Legends of Runeterra Rising Tides Expansion Constructed Review: Noxus, Piltover & Zaun, Shadow Isles
Welcome back! This is the last of my Rising Tides set review articles and I’m wrapping things up with the three remaining regions.
If you haven’t seen the other articles in this series you can catch up here. As always, I will be using the RuneterraCCG Rating Scale to evaluate and grade all of the cards. If you are wondering where is best to spend your shards and/or wildcards, never fear! I’ll include some recommendations at the end of the article to give you an idea of some safe crafts for each rarity.
- 5.0: Cards that are extremely powerful and belong in any deck of their respective region regardless of synergy. (Hecarim before the nerf)
- 4.0: Meta staples. These are cards that are usually auto-includes in any deck(s) that can support them but don’t need to be built around. (Zed, Karma, Deny, etc.)
- 3.5: Flexible, but not extremely powerful. These are cards that fit well into multiple archetypes but need some amount of support in order to make the cut. (Stand Alone, Get Excited, Will of Ionia)
- 3.0: Archetype staples. Cards in this category are more niche than their 3.5 counterparts but are necessary for their respective archetypes. (Corina Veraza, Anivia, Boomcrew Rookie)
- 2.5: Role-player in some decks. These are cards that are important for the deck(s) they are in and do not have many viable counterparts, but aren’t very flexible. (The Ruination, Laurent Protege)
- 2.0: Niche card. These are cards that are typically not powerful enough to be played regularly but may be brought into lists to counter specific meta decks. This category also includes cards that may not have a fleshed-out archetype just yet. (Ren Shadowblade, Professor Von Yipp, Purify)
- 1.0: Rarely sees play. (Unstable Voltician, Basilisk Rider)
Armored Tuskrider – 1.0
At its core Armored Tuskrider is an understatted Alpha Wildclaw. Its ability does lend a little something extra that does make up for the slight decrease in stats. Avoiding damage from small units means that removing the Armored Tuskrider through combat ill be difficult, but it still can trade down on mana. While I expect the Tuskrider to see play in experimental builds or perhaps in a different meta, it currently does not have much of a home.
Aurok Glinthorn – 2.0
Glinthorn currently suffers a similar fate as the Armored Tuskrider. Glinthorn is slightly healthier at 6|6 for 6-mana. Its Attack effect is unique and useful, but Glinthorn has yet to find a solid home. If Noxus midrange lists break into the meta a bit more, perhaps he will find play and see his rating bump up. Fortunately for Glinthorn its effect is powerful and being a big body on its own doesn’t hurt.
Citybreaker – 2.5
A big defensive unit is strong in decks that are looking to capitalize on sources of noncombat damage. Expect to see some copies of Citybreaker in the occasional Swain or Sejuani deck, but It lacks synergy to ever broke into the Gangplank lists.
Death’s Hand – 3.0
Death’s Hand is a solid addition to Noxus as a region, which struggled a bit with removal in the core set. It functions as a slightly more expensive Mystic Shot, but also provides direct Nexus damage and 3 total points of noncombat damage. This allows it to trigger Plunder for decks that care about that and it is a useful addition to any strategy that wants direct damage.
Imperial Demolitionist – 4.0
So far in Rising Tides, Imperial Demolitionist has been a standout follower. It is seeing play in nearly every aggressive Noxus deck. Paired with Crimson Disciple the Demolitionist can deal serious damage before ever getting to attack. A 2|3 body for 2-mana is strong from a statline perspective and 3 health makes her a solid candidate for Transfusion.
Iron Ballista – 1.0
A 3-mana 4|3 with Overwhelm is a bit… underwhelming. While a touch above rate for stats, its 3 health means that it trades away with quite a few units at the same cost and is even blanked by a few. Sure, you will perhaps be able to get a point or two of damage through to the enemy Nexus… but is it worth taking a slot in your deck and using up your turn 3 play? Probably not.
Noxian Fervor – 4.0
From a design perspective, Noxian Fervor is on point. This is about as close to a Get Excited! as you can get, while feeling extremely Noxian at the same time. Just like Get Excited!, Noxian Fervor will usually cost you an extra card but it does so in a way that could be exploited to further your game plan.
Ravenous Flock – 2.5
Finally some more support for Yasuo. If you can reliably damage or Stun enemy units, Ravenous Flock feels like it should be in your deck. It does require a bit of build around to be stellar, but units will get damaged at some point in combat if nothing else so it is rare that this will be an entirely dead card. 4 damage is also an important number as most of the damage-based removal in Legends of Runeterra operates at either 2 or 3 damage.
