The Return of Fiora, Daybreak, and Nightfall | Assessing All The Buffs In Patch 3.16!

In this article, Raphterra shares his thoughts on all the buffs in Legends of Runeterra Patch 3.16.


Hey there, Raphterra here! Following my article on all the nerfs in Patch 3.16, I’m now going to give my assessment for the all the buffs in the patch. This might be one of the most impactful patches we’ve had in terms of buffs. From complex card reworks to simple stat buffs, this patch has it all! Let’s get right into it!

Similar to my previous article, I will classify each buff in the following categories:

  • Low Impact: Will not affect the card / deck’s power level and play patterns.
  • Medium Impact: Will matter in certain situations, but not high enough impact to strengthen the card / deck’s overall power level.
  • High Impact: Affects many scenarios and strengthens the power level of the card / deck.
  • Meta Defining: Significantly strengthens the power level of the card / deck. May result in new high-tier decks.

Card Reworks to Leona, Sun Guardian, Solari Stellacorn, and Morning Light
Sunburst: Cost -1

These are meta-defining changes.

Reworked Leona looks extremely strong for Daybreak! She can now setup powerful combo attacks by taking away two potential blockers with her stun and her new Challenger / Barrier keywords. On defense, she can also potentially stop two attackers in the same manner. Her impact on the board state upon summon seems insane.

Several Daybreak support cards have also been reworked! Sun Guardian is now a good alternative for Solari Priestess on Turn 3, since the latter doesn’t fit with the midrange gameplan of Daybreak. Solari Stellacorn is a possible replacement for Leona on Turn 4 and can be used both on offense and defense. However, Solari Sunforger might still be the preferred option because of his Lifesteal.

Morning Light at 3-cost makes it a very efficient combo piece for Daybreak. You can take away even more blockers when you use it with Leona on Turn 5. Sunburst might be the most impactful among the reworks to Daybreak‘s support cards. This change follows the recent trend of making control tools cheaper e.g. Vengeance, Crumble, Harsh Winds. This buff impacts Targon as a whole, since Sunburst can be included in most other Targon decks as well.

My prediction is that Daybreak will rise from the ashes and will probably be a Tier 1 deck or a Tier 2 deck at the minimum.

Nocturne: Now also counts attacking Fearsome allies for his level-up.
The Twisted Treeline: Now also counts attacking Nightfall allies for activation.
Vilemaw: Fearsome allies have +1/+0.

The change to Nocturne is high-impact, potentially meta-defining. The change to Twisted Treeline / Vilemaw is medium-impact.

Similar to Leona, Nocturne always had the ability to make powerful wide attacks. His Level 2 was always scary, but he can be often slow to level-up. With this buff, Nocturne should always be levelled upon summon if you build your deck around him. This change alone may bring Fearsome Nocturne decks to at least Tier 2 status, potentially even Tier 1.

The Twisted Treeline saw virtually no play, but now it can be used in Nightfall decks! The change is nice, but I’m still a bit skeptical on it’s power level since it’s still a tempo loss on Turn 3. The card might not fit into the aggressive gameplan of the Nightfall archetype. That being said, Vilemaw now has great synergy with Nocturne! If a slower, midrange/combo-oriented version of Nightfall rises, a few copies of Twisted Treeline might be included in it!

Tahm Kench: Generates An Acquired Taste on Summon and Round Start.

This is a medium-impact change, possibly high-impact.

This buff is a nice quality-of-life change for Tahm Kench, allowing him to immediately threaten capturing units upon summon. It’s hard to tell if this will be enough to make Tahm Kench decks competitive, since his issues still exist. He requires a lot of mana and resources to protect, and he’s very vulnerable to removals and recalls.

Tahm Kench Soraka is one of my favorite decks, so I will be experimenting with the archetype for sure! I think there’s also potential in pairing Tahm Kench with cards that grant regeneration in Freljord.

Fiora: Now a 4-cost 4/4

This is a meta-defining change.

