The State of LoR Metagame and March 30 Balance Patch Wishlist
On March 30th, Legends of Runeterra will drop a very anticipated balance patch, one that is already being discussed amongst the community as a lot of players have already expressed their concerns towards the current state of the game.
In this article, I’ve tried to collect and represent the various takes I could see online, while also throwing in my own expectations towards this patch.
State of the Meta
Before getting into the nerfs/buffs discussion, I would like to briefly talk about the state of the game and why so many players are advocating for changes.
There are 2 main things that are being criticized currently by the community. The first one are the random elements in the game, mostly the Manifest keyword and the ability for Bandle City to find a way out of too many situations through card generation. The 10th region feels too powerful in comparison.
The second critique I see often is that games feel too repetitive and similar from one to the next. Because of the current popularity of Gnar, a lot of decks have a similar way of operating. At the time of writing this, our Meta Tier list features a total of seven Gnar piles accross Tier 1 and 2!
In card games, it does happen often that a particular mechanic becomes dominant, but the constant changes keep the frustration at a reasonable level. With patches being more spaced in time lately, the frustration is building to higher levels than it should be and makes a lot more things appear problematic as a result.
I believe the game is in a much better state than it was during the Ahri Kennen metagame, and although some things could be adjusted, Gnar and Manifest are feeling less oppressive than some of the overpowered decks we had to deal with in the past.
Overall, I would agree that there is a need for a big patch on March 30th, but not necessarily to completely overhaul the current state of the game like some players on Twitter are calling for.
- Fated keyword only gives +1+0 base stats. Fated units get extra base health to make up for this change.
The problem isn’t that answers do not exist in the game, as Noxus can deal with those fairly effectively with Ravenous Flock or Scorched Earth, so can Frejlord with the Frostbite mechanic. The main issue with the Fated keyword is that it doesn’t evolve or adapt to the metagame.
- The Grand Plaza and The Veiled Temple now grant +0/+1 instead of +1/+0
Those 2 cards are supposed to be support to our on-board strategy, allowing us to control a specific part of the game. Currently, with the +1+0 bonus, neither of those cards can be played as they do not help with the survivability of our key cards.
If those 2 landmarks would grant +0/+1 instead, they could be used in more decks simply because they would represent a way to help our unit survive and build our gameplan thanks to that.
- Gnar’s Pokey Stick becomes Fleeting
I have seen a lot of players advocating for a 3/3 or a 4/2 Gnar, but I believe the 4/3 stat is perfect for Quick Attack champion compared to the removal that exists in the game.
While the level-up still is very powerful, it is the utility Gnar provides even in its base form that makes the champion so reliable for so many decks.
As a way to reduce how versatile Gnar is, making the Pokey Stick Fleeting should change the way they can use their mana and force some difficult decisions more often.
- Twisted Catalyzer becomes a 3/1
Darkness is another deck which proved to be good enough to survive various metagames and still stands as a solid Tier 1 or Tier 2 deck most of the time. And while changing Veigar or Senna could prove too be too much of a hit for the deck, Twisted Catalyzer is a perfect recipient for a nerf.
As a 3/2, Twisted Catalyzer is both a key card for Darkness and one of the best 2-drops in the game stat wise. Changing the card to a 3/1, or maybe a 2/2 would create a weakness in the card, either losing the ability to trade into 2/3’s or being easily removed by 1-damage spells.
- Sharpsight now grants +1/+2
As a +2/+2, Sharpsight became a staple in every single Demacia deck – whether it is Scouts, Fated or the Fae Swarm decks. The card also completely lost that “Anti-Elusive” nature.
While I’ve seen some people advocate for a +2/+1, I feel that +1/+2 fits Demacia’s identity more, looking to be strong in combat rather than being agressive like Shurima or Noxus would.
- Loping Telescope now only manifests cards from your regions
I think Loping Telescope and Conchologist are the 2 most talked about cards when it comes to nerf worthy inside the competitive community. Being totally honest, I don’t really mind either, and being a long time Hearthstone player, I have seen far worse.
One argument I cannot deny though is the fact that the action-based gameplay of LoR relies on being able to predict and answer the opponent. As such, genereating cards from your regions should help a ton in that predictability aspect.
- Reverting Monster Harpoon | Tri-beam Improbulator | Sion | Nasus.
While those nerfs made sense when they happened, the game is evolving and so is the power level of each card. None of these cards are relevant in the current metagame and as time passes and new, more powerful cards get introduced, there isn’t much chance they ever return to a playable status if not given a bit of help.
