Tristana Review and Theorycraft

The cannon enthusiast Tristana has the mission to unite the multi-region units from all over Runeterra under the flag of Bandle City.

Hello Runeterra, it’s Spaiikz, and today I’m here to talk about the new Bandle City champion – Tristana!

Interestingly enough, she is the first yordle champion revealed so far that doesn’t have a dual-region identity. Lore-wise, it makes a lot of sense, because she is not tied to any other Runeterra region in particular.

Overall, being a Bandle City-only champion, Tristana is less flexible compared to other yordles, and she seems to have a rather dedicated archetype that revolves around her ability to enable multi-region units.

In this article, I’ll be analyzing all the cards revealed today and rating them using this scale:

  • 5.0: Meta-defining card, should prove itself as 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: Could be used for specific synergies, or to counter some decks.
  • 1.0: Unlikely to find its place in the meta.

Tristana – 2.0

Tristana isn’t impressive as a stand-alone unit and will require a good amount of synergy from your deck to build herself up to some decent stats.

She can provide tempo when you play her, but her play patterns can also sometimes feel a little awkward. She needs you to summon multi-region units to be decently statted immediately upon arrival. But because she also buffs the multi-region units you play AFTER she is on the board, you are losing value when trying to build her up passively in your hand.

Tristana’s level-up is pretty easy to accomplish in a dedicated deck – or even if you splash in a few multi-region cards. The problem is that Tristana’s payoff for level 2 is a bit lacking. Giving Impact is nice and will amount to some good chip damage, but I’m unsure if a deck that runs a ton of multi-region followers and uses this payoff as a win condition could be viable in a competitive environment.

Her champion spell Tristana’s Buster Shot has some nice built-in synergy with the champion – you will be able to always deal 3 damage for 2 mana. The Slow speed is not ideal – it reminds me of an Aphelios’s Calibrum weapon, that can additionally target champions. Overall, Buster Shot will be a solid tempo play as long as you can meet its requirements.

So overall, I don’t think Tristana is looking great. She has some weird anti-synergies with herself. The level-up is easy to get but doesn’t offer a great payoff.

She is not a multi-region card herself, which reduces her impact in a potential The Bandle City Tree deck – which is a strange thing to say, because otherwise, she is all about playing multi-region cards.

Tristana is focusing on tempo and board presence but does not seem to be amazing at that either. Other regions like Demacia probably can do it better – especially with the help of Poppy. Tristana will get better and better in the future though, as more and more multi-region units are being released.

This deck is mono-Bandle City, using the multi-region units and an Allegiance card revealed today. It looks to go wide on the board and use Poppy’s power to push through with a beefy board, while Tristana and her multi-region followers help with that plan.

There are a lot of multi-region followers in the deck, even some that can be considered pretty weak on their own. Hopefully, there is enough synergy in the list to make those cards worthwhile.

The biggest example of this is Arena Kingpin. A 4/2 quick attack for 3 mana is nothing special, but if Tristana is on the board, Kingpin will have the same stats as LeBlanc.

Our major payoff in the deck is Bandle City Mayor. Making most of our units cost 1 less is a great way to swarm the board and overpower the opponent. A 3-mana Tenor of Terror and a 4-mana Poro Sled are just examples of the plays Bandle City Mayor can enable.

Aloof Travelers and Hidden Pathways are in the deck to refuel once you run out of units. Stress Defense also helps to protect Poppy, Bandle City Mayor, and can slow down the opponent’s threats. I don’t know how much room a deck like this has for defensive spells besides Stress Defense – we are looking for tempo and want to close the game shortly after taking control of the board. Shell Game is a one-of – to finish the game with a high-power Tristana.

If we were looking to splash some cards from another region into this deck, my main considerations would be Deny, Make it Rain, Vile Feast, and Rally effects.

Buster Shot – 2.5

Spending 4 mana to deal 3 damage is very underwhelming at Slow speed, especially if you can’t target the Nexus. You really need to make this a 2-cost spell to gain some tempo out of it.

4+ regions requirement is easy in The Bandle City Tree deck – I can see this card being a 1- or 2-of in that archetype, where we’ll be using it to deal with some medium-sized units of your opponent.