Swain – 3.5
12 damage may seem like a lot but in my experience Swain is remarkably easy to level up. He isn’t seeing a ton of play, but there are a number of different shells he can slot into and be a lot of fun. He fits well into any strategy that is dealing noncombat damage and when he can come down he is a force to be reckoned with. His Nexus Strike ability allows him to attack the Nexus for 6 (half of which is noncombat damage) and he has Thresh’s efficient statline.
The Leviathan – 2.5
This is a solid finisher and tutors out a champion for your troubles as well. A 5|8 is a big unit that both blocks and attacks nicely. If you are able to support it with Sejuani or Swain (or can ramp it out early) you are likely to see it pay dividends. Personally I would like to see a Sejuani/Swain deck of that sort that just ramps out big units and stalls the game until this boat can finish things up. Unfortunately, while people are having fun playing around with the boat, it hasn’t broken into the top tiers of the meta just yet.
Piltover & Zaun
Chief Mechanist Zevi – 2.0
Zevi has seen some experimentation in Discard-based strategies, where extra copies of cards are usually welcomed. A 6-mana 5|6 is a solid statline and it has the potential to pay for itself and even generate card advantage if it sticks around. You will have to be sure that you can cast the cards the turn you draw them though, because both the card you draw and the copy she makes will have Fleeting.
Gotcha! – 3.0
Diverse damage spells will always see play in Legends of Runeterra and Gotcha! fits the bill. While at a glance it may seem like a worse Get Excited!, Gotcha! is a 4-mana Fast spell that deals 3 to a single unit. The catch is that it only costs 2 on the turn it is drawn. The downside of Gotcha! is that it can only hit units so most Burn-style decks will likely avoid it. Either way, it is currently seeing play in some of the P&Z lists and fits well into midrange and control archetypes both.
Insightful Investigator – 1.0
A 4-mana 3|3 is under the curve stat-wise. I have yet to see Insightful Investigator see play outside of Expeditions so I am giving it a 1.0 rating, but it is more likely a 2.0 that might see play in a deck that wants to capitalize on critical mass of 2-drops. Even in a deck like that, this probably isn’t the payoff you’re looking for.
Patrol Wardens – 2.0
4|3 for 3-mana is slightly above rate from a pure statline perspective, but most other 3-drops have some permanent text to enhance them. Patrol Wardens can come down as a 2-mana 4|3 the turn they are drawn, which makes the statline quite admirable. It doesn’t fit into P&Z lists the way a Loyal Badgerbear fits into a Demacia list, but you can’t argue that it is a strong statline and could see some play (probably in decks that focus on frequently drawing cards).
Subpurrsible – 2.5
Elusive is a powerful ability and in the right deck Subpurrsible is a powerful follower. Any deck that focuses on playing 1-ofs or generating new cards (i.e. Heimer) is going to be trying out Subpurrsible and a few lists have popped up recently sporting the card. If you can trigger the +4|+0 you have a 5-mana 5|5 Elusive which can help to close out games quickly.
Suit Up! – 2.0
Like Gotcha!, Suit Up! gets cheaper the turn it is drawn. At that point it is a 2-mana Burst spell that makes an ally’s statline 4|4. Decks focused around smaller units and generating value will like Suit Up! Any decks that are focused on maximizing 1-drops will likely be running a couple copies of Suit Up! as well. At its face value of 4-mana Suit Up! is still an okay card and could the swing factor in the archetypes I mentioned.
Trail of Evidence – 2.5
Lately Trail of Evidence has been popping up as a role-player in a control spell-based Vi/Lee Sin builds on the ladder. The RNG factor of Trail of Evidence is high because of the spread of possible choices that include all the 2-cost cards of your regions (spell and units alike). Still decks that do run this card want this burst-speed effect both for value and for spell-spam synergies.
Vault Breaker – 1.0
I have yet to see Vault Breaker played in anything. It is Vi’s signature spell so it definitely does see play in some respect, but the card itself doesn’t seem worth taking up a slot in your deck. If you really want to play Vault Breaker, play a Vi deck and don’t bother including Vault Breaker.
