Hi everyone, den here, with a huge smile on my face!
As became customary – but which still remains my favorite article to publish – I’m bringing you decks to try with the cards from the newest release.
For this expansion, I have to admit there were a lot of expectations. The current metagame has been dragging on for a long time and a lot of us wish for the new cards to be the motor of that awaited change.
The spoilers did actually have brought a lot of excitement and discussion in the community. Some of them, like the Yordle Explorer or Rumble, have provoked even the wrath of players, wishing for Bandle to stop being so dominant. Other cards, like Kennen or Pantheon, have brought more positive responses and new possibilities to exploit some almost forgotten mechanics like Recall.
With all those new toys available, I had a lot of directions I could work towards and tried to exploit as many of those as possible in my theorycrafts. As such, in this piece you will find various decks focusing on what each of the new champions brings to the table, exploring specific aspects of those cards.
Let’s start with a familiar Lee Sin archetype that could see one major shift in its list: Kennen replacing Zoe.
While the overall gameplan of the deck might be very similar to its usual one, Kennen is looking like it could be a perfect fit in a Lee Sin deck. First, its Mark of the Storm for 0 mana synergizes perfectly with Lee Sin’s level-up condition while also providing some help in the stalling department.
Another solid addition to the game might be Memory’s Cloak, which, in a lot of cases, will be a 3-mana Deny, lowering the deck’s curve and helping it be even more reactive.
While a vast majority of decks I saw online are keeping Sion in the deck and have a build very close to the current dominant Discard version, I went for another approach and took inspiration from the Draven Viktor deck instead.
I personally feel like Rumble is a big enough threat on its own to not run Sion in the same deck. Down the line, I could consider running 2 Draven’s and using Draven’s Biggest Fan to keep finding him early and often, allowing one spot for Sion in the deck.
In Draven Viktor concept, the Piltover champ has always looked like an odd man out and it felt like he needed too much help and mana to really shine. Well, Rumble just requires you to Discard 3 and he’ll be on his way, terrorizing your opponent.
With a core filled with units generating Discard fodder (Boom Baboon, Ballistic Bot, Fallen Rider, Lost Soul), Rumble should routinely complete its otherwise very demanding Discard requirement to reach its max power level. Also, with Spellshield and Quick Attack attached to him from the get-go, Rumble makes a great target for Might, potentially pushing a ton of damage.
I decided not to include Decimate in the build, instead focusing on the board presence, looking to win through sheer early pressure followed by Rumble to close things out.
Down the line, I am convinced that the Discard archetype will remain great. With four champions (Draven, Sion, Rumble, Jinx ) and three regions (Noxus, PnZ, Bandle) available to build the deck, we are bound to have a powerful Discard deck somewhere.
While the deck might remain fairly similar to what it already is, the average cost of units is now lower, and the Mecha-Yordles are now available to tinker with – this should make the deck much more reliable in accomplishing its
One of the most interesting new cards available to the deck is the Bilgerat Rascal, as he will serve as the glue to the deck’s late-game. He could serve to either find that last region we couldn’t find up to that point, or simply create a good unit for its cost that fits the game situation.
The card also makes Kennen slightly better as the Mark of the Storm can now serve as a discard fodder to the Bilgerat Rascal’s effect for example.
I wanted to start the more original builds with my personal favorite, bringing the Mistwraith synergy back!
Kennen’s level-up wants you to summon units with the same name, and Mistwraiths are a lot of fun to explore in that context.
In recent times, the Discard archetype has found some success in part because of the Fearsome keyword attached to Twinblade Revenant and Risen Rider, resulting in a ton of damage to the opponent who couldn’t block them. So even though this build comes from a nostalgic more than a competitive place, I believe this newer take on the deck might surprise the ladder.
Outside of Kennen looking like he is fairly easy to level up thanks to cards like Fading Memories, he also contributes to the overall gameplan once reaching its second form. The Mark of the Storm is a great asset in order to remove Fearsome blockers from the way before attacking with our units.
Also, at 0 mana, Fading Memories is a great soft pass trick, allowing us to gather information before going all-in for a potentially huge blow.
Another card that came out with this set is the God-Willow Seedling, a new landmark that could be very fun to play with in order to keep on multiplying our units.
Whether it has targeted a Mistwraith, or a support unit like a Frenzied SKitterer or Wraithcaller, this new landmark sounds like a fine successor to the former staple Stalking Shadows. Charm could also be a possibility in that slot, but the Allegiance towards Shadow Isles forces us to make a choice.
To be honest, I don’t expect a return of the Mistwraith archetype as a viable competitive deck ever. It had its time in the sun and should see some specifically designed cards to make a comeback. But we can be a little hopeful and see if we couldn’t catch someone off guard on the ladder and make that person believe we broke the meta, if at least for 5 minutes.
I had 2 ways in mind to build around Pantheon – either building him alongside another champion that would enjoy the targeting spells Pantheon pushes us to play in our deck, or finding a champion that would support Pantheon and help him to be as good as possible.
This build chooses that first option, as Shyvana and the Dragons as a tribe usually love being supported – just as Pantheon. I feel Dragon tribe and the Fated keyword are great together – neither synergy has enough density to fill a full deck, but both push towards the same direction.
