Nocturne and New Shadow Isles Cards: Analysis and Ratings

Intro

Hello, Agigas here! I am a Master player since beta with several #4 peaks and tournament wins, and today, I’m very happy to bring you a competitive-oriented analysis of Nocturne and the other cards Riot revealed in the past 2 days! 😄

Here’s our rating scale:

A demonic amalgamation drawn from the nightmares that haunt every sentient mind, the thing known as Nocturne has become a primordial force of pure terror. It is liquidly chaotic in aspect, a faceless shadow with cold eyes and armed with wicked-looking blades. After freeing itself from the spirit realm, Nocturne now continually descends upon the waking world, to feed on the kind of fear that can only thrive in true darkness.

Nocturne – 3.5

The first interesting thing about Nocturne is that he is already quite good by himself. His stats are a bit weak because 3 health makes him trade with a lot of cheaper units, but the ability to grant Vulnerable and give -1/-0 is really valuable. This ability will allow him to help find good trades, deal with the opponent’s key unit, and it makes the Fearsome keyword even stronger on him and his allies.

Speaking of Fearsome, having a high density of Fearsome units in an aggressive deck is very valuable because it makes the opponent’s chump blockers irrelevant. With this keyword and a useful ability on top, Nocturne could be very good in Fearsome aggro, probably alongside Mistwraith. Though it’s important to notice that the Fearsome champion spot for Shadow Isles is very competitive. Both Elise and Kalista are very strong Fearsome champions, and Nocturne might struggle to find his place in Fearsome decks because of that.

His leveled version is also very interesting. He plays a very similar role to leveled Ashe, by making the opponent’s units enable to block. It is easier to use than Frostbite as you just need to play a few units to make it work. However, it’s worse when open attacking because you need to play out units if you want to use this ability to it to its full potential. This can give the opponent the opportunity to remove Nocturne before you can take advantage of his effect enough times, whereas Ashe can prevent the opponent from blocking while open attacking.

Although, so far the pool of Nightfall units is very small and overall not that strong, so it’s very hard to commit to leveling up Nocturne. We might get better Nightfall units with the (potential) Diana reveal – in that case, Nocturne will become a lot more interesting. But, with the reveals we’ve got so far, Nocturne is more looking like a good stand-alone card than a build-around.

Unspeakable Horror – 3.5

This card is quite comparable to Vile Feast, as it has the same cost and a similar effect, and is in the same region.

First of all, it has the upside of being able to target the opponent’s Nexus, which is very relevant to give some extra reach, especially in aggressive decks, and can enable some synergies (Plunder, Gangplank/Sejuani/Swain level-up condition…).

The other thing that sets it apart from Vile Feast is creating a random Nightfall card in hand instead of a Spiderling on board. This is a bit slower than Vile Feast because you will have to enable the Nightfall, but any Nightfall card will have more value than a Spiderling in the end. It’s also worth noticing that this card should be able to create itself (however, it can’t create champions so you can’t get yourself a Nocturne out of it).

This card will be overall a bit weaker than Vile Feast against aggressive decks – that is if the chump blocker is valuable (hence not against Elusive, Fearsome, and Overwhelm aggressive decks). However, it does look stronger than Vile Feast against other matchups as long as you can activate Nightfall. Although, activating Nightfall can make this a bit clunky sometimes.

Overall, I think Unspeakable Horror is a very interesting alternative to Vile Feast. It’s also worth noticing that cheap interaction might be even more valuable than before, with the introduction of the Spellshield keyword.

Stalking Shadow – 4.5

This spell is, in my opinion, the strongest card revealed so far and it may be one of the best cards in the game.

Drawing 2 cards for only 2 mana is very cheap. For example, Salvage draws 2 cards for 4 mana and is a very solid card. The Ephemeral part is not always a downside (with Ephemeral units, strong Last Breath units like Cursed Keeper, units the opponent has to deal with immediately…), and even when it is I still think this card is really good.

The fact that it lets you choose a card among 4 is extremely strong as it allows for more consistent draws and helps you find the missing pieces of your gameplan very quickly. The duplication clause is also extremely interesting as there are a lot of cards that synergize with it (Mistwraith is a great example).

