The Darkin Saga: Domination Set Review – Champion Assessments and Best New Cards

As we move closer to the release of The Darkin Saga: Domination, Raphterra shares his assessment of the new champions and new cards in the expansion.

Introduction

Hi there, Raphterra here again! Riot has finally revealed all the cards for the new expansion as we move closer to The Darkin Saga: Domination. Several new cards look very spicy, and I think we are in for a treat once the expansion goes live!

In this article, I give my personal assessment of the new champions in the expansion, and I present my picks for the Top Five New Cards in The Darkin Saga: Domination.

Without further ado, I’ll be starting off with what I think of the three new champions!


Varus

Varus seems to be… mediocre at best. However, I think that he’s much better than Kayn because (1) his deckbuilding cost is cheaper and (2) he can progress his level-up condition from the deck.

The Shadow Reaper incentivizes Kayn decks to run Cultist units even if they don’t have direct synergy with each other. On the other hand, VarusThe Arrow of Retribution only needs spells to activate, and Cultist spells are actually pretty good! For example, Momentous Choice, The Expanse’s Protection, and Heedless Resurrection are all flexible spells that you can fit in almost any deck.

Another weakness of Kayn is that it’s almost impossible to level him up if you don’t play him on curve, or if your first copy of Kayn dies. Varus won’t have this problem, since he doesn’t require to have him on board to progress his level-up.

That being said, I think Varus is the weakest among the new champions. I don’t think he’s strong enough to be part of a high-tier deck because of the following:

  • As a Runeterra champion, you will be sacrificing an entire region to run Varus in your deck. Most decks will probably just be better off running another champion with an actual region. Some Cultist cards are very powerful, but you can just run the region which has the specific Cultist card that synergizes with your deck.
  • Varus might be too slow to level-up. From my experience of playing Fated decks, targetting 8+ allies seems like heavy requirement. I’d imagine you would be getting Level 2 Varus from Turn 7/8 onwards, but at that point it might already be too late in the game.
  • Even if you do get to that point where you have Level 2 Varus, he still requires you to have a decent hand. You need to charge up The Darkin Bow for it to be effective, but Frostbites, Silences, and Recalls can still counter a charged-up Varus. Your opponent can even force him to strike with Single Combat or Brutal Skirmish.

Seraphine

Seraphine is a lot harder to evaluate compared to Varus, because her viability depends a lot on the deck that you build around her. One good thing that Seraphine has going for her is that she’s a cheap unit with decent stats. 2-mana 1/4 is a great statline for a backline engine. I also think that it will be easy to consistently level-up Seraphine in most Piltover and Zaun decks.

Level 2 Seraphine also has huge potential to be a key part of combo decks. From our collective experience of playing with and against Karma and Jayce, we should all know that duplicating spells is a powerful effect. I wouldn’t be surprised if Seraphine becomes an engine for a frustrating combo deck. However, we shouldn’t forget that Seraphine can only duplicate NEW spells that cost 2 or less. Combo decks relying on Level 2 Seraphine will need to wait for her level up before casting combo pieces.

There is also a lot of variance to Seraphine‘s design. You may just have some games where you get bad spells from Seraphine and her support cards. As an example, I’m expecting Inspired Plans to be a key card in Seraphine decks. That card just screams randomness!

If I had to make my prediction, I think Seraphine has potential to be the best new champion in The Darkin Saga: Domination. I don’t necessarily think that Seraphine decks will be Tier 1, but it’s very likely that there’s a busted combo just waiting to be uncovered. It might take long before the community comes up with the best Seraphine decks, similar to what happened to Norra. Norra turned out to be the best champion in The Darkin Saga: Awakening, but it took some time before we realized how she should be played.


Vayne

I’m a bit surprised that Riot didn’t give Vayne any keywords; instead, they gave her decent stats for a 3-cost unit. Casting Tumble for 3-mana will be too expensive in the early game, so Vayne will probably function as a backline champion in the first few turns. She needs a decent weapon (preferably with Quick Attack) before she can start attacking safely.