What most of these cards have in common is the fact that they are big tempo enforcers, but ever since they got nerfed, don’t really excel in that regard anymore.
The riskiest one on that list in my opinion is the Tri-beam Improbulator, a great tempo card that could be too strong at 4 mana if the metagame slew down.
- Renekton and Jayce both gain a health point and get to 4/5
While both champions operate very differently, they share a common trait which is that they need to survive until level 2 spike. Currently, the metagame feature champions that can contribute even if they never level up, the game being rather fast-paced. In the case of champions that are in dire need of leveling up to be considered really threatening, helping those who struggle should make them much more relevant.
- Fiora becomes a 2/3
While the 3/2 statline has become customary nowadays for 3-mana champions, Fiora not having the Quick Attack keyword makes her impossible to leverage (unlike Draven). At 2/3, the champion could make a much better use of her Challenger keyword and have a chance of winning the game.
- Nocturne only needs 4+ allies with Nightfall attacking to level up
The Nightfall archetype is still a fan favorite but never manages to find a way to be relevant in the metagame. In my mind, the main problem with the deck is the fact that it is an early game tempo deck that completely lacks some explosive firepower at the top of the curve.
In order to help with that, making Nocturne easier to level up should lead to the deck being able to keep the pressure for a little longer and have a real threatening possibility before the opponent manages to stabilise the board.
- Aphelios doesn’t need the Nightfall activation anymore
While some are advocating for the return of the 2-mana Moon Weapons, I think there’s another solution.
Aphelios already is a slow champion, and its Nightfall condition makes him even clunkier, forcing to play off-curve to store mana and being able to activate it on turn 3. While it might not solve the champion’s problem of simply being too expensive, being able to play Aphelios on turn 3 without any set up required should enhance the card’s playability quite a bit.
- Katarina and Garen should be reworked
Both champions have been completely ignored for a very long time in competitive play and unless something incredible happens to them, they are likely keeping their unplayable status forever.
Garen is looking to be the easiest to rework, as the Rally already is a strong mechanic in the game and can be a great identity for a Demacia champion. Improving his ability to Rally and potentially adding it to level 1 in some form will put Garen back in the discussion for a spot in some Demacia based-decks. In order to make up for the buff, losing the Regeneration keyword seems appropriate.
For Katarina, her main problem is the fact that Noxus isn’t a region looking to abuse the Rally mechanic like Demacia would. A start would be to remove the Fleeting tag from the Blade’s Edge she generates, which could already help her create a connection with Rumble or other discard-based archetypes.
Another possibility would be for an in-depth change of Katarina and remove the Rally aspect of the champion, instead focusing on her damage spell abilities. Something along the lines of “Strike: Create a Death Lotus in hand” could make the champion relevant alongside Swain or Braum decks for example.
- Shaman’s Call needs to be faster or cheaper.
Udyr is the most underwhelming champion from the latest release, and for now, it doesn’t look like the good Udyr deck has been found. Part of the reason for that is how expensive the whole Stance Swap mechanic is.
Talking with other players, some would like to see the Stance cost 2 mana, which I think would be too (remember 2 mana Moon Weapons anyone?).
Something I would like to see changed though is Shaman’s Call, arguably the worst card of the Stance package. Indeed, the card doesn’t really provide any upside as it neither gains you mana nor allows to play the Stances faster, making it unplayableю
There are 2 routes possible in order to give the card some help: either make it a 5-mana spell, or make the Stances Fast speed. In both cases, I’d also would like to see the Stance Swaps not be Fleeting, as there isn’t a reason for it in the first place.
During the past year, the LoR metagames have been all consistently and heavily dominated by the new releases. It was almost a year ago that Aphelios, TLC and Fizz TF were absolutely destroying the ladder and making it hard to play anything else.
Following those was the Shurimian invasion with Thresh Nasus, and then Bandle City came along. All these rather polarized metagames have worn down the patience of the invested players.
I believe compared to other card games, LoR still is doing very well in terms of diversity and viability of different decks, but the 2-month wait in-between patches might not suit the current internet world where metagames are getting solved in less than a week.
For all those reasons, I believe we need a big shake-up of the current power balance, especially atop the Tier 1. And even if it ends up being a bit of a mess to figure out what is good and what isn’t as a result of this, it might all be for the best, as long as it makes the player base feel like the game is a challenge again.
This article being an opinion piece, I welcome any kind of feedback in the RuneterraCCG Discord or tagging me on Twitter. I’d be thrilled to discuss the ideas, and build up the hype regarding the March 30th patch.
Until then, good game everyone.