The biggest downside of this card is that it can’t hit Champions and spells, so it will sometimes offer a rather narrow choice of 1 or 2 cards from the top four. The chances for this spell to completely miss (not finding any followers and drawing nothing) are there but extremely low if you have a proper ratio of followers in your deck.

To conclude, I think Stalking Shadows will be played in most if not all Shadow Isles decks with enough followers, and might even incentivize some SI decks to run more followers to be able to play this card. I am very happy to see a strong card that makes decks more consistent and allows for more decision-points. I think it allows for a lot of skill-expression, and I would love to see more of these kinds of cards in other regions.

Shroud of Darkness – 2.5

This card is very unique but has an extremely low value. Your opponent will be often able to ignore the unit that you gave Spellshield during the round you summoned it and kill it on the next round instead. This makes this card overall pretty bad.

However, it combines well with some other plays that need an immediate answer from the opponent. They Who Endure is a great example, and Shroud of Darkness even protects it from Burst spells like Harsh Winds, making your key turn a lot harder to interact with for Frostbite decks. But there are also other cards that need an immediate answer, like Nautilus. If your opponent has to wait a turn before removing your Nautilus, it will give you the opportunity to flood the board with discounted Sea Monsters. And, speaking about Deep, Shroud of Darkness is also great at protecting fragile units that get their value the turn they are played, like Jaull Hunters.

However, it’s also important to consider that this card has zero value against certain decks that are not looking to interact with you with removal (Scout, Endure…) Hence, it will be useless sometimes. And, even in the matchups it’s relevant, it will mostly be used when landing the final blow, all the while being stuck in your hand in the early part of the game.

Because Shroud of Darkness is bad as a stand-alone spell and is conditional, I don’t think it’s very good overall. But it can be a solid tech card in certain decks. It may be very situational, but this card is quite impressive for a 1-mana cost card when it’s good.

It’s also a cheap Burst-speed Nightfall enabler, but you need strong Nightfall effects to justify playing this only to trigger that keyword. Even then, there might be better ways to activate Nightfall (Gem doesn’t cost a card, Fading Memories is 0 cost) unless you make interesting uses of the Spellshield as well.

Risen Mists – 3.0

At first, this card might look overpriced as it only provides a 2-cost creature for 4 mana. However, do not underestimate Burst-speed summoning. This can allow for both stronger open attacks and very good blocks.

Also, Mistwraith’s are units that grow stronger as you play more of them, so having more cards to generate Mistwraith’s is very useful in that kind of deck, even if it is overcosted.

With Mistwraith deck gaining a lot of new tools to play with, I think this spell will be very good and it will probably see play in most Fearsome-based Shadow Isles decks. It’s not a good spell in the early game because it slows down your tempo, but during the mid to late game, it gives you the opportunity to impact the board without giving the priority to your opponent, which is really strong.

Stygian Onlooker – 2.5

Stygian Onlooker is a very aggressive Nightfall 1-drop. If you managed to play him with its Nightfall bonus, it will have a very high attack and the Fearsome keyword will be very relevant as well, making it trade up with a higher cost creature or sending 4 damage face while giving you a 2/1 body for the following turn.

Although Nightfall is easy to activate on a 1-drop, it still makes this card a bit clunky because you don’t really want to play it on turn 1: without Nightfall, this unit isn’t very strong. It’s also a bad card to play on your defensive turns, as it won’t attack with the Nightfall bonus. Last but not least, having only 1 health point is very exploitable because of cards like Vile Feast and Make it Rain.

While this card doesn’t look very strong by itself, it could find a place in a Shadow Isles deck that would look to push damage very fast. You can also make Stygian Onlooker’s potential a bit higher if you play it in a deck that can Rally, so you can use its Nightfall bonus on defensive turns or twice during an attack turn. Bouncing it could also be an interesting way to use the Nightfall bonus more than once.

Doombeast – 2.5

In my opinion, draining life is quite strong because it’s almost always relevant. It gives reach when you are the aggressor, healing when you’re on the defensive, and both when you’re racing your opponent. It also has some synergies, like Sejuani, Gangplank, and Swain level-up condition, Plunder…

However, Doombeast’s statline isn’t impressive, and it will easily die to a Mystic Shot or an early blocker. Moreover, having to activate Nightfall to drain can make it clunky in the early turns.

