Rek’Sai Review and Theorycraft
Hey, it’s Mezume here, and welcome to another reveal season in Legends of Runeterra! After the stale last patch, I personally am hyped to see all the new cards, as well as what balance changes are to come.
This time, I got the chance to review Rek’Sai and all the other Lurkers that have been shown so far. It looks like a pretty interesting set of cards, especially because it introduces a completely new mechanic. What I dislike about it is that it is a very ‘self-contained’ archetype and most of the cards just cannot see play outside a dedicated Lurk deck – in a similar vein to how Deep works.
Anyway, without too much blabbing – here are my ratings and opinions regarding the cards; as well as a first-look theorycraft of Rek’Sai’s deck. Below is the grading scale that I’m going to use:
- 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.
Rek’Sai – 3.5
Rek’Sai is really awkward to judge. Her stats are insanely good – 3/6 for just 3 mana. However, if you’re aren’t able to level her immediately on the round you’ve played her, Rek’Sai shuffles herself back into the deck. It means playing her out unless she can level up on-attack is rarely a good idea. And additionally, she is awfully susceptible to stuns, as they essentially turn into a removal against her (remember Sunk Cost, anyone?).
As for her effect, she effectively gives +2/+0 to all Lurkers when she is the top card of your deck during an attack (+1/+0 due to her static ability, and +1/+0 due to her having Lurk keyword). She also gives +1/+0 to all Lurkers whenever she attacks. All this buffs accelerate your Lurkers heavily, which matters for pay-off cards like Xerxa’reth, The Undertitan and Xer’Sai Dunebreaker, but even more so for her own level-up condition.
Her level-up itself is really powerful, as not only does it create 3 Lurkers in hand, which means you are not going to run out of steam as fast, but on top of that, she immediately gets Overwhelm – the most powerful keyword possible for a unit with a growing Power stat.
Overall, Rek’Sai appears to be a really strong pay-off for an archetype that’s shaping up to be at least somewhat viable. Also keep in mind that we still have not seen the Bilgewater cards, including new champion Pyke – they are very likely to synergize with the Shurima Lurker package.
Below, I feature an example list of cards I would include in a Lurk deck at the moment. There are many cards yet to be revealed that will likely fit in the archetype, so do not treat this as a complete deck.
Note that Zilean is just a placeholder here and will likely be replaced by Pyke. We expect a big Lurk package in Bilgewater, and it is likely that it might be difficult to build a Lurker-dedicated deck without combining both regions.
This archetype will want to play as many Lurkers as possible, as their strength comes from having enough redundancy in the deck to make the keyword proc as consistently as possible, and then crush the midgame with Xerxa’reth and Rek’Sai.
In the list above, Predict package will likely end up being replaced with more Lurkers, but for now, the best way to consistently get those Lurk procs is with cheap cards like Ancient Preparations, Feral Prescience, and Aspiring Chronomancer. Bone Skewer plays the same role, but it also doubles up as removal. ‘Strike’ works great with Lurkers because they grow their Power naturally and so should be able to eventually kill almost any unit on the field.
Xer’Sai Hatchling – 3.0
This is a very simple card – 1-mana 1/1 Fearsome that has a chance to grow due to Lurk.
Precious Pet is a decent 1-drop and I would put Hatchling at a similar power level. In a dedicated Lurk deck, it is likely to be 2/1 on your first attack, but unlike Precious Pet, it continues to grow.
Of course, the 1 health holds it back, as it makes it vulnerable to every AoE in the game, but it will likely be a staple in every deck that relies on the Lurker tag.
Feral Prescience – 2.0
Predict is fine in a deck that relies on Lurk, as you can ensure at Burst speed that all your Lurkers receive +1/+0.
Sadly, outside of that, this spell seems pretty weak, as it costs you a whole card in your hand and a slot in your deck while doing very little. With that said, it can see fringe play both in Lurk decks as well as in some not-yet-existent spell-focused Shurima deck that has enough card advantage mechanisms.
Xer’Sai Caller – 3.0
Xer’Sai Caller essentially synergizes with itself – packing both Predict and Lurk keywords.
