Rise of the Underworlds ‘Variety Drop’: Ratings and Theorycrafts

Yesterday we've seen a bunch of cards from various regions that aren't connected to upcoming champions.

Hello Runeterra! Card reveal season is in full swing, and yesterday we got the so-called ‘Variety Drop’ – a bunch of spoilers from the different regions that are not tied to any of the champions coming in this expansion.

Personally, I always find these ‘variety drop’ days very exciting, because you get to see the cards from regions or themes that are not otherwise heavily featured. Usually, the cards that are in this drop are unique and sometimes end up impacting the meta. They often stand out, either inspiring some new ideas for deckbuilding or revitalizing some older existing archetypes.

How good the ‘variety drop’ was this time? Here’s the rating scale that I will be using:

  • 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.

Field Promotion – 4.0

This is a very interesting card. Having the ability to grant Scout to any card definitely makes for exciting deck brewing.

The way I see this work can be in some kind of all-in deck based on giving Scout to a high-value unit. In the early days of Legends of Runeterra, there was a deck called ‘Stand Alone OTK’, when the namesake spell Stand Alone was costed at 3 mana.

This gives somewhat similar vibes because giving Scout to a card like Zed will make him into a crazy threat. However, you will also need a few ‘backup’ targets for this spell and a cohesive strategy in case you don’t draw Field Promotions. The deck that I think makes the most sense to just slot this card in would be Demacia Sivir Renekton with some adjustments.


Fabled Poro – 3.0

My favorite card out of this reveal. Who doesn’t like poros? Poro decks have been less bad than most people think. Having your whole deck gain stats for cheap with Poro Snax is pretty good. A while ago, Poros were actually seeing reasonable success in Masters and this card also just makes sense for the archetype.

The stats on the unit are very good because you value health more than attack. After a few Poro Snax casts this card will become a heavy, hard to remove, body – and it buffs your board. It is also a great unit to be drawn with Poro Herder.

While this card might not be making Poros meta, it definitely helps the archetype.


Abominable Guardian – 3.5

This is the hardest card to evaluate out of this batch. It has some insane potential: you could be summoning three Abominable Guardians on turn 2 and attacking with all of them on turn 3. No deck would be able to deal with that kind of opener.

However, there aren’t that many Yeti’s in the game and I’m unsure if bundling them together at this time makes sense. While this deck could have insane openers, it lacks ways to finish games unlike Legion Marauder with ever-increasing stats.

Abominable Guardian could make it into some deck that just uses the tempo gains of it and snowballs to victory. A deck like Ashe LeBlanc can possibly consider using it, but that comes with the risk of bricking your hand.


Defiant Dance – 3.0

Azir Irelia is probably going to be nerfed hard – but if it doesn’t, this card could see some play.

It’s true that Slow speed makes any spell feel quite restricted, and this case is no exception. It can’t exactly replace Lead and Follow, because you won’t be able to protect your own units, which is crucial for Irelia and Azir. Homecoming might not Blade Dance, but it is Fast speed which, again, protects your own units while gaining tempo by recalling the opponent’s threat.

Still, I think Defiant Dance has some chance of finding a place because recalling while blade-dancing is something that the deck likes to do in the later stages of the game. And if it found a slot in the deck, it probably would be over Blossoming Blade.


Heavens Aligned – 1.5

This spell just feels awkward. Spending mana to generate a random card is not what any competitive deck wants to do.

There is a small chance this card might be used as a Nightfall activator, but I think there are better options out there to serve that role.

Heavens Aligned being at Focus speed is also a small downside – you won’t be able to fish for Fast and Burst spells like Unspeakable Horror or Pale Cascade.


Starlit Epiphany – 1.0

This card just doesn’t make sense to play. It is effectively a 3-mana Behold the Infinite. It does in addition fill up your library with 20 copies of it, but Behold the Infinite isn’t a spell people are currently excited to put in their deck in the first place.

It was mentioned that this technically counters the Watcher trigger – but would it really help you? After you’ve cast Starlit Epiphany, you still have to deal with Watcher (and its copies) or it will just Obliterate your deck once again.

Starlit Epiphany could be justified in extreme late-game scenarios if you are running out of cards naturally. However, Targon tends to handle the late game pretty well already.


Thorned Blade – 0.0

This might be one of the worst cards ever printed. Giving +5 power for 4 mana – and only for the round?

