Legends of Runeterra Patch 0.9.4. Notes: Draven, Yasuo & Katarina buffed, nerfs to Bannerman & Frenzied Skitterer

Patch 0.9.4 features the final card updates of Open Beta—including buffs to Draven, Katarina, and Yasuo—plus tweaks to Expeditions archetypes and some user interface improvements.

Infographic with all the changes (courtesy of Saucy Mailman):

Below are the official Patch Notes as originally posted at PlayRuneterra.com.

Card Changes in 0.9.4

Hey everyone. We talked at the beginning of Open Beta about how we look at balance over the course of sets, including how we plan to approach our final card updates before the introduction of a new set. For this last batch of changes before launch, we’ve focused on tying up loose ends with some clarity improvements, fairly minor nerfs, and a few champion adjustments.

We expect champion health to be particularly important for us with set transitions—we want players to be excited to try out the new, but also for existing champions to remain compelling options. We feel pretty good about where we’re at, but have a few changes aimed at increasing viability. In particular, while we’re happy with where Noxus is as a Region in terms of overall card usage, Noxian champions in general are somewhat underrepresented, so we’ve got adjustments to Draven and Katarina.

Additionally, we’ve got a group of changes aimed at increasing clarity and generally helping cards act in more intuitive ways for both players. These changes will have some small level of impact on power level, but we’ve separated them into a different section below to make it clear what we’re trying to accomplish. 

Thanks so much for all your feedback during beta, and can’t wait to see you at launch!

DRAVEN

LEVEL UP: I’ve struck twice with a [Spinning Axe].  I’ve struck with two total [Spinning Axe].

(Draven now levels up when striking with two Axes at the same time.)

This change focuses on making Draven’s gameplay dream and level up more realizable and satisfying. Draven’s overall playrate and satisfaction around his kit are lower than we’d like, even though we’ve seen him utilized effectively in certain strategies. We want to provide players with more windows and incentives to use Spinning Axes on Draven himself, in addition to rummaging them away or pumping other units.

KATARINA

OLD TEXT: Level Up: I’ve struck once. When I level up, recall me.

NEW TEXT: Play: Create a [Fleeting] Blade’s Edge in hand. Level Up: I’ve struck once. When I level up, recall me.

We want to give Katarina a slight increase in versatility and usability while addressing a fundamental problem within her play pattern. Trying to use her early can be ineffective as her self-recall leaves you too far behind in the game. In addition to improving her resonance, her new ability should both up Katarina’s power in her current decks and allow her to be played in a wider variety of strategies.

YASUO

(LEVEL 1)

HEALTH: 3  4

(LEVEL 2)

HEALTH: 4  5

Yasuo hasn’t quite had the durability needed to be able to fully utilize him as a build-around. For a champion all about dicing up opponents, his statline made it difficult to confidently use him in combat, and this change should make Yasuo more consistently usable throughout games.

KALISTA

LEVEL UP: I’ve seen 4+ allies die.  I’ve seen 3+ allies die.

While we’ve seen Kalista’s playrate skyrocket since her update last balance patch, we’ve observed that her power level is still a tad low. We expected this might be the case—we want to initially focus on gameplay dreams when reworking champions—so we’re making a pre-planned follow-up change to make her level up more consistently attainable.

LAURENT DUELIST

POWER: 3  4

We want Laurent Duelist to be a meaningful threat you can send in along with whoever he’s given Challenger, but his old statline often didn’t allow you to set up profitable attacks. An additional point of power should help with more aggressive use.

VANGUARD BANNERMAN

OLD TEXT: Allegiance: Grant all allies +1|+1.

NEW TEXT: Allegiance: Grant other allies +1|+1.

Demacia can have overpowering curves that leave certain strategies unable to compete. Bannerman is a key offender that also homogenizes Demacia deck diversity due to its allegiance requirements, so we’re removing some raw baseline power from its effect.

BLOOD FOR BLOOD

COST: 3  2

Blood for Blood has been ineffective even in Battle Scars decks, and a cost reduction should help move it into a more usable state.