Vayne could potentially be a great addition to several Demacia archetypes. I could see her being included in Rally strategies with Quinn‘s Scouts, target strategies with Pantheon‘s Fated, or OTK combo strategies with Riven. I love champion designs like these! There is so much deck building possibilities with Vayne, and she’s easily my favorite among the three new champions. If you’re playing in APAC, you’ll probably catch me jamming her on the first day of the expansion.

In terms of power level, I think Vayne is pretty decent. I don’t see her being overpowered, but I also can’t imagine her not finding a home in at least a mid-tier meta deck. She’s very similar to Riven where they’re both decent champions in some strategies, but nothing too overwhelming in terms of power level.


Riot’s New Champion Philosophy?

None of the new champions in The Darkin Saga: Domination seem to be overpowered by any means. It’s very similar to how I felt after seeing the new champions in Awakening. It looks like the developers are following a new pattern for their champion releases. They seem to be fine with releasing new champions that are slightly underpowered since they can just buff them in the following balance patch. This is a lot better than releasing overpowered champions and having extremely polarizing metas. They definitely learned from the Kai’sa incident!

In this next portion of this article, I will be presenting my picks for the five best cards in the new expansion. I think we will be seeing a lot of these cards in the next weeks!


Top Five New Cards In The Darkin Saga: Domination

Drum Solo

I can’t imagine a meta where Drum Solo is a bad card. The card looks extremely powerful, and I think it will be one of the strongest cards in the game. If you can activate its Flow effect, Drum Solo is effectively a 1-mana card in terms of mana-cost. Drum Solo was probably meant to be a support card for Seraphine to reduce the cost of your spells, but somehow it can also discount units and champions. Nutty card!

The Unending Wave

The Unending Wave is a straight-up upgrade to Pick a Card, right? Getting an equipped weapon is a very easy requirement to meet given that Bilgewater already has a decent Improvise unit with Piltovan Castaway. With Drum Solo also coming in the expansion, turbo Twisted Fate is poised return to high-tier status!

The Expanse’s Protection

The Expanse’s Protection looks to be just a better version of Bastion. This would be an automatic inclusion in Fated decks that already run The Darkin Lodestone and Wandering Shepherd. I don’t think it matters much that you only get the Spellshield for the round, since you usually want to use Spellshield reactively against hard removal spells. The Expanse’s Protection will be very similar to pre-nerf Ancient Hourglass in terms of power level.

Unworthy Soul

Another new card that seems to be a better version of an old one! Unworthy Soul can be a 3-mana Will of Ionia that can recall units and landmarks, as well at destroy attachments. Compared to the previous two cards, activating Flow is a slightly harder requirement but still relatively easy to do in Ionia. Wuju Style, Ionian Tellstones, and Momentous Choice are all great Flow activators and are key components of Ionia combo strategies. Unworthy Soul should be an auto-include as a utility spell for these decks.

Curse Of The Tomb

Several players are already afraid of Curse of the Tomb due to it’s interaction with Overwhelm units.

In a region with Ruin Runner and Renekton, Curse of the Tomb has potential for OTK combo strategies given that it can also Predict your next draw. If you’ve experienced facing Fizz Renekton with Papercraft Dragon, you would know that decks like these can be toxic if they’re too consistent.


Closing Words

I’m personally not bothered with the powercreep, as long as none of the new cards are too powerful. I like having more good cards so that I have more options when building decks. However, some new cards in this set look to be extremely powerful at first glance. The meta was amazing for the past patches, and hopefully none of the new cards are too frustrating to face. Still, I trust that the developers will give us a great balance patch if something goes overboard.

As usual, I will be releasing another article tomorrow with my recommendations for decks to play on the first day of the expansion. Stay tuned!

Raphterra
Raphterra
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