Hello and welcome to the new reveal season! Beyond the Bandlewood comes with tons of interesting new mechanics: the double region cards, new keywords Impact, Manifest, and – so far my personal favorite – Pranks. In this article, however, I want to focus on the champion revealed today, as well as her supporting cards – Poppy!
As always, I will begin by giving my opinion about the champion, followed by a theorycraft of a potential list with her. Finally, I will give my rating and a short write-up about every other card released today.
Here’s our rating scale for new cards:
- 5.0: Meta-defining card, should prove itself as a staple in multiple top-tier archetypes.
- 4.0: Archetype staple, or auto-include in multiple archetypes.
- 3.0: A solid playable, could serve as a staple for some archetypes.
- 2.0: Could be used for specific synergies, or to counter some decks.
- 1.0: Unlikely to find its place in the meta.
Poppy – 3.5
I have been excited for the Poppy reveal for a while, as I love her in League of Legends and she definitely did not disappoint me.
Her baseline stats are not exactly great, so dropping her on defense won’t exactly do much to deter potentially threatening attacks. However, her stats are good enough for you not to worry too much about removal – especially seeing how inefficient it is in LoR overall. She also instantly grows to a 5/4 when you attack, which means she is overall pretty safe against trading down.
Her ability is exceptionally powerful, as every time she attacks, she essentially becomes Vanguard Bannerman, granting herself and all allies +1/+1, even if they are not attacking themselves and are staying in the back row.
If she was a regular follower card, that would be enough for her to see play – but she is a champion, so there has to be more to her to warrant taking up a champion slot. In my opinion, she does offer the power required with her level 2, so let’s go over her level-up condition.
Having to attack with her and with another ally to back her up a total of THREE times is a lot. You may think it’s not, but keep in mind that she doesn’t have the Scout keyword, so you would have to rely on Rallies or Field Promotion to speed up the condition – else it would take a total of 5 turns that she needs to survive.
If you do manage to level her up and have any kind of a board, she is a fantastic finisher. Granting +2/+2 to a wide board is nothing to scoff at, and Impact means that even those who get blocked are able to get some damage through. And if you happen to have a Rally in hand, all those Impacts will stack up quickly and surely finish the opponent.
My verdict on her is that she is a powerful standalone card. Vanguard Bannerman would be seeing play if an Allegiance requirement wasn’t holding it back and Poppy lifts that restriction completely, only asking for a champion slot.
She offers enough power with her game-ending level 2, even if the condition to get there is difficult to achieve. She is a must-remove card that grows by herself and helps the board grow; and in combination with protection like Sharpsight, Barriers, and whatever Bandle City will bring to the table, she can bring you victory!
Above, I showcase a very early version of a deck I would like to try her in: a very classic midrange deck including Demacia and Bandle City. I can see her played with Shurima as well, but let’s just stick to this as our initial theorycraft.
In this list, Poppy is played partly for her level-up win condition, as we include Relentless Pursuit,
Fleetfeather Tracker, Laurent Protege,
More Bandle City cards make their appearance here, as Yordle Squire simply provides a way to spend spell mana early and also helps your Challengers trade more favorably with Tiny Shield and Tiny Spear.
Stress Defense is a great trick, but it is a bit too slow to run more than a 1-of in a midrange deck like this one – it can, however, come in handy to shut down some lethal attacks or save a smaller unit from dying. Finally, Hidden Pathways has some synergy with the deck as we run 8 cards that create others, thus providing you with a great draw effect for pretty cheap in the later stages when you might have run out of steam.
Overall, the game plan is to take over the board thanks to favorable trades we gain through Poppy’s buff, as well as other buffs in the deck, including Genevieve Elmheart, Switfwing Flight, and Tiny Spear/Shield. We can finish the game off either due to Rallying with board advantage, or a leveled Poppy granting more and more stats and Impact to our units.
Keeper’s Verdict – 2.0
Keeper’s Verdict is really hard to judge not knowing what else goes into the Bandle City toolkit – this card, however, seems to be slightly on the weaker side.
Its biggest saving grace is being a champion spell of Poppy –
Even with that in mind, this seems to only ever be useful situationally – being better than Sunk Cost is not exactly a feat.
Yordle Ranger – 2.5
5/6 on a first attack is a pretty good statline, but having to pay 6 mana for it makes it much less enticing.
The supporting ability can come in handy at times, allowing other units to attack a little more safely, but I cannot see a justification for using this card in a Demacia-focused deck as long as Genevieve Elmheart and Cithria the Bold exist.
Pompous Cavalier – 3.0
Double Attack is a scary keyword, so this card coming in so understatted initially is still perfectly reasonable.
Interestingly enough, this is only the second unit ever to have the Double Attack in its base form, after Horns of the Dragon.
The main problem of that 6-mana Ionia follower came from the high cost. Pompous Cavalier can come down rather early, protected with a variety of combat tricks.
With good enough support, it can be menacing, and even as is, it is a must-remove for the opponent. I can see it being experimented with – although I am not completely convinced these experiments will turn out positive.
Yordle Smith – 2.5
Giving Quick Attack to everything that’s attacking is great, as showcased by Sivir.
Sadly, Yordle Smith’s base attack is so low that it needs to go in an archetype that is focused on buffs.
Another issue is that often you will have to pre-commit a trick on him to apply the Quick Attack to higher attack units, which can be clunky at times.
Overall an interesting card if Bandle City has enough of a buff archetype to justify running it.
Stress Defense – 4.0
I might be overestimating this card, but I am in love with its versatility.
It can be used to heal up your damaged units, it can be used to protect low-health allies against removal and you can even use it on a huge opponent’s unit like Nasus or Lee Sin to nullify a powerful attack.
It is likely my favorite card of today (aside from Poppy, she’s awesome!) and definitely a powerhouse spell for Bandle City in my book.
Heroic Charge – 2.5
Strike effects are really powerful, but as showcased by Grappling Hook, spell speed is crucial for their power level.
The ability to stun is somewhat of a saving grace on Heroic Charge, as it means even if they are able to protect their unit, it will still be unable to act this round.
I gave this spell half a point extra just because it is unconditional and is the first Strike effect we see in Bandle City, but for now, I do not expect it to see much play.
Yordle Squire – 4.0
1-mana 2/1’s with an additional text have proven to be useful cards in almost every meta – they let you defend yourself against aggressive decks while providing a nice bit of value.
Tiny Shield and Tiny Spear it creates may allow it to fit into some sort of a spell-based deck, but they also provide a way to use spell mana for a meaningful early game advantage, as a single point of stats can be a huge difference for board state at that stage.
While I cannot vouch for the power level of all of these cards, I’m a big midrange fan, so I can’t help but be immensely excited to play with Poppy and her followers.
She can be built traditionally with Demacia + Bandle City, but I could see her in other combinations such as Bandle City + Bilgewater, Demacia + Bilgewater, Demacia + Shurima, and many more! I really like the reveals so far, the mechanics seem to be getting more and more exciting, I cannot wait for more!
I hope you enjoyed this write-up! Let me know in the comments how your opinions compare to mine and I’ll see you in my next review and theorycraft!