Despite its weaknesses, I think this card will see some play in Shadow Isles decks making good use of its draining ability.

Duskrider – 1.0

This card will probably never find a place in any competitive deck as is, to be honest. It is not easy to activate Nightfall for a card that costs 5 mana. If you activate Nightfall once every turn from turn 2, and you play this on the curve, it will be a 6/5. Trifarian Shieldbreaker was never part of any competitive deck, and this card is kind of a conditional Trifarian Shieldbreaker, with a much lower floor. Its ceiling isn’t really high either.

This is kind of sad to me because I think this artwork is beautiful.

Passage Unearned – 2.0

Passage Unearned is a very interesting card from a design point of view. It’s extremely strong against some specific decks, but it’s completely irrelevant against a lot of others. This kind of card is very common in another card game, Magic The Gathering, which uses a sideboard between games in best-of-3 matches, so you can bring very specific tools into your deck to counter an opponent’s strategy. However, in Legends of Runeterra, there is no sideboard format so far!

Let’s talk about what Passage Unearned excels at. It has a lot of uses against its own region, Shadow Isles. It’s an insane counter to Harrowing decks, it is great against The Rekindler, Mist’s Call, Chronicler of Ruins, and it can find some other uses against that region. Against other regions, it has very limited uses but it’s worth mentioning that it’s very good against Remembrance, and it can provide some help against Warmother Call.

Playing this card in your deck is a big risk as it will be irrelevant against a lot of matchups. I could still see it being played in tournaments, to counter a specific strategy. But even there, it looks like a very risky bet. However, when it pays off, it can do a lot of work.

Encroaching Shadows – 3.0

Encroaching Shadows is definitely one of the spiciest cards revealed so far! It looks very fun and has a lot of potential, that is if it finds the right shell. +2/+2 is a massive boost, and, if you can find decks that don’t mind giving their units Ephemeral, Encroaching Shadows could become a staple for those archetypes.

Let’s talk about what kind of decks that could be interested in this very unique buff.

Decks where Ephemeral isn’t a downside. In this category, the firsts to come to mind are already Ephemeral units (Shark Chariot, Silent Shadowseer, Darkwater Scourge…), making this buff a +2/+2 without any strings attached. There are also some cards that can benefits from being Ephemeral, thanks to a strong Last Breath (Cursed Keeper is a great example) or Ephemeral synergies (Hecarim, Death Mark…).

Decks where units benefit greatly from the buff, like Elusive units. Having all your elusive units buffed can help to OTK your opponent by playing a lot of big Elusive units in a single turn. Other than Elusive, it’s worth mentioning Navori Highwayman has a very interesting synergy with Encroaching Shadows (the summoned copy will benefit the buff and won’t be Ephemeral) and buffed Silverwing Vanguard can find very good trades with this buff.

Overall, I think the most promising archetype for this card could be an Ionia/Shadow Isles deck, with units that benefit greatly from the buff (Elusive units, maybe Navori Highwayman) and maybe Ephemeral synergies like Death Mark. However, Encroaching Shadows costs 4 mana and does not impact the board by itself, so it needs to be very valuable in its shell to be played.

Conclusion

That’s all for today! This reveal is, in my opinion, the most exciting one so far. We got a lot of strong cards, like Stalking Shadows, and some of the spiciest cards, like Encroaching Shadows! The Mistwraith archetype also gained very strong new tools to play with. Nocturne himself might become very interesting if we get more Nightfall units and maybe Diana in another reveal.

I hope you enjoyed the reveals and this article! If you like my content and don’t want to miss any of it, you can check my Twitter, where I share my best performing decks, my performances, and my new articles and guides! 😄

If you have any comments about the article, any questions, feedback, or if you just want to tell me what you think about the revealed cards, I will be happy to answer you in the comments in this Reddit post! 😉

Agigas

I am a master player since Beta, with several #4 peaks and tournaments win (EU DoR 2, NA DoR 13, GiantSlayer). I am also TSM/Blitz.gg LoR consultant. I love writing guides to share my experience with the game with the community!