Veteran Investigator – 2.0
This mirrored draw effect on a well-statted body is something that fast decks could take advantage of, but there are currently are a lot of great aggro options at the 2-drop slot that do not involve giving your opponent a card. Veteran Investigator still has a potential to be rediscovered every time meta shifts after balance updates – in both aggro and combo decks alike.
Vi – 4.0
There are currently three different strong Vi builds in the Constucted meta list. She fits well into both tempo and control decks, finding slots into the new and improved Corina Control and pushing Karma out in the Heimer control lists. Of course there are plenty of new champions out there and she is also seeing play with Lee Sin in tempo-based strategies. Recently a few lists have started to pop up in the community that slots Vi into aggressive lists as well, so time will tell if she is viable there as well. She quickly closes out games by enabling solid blocks for your other units and leveling her up is simple enough that it can be done rather reliably. Once she is leveled she starts dealing direct damage to the enemy Nexus.
Barkbeast – 2.5
Barkbeast is a solid little 1-drop that benefits from an ally dying – which is obviously an ongoing easy-to-exploit theme of the Shadow Isles. It’s nothing special and with the increase in powerful 1-drops such as Jagged Butcher Barkbeast could look a bit underwhelming at face value, but it has a place in certain lists.
Blighted Caretaker – 3.0
Cursed Keeper has a new friend! It’s not a 0-mana 3|2, but it does have the ability to get 10 points of power with Cursed Keeper on your board on turn 3. Caretaker is a decent enabler for Aristocrats strategies and is good when behind as it can blank opposing attackers. The Saplings that it spawns have Challenger as well so they can be good when attacking as well.
Deadbloom Wanderer – 2.5
I am convinced there will never be a time where I stop confusing Deadbloom Wanderer for Barkbeast. In any case, Deadbloom Wanderer is solid in SI decks that want to shore up the early game against aggressive strategies while furthering the Toss gameplan. It’s an effective blocker and heals your Nexus at the same time.
Maokai – 3.0
If you want to Toss cards chances are you want to play Maokai. Whether you are looking to enable Deep or you just want to mill your opponent for the win, Maokai is a strong enabler for any strategy that Tosses. He isn’t difficult to level up and quickly develops a board with which you can defend your Nexus. He’s relatively cheap, but still requires you to play other units to get back your mana investments. His signature spell isn’t anything to be hyped about as well. Maokai is a little too niche to be much higher than a 3.0, but he is certainly found in the meta right now.
Neverglade Collector – 2.5
A 5-mana 2|4 is kind of laughable, but Neverglade Collector is functionally a buffed Phantom Prankster. It has a better statline and Drains the enemy Nexus instead of simply dealing damage to it. Neverglade Collector has been seeing play in some of the They Who Endure decks running around and probably has yet-unexplored build-around potential, hence the 2.5 grade.
Overgrown Snapvine – 1.0
7-mana for a 4|3 is dumpster tier and the value it generates is relative to the other units you’re playing which means at best it’s a build-around. Play Overgrown Snapvine when you want some shenanigans and avoid it otherwise.
Sap Magic – 1.0
Sap Magic doesn’t seem like a card that most people want to be playing in Toss decks let alone any other decks. 3-mana for this effect is underwhelming and Sap Magic doesn’t heal the Nexus like Health Potion which brings down its value even further.
Sapling Toss – 1.0
This is a delayed effect and provides you with a low-stat Ephemeral unit. Just avoid Sapling Toss.
Terror of the Tides – 2.5
Personally I find Terror of the Tides to be exactly the kind of card that the Deep decks would want to close out games as quickly as possible. Giving all of your Sea Monsters Fearsome can close games out turns earlier and with a leveled Nautilus on the board this is only a 4-drop. At face value it is an 8-mana 6|5 which is a decent body especially when coupled with the attack reduction on enemies.
Thorny Toad – 2.5
The toad has a reasonable statline-to-cost ratio and will continue to see play in Shadow Isles decks that want more ways to shore up the early game against aggressive strategies. A 1|4 can often block twice early on and Thorny Toad will gain you 2 life when it dies as well.
Commons and Rares
Noxian Fervor, Imperial Demoilitionist, Gotcha!, Blighted Caretaker
The Tide Rises
That’s a wrap! We have covered the all of the new cards from Legends of Runeterra’s newest Rising Tides expansion! What do you think? Are you finding this expansion fun? Are you enjoying finally getting your hands on the new cards?
Let us know what you think in the comments and feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @RanikGalfridian.