The Rising Tides Constructed Review: Demacia, Freljord, Ionia

The Rising Tides expansion may have added Bilgewater as a new region to Legends of Runeterra, but the 6 pre-existing regions got some new toys as well! In this article I will cover the new cards introduced to Demacia, Freljord, and Ionia. To put the cards into perspective I will be using the RunterraCCG Rating Scale (details about which can be found below).

Rating Scale

  • 5.0: Cards that are extremely powerful and belong in any deck of their respective region regardless of synergy. (Hecarim before the nerf)
  • 4.0: Meta staples. These are cards that are usually auto-includes in any deck(s) that can support them but don’t need to be built around. (Zed, Karma, Deny, etc.)
  • 3.5: Flexible, but not extremely powerful. These are cards that fit well into multiple archetypes but need some amount of support in order to make the cut. (Stand Alone, Get Excited, Will of Ionia)
  • 3.0: Archetype staples. Cards in this category are more niche than their 3.5 counterparts but are necessary for their respective archetypes. (Corina Veraza, Anivia, Boomcrew Rookie)
  • 2.5: Role-player in some decks. These are cards that are important for the deck(s) they are in and do not have many viable counterparts, but aren’t very flexible. (The Ruination, Laurent Protege)
  • 2.0: Niche card. These are cards that are typically not powerful enough to be played regularly but may be brought into lists to counter specific meta decks. This category also includes cards that may not have a fleshed-out archetype just yet. (Ren Shadowblade, Professor Von Yipp, Purify)
  • 1.0: Rarely sees play. (Unstable Voltician, Basilisk Rider)

Demacia

Blinding Assault – 1.0

This is a useful effect when attached to Quinn, but on it’s own it is not worth a slot in your deck. Valor is the only 2-mana Scout in the game currently, but even Scout decks have avoided playing Blinding Assault.

Concerted Strike – 2.5

While not the most “meta” card at the moment, Concerted Strike is seeing some experimentation throughout the various Demacia midrange decks. A 5-mana Fast spell that acts like an improved Whirling Death. It is more flexible in that it allows your units to avoid combat and still be relevant. It also provides some security against removal as multiple units are striking the targeted enemy.

Genevieve Elmheart – 2.5

A 6-mana 4|4 is obviously understatted, but Genevieve providing a buff to other allies for the turn can be huge. Her Scout and Challenger keywords pair nicely, as Challenger allows her to force profitable trades on the Scout attack which can keep her alive for the second attack. She has seen some play in various Demacia decks, but so far has yet to prove herself as a meta staple. There’s no doubt she is an effective card, Grizzled Ranger and Cithria the Bold are just better options at the moment.

Greathorn Companion – 1.0

A 4|5 Scout for 5-mana is a touch underwhelming, even if the statline isn’t terrible. I don’t expect Greathorn Companion to see play when Demacia already has Swiftwing Lancer, Garen, and Quinn all competing for the 5-drop slot.

Greenfang Warden – 1.0

Another case of an overcosted Scout unit that isn’t likely to see play. 3-mana for a 2|2 isn’t great even with Barrier and Scout. At least it can trigger Scout the turn it is played without dying.

Grizzled Ranger – 5.0

One of the most impactful new cards in the first week of the new meta, this is the Scout Demacia wants. A 4-mana 4|1 is an aggressive statline which forces blocks eventually. The Ranger triggers Scout and has no issue trading away because it summons as 4|4 when it dies. Every Demacia deck is going to run this, dedicated Scout deck or otherwise.

Loyal Badgerbear – 4.0

So the 4|4 that Grizzled Ranger summons? Yeah that is a common that you can just put in your deck and it only costs 3-mana. A 3-mana 4|4 is wonderful stat-wise and blanks nearly every turn 2 or turn 3 play. Badgerbear is another Demacia card that will almost always be an auto-include.

Quinn – 3.0

Quinn has only been seeing play in dedicated Scout decks. Of course, she’s an auto-include in those decks, but she doesn’t quite seem flexible enough to just put in any deck. Summoning Valor provides potential for her to Scout ahead without being taken out. Expect to see her on ladder, but while she’s powerful she is rather specific to a single archetype.

Ranger’s Resolve – 2.5

This little combat trick is solid. It has been seeing play in every Demacia deck because it is cheap, reactive, and can swing games for you. At 1-mana and Burst speed, you really can’t go wrong with this in your 40. While it can keep you from falling behind it doesn’t do a whole lot when you are already behind (if you have no board it is literally a dead card), which is keeping it from being a 3-of in many of the builds.

