergy and mana curve will be crucial to consider. As such, the lines drawn by the ‘first pick’ tier list can become blurry.
  • Expeditions is a fairly diverse and well-balanced game mode, and any champion – even the one in the lowest tier – can carry the deck to 7 wins given the right build and circumstances. Tier list reflects only a relative strength, while it is your deckbuilding and piloting skills that matter the most to determine an outcome.

Criteria

While compiling the list, we took two parameters into account for each champion: 1) base value of a champion; 2) the quality of the champion’s archetypes.

‘Base Value Grade’ evaluates the power of a certain champion as a standalone card. Here’s the grading scale that was used to rate the base value of each champion:

  • 5.0: The best of the best, one of the most powerful cards in the mode;
  • 4.0: A bomb – but not unbeatable;
  • 3.0: Good, perfectly playable champion;
  • 2.0: Low-end playable;
  • 1.0: Very hard to make work.

After the ‘Base Value’ grade for each champion wass determined, we then added or subtracted a few points from it depending on the quality of the champion’s archetypes. Those ‘Archetype Modifiers’ are ranging from -1.0 to +1.0 in points. The resulting ‘Overall Grade’ is then used to assign a ‘tier’ to each champion.


ChampionBase Value GradeArchetype ModifierOverall GradeTier
Zoe4,50,55S
Aurelion Sol40,54,5A+
Tryndamere4,504,5A+
Lucian40,54,5A+
Aphelios40,54,5A+
Kindred4,504,5A+
Lux4,5-0,54A
Thresh3,50,54A
Leona314A
Ashe404A
Garen404A
Shyvana314A
Swain3,50,54A
Hecarim404A
Ezreal3,50,54A
Teemo3,50,54A
Nocturne3,50,54A
Azir404A
Renekton3,50,54A
Heimerdinger30,53,5B+
Quinn30,53,5B+
Sejuani4-0,53,5B+
Fiora3,503,5B+
Kalista30,53,5B+
Miss Fortune3,503,5B+
Zed3,503,5B+
Diana30,53,5B+
Vladimir30,53,5B+
Taric2,513,5B+
Soraka30,53,5B+
LeBlanc3,503,5B+
Lissandra4-0,53,5B+
Sivir4-0,53,5B+
Jarvan IV30,53,5B+
Nasus30,53,5B+
Draven3,5-0,53B
Gangplank3,5-0,53B
Trundle3,5-0,53B
Twisted Fate303B
Elise303B
Jinx3,5-0,53B
Riven303B
Vi3,5-0,53B
Anivia2,50,53B
Darius303B
Tahm Kench2,50,53B
Maokai20,52,5C+
Shen3-0,52,5C+
Yasuo3-0,52,5C+
Lulu3-0,52,5C+
Taliyah2,502,5C+
Braum202C
Karma202C
Fizz202C
Viktor2,5-11,5D+
Katarina2-0,51,5D+
Lee Sin1,501,5D+
Nautilus2-0,51,5D+

Conclusion: The Role of Champion Cards in Expeditions

There is a notable difference in how the players generally think about champions in Expeditions as compared to the Constructed mode experience.

In the regular deckbuilding, the LoR heroes are very often the central figures for each particular deck. A champion card is essentially the core of its deck’s game plan. For example, Lee Sin combo builds would aim to stall the game, level up the champion, and then close out the match using his special ability in combination with Overwhelm damage. Without the champion himself, the win would never be possible.

However, in Expeditions champions play a role that is a bit more humble. Don’t get me wrong, Fiora would still be a threat and one of the best cards in your deck. And just as in Constructed, you would surely have a few ways to protect her during duels and make the combat phase hell for your opponent. Still, Fiora in Expeditions often acts as a pure value card rather than a core engine.

Part of the reason here is purely mathematical – in Expeditions, you start off with just 2 champions within a 30-card deck (1:14 ratio). As you get deeper into your trial, you get additional picks and may end up with 4 champions in 36 cards total (1:8). In Constructed, dedicated decks play 6 champions within 40 cards (less than 1:6 ratio) – and that is not even accounting for additional card draw and selection. Put simply, there are not as many champions in your Expedition deck as in Constructed deck so their role in the game plan is different.

Think of your champions in Expeditions as huge bombs that raise the power level of your deck overall and can come clutch in certain spots – however, they rarely make or break your entire run. Don’t overestimate their importance! There’s no rule without an exception, and the statement above is generally less true for the champions that are higher on our tier list. Still, this works as a basic guideline.

Thus we conclude our overview of Runeterra champions in a draft environment. Expeditions are a great way to learn the game and build up your collection, so hopefully, our tier list will help with your trials. Please, feel free to share your thoughts on the tier list, and good luck in your next Expedition!

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!

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