KATO THE ARM

HEALTH: 3  4

Aggressive Noxus decks often forgo playing the more expensive Noxus units—it can be risky for an aggro deck to try and play single large units before combat later in the game, as opposed to just playing more cheap units or spells that can be used during or after combat. One thing more expensive units can bring to the table is the potential for sustained payoff, and this health increase should improve Kato’s reliability by letting him make more attacks on average.

AVAROSAN TRAPPER

HEALTH: 2  3

POWER: 2  3

We want to give Freljord more choice when it comes to early/mid game options and boost regional identity across its various archetypes, so we’ve got buffs aimed at Yetis, Deck Buff, and Ramp.

STARLIT SEER

HEALTH: 2  3

See Avarosan Trapper.

WYRDING STONES

HEALTH: 3  4

Ramp is an integral part of Freljord’s identity, and we’ve kept a close eye on the available options throughout beta. Currently, we’re observing most “big Freljord” decks forgo ramp completely, or playing only Catalyst of Aeons if they do opt for it. To make Wyrding Stones a more compelling option, we’re reverting a change we made back at the start of open beta.

SHADY CHARACTER

HEALTH: 1  3

Shady Character’s statline made it too easy to disrupt with damage-based removal in response to the Impersonate.

FRENZIED SKITTERER

HEALTH: 3  2

Skitterer’s summon effect is potent in all stages of the game, and many strategies beyond just Spider or Fearsome decks have been utilizing the card to great effect, particularly more controlling Shadow Isles decks. Ultimately, the card’s been a bit too ubiquitous, and a health reduction should generally rein in its strength and make it a slightly less flexible defensive option.

The Watchlist

Ezreal

Ezreal’s an exciting build-around, but his current design poses challenges when it comes to the deep interactive gameplay we strive for in LoR. His one-turn kill capability using Burst spells inclines Ezreal decks towards what we call “consumptive” play patterns, where the focus is more on removing all of your opponent’s plans than advancing your own. Ezreal’s superb finishing ability also lets control decks circumvent the usual need to thoroughly control a game before winning, and can create incredibly frustrating and demoralizing cases where you know you’ve lost before it happens, but can’t effectively do anything about it.

While the win rate performance of Ezreal decks isn’t quite hitting must-change levels, we know we may need to make adjustments for gameplay health reasons. We’re investigating and testing possible tweaks that improve on Ezreal’s more frustrating aspects while retaining his excitement and build-around potential.

Karma

While Karma is one of the most flashy and exciting cards in LoR, some of the strategies we’ve seen built around her push the limits of what should be consistently possible in terms of insane comebacks or one-turn kills. Basically, we love the crazy stuff Karma can enable, as long as it’s not too easily attainable or meta-warping. For now, we’re just closely monitoring her power level and the different variants being built around her.

Clarity Updates

BRIGHTSTEEL FORMATION

KEYWORD: Barrier   No Keyword

(Still gives itself and all other allies Barrier on Play.)

Base Barrier was redundant in most cases for Brightsteel Formation—while you can apply more than one Barrier in LoR, they don’t actually stack to prevent multiple instances of damage. When it did come up (in conjunction with Shen or Greenglade Caretaker, for instance), it was often more confusing than anything else.

SWIFTWING LANCER

OLD TEXT: [Last Breath] Create an Elite in hand.

NEW TEXT: [Last Breath] Create a random Elite in hand.

Cards that create cards default to pulling from within your deck’s Regions, so Lancer would rarely (and confusingly) not always create an Elite when it died under your control (when stolen with Possession, for example). Now it will, even if you aren’t playing a Demacia deck.

TRIFRARIAN ASSESSOR

OLD TEXT: Play: Draw 1 for each 5+ Power ally you have.

NEW TEXT: When I’m summoned, draw 1 for each 5+ Power ally you have.

We’re updating Trifrarian Assessor to match our general approach of defaulting to “When summoned” versus “Play” wherever we can to allow for additional gameplay possibilities. While this change is minor, it does open up the usual potential for cloning / resurrection shenanigans.

SHARK CHARIOT

OLD TEXT: When an Ephemeral ally attacks and I’m dead, return me to play attacking.