Unyielding Spirit – 2.5

Unyielding Spirit is a hot topic right now. Many people don’t think this card should have ever been printed and while it is certainly a powerful effect that is hard to interact with, it is still not an autowin and it is also not cheap. Combine that with the fact that it only fits well in one archetype and you have a card that — while powerful — isn’t broken.

Freljord

Aurora Porealis – 1.0

This card has not seen any play in tier decks, but some of the bigger players have been toying around with Poro decks after reaching Diamond or Masters and it is obviously a great card in those lists. Realistically Aurora Porealis is a 1.0 because it is far too niche to see any play outside of a Poro tribal deck. However, if you’re a true Poro connoseur, this is an auto include for you and you’ve probably crafted it already.

Caught in the Cold – 1.0

Currently Freljord is under-represented in the meta outside of supporting Elusive strategy, so Caught in the Cold isn’t seeing play. That said, a 2-mana spell that Frostbites an enemy and gives it Vulnerable is functionally a removal spell. Unfortunately, given its Slow speed, most Freljord lists are unlikely to run it over other interactive tools in the game.

Ember Maiden – 3.0

Ember Maiden is a great follower for triggering non-combat damage related cards. Paired with a turn 2 Crimson Disciple or in a Vlad/Swain deck, Ember Maiden seems solid. So far Ember Maiden hasn’t seen much play in top tier decks, but that looks to be a trend with all of these new Freljord cards. This region is unfortunately in a somewhat bad place right now.

Fury of the North – 2.5

A 4-mana Burst spell that gives +4|+4 is a solid buff spell. Unfortunately it isn’t a permanent buff, but Fury of the North could save your units and trick opponents into poor blocks. Fury of the North will probably find a home in some Freljord lists once players start to spend time experimenting with the region.

Ruthless Raider – 2.0

A 2-mana 3|1 with Tough and Overwhelm is decent, but most 2-drops will be able to trade with the Raider without much trouble at all. Still, Ruthless Raider is great at triggering Plunder and synergizes with Ember Maiden/Sejuani quite well. Freljord has access to quality 2-drops for control decks (Avarosan Sentry, Icevale Archer), but its beatdown strategies would rather prefer some Ruthless Raiders.

Sejuani – 3.0

Frostbite and Vulnerable are rather powerful together and Sejuani can benefit from both with her Overwhelm keyword. She has the same level up condition as Gangplank – for him , it isn’t incredibly difficult to trigger. However, Freljord has far fewer sources of direct damage than Bilgewater. Most decks sporting Sejuani will have to rely on Overwhelm units or a support region (i.e. Noxus) to ensure Nexus damage.

Shared Spoils – 2.0

If Freljord lists do break into the meta, Shared Spoils is likely to find a slot. Omen Hawk was the most popular Freljord card in the foundation set and while Shared Spoils doesn’t leave the 1|1 body behind, it does buff an additional unit and then draws you a unit. It is worth noting that Shared Spoils doesn’t specify “followers” so it can buff and/or draw Champions.

The Tuskraider – 2.5

The Tuskraider is perhaps a buffed Avarosan Hearthguard, but an extra 3-mana is a lot to pay. It could be played as a 1- or 2-of in a lot of Freljord lists because the ability is incredibly powerful if you can trigger Plunder that turn. It does replace itself with Sejuani which is nice, but obviously you won’t be able to chain the two together in the same turn. Tuskraider is likely to see play because of the high power ceiling, but likely only in ramp decks.

Ursine Spiritwalker – 3.0

A 5-mana 4|6 is above rate on its own, but if you can Plunder the Spiritwalker turns into a Stormclaw Ursine which is incredibly overstatted. Not only is the 5-mana 6|6 a big body, but it also has Overwhelm and gives all of your 5+ Power allies Overwhelm as well. It’s just a solid card and will see play whenever Freljord decks break onto the meta scene. One thing worth noting is that as soon as Stormclaw Ursine leaves the battlefield, your units will lose Overwhelm. Keep that in mind when sequencing your attacks, as Stormclaw Ursine dying before your other units attack will cause them to lose Overwhelm before they are able to deal any damage.

Wolfrider – 2.5

This is a solid unit that can act both as a Plunder-enabler (due to Overwhelm) and a Plunder-payoff. and a 4-mana 4|3 trades well with most other 4 drops. 4 mana is sort of a weak cost for Freljord decks right now (meaning that there aren’t many strong 4-drops in Freljord), so it is nice to see a new card in the region that is viable for that slot in your deck. The ramp is nice and I appreciate that Riot is giving the ramp archetype more tools.

