Patch 3.4 Top 9 Most Impactful Balance Changes

Agigas dives deep into what the Patch 3.4 has to offer - read his thoughts on the most important nerfs and buffs!

Hey, Agigas here!

Patch 3.4 was long-awaited by the community to freshen the meta a bit and shake things up. The patch comes with numerous changes, with some very impactful ones, and should definitely have a big impact on the meta.

In this article, we’ll be reviewing the most impactful changes of this update. Here’s the rating scale we’ll be using to evaluate cards prior and after their respective changes:

GradeDescription
SMeta staples.
Excellent enablers and/or payoffs that allow powerful decks to exist.
Gnar, Pantheon.
APowerful cards.
Not meta-breaking, but push their archetypes and command the respect of the meta.
Mystic Shot, Decimate, Pyke.
BNeither impressive nor bad.
Playable, quality role-players in their archetypes.
House Spider, Death’s Hand.
CUnderwhelming card.
Needs a very specific niche to perform, overall doesn’t get played much competitively.
Blade’s Edge, Tornado Warrior.

9. Twin Disciplines: A+ -> A

Twin Disciplines has become a premium combat trick for Ionia since it got buff from 3 to 2 mana. From aggro decks, such as Zed Poppy, to combo, like Zoe Lee, without forgetting about midranges, the very vast majority of decks were interested in Twin Disciplines to protect key units or have a cheap attack buff.

With this nerf, the card will obviously get worse, though it still does look very good. Most of the time, the +2 attack buff will still be enough to achieve your goals, and the health buff remains unchanged. Some exact lethal won’t happen anymore, and some trades won’t go through, but in most situations I expect Twin Disciplines to still perform well.

Since there isn’t really any direct competition for Twin Disciplines in Ionia, I expect the card to still see play in decks looking for a buff and that don’t have access to a great one in their second region.


8. Conchologist: S -> A+

Conchologist has been a meta-dominating card since it was introduced to the game. Its powerful manifest ability makes it very easy to reach for versatility and very hard for the opponent to make informed decisions.

While nerfing the unit’s health will make it a bigger tempo cost, especially if the opponent happens to have a 1-damage effect, it does not remove the card’s versatility. While its win rate might slightly decrease, I don’t expect Conchologist’s play rate to fall, and it will still be one of the key units from Bandle City.


7. Twisted Catalyzer: S -> A+

Just like Conchologist, Twisted Catalyzer has been a very oppressive unit thanks to its ability, and the patch does not address that.

With its lower attack, Twisted Catalyzer will have a harder time attacking profitably or getting a great trade. This is certainly a meaningful change as the opponent will have one more window to pull ahead on the board. However, as long as the Strike effect goes Twisted Catalyzer will still do its job as a key enabler for the Darkness archetype.


6. Viktor: C+ -> B+

Many players have tried to make Viktor work, but unfortunately, not many of them managed to succeed. While the champion has seen some success here and there in combo-burn decks, those were often unoptimized variants of another similar list without Viktor.

With this buff, Viktor will be able to spam Hex Cores for free, making it way cheaper to enable him. This is a very big change for the champion, as you are now able to dedicate your mana to the rest of your game plan. It will be faster to buff him and level him up, getting the champion more in line with the current speed of the game.

With that change, Viktor goes from a quite underwhelming to an actually interesting one, and I personally am quite interested in testing him now.


5. Quicksand: B -> A

Quicksand was already a better card than what a lot of players gave it credit for, and this buff should make it quite competitive in slow Shurima archetypes.

Not only Quicksand is looking more and more like an interesting combat trick that will change the issue of 2 combats at a time like Troll Chant, but it also has the ability to stop a lot of lethal attacks.

While reducing the attack of 2 units will often be the best choice, having the ability to choose a single high attack discount gives this card flexibility, which is often much more valuable than what it might seem at first.


4. Pyke: A -> B+

Surprisingly, Pyke was among the nerfs in this patch note, losing an attack point. While the champion was clearly the driving force of Lurk, the archetype was never dominant, and this change combined with Xer’Sai Dunebreaker‘s nerf will hit hard.

Not only does this change make Pyke a weaker unit on board and might prevent it to attack in front of large units, but it also slows down significantly its level up. Moreover, Pyke will deal less damage when Death From Below is cast, which could allow the targeted unit to live through it.

Overall, this nerf is quite impactful and will hurt Pyke’s archetype a lot.


3. Loping Telescope: A+ -> B+

Just like Conchologist and Twisted Catalyzer, the problem of Loping Telescope is its ability to generate versatility/value and contribute to the whole gameplan of the deck while providing a cheap body. However, this card gets nerfed in a meaningfully different way than these other two cards.

With a cost increase, Loping Telescope is no longer a unit that fills your turn 2 and gets a trade all the while generating value. There is now a real tempo cost to playing it, making it more in line with Solari Priestess.

However, because of Gleaming Lantern and Bandle City Mayor, there are ways to discount Loping Telescope and make it way more cost-efficient. Therefore, the card will likely continue to see a lot of competitive play, but it will be clearly worse, especially as a stand-alone.


2. Aphelios: C -> A

Aphelios was once dominating the meta with 2-mana weapons and the Veiled Temple, but after the increase of weapons’ cost and temple’s nerf, he pretty much disappeared from the meta.

This revert of the weapon’s cost is very meaningful for the champion, and will without a doubt make him way faster at taking over the game. While this can be quite terrifying, it is important to remember that The Veiled Temple is still nerfed and that the meta has evolved.

Crescendum is also changing to summon a random 2-cost unit instead of tutoring one from the deck, preventing it from getting consistently Boxtopus or Eye of the Dragon. This will make it harder for Aphelios decks to get ahead in the early game compared to what they were doing back when Aphelios was dominating.

While Aphelios will still clearly not be as powerful as he was at his best, this nerf will be very impactful and likely enough to push the champion back into the meta.


1. Sharpsight: S -> B+

Sharpsight had the highest inclusion rate (82% among Demacian decks according to Mobalytics) in the game, along with a very good win rate. This trick was an auto-include in any deck of its region, to the point where it became a key card of the whole region’s identity.

The attack nerf is quite important in this case, much more than in the case of Twin Disciplines. Only one point of extra attack will regularly not be enough to achieve what you want, making the card clearly more situational. We’ve already got an example on such a nerf with Pale Cascade, which was dominating back when it was giving a +2/+1 buff.

With Sharpsight being so popular in the game, this important change will likely be the most impactful one of the patch by a large margin. While the card is still quite good, I don’t expect it to be an auto-include anymore in decks that don’t need combat tricks. The change will also make it harder for Demacia decks that need a combat trick to dominate the board, and therefore will have a big impact on the current Demacia-centered meta.


Closing Words

The patch comes with a large batch of changes that will likely not change the meta too much, such as light buffs to very weak cards, the introduction of 3 new rather underwhelming cards, and the low-impact changes to Pantheon and Gnar.

However, there are some other changes, such as Aphelios’ buff and Sharpsight’s nerf, that do make us ask ourselves a lot of questions about the future meta, and that should be enough to bring a breath of fresh air.

If you have a question, want to share feedback, or discuss this article, I’ll be happy to answer you in the comments below!

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Thanks for reading!

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Agigas

LoR player with multiple tournament wins and #4 ladder peaks. Ascended Seasonal top 4. I love writing guides to share my experience with the game with the community!

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