If you’ve had a good start it will be a 3-mana 4/3 that Predicts, which is good enough, but far from the insane Shurima standalone cards like Ruin Runner or especially Merciless Hunter.
As with all of the Lurkers I will evaluate in this article, Xer’Sai Caller’s viability will depend on whether there is a critical mass of “good enough” Lurkers to make the archetype viable. What it has going for itself is that Predict is a good tool to have at any point in the game and Lurk means that its stats will eventually be large enough to trade against large creatures.
Xer’Sai Dunebreaker – 2.5
This is one of the finishers in the Lurker archetype, but it is quite weak. Alpha Wildclaw isn’t a fantastic card, and Xer’Sai Dunebreaker requires four procs of the Lurk keyword to even get there.
Lurkers with Overwhelm can be really strong, but this one is likely to be too slow for us to consider it even in a dedicated deck.
Xerxa’reth, The Undertitan – 3.5
This card is one of the biggest payoffs for a Lurk archetype that we have seen so far and it seems to be pretty strong at a glance.
8+ Power requirement can be demanding, but in a deck full of Lurkers, with Rek’Sai granting them even more Power, Xerxa’reth is not unlikely to get a package-deal of Fearsome, Overwhelm, and Spellshield as soon as turn 7 or 8.
The existence of Xerxa’reth means that Lurk as an archetype is not only about the swarm and early game rush – it will be able to compete in the later stages of the game. While it very well might be a complete flop, I still have some faith in this card and the archetype as a whole.
Call the Pack – 3.0
Perfect spell for Rek’Sai and the Lurk deck. It ensures Lurk activation and essentially replaces itself and whatever you put on top of the deck with two random Lurkers.
Note that the spell itself has Lurk keyword – if it is on the top of your deck when you attack, your Lurkers will get their buffs. Additionally, since Lurk activations give +1/+0 to Lurkers ‘everywhere’, it means that the units created with Call the Pack will be already buffed by all the previous Lurc procs.
Take all of the above, its ability to unbrick your hand, as well as its cheap cost, and it becomes hard to envision a Lurk deck without this spell.
Careful Preparation – 1.5
Unless there is an insane payoff for predicting, Careful Preparation is just really weak.
It is essentially a more expensive Pick a Card that allows you to choose what you will draw but at a cost of getting one less card than Pick a Card would give you. This is not a great comparison, as Pick a Card does not see much play in its current form.
This card will only be good if Predicting leads to a big pay-off like
Snapjaw Swarm – 3.5
Snapjaw Swarm is a great card to let your Lurkers grow on defensive turns.
While this can give some – or all – of us PTSD after the last two months of being subjected to constant free attacks, Lurk can be activated only once a round, so the mechanic is unlikely to get out of hand and become oppressive the same way Blade Dance felt.
This card synergizes with token creators like Azir and Emperor’s Dais, but also with Miss Fortune in its own region, meaning it is one of the few Lurkers that may see play outside of its archetype – which is, in my opinion, great both for the card as well as for the game.
Fallen Feline – 3.5
A 1-mana 2/1 is a low-impact body, but it can help you defend against early strategies. It is obviously meant to be in a Predict deck, as the Hexite Crystal it creates is a medium-sized payoff for the mechanic, which can help you both keep the enemy board clear, as well as push some chip damage to their Nexus.
There are multiple ways to try and cheat out the Hexite Crystal early. The most obvious one is a Predict-heavy deck in Shurima, but if PnZ has some Predict cards as well, it is likely that it will be possible to combine it with Bilgewater and Zap Sprayfin.
Something to keep in mind is that every time that you Predict, you will shuffle your deck, so even if you missed the Hexite Crystal, you still gave yourself a chance to topdeck it naturally over the next few turns.
Overall, the cards in this reveal seem to be really dependent on how the entire archetype will turn out. We will be able to tell much more once Pyke and his supporting crew will be revealed, as it is most probable that it will synergize with Lurk.
The archetype looks like a lot of fun – it has an aggressive twist, but its biggest threats come in the mid-game and require some ramping up.
It is a deck that utilizes a style of gameplay we have not seen much of in Runeterra. I am really hyped to play with Lurkers and hope they turn out to be viable!