This change should be very, very, scary for swarm and aggro players. Even if her mana cost was increased, Fiora‘s health went back up and being able to deal 4 damage will allow her to kill valuable targets. Not to mention, we now have access to Equipment, Forge, Attachments, and premium protection cards like Shield of Durand, Durand Sculptor, and Momentous Choice.

This might be the most impactful change of the patch, just because Fiora can single-handedly prevent certain archetypes from being competitively viable. She’s always been a polarizing champion wherein she auto-wins or auto-loses many matchups. However, this change also makes her a very strong stand-alone 4-cost unit, even without building an entire deck around her.

I’m predicting that there will be a Tier 1 deck running Fiora.

Master Yi: Cost Reduction is Permanent

This is a high-impact change.

This is a very cool change! Decks can now use Master Yi as a utility card instead of being completely reliant on activating Flow. This opens up a lot of deckbuilding possibilities with Master Yi. He may see play in combo decks that want to setup casting multiple discounted spells in a single turn, or in ramp decks that want to keep discounting an expensive finisher spell like Feel The Rush.

I’m hesitant to say that this change will be meta-defining, since I don’t see any broken Master Yi combos.. yet!

Ornn: Level Up: Strike for 8+ damage.

This is a high-impact change.

Another nice change for one of the new champions in The Darkin Saga: Awakening! This makes it more likely that Ornn will come down levelled up on Turn 7, and from there he can start threatening to end the game. I’ve been playing a bit with Ornn, and Ornn’s Forge can be very snowbally if your opponent doesn’t have an answer for your units. That being said, Ornn is still very vulnerable to hard removals, recalls, and stuns, which might prevent him from getting to high-tier status.

Ornn Level 2

Swain: +1 Power on Level 1, Overwhelm on Level 2
The Leviathan: Now a 7-cost 5/7, Deals 1 damage to the enemy Nexus twice

These are meta-defining changes.

Swain is finally receiving a lot of love after being irrelevant for so long! Level 2 Swain getting Overwhelm and a power buff is very impactful. Level 2 Swain usually relied on getting stuns with The Leviathan‘s Nexus pings. With Overwhelm, he is now huge threat on his own, capable of deleting the Nexus and the board if not answered.

The Leviathan also receives a big buff with a cost reduction to 7 mana, making it better to play in terms of tempo. It now only pings the Nexus twice, but overall I think the cost-reduction and the buff to Swain will be enough for Swain decks to rise to Tier 1 status.

Illaoi: Health +1

This is a low-impact change.

Illaoi‘s previous nerf got reverted, but I don’t think it will be very impactful for decks focused on the Tentacle synergy. Bard Illaoi was previously a powerful deck due to Bard, Tentacle Smash, and Eye of Nagakabouros. With Tentacle Smash still nerfed and with Riptide Sermon also getting a hit, I don’t think we will see any relevant competitive play from Illaoi.

Iula: Grant an ally or herself Spellshield or Overwhelm.

This is a high-impact change.

A Fated buff? Fated archetypes already received powerful support tools with Equipments, specifically The Darkin Lodestone and Wandering Shepherd. Iula can now permanently grant Overwhelm to Fated units, which makes her a viable on-curve play with Saga Seeker. This change gives Targon a reliable tool to grant Overwhelm to it’s units.

I’m predicting that Fated will become a Tier 2 deck at the minimum, if not Tier 1!

The Papertree: Now buffs the Attachment directly

This is a low-impact change.

With Equipments and Forge now existing, Attachments felt like they were completely overcreeped. The developers gave attachments a “Forge” effect with this change to The Papertree, but ultimately I think that Attachments will still be outclassed by Equipments. This change probably won’t be enough to warrant running Attachments over Equipments since you still need to use unit mana to play Attachments, while you can use spell mana for Equipments.

Edit: It has been pointed out to me that Equipments and Attached units are both counted as “Attachments”, so this change might be better than what I initially expected. That being said, I think the card still won’t see any relevant competitive play. It’s similar to Ornn’s Forge, but you only get half of the buff and you only get do this on your attack turns.