NEW TEXT: Last Breath: The next time an Ephemeral ally attacks, revive me attacking.

This change is a much needed cleanup to Shark Chariot’s functionality that leaves it with nearly identical play patterns. Previously, it was the only card that would “return to play” after being dead. Now, it “revives”—meaning it will instead make a copy of itself, which is much more consistent with how LoR operates (though we have noticed that we could do a better job calling out “revive” functionality in general).

While this change is about clarity, there are three gameplay implications we’d like to call out:

  • Purify will work effectively on the Chariot by removing Its Last Breath effect.
  • Iceborn Legacy will now work more effectively with Chariot—revived copies of Shark Chariot will now gain the buff.
  • And of course, Chariot will now be affected by cards that affect Last Breath units (Warden’s Prey, for example).

Expeditions Tuning

As you may have noticed by this point, we plan to pretty actively tweak various Expeditions values patch-over-patch based on the data we’re seeing. Our primary goal is that all archetypes feel viable, so you can make decisions based on the contents of the individual packs you’re shown rather than due to a particular strategy being overpowered.

At the moment, we think we’re in a pretty good spot, so many of the changes in this patch focus on mixing things up a little and refining some archetypes to be more satisfying to play. I’d like to share a little more info on some of the concepts and tuning values you’ll see mentioned in the changes below, and that we use to shape the overall Expeditions experience:

Bonus archetypes: Every combination of one or two regions has its own primary archetype, but we also have the capacity to support additional archetypes that are a bit more off the beaten path. Currently, these are Fluft and Tuft and Cataclysm, and we’re adding another with this patch—Crimson Guard. The main thing to note is that these bonus archetypes only show up half as often as the primary archetypes during the initial Champion Picks, so if you’re interested in trying them out, take ’em when you see ’em!

Cohesiveness Rating: Some archetypes are full of generically useful cards, while others like Shadows and Dust consist of mostly cards that are more dependent on one another. Cohesiveness Rating is a tuning value that allows us to control how quickly a particular archetype will be disallowed from showing up in Wild Picks when your deck doesn’t include any cards from that archetype, since you’d be highly unlikely to be interested in them anyway.

Wild Pick Bonus Chance: This is another tuning value that allows us to increase the frequency with which you’ll see an archetype during your Wild Picks, but only during drafts where it’s your primary archetype. So for an archetype like Shroom and Boom that’s dependent on having plenty of mushroom-related cards to end up with a synergistic deck, taking a couple packs from it early will ensure you’ll see lots more of them throughout the draft.

And there’s much more to come next patch, when Expeditions will be updated to include the new set and seventh region. We’ll add new primary archetypes for each of the new region pairings, so at least seven more archetypes added to the current total of 24, bringing the mode to over 30. When you take tri-region into account, there will be 63 different region combinations possible in Expeditions decks. The hype is real and I can’t wait for you all to see what we’ve been cooking up!

Expeditions Archetypes

Crimson Guard is a new bonus archetype that pairs the self-damaging effects and bonuses for surviving damage from Noxus alongside Barriers plus Tough and Regeneration units from Demacia. Did you know that protecting Crimson Curator with a Barrier in combat counts as surviving damage? You do now!

Demacian Steel continues to be a little stronger than we’d like, and we’re taking away one of its tools so that decks based heavily around this archetype will have to go toe to toe with opposing units rather than simply locking them away.

Discipline just had too many common cards, so we’re taking away a card that isn’t necessary for the “hand buff” strategy in order for it to be a bit more focused.

Noxian Might has continued to be too effective at quickly inflicting overwhelming amounts of damage to the opponent, so we’re adding a card that goes along with that strategy but at a more reasonable pace.

  • Added: Shunpo

Shroom and Boom is an interesting case study—we’d previously tried enabling it to use cheap spells to build up a huge Assembly Bot, but have found that isn’t as effective as we’d like it to be in practice. With that in mind, we’re restoring the aggressive early game units and removing Mushroom Cloud since the whumps are more than happy to provide those along with a body.