The support spells for the deck are a mix of stat buffs and combat spells. The buffs are the bread and butter of this kind of archetype, aiming to routinely grow our Fated units and keep them strong, especially as we are an entirely board-focused deck, making the survival of our units a key part of the gameplan.
The combat spells should be great with the units we are using. Firstly, the Dragons usually are top-tier units when it comes to 1-on-1 combat, and those spells also help Shyvana level up faster. Secondly, Brightsteel Protector and Pantheon give you access to Barrier, making cards like Single Combat shine as removal.
Dragons have missed the mark and failed to become the top-tier deck, but Pantheon might be the saving grace for them to be back as a competitive tribe – this time, in a tempo shell, without the value of Aurelion Sol and late-game oriented builds.
Once again, I feel these kinds of archetypes are looking like they are extremely rigid in the way they approach the game and open the door to easy counters if they grow to enough popularity.
Riven’s Reforge mechanic works great to help leveling up Pantheon.
Because we are playing a more focused gameplan than simply pushing for tempo like the Shyvana Pantheon deck would, the choice of cards has to be a bit more synergistic as well. In this list, I tried to maximize the power of Overwhelm keyword Pantheon has to push as much damage as possible.
As such, Whirling Death, or the Shield Vault look great in order to threaten a potential annoying blocker on our way to the opponent Nexus. Crescent Guardian and Kato the Arm felt good in order to produce more Overwhelm units.
The new Saga Seeker serves as a premium target early on in order to get Pantheon’s level-up going without simply throwing our spells out the window on a dispensable unit.
This part of the game is crucial, as we wish to seize the tempo without actually investing too many resources that will be better used later on with our important damage dealers on the board.
It is hard to figure out if a deck like this could actually work in the upcoming metagame. Pantheon as a unit looks good to close things out, but it’s the path to a point where we can abuse him looks a little more blurry. Other tempo-oriented opponents might force us to use too many resources early on.
Bandle is the third region joining Noxus and Piltover in the Discard archetype. And as Noxus looks absolutely impossible to remove from that concept, it only looks logical to try and make it work without Piltover.
The core concept of the deck is to mix 2 of the best things in the current metagame: Discard’s explosiveness and Bandle’s never-stopping tempo.
To make it work, Noxus will bring the core Discard package cards, featuring Fallen Rider, Lost Soul, and Draven, a trio that looks inseparable by now. Also good to have are Reborn Grenadier and Survival Skills – in order to consistently draw into cards we can discard without looking back.
Bandle’s role in this deck will be to glue the whole thing together, making sure the hand always has 3 cards to discard for Rumble.
The Yordle synergy should therefore give us cards to play without actually emptying our hand, a role usually attributed to Piltover in the Discard archetype.
The reason why Bandle might be more appealing than Piltover now is the presence of Yordle Explorer, beefing up the Yordle synergy to bring some real pressure and not just flood the board with irrelevant units. Also, the addition of the Mecha-Yordles pool, featuring a Discard mechanic to get access to, allows the deck to have some nice late-game punch if Rumble wouldn’t be enough.
I feel like I might have overdone it a bit with Kennen in this theorycraft, but let’s be honest, 1-mana champions tend to be among the best in the game, simply because most of them are also among the best 1-drops in the game.
This time though, Kennen will be a star in the deck and not simply be a nice addition to something already existing.
If you scrolled through Twitter or Mobalytics, you probably already have seen several lists about this duo. Mine is inspired by Ultraman, but I’d like to offer my own twist.
Obviously, the list focuses on maximizing both Ahri and Kennen‘s abilities inside the Recall mechanic. Ahri is the field general, enabling the Recalls while also pushing for damage during the attack turns.
Before leveling up, you need to make sure she stays safe. On defensive turns, Ahri doesn’t want to get her hands dirty so other units will have to pull their weight – or we can simply tank the major part of the damage coming our way instead of being forced into blocking.
Kennen is more versatile, as his Mark of the Storm can be used in both attack or defense turns, either to remove a problematic blocker or to stop a too-big-to-handle attacker. With Ahri’s ability and a deck filled with Recalls (Retreat, Charm, God-Willow Seedling), Kennen should level up on its own, also helped by Kinkou Wayfinder at the top of the curve.
The important card of this build is the Dunekeeper. In this deck, he will serve the purpose of summoning a repeatable chump blocker – this Sand Soldier mini-engine looks like the perfect option to avoid the need to run more expensive defensive tools like Concussive Palm for example.
There is a lot of expectations towards this expansion, but it is too early to say how much it will actually shake things up though.
Obviously, we aren’t going to enter into a totally different metagame. For example, I believe tempo will be the dominant gameplan for many decks and Bandle City should stay atop the rankings when it comes to region popularity. Also, Discard as an archetype is looking to be getting even stronger and should stay a top-tier contender.
Alongside these new tools though, we are also getting 2 nerfs – Poppy going to 3/3 and Young Witch to 1/1, which should at least limit Rally Elusive and Poppy decks in general. Reducing the power level of on-curve pressure decks should increase the space available to try new things for the deckbuilders out there.
I raise my glass to the new Ionia cards, and hope they don’t cause as much trouble as the last big Ionia-focused expansion did, and wishing everyone as much fun as possible when the cards finally are available.
Good game everyone,