The first balance patch after Call of the Mountain has arrived! This one was teased when the expansion first released pretty heavily, so we did have some ideas of what was coming. But still, there are some cool surprises in here!
I think the best thing to do going into a new patch is to examine your expectations and make sure they aren’t too unrealistic. Remember, they have to plan these all the balance changes pretty far in advance. Decks or cards that have been causing problems within the last week or two will rarely be on the immediate next balance patch. Also, since we have all only had access to Targon’s cards for 3 weeks now, I was not expecting to see many if any changes to those cards in this balance patch.
Keep in mind, that in the next patch 1.11 we are getting even MORE balance changes. That is even though normally they alternate ‘big patches’ containing nerfs and buffs with the smaller ones that don’t introduce any balance tweaks but instead focus on cosmetics and bugs. This was confirmed by Live Design Lead Steve Rubin on Twitter. We can expect a lot of more changes to Targon cards it in that patch, as they will have had more time to react and collect feedback from the community. But enough about that for now, let’s dive into Balance Patch 1.10!
Ezreal is a champion you either love or hate. He has been a target of many complaints for a long time, and many cards that supported him were nerfed. His ability to kill you with zero interaction is one of if not the most infuriating thing that can happen in Legends of Runeterra.
Moving his level up condition to 10 targets from 8 makes a lot of sense to me. This should delay his level up by a turn or so. It also makes the Ezreal player work a little bit harder in order to get the level up. On top of this, when playing against Ezreal you have more maneuvering room and can hold off the level up if you holster a few units in your hand to deny targets. When they only need to reach 8 targets, this wasn’t the most viable option, as you would just lose too much tempo in that world.
Overall, this is a healthy change for the game. Even if Ezreal is not a huge problem right now, at his previous state he would eventually find a way to be a huge nuisance once again. Getting on top of that now to make sure we don’t run into a plethora of Ezreal decks abusing his insane leveled form is very important.
It’s no surprise Lee Sin has been the least played champion of the Rising Tides expansion. The idea behind this champion is so cool, but in reality, it was tough to pull off his gameplan consistently. So moving him to a new cost from 6 to 4 should affect his play rate significantly.
On top of that, changing his champion spell from a 7 cost finisher (Lee Sin’s Dragon Rage) to a 2 cost flexible spell that helps his level up a lot (Lee Sin’s Sonic Wave) should also feel much better. This is an interesting change because it can play out as a nerf, buff, or just an adjustment in different cases, and it’s hard to fully envision the impact as we don’t see champion spells change often.
I am no expert in Lee Sin, but my co-host at Twin Sunz Podcast Josh happens to be. He hit Master’s last season with Lee Sin/Ezreal and he is very excited about this change. He believes at 6 mana-cost, Lee Sin was mainly a counter meta card that had a home only when the meta allowed for that. Moving him to 4 mana should open up a lot more options and boost his versatility. He should be able to function along the lines of how Diana functions – an early game assassin, but with a lot more flair.
Regardless of all of this, any change to a card seeing as little play as Lee Sin is a good thing. This should breathe some fresh life into this champion, and if it ends up not affecting his play rate that much we know the team behind Legends of Runeterra is willing to continue to make changes.
Demacia has one of the strongest early curves in the game. That is what has made Vanguard Bannerman and Scout decks just so insanely strong through every patch. It is a deck a lot of people enjoy piloting, but the early game curve can sometimes feel too strong, often snowballing into an unwinnable scenario for the player on the other side. Part of this problem was in War Chefs, who did provide a scary amount of raw stats on himself and his supported ally. Moving War Chefs down to 1 attack will limit his combat power, which often allowed for 2 favorable trades – for the War Chefs themselves, and for the supported unit. This is a good card to nerf in order to simmer down some of the early power of Demacia and should free up slots for the other 2 drops.
Flash of Brilliance
I was a fan of the balance team’s decision to completely delete Heimerdinger from the game a few patches ago. When he got nerfed alongside Flash of Brilliance, I was throwing a party. Obviously, there are players who were not so happy. Well, it turns out now, that since Flash of Brilliance is getting reverted back to 3 mana, the double-nerf to both Heimer and this was maybe a little too harsh out of the gate. I like this change, as it attempts to give a little power back to this card which just so naturally fits with Heimerdinger. And as long as the 3-cost Elusive turrets don’t come back, all will be ok.
The Snapvine dream scarcely comes to fruition, but when it does the deck is hilarious and fun to play. This never seems to be consistent – and it doesn’t seem to feel that powerful either. For a card that has seen relatively no play, a buff of +1 power seems to be reasonable. The most interesting thing about this is that now the Babbling Bjerg can tutor the Overgrown Snapvine, which does add a consistency the deck has been lacking. (Thanks to JT-Money from the Twin Sunz Podcast discord for pointing that out to me!)
The Crackshot Corsair has not seen a whole lot of play. She synergizes with Scouts as she can get multiple pings per attack, but her underwhelming stats didn’t offer enough for that game plan. She could see some use in burn decks, as she will get off a few super valuable pings through to your opponent’s Nexus. Giving her +1 health should allow her to get an extra ping or two in the early game, surviving against 1 power blockers or attackers.
The 1 drop archetype that was pushed in Rising Tides has seen almost zero competitive play. This is pretty sad since there are quite a few cards dedicated to the theme such as Double Trouble and of course this card, the Jagged Taskmaster. Moving it down to 2 mana feels like a positive change, as you want to trigger this Plunder as soon as possible. With the addition of Poro Cannon, the Jagged Taskmaster might see a better play rate, but I doubt we would ever meet her outside of this intended archetype.
In my opinion, this is the most impactful change in Patch 1.10. The Yordle Grifter was probably the most widely used Allegiance unit in the game. Before patch 1.10 he would give you a Warning Shot upon summon – regardless of hitting the Allegiance effect. This led to him finding home in Bilgewater burn decks paired Noxus, Piltover and Zaun, or even Shadow Isles. This free Warning Shot allowed these decks to proc other useful Plunder effects on-demand, especially that of Riptide Rex. This change instantly makes those prevalent burn decks take out the Yordle Grifter unless they are willing to cut down the amount of non-Bilgewater cards dramatically. I think this will impact the meta most because multiple archetypes will have to immediately adjust their builds. Now I am not saying that these burn decks will just vanish, but they will at least have to look into other options.
Cygnus the Moonstalker
Here we have the only change to a card from Call of the Mountain. Like I previously stated, this is not surprising as the time table just would not allow for them to get a lot of changes into this patch. This change is a direct statline buff to Cygnus the Moonstalker, who in all honestly was lacking some power. His ability is very strong, as he can give himself and another unit Elusive for the round to try and sneak some damage through. At 2 health, he was dying a bit too easily for a 6 cost unit that you had to play around to even get use of his ability. This change overall should just add a little bit more firepower to the top end of Nightfall decks, which I believe is justified.
This patch buffed some cards that in my opinion very much needed buffs, and most of them needed these buffs for a while now. I don’t believe any of these changes will be that significant, but it is still nice to see some fresh life given to underplayed cards.
The nerfs in this balance patch however were more significant. Ezreal, War Chefs, and the Yordle Grifter all received hits that will absolutely change the way some decks are built. We can expect more of the concerning problems to get addressed in the next patch, 1.11. It was teased that we will have Hush, Aurelion Sol, and Grandfather Rumul all getting some changes. On top of that, I would not be surprised to see Radiant Guardian, Starshaping, Sejuani, and a few other cards on that list as well. But like always, only time will tell!