The 12 Most Impactful Balance Changes from Patch 2.18

Hello, Agigas here!

The October 20th patch 2.18.0 was teased as a large balance patch a long time ago. While the current meta has felt very pleasant thanks to a great hotfix patch before the world championship and a successful Bandle City release, a balance patch is always welcome to keep things fresh and exciting!

Today, I will go over the most impactful balance changes announced in the patch 2.18.0 notes, and talk about what those changes mean for each card. I’ll also be releasing a meta-analysis article tomorrow, so if you’re interested to see how the meta should evolve stay tuned! 😄

To evaluate how impactful a change is I’ll be assigning two letter-based grades to each card: the first one represents the power of the card prior to the patch 2.18.0 changes, and the second one rates the card after the patch. These grades are not meant to be ‘absolute’ – their sole purpose is to illustrate the commentary I provide and define how relatively impactful the change is.

  • S – Very powerful card, you can’t really ask more from it.
  • A – Strong card, and if you are in an archetype where it fits you’ll be happy to bring it in.
  • B – Decent card, playable in the right archetype but isn’t going to enable a competitive deck by itself.
  • C – Doesn’t find a home because it is not good enough and/or doesn’t have a competitive archetype.
  • D – Weak card and doesn’t have any viable archetype.


Nami: S+ ➔ A+. Nami has been single-handedly enabling the Zoe Nami archetype as one of the best of the meta. It really shows how strong she was when you know how the deck often operated – play Nami on turn 4 and you’re already winning, don’t draw her the whole game and you are losing even your best matchups.

With this nerf, the days of conceding to a turn 4 leveled Nami are over – it is still technically possible thanks to Shellshocker, but quite unlikely. This nerf delays the whole tempo of the deck, giving more time for the opponent to rush the nexus or set up a control plan.

However, make no mistake – Nami is still a strong champion. She is still the insane buff engine we’ve learned to love and hate. Nami decks didn’t always need a leveled Nami on turn 4 – turn 5 was often good enough to win most games.


Sparklefly: S ➔ C. Look how they massacred my boy. Getting up the cost of a unit, especially a cheap one, is extremely impactful. But in this case, the nerf hits even harder than you might think for several reasons.

First of all, Sparklefly won’t be tutored by Crescendum from Gift from Beyond anymore. Decks that usually played Sparklefly, like Zoe Nami, often relied on consistently finding Sparklefly as they were playing a whole buff package to go along with it.

Moreover, Sparklefly is a unit meant to be protected and buffed. With the higher mana cost, it will now be harder to find a window to play it without tapping out of protection spells’ mana cost.

This change is absolutely huge and will leave Zoe Nami in a very poor state. In my opinion, Nami will likely drop her Targon friends to go prank the enemies alongside Fizz.


Draven: S ➔ A-. Draven wasn’t necessarily the most flashy champion as he was rarely the main win condition of a deck. However, he was played in numerous archetypes and found a place in at least one tier 1 archetype for most of the year.

Going from 3 health points to 2 is a lot more impactful than it could seem at first. At 3 health, units are pretty safe from cheap removals. At 2, however, Draven now will get removed by a lot of meta answers, such as Mystic Shot, an unbuffed Darkness, Fleetfeather Tracker, Avalanche, Blighted Ravine, or Withering Mist.

With this nerf, Draven will be a lot easier to deal with. However, he still is a good champion. The Quick Attack keyword helps mitigate the health nerf, and Draven still gets to generate Axes very quickly for archetypes playing the discard package.

I expect Draven to still see plays, but to be less of an auto-include. The power level of Draven decks is going to suffer particularly from the nerfs against archetypes able to deal with 2-health units.


Twinblade Revenant: S ➔ A. Twinblade Revenant’s nerf is somewhat special as it doesn’t affect every deck to the same level, and in some situations will actually be a buff.

Twinblade Revenant, before this nerf, was a powerful auto-include in any deck with access to the discard package. It brought a ton of value, a strong board presence, and control over the opponent’s key units – often champions.

With the nerf, Twinblade Revenant still is an infinite value engine, and the Fearsome keyword makes him arguably even more dangerous as a threat to the nexus. However, the loss of the Challenger keyword removes its controlling abilities.

Therefore, slower decks such as Caitlyn Draven, using the card as a control tool, are the ones that suffer the most from this change. On the other hand, more aggro-oriented decks like Draven Sion or Burn deck should find a slightly different but still great use for the card.


Tenor of Terror: S ➔ C+. Tenor of Terror was just too good at creating a powerful board presence. 5/5 worth of stats split over 2 units, plus 2 impact keywords, was clearly overtuned, and fits the swarm Bandle City archetype too well.

With this nerf, Tenor of Terror will be a lot weaker at creating board presence. Getting Bass of Burden down to 1 health is a particularly big nerf, as it now gets answered by the numerous ping answers in the meta, such as Make it Rain, Vile Feast, or Pokey Stick.

Tenor of Terrors now doesn’t look impressive at all. It is still an interesting card alongside good synergies, such as Bandle City Mayor and Tristana. However, lots of shells are going to cut it, especially when you consider the fact it fits the same spot in the curve as Lecturing Yordle and Poppy, which haven’t been nerfed.


Relentless Pursuit: A ➔ B-. Relentless Pursuit was a strong rally effect. While in some shells it was replaced by Golden Aegis, which is more flexible, it still had its own purpose of being a cheaper rally. Running both Relentless Pursuit and Golden Aegis was also a very popular strategy to rush down the opponent with Bandle swarm or Elusive archetypes.

