Trundle and His Band of Trolls: Analysis and Ratings
There has been some discussion lately around which non-Targon regions will be getting updates in the first Call of the Mountain expansion. Well, we now know that Freljord is next to get some from love from the first expansion of the new set coming to Legends of Runeterra on August 26. Freljord’s ramp sub-theme is getting some new payoffs and the region is gaining a new keyword as well. Let’s dive in!
Here’s our rating scale:
- 5.0: Meta-defining card, proven itself as a staple in multiple top-tier archetypes. (Sejuani, Riptide Rex…).
- 4.0: Archetype staple, or auto-include in multiple archetypes. (The Harrowing, Twisted Fate, Mystic Shot…).
- 3.0: A solid playable, could serve as a staple for some archetypes. (Yasuo, Culling Strike, Statikk Shock…).
- 2.0: Can be used for specific synergies, or to counter some decks (Vanguard Sergeant, Thorny Toad…)
- 1.0: Doesn’t find its place in the meta (Unstable Voltician, Parade Electrorig…).
Trundle – 3.0
Our first CotM champion that isn’t designed around the Support keyword, Trundle is a beefy 5-mana 4|6 with Regeneration. These are great stats without Regeneration, and with it, it will likely require some extra work to remove Trundle from the board. There was speculation that Trundle himself would be an 8+ cost card to play with the new Behold keyword on some of the new Freljord units (more on that later), but I’m extremely happy to see that he generates an 8-cost card instead. That will keep the champion relevant in the midgame and ensure that he can be played most of the time he is drawn. He is far less reliant on synergy than Lulu and Taric and he is designed as a nice little self-leveling package.
That said, he doesn’t entirely lack synergy. When he is summoned he creates an Ice Pillar in hand. Ice Pillar is an 8-cost 0|8 follower with Vulnerable, but it refills 8 mana when it is played. It also gives the strongest enemy unit – champions included – Vulnerable every round. As we have seen thus far, giving enemy units Vulnerable can be a blowout and I appreciate that this ability is spreading through multiple regions. The fact that Ice Pillar pays for itself means that you aren’t taking an important turn off.
To level Trundle up, all you need to do is play Ice Pillar. His level 2 gains Overwhelm along with an Attack ability that buffs his power for every 8+ card you Behold. Behold is simply a keyword that represents cards in play or in your hand that meet a specific threshold (in this case it’s 8+ cost). Notably Ice Pillar counts so level-2 Trundle will attack for 6 minimum and his attack ability is a “grant” effect so the buffs are permanent.
Trundle doesn’t seem meta-shattering, but he is powerfully statted for his cost and I expect that he will make it into decklists for that alone. He will have incidental Behold synergies as the only cards we have seen with the keyword so far care about 8+ cost cards. This means he may see a bit more play in decks with Behold units than those without.
Augur of the Old Ones – 3.5
If you were looking for Behold payoffs… stop! It’s right here! A 6-mana 5|5 with Regeneration and Overwhelm is probably a 3.0, and would see play in various decks. But when that card can also grant an ally – again, this includes champions – both Overwhelm and Regeneration it jumps up for Behold decks. Don’t get me wrong, there are downsides to a card like this. It’s a touch expensive if you can’t fully take advantage of the Play effect, which means you need to have other units on the board that would benefit from having Overwhelm and Regeneration. Of course, Freljord provides quite a few good options here on its own and that’s before adding a second region. My mind immediately jumps to Tarkaz the Tribeless, who may have finally found a tribe as a great 5-mana play to follow up with Augur of the Old Ones.
While Augur of the Old Ones requires some setup, I think we can expect to see this card rather prominently after CotM. Since Behold cares about cards in hand as well as cards played, it isn’t unreasonable to expect that you can find an 8+ cost card by the time you play Augur. According to the hypergeometric calculator, with four 8+ cost cards in your deck (none in your starting hand) there is a 54.6% chance you will find at least one of them by turn 6 (63.4% with 5 copies and 70.7% with 6 copies). Of course, these numbers aren’t accurate when you throw Freljord’s ability to ramp or extra card draw in the mix, but without either of those these numbers hold up.
Icequake – 1.5
Back in the closed beta, a handful of players expected that The Ruination would be unplayable at 9 mana. The truth was that it is exactly what several decks want. Unfortunately, Icequake isn’t The Ruination and though it costs less, I don’t think it will even serve the same function.
The first clause is awkward as it doesn’t enable you to set up any better trades with units on board. Frequently, 3 damage won’t be enough to deal with the units you are hoping to remove and at Slow speed, this card is extremely disruptable. It may see play in Behold decks or decks that want some form of board-wipe without dipping into Shadow Isles, but otherwise, there are better options.
Revitalizing Roar – 2.5
Roar is a difficult card to evaluate. The effect is powerful (especially if you are Enlightened) but at Slow speed and 7-mana, it is hard to say if it is enough. If you’re not Enlightened you are revealing a card to your opponent in exchange for healing your Nexus. But you then have to pass priority to your opponent, which allows them to play around the new information you have given them. You’re also using up a large chunk of the mana you have available for the turn, if not all of it. I don’t think that’s enough.
If you are Enlightened, this card jumps up to a 3.0 in my opinion as it heals your Nexus then allows you to play any card in your hand for free. Your opponent still has the opportunity to act before you play the second card, but the cost reduction is permanent. The possibilities are nearly endless. The best targets in Freljord for this type of effect are She Who Wanders, The Tuskraider, and Tryndamere, but there are plenty of strong targets in other regions as well.
