Pyke Review and Theorycraft

The new Bilgewater champion Pyke is here - and boy, does he take the Lurk archetype into a whole new dimension.

Hello everyone! Pyke is the second Lurker champion we are getting this expansion, and as expected, he will join the Bilgewater region!

There’s is no doubt that he will be extensively tested in a pairing with Rek’Sai in a fully-dedicated Lurk deck. However, Pyke’s ability to be used as a removal tool gives him a lot of further flexibility inside that archetype, which makes him really stand out in that deck.

This Lurker assassin will likely become a core part of every future strategy that would use the new keyword. Let’s me expalin why I believe so, and what exactly does Pyke bring to the table. Below is the grading scale that I’m going to use while evaluating cards in this article:

  • 5.0: Meta-defining card, potentially 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: Can be used for specific synergies, or to counter some decks.
  • 1.0: Unlikely to find its place in the meta.


Pyke – 4.0

Pyke is limited by a Lurker mechanic in the sense that you need to build your deck with this synergy in mind – it significantly reduces your flexibility regarding cards you can include in your deck. It also means that for now, you will most likely have to stick to Shurima + Bilgewater as a pairing. Only those 2 regions have access to Lurkers, and the mechanic wants you to have as many Lurkers as possible in your deck.

However, the good news is that now, because of Pyke, the Lurker deck isn’t all about one-dimensional “grow as big and as fast as you can” kind of strategy anymore. Now it can afford to take things a bit slower and interact with the opponent’s development.

Pyke is perfectly flexible – he can be a threat that dominates combat thanks to the continuously growing Power and the Quick Attack keyword. He also can transform into a removal spell and deal with the opponent’s important units.

The cherry on top is that both of Pyke’s modes – a unit and a spell – work towards leveling him up. And once Pyke is leveled, he becomes a must-remove threat if the opponent plans to develop anything onto the board at all.

However, Pyke seems quite susceptible to spell-based removal – he has 3 health at 4 mana, which means he could be easily removed for cheaper than what you’ve paid to summon him. Moreover, even though Pyke looks to be great when you are in charge of tempo and just want to stay ahead of your opponent’s development, but it might become trickier to make him work if you are behind or against an opponent that isn’t relying on the board presence to win the game.



Now that we’ve seen the second Lurk champion and all the Bilgewater cards, it is legitimate to think that we have all the pieces regarding that mechanic for now. Two champions, plus 10 additional Lurk cards, including spells, should be enough to fill our deck so that Lurk will trigger frequently.

Lurk has some diversity to it and can be played as a midrange proactive deck with some built-in flexibility to interact with the opponent. Obviously, Pyke has a direct link with Rek’sai, so I’ll start with this pairing for a first theorycraft. I’m seeing this deck as kind of an off-tempo strategy where Bilgewater would serve as the support to that part of the plan where you grow Rek’Sai and Xerxa’reth the Undertitan for some huge blows later in the game.


Redfin Hammersnout – 4.0

This is a very good card right here – I am getting some serious Merciless Hunter vibes, even if I’m not sure if it will have the same impact.

Vulnerable is a premium keyword when paired with a Lurk mechanic, because of how efficient its ever-growing attackers are: your Lurking 1-drop can easily pick off their 5-drop at a certain point in the game.


Bloodbait – 4.0

It has Lurk by itself, and it also creates a Lurker on top of your deck, which then would also give you a free attack to boost your other Lurkers. It doesn’t get any more synergistic than that.

The only thing that could hold this card back is tempo considerations – it might be a bit slow if the Snapjaw Swarm has low power when you have to play it.


The List – 4.5

Reactions to this card on Twitter have been overwhelmingly positive, and a lot of players have said this was one of their favorites – I can say the same.

As said before, the Vulnerable keyword is a great one to have access to in a Lurker deck, and a free attack for 0 mana looks very scary in a lot of different archetypes.


Ripper’s Bay – 2.0

The card isn’t bad and should help the Lurker mechanic overall, but it looks so inflexible for today’s game standards. First, this landmark is unplayable outside of a lurker’s deck, and even though there are some synergies (like with Shaped Stone, for example), the card still seems very limited.

The other thing I can’t get my head around is this: yes, it helps activate the Lurker synergy, but the deck based on Lurk should have so much of that keyword anyway that I’m struggling to see how this card will be that much more helpful.

I’m open to being wrong on this one, but this is my biggest doubt of the Bilgewater cards.


Sharkling – 3.0

A simple straightforward 1-drop for the Lurk synergy. It’s a dull card, but still good to have in order to get the Lurkers’ attack growing somewhat consistently, starting from turn one.


Jaull-Fish – 2.0

The card allows the Lurker deck to have some kind of staying power and not be overly reliant on closing the game early against another board-centric deck.

Getting to turn 8 and jamming this big ‘sea monster’ (flavor-wise, Jaull-Fish should have Deep instead of Lurk, let’s be honest) could have a similar effect to what Riptide Rex was doing in the Swain TF deck a year ago, destroying the opponent’s board and leaving us at a huge advantage. 

But I’m worried that in today’s game, 8 mana is just too much and this card migth come down too late too often.


Closing Words

Rek’sai is the big payoff champion that the new archetype will rely on, just like Azir or Nasus are for their decks for example. But Pyke gives me the vibe of that supporting role champion who actually contributes a ton to the deck’s success in various ways.

Before Pyke’s release, I was looking at the Lurk mechanic like at another basic ‘growing-over-time’ threat that puts your opponent on the clock. But now we see that there is much more depth to it and it could lead to some interesting directions both for deckbuilding or for gameplay.

As you might know it by now, you can join the awesome RuneterraCCG community on Discord or follow me on Twitter to talk about the game or coaching. Hoping that you are enjoying reveal season as much as I do, and as always:

Good game everyone, 

den.

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den

Den has been in love with strategy games for as long as he can remember, starting with the Heroes of Might and Magic series as a kid. Card games came around the middle school - Yugioh and then Magic. Hearthstone has been his real breakthrough and he has been a coach, writer, and caster on the French scene for many years now. Although it took him a bit to get into Legends or Runeterra, his EU Seasonal Tournament win was the perfect start to get involved in the community. He now coaches aspiring pro players and writes various articles on the game. Find him on Twitter at @den_CCG!

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