Ionia

Claws of the Dragon – 3.5

With all of the new cheap spells (and the old ones we already had) cheating Claw of the Dragon into play is not difficult. She stacks well and a 2-mana 3|2 on it’s own is fine if nothing special. Claws of the Dragon has been seeing play in most Ionia lists whether they are combo-focused, spell-focused, or otherwise. She is flexible and fits in more than just “spells matter” decklists.

Concussive Palm – 3.5

Concussive Palm is remarkable. It can be used reactively without sacrificing tempo and it can be used proactively to stop blocks and increase board presence. This is the type of spell that fits into nearly every Ionia decks and even a lot of decks that are just looking to splash the region. Not to mention the buff this spell gives to Yasuo decks.

Deep Meditation – 3.5

2-mana to Draw 2 is incredible. This isn’t quite that as it only draws spells and will sometimes cost 4, but in the right deck Deep Meditation will functionally be a 2-mana Draw 2. Not to mention that there are a handful of spells that summon followers, allowing Deep Meditation to draw you spells and followers all at once.

Dragon’s Rage – 1.0

When attached to leveled Lee Sin, as essentially a free spell – well, then it feels very strong. However, it is hard to believe Dragon’s Rage will ever find its way into any list as a standalone maindeckable removal. It works at Slow speed, it can be disrupted so easily – and mana investment is absurd.

Eye of the Dragon – 4.0

A 2-mana 1|3 looks as nothing too special as first, but thanks to Attune its cost is effectively reduced to 1 mana. Where Eye of the Dragon shines is its Round Start ability.. Eye of the Dragon summons Ephemeral Lifesteal tokens for you which will either help deter attacks altogether, or gain you life when they block. Either way, this follower helps stall against early aggression while adding value to the first two spells you cast each round.

Horns of the Dragon – 1.0

While it may look decent on the surface, Horns of the Dragon doesn’t seem to have a place in the meta right now. Surprisingly 4|6 is actually a decent statline for this type of follower as he serves well both as an attacker and a blocker while dodging most damage-based removal. Double Attack is an incredibly powerful keyword, but on this follower it feels a bit “win more.” If you are behind, spending most (if not all) of your turn to drop this guy probably won’t do too much. Perhaps, in a “Go Tall, Hit Face” style of deck (in the same vein as the Sneaky Shiraza lists that were floating around pre-launch) that is looking for additional ways to sneak damage in, Horns of the Dragon will see play.

Lee Sin – 3.0

He is undeniably a powerful champion. 3|6 for 6 is a bit disappointing given that you can get the same statline for less with other champions, but Lee Sin’s abilities make up for that in the “spells matter” decks. With Barrier and Challenger, he can do some serious value-trading and meeting his level up condition is not a stretch for that deck. When he does level, he Dragon’s Rages every enemy that he Challenges. He is flexible enough to be played with various other champions, but only those that also care about spells to some degree.

Retreat – 2.5

Retreat is a great example of the type of card that Lee Sin likes to see. It is two spells in one and allows you to maintain tempo by cheating a unit into play. The dream is playing Retreat then Returning a unit from hand to the battlefield triggering Claw of the Dragon to summon for free. That is some value! It is unfortunate that Return is Fleeting, but honestly the card might have been too powerful if that were the case.

Scales of the Dragon – 2.0

Yet another card that is at least a card and a half worth of value. Scales of the Dragon is a 3-mana 4|2, which means that it gets eaten by almost every 3-drop in the game. That said, Dragon’s Protection could give it +0|+3 to make it a 5-mana 4|5 over two cards at Slow speed, which is… fine. Though certainly nothing special.

Sonic Wave – 2.0

The “spells matter” decks might like this, but honestly there are better options unless your goal is just to play as many spells as possible. The Heimer Control lists aren’t playing it and even the Lee/Vi spells matter decks are only ever playing 1 copy it seems.

Crafting Recommendations

Commons & Rares

Claws of the Dragon, Grizzled Ranger/Loyal Badgerbear, Deep Meditation, Concussive Palm

Epics & Champions

Eye of the Dragon, Quinn

Time to Play

Demacia has received a few solid new additions to its midrange lists, Freljord has some interesting new toys to try out, and Ionia takes a bit of a new focus with plenty of new tempo tools. I am excited to see Freljord break out onto the meta scene. Check out my other Rising Tides set review articles for a more full understanding of where these cards land in the context of the whole set. As always, leave your thoughts in a comment below or reach out on Twitter @RanikGalfridian.

RanikGalfridian

Ranik is a strategy fanatic and lover of card games. Before switching primarily to Legends of Runeterra he played Magic: The Gathering for eight years where he enjoyed dominating opponents with slow control decks. Now he focuses on creating Legends of Runeterra content for all players and enjoys discussing strategy and deckbuilding on Twitter @RanikGalfridian.