  • Added: Academy Prodigy, Amateur Aeronaut, Flash of Brilliance, Get Excited!
  • Removed: Mushroom Cloud, Scrapdash Assembly, Eager Apprentice, Assembly Bot

Spellbound has found new life through the updated Mageseeker units, so we’re removing a couple of its spells that cost less than 6 mana, while also replacing an epic card that’s seen a bit too frequently with one that was previously only in a single archetype.

Retribution is a little on the strong side presently, so we’re removing a spell that shows up in a variety of archetypes and was least needed here.

Battle Scars doesn’t need much adjustment (and will likely benefit from the addition of the new Crimson Guard archetype) but Starlit Seer should be at home here again given its extra point of health.

Enlightenment is giving up its Yeti subtheme, so we’re compensating it with an additional late game threat that’s worthy of ramping into with the newly buffed Wyrding Stones.

  • Added: Battle Fury
  • Removed: Avarosan Trapper, Tall Tales, Ancient Yeti

Cloning Program has always had a theoretical subtheme based around copying Funsmiths and then using them to enhance your damage effects, but in practice it was far too slow and inconsistent. We’re removing it in favor of a Yeti subtheme since one-cost 5|5s are perfect for copying into your deck.

Ancient Evil is gaining a new subtheme based around pairing spiders with Iceborn Legacy, so we’re replacing Thresh with Elise for the time being to see how that plays out.

Shadows and Dust has continued to struggle, so we’re removing a few of the weaker Ionian support cards in favor of some solid, consistent cards that should help deliver wins more often. We’ve also increased the Cohesiveness Rating as it’s rather unlikely you want cards from this archetype if you haven’t already been drafting it.

  • Added: Navori Bladescout, Twin Disciplines, Oblivious Islander, Vengeance, The Harrowing
  • Removed: Shadow Fiend, Shadowshift
  • Cohesiveness Rating increased from Medium to High.

Fluft and Tuft is an archetype that’s great fun when it works but has been struggling with a few too many cards that didn’t contribute to the core Poro strategy. We’ve removed many of those cards, added more options to enlarge your Poros, and lastly increased the chance that you’ll see Fluft and Tuft packs in your Wild Picks so you can further focus your deck.

Cataclysm is intentionally an unfocused archetype, and while we like the variety it provides when showing up early in a draft, it shouldn’t keep showing up all the way through if you haven’t shown any interest in it.

  • Cohesiveness Rating increased to Medium.

Miscellaneous

  • Region Road visual updates.
    • Each region road now has an introductory card at the beginning where you can explore the region’s champions.
    • Region selection UI updated to a more lightweight slide-out panel.
    • Header bar slimmed.
  • Various quest text updated for clarity.
  • On PC, players can now click on a card to mark it for replacement during Mulligan (change made in patch 0.9.3).
  • Mobile app icon updated.

Bugfixes

  • Friend challenge will now randomly assign first and second player in each match.
  • Shadowshift will no longer cause targeted spells to fizzle—they’ll now hit their new target.
  • Statikk Shock can now be cast even if there is only one available target.
  • Noxian Guillotine now correctly indicates that it will create a copy of itself.
  • Stand United no longer ignores combat rules if units were swapped AND a blocker was removed—attacks will now correctly fizzle against a removed blocker unless the attacker has Overwhelm.
  • Striking an Omen Hawk with Barrier will no longer show its buff VFX.
  • Impersonate will now fizzle if Shady Character is recalled or killed first.
  • Augmented Experimenter will no longer cause a permanent red glow on screen if cast without a target.
  • Drawing Poison Puffcaps now has correct sounds for different numbers of mushrooms.
  • Kalista VFX cleaned up to make bonding and damage redirection more clear.
  • Legion Marauder buff VFX when attacking cleaned up.
  • Braum level-up VFX fixed for widescreen ratios.
  • Crimson Curator will no longer show incorrect info when using Oracle’s Eye.

Known Issue

  • On Windows, trying to start LoR from the lor.exe file in your programs folder (or a shortcut manually created from that .exe) may cause a crash. To avoid, start LoR by using the shortcut made for you during install, or by using the Legends of Runeterra listing on your start menu in the Riot Games folder. Should be fixed in the next patch.

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!

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