You want a spell that gives power and is flexible for a low mana cost? Play Elixir of Wrath. You want a finisher spell to cast on a high-power unit? Play Might. Need permanent buffs – and on two units at once? Here’s Brothers’ Bond.

All these cards are in Noxus as well, so you won’t need to go out of your way to find a better card for your deck.


Atakhan, Bringer of Ruin – 1.0

The card is super expensive at 10 mana. We currently only have two followers which cost 10 mana (not counting Plaza Guardian and the likes that come with a self-discounting effect).

Cithria, Lady of Clouds is only played in a deck that uses Spectral Matron. She Who Wanders saw a little bit of play in Warmother’s Call decks of the past. Both cards are similar in the sense that they make sense only when they can be cheated out.

Atakhan is different – while he might be a good finisher when cheated out, he is too easy to disrupt. Once disrupted, he does not provide the benefit that a card like Cithria, Lady of Clouds offers for the entire board.


The Twisted Treeline – 1.5

I don’t think this card will work out – it is too slow. The absolute earliest when Vilemaw can attack is turn 6. This would require you to attack with 3 Fearsome units on turn 4.

That is a lot that needs to go right. While you might be saving some mana on a 6/6 Fearsome, you are sacrificing a lot of tempo for it. I don’t think a Fearsome deck will be able to afford it as they usually are all about tempo.


Astral Fox – 4.5

Overall this card looks really promising – it is like Shadow Isles gained their own Imperial Demolitionist. It does cost more, but Shadow Isles is a region that can use this kind of effect better.

Shadow Isles has plenty of sacrifice fodder. Astral Fox also can be found through Stalking Shadows which further increases your burn reach. The Fearsome tag is also nothing to ignore.

This can fit in the current SI early-game package. In a deck that would prioritize burn over drawing cards, the Fox will be a straight-up replacement for Spirit Leech.


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Poros created by Spaiikz • last updated 12 months ago

This is roughly what the deck used to look like last time it saw play – and now Fabled Poro comes in to give another boost to the archetype. Overall, I think that the power level of an average meta deck today is still too much for Poros to handle, but I like getting new cards for old archetypes that make me want to revisit them. Look to mulligan aggressively for Poro Snax and once you’ve cast 2-3 of them you can expect that Daring Poros will be closing out the game in a few hits.


Frostbite Ashe is an already established archetype. It has two main versions: the ‘classic’ and the ‘marauders’ build. Now there’s a potential for a third ‘Yeti’ version. This list has the potential to blow out your opponent with 5/5 Yeti’s very early on. The best opener you could hope for would be three Abominable Guardians and 2 Yeti Yearlings, attacking on odds. That way you could be attacking with 3 Abominable Guardians on turn 3 and I’m pretty sure no deck can defend itself against that. As a trade-off, this version has a much more lacking late game. With the Avarosan Hearthguard out, Trifarian Assessor becomes a lot less appealing.


This deck has seen a little bit of play competitively and I think Field Promotion will fit well here. Sivir and Ruin Runner are excellent units to give Scout to. Casting Cataclysm on a unit with Scout gives you a Rally – Sivir and Ruin Runner have Spellshield, so they are perfect targets. Ruin Runner attacking twice on turn 5 is no joke and will deal serious damage. Renekton is also good with Scout. When piloting this deck, take things a bit slower than you would with aggro deck as you won’t be able to run people over early. Build up to bigger threats which are hard to deal with in the mid-game.


Closing Thoughts

There were some really interesting cards in this reveal. While I do think there were also some duds – as their ratings do reflect – most of the spoilers are very interesting to tinker or meme with.

And as expected for a ‘variety drop’, we’ve seen some new cards for existing archetypes which could breathe new life into them and possibly make them viable. For example, Field Promotion in particular has so many applications and ideas for people to experiment with! It will probably take weeks to figure out if they are good or not, which is exciting.

As always, thank you for reading. To stay up to date with my latest articles, decklists and more follow me on Twitter. Till next time Runeterra.

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Spaiikz

Spaiikz is a high level Runeterra player who is consistently high up on the ladder rankings and has finished top 8 in the seasonal tournament. Now he is also looking to share his knowledge about Runeterra by writing articles and coaching. The first card games Spaiikz competed in was Hearthstone, in which he managed to finish Rank 1 Legend.

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