Shrieking Spinner: Health -1, now gives Spider allies +2/+0 on attack.

This is a medium-impact change.

After the nerf to Decimate, Riot might be hinting that we need to transition to aggro decks revolving around spiders! Shrieking Spinner can setup devastating attacks on Turn 4, and can end games quickly if your opponents are not prepared. However, I’m doubtful that this change will be impactful since spider decks are very counterable with the right tech cards: Vile Feast, Pokey Stick, Withering Wail, etc.

Just a note, my assessment on this change might be way off since I’ve never really played spider aggro decks myself!

Ritual of Renewal: Cost -3, Healing -3

This is a low-impact change.

The community has been meme-ing on Ritual of Renewal for quite some time now, and it finally receives a buff! I don’t see this change being very impactful, since at slow speed it’s still outclassed by most other draw spells like Eye of Nagakabouros, Pokey Stick, or even Deep Meditation.

Ripper’s Bay: Now grants Lurk to the top ally in the deck when attacking.

This is a high-impact change, potentially meta-defining.

This is probably the coolest change in this patch, just because of the deck building possibilities that it represents. With the new Ripper’s Bay, you can now pair up Pyke‘s Bilgewater Lurk package with any region. This change is very hard to evaluate since there are lots of possible region combinations with Bilgewater, and it can be very easy for someone to come up with a broken combo.

Pyke with other regions will no longer be a meme! Or it might still be, possibly since you would probably need to hard mulligan for Ripper’s Bay when playing those types of decks. Not drawing Ripper’s Bay early may disrupt the deck’s gameplan completely.

Magical Journey: Now places 1 Chime on top of the deck
Realm’s Caretaker: Health +1

These are low-impact changes.

The Bard buffs have officially begun! Magical Journey now directly plants a chime on top of the deck similar to Byrd, the Bellringer and Esmus, Breath of the World, but I don’t see a compelling reason to run this card over other Chime and Mysterious Portal cards. The card is still a 2-mana do nothing for the turn that you play it, so there are just better options for early spells.

Realm’s Caretaker receives a small buff to it’s stats, but I think the unit is still too expensive for what it does.

Grumpy Rockbear: Health +1

This is a medium-impact change.

Grumpy Rockbear gets the 5/5 Yeti statline! These are very solid stats, the unit can now trade 2-for-1 against most units of lesser cost. The developers are giving some love to Taliyah landmark decks after the big hit to Frozen Thralls, so she might see some more play soon in other decks with Malphite or Ziggs. This is a nice buff, but I don’t think this archetype will rise to high tiers with only this change.

Funsmith: Attack +1

This is a low-impact change.

Funsmith now has a 2/3 statline, making her slightly less of a tempo loss on Turn 4. However, she’s still very vulnerable to removals at this statline. Getting an increase to her power gives her more trading potential, but she usually just wants to stay in the backline anyway.

Mammoth Shaman: +1/+1, Mammoth Rager: +1/+1

This is a low-impact change.

As Plinq ( LOR Game Designer ) mentioned, a patch wouldn’t be complete without a stealth buff to Reputation! Mammoth Shaman now has the 5/5 statline, making it easier for him to damage the Nexus and survive to potentially transform into Mammoth Rager. This might warrant some play in Overwhelm decks, but similar to Realm’s Caretaker, I think the card is still too slow and expensive for what it does.

Windsinger: Now has Elusive, Attack -1.

This is a low-impact change.

Even though I say that this is a low-impact change, I think this change is a lot better than what it looks like. Windsinger is slightly similar to Riptide Sermon where it can remove a unit and develop a body in one action. That being said, I think this card will still be held back by the fact that you need to use 6 unit mana to get that effect.

Closing Words

In my opinion, Patch 3.16 looks amazing! Riot seems to be more and more willing to aggressively buff cards in order to shake up the meta. Some changes look potentially scary, but I feel fine with this since they’ve shown that they are also willing to quickly revert changes that go too far. I really love the direction that Legends of Runeterra is going, and the future for the game seems bright!

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me on YouTube, Discord, or Twitter!

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