Bandle City Mayor – 3.0

This looks like one of the better cards for this archetype because reducing the cost of other cards is always very strong.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this card had more of an impact than Tristana, just because reducing the cost of units by 1 is so much better than giving 1 attack to them.

This card looks even better in a deck that is going for The Bandle Tree win condition – it gives you a relevant unit for free, and then helps you play out all of your main-decked multi-region units such as Aloof Travelers or Tenor of Terror.

Bandle Painter – 1.0

This card doesn’t make my initial draft of the Tristana archetype.

While the discard requirement isn’t that big of a deal, it still isn’t that appealing if you compare it to Bandle City Mayor – you don’t get to pick a unit you want and there’s obviously no mana reduction.

I do not think a better stat-line and Augment keyword will make up for that.

Gruff Grenadier – 3.5

Hitting Allegiance on it will for sure create a good tempo swing. That makes this card somewhat decent, especially in a deck with Poppy and other better-statted units.

I can see this card work out well in the long run. Summoning 2 units in one action has always been powerful, so the question here is if the Bandle City Allegiance deck will be worth it or not. If the answer to that is yes, then this card is great.

Bandle Gunners – 1.0

It will be tough to make it work because it has such a high cost for not too much of a pay-off.

A comparison would be Grandfather Rumul. That card has Overwhelm – which is similar to Impact 4, – an additional useful effect that affects the board – and it saw no play absolutely.

Bandle Gunners also has a requirement to it which means it will need some deckbuilding around it.

You might think it fits in a The Bandle City Tree deck, but that list is not looking to win through damage and that would make this card not needed in that archetype.

Even if you wanted a finisher, there are probably a lot of options that are better than this card.

Double Tap – 1.0

Double Tap reminds me of a Concerted Strike or a Single Combat, but it is way less flexible.

6 mana is very expensive and while it can strike twice for double damage, currently I don’t think there are enough great multi-region followers to abuse a card like this. And if you do not have a multi-region follower, this card is super underwhelming.

For this card to be any good, we need bigger multi-region units that also benefit from killing or striking in general.

Yordles in Arms – 1.5

Slow-speed board-wide buffs have always struggled in the past – especially the temporary buffs that go away at the end of the round. Usually, the opponent will chump block your units, and move on to the next turn without much consequence.

A +2/+2 buff is not enough to make a big impact unless you already have the board firmly under control. A +4/4 buff will help a lot, but it is best on small units which are vulnerable to being removed in response.

The one spot this can possibly work is in an Elusive deck that can trigger the requirement reliably while also having a wide board.

However, I’m not sure how easy it will be to achieve the said requirement, so I don’t wanna get my hope up for cards like Yordles in Arms.

Group Shot – 2.0

Spells that deal 1-2 damage and don’t do anything else haven’t seen tons of play in the past because they just lack impact later in the game.

The requirement here is also awkward – it’s hard to have 4 units on the board for most decks – and most importantly, if you have that many units on the board, you are likely to be in control as is, which means at that point you need to have cards that can serve as finishers rather than dealing 1 or 2 damage to opposing units.

This effect can come in handy if you need it in a pinch, but those scenarios will be rare and that is why I only included 1 copy of Group Shot in my deck build.

Purpleberry Shake – 3.5

Purpleberry Shake is very cheap, which makes it a great card to protect valuable small units like Teemo or Fizz.

I can definitely see this card becoming a staple in some archetype that needs a cheap combat trick, but it does require most of your units to be quite tiny.

There are plenty of small units scattered around in Bandle City though and this makes me think there will be a place for this kind of card in some deck.

Closing Thoughts

I have to admit, today’s reveals were not overly exciting for me. Most cards were on the weaker side in my opinion and didn’t have that many interesting applications.

I don’t expect Tristana to be a meta staple on release as she looks quite weak as of right now. The multi-region archetype has a better chance of winning through The Bandle Tree landmark, which requires a different kind of shell. I am looking forward to experimenting with that archetype, but I do not think it will include Tristana as you would rather want your champions to have multi-region identities to get to the win condition easier.

Tristana could possibly create a small units deck, but that seems not as strong as other existing aggressive archetypes.

As always, thank you for reading. I’m also happy to be able to share that I’m going to be playing in the World Championship Qualifiers next month!

Furthermore, if you want to stay up to date with my latest articles, decklists, and more – follow me on Twitter. Till next time Runeterra!


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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