It’s worth noting that since this is a spell, you can technically cast it as early as turn 4, but you won’t benefit from the Enlightened clause. I’m curious to see where this card ends up. It has the potential to be extremely powerful, as it can help you survive and cheat your big units into play. It may just be too expensive for the healing aspect to have a large enough impact.
Faces of the Old Ones – 1.5
If this card is playable at all, it will only be in dedicated Behold decks. Even then, it is awkward in Behold decks as a 2-drop that incentivizes you to keep 8+ cost cards on the mulligan and hardly affects the board. It offers to ramp you by 1 for as long as it is alive if you keep expensive cards in your hand.
However, that might just be enough in the early game for the Behold-Ramp deck. If you keep an 8+ cost card on the mulligan you can play Faces on turn 1 and a 3-drop on turn 2 if your opponent can’t kill it. That’s not too shabby, but you are putting a 0|2 that might do nothing in your deck…
Troll Scavenger – 1.5
This card is also a bit of an awkward Behold payoff. A 2-mana 1|3 is playable in a deck that wants to stall to the late game. It has high enough health to stave off early attackers, but still incentivizes bad mulligan habits by wanting you to have an 8+ cost card on turn 2. A permanent +3|+0 does let Scavenger trade up in the mid-game with more expensive threats. This is a solid little 2-drop that will likely be a go-to early-game unit for Behold-Ramp decks. That said, I think in general these decks are going to want the more expensive and more powerful Behold payoffs to allow for a strong early curve which doesn’t warp mulligan decisions.
Troll Ravager – 2.0
Without the Behold trigger, Troll Ravager is a strictly worse Bull Elnuk. If you can manage the Behold trigger on turn 4, you have a 3|5 with Regeneration which can be relatively hard to deal with. It also trades favorably with several cards at its cost and lower. The impact of this card heavily relies on meeting the Behold clause by turn 4, but if that can be done it is a solid playable. It is hard to tell at this point how many 8+ cost cards these Behold decks will want to be running to enable the payoffs in the most optimal way. For now, I have Troll Ravager at a 2.0 as it only has a home in Behold decks and wants to have quite a lot of 8+ cost cards in the deck to meet that requirement reliably.
Uzgar the Ancient – 2.5
Uzgar is a strong top-end card that will be able to close out games, remove key units from the opponent, and is resilient to boot. It requires no synergy to be effective, but it is a Behold enabler for the different cards we have seen making use of this mechanic. There is increasing competition for the 8-drop slot which means that there will certainly be decks where Uzgar doesn’t do enough, but he is big and difficult to kill which means that he will be useful in ramp decks.
Troll Chant – 3.0
Freljord adds to its repertoire of efficient Burst spells with Troll Chant. This card will help save your units in combat, but will be less useful in stealing trades from your opponent as it doesn’t change the opposing unit’s health or your unit’s attack. Still, a Burst speed combat trick that only costs 2-mana will certainly be playable in any Freljord deck. This card will definitely see play.
Call the Wild – 2.0
At its best, Call the Wild draws you 4 cards for 3-mana at Burst speed. It is flexible as it fits in Yeti, Poro, and Elnuk decks (as well as decks that run all three) which makes me believe that we’ll see more of these three follower types in this set at some point. I expect to see this most prominently in Poro decks due to their low average cost, but could just as easily slot into the other tribal decks as well. It goes without saying, but this card is unplayable in decks that aren’t running a lot of the tribal followers.
Broadbacked Protector – 3.0
As with the Ionia reveal, we have a couple of Targon cards tacked onto the Freljord spoilers. This card looks like it could be solid competition for Kindly Tavernkeeper. Broadbacked Protector is a 2|7 which harms itself to heal the Nexus by 3 every turn. The way the card is worded, without any other interaction, Protector will heal the Nexus by 9 points throughout its tenure on the board. That’s nothing to sneeze at for one card. Mind you that 9 health stretches over 3 turns, but in the meantime, you have a beefy body in the way of other units (which might end up saving your Nexus even more damage).
I think Broadbacked Protector is exactly what this newly forming Freljord ramp deck is looking for. It’s big enough to stick around for a couple of turns. It’s cheap enough to play in the early/midgame. And it has a relevant effect that will keep you alive long enough to make it to the endgame. Broadbacked Protector is a solid playable, earning it a 3.0 in my book.
Resplendant Stellacorn – 3.0
The way I see it, Resplendant Stellacorn is a Bull Elnuk that comes with two Health Potions for the price of one. Okay, so Stellacorn is not exactly as flexible as that, but it’s pretty darn close. A 4|5 body is relevant through the endgame and healing your Nexus along with an ally when it’s played is a great value. There is growing competition across regions for the 5-drop slot, but we’ll have to see what other toys Targon gets to play with before determining if this will be an auto-include for the region.
Phew! There you have it; another little taste of what Call of the Mountain has on the menu. Overall I think these cards are viable and effective if not overtly flashy. We’re starting to see the birthing of new archetypes and I’m excited to see what brewers come up with. In the future, I expect quite a few of these ratings to change as players come up with the optimal Behold decks. How many 8+ cost cards will be enough? Will the Freljord ramp decks actually be decent? Which champion are you hoping to see next? Let me know over on Twitter!