After the nerf, Relentless Pursuit looks like a weaker Golden Aegis in a lot of situations. This means that the card pretty much loses its own niche, and will likely be used only in decks looking for more than 3 rallies.

Moreover, the nerf will clearly slow down rally strategies. Overall, I expect the nerf to hurt the card pretty badly, but it should still see plays as some strategies really need to play a lot of rallies to be effective.

One cool thing worth mentioning is that Relentless Pursuit now synergizes better with Taric.


Aloof Traveler: S ➔ B. Aloof Traveler was spotted right during the spoilers to be an insanely powerful card – good stats, strong value, and the ability to counter some strategies, such as Feel the Rush or Lee Sin. The card has delivered since then – it was the second most-played card in the game during this last week!

With this large stat nerf, Aloof Traveler now has a more defined identity instead of being good everywhere. The card is overall still good, especially when paired with synergistic strategies, such as Poisoned Puffcaps, or when used as a tech card to counter some particular archetypes.

However, you’ll now have to think twice before auto-including this into any strategies in any meta, as the card’s tempo cost will make it a lot less appealing against faster strategies.



Lux: D ➔ B. We’re far from the days when Lux was dominating alongside Karma. Instead, the champion has been completely put aside and had one of the worst win rates out of all champions.

The first problem of Lux was coming down too late to impact the game. In most situations, you could not get anything done with Lux before turn 7, and the game was often already decided by that turn. This buff will help a lot with that, as the one-turn difference will be pretty impactful.

Moreover, Final Spark will now be castable directly on the opponent’s nexus when no enemy units are on board. This will make Lux a stronger finisher once you are in control of the game, especially in archetypes such as the good old Karma Lux.

Lux keeps some pretty big drawbacks – most notably (still) being quite slow at impacting the game and being in a region that usually isn’t all about spells. With this buff, however, she should be a lot more competitive than before, and I’m very excited to test shells for her as she was always one of my personal favorites.


Solari Priestess: A ➔ S. Solari Priestess has always been one of the strong stand-alone cards from Targon, therefore, this buff surprised me. The current aggressive meta was keeping the 1/2 statline on the bench, but now Solari Priestess will clearly be a pillar of the region, most likely a very strong auto-include in any non-aggro Targon strategy.

Targon has been struggling lately, and the destruction of the Zoe Nami archetype would make its play rate drop even further if it wasn’t for some great buffs. Solari Priestess’ buff is clearly one of the most impactful changes of this patch, and should definitely help Targon to shine in a new light.


The Scourge: C- ➔ A. The Scourge was often the last Celestial card you would pick in the high-cost pool, even if you had enough mana to summon it. Not only this unit is the most susceptible one to interaction, as it doesn’t have Spellshield or Immortal Fire’s revive, it is also the only one without an evasion keyword (Overwhelm or Elusive) and instead relies on you to already have a powerful board.

The Scourge still doesn’t have protection against interaction and therefore will be a pretty situational pick. However, this is now a very effective finisher, as you can now challenge a small unit to push tons of face damages. I will be picking this card a lot more often than before.


Dragon’s Clutch: B ➔ A. Dragon’s Clutch was already pretty strong in dragon decks – it was a cost-efficient card draw effect with some flexibility attached to it. Moreover, it could also be used as a tutor effect if you played a low amount of dragons, for example, to get both Eclipse Dragon and Aurelion Sol in hand by turn 7.

The second effect was rarely used though, even if it was sometimes coming in clutch. With the buff, it is now a lot more relevant – giving Overwhelm to all your gigantic dragons will often close out games out of nowhere.

With Dragon’s Clutch around, the opponent will be forced to keep his nexus health high and block dragons – which they certainly don’t want to do, as very few strategies can stat-check dragons in combat, and trigger the Fury keyword means letting the dragons snowball the game away.

Moreover, let’s mention that the dragon archetype is getting several other buffs on Aurelion Sol, Ruined Dragonguard, and Herald of Dragons. Dragons are at the center of attention this patch, and you can expect a lot of players to give the archetype a try in the upcoming meta.


Dess & Ada: B- ➔ A. Dess & Ada was pretty rarely played in the Darkness archetype, but I’m of the opinion that she was closer to making the cut that players might suspect.

With this buff, Dess & Ada will often come down alongside a full nuke on the opponent’s board, instantly leveling Senna and/or Veigar.

Darkness is a strong archetype but has been struggling to keep up with wide boards and at finishing games. The newly buffed Dess & Ada seems to fill that role really well, and I expect the card to be seen a lot more regularly in the archetype.


Conclusion

Tomorrow’s patch seems to feature a lot of very impactful changes. A lot of tier 1 decks are getting nerfed, Targon will see tons of experimentation – dragons in particular, and we see a lot of buffs to underplayed and/or underperforming cards. I am very excited to try new decks and to see how things shape up!

I hope you’ve enjoyed the read, and are as excited as I am about the meta coming ahead! If you have any questions, feedback, or want to discuss those balance changes, I’ll be happy to read and answer you in the comments below! 😄

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Agigas

LoR player with multiple tournament wins and #4 ladder peaks. Ascended Seasonal top 4. I love writing guides to share my experience with the game with the community!

6 Responses

  1. Kassadin says:

    Love reading these analysis and I would like you to know that the “clutch” pun did not go unnoticed.

  2. EpicPick1e says:

    Hallelujah to that Sparklefly nerf. It almost feels like they didn’t have to hit Nami if they were doing that.

  3. Rafael Alves Costa says:

    Killing Sparklefly should be enough nerf to Nami. Waiting 4 turns to start playing is suicid in this meta, and the sparklefly used to help recovering this slow pace. Now Nami is even slower and without lifesteal to come back…

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